Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Elmo is jolted out of bed, twice, scared and frazzled. At the conclusion of the nightmare-inducing song, Gervais offers Elmo a cup of soothing warm milk but the damage is already done, with the poor puppet's hair standing on end.
According to the people counters at the Public Broadcasting System, viewers didn't share our reaction. "As of today, Viewer Services didn't receive any comments of note from parents regarding that episode," PBS spokesperson Jake Landis tells ParentDish.
How that can be is beyond us. Kids need images of trustworthy grown-ups, especially as they're relaxing at bedtime...
You missed the boat on this one, Seseme Street. -Parentdish.com
Is this just an isolated nut or an example of something bigger?
Aren't we protecting our children to the point of hurting them down the road?
Are children all over the world lying awake in fear of Ricky Gervais?
Isn't an effeminate monster more unsettling?
Saturday, December 26, 2009
"The question is: Where would it get you if something that's a little bit ambiguous in the movie is made clear? It doesn't get you anywhere." -Director Joel Coen (in reference to Barton Fink)
Ed Tom. Anton. Say it quickly.
It is no coincidence that the words sound similar off the tongue. The complete opposite sides of the same coin.
Sheriff Ed Tom Bell chases Anton Chigurh, a man who is evil personified. Maybe he is a ghost. More likely, he is the grim reaper.
He seems to be on his way to collect Llewellyn Moss. Moss is overall a good man, but one who sees his opportunity for the big score and is taking it.
While Anton is the flashiest character, the film is not about him really as much as it is about the reaction of the characters who encounter him. And the main characters never see him. But they still feel the effects of the encounters. Llewellyn claims that he has seen him, but he really only saw his boots.
Anton Chigurh does have a code. "I got here the same way the coin did." He feels he is simply floating along. That the fate he delivers was foreseen long ago, anyway.
Carla Jean: No. I'm not gonna call it
Anton: Call it.
Carla Jean: The coin don't have no say. It's just you.
His fate and chance concept has been jarred by Carla Jean not taking part. And in a sense she gains a small victory. Chigurh is off kilter from that moment.
Just maybe she is the hero of the film.
Sheriff Bell: "The crime you see now, it's hard to even take its measure. It's not that I'm afraid of it. I always knew you had to be willing to die to even do this job -- not to be glorious. But I don't want to push my chips forward and go out and meet something I don't understand.
You can say it's my job to fight it but I don't know what it is anymore. More than that, I don't want to know. A man would have to put his soul at hazard. He would have to say, OK, I'll be part of this world.... "
Ok, I'll be part of this world. Does Sheriff Bell agree at the end to be part of this world? Or has he unequivocally said, 'no thanks'. Is the interpretation of the ending, decided by what the viewer thinks the answer should be to that question?
While this film was still in theaters, I swayed one of my closest friends, who had not yet seen the film, to go see it with me. I had seen it already but wanted to see it again.
I could tell he was enjoying the picture throughout. Then it ended. My friend looked at me and said, "really?" And not in a happy way.
Much has been made of the ending and to me it could not be better. So many films end in a way that betrays everything that came before. No Country For Old Men gets it just right.
This is a masterpiece.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
The result was an album with a sense of drama that no one could match all year — more proof that a band that isn't busy being born is busy dying. -Rolling Stone
People know I am a U2 fan. Save a cover song they did for a new charity website this time last year, I have purposely stayed away from talking about them. But the Rolling Stone critics just named their album No Line On The Horizon as the best of the year.
They also named the song Moment Of Surrender as the best song of the year, stating; "The most devastating ballad U2 — or anyone — has delivered since 'One.'"
So for that, I thought I would share things I know/think about this album, from the religious viewpoint of it. So, going down most of the songs and many lyrics....
No Line On The Horizon
"That moment where the sea and the sky blend into one. It's an image of infinity.” -The Edge
(an overt praise song)
I was born
I was born to be with you
In this space and time
After that and ever after
I haven't had a clue
I was born
I was born to sing for you
I didn't have a choice
But to lift you up
And sing whatever song you wanted me to
I give you back my voice
From the womb my first cry
It was a joyful noise
Moment of SurrenderA drug user letting go and surrendering to GodWe set ourselves on fire
Oh God, do not deny her
It's not if I believe in love
But if love believes in me (1 John 4:10)Oh, believe in me
At the moment of surrender
I folded to my knees
I did not notice the passers-by
And they did not notice me
I was speeding on the subway
Through the stations of the cross
Every eye looking every other way
Counting down 'til the pain will stop
The most difficult song on the album, to get a handle on. But currently a favorite.
The same man from Moment of Surrender receives a call on his cell from God, even though the phone has “no signal at all.” Trying to reach his dealer during a relapse, instead he gets curious texts. Seemingly nonsensical at first look.
3:33 refers to one of Bono’s favorite bible verses. Jeremiah 3:33 "Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known." He has referred to it as “God’s telephone number”Bono put 3:33 on the cover of the All That You Can’t Leave Behind album…as a gate number behind the band as they stand in an airport.
I was lost between the midnight and the dawning
In a place of no consequence or company
3:33 when the numbers fell off the clock face
Speed-dialing with no signal at all
Go, shout it out, rise up
Escape yourself and gravity
Hear me, cease to speak that I may speak
Shout for joy if you get the chance
Password, you, enter here, right now
You know your name so punch it in
Hear me, cease to speak that I may speak
I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy TonightA classic dual meaning: “letting go and letting God in” but its not always easyIt's not a hill, it's a mountain
As you start out the climb
Do you believe me or are you doubting
We're gonna make it all the way to the light
But I know I'll go crazy if I don't go crazy tonight
'Cause the sweetest melody is the one we haven't heard
Is it true that perfect love drives out all fear? 1 John 4:18 (perfect love drives out fear)
Get On Your Boots
If there is ONE word that is the recurrent theme of the album, its SOUND. Sound as in the sound we hear…. the sound as in a body of waterLet me in the sound
Let me in the sound, now
God, I'm going down
I don't wanna drown now
Meet me in the sound
The central eschatological metaphor of No Line is the sound of the divine song, heard only by those who have the ears to hear it, yet unconsciously sought by everyone, for all people were created to hear and sing this song.
