I'm a blogging fool today! I'm using up all my blogging time for the next three weeks to come in one morning. But I had to call attention to this, and then I'll shut up.
2007 Pulitzer Prizes:
Of course, most of them I gloss through. Two are important to me, no, make that three (cuz I can't count when I've posted this much): fiction, drama, and music.
Fiction: The Road by Cormac McCarthy. It's on my list, but I haven't read it, yet. Wish I had so that I could be one of those (like Lisa Samson and Mary DeMuth) who predicted its greatness.
Drama: Rabbit-Hole by David Lindsay-Abaire. I confess, I've lost track of what's going on in the dramatic world due to trying to keep up with other things, so I don't know this work.
Music: Sound Grammar by Ornette Coleman. Big year for jazz this year! John Coltrane (whom I love more than Coleman, mostly because I get him) got a special citation. Coleman fathered free jazz and made huge strides toward avant-garde music. If memory serves correctly, which it may not, Coleman decided to castrate himself as a stance against the overt masculine sexuality dominating jazz music at the time. He didn't go through with it, though.
Coltrane started out with Miles Davis and Thelonius Monk and ended up in jazz-rock fusion and free jazz stuff, too.
In case you wanted to know.
Also of note: Ray Bradbury received a special citation. I'm not an avid sci-fi/fantasy fan, but I love me some Bradbury, although my favorite of his is Dandelion Wine, which is probably the least fantasy if it can even be considered fantasy (which, I suppose, it can't).
And I'm done posting.
27 April 2007
I'm a blogging fool today! I'm using up all my blogging time for the next three weeks to come in one morning. But I had to call attention to this, and then I'll shut up.
I’m talking about unity among the Church (with a capital C, meaning the universal church, which encompasses the local churches, of course).
I love Ephesians. I love all its growing togetherness and one body and one Lordness. I think one verse in particular has been sequestered from Ephesians, an arm chopped off from its body, mutilated, and waved at anyone I deem offending.
“Speaking the truth in love,” as most translations have it. And then we use it to say something to the effect of, “I’m telling you this for your own good,” and proceed to explain how we think they are horribly wrong. I’m not saying we should never practice church discipline. I think the Matthew passage and Paul’s use in I Corinthians (I think or is it I Thess? I’m too lazy to check) are excellent examples. This, however, I think refers to something else entirely.
Let’s look first at the context surrounding this phrase. It fits in a section, which begins, “4:1 I, therefore, the prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live worthily of the calling with which you have been called, 4:2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 4:3 making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4:4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you too were called to the one hope of your calling, 4:5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 4:6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (NET)
Not only is all of Ephesians dedicated to the unity of all believers, but more specifically, this passage climaxes with the idea. After verse six, Paul goes on to describe the different gifts God gives to the body (teachers, evangelists, prophets, pastors, you know the drill). Why are these gifts given? To attain the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God. (Notice how these things work together, which makes me wonder: if we don’t have unity, do we not truly have the knowledge of the Son?)
What happens when we have these things? We are no longer deceived by schemes and tricks, but (and here’s where are verse comes in), we can truth in love (the Greek is a participle, so truthing in love—I like that, truthing in love).
Our phrase is a contrast to being deceived. It also leads to growing up—not individually (as we Westerners understand everything)—but as part of the body. The body grows together, and it grows in love.
Now, let me note that I’m not saying we just accept everything willy-nilly and cry “Unity!” But often, the phrase is used by one individual to another individual who has the same core beliefs, with a good finger shaking. “She was wrong, and I was speaking the truth in love.” Or “he did that wrong” (which, when we really look at it is, he did that in a way that I didn’t like).
Okay, back to some observations, than I have an example for you: a disgusting look at my life, to be specific.
The Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible) uses the verb in its participle form (as it is here) five times, never meaning speaking the truth, but living in a way that understands the reality of a situation.
Paul also uses it in Galatians 4, meaning he was speaking the truth (“by speaking the truth”) to them in a context where throughout the book he was correcting their theology when they entrapped themselves in practices inconsistent with the freedom of the gospel. The context is entirely different.
All these things considered, I think it is best to say “practicing the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Christ, who is the head,” (NET) or, as the NLT has it, “we will hold to the truth in love.” The nuance here is not telling others what to do, but together practicing an ethic that transforms us more and more like Christ.
Fine print: I ascertained this information from my Greek class with Dr. Dan Wallace many years ago, from Harold Hoener’s commentary on Ephesians, and from the NET bible notes.
