Finally: A Good Movie

After a year and a half, nearly, of mediocre stuff in the theaters--much of which didn't even catch my attention on the Blockbuster shelf--I have finally seen a good movie.

All right, Pirates II was pretty good. X-3 was okay. Neither of them quite lived up to the earlier series installments. I liked Elizabethtown; still haven't seen Cars, much to my chagrin. Failure to Launch and Queen Latifah's Last Holiday were both enjoyable chick-relaxation watches, as was The Lake House, once I managed to understand what was going on in that story.

Overall, though, Hollywood has had such a lame stretch that I've seen only maybe five movies in the theater since June of 2005. If that.

Saturday night, I bottled up my old fears of water and saw The Guardian.

Ashton Kutcher, who usually annoys me endlessly, showed a strength to his acting ability that I've never seen out of him before. Maybe I've watched the wrong movies; Newlyweds just didn't thrill me (actually, I thought it was boring, a bit disgusting and rather less than believable), and of course he played an idiot in Cheaper by the Dozen. This time he actually had a character, and he made something of it.

Kevin Costner did credit to the role of the weathered, tough-but-good, legendary-in-life Senior Chief. He played a man who had both great strengths and weaknesses; a man who had already learned to maximize his gifts and was now learning to minimize weakness and make good on mistakes, all the while dealing with loss.

The story brought out themes of honor, hope, greatness with humility, and the value of life... and besides that, it was just a good story. Well worth the watching.


Wednesday Nights

"I love this town," Naomi said to me tonight.

She might as well have read my mind just then. "Me too. The whole Bohemian, funky, offbeat soul of it."

We were standing in the wind and the dark downtown, waiting for a light to change. Our small group had spent the past fifteen minutes walking around in pairs, praying over the city. Praying aloud doesn't come naturally for me, but somehow conviction came over me in the act. Not simply conviction as in knowing what I believe, but conviction as in knowing that I fail in this town--fail to see the needs of others, fail to overcome my innate hesitations and act.

I'm not sure exactly what that means.

After prayer, we all headed into Stuart's at the Market, where I discovered they make superb hot chocolate and we hung around for a spoken-word-only open mic session.

This being Bellingham, I was prepared for pretty much anything, especially politically speaking. Although anyone supporting Bush probably would have been chased out of the market in a storm of fresh produce.

To my surprise, though, the participation didn't really come from the stereotypical angry twentysomething poet, twisting rage and obscenity into tortuous lines of chaos-themed free verse. Justin got up and read a couple of beautifully-worded pieces on the value of a human life and worship. Erland recited "The Road Less Traveled". A mother with her four-year-old son in tow read some of her own work on different themes, as did a girl of about eleven. One neatly-dressed man, obviously experienced at the whole open-mic thing, did offer a piece he'd written about refusing to pledge allegiance to "our blood-stained flag." Another girl, just a few years younger than me, spoke into a microphone for the first time in her life.

Generally speaking, I enjoyed it far more than I'd thought I would. And that piece Justin read called "She's Beyond All This" connected deeply with my heart. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the evening, though, and one of the most powerful moments for me, came through the words of a gentleman named Gary Wade, who recited a poem he'd written called "I am War."

I will clarify here that I am not a pacifist at all costs. I do believe that there is a time for war--despite the fact that the whole idea of shedding blood is absolutely foreign to me, heart and soul. But this poem spoke to me because it captured, better than most Christians have ever put it, the "wages of sin."

Gary Wade was kind enough to give me a booklet he carried of his poetry afterwards, and it contained the poem. I won't quote all of it (that probably transgresses copyright law), but here's a few lines:

"I am War!
I am the fruit of injustice
sown on fester-ground
where you had not the courage to weed...

I am your reward for tolerating tyrants
and disarming yourselves in front of them.

I am War!
I am your price for greed,
for hate,
for disdain,
for revenge,
and for not caring..."

