Saturday, March 29, 2008

Roarin' Love

Last night Jordy and I dressed nicely and went to see the ballet The Roar of Love. I knew this was based on the C.S. Lewis story The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Oh, my.

First, some guy came out and talked about Focus on the Family. He thanked a lot of people. Then, another guy came out. He also talked about Focus on the Family, and thanked the same people as the first guy.

Then, an ambiguously gay man and his ambiguously lesbian wife came out, and thanked the same people as the first two people, plus addeds some plugs for their dance studio. Yay. Twenty minutes in, and the ballet hasn't started yet. Things weren't looking good, and Jordy was grinding her teeth next to me.

Okay, ballet time. I knew this wasn't going to get much better when the curtain came up, and the dancing started to a bad disco version of "O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing" while a huge cross was projected onto the wall.

It did get better- somewhat (I mean, really, how could it get worse?). I was interested, and perhaps slightly disturbed to note that all of the black dancers seemed to be cast as villains. Oh, those silly Christians!

Jordy and I left at intermission, almost grateful that her sickness allowed a graceful exit.


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I Do Movies...and stuff

The Dog Problem
Oddly enough, this piece starring Giovanni Ribisi was written and directed by the traditionally comedic fall guy Scott Caan. Ribisi is very good at playing funny-crazy guys who ripple with barely suppressed energy, and this piece is no exception.

This is an interesting mix of humor and acting, varying between light comedy to-- well, slightly heavier comedy. Not heavy fare, but surprisingly enjoyable. And it has a dog, one who doesn't overact. I love that in a role. Look for some funny cameos, and acting heavyweight Don Cheadle. Don't watch if you have a problem with nudity. 2.5 stars.

Reno 911! Miami
This is basically a double-length version of a tv show. If you like Reno 911, you will like it. Expect to see more flesh than the tv show, and of course, expect more language. If you are not familiar with Reno 911, expect silly and often infantile humor. I enjoyed it. You will probably love or hate it. A deceptive 2 stars.

The second most frightening man in show biz (the first, of course, being Christopher Walken) is back. Anthony Hopkins plays an aviation engineer who methodically murders his wife. Ryan Gosling plays against him as prosecuting DA.

Hopkins is by turns charming, engaging, and very, very scary. Gosling acts in the Lucas Black model, as a sweet and earnest but slightly out of his league good old boy. I saw almost no previews on this movie, and some elements were predictable, but it's not a bad way to spend a few hours. 3.5 stars.

Monday, March 24, 2008

If you like reading

I am afraid that our society is settling for a drab existence, finding our excitement vicariously through movie and tv instead of actually doing interesting and daring things- like living well.

ENGL 6130
23 March 2008
John R. Shirley

On The Giver by Louis Lowry
1. What values and practices of the modern world does Lowry show in The Giver to be potentially dangerous when pushed too far?

Certain values are commonly believed to be useful in modern society. These values are not necessarily new values, but they are conformist. These conformist tendencies help an individual fit into a society, but when taken to an extreme, they lead to an unquestioning obedience to the will of the group, regardless of the potentially murky righteousness of the action. Extreme conformism also tends to suppress individual identity and goals, and when evolved to the nth degree, as Louis Lowry has displayed in The Giver, the reduction of individualism and individualistic thinking and behavior produces a shallow and individually meaningless existence. Lowry also takes many modern trends and deliberately uses them in the most extreme way possible, with the goal of showing how utterly conformist her society has become.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs shows basic needs such as sustenance to be on the bottom of the pyramid. These things must be satisfied before higher-order needs such as personal satisfaction are considered. In the utopian/dystopian universe of The Giver, all the basic needs such as shelter, food, and reproduction are easily met. Such a society has much more time to fill with meeting psychological needs and entertaining itself. The Giver’s society takes the modern goal of nonpolluting, sustainable society, continues that trend, and uses it in the form of bike-riding as a means of control, in addition to a healthful means of transport around a small community. The age at which children can ride bikes is dictated (though this is one of the few societal rules that is often flaunted, and every nine-year-old seems able to ride a bike the first time they publicly attempt it) as a means of control, but the true reason bikes are used as personal transport by everyone is that they are slower than more modern vehicles, and therefore using them takes more time. Less idle time means less time to contemplate the emptiness of this life, or contemplate anything else that might lead to their dissatisfaction.

