Monday, May 19, 2008

reality tv

life on tv is so interesting.  even mundane life is fascinating.  if it wasn't, it wouldn't be on tv (granted, there is plenty of evidence to the contrary on that point, but now is not the time).  
tim is a big fan of scrubs, and since he watches it a lot, i tend to see it, too.  the show does an excellent job of looking at the challenges each of us face, be it difficulties of work, the quest for love and the ensuing paradoxical relationships, loneliness, or just finding our place in our own lives.  the caveat is that, despite dealing with essentially real problems, because the people in the hospital have both writers and an audience, their struggles seem so much more interesting, exciting, and noble.  seeing zac braff get chewed out by dr. cox is very funny; watching him and his best friend celebrate their minor successes is cool; and his narrations over the pains of loneliness seem so profound, while our own lives look bland by comparison.  their trials look fun. ours, not so much.
so easy it is to get caught up in it, wishing that our lives were exciting like that.   but not even exciting because we're hunting down terrorists by ourselves, or becoming the next media pop sensation; tv can polish even everyday life just enough to make us wonder why our lives don't glisten like that.  it's easy to get caught by the sparkle.
if fabrications can be this interesting, then what about the original? our joys are true; our loneliness is sincere; our stories continue on.  if it's ok for our tv friend to fall short, to feel lost, then so much the more for us and our friends.
what i do love about scrubs, and what i think gives it its strength and reason to keep watching it is not the comedy (although it has given me more moments of genuine out-loud laughter than any show in a long time) but their honest admission that all of us are, so very often, just barely making it through each day.  and that the only reason we haven't collapsed in on ourselves is because of the people around us.  no matter how together some of us may seem, there probably isn't as much as strength as is displayed, and the stability that we do have comes from the people standing on either side of us, in front of us and behind us.  that's really cool.
but now it's time to turn off the tv.

Friday, May 16, 2008

see caspian

i was surprised at how much i enjoyed the lion, the witch, and the wardrobe a few years ago.  in fact, it tied with millions for my favorite film of 2005.  this was nice, because after three years of getting a great lord of the rings movie for Christmas every year, 2004 felt empty without any swords or wizards.  narnia successfully filled the void.
i didn't grow up on the books (i read it just a few days before i saw the movie), so i held no nostalgic bias.  but i loved everything about the first narnia movie: the casting all around, the battle at the end, aslan, santa claus, and the beavers.  especially the beavers, although i'm not fully sure why. 

last night we were at the midnight:05 showing for prince caspian, the second entry in the filmic series.  it's been one of the movies i'm most looking forward to this summer, since the first was so darn good and last night did not disappoint.  it was everything i wanted it to be and then some: as good as the first, and sometimes better.  
and it seems that everyone felt it was as good as the first, although bear in mind that everyone has differing opinions about just how good the first movie is.
this morning i perused the review websites, hoping to see praises galore for the movie.  i was a little disappointed to see moderately positive reviews, citing the films flaws but saying it's generally pretty good.  as i read them, i usually agreed with the stated weaknesses (it doesn't have the character depth of lord of the rings).   nevertheless, for me, i dare say it will be on my top 5 movies of 2008.
go check it out.  it's oh so good.

and if you have young ones, keep in mind that it's got some pretty hefty fight scenes.  like the first movie, the battles aren't bloody, but they're tough enough to make you feel that it's a dangerous place.

Thursday, May 15, 2008


the chris was once meeting the family of a girl he was dating.  as they were talking with him, they became impressed with his interests and accomplishments. "is there anything wrong with you?" they asked.
"well," chris admitted, "i don't like sports very much."
"even better!" said the family.

everyone is looking for a perfect match, but everyone's "perfect match" is different.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

someone like you

i was once lamenting to a friend about a girl whom i liked but didn't like me back.
"why would you want to be with someone who didn't like you?" he asked.

that question is either ironic or irrelevant, depending on how you take it. one could argue that, "well, i wish she would like me." otherwise, it makes its swift point, leaving you with no option but to concede they're right.

at church today, i was looking around and saw several girls i think are pretty. "i'd be nice if she had a crush on me" is an easy thought to nurse. yes, it would be nice to have one of the pretty girls from church interested in me. but when i imagine that, i also imagine that her interests are the same as mine.  i want to her like me and to like coming to classic movie night and to sing with me in the car and to read my blog with the same rapt attention that you have right now. i don't just want her to like me, i want her to change to be everything i want, and automatically include that when i imagine if she liked me.

how often does this happen even in relationships where people do like each other? that, even when there is a mutual attraction, we want more than them to like us: we want them to like all that we like, and to be all that we imagine could or should be.  it's hard to step back and remember that we liked them they way they were, and need to continue to like them for them, not for us.

in reality, i really don't have any serious interest in anyone at church; i just got thinking about the whole thing.

