Tuesday, February 28, 2006

a small post about children

This past weekend I spent quite a bit of time thinking about kids. This shouldn't be unusual for me as I work at The Children's Museum but being off the floor and in my office screwing up mail merges most the day I don't have too much time to actually interact with kids. Maybe, the thought process started earlier in the week when from the IMCPL (about which Jim has a fabulous little write up)I borrowed Truffaut's The 400 Blows. Igf you haven't seen any of his films, Truffaut is magnificent at filming the lives and stories of children. Small Change is another classic to check out of his. At any rate as the weekend went on I found myself exchanging funny faces with the child sitting in front of me at church when perhaps I should have been paying more attention to the sermon. At one point during the sermon, I found myself actually wishing I had nursery duty to just play with the kids, instead of half paying attention to Mr. Preacher. Should I even be writing this?

Then yesterday was just a terrific afternoon. My friend Mandi was in town for her mother's birthday over the weekend, and as I was off in the morning I was able to meet her for lunch at the Broad Ripple Brew Pub. While it is always nice to see Mandi, it was extra special as she brought out her little baby Sofia. I have friends who have children. Going on 29 years thats innevitable. However, Sofia is the first child of any of my close college or high school friends that I still keep in contact with. Mandi's married to my good friend from college and former housemate Ray. There were numerous moments throughout spending time over lunch that something I said or did may have made Sofia smile. Maybe, she was smiling at something else, but for the purposes of this post, we'll say it was me. And at one point I held Sofia while she was sleeping for a little while. I was proud and beaming to Mandi that she wasn't crying when I held her. Anyone that knows me knows that even two years ago I would have been terrified to hold a 5 month old kid, or played it too cool to worry about a kid. I even wound up calling Ray later that evening to tell him what a cool kid Sofia is (as if the father doesn't know that) and warned him not to mess it up (which I am sure he won't).

Late that evening when I got home I was talking to my roomate Tim about this, and saying what a fun and nice time it was hanging out with Sofia and Mandi. We talked for a minute or two about how its fun to see little kids, before both agreeing that neither of us in our situations are not quite ready yet for a 24-7 commitment to one ourselves. But at the same time, looking down the road I finally do hope that one day I am lucky enough to be a Dad. And this may be the sappiest few paragraphs yet here, so if you can't deal with that blame Ray, Mandi, and Sofia.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Current read - Odile by Raymond Queneau

Over the weekend I picked up a new book to start on. Odile, by Raymond Queneau. I knew nothing of this book, never had even heard of it, until I watched the extras on the Criterion Collection DVD of Band of Outsiders. Anna Karina's character is named Odile, and it was apparently a nod to this book. According to the extras there are numerous references to this book throughout the film, and as the film has instantly moved up to an all time favorite for me, i figured I may as well read the book to.

I had only read the introduction by the translator so far, and 7 pages of the book. I can tell I am going to like the style of the prose. But more than that I think the inner hopeless romantic in me may like the overall theme. Carol Saunders, the translator, says in the introduction...

"Most important however in the context of Odile is the fact that love of one woman as a redeeming force leading to self knoweledge was a constant theme for the surrealists."

It's a nice thought in a overly romantic way, at least to me...

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Some more movie draft thoughts, Sunday am

In the past two weeks I have reffered often to the total geek fest that is the BigSoccer Movie Draft . We are just three rounds away from completion now, and I will likely be making my 8th round pick at some point this afternoon. To confirm any well founded thoughts that I may be the coolest guy you know, I will say that yes, this draft has been exceptionally fun. It's been great to look at a bunch of others people's favorites. It's been great to be reminded of movies you wanted to see a while back but forgot about. And yes it's been great to rewatch old favorites to see if they are wothy to go into your time capsule. When Do The Right Thing was available for me to pick in round 7, I was giddy like a school girl. In the book High Fidelity
Rob Gordon's characters make top 5 lists for just about anything pertaining to music. This draft took it a bit of a step further and through all of us geeks and our top 5 lists something even bigger. Some are taking the competetion part of it more seriously than others, but it's all good fun.

Nico over as ESG has challenged himself with a "Stupid Boy Project." To watch all of the films on the list that he hasn't seen in 2006. As we are already entering March, he may have his work cut out for him. In fact if he hasn't seen my round three selection The Decalogue he may be suprised, discourged, or perhaps delighted to see that it runs 10 hours long. At any rate, I have found myself stockpiling my Netflix queue with movies from this draft I haven't seen or need to rewatch. The queue was at 30 movies just 10 days ago, and now is at about 70. And while I amy not officially be undertaing the task that Nico is, I may as well. It definately is something to consider. I started the other day with a copy of The 400 Blows and found myself in love with a director that I was unfamiliar with before and ready to watch the rest of the Antoine Doinel stories. A review on that to come later this week.


And here is a random request. I am dying to find a poster of the scene from Band of Outsiders when the characters dance the madison. A still frame of it is here. I have found numerous "official" film promo posters, but none of that scene. If anyone knows where I can get a poster of this scene please let me know, as my birthday si coming up and it would be a great gift to myself.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Godric by Frederic Buechner

I just finished rereading Godric by Frederick Buechner for probably the 5th or 6th time. This is a book I read for the first time in college and usually go back to once a year or so. It's not a typical story, it doesn't have a typical plot. Godric is a monk or holy man from the 12th century. The story just tells snippets of his life and travels and his reflections on them. It's not a forward moving book. It doesn't gain momentum or really go anywhere, it just reads almost like a travelogue. But Buechner's writing takes it above that. He creates his own language or dialect for Godric and the other characters in the story which definately gives this book more of a feeling of authenticity, it makes it feel more poetic. It also can chase off some readers.

The previous times I have read this, I have absolutely loved it. It didn't bother me that it was going nowhere really. I found nuggets of wisdom and little parables in the chapters that kept me entertained. The language and texture of the book was enough to keep me intrigued. The first sentance, "Five friends I had, and two of them snakes," is enough to keep most readers going through at least the first chapter. There still were nuggets of greatness here for sure. There are definately moments of pure beauty in the writing such as...

Why do we weep? I asked myself. We wept for all that grandeur gone. We wept for martyrs cruelly slain. We wept for Christ who suffered death upon a Tree and suffers still to see our suffering. But more than anything, I think, we wept for us, and so it ever is with tears. Whatever be their outward cause, within the chancel of the heart it's we ourselves for whom they finally fall


"You speak of time Godric, Ailred said. His cough for once was gone. "Time is a storm Times past and times to come, the heave and flow and leap their bounds like Wear. Hours are clouds that change their shapes before your eyes. A dragon fades into a naidens scarf, A monkeys grin becomes an angry fist. But beyonds times storm and clouds there is timelessness. Godric, the Lord of Heaven changes not, and even when our view is most dark, he;s there above us fair and golden like the sun. God's never gone, it's only men that go blind." And so it is.

But this time reading it through these were to far and too far between for me. The book is only 150 some pages long. And perhaps it's cause I have read it 5 times already, and I knew what was coming. But there are other books that hold up to those repeated readings. I hope to come back to Godric at some point in the next few years and read it again with the same excitement I read it with the first time, but it just wasn't happening in february of 2006.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Unconnected Friday Thoughts

We're just gonna present a few links for entertainment and random thoughts from your news desk at 64th and Broadway this Friday am for your pleasure.

1. Here is some late breaking, and not so local news. This just in from our news desk in Sweeden. Jens Lekman is one of the best songwriters out there right now. I had the pleasure of seeing him in Bloomington last year. I actually went to the show by myself. A hipster like me, attending a show by himself? It's true ladies. At any rate, the show was incredible, it was a happy vibe throughout. He had songs by the bucketload, including many I hadn't yet heard. I spent too much money on gas and Dewars that evening to by any ep's but Jens is a man of the people. On his website, here, he has presents for you and me. It's like Christmas in February. Or like an extended Valentines day. If "Someone to share my life with" doesn't get you, you may just be heartless.

2. Supposedly Michael Haneke's new film Cache. is finally playing in Indy this weekend. I hope to see it, but will likely need to wait till next weekend. Watching the trailer makes this film seem brutally intense. If you have seen anything else by Haneke I would guess thats to be expected. Both Funny Games and The Piano Teacher left me feeling like I had been hit by a 2x4 repeatedly. Haneke excels at making the viewer feel uncomfortable throughout the whole movie. I'm hooked on his stuff though I probably shouldn't be. Each of his films has been an emotional bludgeoning. I can't wait to see Cache though. At the very least it will, like his other films definately inspire a response.