Volunteerism and community activism is a valued choice in our time. In The Giver, there is no true volunteerism. Jonas and Fiona may volunteer at The House of the Old, but since there are a “required number of volunteer hours” (28) to be given an occupational assignment, and these hours are scrupulously documented, there is no true altruistic motivation and intrinsic reward on the part of children. What is currently supposed to be a selfless gift of time and labor has become a means to occupy growing children and test their skills and interests.

Schooling or at least reasonable use of language is prized by everyone in our society, whether the language skills consist of learned erudition, or a mastery of popular terms or skill in storytelling. Lowry’s society insists on precision of language, which at first thought seems like a positive thing. In usage, this precision may seem like an almost inconsequential characteristic of the society, as when Asher confuses “distraught” with “distracted”. Later in the book, the reader understands by Jonas’s parents’ refusal to say they love him in favor of “Do you enjoy me?” and “Do you take pride in my accomplishments?” (127) that this supposed precision is a means to suppress and hide real emotion. This society forces an occupation with the means of communication instead of the actual intent, leaving society members with a shallow message to match the shallowness of every other part of their existence.

Current society often shows a preoccupation with “talking things out” as a means to resolve misunderstandings, illuminate hidden aspects to a problem, and find consensus. Lowry’s society talks about feelings at dinner, and also reports dreams every morning at breakfast. Suppressing feelings can lead to a number of ill consequences, but what should be healthy and healing has become sinister to this group. This form of group therapy has instead become a means of control as it deprives individuals of privacy.

Adoption is a way for people in current society to accept a child into a home that has no children, or that wants more children. It is also a way for children whose parents have died, or become incapacitated or otherwise incapable of caring for them, to find parents who can love and protect them. Lowry has used some terminology of this group. Birthmothers are no longer mothers who have children they give up for adoption, in the traditional sense. Lowry’s birthmothers instead are low prestige women who deliberately bear and deliver the children for the entire community. This dystopia no longer allows “parents” to actually bear a hand in the creation of their children, as far as the reader can ascertain. In this world, all children are adopted. What should be a beautiful way for couples who are unable to physically create their own children to gain them has become the only way to have a child in the home. This contributes to the top-down control of the community, since there are no biological ties to deepen feelings between “parents” and “children”.

Even before Freud, sex has been known to be one of the greatest complications of the human race. As with virtually every other male-female species on earth, competition and violence are associated with the struggle to find a good mate. The society of The Giver resolves this by using chemicals to eradicate the “stirrings” of the sex drive, as soon as it becomes apparent through the enforced telling of feelings or dreams. When Jonas relates his mostly innocent sex dream to his parents, he is assured the feelings are natural and normal, and then he is given a daily pill to chemically neuter his sexuality. Sexual feelings are part of the great spectrum that lets us as humans feel our humanity. Lowry has deliberately removed the emotional highs and lows from her society. Stability is usually positive and healthy, but when taken to this extreme, humans are left with the semblance of living. Ultimately, Lowry’s characters have been “protected” into a flavorless, almost riskless, and very literally colorless world.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Wedding Pix Galore

Miz Holly Berry has posted some incredible pictures over on her blog. They start here, and then continue.

Seeing Johnny and Holly was one of the high points...of many, actually, of the wedding. I have been blessed.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

More Pix


Star of the show

Lighting the candle together

A Beginning

The Celebrants

Little Bro and Yours Truly

Monday, March 17, 2008

Post-Ceremony Thoughts

We were lying in bed. Jordy said, "I wanted the DJ to play that Colbie Caillat song."

Colbie Caillat?

"'Bubbly'. Because that's how you make me feel."

It starts in my soul
And I lose all control
When you kiss my nose
The feelin shows
Cause you make me smile
Baby just take your time now
Holdin me tight...

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Friends and Family

Well, I guess we can relax some, now.

The wedding was beautiful. The food was great. Our officiant, Dr. Nugget, was capable and possessed of gravitas. And wore a tallis well.

Only little bro and cousin Lisa from my family made it, but you know? Some of my incredible friends went the distance to show up. Friends are family you choose, and I am deeply blessed. Thanks, Holly, Johnny, and Art, for making that long drive, and thanks to my other friends from Georgia who took the time to come. I told Byron I was glad he could get time off from work to be there, and he told me there was no way he was going to miss it- that he could get another job, if it came down to it.