-Baptist Free Press
Stand Up ComedyI can stand up for hope, faith, love (1 Corinthians 13:13)
But while I'm getting over certainty
Stop helping God across the road
Like a little old lady
Out from under your beds
C'mon, ye people
Stand up for your love
God is love
And love is evolution's very best day
White As Snow (John 1:29)Melody is based on “Oh Come, Oh Come Emmanuel” It is the last moments of a soldier who has just been hit by a road side bomb in Afghanistan.Where I came from there were no hills at all
The land was flat, the highway straight and wide
My brother and I would drive for hours
Like we had years instead of days
Our faces as pale as the dirty snow
Once I knew there was a love divine
Then came a time I thought it knew me not
Who can forgive forgiveness where forgiveness is not
Only the lamb as white as snow
Now this dry ground, it bears no fruit at all
Only poppies laugh under the crescent moon
The road refuses strangers
The land, the seeds we sow
Where might we find the lamb as white as snow
As boys we would go hunting in the woods
To sleep the night shooting out the stars
Now the wolves are every passing stranger
Every face we cannot know
If only a heart could be as white as snow
If only a heart could be as white as snow
The soldier's remembrance of his baptism, having received the forgiveness of "the lamb as white as snow." But he also remembers his post-baptismal life with regret, for neither his heart nor the hearts of others who have brought him, and the world, to this point have been "as white as snow."
-Baptist Free Press
BreatheEvery day I die again, and again I'm reborn (see John 3:3)
We are people borne of sound
The songs are in our eyes
Gonna wear them like a crown
I've found grace inside a sound
I found grace, it's all that I found
And I can breathe
Cedars of LebanonThe Cedars of Lebanon are mentioned often in the bible. The wood used to construct Solomon’s temple.
The song has Bono singing in the 3rd person. He is playing a character again. This time the character is a war reporter in Afghanistan.
He seems to be having an affair possibly or maybe just is in an inward turmoilYou say you're not going to leave the truth alone
I'm here 'cause I don't want to go home
You're so high above me, higher than everyone
Where are you in the Cedars of Lebanon?
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
#4 In The Bedroom
"… a genuine modern tragedy. It's also the best movie of the last several years: the most evocative, the most mysterious, the most inconsolably devastating… I could barely breathe; I swore at the screen; I called for blood; I cried for vigilantism to restore the natural order; and I sat in shock when the natural order was and wasn't restored. That's the thing about a masterpiece like In the Bedroom. It isn't over when you leave the theater. It isn't over when you brood on it for days. It's just always going to be there, in the air." - David Edelstein
Jason stares at the disfigured creature.
Oh Boy…now you see what happened to this poor fellow?
Well, the trap has nylon nets called heads—2 side heads at both sides, so the lobster can crawl in. The “Bedroom” head inside, holds the bait and keeps it from escaping—you know the old saying “two’s company three’s a crowd”?
#3 Kill Bill Volume 2
Watching a Tarantino film is watching the work of movies' biggest fan. His films aren't about any one thing as much as they are simply about your experience watching them.
My first knowledge of Quentin Taratino was that he created a specific scene that was considered so brutal, it was talked about endlessly. (The torture scene in Reservoir Dogs). But for as violent as Tarantino's reputation is (and he is) what of that torture did he actually show? None of it.
Tarantino knows the build up is where the greatest tension is.
"I'm gonna deliver you a genre...but I'm gonna deliver it to you in a cockeyed way."-Quentin Tarantino
Both films taken together, you have a 4 hour revenge epic that ends with 30 minutes of dialogue.
"There is a love story going on. It's a crazy, wacked love story. But a love story never the less." -Quentin Tarantino
#2 The Passion Of The Christ
A more violent film than the last one. But probably the most effective and essential use of violence in any film, ever.
"For me it's the most effective part. The sacrifice. The sacrificial part of the story." -Mel Gibson
...Just as there were many who were
appalled at him
his appearance was so disfigured
beyond that of any man
and his form marred beyond human likeness Isaiah 52:14
"This is not a Passion like any other ever filmed. Perhaps that is the best reason for it...
It is a personal message movie of the most radical kind, attempting to re-create events of personal urgency to Gibson. The filmmaker has put his artistry and fortune at the service of his conviction and belief, and that doesn't happen often...
I myself am no longer religious in the sense that a long-ago altar boy thought he should be, but I can respond to the power of belief whether I agree or not, and when I find it in a film, I must respect it." -Roger Ebert
Sunday, December 13, 2009
I assumed most people would find this a charming film at the very least. It happens to be one of the most devisive films on the list. It is a love it or hate it movie that I fell for totally.
People have slowed down the film and used audio technology to try and figure out just what they are saying at the end. That's the whole point! Luckily, it remains a mystery. Must every film explain every darn thing to us?
Sometimes you meet the exact right person for the exact right moment.
"It is my favorite film ever, that I have appeared in." -Bill Murray
M. Night Shyamalan does his best Hitchcock impression. It is funny, touching, and even deep.
"I cannot think of a movie where silence is scarier, and inaction is more disturbing." -Roger Ebert
#5 The Three Burials Of Melquiades Estrada
Tommy Lee Jones' directorial debut.
The need for people to reach out to one another. The value of friendship in a state of such other loneliness. Grace. Redemption.
"Tommy Lee Jones wrote his Harvard thesis on Catholic writer Flannery O'Connor...