3. We are getting closer and closer to opening kick for MLS. Check out here a huge billboard to be put up on High Street in Downtown Columbus as the world gets ready to crown Your Columbus Crew 2006 MLS Cup Champions. That's just great advertising and the buzz around the Crew under new coach Sigi Schmid is higher than it has been in years.

Seems like thats it for now. Happy Friday, angels.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Just a random question...

I can't be the only one out there who ahs fallen head over heels in love with Sasha Cohen, right?

Tokyo Story

The Big Soccer Movie Draft that i referred to in this posting. earlier this month has had me rewatching a lot of movies. Yes, I am a dork. But, every once in a while a film may take a second viewing years down the line for me to realize its greatness or lack their of. For instance Easy Rider did not hold up when I viewed it a few years after my initial viewing. However, The Passion of Joan of Ar seemed much better than I remembered it when I watched it the second time, a few years removed. I mean, those eyes, look at the passion!! This past weekend I rewatched Tokyo Story for the first time since college, I loved it much more now. In fact, I went into a small temper tantrum when it was picked before me in Round Six. Damn.

The story is simple enough. A older couple goes to visit their grown up children in Tokyo. The children are too busy with their own lives and wind up trying to offload their parents onto one another. After the children pool their money to send the parents to a resort type spa the parents decide its time to go home. The mother falls ill, and now the children need to deal with that reality. All of this happens over the course of nearly 3 hours. To me, the film didn't seem that long ay all. It definately is a film that would be considered slow moving by todays standards (it was made in 1953).

One reviewer said of the film, "It's like people watching through the eyes of God."
The pace of the film, the way the actors interact with eachother, the dialogue, it definately suits what the reviewer said. To someone who has moved away from home, my parents still live in South Jersey, the overiding story and themes definately resonated with me. Perhaps, when I watched it in college those themes didn't seem so real. Or maybe it's after losing two granparents in the past 12 months that made me more open to the film. I'm still bitter that I missed out on picking this in the movie draft, it certainly would have been a gentler pick than Kubrick's Paths of Glory. So it goes.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Three Cheers for DePaul University

Did you know that DePaul University is the nations largest Catholic University? For some reason, I did not know that. It sits just 3 hours away from good ole Barcelona, USA up in Chicagoland. I've known and worked with a handful of people who have studied there and they all have had very good things to say about the University. In one of the major news magazinges this week in the first few pages there was a story on DePaul being the first Catholic University to offer a minor in Queer Studies. (The official name of the minor is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Studies.) I searched around a little bit this morning and saw that you can find the Chicago Tribune article on the subject here.

To quote the article...

The study of the gay community, commonly known as LGBTQ Studies, has increasingly become part of university curricula during the last decade. DePaul has offered several classes through different departments in the last few years, so packaging them together to create a minor made sense, Cestaro said. Students will learn how gay issues are addressed in the fields of history, literature, religion, political science and psychology.

The minor requires that students take an introductory course and five electives, which can include courses in queer theory, history of sexuality in America, queer pioneers and gay and lesbian literature. The nursing department is planning a course on lesbian health, while the religious studies department will offer The Body and Human Relationships: Divergent Meanings, Conflicting Values, which will include discussion on the ethical implications of gay relationships.

Of course, there are those in the Catholic and faith based community that are against this. They believe that offering a monor would validate homosexuality as a lifestyle which is against the teachings of the Catholic Church. Anyone who has followed any reaction of the Catholic Church/Community to the Gay Community could have expected that. The way, I see it, it's overreaction, of course. At what point is offering a course on Lesbian Health an endorsement of a lifestyle? Wouldn't it be more noble to learn of different health issues a community faces, and be prepared to serve that community where they are? Wouldn't that be walking a life of Christ more than turning your back and walking away for fear of endorsement?

DePaul will continue to get flack for this. I am interested to how Cardinals and leaders of the Catholic Church around Chicagoland react to this in the upcoming months now that it has become national news. I wouldn't even be suprised to see the Vatican weigh in on it. But I think the director of the program, Gary Cestaro, seems to have the correct answer for any questions....

"Institutions of higher learning, Catholic or not, are about open investigation and free inquiry. DePaul particularly has a strong identity that involves commitment to social justice and to the urban community. At least from that perspective, LGBT studies make a lot of sense here."

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Rainer Maria

Sometimes, every once in a while my judgement is off when I gather my first impression. A few years back I read an interview with Rainer Maria in Magnet Magazine, and for whatever reason, thought they came off a bit arrogant or whatever. Some friends had some cd's and spoke highly of them, but I never really gave them a chance. Last summer however, I went to go see Denison Wittmer play a show in Cincinnatti and catch up with my roomate who was touring with Denison and Rainer Maria was on the same bill. About two or three songs into Rainer Maria's set I realized that my first impression was wrong. I leaned over to my friend Stevie and said something to the effect of, "Shit, I had already decided I didn't like this band. What now?" The obvious answer was to just accept I was wrong, and dive into fandom. I saw them once since that show and there live show was just as excellent the second time. Maybe even more so.

At any rate, there is some news today on Pitchfork about a new album and a tour. If you get a chance to see them live, definately do so. And on their website linked above you can check out a track from the new album. Someday I will learn how to download and link mp3's to this page, but until then...

Monday, February 20, 2006

Match Point

I saw the new Woody allen film Match Point this weekend. I have been looking forward to this movie with excitement and a bit of nerves since I saw the preview a few months back. The excitement was that it was a new Woody Allen movie. And despite his fair share of misteps i recent years every once in a while he produces something really spectacular like "Everyone Says I Love You" or "Sweet and Lowdown." From the trailer this definately looked to be a different kind of Woody Allen film. A London setting, an all together darker vibe it seemed than some previous movies, it was set to be a nice change of pace.

I will try as much as possible to not give away significant parts of the plot here in teh following paragraphs. The main crux of the story is two outsiders (Scarlett Johannson and Jonathon Rhys-Myers) trying to work their way into an elite London family by marraige. Not an entirely new concept by any means. It has happened in film and life before, and will again. But of course stuff gets complicated and if you have seen the trailer or even the poster you can guess its because the two outsiders have more of an attraction to eachother than those they are hoping to wed. The story spirals from here in many different and often times unexpected directions. It might be one of Woody Allen's best films in ages, but that doesn't neccessarily meanmost enjoyable.

I have been struggling with my feelings about this movie since yesterday evening. When I mentioned above that I was worried by the dark nature of the trailer that I would not find much to like at all in these characters. A few years back I saw Closer going into the movie with high expectations. After the movie I found myself wishing i had walked out. It was one horrible deed after another done by the characters too eachother. At no point in that movie did any of the characters seem to have anythinmg other than selfish thoughts. Sex was used as a weapon. And any moment any character showed any vulnerabilty it was pounced upon by another character. At the end of that film despiye a death and numerous breakdowns by each of the characters nothing was learned. The characters went on as if nothing happened. It led you to believe that any emotions actually on display during the film were fake. To me, and perhaps life experience had come into play a little bit, I found that film to be extremely offensive. To me, none of the charcters had any redeemiong qualities and thereby the film had very little redeeming in it as well. It seemed to be one of those films that was just "art for arts sake," a film completely devoid of actual emotion. There was little "human" about it. Somehow that film has become a yardstick though when I walk into films like Match Point. When I talked about my fears going into the film the main fear was that it would walk down the same path as Closer.

I talked to my roomate briefly last night about both films. We shared much of the same feeling about Closer. I asked him why, given the subject matter, I didn't feel as terrible walking out after Match Point as I did walking out after Closer. There is definately plenty of reason to feel the same way, more than enough. But, certain, albeit small, parts of this movie seem to slightly elevate it beyond the souless feeling I had about Closer while watching it. I don't want to give away too mucvh of the plot, but if you seen Match Point and want to discuss, please leave a comment.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

(Maybe) Final Thoughts for the evening on DC, (and Bonus US national team thoughts!!!)