Jordy made a beautiful bride. Pictures in a another week or so, I would think. :-)

Friday, March 14, 2008


JPG and Holly are here! I managed to drag myself out of bed and meet them for breakfast. Good times. :-)

Looking forward to seeing Derek, Art, Byron, Davis, and little bro and Doug later today.

Still nervous and a little stressed about the wedding ceremony tomorrow, but

it's getting better.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


In my tuxedo
I look
Almost as wide as tall

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

More fighting evil

I had considered expanding on my original statement regarding torture, to make my position even more clear. I could still do that, but this exchange with Jerry probably says it as well as needed:

Jerry: I do apologize for this, but I'm not sure I understand why you feel that way?

Would please expound on why our "intelligence" community should decline such implements as you object too?

Good afternoon.

Thanks for writing. We as citizens of the United States are arguably fighting to save the best elements of our way of life from incursion. We cannot do this if we become what we are fighting.

Cruel and unusual punishments are specifically prohibited by Article 8 of the Bill of Rights. President Bush swore an oath to " preserve, protect and defend the Constitution". Torture is clearly a "cruel and unusual punishment".

There are reasons why torture is a poor instrument to extract intelligence, but that is really outside the main issue, which is the legality of torture by the US and proxies: it is clearly illegal, and further, it is immoral, despicable, and worthy of a third-world hellhole, not what was once the proud bastion of the free world.

I am sorry if you feel otherwise. I've killed men, women, and children in the line of duty (messy when combatants with heavy weapons hide behind their families), but I've never tortured anyone.

Jerry: As I also took the oath to obey the orders…. I feel the Constitution is for American Citizens. I get upset when we extend those same freedoms we fight and bleed for to those who want to take them away from us.

Sorry, but we’ll have to disagree on this one.

I do understand your viewpoint.

I can see on an individual scale- sibling/child being kidnapped, for instance- using torture to extract information. I cannot agree with attempted legitimization of torture by our government, even if it's not used against US citizens. Using torture is bad for the torturer, and also gives flawed data, to name two easy reasons why it's not a useful tool.

And it's wrong. The United States is great because it is different. We are the fabled place where absolutely anyone can go to make a new and better life for themself, regardless of the color of their skin or where they're from. We are only great because we are good, and as we become less good, we become less great. That goodness is much more effective than any small gains anyone believes we can make by torturing those we hold captive, even if "they really deserve it".

Jerry: As soldiers we were told not to treat our enemies with the same contempt that they treated us. When we captured them we were to follow set rules to transport them to facilities where “professionals” would take care of them.

I will not in good conscience allow an enemy of the U.S. to profit from our Constitution. While I agree that the U.S. is a great Country I also acknowledge that America became great because of the willingness of people to defend to the death our Constitution. Our politicians are selling us out. They want us to believe the tripe the spew while they line their own nest. We are fighting a just battle. I fear we will be fighting on another front much closer next time if we do not allow experts to perform their duties. Those privileged few who enjoy the extra attention because they have useful information will find a much more obliging host when they willingly provide all information they possess.

While I do not agree with all that President Bush has done I do believe he is vastly superior in his judgment’s than any alternative presented during the last election.

Now, I preferred Bush to other alternatives, especially back at the beginning of the crisis. I'm not certain if I would have charged into Iraq had I been at the helm, but I might have. What I would NOT have done, is to rape the Constitution by forcing through legislation to pseudolegalize unwarranted monitoring of phone calls in the United States. I would not have expanded the definition of "terrorist" to include practically anyone not working for the US government. I would not have played some dodgy little game in which captured combatants might not qualify for the protections they would receive as POWs OR as criminals in the United States, AND I SURE AS HELL WOULD NOT HAVE USED TORTURE.

We as Americans cannot claim the moral high ground as long as this continues. We are becoming evil as a national entity, and in danger of losing our reputation as the home of The Good Things. Governments are necessary evils allowed to exist by the people of their nations, but our government has become something tainted. If it now reflects who the United States truly is, I fear for my country.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Tuesday Confessions

I suppose the time has come to once again admit it: I'm a Very Bad Man. My driver's license expired on Christmas Day, and I just finally got around to renewing it. (In all fairness, I had tried once previously, only to discover the DMV office was closed on Monday).