Personal story (sorry this is getting so long): There is a man that I often disagree with. The conversations center around modern v. postmodern situations and the nature of Christianity being outside of v. part of culture. We fought vehemently several times, and each time, we would both realize our guilt of acting unlovingly. We would ask each other for forgiveness. Then we would fight again. Eventually, I think we both realized the same thing. I saw that he is a man seeks first God’s kingdom, loving God and loving his neighbor (even if he did it in a way that I didn’t like). He has sacrificed to follow God. He ministers to people to whom I couldn’t, and I minister to people he could not reach. We both believe that Christ died and rose for us and has the victory over sin and death. This does not mean that I always agree with him. It does not mean that I have to stop believing what I believe. It just means that we can be around each other as fellow Christians knowing that we both love God. I do not have to “speak the truth in love” to him, and he doesn’t to me. In fact, we don’t have to talk about the sore subject at all. It’s not avoidance. We both know what the other thinks, but we can focus on commonalities and our joy in Christ.
I struggle with this, but I’m coming to believe that Christ, being the Truth, is seen more in my loving than in my speaking (although I like the speaking too much for my own good, especially when I'm right, which, let's face it, we all think we're right, which is why we believe what we do).
Jesus prayed for us, all believers every where at all times, right before he died. He prayed “they will all be one, just as you, Father, are in me and I am in you. I pray that they will be in us, so that the world will believe that you sent me.”
So that’s my deep (and long - hey, like the song: deep and wide, deep and wide, there's a fountain flowing deep and wide) thinking for today.
Oh, my friends, this book broke my heart. Lisa See wrote a beautiful book set in 19th century China, and her writing makes you feel like you are reading the caligraphy on the secret fan itself. She does an amazing job of explaining traditional Chinese elements without removing you from the story when she does. The voice captures a proper, obedient woman who also opens her heart to her love and flaws. Two girls bind themselves together in a laotong ("old same") relationship during their foot-binding days (age six). This friendship is a commitment that is supposed to be closer than any other, including the marriage relationship, but after twenty-seven years of love, misunderstandings break their contract. I finished it last night and cried. Then I dreamt about it. This book will stay with me. It haunts you, revealing both the hardships of a woman's life in that era, the beauty of their friendships, and the pain of the story. Another highly recommended book.
Side note: I love reading books in different cultures. I love seeing the differences, the beauties and tragedies, and I love seeing the commonality of the human race. What do you guys think?
25 April 2007
So Miss Snark pointed us today to this writer's website for her new book. I had never heard of Miranda July (because I'm ignorant and no matter how hard I try can't stay on top of every new fad), but all I have to say is that is one clean kitchen. I haven't looked at the top of my refrigerator since, um, since some time last year when I lost something up there. It scared the beejeebers out of me worse than any Stephen King, so I haven't been back. And her stove, too! Clean! My theory is - the food will all eventually burn off. So go have a look-see.
23 April 2007
I'm sorry, guys. I just ain't buyin' it. I can't get on that Eragon bus. I finally saw the movie this weekend with baited breath and all that jazz. Sure, the dragon rider idea had some novelty. I'll give the movie 5% creativity with that. Other than that, let's see, about 60% Lord of the Rings (on whose tails this movie obviously rode), 20% Star Wars (I could list all the parallels, but I'm sure you saw them down to the uncle who raised the boy being killed by the bad guys), and 15% (I would love to list this as higher, but I'm limited to a total of 100%) bad dialogue. Horrible, cheesy dialogue.
Sorry, guys. I know some of you love it all, and I'm possibly making enemies here, but I can't do it.
19 April 2007
18 April 2007
Not so much.
This statement does not apply to me, and I’m a musician. Shouldn’t it soothe me? I mentioned the other day that I can’t practice when already frustrated. I also can’t sleep when music plays, can’t write, can’t sit still in any form or fashion. I must move. The music moves inside of me somewhere and my body needs to reflect that. If the passions get too bottled up, I explode. I don’t care how cheesy that sounds, it’s true. At a symphony concert once, I saw a boy dancing at the end of an aisle. I was jealous. I wanted to dance with him. Instead, I beat my entire leg (often both legs) with the piece. In the car, I conduct or sing along Broadway style. When I worked in an office, I was known for my habit of breaking out into dance at periodic times to the music. I do this at home even more. At least it’s great exercise (because I do not do anything half-heartedly—except clean—so the dancing is energetic). Speaking of cleaning – put some good music on and choreograph the dusting. Dance with that broom. (The vacuum cleaner has two left feet, though, so good luck with him.)
The saddest song in the world? The Day the Music Died.
The best song to dance to? La Vie Boheme from Rent (seriously – just try sitting still to that one)
The best music to run to? Cowboy Mouth (no dilly-dallying when they’re on) and U2
The best music to conduct? Beethoven and Rachmaninoff (those romantics know how to be dramatic!)