In the posting below I started talking about the whole DC United controversy. So, shortly before I left to see the new Woody Allen film, Match Point (review on that later this week) news came out of DC in response to the Nowak situation, in an email from DC United's VP of Communication...The email can be viewed on the first page, HERE. The highlight of which for me must be...In an angry response directed at the referee following the third reckless and dangerous tackle by a Real Salt Lake player, Peter did shout that the player needed to be 'sent back to hospital. If anyone has any idea what that is supposed to mean let me know. Back to the hospital? The hospital where he was born? Did he just leave the hospital? It seems like a bizzare comment to incluse in a press release and actually the press release maybe woulda made more sense without it. It seems ridiculous to me. A few thoughts after chewing on this all afternoon...

1. IF Nowak did say that a player should be "sent back to Africa" it is an inherently racist comment and Nowak should lose his job. Period. In addition to it being the rigt thing to do, DC would be crazy not to fire him, especially considering what they have on the line in regards to funding for a stadium.

2. The DC United press release to me seems like stonewalling and leaves numerous questions still to be answered. Why would Ellinger say what he said? Did DC contact Ellinger after the game in regards to the misunderanding? Did they contact him before the press release which in effect calls him a liar?

3. DC played their card in defense of their coach and obvioulsy hopes this goes away, and quick. But, Ellinger, in the interview, said that players from his squad and from DC were bothered by the comments. Will one of them step up and say something or will this die out.

4. If Nowak remains as coach of DC this season, it is with a heavy cloud over him. The news is out there that there was at least an allegation of racism against him. He will not have an easy season dealing with opposing fans, or the press, and perhaps even his own team. He'll be walking a very thin line, should he stay.


Onto better news, the US national teams 4-0 victory over Guatemala today.

1. Frankie Hejduk is one of the best things to happen to US soccer ever. He steps up his game every 4 years for the World Cup. His passion in playing for his country is inspiring. His demeanor with the fans is great. If you had any doubts about his desire, watch the halftime feature again when he is the last player alive in the "beep test." The man is fit and always giving his all. He is also much more talented than his critics would like to admit.

2. Eddie Johnson is extremely talented. He's also a very insecure, very selfish player. Do you ever think you'd see a player the caliber of McBride, Reyna, Wolff, or any of the other veterans point at their name after the goal like Johnson. You represent the country when you put on that jersey, Eddie. Not your club, and definately not yourself. Grow up.

3. Love, LOVE seeing Chris Klein have a good game. IU kid, coming back from injuries. Great goal. I really think he's a player who is overlooked and can contribute if given the chance.

4. Dave O'Brien is a decent commentator with an appreciation for the game.

5. It's good to see something positive socerwise after the discourging news this am.

Is this big trouble brewing in DC?

In the seedy underworld that most of us soccer fans dwell in we find most of our news, especially news about MLS through the internet, and mainly through the soccer message board, BigSoccer. Late last night I logged on and saw what is surely the beginning of a huge shitstorm brewing in DC. Apparently DC United coach Piotr Nowak during a scrimmage remarked during a heated discussion that the opposing team (Real Salt Lake) should sen one of their players back to Africa. The player, is actually from the Carribean. The story, as we know it now in its infant stages can be found here. Not so much to go on yet, right? Well that's the nature of our soccer news for the time being.

A few points in the interest of full disclosure. I hate DC United. I hate DC United like I hate the Dallas Cowboys, New York Mets, and bullies who kick defenseless puppies. Nowak also was never my favorite player in the league when he played for Chicago, and he definately hasn't gone up in stature for me coaching at DC.

Now, we do not know how true this is. Ellinger's comments on that interview are the only comments on record as of Sunday morning about the incident. Ellinger did not bring up the subject, however, a member of the press did as he was doing the radio interview. There was no story in the Washington Post about this or anywhere else.

It should also be noted that DC United has been working with the city to try to get their own stadium complex built. This stadium complex as drawn up would be in a primarily black district of the DC area. Furthermore, for better or worse, the highest profile player in MLS is 16 or 17 year old Freddy Adu. Born in Ghana, now living in the DC area and playing under Nowak. Regarded as a prodigy of sorts, there were many stories surrounding Adu last season and his lack of playing time. Adu was aslo suspended a game late in the season, maybe even the playoffs, come to think of it, for conduct detrimental to the team.

I only bring up the stadium situation and Adu, because if this does wind up hitting the mainstream press it's gonna be a public relations nightmare. It's not for me to say whether Nowak's comments were racist. I have no idea whether he is or not. He's Polish and has played professionally and coached professionally with players of all backgrounds. If he were David Duke, there would have been smoke before now. However, at the same time, as one of the faces of what is probably MLS's most well known team, what he did was incredibly stupid.

First, it will be a nightmare working with city officials and trying to get funding for a stadium when your coach is accused of allegedly making a racist comment. It's just not a scandal that is wanted or needed. A more auxilarary (i couldn't possibly have spelled that word right) concern is that there may be a sports columnist, somewhere in the DC area, wanting to make a splash who gets a hold of this story and then connects two dots that should not be connected putting together the lack of playing time for Freddy Adu and Nowak's alleged racist remarks. And then you have public opinion swayed by some blowhard wordsmith who knows next to nothing about the actual situation.

At any rate this could fizzle out before it hits the mainstream press. But if it hits the mainstream press Nowak and DC could very well be in a very bad place. Should DC United try to head this off initially and beat the press to the punch with a Nowak apology, or should they take their chances that this doesn't blow up? I don't know, but even as a fan who hates DC United, this is upsetting simply because it is not the publicity the league needs right now 1 month from the start of the season.

AFTERNOON EDIT: Dwelling on this most the am, I just can not see how Nowak doesn't get fired for this. Perception is reality in these situations more often than not, and I don't see how he can say anything that will be able to convince people what he said was not racist in nature.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Onto books, The Brooklyn Follies by Paul Auster

A few years back I stumbled into my first experience with a Paul Auster novel. I noticed the Oracle Night had just been released. I had heard great things about Auster. I picked up the book and finished it in a weekend. Since then I have read 5 or 6 of his other books, he is definately one of my favorite contemporary authors. A month or so ago his new novel, The Brooklyn Follies came out. I picked it up, and again finished it in a weekend. reflecting on it further down the line, it may be my favorite Auster book.

In some earlier novels Auster's characters may be hard to identify with. They brood quite a bit. More often than not they are the intellectuals who seem to conclude from their knowledge that everything is broken. And sometimes they would have a happier ending, sometimes not. In The Booklyn Follies however, the protaginist is Nathan Glass, a 59 year old who comes to Brooklyn to live out the last days of his life in solitude. One thing he does to pass time is to work on "The Book of Human Folly." He decides to write down every misspoken phrase, slip, fall or other embarssing moment he can remember in his life or others. He's not a bitter old man. There is a warmth to him and a nice sense of humour as well.

Of course, he can't die alone, that wouldn't be the book. Of course he needs to have a chance meeting with a family member, in this case his long lost nephew, and its from there that this book takes off. It seems, to use goofy book review terms, that this is the warmest, least cynical Auster I have read. It definately has a different feel than plenty of his other novels which are darker. The tone of this book, the conversations, and the characters are all heading towards something. They all seem hopeful more often than not. And for a change in Auster's case he doesn't throw them into ridiculously dark surroundings to challenge their hope (See, "In The Country of Last Things).

The book is set in the early days and summer of 2001, before 9/11. There has been a lot made of that. This reviewer makes that the central part of his review. Now the time and setting of this book is monumentally important, for sure. And the time and setting definitely leaves a strong lasting impression on you after you close the book. However the time and setting is not the be all, end all impression that sticks with the further you get away from the book. The lasting impression to me is the joys that come from those random meetings and the way they can snowball into something greater. It's ridiculously cheesy and overly sentimental perhaps, but Nathan Glass went to Brooklyn to die, and through random chance meetings wound up in some wonderful relationships which led to some rather exciting adventures, all snowballing on top of one another. I think you can get overly sentemental about a book or movie though, and take grander lessons from them. And if there was a lesson that Nathan Glass was learning shortly before 9/11 it was not to shut himself out to random chance. That sometimes, those chances lead to something greater, that we couldn't see. It's a very human story for Auster, and something that matters before or after 9/11, or even if 9/11 didn't happen at all. And, as the reviewer from San Francisco alluded to, I think that's the main point.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Some Good News For Me...

I've been completely out of sorts today. It's been a long week. But I got good news in that I am recieving a holiday bonus from my place of employment. Now the majority of that will be going into my summer vacation fund. Hopefully to spend some time overseas off the coast of Portugal on the islands Azores. But at any rate at the same time I feel like I should put a little aside for some immediate gratification. I have a few options but am unsure what exactly I would like to treat myeslf too. I think I have narrowed it down to a few options though.