As I was searching online last night for the nearest offices, I discovered something interesting. Veterans who served during conflicts are eligible for free driver's licenses in Georgia. The catch was verification by the VA.

I went fairly early to find the local Georgia VA office. Finding it took a few extra minutes, since they cleverly hid it behind a hospital, with no sign on the busy road to indicate it was there. (I finally figured it had to be in the vicinity, based on address numbers, and found a side road.)

Once in the office, I waited. And waited. Government employees, so I expected slowness, but- anyway, I finally got in to speak with a very nice lady who typed up the required DPS516 Certificate of Eligibility.

After a swing by the school to buy the latest book for my adolescent literature class, I went by the local Driver's License Factory. I now hold a veterans DL that expires in 2036. Really.

Jordy cooked lunch, and then I went by a favored restaurant to be sure we were squared away for Friday night's dinner. I picked up some food there for Jordy's dinner, which I dropped off and then went to get my oil changed, and then went to school.

How was your day?

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Fighting Evil at All Levels

It has become voguish to deride certain decisions made by the current Presidential administration. I have mixed feelings or am undecided about certain things. US presence in Iraq is one of those nebulous things.

There are other actions taken in the past few years for which I have clear feelings. The US should be in Afghanistan. The Patriot Act is a clear attack on US individual rights, and claiming "it's to protect us" is no better than a teary-eyed "it's for the children".

One issue that I have extremely strong feelings regarding is the use of torture. Let where I stand be crystal clear: the sole coercive element of capture of prisoners of war- or even outright criminals- should be their lack of freedom. They should not be deprived of sleep; they should not be subjected to pain; and they most certainly should not be threatened with drowning.

President Bush on 8 March 2008 defended the use of torture by the CIA. By "specialized interrogation procedures", he means torture. For this, he should be indicted, imprisoned, and receive appropriate punishment. Since Amendment 8 of the Bill of Right of the US Constitution specifically prohibits "cruel and unusual" punishments, he cannot legally be tortured, despite his crimes. He should, however, receive due process of US Law, followed by a firing squad.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Ultimate Reality

Despite the many "funny" pictures of them littered across the internet- regardless of whatever "witty" newspeak you adorn them with- whatever "adorable" props with which the little monstrosities are festooned- CATS ARE NOT CUTE.

That is all.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Ceremonies and Celebrations

I find a wedding ceremony looming. I have just over one week until about a hundred folks witness Jordy and I tying the knot. (Literally- we're doing a handfasting.) Like many, if most most, men, I'm not a big fan of ceremony. My idea of a meaningful ceremony is a firm handshake and looking someone in the eye. Done.

Little Momma will be having a dinner and a brunch for the guests from out of town. I went by Sam's and Kim's today to pick up supplies for those. Now, if I can just force myself to crank out at least one paper tonight, before I need to prep for my interview tomorrow...!

Anyway, I'm not looking forward to more incursions on my time, dressing up, or being stressed. I am most certainly looking forward to seeing a few of my best friends and a handful of much-loved (and too little seen) family.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

And another

Originally uploaded by bruceyeah

Everyone's Doing It

According to Billy Ocean
Originally uploaded by Clopin
(and by everyone, I mean Tamara and Matt, but that's a majority, right?)

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Clinton and Sparks

I was having a conversation with someone yesterday. Somewhere in that conversation, I mentioned that former president Bill Clinton had something like five rape accusations against him.

The individual with whom I was speaking- purportedly a strong advocate of women's rights- said something about rape not being the worst thing possible.

I was flabbergasted.

This individual then said something about killing thousands of people (I'm guessing some misapplied reference to the ongoing conflict), and how that was worse.

Wow. Okay. Now, it would be one thing to say "I don't think those charges have credence". But don't think that anyone can essentially say "people have done worse things" and attempt to bring in other supposed atrocities just to bolster a political position and still legitimately claim to be a feminist. True feminism is a search for equality of the sexes. It is NOT, repeat, absolutely NOT about any damned political party.

I guess it would be no great surprise to relate that this conversation led to one of the harshest verbal exchanges of my life. Hypocrisy- it's what's for dinner.