Tuesday, February 24, 2009

because kate winslet is perfection

i was so, so, so thrilled that kate winslet won the oscar sunday night. i watched in a bit of a stupor, as i had returned from the journey men's retreat only a few hours before that, and the academy awards is a long show. (this year's, by the way, was one of the best ever - the production design, the way the acting awards were presented, hugh jackman as host, etc. So, that helped me stay awake. but barely.)

but kate winslet - heavens. just perfection in "the reader." even though melissa leo was strong and powerful in "frozen river," and anne hathaway was brilliant and scary in "rachel getting married," and angelina jolie was strong and not-very-movie-glamory in "changeling" and meryl streep is - well - meryl streep, kate winslet is an actor who can do about a zillion things, and in all of them, radiate vulnerability and hope and loss and complexity all at once.
look at her other oscar-nominated performances, all of them different, all of them complicated, all of them powerful:
"sense and sensibility"
"eternal sunshine of the spotless mind"
"little children"
and now - "the reader." and that's not counting the roles for which she's won other awards, including this year's "revolutionary road," which i just haven't been able to make myself watch yet. "finding neverland." "quills."
yeah, i've got a big crush on her - which is entirely sanctioned by my wife. and a bit shared by my wife, actually. although my wife's girl-crush is natalie portman.
let's all accept it: kate winslet is the total shit.
David Edelstein of New York Magazine hails her as "the best English-speaking film actress of her generation."

here is the hilarious video of kate winslet on "extras" ...

Monday, February 16, 2009

someone to watch over me

i think it must be true that all human beings are, in some ways, deep down scared. why? because in all the storytelling and mythologies, including our own in 2009, there are stories that include:
  1. innocent/powerless/small people;
  2. boogeymen/monsters/murderers/thieves;
  3. protectors who look after us.
the protector stands in the scary in-between place, on behalf of the people.
there are lots of other kinds of stories - this is just one kind of story, but human beings keep telling it over and over and over in millions of iterations. if you started to list the movies and tv shows and books and fairy tales and comics you know, how many would you come up with? (post 'em if you want and we'll compare notes.)
in "taken," liam neeson is the protector. his daughter is abducted. he goes to rescue her.
that's pretty much it.
so why do we care? because look at this poster:

i'm sorry, but that's just HOT. it makes me happy inside. i want the man or woman, god, friend, whatever, who has agreed to protect me, to bring that kind of clarity and purpose and resolve.
plus, liam neeson isn't someone to be trifled with. don't kidnap his daughter.

whether it's westley in "the princess bride," who refuses to let go of true love and fights for it, or beowulf or king arthur who fight for the good of the people, or clint eastwood fighting for the little band of misfits at the end of "the outlaw josey wales," or clarice starling in "the silence of the lambs," or batman and superman. or the woodsman who comes and kills the wolf that's eaten little red rider's grandmother. or the smart and upright town marshall in the old west.
(i would name the person who kills Freddy Krueger or Jason or Michael Meyers but i don't watch those slasher movies so i don't know who kills them - but then, it isn't working, with all the sequels, so why honor him/her?)

whoever it is, the protector does something those around her/him cannot do: be willing to sacrifice her/himself for the good of those being protected. and there are parts of me that feel strong, parts of me that feel secure, and parts of me that feel terrified, or stuck, but what will i do, god? i'm facing terror and challenge and uncertainty.
Well, god says, tell me a story about that part of yourself that is strong. make it look like you.
and so we create the story of the hero.

the protector's job is to give us hope. we read the story and the boogeyman seems less imminent.

when we're young, we need bigger people than us to watch over us. but as we grow up, it becomes time for us to step up into our own power. some days we do, some days we don't. we can remain victims forever, and rely on protectors or circumstances or money (another protector!) or control to keep us insulated from danger. but thre is, ultimately, no avoiding danger, or loss, or death, or weeping. and superman can't be everywhere.

so, it's up to me. that's maturity. that's growing up.
the tribal hero/protector/my-own-personal-jesus/triumphant cowboy-woodsman-knight-avenger is ultimately not a symbol of anyone else; it's a story told about what is inside me, waiting to be grown up enough and strong enough to take the job.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

one's own creation

Here's a quote from the Dalai Lama.
the opening, about gossip, is only an example for his main point. read it and reel with head-expanding energy.

If you know that someone is speaking badly of you behind your back, and if you react to that negativity with a feeling of hurt, then you destroy your own peace of mind. One's pain is one's own creation. One should treat such things as if they are wind behind one's ear. In other words, just brush them aside. To a large extent, whether or not one suffers pain depends on how one responds to a given situation. What makes a difference is whether or not one is too sensitive and takes things too seriously.

that can't be right, can it? my pain is my own creation, when it's connected to being so sensitive that i take things too seriously? i gotta go think some more ...

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Harry Potter and the Brokeback Goblet

I'm sorry but this just made me laugh my ass off.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Read this. What are you and I doing with what we have?

ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- Millard Fuller, who founded Habitat for Humanity International along with his wife, has died, officials said Tuesday. He was 74.

With his wife, Linda, Fuller founded Habitat for Humanity International in 1976.

The Alabama native rose "from humble beginnings" to become a "young, self-made millionaire," according to his biography on Habitat for Humanity's Web site. He and a college friend began a marketing firm while still in school, "but as his business prospered, his health, integrity and marriage suffered," the biography said.

"These crises prompted Fuller to re-evaluate his values and direction. His soul-searching led to reconciliation with his wife and to a renewal of his Christian commitment," it said.

The Fullers sold all their possessions, gave money to the poor and began searching for a new direction. They found Koinonia Farm, a Christian community near Americus in rural southwest Georgia, the biography said.

Along with Koinonia founder Clarence Jordan and a few others, the couple initiated several enterprises, among them a housing ministry that built modest homes on a no-interest, nonprofit basis and made them affordable to low-income families.

Homeowner families were expected to use their own labor to help defray costs on their home as well as homes for other families. Money to build homes was placed into a revolving fund, enabling more to be built, according to the biography.

In 1973, the Fullers moved to Africa to test their housing model, the biography said. Their project was launched in Zaire -- now the Democratic Republic of the Congo -- and was a success. "Fuller became convinced that this model could be expanded and applied all over the world," the biography said.

When Fuller returned to the United States three years later, he met with a group of associates to create Habitat for Humanity International. According to its Web site, Habitat has provided shelter for more than 1.5 million people in more than 3,000 communities.

"I see life as both a gift and a responsibility. My responsibility is to use what God has given me to help his people in need," Fuller once said, according to Habitat's Web site.

Former President Jimmy Carter, a key Habitat supporter, fellow Georgian and a close friend, said that Fuller "used his remarkable gifts as an entrepreneur for the benefit of millions of needy people around the world by providing them with decent housing. As the founder of Habitat for Humanity and later the Fuller Center, he was an inspiration to me, other members of our family and an untold number of volunteers who worked side-by-side under his leadership."

In 1996, President Clinton awarded Fuller the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, calling Habitat "the most successful continuous community service project in the history of the United States."