You'd swear Jones had uncovered the great lost Flannery O'Connor story and turned it into a movie." - John Hurst Christianity Today
Saturday, December 12, 2009
10: Pan's Labyrinth
"Pan's Labyrinth" is one of the cinema's great fantasies, rich with darkness and wonder. It's a fairy tale of such potency and awesome beauty that it reconnects the adult imagination to the primal thrill and horror of the stories that held us spellbound as children." -Roger Ebert
That is not to confuse this with a "children's film" which it is not. As Ebert also says, "it is a harsh and uncompromising film." Uncompromising to its great credit.
9: Almost Famous
It just makes you feel good. The fact that Cameron Crowe can create a film like this and "Say Anything" just makes it all the more frustrating when he fails (as in Elizabethtown). Made Kate Hudson a star. Still waiting for her to equal this one.
8. Inglourious Basterds
A collection of great long scenes. Almost all of which are interrogation scenes. Tarantino also shows faith in his audience. Maybe we don't always know why we are a bit on edge, but explaining why, would just ruin the moment.
Example: Shoshanna, a Jew who is obviously hiding that fact, while eating with Nazi Col. Landa at dinner. The undercurrent tension is when Landa orders her the crème fraiche. We get extreme closeups of the dessert. Just what is it about that crème?
While there are plenty of great things to ponder in the film such as this example, the key is it turns out to be just darn entertaining. If Tarantino could have only written history. In this case, he did.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
As a fan of Irish singer Damien Rice, I quickly became a fan of the young woman that sang on many if his songs, Lisa Hannigan. Like many I suspect, I was immediately looking up what other music this woman, with one of the most enjoyable voices I ever heard, was responsible for. Turned out, nothing.
Despite being a multi-instrumentalist, she was Damien Rice's female vocalist and that was really about it. I found I was looking forward to new Damien Rice music mostly to hear new stuff from Lisa Hannigan. Then Rice did Hannigan, and maybe us a giant favor. He fired her.
Ten minutes before a show in Germany.
Although there has never been any explanation behind the firing, Hannigan cites, or maybe assumes, creative differences.
"Looking back with some healthy hindsight, I can say it was the best thing that ever happened to me." -Lisa Hannigan
There are also reports Rice quickly regretted his decision and asked Hannigan to come back. I think he realized, he might find another female vocalist to fill Hannigan's role, but he will never be able to replace her.
For me, Hannigan is that artist you want to share with friends, but not everyone. I have the selfish desire to have her stay a bit under the radar; to stay just a bit of a secret. A secret I feel special for being in on.
"It's that moment where you see the turn of somebody's elbow or a book peeking out of someone's bag on the train," Hannigan says. "And — I do this anyway — I sort of construct a person behind it, invariably positive. And I think that song is about that moment, where you're sort of full of hope about someone you really have no idea about." -Lisa Hannigan
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Thursday, November 19, 2009
What is the appeal of a shirt that has sold so many, it is one of Amazon's top sellers of any item?
To get an idea, check out the customer reviews.
Last year, B.Govern wrote:
Pros: “Fits my girthy frame, has wolves on it, attracts women.”
Cons: “Only 3 wolves … cannot see wolves when sitting with arms crossed, wolves would have been better if they glowed in the dark.”
Then in May of this year people started responding with similar reviews.
Now there are 1563 reviews and counting, many extrememy humorous.
The Chicago Tribune dubbed this, Customer Review Comedy.
"The women knew from the wolves on my shirt that I, like a wolf, am a mysterious loner who knows how to 'howl at the moon' from time to time (if you catch my drift!). The women that approached me wanted to know if I would be their boyfriend and/or give them money for something they called mehth. I told them no, because they didn't have enough teeth, and frankly a man with a wolf-shirt shouldn't settle for the first thing that comes to him."
"Unfortunately I already had this exact picture tattooed on my chest, but this shirt is very useful in colder weather.
"I admit it, I'm a ladies' man. And when you put this shirt on a ladies' man, it's like giving an AK-47 to a ninja."
Even when given a negative review, people seem to find good things to say.
" There is one thing, though, and that is that whenever I wear the wolf shirt I have a lot less issues with involuntary urination. I have not studied it long enough, however, to establish a cause/effect relationship.
Once, however, while wearing the wolf shirt I was mistaken for Schneider, the building superintendent on "One Day at a Time.
So I guess the jury is still out. "
There is another thread of Customer Review Comedy on Amazon for, Tuscan Whole Milk.
A witty reviewer named Edgar wrote out a quite lengthy parody of The Raven.
Once upon a mid-day sunny, while I savored Nuts 'N Honey,
With my Tuscan Whole Milk, 1 gal, 128 fl. oz., I swore
As I went on with my lapping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at the icebox door.
'Bad condensor, that,' I muttered, 'vibrating the icebox door -
Only this, and nothing more.'
Instead of a raven, our poem gives us a cat at the end, who has spilled Tuscan milk on the floor.
Toward the mess she showed no pity, 'til I said, 'Well, hello, kitty!'
Sought she me with pretty eyes that seemed to open some rapport.
So I pleaded, 'Tell me, tell me what it is that you implore!'
Quoth the kitten, 'Get some more.'
Catherine Swinford analogizes her Tuscan Milk relationship with the state of her marriage. That starts off so passionately, but eventually, turns sour.
After a long hard week full of days he would burst through the door, his fatigue hidden behind a smile. There was an icy jug of Tuscan Whole Milk, 1 Gallon, 128 fl oz in his right hand. With his left hand he would grip my waist - I was always cooking dinner - and press the cold frostiness of the jug against my arm as he kissed my cheek. I would jump, mostly to gratify him after a time, and smile lovingly at him. He was a good man, a wonderful husband who always brought the milk on Friday, Tuscan Whole Milk, 1 Gallon, 128 fl oz.
Then one day, he stops bringing home the milk.
