A Quick Trip

Dear Erin,

It sounds like Munchkin had a great birthday. And you’ve got to admire her taste – orange sparkle shoes and freaky bunnies. The girl is not boring. Yesterday we took Little Mister to San Francisco – his first time – and he pretty much slept through the whole thing. Except when he insisted on being carried from Pier 39 back down the waterfront to the car. It was only half a mile or so.

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Charles and I had a good time exploring, though, like we always do.

Other than that, life goes on apace. I have a project I’ve been meaning to get to for awhile, which I hope to be able to show you on Friday. In the meantime, here’s a glamour shot of another one of my delusions.

Pile O Yarn

Somehow I think I’m going to turn all this yarn into pretty things in the next few months. If it happens, you’ll hear about it here. Have a great week!

Murphy’s Law

Dear Kristen,

Remember how much Mom and Dad liked the show Murphy’s Law?  Wait – no, I’m wrong.  That was Murphy Brown that they liked. Either way, that’s not what this post is about.  This post is about the other, more sinister, Murphy’s Law.

Murphy’s Law: A rule that states, “If something can go wrong, it will.” An addition to this law reads, “and usually at the worst time.” – dictionary.com

Now I don’t believe in this law, but this week has made me empathize with those who do.

She chose the freaky giant bunny - what are you going to do?  Its HER birthday.

She chose the freaky giant bunny – what are you going to do? Its HER birthday.

This week was Munchkin’s third birthday.  YAY!  So exciting and wonderful!  We did it right: balloons, cupcakes, milkshakes, the Children’s Museum of Richmond, fun presents and time with friends.  Oh – and we bought a new fridge.

“But, wait,” you say.  “Didn’t you just get a new fridge?  I mean, you did just re-do your kitchen a couple of years ago.”

And you are right.  We did.  And the fridge was new three years ago.  And it broke.  Awesome.  The repair was gonna cost over half of what the fridge originally cost – so we opted for replacing it.

A new Hungry, Hungry Hippos and a broken fridge waiting to be taken away.

A new Hungry, Hungry Hippos and a broken fridge waiting to be taken away.

Apparently this is the renovation that keeps…needing renovation.  Because our disposal broke this week, too.

And all three of us visited doctors this week.

And….just kidding. That’s all of it.  But this week had more surprises then I thought I could handle.  Luckily, or blessedly, we’ve had some really bright moments, too.  Like the birthday, a growing group of friends who want to love and follow Jesus, and a couple of beautiful days.

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So, all things considered, not that shabby!  And I get a bigger fridge out of it – so I will not be complaining anymore.

On a completely different note…I’ve never seen An American Werewolf in London and after reading your post, don’t know that that will ever change….

“An American Werewolf in London”

Dear Erin,

I hope you’re enjoying your summer. It’s been plenty hot here, but we actually got a tiny bit of rain a couple days in the past week! Unheard of, especially for this time of year. It mostly missed our house until yesterday morning, and then it was the most beautiful sound and smell. Just sitting by an open window enjoying that made me feel refreshed.

Today’s movie was … well, I was going to say I was, um, torn over it, but that’s a pretty bad pun, even by my standards (which are relatively low: I like puns).

American Werewolf

Here’s a little anecdote to put my feelings about this movie in context. A week or so ago, Charles and I had lunch with some friends, a very long lunch with a very long, wandering conversation that covered a multitude of subjects. Little Mister kept on sleeping, so we had the luxury of plenty of time. Like discussions do, this one wandered into the subject of movies we’d seen and would recommend and such.

At some point, it came up that Charles didn’t really enjoy movies without a happy ending, and the wife of this couple agreed with him. If movies are for enjoyment, their thinking goes, then they should be enjoyable all the way through. The husband and I, though, aligned more on the side of believing that things can be enjoyable and worth watching / reading / listening to even if they’re not “happy,” or don’t end up happily.

But I had to admit that my beliefs on this have changed over the years. It used to be that I would read or watch, or whatever, almost anything that had a reputation of being “worthwhile,” and just as I was willing to sacrifice “happiness” for “worth,” I was willing to sacrifice spiritual worth for aesthetic worth. I didn’t realize for a long time that that’s what I was doing. I thought I was just extending the worth > happiness equation, so that if I was unhappy with a movie or book, though it was well-made, then it must be my problem. It took awhile to realize that a skillfully, intelligently, beautifully made movie or book might still be completely dead and twisted and wrong.

This is one of the lines a Christian who is a critic (or even just a thoughtful consumer) has to walk. Paul counsels us in Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” This is because, as the proverb says, “You are what you eat,” or read or watch or basically spend your time and attention on. So, it’s important to my spiritual health and growth that I am discriminating about what I consume. But the truth is that I can’t just say, “well, then, I can only consume media with the label of ‘Christian’ on it,” as though it were the equivalent of “organic” or “cage-free.” There are great, humane, spiritually redeeming works of art that are not explicitly Christian, and there’s a lot of garbage that does carry that label.

