What I want you to know. Which is everything.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

I Just Had a Thought

Imagine you are digging a hole. You have your reasons for digging this hole and you explained your reasoning to everyone who has partial ownership in the land where the hole is being dug. No one is quite sure why you started the hole, but at the time you started, everyone trusted that you had your reasons for digging the hole, and that these reasons were honorable.

Unfortunately, nothing that you told them that was down there was actually there. You dig and dig and nothing shows up. Before long everyone thinks you're searching in vain and tries to convince you to get out of the hole and stop digging while you are still close enough to the top to get out. You ignore them and continue to dig your hole. Eventually you're just the idiot still digging a hole that goes nowhere all the while depleating the land of valuable resources and beauty.

Your reason for continuing to dig and for getting even deaper into the hole?

You don't want the terrorists to win.

So just keep digging. We'll show them.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Pan's Labyrinth

Amanda and I saw Pan's labyrinth yesterday. First of all, it was by far the most gruesome, violent movie I've seen in a long time, and certainly the most violent movie I wasn't expecting to be violent. With that said, it was also one of the most jarring and creative movies I've ever seen. Director, Guillermo del Toro mixes visual imagery and stunning camera work to take the viewer between World War 2 era Spain, who have just undergone a civil war, and the super-real world of Ofelia's mind. Ofelia is a little girl whose mother has remarried after losing her father. The mother is pregnant and Ofelia's stepfather, a Captain in the military, has insisted that they make a dangerous trek to where he is stationed to quell communist uprisings. On the way Ofelia's mom becomes sick and it is thought that she might lose the baby and even her own life.

While stopped to let her mother rest Ofelia spots a large bug looking object that she takes to be a fairy. An avid reader of fantasy stories, Ofelia has a vivid imagination and uses this imagination to escape and dream of fantastical lands that are unknown to the human world. We soon find out that her stepfather is a cruel and heartless fascist, who is obsessed with finding and killing a group of communist rebels. He's very Hitleresque in his approach, killing based on nothing but suspicion or disloyalty, with little regard for even his own wife. To him his wife is simply a carrier of his son, an heir to carry on his name and legacy. Much like his own father was, Captain Vidal is a brutal military man, with little to no patience for any opposition or insubordination. What I liked about this character was the depth of his villainy. He wasn't simply a man out for personal glory and use of his own goals as fuel for his sadism. Vidal is a Captain haunted by the memory and death of his father, like him a prideful authoritarian who believed that his family alone was destined and had rights to power, no matter the cost. Some of the most complex scenes take place with Vidal shaving in a mirror, contemplating suicide. In these moments where we get to witness his true demons we realize that he is simply a man more at war with himself than any communist rebels or dissidence.

Ofelia's fantasy world, in steep contrast to her reality, is a world where she is a princess, lost in the human world who is being drawn back to her true home in an underground kingdom where there is no pain or sadness. Del Toro takes us so seamlessly back and forth from the real world and Ofelia's that we begin to wonder if what Ofelia sees isn't, in fact, real. Her life in the underground world is introduced through the fairies who lead her to Pan, a Faun who looks more like a giant grasshopper than the half-human, half-goat creatures from the Narnia books. Pan sends on a number of quests to prove that she is the true princess of this underworld, and hasn't become too human in her time on earth.

Besides being beautifully filmed and extraordinarily acted (particularly by 12 year old Ivana Baquero), the story is as captivating as I've ever heard, and true down to the last moment of the film. You find yourself realizing that this film will actually go where most won't out of sheer obligation to honesty in story telling. Many will find that this isn't the typical fair because the bad guys are not necessarily going to get theirs while the good guys win. Pan's labyrinth is as sad, awesome and unbelievable a story as you will find in filmaking today.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Jabba the Snowman Imprisons Han in Substandard Carbonite Slush

Any time it gets really cold like this I think about different times in my childhood that it would freeze. It was about as close as we ever got to a "snow day" here in Southeast Texas. From my non-meteorological understanding, our humid state prevents it from snowing much, even when we do get a snap of cold pushed down from the North. So, in essence, what we end up having is beautiful, Spring-like weather that comes as naturally as a New England fall, followed by rain and a cold-front that freezes the rain. What you end up with is beautiful greenery encased in ice. Flowers that were tricked into believing that Spring was here, blossom only to be trapped by a thin sheet of glass. It's really pretty amazing and I imagine a circumstance that is unique to few parts of the world.

The unusually warm January days notwithstanding, as a child you see kids on TV playing in the snow, making snowmen and sledding down hills. Even if it does snow, we'd have no hill on which to sled, so that one's kind of a double whammy. You become a little jealous and even swear that you wouldn't mind having to shovel a little snow if it meant that you'd have the ability to make snowballs suitable for pelting your brother in the face.