He pointed at the audience as he spoke. Pointed right at me when he said "For disdain." Do I disdain? Sometimes. Perhaps more as a sin of omission, rather than commission. Perhaps I should have been angry, like a Pharisee, when he pointed at me. After all, he has no idea who I am, or what I've done. But it didn't matter. He might as well point at me; I'm human, I'm guilty as the next man, or woman.

Later, I drove past the Western campus. That school calls to me, begging me somehow to participate in it--the whole aching, rebellious, idealistic soul of it--bringing with me, of course, the Christ who died for every aching and rebellious and idealistic soul in town, starting with this one. And again, I haven't figured out entirely what it means to do anything about that. A lot of my feelings come from my own romantic reverence for the halls of learning.

Not having practiced much today, I had started singing "Panis Angelicus" in my car. As I drove by the school, the words struck me. I don't know Latin, but have researched enough to know that, roughly, part of the stanza works out to "Bread of angels, given to men... Oh, wonderful that the Lord becomes the food of the poor, the servant, and the lowly."

I'm not an evangelist. I can't go to school right now, and have no idea where to start in this town beyond what I already do. But if Jesus is the food of the poor and lowly, God grant me the wisdom and courage to serve to them. In whatever ways he asks.


Artistic Responsibility

Normally, I do not criticize the use of exaggeration in art; at least, not if it has some sort of meaning.

Advertising has become an art form, and I can understand that as well. To a point.

Mom recently emailed me a link to this short video on YouTube. As a teacher, she had taken it to school and shown it to her class. The video speaks for itself, so I won’t add to it, except to say as my mother did to her students: She does not exist.

The woman we girls compare ourselves to does not exist. The girl staring seductively out of the glossies into the mind of a man does not exist.

I knew there was tweaking going on, but I had no idea how much, despite having seen Photoshop and similar software packages at work in other situations.

Ladies, if you liked the Evolution video, check out this one too. Mom and I both cried.

I Stand Corrected

They're not jokes. They're facts.

No, not the ones about brunettes. The ones about Chuck Norris. And I have to say that the reigning king of the roundhouse seems to have both a sense of humor and a good heart, as evinced here.

So, does he pass on his skills? No girl likes walking to and from her car after the sun goes down. I could definitely use someone the dark was afraid of :-P


Almost as Good as Blonde Jokes

...with due apologies to all my blonde friends; the brunette jokes I've heard have been even less flattering to us than the classic blonde jokes are to you...

Chuck Norris jokes.

My personal favorite: "Chuck Norris is currently suing NBC, claiming Law and Order are trademarked names for his left and right legs."

What do you mean, you want to hear a brunette joke? If you must know, they range from standard retaliation (What's black and blue and brown and laying in a ditch? A brunette who's told too many blonde jokes) to rather creative (Why didn't Indians scalp brunettes? The hair from a buffalo's backside was more manageable... oh wait, that one might be true) to downright ugly, and as even I have to admit, funny (Why are brunettes so proud of their hair? It matches their mustache.)

Hah, well. "What do we live for," says Mr. Bennet in Pride and Prejudice, "but to make sport for our neighbors, and laugh at them in our turn?" I like laughing. Which is good, because I'm too tired to take anything seriously. I'm going to bed.


Something to Dance About

Ring the bells! Part the clouds! Strike up, ye minstrels!

At long, long last, I have home internet again. I can blog! And to put the proverbial cherry on top, I have a working soundcard on a home computer, after going without for at least a year and a half.

I thought about titling this post "It TOOK Long Enough" but there's probably enough impatience in the world.

And, were I not so thoroughly tired, I would probably try to stay up and write something. For now, though, the many blog ideas I've had since posting my last have jumbled inside my head, their clarity hazed over by my own personal internal drill sergeant, who is shouting gleefully in my ear "Get your sheets out of the dryer and go to bed, Olwin, that's an order!" I have no choice but to obey.