That was when I knew. He was tired of this life with me, tired of bringing home the Tuscan Whole Milk, 1 Gallon, 128 fl oz. He was probably shoveling funds into a secret bank account, looking at apartments in town, casting furtive glances at cashiers and secretaries and waitresses. That's when I knew it was over. Some time later he moved in with a cashier from the Food Mart down the street. And me? Well, I've gone soy.
Poetry: "Engorging the nostrils of naughty milk maids."
Serious warning: "Do not buy this product used!"
And if you were wondering about drinking Tuscan Milk, while wearing the Three Wolf Moon T-Shirt...
“I accidentally spilled a glass of Tuscan Whole Milk down the front of this shirt, and my soul was torn from my body and thrown into heaven by a jealous God.”
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Matthew Bailey, a parishioner in the Franktown United Methodist Church in Virginia, and the genuis behind MattBaileyForthe NobelPeacePrize, believes that the meaning of the ritual is what matters.
"If people are willing to go to the trouble of giving their own Communion, then it is quite probably 'real' for them," he says. While Bailey chooses to remain at his face-to-face church, he believes any person "faithfully attending an online church service, is being more proactive, and thus probably more attentive, than many longtime churchgoers."
This is what I said.
"People who have gone to church for years often lose sight of why, beyond its routine. Someone new to Christianity, that is faithfully attending an online church service, is being more proactive, and thus probably more attentive, than many longtime churchgoers."
Check out the article at
There is also a quote from the guy that started this whole discussion (for this site). Shore native and author of SimChurch, Douglas Estes. And the only reason I got to talk to CNN.
Monday, November 2, 2009
by Lillion Kwon Christian Post Reporter
The Christian church is engaging far less than 1 percent of the 70 million people who are active in the virtual world. This means the virtual world is by far the largest unreached people group on planet Earth, says one pastor.
Douglas Estes, a pastor from San Jose, Calif., has no vested interest in virtual or internet churches – a relatively new phenomenon – but given the large "unreached" population on the internet, he says he has a desire to see healthy churches proliferate "regardless of context."
Although he leads a brick and mortar church (Berryessa Valley Church), Estes defends virtual churches against critics in his newly released book, SimChurch: Being the Church in the Virtual World, maintaining that they are real churches with real people.
He summed up his argument in a recent post on Christianity Today's Out of Ur blog: "People are led to believe that members of online churches all connect to their video-game church as anonymous zombies in a Tron-like world. Supposedly these virtual (fake) Christians never really know each other, it’s all a facade, and that this is the sum and total of a virtual church.
"The real truth is that every virtual church I’ve ever attended has flesh-and-blood people in virtual (real!) community with other flesh-and-blood people whose primary meeting place is in synthetic space."
In recent years, Christians have begun to take on the internet by building church communities in virtual worlds like Second Life and The Sims and launching internet campuses where anyone from around the world can join weekend worship services live on the Web. The growth of virtual worshipping communities, however, has sparked debates on whether such churches are effective and biblical.
A major argument against internet churches is that they lack physical contact, Estes pointed out. But that same argument could be made against megachurches and any other church, for that matter, where people never really touch or come to know each other, he argued.
Virtual churches, critics say, also don't have real community.
Estes, however, pushed back by pointing out that church isn't about where it meets. "Isn't church supposed to be about people in communion with God rather than the building? ... Since when does the location of a church determine the quality of its community?"
"Virtual churches may meet for services in the virtual world, but they are not the one-dimensional illusion that critics like to easily prop up so as to knock down for their friends to applaud," he maintained. "And here’s the irony: Even as virtual churches seek to create community in both virtual and physical space, so too do their critics use virtual space when it is convenient for them in their brick and mortar ministries."
Bob Hyatt, pastor of the Evergreen Community in Portland, Ore., didn't buy Estes' argument.
He stressed, "It’s not where we meet, but that we meet," according to his post on Out of Ur.
"And whether people are actually meeting together – that is, whether you and me watching the same video stream, silently reading the comments in the chat room as we sip our individual portions of grape juice and eat crackers, rises to the level of 'ecclesia' and the picture of Acts 2:42 – has yet to be determined.
"In other words, I have yet to be convinced that simultaneity equals community," Hyatt stated
Hyatt has major concerns over the threat virtual churches or video venues represent to the overall "maturity of the Body of Christ." A virtual church, he contended, fails to engage in discipleship and leadership formation as well as church discipline.
"The worship, equipping, and discipling ministries of the church simply can’t take place through the internet. Pieces of them can, but eventually the jump has to be made," he said. "A truly biblical Church requires that we heed the biblical call of Hebrews 10 to not give up gathering together and being present to one another in real, actual life."
For Estes, as long as the people of God are meeting together for the purpose of glorifying Him, it's a real church. And in the end, he believes a local church could not really reach the whole world. Virtual churches, however, will have that kind of reach, he says in his book.
Notably, Estes doesn't believe virtual churches will or should replace real-world churches. Both accomplish ministry objectives that the other cannot. But he hopes that in the future, real-world churches will adopt more virtual elements and virtual churches will create real-world ministry teams to reach people in the real world and in the virtual world. Moreover, he hopes people will view virtual churches not as a form of church different from real-world ones, but see both as just churches.
Friday, October 30, 2009
Dream, little one dream/Dream my little one dream
Oh the hunter in the night/ fills your childish heart with fright
Fear is only a dream/ So dream little one, dream
The Night of the Hunter is a rather blatant tale of good vs evil.
Much of it is filmed as if a child's dream. A new viewer to this film might see aspects of other films that have come since. I surmise it is one of the most effective horror films ever made.
“It's really a nightmarish sort of Mother Goose tale we are telling,” Charles Laughton.
Acclaimed actor, Charles Laughton, directed The Night of the Hunter. A film that was not a hit, either commercially or critically upon its release in 1955. Discouraged, Laughton never would direct another film. Today, The Night of the Hunter is considered one of the great American films.