1. The 2006 Long Sleeved Columbus Crew Jersey. Huh, of course the gurus at MLS net only have pictures of the short sleeved, but you get the idea. MLS has never offered the Long Sleeve Jersey's before, and who wouldn't want a jersey of your 2006 MLS Cup Champions.


2. Or if I want to go for entertainment I could purchase The Decalogue Box Set. Ten 1 hour stories by directed by Krystof Kieslowski all based loosely around one of the Ten Commandments. Truly some of the more powerful film making I have ever seen. Critical acclaim seems to be in agreement. And not only that, but it was my third pick in the Motion Picture Draft, that I mentioned earlier in this post

So tell me fair readers, what is the better treat for myself?

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Before I forget, Spring officially began today...

Pitchers and catchers reported to spring training in Clearwater, Florida for the Philadelphia Phillies today. "Pitchers and catchers report today," is one of the finest, sweetest phrases in the english language. It signifies hope, new beginnings, belief, life, love, and happiness. Normally, at least. So why do I have neither a pitcher nor catcher in the photo, but instead Jimmy Rollins? Well, Liebrethal is overpaid at catcher for the Phils. Our minor league up-and-comer Carlos Ruiz won't get a fair chance until Liebrethal is gone. And our pitching staff, outside of Lieber and Myers seems very unsettled. So you get a photo of Jimmy Rollins in the field. Don't forget as well, Jimmy is carrying a 38 game hit streak into this season. So he can swing the bat too. While it's unlikely my Phils will even make the playoffs I have already been planning trips to Cinci and Chicago to see what new and exciting ways they can lose.

Wait, wait this is all wrong. Spring. Training. Hope. Belief. Optimism.

The Phillies will win the World Series. They will win in 6 over the White Sox or Angels. Down with the Mets, Braves, Cubs, and Red Sox. Up with Hope, Belief, and Love. Up with the Phillies. Your 2006 World Series Champions begin their march today.

Mike Davis - Bloomington Master of Horror

Why not keep with the horror theme today? According to numerous reports Mike Davis will be resigning as Indiana Hoosiers head basketball coach. Many seem to think it was the right time. I agree.

First off, I had a soft spot for IU before I even moved to Indianapolis. I think it was because they beat Syracuse in 1987. Growing up a Villanova fan, I hated Syracuse. My advisor in college was an IU grad, so he would often talk about IU hoops at the beginning of class too. When I moved here it was at the end of the Knight Era, a time better not discussed. Davis came in and coached one of the funnest seasons I've witnessed as a fan of any team when he took IU to the Final Four. I remember telling Ray and Esh before an IU vs Penn St game that IU had the talent that year to be a top 10 team. They only won that game by 8 points. Ray and Esh laughed. I remember watching IU then beat Duke in the sweet 16 with Ray, Mandi, K and other friends. I still owe Mandi money for spackle from that night. At any rate, I remeber how euphoric I was after that win. That season was incredible. Since then it's been all downhill. How many games has this team won on the road in the Big 10 the past 3 seasons? Maybe 5?

Davis never seemed comfortable in his skin at IU. He always seemed very insecure. When things went pear shaped, or when an article was written questioning his credentials Mike Davis showed all the mental fortitude of a 16 year old girl with chronic acne. It wasn't good.

Davis brought some good times, obviously and some big wins. But they were overshadowed by his meltdowns, his insecurity, and a plethora of embarassing losses. The time has come for him to go. It can be debated whether he handled it correctly, but I'm not the one to moderate that debate. His needing to leave has nothing to do with him not being Bobby Knight. This has to do with the simple facts that IU should be the premiere program in the Big 10 year in and year out. History dictates that, Bloomington and all of Indiana expects it. And frankly, they deserve it. It hasn't been that way for a long time. Here is hoping that it gets back that way soon.

Dario Argento - Italian Master of Horror.

Artists have a right to be a bit freakish, right? Dario Argento, if his films are any indication seems to fit this bill. A few years back my roomate spotted a documentary on IFC on Argento. They called him the "Italian Hitchcock" in the documentary. I wouldn't say that exactly. Argento's films are much darker and much more grisly. I am not entirely a fan of gore or violence so I can't explain my fascination with this director. I have Trauma at home and another Argento in the Netflix queue. While his movies have more gore than I would normally watch, and the acting is often very suspect, the films drip with atmosphere. Argento definately used music to achieve this in many films including Suspiria which many consider to be his classic. One of the bands he consistently uses for music is Goblin. Seriously. You can't make this stuff up. Anyway he's not for everyone surely. I don't even know why he's for me. But, if you are interested in checking out Argento, Suspiria is as good a place as any to start.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

FIFA > United Nations? Sepp Blatter > George W. Bush?

No suprise here that I can't sleep this evening. Just plowed through some "eggless" salad and drinking a Spaten. I have an early morning meeting, so I figured I would post something tonight.

Friends keep sending me great material. Yesterday afternoon I got this an email from an old valued friend talking about the "power of soccer, again..." in reference to this article..

The article states the an interesting precedent of UEFA banning Yugoslovia from the European Championships in 1992. Under pressure from Sweeden and other countries UEFA wound up banning Yugoslavia from the European Championships for not heeding UN security council resolutions. A precedent is set here that FIFA could follow, were they to choose to ban Iran from the World Cup. International Law is suspect at best, who really could Iran appeal to? The UN who would already be considering sanctions against them?

The columnist makes the argument... "Academic research indicates that sanctions have an important symbolic value, but that they play, at best, a contributory rather than a decisive role in producing political change.

An announcement by FIFA that it is ready to ban Iran from participating in the World Cup would have a much greater symbolic value than UN economic sanctions themselves because few people pay attention to UN affairs, but half of humanity is gearing up to follow the World Cup.

Nobody, moreover, could argue that this type of sanction will be responsible for the death of an unspecified number of Iranian children. Being deprived of the opportunity of cheering for one's team will only diminish the enjoyment of life of Iranian soccer fans between now and the end of June

Now, any American soccer fan that had the misfortune of watching the 1998 World Cup run knows that Iranians are crazy in their support of their team. We know this cause we lost to Iran. I remember that ABC had a reporter stationed in Iran to cover post game reaction, but they never went to her. Press reports told of rioting in the streets and American flags being burnt. The team simply making the World Cup was a great source of national pride. Beating the evil westerners? Even better. There is absolutely no chance they would not want to have that opportunity again.

Granted, FIFA alone can not convince Iran to stop with their plans for nuclear development. But given the past few years do you think that our current administration or the UN could do so alone either? The writer certainly brings up an interesting scenario.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Evolution Sunday?

I recieved an email from my friend Bourke with this article from the New York Times in it yesterday. (Try bugmenot if you do not have an NYT password.) The article is titled At Churches Nationwide, Good Words for Evolution.

Anyone paying attention to the news in the past year or so has probably seen some sort of debate over whether "intelligent design" should be taught in schools alongside or even in place of evolution. Debates range to whether it should be taught in science clases, comparative religion classes, or even literature. And sure enough, when some school districts don't accept "intelligent design" as suitable for their cirriculum, blowhards like Pat Roberston behave as if they are God's chosen mouthpiece and reign down insults and threats on them.

As one of Christian faith I do believe that there is a God and that he is/was the Creator. However, for years I have not thought that this view was mutually exclusive with a view of evolution. I am unsure that the days marked out in Genesis are actual 24 hour days as we know them now. The God I believe in isn't confined by time. He is eternal. It's okay to not fully understand what that means and the implications of that. And likewise it is okay to make every effort to understand. There are a few money quotes in that article about Christians and intelligent thought. But I'll just leave you two here that sum up what I wish to say, only better...

"We believe that among God's good gifts are human minds capable of critical thought and that the failure to fully employ this gift is a rejection of the will of our Creator." and...

"A faith that requires you to close your mind in order to believe is not much of a faith at all."

Isn't it time for those of faith to at least work alongside those in science, if not embrace it. To run away from it, to try to supress scientific teachings is to put forth the idea that you are afraid of it. That you fear that it would uncover something unseemly which might ruin your faith. Shouldn't we be beyond that now?

I have yet to read further on this group that brought about this "Evolution Sunday" and the "Clergy Letter Project" but I plan too, out of curiousity. More info can be found here at numerous sites on the net including here. You think they'd get a better page. So it goes, perhaps in the future...

