Monday, January 28, 2008

Discoveries of the Weekend

First, Juno:

I'm not going to lie. I anticipated this movie, in a good way. I'm sort of intrigued by Diablo Cody, who does lots of things that I don't do, like graduate from Catholic school and strip and write screenplays.

I also liked critics, and most of them seemed to like the movie.

And it was merely okay. I should have paid more attention to Entertainment Weekly's review.

The script vacillated between pretentious and promising. I'd be interested to see what kind of screenplays Diablo would write in five years.

Ellen Page was good. Michael Cera's character was ridiculously underdeveloped, which isn't fair--his character has a good shot at being really appealing.

Second, MOZART!

It's one of those musicals I never knew existed, probably because it is Austrian. Austria hasn't done a musical since Sound of Music. This weekend, I discovered it, and proceeded to do the dorkiest thing ever, which is to procrastinate on my schoolwork by doing (wait for it...) research.

And, thanks to the Sweeney Todd trick of including a crazy child, it is creepy as all-get out. This one is even eerier thanks to the powdered wig. I'm going to have nightmares of a tee-tiny Amade coming after me in my sleep with a sonata and a fountain pen.

I think it helps that I know only three German words--weltanshaaung, zeitgeist, and schadenfreude.

So, when Drew Sarich, who is a singing tree who wears armbands and fedoras (read: newfound love), sings Wie Wird Man Seinen Schatten Los?, I have no way of knowing how cliche the show could be. I'm just looking at his flowy hair and listening to a really psycho ensemble sing background vocals.

And I'm ok with that.

Like, a-ok with that.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

So today I thought about church.

I haven't been to church for a couple of Sundays; the weather was bad or I was stuck without a ride. (I have, however, gone to the Vault; the college & career discussion group I've been part of since I was a freshman.)

But today was different, so I went.

My roommate has a small church family here and they've recently decided to dissolve the church, for reasons I haven't delved deeply into. I'm sure it has something to do with its small size and the financial obligations of maintaining a church community.

They meet at a gym. It's cute--you'll look up and there's a soccer ball and a couple of bouncy gym balls stuck in the rafters and think, "Dang--some talented kid kicked those up there." It reminds me of when my church at home met at the YMCA and it smelled like chlorine every week.

I told her I'd go church-shopping with her; for one thing, she's definitely more of a homebody who wants to find a church and stick with it, and I feel challenged to be more faithful to a church body myself. I've always had "that church that I go to," but this church is family to my roommate in a way that no church except KCC has been to me.

They served communion and I almost didn't take it. It was so personal--so somber and serious and intimate. I almost felt as if I was intruding on this tiny family of Christians and weighed my options. I could opt out of communion and just look like my holy roommate's heathen friend. I didn't feel particularly worthy to take it after having skipped two whole church services due to weather and my friend's inability to wake up, answer her phone, and drive me to church.

But then I thought--I consider myself a Christian, no matter how imperfect I am. My breath might stink; I might deny my faith and my friends before I deny myself; I try to be too cool for my britches. Regardless of all this, I do know the truth, and it shames my God when I choose not to humble myself and reflect on His sacrifice. I take communion in remembrance of Him, so I don't forget what's really important.

So there you have it. I decided this morning that I am a sucktacular Christian; I don't put others first. I laugh at dumb people. I don't let Jesus affect my life enough. But there's grace even for us hypocrites who get tired of being faker than they should be. It's called the deep, deep love of Jesus--vast, unmeasured, boundless, pure. And that's why I'm ok with Christianity.

That was, I thought, my church moment for the day. But then I got the chance to spend some time with a largely secular beloved friend of mine. I mean, she's great. She is the bomb dot com. And, over banana flavored hot chocolate, she told me she was going to start going to Mass again.
She's stopped believing sometimes. But we took the Da Vinci class together, it was thought-provoking for both of us, and now she's going back to her traditional roots to see what she can see. I hope she finds what she's looking for. I hope we all do.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

It's Almost the Weekend--A List of What Helped Me Survive This Week!

This was the first week I really needed survival aids this semester. The work load is getting a little more reminiscent of cyanide-laced Koolaid--that is, deadly. And I also got very little sleep on Tuesday night in anticipation for serving breakfast at the homeless shelter on Wednesday. I had to arrive at the shelter at 4:30am; I got up at midnight. It is a long story. So Wednesday was sort of a long day. And now it's Thursday night... and a couple of things helped me get this far.

1) Patrick Fiori. Now, thanks to my roommate, I have listened to Phoebus' trademark male-ingenue-with-edge solo, Dechire, from the French-Canadian musical Notre Dame de Paris at least five times (because one epic musical set in Paris is not enough). You're probably not familiar with the song Dechire. What it is, basically, well, it's simply the most repetitive song in all of French-Canadian musical history. But it's ok, because it modulates about twenty times, showcasing the star power vocals of the Armenian-Corsican singer Patrick Fiori. I ended up Googling Patrick Fiori today to see what he's done since Notre Dame.

Since the show, it looks like he's gotten an eyebrow piercing. Look very closely.