"Beware of false prophets....... which come to you in sheep's clothing ...
... but inwardly, they are ravening wolves."
This is said by Lillian Gish at the opening of the film. She appears in the night's sky as if an angel. She is reading Bible passages to children.
Then we look down upon earth and witness children playing hide and seek. The innocent scene is disrupted by the discovery of a dead woman by one of the children.
It is then that we meet Harry Powell.
We see Harry Powell (Robert Mitchum) driving down a country road. He is dressed in a sharp suit, hat and string tie. And he is talking to God.
Harry: "What's it to be, Lord, another widow? Has it
been six? Twelve? ... I disremember. You say the word, and I'm on my way.
You always send me money to go forth and preach
your Word. A widow with a little wad of bills
hidden away in the sugar-bowl.
I am tired. Sometimes I wonder if you really
Not that you mind the killin's..."
The stones of a country graveyard shine in the last daylight.
Harry: "Yore Book is full of killin's.
But there are things you do hate, Lord:
perfume-smellin' things -- lacy things --
things with curly hair --"
Powell struggles with his desires for women (he is probably impotent) but sees no problem with violence.
Mitchum's Powell is one of the best villians in film history. Well liked by most upon first meeting, his violent preacher contradiction is literally written on his hands. Some see him for who he is, most fall for the act.
We first see Ben Harper (Peter Graves) as he is running away from the police and drives up to his front yard. His two children, John and Pearl are playing in the yard and act excited to meet him until it becomes obvious something is wrong. We will find he has killed two people in a robbery gone wrong and still has the money with him. He quickly hides the money and then makes a covenant with his two young children.
Ben: "Listen to me, son. You got to swear. Swear means promise. First swear you'll take care of little Pearl. Guard her with your life, boy. Then swear you won't never tell where that money's hid. Not even your Mom."
This becomes a promise that Ben could not have forseen how difficult it would have been to keep. Especially on his son, John.Harry Powell is arrested for stealing a car and ends up the cell mate of Ben Harper's. Powell quickly realized what an odd man he is bunking with.
Ben: "What religion you profess, preacher?"
Harry: "The religion the almighty and me worked out betwixt us."
Harry is convinced Ben's children know where the money is hid. Harry gets out of jail soon after Ben is hanged for his crimes.
Harry finds the Harper family and tells them and their friends he worked at the jail and befriended Ben. Everyone believes and likes this strange man. Everyone but the young son, John.
Feeling she needs a father to her children, Ben's widow, Willa (Shelley Winters) quickly marries Harry. Pearl tells her brother John she loves their new father and wants to tell the secret of where the money is hidden. But John will not give in, despite Harry asking about the money every moment Willa is not around.
And soon Willa will be dead. In her bedroom, shot to resemble a church, she is murdered by Harry Powell. And in her death she feels she is being saved. Being made "clean."
Willa: "He made you marry me, so's you could show me the Way and the Life and the Salvation of my soul! Ain't that so, Harry?"
Leaving John and Pearl orphans. Orphans who then go on the run to escape their evil step-father. Like No Country For Old Men's, Anton Chigurgh, Harry Powell is pure evil. We see no redeeming value in him. Which makes him all the scarier when people, usually females, believe him to be good. But Powell is no man of God; though it seems he might just be a demon. John and Pearl stay only moments ahead of their pursuer. Travelling along the river by way of a rowboat. One night they sleep in the hayloft of a barn. John wakes in the night to the sound of Harry riding nearby on a horse, singing the hymn, "Leaning On The Everlasting Arms."
John: "Dont he never sleep?"
The children escape back in the boat. By morning they are awakened on shore by the old woman we saw in the very first moments of the film, Rachel Cooper (Lillian Gish).
The contrast between Cooper and Powell is obvious from the start. She is legit. She has three other children she has taken in and cared for and takes in John and Pearl without thinking.
Soon Harry Powell shows up at the house and asks for John and Pearl. Thinking he could be their father, Rachel fetches them. But she soon sees Powell for the wolf in sheeps clothing.
John: "He aint my dad."
Rachel: "No, and he aint no preacher neither."
Knife out, Powell goes for John, who crawls under the porch. Rachel then scares Powell away with a shotgun pressed against his back. Harry Powell leaves, but promises to be back at night.
This all sets up one of those beautiful scenes that you never want to forget. Rachel, sitting in a rocking chair, is framed like Whistler's Mother. Only difference is she is holding a shotgun.
We see Harry Powell through the window, sitting in the front yard. He begins singing his favorite hymn once again, but this time it becomes a duet. Rachel joins in. In a sense she is reclaiming this praise to God. It is a stark contrast of "good vs evil," "christ vs antichrist."
"It's a hard world for little things."
The last line of the film is Rachel Cooper looking into the camera and saying (about children) "they abide and they endure."
It is a necessary ending for what has come before. These children have been through much and survived; won even.
But the more powerful scene is the arrest of Harry Powell a couple of minutes before.
The cops arrest Harry Powell in an almost identical scene to Ben Harper's arrest at the beginning of the film. And in spite of John's feelings for Powell, the memory of his father's arrest floods back.
He runs to Powell and throws the money on him. Begging him to take it.
John: (crying) "Here. Here. Take it back dad. I don't want it dad. Its too much. I dont want it. Here."
The Night of the Hunter is a feminist film in the end. Particularly, the redemption of the biblical character, Eve.
Until Rachel comes along in the last act of the film, how good at making smart decisions are the women in the film? Willa quickly marries Harry Powell. Her friend, Icey, telling her she needs a man to raise her children.
Willa is obsessed about feeling "clean" from her sins.
After being told Ben Harper got rid of the money, she exclaims, "I feel clean now. My whole body's just a-quivering with cleanliness."