Anyway, I’m pretty sure that I’ve probably already gone into this once or twice (or twenty times) over my last 100 posts (by the way, I’ve now written over 100 posts on this blog! Crazy!). And I can never feel like I’m done with it, especially since I’m not writing extended essays in this forum. Suffice it to say, it’s part of my algorithm for choosing and experiencing cultural objects.

All of which is supposed to help me explain why I’m conflicted about An American Werewolf in LondonHere’s the long and the short of it: It’s a good and enjoyable movie, but like This is Spinal TapI can’t give it an unqualified recommendation.

What I can say, though, is that it’s not in any way mean like Spinal Tap is. American Werewolf is a classic horror story put into a modern setting with a modern, intelligent, very sympathetic protagonist who is also the monster. While I don’t like horror as a genre, I do like most of the classic horror books I’ve read and their early movie adaptations. And by “classic,” I mean “before 1930,” and by “early,” I mean “before color.” This story is straight out of that tradition. There are some blood and guts, but most of the impact comes from the dread and sadness of what’s befallen David, the hero. He’s wry and reasonable and sweet; he falls in love during the movie; he calls his family to say good-bye when the end is near. He’s a good guy and could almost be a friend in real life. He doesn’t deserve what happens.

But don’t get too depressed. The movie is more fun and funny than sad. You’ve got to appreciate a werewolf movie in which CCR’s Bad Moon Rising, Van Morrison’s Moondance, and three versions of Blue Moon all feature prominently. I would absolutely wholeheartedly recommend this movie were it not for the fact that the characters are young adults and act like most young adults: they swear casually, they have sex, and David meets his undead friend in an adult theater. He also, in the venerable tradition of werewolf movies, has a temporary aversion to clothes during his full-moon night. Honestly, though, all of this is presented quite matter-of-factly, which makes it seem more realistic and less prurient, and therefore less disturbing than it might have been.

I liked American Werewolf, enjoyed it more than Hoosiers and Spinal Tap, and would be happy to watch it again. It is definitely not Christian, and there are elements that aren’t “pure” or “noble,” but I think it is, at its heart, excellent and praiseworthy and certainly true, in the way that classic horror stories are often true. Symbolically and psychologically, they illustrate our vulnerability to sin and our need for rescue and redemption. And that’s a good thing to be reminded of now and again.

How I Could Have Gone to Jail

Dear Erin,

So I had jury duty this week. Actually, I had jury duty last week and didn’t realize it until the week was almost over. The summons, when it came, disappeared into the black hole of my office closet.

IMG_20140716_163933I’m not great at keeping up with paperwork at the best of times, and with the arrival of Little Mister, it’s just gotten worse.

The potential consequences of this were right scary – pricey fine or, gulp, jail. Not a fun thought. I told Charles this experience might have cured me of this once and for all, but he just laughed and said he’d visit me in jail, but he wouldn’t bring the kid. I don’t know; I’d like to think I can learn from my mistakes. Eventually.

Anyway, I didn’t go to jail. I was just told to come in and make it up this week. Which I did. And I have to say, if I didn’t have LM to take care of, I would have been a little disappointed that I didn’t end up on the jury after all (the first time in four – or five – times being summoned). The process of jury selection seems like evidence for a great deal of faith in humanity: everyone at least acts like they believe they can constitute a fair jury that will decide the fate of a person. Even the lawyers – the prosecutor in particular – seemed more interested in securing a fair outcome than in stacking the deck in their favor.

I didn’t get chosen this time, which is by far for the best. But I’m sure I’ll be called again in a year or so, and maybe then I’ll be able to complete this journey on which I’ve started out so many times.

 

In Summer

Dear Erin,

Now that you mention it, I don’t think I’ve seen a seeded watermelon in a long time, either. Maybe Munchkin and Little Mister will grow up wondering why watermelons are always drawn with seeds, since in their experience the fruit never has them.

Well, it’s the middle of July, which means a few things around here.

  1. The Tour de France is on. Despite the doping scandals of the past years, we still enjoy watching the tour. This is probably at least half because of the travelogue aspect of the broadcast. (For me, it’s definitely more than half of the reason for watching.) Today is Bastille Day, a Frenchman is in the yellow jersey, and in the normal course of events, Charles and I would have crepes tonight. We’re not huge francophiles, but it’s our tradition and a good excuse to have a fun dessert. I don’t know if LM will be up for that this year, but we jumped the gun a little and had a crepe night last week, so if we have to miss it tonight, we should be okay.
  2. It being pretty warm, wooly pursuits are languishing, as they do every year about this time.
    bowl of yarn
  3. Farmers’ markets, however, are flourishing.
    Berries1 Berries2
  4. And I’m off this morning to the Hall of Justice to perform my civic duty. Again. (This year’s summons is a story worth telling, but it’s going to have to wait until at least Friday – when I’m not at the mercy of the court system any more.)

So enjoy your watermelon, try to stay cool, and remember that the summer’s half over now!