Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Blurb for HEROES.

I don't watch very much television. I watch SURVIVOR and THE AMAZING RACE and occasionally I am able to catch a game of JEOPARDY!. That's about it. There isn't any other shows that I watch on a regular basis. Except for one: HEROES. If you haven't seen this show, I highly recommend that you tune in the coming weeks as the first season is approaching a close (the finale will be sometime in May). I had a hunch before the new season began that HEROES was going to be The show to watch this season and I haven't been disappointed.

Take last night's episode for example. It was some of the best drama I've seen on television in a very, very long time. I'll go as far as to say that it moved me. For those who don't know, the show is about ordinary people who have discovered they have extraordinary powers. They are trying to understand what is happening to them and figure out how to use their abilities. In the meantime there are at least three different groups that are after them. One of the groups has completely good and benevolent intentions. The motivations of the other groups are unknown.

It all sounds kind of far fetched and kind of geeky, but it works extremely well. Take last night's episode, "Company Man", for example. The performance by the cast in "Company Man" is Emmy-worthy material. Actors spend their whole lives wanting to act in scenes full of powerful drama like the one last night. That happens on HEROES a lot. The show has it's roots in sci-fi, but it is grounded in reality. "Company Man" was a very important episode that illustrated many of the connections between the characters on the show. However, even if you aren't a fan of the show, you could take a lot away from the episode. In a very eloquent and meaningful way the episode dealt with issues of faith, family, and honor. It illustrated the complexity in choosing between one's duty and between doing the right thing and the consequences that happen when one is forced to choose between the two. And, as many of the other episodes this season has shown, it displayed how interconnected we really are in the world; as John Donne wrote so much better before, "No man is an island." Television doesn't get much better than that.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Cabin Fever.

There's a thunder storm going on; it's really, really cold (it might all freeze again); and I've got cabin fever.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Between Two Worlds.

The articles and links below come from a blog that I regularly read. It's called Between Two Worlds.

Browsing that blog today I came across several interesting articles today. The first two have to do with George Washington. Since it's President's Day, I think it's only fitting.

The other article I really enjoyed reading came from a guy named Ben Witherington talking about a recent discussion he had attended with Rob Bell. For those of you who don't know Bell is the pastor of a church in Minnesota (Mars Hill I believe). He's gained a reputation of being a leader of the emerging church movement. He's written a highly popular book about his faith entitled VELVET ELVIS and he has a new book coming out soon. I've quoted from Witherington's post below.

"Of course it is true that we all are sinners who fall short of the glory of God, so there is no basis for finger pointing on such issues, and everyone must in all humility deal with their own sins rather than focusing on other people's sins. A Christian approach must be that everyone is welcome to come to Christ and come into the church as they are without pre-conditions. But no one is welcome to stay as they are--- no one. They all must change, repent of their sins as needed, and strive to live in newness of life whether gay or straight." --Ben Witherington

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Utah Mall Shooting

In case you haven't heard, on Monday, February 12, 2007 a Muslim teenager went into a mall in Utah and randomly starting shooting people. He killed five people and wounded four others before he was shot himself. The important thing to remember about this whole incident is that the kid was Muslim. Remember that.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Why I Hate Valentine's Day

I hate Valentine’s Day. Don’t get me wrong. I think St. Valentine Day was a great guy. Whether he defied the Emperor and married soldiers, whether he was imprisoned because of his faith and sent a letter to the girl he fell in love with during his confinement, or whether Valentine actually did both of these, or even if Valentine was actually two men who did these things but died on the same day, I respect the ideals that St. Valentine represents. However, Valentine’s Day has very little to do with St. Valentine and it has become a day every year that I detest.

I’ll admit part of my distaste for the day is because I’m a single guy that has never had a significant other to share the day with. I see all these couples around me staring at each other and eating nice dinners and I feel jealous. It doesn’t help either that starting almost immediately after the confetti thrown at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Day has hit the pavement until the midnight of February 15th I am bombarded by messages and images about Valentine’s Day, the so-called “holiday” of love. If you’re married or in a relationship, congratulations to you. However, there are millions of single people that don’t have a special person in their life. We are quite aware that we are single and we don’t need the world to constantly remind us for six weeks that we’re still single. I don’t feel I have been called to a life of singlehood and would like to be married someday. That is one of the deepest desires of my heart. But so far it hasn’t been meant to be. Currently, I am content with life, but my contentment isn’t enough for the world. Every year for six weeks I’m told repeatedly in the newspapers, on the radio, on television, on the internet, and even by some family members that if I’m not in a relationship there must be something wrong with me. That’ll cause some bitter feelings and resentment. I won’t deny it.