When Ben Harper made his son John, swear to keep the money, he did not trust Willa to know.
"Swear you won't never tell where the money's hid. Not even your mom...You've got common sense, she ain't."
Pearl wants to tell Harry Powell their secret.
Pearl: "I love Mr. Powell lots and lots, John."
Even after they have been running away. When Powell finally catches them, Pearl walks right to him. The age of Pearl makes this somewhat understandable. More difficult is teenager Ruby, one of the orphans under Rachel's care. After just a brief encounter with Powell, Ruby also becomes infatuated. To the point that even when he is arrested for murder, she utters a perplexing statement.
Ruby: "I love him. You think he's like them others."
Rachel is not just the opposite side of the coin of Powell, but also of Willa and the other women in the film.
But Rachel does not just vindicate Eve; John does as well in a subtle way.
His christmas gift to her is the only one that is different. "Oh, another pot holder."
He gives her an apple. And reverses the gender order.
Saturday, September 12, 2009
Robinson was a truly great player. League MVP. Two NBA Championships. Scoring title. Defensive Player of the year. He might have been the focus other years. But Robinson was never AS focused upon as he should have been in his career. And the reason for some, seemed to be he was just too "nice." He was often (shudder) "modest," in a macho sport that deems that as weak or soft.
I could not watch this ceremony and not think about the stark contrast in two speeches. Robinson's lasted about 7 minutes. Jordan's was three times as long. Jordan's was a mixture of touching moments and unnecessary pettiness. He began with tears in his eyes and said he had "too many people to thank" to make it a short speech. But he also thanked no one more often than Michael Jordan.
At a time of celebration Jordan decided to call out people, as if he is still keeping count. As sports writer Adrian Wojnarowski put it, "This wasn’t a Hall of Fame induction speech, but a bully tripping nerds with lunch trays in the school cafeteria."
One instance was his former GM, Jerry Krause.
“Jerry’s not here,” he said. “I don’t know who’d invite him. I didn’t. I hope he understands it goes a long way. He’s a very competitive person. I was a very competitive person. He said organizations win championships. I said, ‘I didn’t see organizations playing with the flu in Utah. I didn’t see it playing with a bad ankle.’
Byron Russell is almost soley remembered for being the man that was guarding Jordan when he hit one of his most famous shots. Russell was good, not great or immortal like Jordan. It seems maybe slighty unfair that he is remembered the way he is. Jordan decided to bring him up and remind the world who was guarding him that play.
“I was in Chicago in 1994 … and at this time I had no thoughts of coming back and playing the game of basketball,” Jordan said. “Bryon Russell came over to me and said, ‘Why’d you quit? You know I could guard you."
“When I did come back in 1995 and we played Utah in ‘96, I’m at the center circle and Bryon Russell is standing next to me. I said, ‘You remember the [comments] you made in 1994 about, ‘I think I can guard you, I can shut you down, I would love to play against you? Well, you’re about to get your chance.’ “
While a decent enough story it was totally misplaced.
As was mentioning that Isiah Thomas, George Gervin (both in the audience) and Magic Johnson froze him out in the 1985 all Star game his rookie season.
Jordan still harping on something that happened 24 years ago.
Some will say this just shows his competitive nature. Its examples of what drove him to be the best ever.
It also shows him as someone who can not quite get over basketabll (By his own admission). Someone who wants the world to know he still could kick your butt and yours and mine and on and on.
We know, Michael.
At that moment, he looked less like Air Jordan and more like someone who has yet to get their priorities straight in life. I hope he finds what he is looking for, beyond basketball.
I know that the speech I would choose to show my nephews, would be David Robinson's.
Monday, August 31, 2009
Monday, August 3, 2009
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Monday, July 20, 2009
Sunday, July 12, 2009
I love Gillian Welch. Her partner is one of my very favorite guitarists, Dave Rawlings. Welch describes them as "a two-piece band called Gillian Welch."
They often perform as Dave Rawlings Machine, with Rawlings taking over lead vocal duties.
Rawlings plays with his eyes closed. He will also sway. Welch calls the total package "the Dave Rawlings mystique."
A music critic once described Welch and Rawlings voices as "fit so tightly that they seem welded." Welch herself has said, sometimes she loses the sense of which voice is hers and which belongs to Rawlings.
Rawlings plays a 1935 Epiphone Olympic, with an arch top, and f-holes on the face, like a violin. Music writer Alec Wilkson surmises, Rawlings may be the only musician who has ever made it his principal instrument. Wilksinson tells a story of how the sound is so unusual that, once when Welch and Rawlings were appearing at a festival where the blind guitar player Doc Watson was also performing, Watson came up to Rawlings while he was warming up and said, "Son, what kind of instrument is that?"
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
The Bad Lieutenant
Now, I will say that I recommend this film to almost nobody who is reading this. If you really wanna watch it and don't want me spoiling anything for you then stop reading. If you don't plan on seeing it here goes. The Bad Lieutenant is rated NC-17, and it earns its rating. I can not even say I enjoyed much of the film, though once it was over I was glad I finished.
The title character is played by Harvey Keitel. We actually never learn his name. He is simply a VERY corrupt cop. He gambles, has a cocaine and heroin addiction, is an absentee husband and father, goes to prostitutes but is so far messed up doesn't get any pleasure out of that or anything else. Throughout the film we see examples of just how BAD this cop is. At times it is hard to sit through. In the films most disturbing scene he stops two young women and finds out they are driving their father's car without his permission. He uses this knowledge to abuse them in a way I will not elaborate on. The character seems to have absolutely no redeeming value.
Then a case happens that gets his attention. A nun is brutally raped in a church by two men.
Even then he seems to blow it off as just another case. But what fascinates him is that the nun knows who her attackers were. And yet she will not give the police their names. The reason: She has already forgiven them.
This dumbfounds the lieutenant. We find him alone in the church (which the attackers also desecrated) trying to sleep among the chaos.
