Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Hecticity

Does anyone else think it's funny that their Google reader is completely empty? What? Do all you Bloggers have something going on?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Train Movie

A Review of While You Were Sleeping, by Moses, with Alia

I have rarely been as moved by a Train Movie as I am by While You Were Sleeping. The story begins when Peter gets pushed onto The Tracks of the "El" in Chicago. My pulse never fails to quicken as I watch the train coming down the tracks, blaring it's beautiful signal. Never mind that I have watched this movie a dozen times over the last month. My mother shares a love of this movie with me and so allows me to indulge in it often, although I believe that she may enjoy it for a different set of reasons.
Th centrality of the El to the movie is something that impresses itself upon me. Bullock is often seen exiting the train to visit Peter in the hospital, there is the confusion regarding the pregnancy at the station, and obviously Jack proposes at the station. But the crowning moment of all is when they ride off to their honeymoon in the caboose. I hope that someday I will find a woman who will share this dream of mine and we will, together, ride off in our own caboose.
I have often been overheard commenting that this is now my favorite movie and I would have to confirm these reports. This is because I love "trains without faces" - trains, hard at work in the everyday lives of people. People without family during the holidays. People in comas who may or may not be engaged to married women. People who love creamy mashed potatoes. People falling in love. Ahhh. I simply cannot get enough. But sadly, my days of enjoying adult cinema may be at an end because, innocent as this movie may seem, my mother did catch me chasing my sister around yesterday, shouting, "Come here! You one-balled bastard!"
I don't know why this quotation is causing a change of heart in her willingness to allow me to view this movie, she seemed to find it immensely amusing.
In the final analysis, I would have to give this holiday movie two-thumbs up.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Holiday Request

Some very dear friends of ours from college and from my home town in MI - people who we have worked with in Catholic radio and have had joint birthday parties with - people who we have celebrated the birth of our children together and attended the funerals of mutual friends with - now have their own set of troubles.
The long and short of it is that Nick is 29, has had brain surgery and chemo but his brain tumor has begun to grow again. He recently had a seizure while driving his wife and 2 year old daughter to Thanksgiving dinner and totaled the car. He will be undergoing more chemo and radiation shortly.
On top of the serious medical circumstances that they now face they will be running into financial burdens too with copays and coinsurance. Nick has sacrificed a lot of worldly goods and prestige to work for Catholic radio and spread Christ's gospel message through this powerful medium. He has worked for my father for many years and believe me, Catholic radio is not the place to get rich. Heck, it's not even the place to get comfortably secure.
Please consider giving something this holiday season to my dear friends who are now suffering with Christ in ways that most of us are not called to.

There is a paypal option from this blog.

God bless your Advent season.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Quick Takes Friday - Winter Edition

1. What, WHAT, WHAT is up with the lawn ornaments is Western Maryland? I noticed that in the summertime there were often more pinwheels, flags, and rocks with scripture passages on them in gardens then there were flowers. Even, and it pains me to say this, but plastic or satin flowers IN the gardens. I kid you not. Not my style but hey - who am I to judge? That being said, I think that even Jesus, possibly especially Jesus, would judge the tackiness of the Christmas decor on most of the lawns surrounding me.
One gigantic inflatable snow globe is really bad enough but FOUR? Or how about the 2 dozen plastic, light up candy canes and snowmen lining the walk? You cannot drive anywhere without your eyes burning with the overwhelming sheen of the COLORED lights. Gag. And the worst offender that I've been witness to thus far is an oversized, inflatable santa on a motorcycle. Now - now I ax ya, what do you expect me to think?
I have an explanation. There is no snow. People feel like they have to go completely crazy "decorating their lawn" because winter is a bit ugly here. No snow, just dead grass and mud. Which brings me to...
2. I am a winter snob. This move from Michigan to Maryland has just confirmed the snobbishness in a severe way. The other day I was listening to my morning radio and heard the weather people warn about leaving the house using words like "frigid", "bitterly cold", "freezing". This last one cracked me up because the high for the day wasn't even actually below freezing. It was topping out at 34. Thirty-four degrees was the temperature that last year I chose as the temperature that I could still take the kids out for a walk or a 1/2 hour at the playground.
Then I went out in this "bitterly cold" weather and walked all the way across campus and my face didn't hurt. It was cold but it didn't hurt. That is my personal indicator of "bitterly cold", the face needs to hurt when it comes into contact with outside air.
3. Being in a warmer climate makes me homesick. Don't get me wrong. I am finding it very pleasant that I don't have to put gloves and hats on the kids when we go outside and I thoroughly love the extension of Fall and Spring that we experience here, South of the Mason Dixon line (by 2 miles). But I am sad that there is no snow, that there is no really good reason to drink Hot Chocolate. No days where you CAN'T dig your car out of the snow so you just stay home and watch The Grinch. Because of this homesickness I have done a very strange and possible unwise thing.
4. I bought skis. I bought a PASS to the ski resort down the street. I did this very economically (my ski boots cost $20 for instance) but it still seems like an utterly indulgent thing to do. Here are the facts: I have only skied for three weekends on my life. One of them was in CO and let's just say that my rear-end still isn't quite the same. But I LOVE it. I love the cold, the snow, the five or ten seconds that I'm upright and whizzing down the hill. It is glorious.
I will be going skiing by myself. I am not a person who enjoys doing much by myself - I prefer companionship but in this case it's probably better that no one sees me. Plus, God always seems very close when there is snow on the ground and quiet in the air. I won't really be alone.
Regarding my homesickness, there is always snow at a ski resort. They make it. I will get my, "winter fix," as my mother put it. She is also a winter-fiend so she understands my basic Maryland problem. So that is that. I did, I bought skis. Now I walk around saying things like, "I'm a skier. I ski." I haven't actually had a chance to do it since it's been raining non-stop all week but still.
5. We bought our first REAL tree this year. Until now we've been in apartments that have outlawed it. David hunted it and cut it down while we carried Gus in the carseat and Lily on our hip and Moses whined about being cold. But it snowed for us. Big, beautiful flakes. And while they were bailing our tree they served free hot cider. It was perfect. Earlier in the day we went down to the firehouse (the centralizing force in Emmitsburg - more on that in a later post) to see a magician and Santa. I think that magic tricks are mostly wasted on the preschool aged child. They accept as "normal" all sorts of things that don't make sense to them anyway, so why shouldn't a rabbit appear out of a hat? They live by Chesterton's "Ethics of Elfland" and so are not awed by "magic" as adults are.
Chesterton writes of his childhood perceptions and how they shaped his adult perception of so-called, "natural phenomena":
I had always vaguely felt facts to be miracles in the sense that they are wonderful: now I began to think them miracles in the stricter sense that they were wilful. I mean that they were, or might be, repeated exercises of some will. In short, I had always believed that the world involved magic: now I thought that perhaps it involved a magician.
The "facts" he now believes to be miracles instead of simply magic are the simple facts of everyday life - he uses the example of the sun rising. I have quoted him here before on this and actually, this blog's url is taken from this quote but it's so good that I'll share it one more time.
It might be true that the sun rises regularly because he never gets tired of rising. His routine might be due, not to a lifelessness, but to a rush of life...for grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, "Do it again" to the sun; and every evening, "Do it again" to the moon...I may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.
I have truncated the quote for the sake of brevity but if you are interested please read, Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton. There are few things more worth your time.

Visit Jen at Conversion Diary for more Quick Takes