However, that doesn’t negate that there’s something about the whole day that is artificial and trite. If you truly love someone, there shouldn’t have to be a day each year to remind you that you love that person. If you truly love a person you should be celebrating Valentine’s Day with them throughout the year and not just on one day.

But, Valentine’s Day really isn’t about love. It’s all about money and manipulating people. It changes people. Women seem especially susceptible to the seduction. Perpetuated by greeting card, confectionary, and flower companies as well as the soft-core pornographic paperback novels they read, women come to believe that if their husband or boyfriend doesn’t do something special for them on Valentine’s Day then he doesn’t love them. “He’ll send flowers. He’ll get me that ring I’ve been wanting. He’ll take me out somewhere nice for dinner. If he really cared he’ll do this or that.” Women have been seduced into connecting their self-worth with this created “holiday”. Good men want to please their wives and girlfriends and because of their love for the women in their lives they go along with it. The gifts and messages and nice dinners are meant to be an expression of love but are really just duties performed out of doting affection and the hope of a bedroom treat later.

Valentine’s Day is supposed to be about love, but by buying into what the culture has presented us, it has very little to do about love at all.

That’s why I hate Valentine’s Day.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Comic Strips

Comic strips don't get the appreciation they deserve as an art form. So much skill and talent goes into creating a strip. They are usually either funny or deeply personal and sometimes both and if nothing else they are amusing. In a few panes a comic strip expresses what people like me take pages to put into words. Comic strips are hundreds of times shorter than a full-fledged comic book. And they are free everyday (unless you buy the collection books). Here are two comics in today's (2/2/07) paper that I related to.

This is me and my life.

Someday this will be happening to me.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

January 2007

In honor of Nick Hornby, I'm going to try something different. This might be a one-time thing, it might turn into a regular feature. I don't know. Anyway. At the end of every month I'm going to list the books I read that month and the movies I saw for the first time. There will probably be some short comments as well. Hornby does this in a column for some magazine he writes for and he's gotten two books out of it so far. So, here's my January 2007.

Books Read:
Brainiac by Ken Jennings
Teacher Man
by Frank McCourt

January was a slow month for me, reading wise. The first two weeks I didn't read any books (not including the usual newspaper, magazine, blogs, etc.). The first book I finished was Brainiac. It's written by Ken Jennings, the guy who won 74 games on Jeopardy! The book does tells part of Jenning's Jeopardy! story, but it's really a book that explores the history of trivia. I really liked it.

The other book I read was Frank McCourt's Teacher Man. McCourt won the Pulitzer Prize about 8 years ago for his memoir Angela's Ashes. That book is amazing and I highly recommend it. McCourt had an incredibly bleak childhood, but his writing style is so humorous and witty. Teacher Man is his 3rd book and is written in the same style as his first two. It's also a memoir, but it deals more in-depth with his thirty-year teaching career. I love McCourt's writing (he's a beautiful storyteller), but I took even more away from the book because I, too, am an English teacher.

Movies Viewed for the First Time:
The Pursuit of Happyness
The Mothman Prophecies
Cinderella III: A Twist in Time
Children of Men
United 93

I didn't watch many movies in January 2007 either. Normally I see between 10-15 movies for the first time during a month. In January 2007 I only managed seeing five. I enjoyed The Pursuit of Happyness. It's basically an inspiring film about overcoming adversity. Will Smith and his son have a great relationship though and it is their bond that makes the movie so touching.

I watched The Mothman Prophecies because I thought it was going to be about the Silver Bridge accident in 1967 that killed 26 people. If you've ever heard about the Mothman stories, you might want to check the film out, but besides that I'd stay away. It wasn't that good and having Richard Gere involved made it even worse.

Cindrella III: A Twist in Time was sent to me to review. It's okay and better than many direct-to-DVD films I've seen. However, it still had no business being made.

Children of Men. Amazing. Go see this movie. The bleak and depressing tone jars one's soul, but the movie is full of hope. Finally, I watched United 93 for the first time this month. Since the end of April I had been hearing from all sorts of sources how good the film was. Unfortunately it never came out in a theatre close enough for me to get to so I had to wait and watch the copy I bought my mom for Christmas. United 93 has largely been ignored during the award season, but it is, in my opinion, the best film of 2006. No preaching. Just a realistic depiction of one story of millions that happened on Sept. 11, 2001.

And what did I learn this path month from my reading and movie watching endeavors? The biggest thing is a message that I have been seeing repeated over and over and over the past few months. I don't know if it's something that God is trying to drill into because of what is going on in my life or if it's a prophetic message for all of us because of some dark days that might be ahead. Whatever the case, the message is this: no matter how dark, bleak, and dreary things may get, never give up because no matter how horrible things are, hope remains.