Things keep spiraling down as he knows other bad men will soon be collecting on a gambling debt he can not repay.
Finally at the end of the film, he goes back to the church and sees the nun. He kneels down next to her and starts talking.
He asks her how she could possibly forgive her attackers. "They put their cigarettes out on you for God's sake."
The nun responds: "Talk to Jesus. Pray. You believe in God don't you? Jesus Christ died for your sins."
After the nun walks away the lieutenant begins crying out. Not simple tears, but groans of anguish.
He starts by cursing at Christ. "You just stand there and you want me to do every ____ing thing. Where were you! Where the ___ were you. Where were you! Where the hell were you!"
"I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. I'm sorry. I did so many bad things. I'm sorry. I tried to do...I tried to do the right thing but I'm weak. I'm too ___ing weak."
"I need you to help me."
He begins walking towards Christ.
"Help me. I need you to help me."
"Forgive me. Forgive me. Forgive me please. Forgive me, father."
He then continues to crawl towards Christ. Stopping before his nail pierced feet, he kisses the right foot of Jesus.
Soon after this, the Lieutenant receives a tip and knows who the two boys are that attacked the nun. He finds them, and takes them into his car at gunpoint.
In the last scene of the movie, the Lieutenant is killed by those he could not repay his gambling debts too. In the background of the scene is a large poster that reads "It All Happens Here" and the Holy number (at least to some) 777.
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Calvin Borel was considered a "second-tier" jockey for most of his career.
Two years ago, he rode Street Sense on the rail (where most jockeys try to stay away from in fear of getting boxed in) made a bold move and won the Kentucky Derby by 2 1/4 lengths.
"WELL BEHIND THE REST OF THEM IS MINE THAT BIRD..."
Mine That Bird was hardly even mentioned for most of the pre-race show. Never once mentioned as a horse who had a "longshot chance." The race announcer had to search for which horse was suddenly about to win, coming from nowhere. Even his trainer Bennie Woolley said, "I just hoped we would run well."
They were belittled for even being in the race. But Woolley, nursing a broken ankle, drove the horse 21 hours to Kentucky. Because if you get your shot, you might as well take it.
Never is the have and have nots so distinct than in horse racing. A sport known for big ridiculous hats and mint juleps; the Sport of Kings is full of "common men."
Mine That Bird was bought for $9,500 dollars. For some perspective on that,
Dunkirk cost $3,700,000 (finished 11th)
Desert Party $2,100,000 (finished 14th)
A jockey makes $50 per race unless they get first, second or third. A win gets between 600 and 1000 depending on the track. Some jockeys make great money, 10-15,000 per week. Others make very little. In fact, the average jockey makes less than $20,000 per year.
This for having statistically the most dangerous job in ther world. On average, 2 out of 750 working jockeys die every year on the track.
The alltime winninest jocket, Laffit Pincay Jr.,who won 9,530 races before retiring, called it quits after fracturing his spine and vertebra in a spill at Santa Anita.
Numerous jockeys have been paralyzed. Most famously, Secretariat's jockey, Ron Turcotte.
Five years after winning the most famous race of all time (1973 Belmont) Turcotte fell at the very same track, leaving him a paraplegic.
Hall of Fame jockey Pat Day once said, "To retire on your own terms and not to have been paralyzed, that is considered success."
And no matter what your height, it is not easy to stay 115 pounds.
Jockeys weight themselves all day. At least 20 times a day.
They use stimulant drugs, exercise in plastic suits, spend long periods in saunas, and the old standby, purging (called "flipping" among jockeys). Many race tracks actually have "heaving bowls" installed in bathroom stalls to accommodate the 30% of jockeys who purge to make or maintain weight.
In other words, being a jockey is not for the weak.
The son of a sugar cane farmer from St. Martin Parish, La., Borel worked in the fields with his entire family as soon as he was able. When not farming, Borel learned to ride on the now extinct bush tracks, rural dirt tracks carved from the middle of cow fields. Track stewards were not around to enforce rules. Anything that could be thought to do was done, as anything was legal.
Horses would have beer cans with rocks in them tied to them. Other times live chickens were attached to urge the horses to go faster.
"I rode my first race at age eight. We would run 10.5 furlongs you know, we would go straight. And when you got at the end, there was a big airport. We couldnt stop em, we was too small, so we would jump off you know. The horse would turn around and someone would catch him. It was amazing. I mean...it was crazy."
When Calvin was 15 or 16, he took one of his brother Cecil's horses well wide and lost a race. After the race, Cecil made Calvin walk the horse around the barn. Every time they went around, Cecil moved a barrel further out from the barn and made his brother take the horse around it.
"It's a little bit further than going to the inside," Cecil pointed out, and a riding style was born.
It has earned him the nickname Calvin Bo-Rail. He urges his horses where most jockeys are unwilling or unable.
Calvin literally worked day and night, mucking stalls and working horses. During a race one night at Evangeline Downs in Lafayette, La., his mount, Miss Touchdown, clipped heels with another horse and flew into a light post. The horse was OK, but Borel had broken ribs, a punctured lung and had to have his spleen removed. He was in a coma.
When Calvin was healthy enough to come back, his brother Cecil put him back on Miss Touchdown for his first race. The filly won.
"If he was scared," Calvin's fiance Lisa Funk said, "his brother scared him out of it."
Cecil has been Calvin's racing mentor for much of his life. He's 13 years older than Calvin -- a biological fact that earned Calvin the nickname "Boo-Boo."
As in, a mistake.
Calvin Borel is now 42 years old and owns an eighth-grade education, dropping out after injuring his knee in a bush-track race. His fiancée, bristled at a Daily Racing Form story that referred to Calvin as "illiterate," but added that she's helping him with his reading skills.
"We lacked a lot of education," said Cecil, "But we didn't lack no work."