- Oh, and Happy Valentines Day, angels. As a Valentines Day gift to you and yours I place a link to my favorite Vonnegut short story, A Long Walk To Forever. One foot in front of the other...

- As Valentine's Day gift two I offer you something really special. In an earlier post I mentioned how the three heroes dancing the madison in Jean-Luc Godard's Band of Outsiders was probably one of the happiest moments I remember in my film watching experience. Thanks to Gringo Tex over at Big Soccer in the Motion Picture Draft Thread I can now offer it to you to watch. Watch Here, Watch Now.

Who loves you?

Monday, February 13, 2006


Yesterday evening and this morning I watched Kwaidan. I picked up a copy of the DVD at the Indianapolis Library knowing nothing about it. I figured if it was a Criterion Collection movie that it couldn't be all that bad. The description on the back flap of the DVD case tells you this is "four nightmarish tales in which terror thrives." In my opinion that is misleading.

The film is broken up into four stories, "The Black Hair," "The Woman of the Snow," "Hoichi, The Earless," and "A Cup of Tea." As far as I can tell after one viewing, the stories do not tie together in any other sense except they are packaged together in this one film. They definately could be watched seperately.

I didn't see any of the tales as horror stories in the conventional sense. "The Black Hair" seemed more like a morality tale. My roomate even compared it to Poe. "The Woman of the Snow" was probably my favorite one, though I can't really say why without giving away the story. "Hoichi, The Earless" was stunning. There were recreations of battle scenes throughout and the prescence of teh supernatural in that story, especially as Hoichi retells the story of the battles to a court is probably the films best visual moment. "A Cup of Tea" was short, effective, open ended and a great way to end the film. It was probably the most entertaining of the four stories.

It's hard to believe when you are watching this that these stories were actually, origibaly Western in orgin. The films stories are based on the stories of Lafcadio Hearn, a folklorist of Greek/Irish ancestry who moved to the United States and eventually Japan. The stories seem so outside of traditional Western storytelling. "The Black Hair," which I earlier mentioned my friend compared to Poe was definately the most western feeling of the stories. The way the other three tackle the supernatural is definately more outside the boundries of Western storytelling.

It would be crimial to mention the stories to without mentioning the soundtrack and color. I would venture a guess that there was dialogue less than 50% of the film. Instead of actuall dialogue the filmaker used a magnificent soundtrack to create tension more often than not. And from the opening credits, when you see splashes of red, black, and blue ink the use of color througout is phenomenal. It's odd, as this was a 1965 film that the colors seemed so much more vivid than films today but that was the case.

I am guessing this is a film that you'd actually have to seek out to find. I never saw it in Blockbuster or at any other rental places. As I said, I just lucked into it at my library. But I am definately glad I did. The film is low moving, and not very traditional horror stories, but if you are in the mood for something different, I would definately suggest this.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

In Rotation

A lazy sunday morning of laundry and cd sorting after a lazy Saturday evening of falling asleep on the couch watching the "lympix." Can't complain bout the weekend really. Lot's of music listening through the week as well, so what do I have in rotation?

- Depeche Mode - In the past 5 or 6 months I think i have listened to more Depeche Mode than I have at any other point in my life. Of course it probably helps that their last album, Playing the angel is absolutely brilliant. The strange thing is, nearly everything I have listened to is their post-Violator stuff. I can't get into the earlier stuff. To me it almost seems like at some point round the Ultra album they decided to start making music for "adults" I don't really even know what I mean by that, but I do know that it makes me feel old to say. But, I guess gone are the dancy singles that are just clamoring for radio and club airplay and now you just have good solid songs lyrically and sonically all the way through. Anyway check out the video for Precious the first single from their last album.

- Every four years or so it seems Fiona Apple puts out an album and I buy it and I sell it a year later. I just got the new album Extrodinary Machines last week and have listened to it at least once a day. There was a big controversy/hullabaloo about whether or not the album would ever be released a while back. Apparently Epic didn't think it was commercial enough. Eventually Fiona switched producers, apparrently by her own choice, and redid the album. Now, I never heard the unreleased version, but I don't see anything un-commercial about this album. I can picture hearing just about any of these songs on the radio on some top 40 station, or even adult contemporary. Now, Ms. Apple, she has this tendancy to take any little thing about relationships and turn it into major catastrophe in her lyrics. Being a fan of the Smiths, I have no problem with that. But it might wear on some people. Anyway, at her website you can listen to most the album by clicking the links. I don't see myself selling this one down the line.

- Last year on my birthday (March 11, you have many shopping days left. I randomly went down to Radio Radio just to catch some live music. I saw this band Canasta play. I wound up buying there 5 song ep that night and wound up purchasing their full album which they put out towards the end of last year. I don't know how to describe these guys. Orchestral pop. I think someone said chamber pop once. I guess they can be described as intelligent, lyrically. I am not so good at those descriptions. Anyway, their live show is incredible and tight, so if they come around your way check that out for sure. And their cd "We were Set Up" is equally phenomenal. That's been in heavy rotation since I got it. Their website is great and has tons of audio for you to sample as well, here. Definately check out the demo of Shadowcat, which sounds even better on the album. And the audio for their entire first ep Find the Time is there as well. I believe almost all those songs made it to the album as well. So that will give you a good taste of what to expect.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Random thoughts, Saturday am

- First off I added two links to the side of the page for other blogs I frequent. 11am Air Raid is a great Indianapolis blog. Often times if I don't want to leaf through Nuvo going into the weekend I know more often than not I can check out highlights of the coming weekend from Jim. Whether it be local music, or other interesting stuff. In addition to that he's a soccer fan, he's got some fine taste in music, and a he's standup guy. Eccentric Southern Gentlemen is Joel straight out of Alabama. Posts range from movies, to religion, to soccer, music, and Alabama Crimson Tide football. I visit both sites at least 2-3 times a week. Good stuff, there.

- Speaking of the Southern Gent, he has a good summary of the US v Japan international friendly here.. I only caught the last 1/2 hour but I have the rest on tape. Twellman and Dempsey both look to be showing very well for the Nats recently. I gotta think both make the team at this rate. No significant notes from Columbus Crew players on the field though, sad to say.

- Keeping with sports for a moment we are just 1 month away from the start of the Formula 1 season in Bahrain and I can not wait. Fisichella topped the timesheets yesterday in Jerez while McLaren suffered another engine blowup. The Renaults seem to be the class of the field so far through testing. But though McLaren lost an engine, again, the new livery was unveiled and it looks very sharp.

- An interesting few months of shows is coming up here in Indy. In April I may need to jump into my time capsule and get my mid-90's back as both Dinosaur Jr and Built to Spill come to the Vogue. I saw Built to Spill a few months back and loved em. But I never have seen Dinosaur Jr, so that may win out in the concert budget.

- Well, just one more, that I found now. I got an email this am from the not so fine people at Sony/BMG about a class action lawsuit. I have no idea or not if this is a hoax, but I think it's legit. This is about a class action suit if...

The settlement provides relief for persons who bought, received or used SONY BMG CDs with either XCP or MediaMax software. Under the settlement, any person in possession of an XCP CD can exchange it for a replacement CD, an MP3 download of the same album, and either (a) cash payment of $7.50 and one (1) free album download from a list of 200 albums, or (b) three (3) free album downloads from that list.
Purchasers of CDs containing MediaMax 5.0 software will receive a free
MP3 download of the same album and one (1) additional free album download. Purchasers of CDs containing MediaMax 3.0 software will receive a free MP3 download of the same album.

Anyway the website to file your claim is here. The list of CD's that you may have purchased is, here. So, if like me, you were really confused when you Black Rebel Motorcycle Club cd put crazy stuff all over you computer, file your claim. Get your $7.50. And get some downloads. Damn the man.

Friday, February 10, 2006

A Montion Picture Draft.

Brilliant idea came about on BigSoccer earlier today. A Motion Picture Draft.

19 Participants.
10 Rounds.

The criteria for your picks?

If humanity were destroyed tonight, what movies would you place inside a time capsule to be discovered by either possible survivors, future sentient beings, or aliens?

Movies can be of any period or language. TV shows or music videos are not allowed.

We'll start with ten rounds. The winner will be the one who selects ten movies that the judges feel best offer the greatness of cinema to future civilizations. "Greatness," of course, will be defined by the three judges according to their individual tastes.