Also, he sort of reminds me of someone I know... and that's rather embarrassing.

2) Oddly enough, still Mo Rocca. Few geniuses have higher metabolisms and cuter lisps.

3) Bleak Expectations --it's a BBC4 radio serial parodying Charles Dickens' works. I am such the fan.

4) Franz Kafka. No... wait... wait for it-- hear me out. Metamorphosis. Is it in his head? Or is he really a bug? Get it?

5) My roommate... and this isn't something that made my week livable, but I thought it was interesting... says I talk like a North Carolinian. She says I say "bless your/his/her heart" a lot. I argue that I say it ironically. But then I remember the times I say it, unprovoked, with sincerity, and I think it's true. I started thinking about the way North Carolinians talk because I was watching the episode of Arrested Development when Jessie, the Bluth's ex-publicist, slams The Andy Griffith Show's Opie. Ron Howard, who voices the narrator and played Opie, says, "Jessie had gone too far, and she had best watch her mouth." This is the second time I've seen this episode, and this is the first time that I got the joke. Not the Opie joke, but the "had best" one. I think this means that I think in North Carolinian.

6) Diet Pepsi Wild Cherry and Maruchan noodles.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Do you want my vote?

I think there's a common misconception that because I am neither at least thirty nor the owner of a television, I don't care about the national election.

This misconception is also rooted in the accurate belief that I am occasionally both skeptical and apathetic. For instance, I have trouble telling the difference between most Republicans and most Democrats. Reason being, they do basically the same things in office. Most Republicans are not fascists. Most Democrats are not communists. And they don't really get anything done anyway. A Republican president will not end abortion, no matter how much he might appeal to my mother. And most of the candidates would plan to keep troups in Iraq for at least a little while.

The Supreme Court has a lot of power, but justices also stubbornly refuse to die or retire until they are reassured of their party's ability to put a similar justice in place.

Because I really can't tell the difference between Republicans and Democrats, it's hard to care which one wins.

But I am trying to remain informed. I'd really like to vote this time around, and it's a disgrace to my conscience to vote stupid.

So, yes, Hillary. My home page may be Facebook, but I am informed. Sort of.

See, here's the thing. I may be "differently informed" than many people.

My favorite politically themed website is

I listen to NPR very frequently. I've heard that this makes me a socialist. I don't care; I like NPR. I have a crush on Carl Kassell and I want his voice on my home answering machine. I don't have a home answering machine. Maybe he'd do my cell phone voice mail.

I also have the US Politics Facebook application. Right above the Addicted to Arrested Development application.

The US Politics application allows me to see candidates' profiles, which reinforces my belief that they are all very similar people. Barack Obama, one of the most liberal Democratic frontrunners, and Mike Huckabee, one of the most conservative Republican candidates, both list The Godfather among their favorite movies.

Dennis Kucinich likes Sicko. Mitt Romney has no listed favorite movies, and Hillary just doesn't really have a personality.

It's on issues like these that my real opinion of these people is forged. Like it or not, America, I am you.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Inside Jokes.

Hi, can I buy some interesting?

I like my gummy candy powered by Jews!

Oh, I love that song! OH. I LOVE THAT SONG!

Understand those phrases? Of course not; that is because they are inside jokes between my roommate and I.

I love everything about inside jokes except that one thing.

Inside jokes are funny, intimate, and contextually valid.

They are also intensely exclusive.

I tend to write like an inside joke. I got this from Christopher Durang because I read The Idiots Karamazov and loved it and the reason I loved it was because it was a giant inside joke to all those of us who had basically absorbed The Brothers Karamazov with startling intensity.

(Christopher Durang is a handsome gay man who writes and acts in plays. You can tell he has been burned by the Catholic church because there are so many Aloysiuses in his plays."Aloysius" is a name that ex-Catholics use from their Catholic school days because it's funny.)

Another thing that I like because it's an inside joke is Arrested Development. The difference between the plethora of references made on Arrested Development and the plethora of references made in Christopher Durang's plays is that I understand all of the references in Durang (because they're all from classic literature and classic American theatre) and none of the ones in Arrested Development (which decided to be self-consciously exclusive and just have a ton of inside jokes that are rarely explained and generally don't come from anything.)

(Arrested Development's inside jokes were a reaction to and satire of inside jokes that are on many shows such as The Simpsons, which has inside jokes for intelligent people, and South Park, which has inside jokes for cheesy musical theatre people.)

So there you go. Long live the inside joke... as long as I'm on the inside.

And with that, Benny See. Bacon lips.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

An author's fear

Fear has nearly always been part of my life. I, like all children, was born trusting everyone and everything.

The fear began to creep in when I was a small child.

Injustice births fear. When the world became unfair, I became afraid.

And the fear has never really all the way left. Sometimes it's paralyzing. Sometimes it's of me--I am afraid to fail; I'm afraid I limit myself; I'm afraid I'll get food poisoning from the cafeteria.

But other times it is almost indistinguishable from longing. The jitters in my core when something's about to begin. When a story is about to begin.

I'm taking my first Playwriting class in 56 minutes. I have never wanted to take one class as much as I want to take this one.