But, on days like this one, when the temperature outside reaches the once a year low of 34 degrees, icicles hang from the eves of buildings like fruit, ready to be plucked from a tree. Only, very early on, I was warned by my mother that these seemingly tasty treats are actually filled with bird poo and should not be treated as nature's freezer pops. The puddles in front of the drive way would glaze over with ice the way that a pitcher of tea does in the refrigerator when it isn't drank soon enough and is stored near the back. Sometimes it would freeze long enough for these small patches of water to completely turn to ice and we would have ourselves our very own 2 by 5 foot ice rink in front of the drive way. Nevermind that we didn't own skates because tennis shoes were perfectly sufficient for sliding across a 5 foot plane of ice before halting abruptly on the cement, only to quickly regain your footing, lest you plummet head-first onto the pavement, or better yet, the next stretch of drain-water-ice.

The most fun, however, came when the ice would soften and a slushy-like substance could be formed. It was as close to snow as we ever experienced, and, despite it's sub-standard quality, it was all we needed. That brown, icey, substance, littered with bits of grass and gravel would become snowballs of mass detruction. Our battles turned to chemical warfare as snowballs laced with whatever diseases resided in the puddles and ditches of the neighborhood were tossed about, entangling in hair, wounds, clothes and any bodily oriface that would recieve them. It's a wonder none of us contracted some rare disease or unknown mutation.

Our snowmen were great, as well. The best that we were ever able to muster was, essentially a one foot tall mound of dirty slug with rocks for eyes that more resembled Jabba the Hut than Frosty. At this time in my life (I was probably in my later elementary years) I was constantly being made aware of the reality of life, and how real life almost never resembled the movies. Or, as is the case with our "Jabba the Snowman," I formed the impression that TV and movies presented only the most ideal of situations and that no one actually ever made the perfect snowman with the stereotypical tapered torsoe and perfectly round head. It seemed so unfathomable that any other place could actually get colder than it was, and that anywhere else in the world could actually make a better snowman. I was always one to believe that if someone else could do something, so could I. The later disappointment of realising that life is geographically unfair was akin to my mother telling me at the barber shop that my hair "just wouldn't do that." My mom broke this news as I pointed to the 50's greaser guy in the hair style book while waiting for a haircut. He was dressed in a leather jacket combing through a dark pompodore, looking very Fonziesque (I was a big Happy Days fan) and I figured that picking out a haircut was like skimming through a Sears catalogue. All I had to do was point to what I wanted and the stylist could deliver. Why couldn't I look like Fonzie with thin, straight, whispy blonde hair. It didn't make any sense to me.

And, it didn't make to me that kids in Ohio could build a proper snowman and I was burdened with an ice-turn-slush mixture that was as pliant as the bottom of a snowcone. The one time it did snow as a kid I remember being so disappointed because as soon as I'd gathered enough snow in my hand to form a decent snowball I'd hit the grass and was pulling up the green, green grass beneath. I'm sure it's odd to dig to the bottom of snow and find lush vegetation. Not that I'd know any different.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Pursuit of Happiness

It was a good movie. It inspired the title, and to a lesser extent the rant, itself. But the rant isn't about the Will Smith flick. It's about me.

Of course, no one is reading this blog anymore. And who can blame you? I don't read yours anymore and it's been almost a month since I've posted anything. The truth is that I've lost much of my previous interest in telling the world all about my life and what I think about various things, etc. I haven't abandoned my desire for attention, however, so I find myself conflicted. I also find myself without the time or the energy most of the time to write much about myself. I guess that's why lately if I have taken the time to blog it's been pretty superficial. Either that or it's an apology/explaination for the lack of writing. I realize that this means more to me than to the 3-4 people who actually read this, but the fact remains that I like to write. I'd like to say that I am committed to writing more often and about a plethora of important issues. I'm afraid, however that I just can't do that. Call me lazy, or perhaps I finally have my priorities straight, for once in my life, but when I spend the day teaching kids and after school teaching kids and the evenings directing and my time off with my wife, the old blogging has to take a back seat. And, those days during summer vacation when I would spend the entire day in my pajamas playing guitar, biking, cooking food and watching Curb Your Enthusiasm, you could make the arguement that I had the time to blog then. However, you forget that I was doing those things in leu of even MORE important things I should have been doing. See, if I'd had any discipline on days like that, it would have manifest itself in something actually worthwhile. What's sad, however, is that this used to be the thing I did so that I could put off other things. You know something has crossed over from being faddish obsession de jour to committed passtime/hobby, when for no rational reason you feel compelled to continue doing something that takes effort, and yet will still garner no substantial, tangeble gain. But, I still enjoy it, and I still believe it is good for me. I still believe that somewhere, someday, someone is going stumble onto this little blog and decide to give me a pilot. It's my own little "pursuit."