My picks will likely be shredded by the judges, but this is gonna be fun nonetheless. And I already have more movies to add to my Netflix queue.


On storytelling in prime time television...

So, this may delve into the absurd or ridiculous, but, besides sports and Sunday morning news magazines I make time to watch only 3 television shows. Rescue Me, The OC, and Scrubs. I used to make no apologies about liking the OC. It was a soap opera but well written. You wanted to see the characters succeed. You wanted to see them happy. And despite the claims that it was a teenager show, it never really was. The storylines with the "adults" in the show were just as important. And often times more intiguing. This was helped along, in no small part, by Sandy Cohen being one of the best TV dads of all time. However this year has been testing my last nerve.

As a writer for these shows, I gotta imagine it's not easy. You gotta keep enough drama and suspense going week to week to have people want to come back. The OC is a drama, and you need the suspense, the suprise, and the misfortunes to keep the show going. But there is a fine line between keeping that going and just screwing with the viewer so often that he stops caring. For instance, in the OC we have Ryan and Marrissa. From the first show we had him as kid from the wring side of tracks and her as beautiful girl next door. This seems to have been one of the key storyline from the beginning and if you even go back and watch the first episode it seems like a bedrock relationship of the show. It just seems that there is no other logical way for the show to eventually end than with Ryan and Marissa together. Granted, I am sappier than most when it comes to this stuff, but I think most viewers would feel the same way.

So, why then are the writers rehashing the same old storylines and obstacles for those two with nothing ever completely resolved. This entire season, to my recollection there has not been a two episode run where these two have been happy. Does this sound ridiculous yet, that I am posting this long that I have thought this much about the OC? Good, it get's more ridiculous. Just wait.

As a viewer of a tv show, a movie, a play, a reader of a book, whatever you want to choose, you need to care about the characters, about their well being in order to stick through the story. There may be some people out there who choose to watch/read stories just to see people they don't care for suffer, but I haven't met too many. More often than not a viewer makes a connection with a character and wishes the best for them and wants to see them happy. This seems to be lost on the writers of the OC, all of the sudden. They have taken one of the bedrock relationships of the show and put the characters through the ringer. A few weeks back I was hopeful that something would happen which would give Ryan and Marissa temporary reprieve and temporary happiness. Now, after everything that has gone on, the situations they have put those two characters through, and the way they have reacted it's almost at the point of no return. It's as if, were they to suddenly work it out as a viewer you are so angry about the situation you have stopped caring. That's playing with a viewers head after you had made them take a liking to the characters before. And really, that's just poor, irresponsible writing if you want to keep viewers. It may be where the show has gone wrong, and it may leave setting time aside for only two shows in the future.

I told you this was gonna be ridiculous.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

It's starting and I am very, very excited

Look! You can see Buschie is excited too. I can't help it, I just got very geeked though. Tomorrow is the beginning of the the beginning. Yeah, it isn't the regular season. Yeah, Martino and Hejduk are with the Nats, and Kitamarke has yet to get his visa to join the team. And yeah, it will be mostly just a scouting session. But tomorrow YOUR Columbus Crew starts their journey towards their first MLS Cup Championship in their entire existence by scrimmaging Metrostars in Florida. We are getting closer. Opening day, April 1. Home opener, April 15. I'm getting giddy.

"He wondered if the world was becoming a dream or if a dream was becoming the world."

Last night I watched Jean Luc Godard's Band of Outsiders. I can't believe at 28 years old that this is the first Godard film I have seen. He is definately refered to as one of those major figures in film and an inspiration for many of the independent filmakers I enjoy today. Case in point; a week ago I talked abour Wong Kar-Wai's Fallen Angels. In a review of that movie Roger Ebert compared Wong Kar Wai to Godard.

Onto the film. As far as the plot there really doesn't seem to be that much to this. The setting is Paris. Two guys meet a girl in English class, and find out her aunt has a great deal of money in the house, and that it isn't exactly securely guarded. They decide to enlist her help in stealing the money. But when two young guys and a beautiful girl and dreams of a better existence all colide their is bound to be complications. Both guys (Franz and Arthur) fall for the girl (Odile) who is wonderfully played by Anna Karina. However, at no point do you really see Franz and Arthur outwardly become enemies against each other. The primary focus is seemingly on the heist. The secondary focus is on Odile. Most of the time.

The mood of the film starts out a bit light. There are definately laughs to be had. And there are memorable scenes by the bucketload. Arthur wooing Odile in English class as the class is attempting to translate Romeo and Juliet. The three of our protaganists dancing together (maybe one of my favorite scenes i have seen in years, and shown in freeze frame above.) A "minute of silence" that takes forever. For me, TWO mentions of Indianapolis! Of course they were in reference to auto racing, but I don't mind that! And then there are narrative interludes. Godard uses these to perfection. About 15 minutes into the movie for instance, "A few random words for our late arrivals. Two boys, a beautiful girl, a bundle of money..."

Somehow, inspite of the laughs to be had, there is still at the same time a bit of melancholy that hangs over the film. Maybe it's because I never really believe that they will get away with it. Maybe it's the score. Maybe it's because I empathize with one of the guys that may not get all of Odile's affection. At one point, Godard uses a narrative interlude to tell us what Franz is thinking, "He wondered if the world was becoming a dream or if a dream was becoming the world." It's a phenomenal line. A phenomenal thought. It's hopeful and melancholy at the same time. I guess because of the uncertainty of his reality. If it is a dream, if he wakes up, what then? Does he abandon the dream and just go on living normally? Is normalcy without Odile? Does he try another robbery? I won't give away the films ending, except to say, it was not entirely what I expected.

I really, really liked this film. One sad thing about Netflix is that when you recieve these Criterion Collection DVD's you only recieve one of the two discs. Many great special features are usually on the second disc. I may need to get that disc as I think there was plenty of litterary references and many other jokes that may have gone over my head. Nonetheless, I did quite enjoy the film. Even though some may have been over my head, the characters are endearing and accessable, and you definately wind up caring for each of them. At the end there is mention of some continuing adventures, if these characters show up in another Godard film, I definately will see that as well.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Enough of the heavy handed stuff, at least for today...

Today, we'll take a break from film commentary, issues of faith, and examining the many problems with society. Today we will take a day to celebrate. Today, let's look at your 2005 Big Five Champion Villanova Wilcats!

Last night, in the Holy War, Villanova played St Josephs at Philadelphia's cathedral of basketball, The Palestra. Both teams were 3-0 in big 5 play this year and this game would decide the championship of the Big Five. It was only the fourth time in the 50 year history of the Big Five that two teams met on the final night, undefeated, and playing for the Big Five Championship.

At the time I was growing up in South Jersey, the Big 5 was in danger. I grew up a Villanova fan, but sadly it was primarily Villanova's fault the Big Five almost ceased to exist. Rollie Massimino and others at Villanova didn't think it boded well for their national image to lose to the likes of LaSalle or St. Joes. They tried to back out. They actually did for a while. A large portion of Philadelphia sports fans hasn't forgiven them.

New Villanova coach Jay Wright has embraced the Big Five, he understands its importance to the city. And from all accounts it was a night to remember. Some highlights from the Philly Daily News and Inquirer...

Five schools, one whole. It is something greater, and Villanova-St. Joe's playing for the Big 5 championship is the greatest of all. You can see it when the president of St. Joseph's, the Rev. Timothy Lannon, is sitting in the front row and clapping so hard that he must be hurting his hands. You can hear it when the St. Joe kids, in the building very early, greet the arrival of Villanova team manager Erin Wade - the daughter of former Phils general manager Ed Wade - with the chant of, "Gillick's better.''

In the first half, the St. Joe's kids yelled across at the Villanova kids, "We can't hear you.'' Then, not 7 minutes into the second half, when the Hawks' lead had evaporated for good, the "We can't hear you'' was on the other foot.

This is the Big 5: Inside the last minute, the Villanova kids yelled, "We own Philly.'' The St. Joe kids replied, "You're not Philly.'' It is the geographical fact (and the accompanying notions of privilege and entitlement) that fuels so much of the animus, and has forever - even if a part of the St. Joe's campus isn't in Philadelphia, either.

Then the Villanova kids yelled the final punctuation: "The Hawk is dead.'' Then the St. Joe kids offered the time-honored reply: "The Hawk will never die.'' There is such comfort in the ritual.