Calvin still doesn't. He admits to few hobbies. He says he simply loves horses and being around them. Borel still works six days a week. He rises by 5am to work horses or muck stalls at Cecil Borel's stable, regardless of whether it's a race day or not.
"Calvin's the hardest-working jockey on the racetrack, no doubt about it," said Bob Holthus, who has trained horses since 1952 and long has traveled the same circuit as Borel.
When he won on Street Sense, Calvin Borel was the toast of his sport. He was invited to the White House to meet the visiting Queen of England. He didnt know England had a Queen until then.
He talked horses with Colin Powell and Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts. He ate dinner next to the president's daughter, Barbara, as well as "a football player, I forget his name." (Turns out it was Peyton Manning)
He also turned down an offer to appear the following Wednesday night with Jay Leno, because it would cost him two days away from the races.
"I'd rather be out here with people," Borel said. "Working my horses."
This is where Borel is most comfortable: among the horse people and the race fans who cheer him on. The one place you never see Borel without a smile is when he's on the back of a horse.
Most Derby-winning jockeys take off any mounts they may have after capturing the roses. Borel showed up in the paddock for the 12th, got on the back of 10-1 shot Superb Ravi in an $80,000 claiming race and finished fifth.
"Everyone calls it a work ethic, but it's not work to him," Funk said. "It's something he loves.
"During all those times, he never gave up and he never got down. The money, he does not care. If he got $5 for riding that race, he would have ridden it the same way. Calvin would do it for practically nothing. It's his life. It's his desire."
As one writer once described him, "Calvin Borel is about as wordly as the horse he rode in on."
"I'm a very likable guy," Borel said matter-of-factly. "Everybody likes me, and I like everybody."
Saturday, March 7, 2009
Many of you reading this have probably read an Osteen book or enjoyed his sermons on Sunday. But some Christians have been looking into just what Osteen is preaching, and asking if it is enough. Or even correct.
Osteen preaches what is referred to as the Prosperity Gospel. This is a belief that wealth and power are rewards for pious Christians.
Is this true? In my opinion, maybe. In that I think all of our blessings are of God.
But Osteen seems to be saying that it WILL happen. So what if it does not? Bad stuff happens. Does that mean you weren’t a good enough Christian?
Is such a positive sermon style a good thing, or is it ultimately dangerous?
Osteen speaks of Christ’s sacrifice and what it means to us.
“The fact that he shed his own blood, he went through all that difficulty, I’m not going to let that go to waste. I know I have a rightful place of victory. I know I’m supposed to live an abundant life. I know God didn’t create any of us to be average. He didn’t create us to barely get by. He created us to stand out in a crowd.”
But did Christ die for our sins or our prosperity?
Some would argue that Osteen seems to take part in the Thomas Jefferson concept of looking at what Bible he wants to look at, and ignoring other parts. For Osteen, concepts that are difficult. But isn’t it a preacher’s job to have an opinion?
Osteen is controversial not for saying outrageous things, but for not saying anything close to outrageous…at least to a nonbeliever. Or simply, in not having an opinion.
Osteen does not use the word sin. He refers to us as “making mistakes”
830 times sin is mentioned in the Bible.
When asked by Larry King if he uses the word "sinners," Osteen replied, "I don't use it. I never thought about it. But I probably don't. But most people already know what [when] they're doing wrong. When I get them to church I want to tell them that you can change."
This clip below got a lot more people looking at Mr. Osteen.
Byron Pitts of 60 Minutes Interviewed Osteen as well as Professor of theology at Westminster Seminary, Rev Michael Horton.
Osteen: “I think most people already know what they are doing wrong. For me to get in here and beat em’ down and talk down to em’. I just don’t think that inspires anybody to rise higher.”
Horton: “I think it’s a cotton candy gospel. His core message is God is nice, your nice…be nice. If it were a form of music I think it would be easy listening. He uses the Bible like a fortune cookie. This is what’s gonna happen for you. There’s gonna be a windfall in your life tomorrow. The Bible is not meant to be read that way."
"It is certainly heresy I believe, to say, that God is our resource for getting our best life now.”
Horton: “It makes religion about us instead of about God.”
Osteen doesn’t understand the criticism.
“I’m not leading them to some false God.”
As a moment of defending himself, Osteen said, “We have people sitting in the audience today of different faiths. And that doesn’t bother me, cuz our job is to just help anybody from any faith to improve their life.”
This last quote is one that would raise the ire of a minister like Paul Washer. Washer has often been used as an example of a Christian minister with a solid distinction in these views from Osteen.
Washer: “We live in a day where we think in order to be relevant to our culture, we must be like our culture. We are relevant not because we are like our culture but because we are absolutely different.”
“Everything about God’s messiah contradicted everything that men believed about the
“People say ‘I have a new relationship with God’…well it should be ‘do you have a new relationship with sin?’ Because if you don’t have a new relationship with sin…then you don’t have a new relationship with God.”
“Societies as we know them, the West is crumbling before us and we still choose to be trite and frivolous and happy”
Osteen: “The gospel is translated Good News. And to me Good News is letting people know that God loves them, that Jesus came, that we can overcome any obstacle, that we can be forgiven for our mistakes. I don’t see how beating people down every time they get in front of me helps them get closer to God.”
Washer: “The new generations to follow cannot be bothered with truth. A man that will not accept his illness cannot be healed. A man who does not have all his hopes crushed with regard to his own self righteousness, merit and worth cannot turn to Christ.
We must realize that we are destitute and we have only one savior and his name is Jesus.”
2 Timothy 4: 3-4
3For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.
Friday, February 20, 2009
The last episode of Late Night With Conan O'Brien is 02/20/09. I hope his version of the Tonight Show is as good. This is maybe my favorite clip of all time.
Genius is exploring what Don Rickles as a dog puppet would be like...