I started reading the textbook last night, and I couldn't put it down.

All through the book, I was flooded with apprehension. I can't finish anything I start. I have excellent first lines, decent first chapters or scenes or whatever... and it's all downhill from there until it fizzles out into nothingness and missed opportunities. What makes me think I could finish a play? And then I began to doubt my creativity; will any of my ideas be in the slightest original? Will I even get an idea at all? Heaven knows I don't have one now!

And then the fear began to excite me. The possibilities... even the possibilities of failure... make the stakes high. You can't really fight giving your all if you have absolutely no fear.

Monday, January 7, 2008

This entry has a split personality; first, it's not deep... and then--SURPRISE!

I was sitting on my bed in the dorm and I suddenly, nostalgically, had a mini-meltdown.

The reason was that I have very few stuffed animals at school.

I have my crush puppy, which stems from a small phenomenon a couple of friends of mine dreamed up in high school. It's simply a Ty Beanie Baby-sized doglike animal that you name after your current crush. It changes names with each twist of romantic fancy. "Ioan Gruffudd" is an impish brown puppy with a red collar.

I have a few monkeys, as my roommate collects them and if I had monkeys, we'd have a "theme" and it'd be "cute."

I also have my Build-A-Bear. His name is Benvolio, after Romeo's best friend. I called my sister to bemoan the sorry fact that My Baby's First Christmas 1987 Bear and my worn-nosed Polar Bear are both at home, presumably under the bed. I told her I just had the monkeys and Ioan and Benvolio. There was an awkward silence. Then she told me.

My sister, unsentamentalist that she is, has given away nearly all of her stuffed animals during our regular room purges, in which we spartanly strip the room of all things cluttery or floofy. The only stuffed animals to escape her reign of terror were the ones that had slipped under the bed.

She had given away her Build-A-Bear.

Soulless. How can you give away a Build-A-Bear that you've made? You stuffed it! You made a wish on a little heart and slipped it into its tummy! It's JUST like "Raggedy Ann" and her candy heart!

I don't care. She is getting a crush puppy for her birthday and that's all there is to it. I continue to be armed with nostalgia and the desire to have .5 inches of bed space, and I fully intend on buying myself a tiny, trinketlike stuffed-or-beaned toy as soon as I can spare the five dollars and change.

In other news, I generally think about Christianity. You probably know this. I may be mixed up at times about Christianity. There may be days when I don't care as much. But I do think about it. Often.

What you may not know is that I also ponder the church. The legend. The phenomenon. The fizzling fad. Televangelists.

I took a class on church history last fall and it was nothing less than fascinating. I have friends who don't go to church--quite a few, actually. I have friends from all manners of ritual-heavy church traditions. I have home-church friends who eat guacamole and discuss Christian fiction and the curse of institutionalized Christianity at their meetings. I have Quaker friends, Shaker friends, lots of friends. Donald Miller is not my friend, but I'd kind of like him to be.

And it's interesting. Church is interesting. For real.

Last Sunday my pastor read aloud a blog entry at the pulpit. (I like the word "pulpit." Lectern? Not funny. Pulpit? Yes, it's funny.) It happened to be a blog that I had read before, an entry from Shaun Groves at entitled "No Good Reason." What Pastor Ben did not read aloud in church was "No Good Reason For That Either," in which Shaun states basically that there is not a good reason to not go to church. You follow? There's also a "Finding a Good Reason" which might negate either of the earlier entries; I don't know, because I haven't read it yet.

Many people tend to approach organized religion and the church very negatively. They've been burned by the church personally or they were scarred by reading about the children's Crusade in Western Civilization I. In any case, there's this sense, that's getting pretty prevalent in the postpostmodern world of the now, that organized Christianity either kills Christianity or it is the worst form of Christianity.

And I don't know that I agree.

Certainly, the first and foremost issue is that people seek God on a personal level. The "personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ" is a big part of orthodox Christianity, for good reason. I think most people are pretty convinced that Jesus wouldn't lead a children's crusade.

But organization... gee whillickers... organization takes the chaos of emotionally charged mumbo-jumbo and provides the structure necessary for people to often learn something or two.

It's related to the idea of Christianity being a "relationship, not a religion." Yeah. Relationship is why a lot of people are Christians. Sure. That's good.

Religion is a cause.

Lots of people get freaked out about the concept of Islamic jihad. They should. It's a strong agenda. There's a lot of power in such a driven statement--a submitted people waging holy war.

But at the same time, to say that jihad is limited to bloodshed isn't fair to the Muslims who work at that nice restaurant down the street, and to all of the Muslims out there who work hard and don't kill anybody.

Furthermore, to say that jihad is a purely Islamic concept is not fair.

Most religions call for some kind of fight--against widespread injustice or personal unholiness. In some cases, the fight is nonviolent GandhiMotherTeresa. In other cases, it's the crusades, waged by Christians against Muslims, or conflicts metasized into catastrophes by Islamic extremists, among others, in the Middle East.

So this was a disorganized blog. It was also really long. And I'm tired.