But this is the Big 5, too: Long after the game was over, interviews done, emotions cooled, Wright and Martelli and Martelli's assistants stood and talked for 5 minutes on the edge of the court, and then the two head coaches both walked up into the stands to say hello to Chris DiJulia, the son of St. Joseph's athletic director Don DiJulia. Then they talked some more in a group, and then Martelli left, and then Wright stayed behind and talked some more with the St. Joe's people after that.

There is nothing like the Big 5 anywhere else in the country. Not even here in Indiana, which is as about basketball crazy as any state can be. This was a huge win for Villanova. Andy Katz gets it, the significance of the Big 5, that is. Today, I will smile a lot thinking bout the 2005-2006 Big 5 Champion Villanova Wildcats.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

More East of Eden Reaction, sort of...

A few days back in this post I gave a little bit of my reaction to East of Eden. I have watched it once more since then, with a good friend who happened to fall asleep in the last 5 minutes. Tsk Tsk. She'll need to watch it again, methinks. Anyway, I digress, again. Today Andrew Sullivan has some reaction to it here somehow vaguely in relation to a letter he recieved from a friend about Brokeback Mountain. I haven't seen Brokeback Mountain yet, though I plan too. So I'll concentrate on what Sullivan said about East of Eden, namely...

Speaking of movies, we watched "East of Eden" last night. I'd never seen it, but its deep themes of love versus truth, of sin and salvation, seemed more relevant than ever. What Steinbeck and Kazan seemed to be saying is that truth matters, but the ultimate Christian truth is love. When adherence to truth attacks love, it destroys itself. If I were forced to state the essentials of my own Christian faith, it would be something like that. Love before everything. And the more astonishing idea: that the force behind all of us, and all of creation, is ... benign. That's what Jesus came to prove. And what some of his followers occasionally forget.

Oh my word. There is a ton to chew on there. I heart Andrew Sullivan for writing stuff like this.

First off, whether Kazan and Steinbeck were trying to get across a Christian message of Truth, and that ultimate truth being Love, I have no idea. I am not well versed enough in the history of this film, nor am I a Steinbeck scholar.

One of Sullivan's main points seems to be "When adherence to truth attacks love, it destroys itself." Looking back at the movie I see that being exactly the case in the relationship between Cal and his father. Throughout the movie there was the very black and white idea of good and bad. Cal numerous times stated that he was "bad" or "no good." His father at one scene at a dinner table said as much to him as well. The rigidness and absolute defintions of good and bad that Cal and his father put on himself did get in the way of their love for eachother, and did destroy their relationship for a while.

Outside of literature and film, in the real world in 2006, do Sullivan's thoughts hold water. That I need to think about. Yes, I do think that in the Christian faith the overiding principle as Sullivan states is, "Love before everything." But does strict adherance to truth destroy love? It's difficult. Sin is sin. And as Christians we are often tempted to confront sin where and when we see it in the public sphere. Whether it be greed, promiscuity, dishonesty, or whatever. Surely, in Sullivan's case living as a homosexual he has likely been confronted numerous times about his lifestyle by those in the faith. (For the record, I am choosing not to discuss my feelings on homosexuality here, just yet, but they are likely a bit to the left of most Christians). Whatever the case, it's a very thin line that needs to be walked. When we see sin, when we confront it, if not done with a spirit of humility, or if we go about it with less than pure motives, namely thinking our own gain we are definately obscuring the message of Love. As much as it's difficult and humbling to admit, there are absolutes in the world. And since that is the case it is very easy to rigidly adhere to them, without a spirit of love. I am not sure I have figured out how to do it yet. I am unsure I ever will. But, i hope to continue to try, and to learn through my efforts.

In related news, since I have cited Sullivan already numerous times here, I added a link to his site on the link list to the side, as well as to my friend Fiddy's creation Hunt Park Insider which is a fan run Columbus Crew web site. Enjoy.

Monday, February 06, 2006

More Music, more football...

Pitchfork today had an interview with Matt from The National. It was a pretty decent interview where you find out among other things that The National beat buzz band of 2005 Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! in the indie rock soccer showdown. Whatever the hell that is, I have no idea. But good job to the boys in The National.

I lucked into their last CD Aligator sometime round the beginning of the summer as a friend gave it to me. The first few listens I liked it, but then songs were just stuck in my head weeks down the line. In the interview there is talk of the album being a grower, and that's certainly the case. The lyrics are a bit out there and can be sung in happy times and sad and feel like they are completely talking about your situation. Matt talks about how he wanted to avoid the "ALL CAPS" lyrics in writing this album, meaning apparently stuff that only sounds good once, or is too direct. I guess he achieved that result, and you wind up having memorable couplets like...

"hey love, we'll get away with it. we'll run like we're awesome, totally genius" or...

"you know you have a permanent piece...of my medium sized american heart"

Just written out like that they don't look like much, but throughout the course of the album it all comes together wonderfully. Let me just say this. Come the end of summer, my car was broken into. Four cd's were stolen, Love - Forever Changes, Best of Jonathon Richman, Buffalo Tom - Big Red Letter Day (who the hell steals a Buffalo Tom CD, honestly? Gilmore Girls fans?), and this National CD. The other three may be classics, at least of their time or era. Yet, the National is the only CD I re-purchased. Jangly, slinky guitars, subtle nearly monotone vocal delivery, and great lyrics. I just couldn't pass it up. It definately was one of my favorite albums of the past year.

- Well unless you were under a rock you know the Steelers won the Superbowl yesterday. Now, I am of course a Philadelphia Eagles fan, but I definately was pulling for the Steelers to win. My extended family for the most part still lives in Pittsburgh, and it was good to know they will be happy with the win. Highlights of the day included...

1. Talking to my Grandma after the game, hearing her talk about Fireworks going off down the street from her house and how she wished I could be there.

2. Talking briefly to my Dad after the game and knowing how happy he was.

3. The company I had while watching the game. Nobody really cared about the game so much other than me a bit, but everyone was eating, smiling, and laughing during the game. And I guess that means the BBQ Tempeh, cookies, and dip I made all came out well.

4. Seeing Jerome Bettis, an ex ND football player hold up the SupeBowl trophy in his last game. That was pretty cool.

And perhaps, thats all for today.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

4 PM Super Bowl Sunday

Go Steelers! Beat Seattle! This guy is into it, even at his weddding! Rock!

- So far today, I have veganized my grandfathers chip dip to bring the Steelers luck. And I have also baked my first successful batch of Cookies in aproximately 5 years. I suck at baking cookies, but todays seem to have come out okay.

- Yesterday I went down to Bloomington and saw Andrew Bird perform live. Links to his stuff are in the previous post below. The show was at Buskirk Chumley theater in Bloomington. I have lived in Indy for 6 years and never been to that theater before. I loved the theater and hope to see another show there soon. Our good friends the Beeler's were able to get us seats in the upper left balcony, first two rows. It was as if we had our own box seats for the show. Pretty neat. The show itself had its high's and lows. Andrew Bird is a helluva musician, songwriter, and performer. He had one other gentleman, Martin Dosh with him on stage. Dosh handled a lot of percussion, keyboards and loops, and Bird played guitar, violin, and did vocals. Now Bird, also loops the hell out of his music. He will start off finger picking his violin and then set it down as a loop. Then he'll go into playing his guitar, whistling, or doing vocals over the loop. I am definately not doing this justice by any means. However, the show was enjoyable. The venue was great, and it was a great time with friends. However, for whatever reason, Andrew Bird didn't really sustain a good momentum throughout the show. Some moments, and some favorite songs were great. His performance was good to, but it didn't leave you on the end of your seat or standing like other great shows. When it ended, I was ready for it to end. That said, his show is definately worth seeing if you haven't seen it, and I'd likely see him again if he comes around. Of course it helps that tickets to his shows are about 1/4 as much as Morrissey or whatever.

- Anyway, gonna get to making BBQ Tempeh now. Go Steelers!

Friday, February 03, 2006

Random Entertainment Ramblings

To the left is Morrissey's new album cover. What's not to love about this guy. Last album he was holding a tommy gun. This album a violin. The new album comes out April 4 in the states. I have heard the first single already and must say, its incredible. Once again I will pay way too much to see him live when he hits the States as well. Morrissey, Depeche Mode, New Order, all bands i pay upwards of $50 to see. I must be insane. [edit: apparently the link to the album cover has been taken down. that's sad, just take my word for it though!)

