Saturday, September 08, 2007

"Stardust" Movie Review

I have to admit that the trailers did not inspire me to go see this film, and I probably would never have seen it at all if a friend hadn't said how much they liked it and that it was actually a "guy movie". She gave a vague description of a gallery of men who applaud at sword fights and death.

Well, Steve said it was my choice, and though I enjoy torturing him with lame chick flicks as much as the next gal, there weren't any showing, so we agreed to see "Stardust". With half an hour before the show started the bored ticket guy said there were plenty of seats left. Not a good sign, but we bought our tickets and sat down.

While I would not rate this as a top notch movie, it was enjoyable on both a fairytale/chick flick level and on a comedy in the vein of Princess Bride or Monty Python. It is not as well-pulled together as either of those. It is missing the non-stop perfection of the Princess Bride and isn't as over the top as Monty Python.

If you are offended by any mentions of witches or acts of witchcraft, even of the fairy tale kind, you will probably be offended by this movie, but as the [SPOILER ALERT] bad guys all get it in the end, it struck me as the old fashioned good-vs.-evil, fairy tale type story, it was just a bit of harmless fun kept from being so good as to be boring.

Robert DeNiro is hysterically funny. There is now a mental picture of him in my head that will probably intrude on every serious role I ever see him in in the future.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Madeleine L'Engle Dead at 88

Yesterday we lost a wonderful writer. She was a great storyteller and poet. Whether she was writing fiction or non-fiction, she had her own voice and inspired me. She wrote with such truth, understanding and gentleness, speaking of her life, her marriage, and getting older, just as openly as she wrote of the Murrays in "A Wrinkle in Time" and other books that followed.

Her unique voice will be missed. I hope you take the opportunity to acquaint yourself with her writing. I honor her.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The Best Looking Baby On Earth

"And then I says, I says...bad is good baby! Down with government!"
[Obscure cultural reference alert.]

Melt Down

My third week of the semester is now over. Last night, as I was rehearsing my 1st major speech for Public Speaking, I realized that the hours I spent on it were mostly wasted. I had too much information for the time allotted and there was no way to say what I wanted within the appropriate time frame, and had to shift the focus a bit. I was in meltdown mode when my husband asked me what the point was I was trying to get across. Yikes! If he didn't know I hadn't made the point. I had spent hours and hours working on a four minute speech. How am I going to make it through college if I can't prepare a four minute speech in under an hour or two? I feel like I don't know what I'm doing.

If you already knew how to do this you wouldn't need the class, my husband said. He was right, but I glared and said something nasty anyway. I am frustrated by how much time I've wasted. Clearly this semester is about learning how to study, how to manage time, how to determine the expectations and from there figuring out the most efficient way of meeting them.

The speech was pulled together, though not rehearsed as thoroughly as I prefer, and went off reasonably well, though I need to do a better job at time management.

Upon completing my speech outline in the proper format, I needed to print the paper I had written for Critical Thinking: Logic and Reason. It was nowhere to be found. It completely disappeared. The entire paper. Not so much as a draft. I remember writing it, and merely needed to rewrite the remembered argument. I probably used slightly different examples, but it was done, leaving me less than five hours of sleep. I don't manage well on this little sleep, and feel as if I need a serious nap.

Man, its a good thing I'm only half-time this semester. I might be a crazy person otherwise. Wait. Too late. I'm already there, at least half way.

Still waiting on the eye doctor. Horrid not being able to read without headaches. Three weeks before my appointment. nearly three weeks after being put on the cancellation list. Out of six eye doctors in the practice not one cancellation for me! Ah well. This will pass. Once I have the right prescription I will forget all of this.


My purple roses are in full bloom. Absolutely gorgeous and the scent is heavenly. The rich pink in the front yard has finally recovered from an incident with a weed whacker earlier this year. It has the most beautiful large roses. Absolutely perfect. The one single bloom is worth an entire year of watching the plant.

I was going to attend a speech this afternoon at 4:30 for extra credit, but I'm so tired I think I'll go ahead and take a nap. Off to sleep now.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

The Perfect Father

Today's at church, Matt talked about God, the Perfect Father. He talked about how our fathers can damage our picture of who God is and that although fathers are meant to be a representation of God to their children, they are flawed, and so it's like looking into a cracked, dirty mirror for a picture. The good news is that God is NOT a reflection of our fathers, he is the perfection of fatherhood. He is pure in motive, in love, in deed. He listens and understands as no one else can. He accepts us unconditionally and without expectation, and he completes us. He loves us and blesses us and says "I'm so glad you are MINE!"