Ah, but I've missed this little journal. Be not alarmed. I shall return.


So, The Past Three Weeks...

I still do not have home internet. At all. The cable modem is supposedly coming soon. If it doesn't come by Wednesday, I'll call customer service at the cable company and ask about it (nicely, of course; I know what CS reps suffer at the mouths of impatient people.) The seven to ten business days they told me to wait have not gone fully by yet. But I feel like Inigo Montoya. I hate waiting :-D

Tonight, however, my parents have generously opened their home to me and my WorldWideWeb addiction. And my heart.

In the past three weeks, I have attended both a funeral and a wedding. Attended isn't the right word--I was involved. The grave holds the body of someone dear to my family and myself (I have been asked not to share details publicly) and I stood up as candlelighter eight days later at the marriage of a good friend.

I cried at the funeral and laughed at the wedding. Which might seem normal. But the terms are misleadingly dull. At the funeral, it took all the strength I had to merely stand still. I wanted to run, hide somewhere where I could burst out crying and not be a distraction or an object of pity or something that needed to be brought under control. Instead, I stood in place, able to keep from running or sobbing aloud, but not able to stop the tears from flooding down my face--highly unusual for me, as I rarely cry. And at the wedding, despite my love for my friend and her husband and my joy at their love together, I spent most of the ceremony choking back an untimely shout of laughter at the whole candlelighting experience, which is a great story. Maybe not quite as funny as the time I fainted off the back riser in the choir during the first performance of a passion play, but funny nonetheless.

What a strange, hilarious, terrible, beautiful world.

The sun shone with all its might today, turning the sky a rich blue. The fall crisp held in the air, and the flame trees have reached the height of their color--brilliant red with a few green leaves left on the lower branches. I couldn't stay inside today. I took a blanket out on my front lawn and read for hours.

Then, I went to see my boyfriend, and we broke up. It wasn't nasty, it wasn't a matter of overstressed emotions or problems with each other. It was the act of two people who cared deeply about each other, loved each other, really--loved enough to be honest and say "This isn't the right thing for us."

There's a strong tenderness in loving someone enough to freely let them go. It sustains me tonight; I know this will get harder before it gets easier. I don't look forward to that, but I know God has good plans for him. And I can't believe that for him without understanding that it must also be true for me.

And I have a rare gift: the ability to throw my laundry in a bag in my car, pack my toothbrush and drive less than an hour to my parents', where welcome unfailingly awaits. Tonight, I definitely needed my mommy and daddy and their new manic furball puppy. Seriously. That eight-week-old bundle of spastic energy disguised as a baby poodle reminds me of little children buzzed on sugar, or Mark Lowry's old song "Hyperactivity:"

"They can tame the wind, they can calm the sea
But they'll never harness my energy
I'm the poster-boy for hyperactivity
It's not my fault the world's not keeping up with me!"

So, the past three weeks... a lot of living for little Jennifer (whether or not a 28-year-old woman nearly six feet tall can be described as little.) I'll take things rather calmer in the next few, thank you very much.

But, given the option, what would I trade? Certainly not the moments of having loved what I have lost. As a Christian, I believe firmly that God wastes no experience, that it all "means something."

Nor have these weeks been all hard. Kathy got married, and I got to be there for her. I got to spend some time with Donna and Tracy, whom I love dearly and haven't seen in months. My small group has started up again, and we're reading Don Miller's Blue Like Jazz; I adore that book. I've spoken on the phone with a new friend, leaving me with the impression that I just might have a lifelong friendship building with two amazing people. And, spastic energy and all, it feels great to have a dog greet me at this door again.

I also have to admit that it felt great to have my hair done prom-queen style for the wedding. It took sixty-four bobby pins and an ungodly amount of hair product. It looked absolutely fabulous. If anyone ever needs a good stylist in the Edmonds area, Bree at Bellissimo knows her stuff.

How very odd... that sounds just like my recommendation line for photographers in Montana :-D