- The Columbus Crew was reportedly close to signing 22 year old Newcastle United striker Michael Chopra according to a report in this mornings Columbus Dispatch. It fell through, for various reasons, but this is just huge stuff. It shows a totally new direction for the club that he was even on their radar. Three cheers to Sigi Schmid and Mark McCullers. They definately are building a championshiop caliber team.

- Renault F1 officially unveiled their new title challenger the R26 earlier this week in Monaco. If you want to see a cool picture, and an example of just how much work aerodynamic work goes into these cars, clic here. For more news, their Official website.

- Super Bowl XL is this weekend. Go Steelers. Just because I will never see my Eagles win a Super Bowl in my lifetime doesn't mean my dad shouldn't see his team win 5. 5 freakin Super Bowls. I can't even imagine 1. Sheesh.

- This. I just don't even know what to say about that. Good music, terrible idea. I think? Maybe it's brilliant? I am just very confused.

- Finally. Going to see Andrew Bird tomorrow. Definately looking forward to that. Click on the quicktime link to listen to his latest album, here

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Happy Groundhog's Day Rantings

So, Phil predicted six more weeks of winter. Interesting. I am assuming that may lead President Bush to hold a press conference on the White House lawn and declare that due to Phil's prediction we can consider global warming to be a farce. Science and Kyoto Protocol be damned! I mean if global warming existed, why would we have 6 more weeks of winter right?

I guess I am feeling a little sarcastic this morning. I mean our President wouldn't do that, right? He stated in the SOTU that we cut oil imports by 75%! However as a reader of Andrew Sullivan points out, can we really expect that? I guess I'll believe it when I see results from the $1.7 billion Hydrogen car initiative.

And now more lunacy from my Christian Brothers and Sisters

You know what, while I am ranting let me point this out. The movie End of The Spear recently hit theaters. I have not seen the film yet and won't go too much into the story. I'll just say that it's the story of a missionary family and forgiveness. It's a story that if well told and filmed can definately be a catalyst for deeper discussions on issues of faith and other cultiures. Some of the producers were hoping for a Passion of the Christ type turnout for this film. That, however, does not look like it will happen. Why? What's the controversy? The lead actor in the film happens to be a gay male.

The NY Times has an artcle on the contoversy. (try bugmenot if you are password blocked. It's truly a fascinating and depressing read. One excerpt, One Web log, nossobrii.blogspot .com, written by Kevin T. Bauder, president of Central Baptist Seminary in Minneapolis, stated in a Jan. 13 entry: "Granted, we must not overreact. And it would probably be an overreaction to firebomb these men's houses. But what they have done is no mistake. It is a calculated strategy." You can't make this stuff up. Seriously. Now what exactly is the calculated strategy. Is somehow the overiding message of Christ's love and forgiveness suddenly lost because a gay actor plays a role of the missionary? The sad thing is, a vast monority of people would even know that the actor was gay were it not for the overeaction of some preachers.

However, it's not all doom and gloom. Some people have their head on right. And suprsingly enough one of those groups is Focus on the Family who are said to be 'saddened by theangry email responses from Christians about the film." And that they hoped that the film's "overall message should overide such considerations" Thank you. That seems so obvious to me. How can it be so lost on so many others.

And, finally, I changed the settings on the blog here so if you feel like commenting on anything you can do so without needing to sign in. Comments always welcome.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Fallen Angels

Last night Netflix aided my insomnia again by sending Wong Kar Wai's Fallen Angels. Around midnight I decided that I would be up at least another 90 minutes so why not throw in the dvd and see what we had in store.

This movie is hard to explain. And part of me thinks this is a film that may actually be better watched alone late in the evening. The story seems all over the place. You have a hitman thinking about his last hit. The hitman's manager who rumages through his trash and makes his bed while wearing leather boots and an extremely short shirt. You have a mute who runs other people's business's in the evening when they are gone. And a few other random characters. The story hops all over the place and maybe even 3/4 of the way through it seems disjointed. Sometimes the characters make you laugh or smile. But you don't, or at least I didn't, feel like there was any connection really made at that point with the viewers and the characters.

So why even continue watching, right? Well first off, the sountrack is just hip as hell. Second, it's beautifully shot. This film is so damn stylized its ridiculous. Part of it may be ther streets of Hong Kong holding a different more exotic feel than streets we see here. But, the shots are sometimes through rain, sometimes through windows, and sometimes black and white. And then sometimes, the use of color in the film just blows you away. I remember after seeing Eyes Wide Shut in the theater that while dispointed in the film overall some of the shots and overall color themes of the movie made me glad I had seen it, especially in the theater. I thought even 3/4 of the way through this, that is how I would feel. Disapointed, but taking away some positive feelings about the movie.

Then Something happened in the last 1/2 hour though and in my contemplating it today that changed my mind. I won't give away the ending of the movie, of course. But, strangely enough, though you aren't entirely sure that there was anymore of a real connection made with the actors, there is a rather grand ending. The final 15 minutes or so espcially.

I don't know whether I have been duped or not. The characters are a bunch of lonersdrifting in and out of the night and I am unsure what qualities of them that I see in myself. But I have been thinking about them and the film all day. I can't get it out of my head. I don't know if I was duped by the style of the film or if their is an actual connection to the characters that I haven't really put my finger on yet. Regardless, I have already reccomended it to friends and really want to watch it again to get a better grasp on it.

At any rate, a director that leaves me thinking about his film all day will be one that I want to see more of, for sure.

Assault Ministry?

I was leafing through Newsweek earlier this week and found an article about Chriistian Universities and their debate teams. The article mentioned how Liberty University had the #1 debate team in the country, which is intresting. The authour went on to say how many Christian universities are pouring more money into debate teams and how their are more scholarships now going to those who have performed well in high school debates.

So what was is the reason for this? Acoording to the article universities like Liberty and Cedarville think that if they can train their students to be good debators, they can then be sent out to the world to make a greater impact. They can become prominent lawyers, judges, etc and have a larger role in the laws that shape society. All in all, nothing wrong so far. It all seems to be pretty logical.

Here, however is where I wish I wasn't so innept when it comes to using internet search engines. I copied the following quote from the article onto a piece of paper, you will have to take my word for it, from the Rev Jerry Fallwell, of Liberty University...

"We are training debators who can perform assault ministry. So while preaching the gospel on one side - certainly a priority - we have confronting of the culture of moral default on the other side."

Huh. Okay.

First off, I am admittedly not a fan of Jerry Fallwell, but still, assault ministry? Does that strike anyone else as odd. He may have mispoken, or he may have this as part of his repatoire. Who knows? Regardless, it didn't sit with me well.

In church service Sunday evening I heard a message from Ephesians chapter 6 where Paul is talking about the armor of God. Some verses...

Verse 11, Put on the whole armor of God that ye may stand against the wiles of the devil.

Verse 12, For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

There is a ton in the bible about warfare, spiritual and otherwise. In the New Testament, and here in Chapter 6 of Ephesians I definately believe that it is talking about spiritual warfare.

Why do I bring up these verses? It seems to me that many inside the Church, and those who we let speak for Christianity as talking heads on CNN or the 300 other news channels, talk about or reference some sort of "culture war." And there is always mentioning about how Christians may be on the losing end of said "culture war." Maybe because maybe abortion is legal, or because Massachussetts has allowed civil unions for gay couples.

Now, to me, in 2006 given all that is happening around us war metaphors are tiresome and I really don't care them. It's difficult to swallow, I guess. However, I do believe that their is a such a thing as spiritual warfare. I do believe Jesus is who he claims he is, and that Satan exists and is the enemy. And I believe that the above verses from Ephesians refer to the ongoing struggle between God and Satan for humankind and for our souls. But as it says in verse 12 above, we wrestle not against flesh and blood.

Perhaps I am reading to much into Falwell's quote. Maybe I was too turned off by the phrase "assault ministry". The judges are not the enemies. Opposing lawyers are not the enemies. Clinton, Bush, Howard Stern, Ellen Degeneres, and even regretably to say the Dallas Cowboys are not the enemy. The enemy is real, and is Satan. Can we focus on that instead? In our own lives and in our communities? Whether it be manifested in poverty, hatred, or crime. Perhaps try to live our own lives differently and be an example, and a force for change in that way?

I just wish at some point we could move beyond ideas such as culture war. Or "assault ministry." Why would it need to be called that anyway. It may be too late, but why can't we drop war metaphors for what's going on inside our culture and actually try having normal dialogue?