If you have a flawed father (and who doesn't) it should be a huge relief to know that that isn't what God is like. If your father is cold, unforgiving, cutting, cruel, abusive, neglectful, absent, passive, unfeeling, uncaring, busy, demanding, or withholding, you will look at God and expect him to be the same. My dad, bless his heart, has been an insulin dependant diabetic since he was a teenager. While I was growing up, in addition to the flaws he brought to the role based on his relationship or lack of same with his father, in addition to his own personality flaws, insecurities and extraordinary expectations, he had personality disorders caused by blood sugar issues. At dinner time he was usually quite irritable until his blood sugar stabilized. Dinner time, er...difficult.

Well, I don't want to go into my dad's shortcomings here. It would be really unkind. Suffice it to say that I know he's feeling better when he begins insulting me or saying hurtful things about me publicly. He doesn't mean to, and perhaps doesn't really understand how these things hurt me, and besides, I am a far from perfect parent and should probably not "throw the first stone".

The point is, that I have great pains, neurosis, difficulties and ideas and fears about God that interfere with a clear picture of who he is. I have a hard time believing that He accepts ME! Oh, sure everyone else, but my behavior would keep me from being accepted. I can't meet the standard.

But recently I have begun to see that all along, God had provided me with surrogate dads who had qualities that my dad could not express. Jack Boucher and Bob Holli both gave me unconditional acceptance and the feeling that they were proud of me. Dad never had that growing up and could not give it to me. I have trouble expressing unconditional approval and acceptance to my children. I wish it were not so.

However, looking to Jack and Bob, I have examples for what that looks and feels like. And in their example I can see glimpses of God as Father that provide me a less cloudy view.

Matt talked about how children raised by a particular kind of Father have trouble connecting with people, and I confess that as much as I love people I feel rather disconnected at all times. It was all I could do not to cry. I have often wondered what flaw in my being makes me incapable of that connection. If that flaw, that broken spot in me, is due to nurture, then can't the nurture of God heal that? Can't he tear down the wall that separates me from others?

This disconnection is what makes me a writer. My natural detachment allows me to watch and observe in ways that many people don't. It does bother me, though. I wonder if other people are aware of the wall.

I withhold parts of myself because I doubt that anyone could really love the lazy, nervous, sad, sarcastic, willful, horrid parts of me. After all, I don't love those parts of me. I am disgusted by those parts. The horror of FM is that I have to fight my innate laziness, and sometimes the pain is so restricting it feels like giving in to the laziness. I am often not sure if I should push harder than I do. Am I giving in or taking reasonable precautions? Do I feel the pain more intensely than it really is as an excuse for laziness?

Anyway, that was a bit off subject, but as I could never meet the expectations of my Father, I am plagued with self-doubt. Does this have to be? Ah, no. but I'm afraid that even when we have overcome our past doubts and difficulties, they remain weak spots, and like scars that are fully healed, still the sight or even the touch brings back phantom pains. Else why would a person who has long since given up smoking return to the habit? After a few days the physical addiction is gone, but for many there remains a weakness that is purely mental.

And so it is with my doubts. I've never been 100% free of them, but I am getting better. Mental discipline and scripture are the key. Take every thought captive, and all of that. make a long story short (too late!) I have decided to do my level best to see in my father all the traits that I always longed for. I have decided that when we get to heaven and our sin-scarred selves are burnt away, that we will be seen for traits we had but did not know how to show. My father, I am convinced, is a kind, loving, and gentle man. Were he capable of understanding the effect his words have on his children he would monitor them more closely and would express his love in the ways each of us want to hear. So I am determined to treat him as if he were already expressing himself that way. I am working on this and so I am flawed in the execution, but this is the goal.

May I spend time with my HEAVENLY Father, learning what the perfect father is really like, and may that affect the way I treat others, including my parents, my husband, my kids, my friends, neighbors, fellow students, teachers, fellow churchmembers, pastors and the people at the checkout counter. And may you choose to see me as perfect and complete--the way I will be in heaven when the reflection of my Father God is clear.