Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Don't Be Fooled

The most recently updated blog on my list is actually not the uppermost one. The most recently updated blog is Brandon's (Turophilia). But Blogger is stupid and when you save a draft and publish it later, it publishes it retroactively, as if it had been published on the date it was started.

As you can see, I did fix the problem I was having before--Brandon's blog is now updated on my blog list. The problem was that under his blog's settings, in the "Site Feed" box, which is supposed to be empty, it had the former URL of his blog. So that just had to be deleted.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Michael Finnegan

Brandon apparently did not learn many children's songs when he was young, so I have had the privilege of introducing him to some. For example, Michael Finnegan.

"There was an old man named Michael Finnegan.
He had whiskers on his chinnegan.
They fell out and then grew in again.
Poor old Michael Finnegan, begin again.

"There was an old man named Michael Finnegan.
He grew fat and then grew thin again.
Then he died and had to begin again.
Poor old Michael Finnegan, begin again."

Brandon's observation: "Michael Finnegan had a wasting disease."

He said that a long time ago, but even thinking of it now makes me laugh and laugh.

But what I wonder about the song is, what is meant by "then he died and had to begin again"? The song was written before the video game era, when dying came to mean that you start over at the beginning of the level, or the last save point. And reincarnation has never been considered a normative American belief, so far as I am aware ... It is a mystery.

I was thinking about this song because the other day Brandon had to weigh some boxes, so he got out our scale and we discovered he has dwindled to a mere 109.6 lbs. He's not even eligible to give blood (which he exclaimed happily). I've also lately found myself trying to tighten my belt to the point where there aren't holes anymore. We seem to be wasting away, probably because we haven't been eating much meat.

Like most people, we get fat over the holidays (well, fat for us--which for Brandon is not fat at all--it just means he looks a little less skeletal than usual). But then, like Michael Finnegan, we get thin again. Unlike Michael Finnegan, we then get fat again at the next holiday season! I guess this is normal. But I just felt like commenting on it anyway.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Review: The Hurt Locker

After seeing the preview and reading reviews of The Hurt Locker, Brandon was pretty much obsessed with seeing it at the first possible opportunity. So instead of waiting for it to come to the cheap second run theater, we actually paid full (matinee) price to see it last weekend.

It certainly deserves the accolades it's received and entirely fulfilled the preview's promise. Exactly as advertised, the film is intensely suspenseful, a work of absorbing realism, taking you on a relentless tour from extremes of terror to moments of relief or of horrified grief and shock. It's a good war movie, a good action movie.

The main theme--the conflicts, triumphs, and failures of a hotshot, reckless loose cannon--is perhaps overfamiliar, and the film is sprinkled with predictable turns and cliches, but somehow, I didn't mind. The story is unoriginal, but it was told well, and acted superbly and humanly.

Be warned, though: we left the theater drained and dazed--a feeling which persisted quite a while afterward. The Hurt Locker is no light summer flick.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Are Germans Actually Super Quiet?

So, the other night we watched a movie called Shultze Gets the Blues. German film, about a retired miner (Shutlze) who gets into playing Zydeco music on his accordion. Kind of transcendental, I think, though I'm not sure what all that term implies. Lots of long shots of slow, everyday stuff happening. Anyway, the German people in the movie were all very, very quiet. Like in the one shot, where several pairs and trios of old men walk into a large room to play chess, and they're all perfectly silent.

I wondered whether people are actually like that in Germany, or if it was just a strange thing the filmmaker was doing to create a mood. Eventually Shultze comes to America and the contrast between the highly verbal and spontaneous Americans and the extreme social restraint seen in the scenes in Germany is very obvious. I guess I just find it hard to believe things are really like that over there.

Anyone who's been to Germany want to comment?

[Incidentally, if you want to watch the film, I do recommend it. But don't be fooled by the description on the back cover; it's a very sad, heart-wrenching movie.]

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Rant about Anti-Feminist Christians

Sometimes people say very ignorant sexist things about God and the Bible. It is only the second week of the class on the Pentateuch I am taking this summer and already I have heard numerous such ignorant sexist statements.

Perhaps the worst was that one woman said something along the lines of, feminists have had some good insights, but they've gone too far, because after all the Bible refers to humanity as "man."

Good grief. This is about on the level of people who say we know God is male because Jesus is male. That's like saying, "We know God has brown eyes, because Jesus has brown eyes." Sloppy, uncritical thinking!

It is not generally believed that every accident of the way of the Hebrew or Greek language works was specifically designed that way for the purpose of biblical revelation. The fact that Hebrew used the same word adam, to mean "a person," "a man," "Adam," or "humanity" is not an indication that humanity as an entity is essentially male. If we believed that, we would also believe that the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament was female, but then became genderless in New Testament times. The gender of a word--whether it is used of God or humanity--is in most cases only accidental, and is certainly not a revelation of the true gender of things.

Someone else objected when Dr. Goldingay pointed out that in the creation story of Genesis 2-3, the woman's subordination to the man is one of the curses, a regrettable result of sin having entered the world, not part of the way God originally ordered creation. The student was genuinely puzzled, "But aren't God's pronouncements meant for our benefit?"

Dr. Goldingay: "I don't see how the ground yielding thorns and thistles, and the breakdown of relationships between parents and children is for our benefit." The student had no reply, but remained unconvinced.

When you look at the texts of Genesis 1-3 without assuming they have to teach women are supposed to be suboridinated to men, it is more than obvious that they clearly support an egalitarian view of relationships between men and women. I don't know how people can think they've somehow gotten around that.

Well, anyway, that's all I wanted to say for now.