Friday, May 09, 2008

too much or not enough

in seventh grade our school play was "backstage broadway revue," a hodgepodge of short scenes, songs, and monologues. my shining moment was playing a "baby" with mary soumala, in which we sang a song about it being ok to be who you are. i was proud of it, as it was one of the few roles in the play that wasn't a large ensemble piece. my best friend jon, however, had a monologue scene that was actually rather good. he talked about the literal out-of-place physicality of the junior high years, being too tall for some things, yet too small for others. jon was often short for our grade (while i was tall for the times), so this made him an ideal choice for the role (he was also a good actor, a rarity especially then). "too old to go trick-or-treating, too young to drive," he lamented. "too tall to play on the playground, too small to ride the rollercoasters."

a decade and a half later, it's easy to feel the same way about dating.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

reading and writing... for kids!

i'm helping cheryl out at her elementary school.  it's wednesday night, shortly after 9 pm.  taking a break from organizing pictures from a field trip on iphoto, i glance over at the book order and see a book entitled "the cat-- you go, graduate!" it looks like something that may appeal to children, but all in all, it looks rather silly.  further inspection reveals that this is a sticker book.  even in elementary school, i had no interest in those; still, kids in my class did order them, leaving not the question of who buys this, but, rather, who makes this?  were they proud of it, or is it a sort of embarassing job, and do they really want to do graphic design for a high class ad agency, or write for time magazine?  is the photographer, using an extreme-wide angle lens to photograph a cat in a graduation cap, hiding this in their resume, or is this a marketable style, off which one can live well?
scanning the rest of the book order cover, it's easy to look over it and think that these are written by writers who never achieved their dreams, and to feel the tragedy with that.  perhaps they dreamt of being a new york times bestseller, and yet have produced nothing more than a short series of paperbacks featured in an elementary school book order.  and while not everyone's life success is based on their professional accomplishments (i've been working with adam baldwin the past few days; on his imdb page, he says that acting is not his life's work; his family is. that's oh so cool), professional success is not determined by the most glamorous or critically acclaimed, either.  there's a good chance many of these people are doing what they enjoy: writing for children.  

when i was in fifth grade, the robert asp middle school had a book fair.  the lunchroom-gymnasium was filled with wheeled bookshelves that could be folded shut and rolled away, off to the next school.  near the back corner of the room, close to the right side of the school stage, i saw a book entitled, my teacher is an alien.  i generally liked school, and never suspected my teachers as being anything more than good people, but this title was still too much to resist.  i loved the story, and it turned out to be by the same author as monster of the year, another book i'd picked up earlier.  the author was bruce coville, a name i didn't need to look up or struggle to remember.
throughout my middle school years, i loved bruce coville's books.  jeremy thatcher, dragon hatcher; the monster's ring; stories about boys my age but where my imagination wanted to go, where the fantastic was allowed to mingle.
of all of his books, the my teacher is an alien series was the best.  the first three books were each written from the perspective of a different student, all introduced in the first, providing not only wonderful viewpoints of mutual events (although the stories were largely separate from one another), but also three very distinct narrators, allowing a middle school mind to experience varying characters and backgrounds.  of that series, the third book has always been my favorite (it was also the last one i acquired, if i remember correctly).  my teacher glows in the dark picked up where the first book ended, with the nerdy kid choosing to leave with the eponymous teacher-alien.  what was so enthralling about the story was that the boundaries of imagination seemed to have been taken down.  mr. coville created an alien spaceship and culture that, even now, seems as realistic as anything i've heard of, provided we let ourselves believe in an alien superculture.
unlike the aliens in the majority of sci-fi, be it the hallowed "star wars" trilogy or "aliens" or whatever you like, the creatures are just scary, goofy, furry, slimy, or different creatures.  but they're still creatures--like something we might find in a cave in the himalayas or the yucatan.  the captain of the spaceship put it best, bemoaning, "you carbon-based life forms are so molecular-centric.  until you meet another form of life, you seem convinced that carbon is the only way to grow." (p.30)  the reasoning behind this is clarified when you know that the ship's captain was best described as a large tank with crystals floating inside.
and that is what i loved about the story.  aliens who created with smells, others who were seemingly little more than a shadow, communicating through flickering; explanations on how language translation works amongst a multitude of races; descriptions of how a ship moves across intergalactic distances, and even transportation within a spaceship the size of new jersey (incidentally, the ship is named, "the new jersey" for that reason).
and when they discuss the issue of humans developing interplanetary travel (which leads to the thesis of the whole series, one that gets overly preachy yet still raises good questions for young readers), the captain explaining they "don't mind you exploring your own solar system; there's not much there anyway.  but if we cannot allow you to carry this sickness, whatever it is, into the galaxy at large," well, things like that just let my mind wander.  (page 32)

"i nodded to him, and he made a gesture which translated into, 'i salute your sinus cavities'--something i'm sure had more meaning for him than it did for me." (p.88) 

for writing children's books, for making them available in scholastic book orders, for letting my imagination roam when i was 12, and for sustaining the wonder a decade and a half later, mr. coville, i salute your sinus cavities.

Sunday, May 04, 2008


i've been thinking about what it means to choose the right.  it is easy to think that when we make the right choice, that things will get easier, that our struggles will lessen.  it really sounds like that's what should happen when we do the right thing.
in the end, it always will.  choosing the right will bring us the rewards we really want, the deeper happiness, the greater security.  in the end.
but the end rarely comes right after we make our decisions.  very often, choosing the right means following the road less traveled.  things get harder.    we don't see the results we were seemingly told would come when we chose the better part.  we think that choosing the right will bring ease, comfort, immediate happiness, and/or a clear and obvious success.  it's then that we begin to wonder, "did i make the right choice?"  "did i do good?"  "does it matter?"
the answer is a resounding, YES!  and after the choice has been chosen, after we have made our selection because we saw it as the better half, the nobler part, the wiser path, we then step into shadows.  this is the exciting time, when we can hold on to what we believed, remembering that we did, indeed, choose the right.  often, this is a battle within the quiet walls of our hearts, fields where no one else knows of our struggles.  yet these silent choices are what shape us into who we become. 
wait for the reward; it may tarry, but it will come.