Need a little happiness? Put on some Rodgers and Hammerstein and sing your heart out
Need a good cry? This list is too long. I love my good cries, especially when accompanied by music.
So soothing my breast? Not so much.
Apparently being dead presents no barrier in the publishing world (being alive, however, is a completely different story). Houghton Mifflin releases a new book by J.R.R., which was put together by J's son, Christopher (with very little editing, he said), this month. It's supposed to be his darkest one. So add it to your reading lists!
16 April 2007
Or should I say brr?
Remember how I said those idiot forecastors predicted sun and high of 68 degrees? They must have meant another Saturday. Our garage sale Saturday was overcast and cold. Freezing cold. Frigid. Cold as ice willing to sacrifice.
We held it anyway.
So after "expenses" (breakfast and all that jazz because you still want to have fun with friends!), I made $15. Woohoo. I'm in the money.
After five hours of Siberian winds and very little money, I packed up, put my cranky self in my car, and went home. Not a single of the hundreds of CDs I took sold. Only one person had the courtesy to even glance at them. I thought the CDs would be bigger sellers.
And then there were things that I thought wouldn't sell and they did. Go figure.
I went home and took the longest, hottest shower known to mankind to thaw out body and spirit. Then I picked up my knitting. You know, I think knitting will be good for me. I can't practice piano or flute when frustrated. It doesn't exactly calm me. Too many emotions in the instruments. But knitting - each stitch removed a muscle knot. One by one by one. Mikey likes it!
13 April 2007
For the first time in my life, I am participating in a garage sale with two friends. We’ll hold the sale tomorrow bright and early, so we gathered this morning to prep. Here’s what I’m learning thus far:
- When doing this with friends, you exchange more items than you sell. I came home with three new black shirts. In fact, I’m wearing one right now. Tried it on and decided I looked to cute in it to take it off. Also a new purse. AND, the biggy, new shoes. I love these shoes. Never worn. They are beige sneakers (never meant to run) with newspaper print all over. Fit me perfectly. If I had the savvy of Robin or Peter, I’d post a picture, but alas, I don’t love you guys that much.
- In all that, I forgot my second lesson.
- If it begins to rain, don’t use that moment to put up all the garage sale signs on the street corners. The minute you finish, so will the rain.
- Wind blows away garage sale signs.
- It always rains when you plan a garage sale (although the forecast predicts sun tomorrow—cross those fingers).
In other news, I picked up a learn-to-knit kit (hee-hee, knit kit) at Hobby Lobby today and some cheap yarn. Inspired by The Friday Night Knitting Club, I’m picking up my childhood craft (although I don’t remember a thing). I’ll start by making some dishwashing cloths and go from there.
And, the ants are back! (Booo.) Before leaving to go out of town for Easter weekend, I cleared off all my counters (a feat for me—have you seen my counters?), scrubbed them with bleach (don’t know why I scrubbed them before spraying, but it seemed like a good idea at the time, and I don’t like cleaning with bleach since it’s harsh for people and the environment, so this step didn’t make sense in any shape or form), then, while everyone waited in the car, I held a bandana over my nose and sprayed every crevice and base board before running out the door to breath (who wants to inhale insecticide?). When we came home, after the freeze that chased all the ants back to hibernation of course, I found a handful of dead ants on my floor (which helped me determine where they leak in), but not nearly the amount that had been playing in the kitchen previously. A couple days ago it began warming up again so an ant here and an ant there has ventured out. Not driving me crazy yet. We’ll see what happens.
11 April 2007
Last night, I went to hear Kurt Bruner speak at the Rockwall Christian Writer’s Group. I was tempted to skip it because he was speaking on story structure, which I studied for my thesis (you can see a piece of it at the Literary Analysis of Ruth posted on the sidebar). But I thought, why the heck not? I love this stuff. Plus, I’m currently working on a bible study on Abraham and Sarah that uses Campbell and Vogler’s categories, so it will be good to hear another perspective.
He didn’t disappoint. Nothing life changing, but fun. He talked about the Christian story as the foundation for the story form itself. A couple things specifically were good reminders for me:
1. Accurate definitions are good. Compelling depiction is better.
Of course, I know this as a writer, but as a Christian, the same holds true.
2. Express the plot of Christianity, not just principles and propositions.
I love this. Not that principles and propositions are bad, mind you. They just become bland without the story of the relationship. Kurt described the bible as a romantic comedy.
3. Besides musicians, writers are the most insecure people.
Okay, not a life-changing statement, but I am the most insecure person I know. This explains it. I’m a musician and a writer. Oy vey. No hope for me!
10 April 2007
Kate Jacobs’ debut novel takes a while to get going, but once it does, you can’t help but fall in love with the characters. A group of knitters accidentally start meeting at Georgia Walker’s yarn shop every Friday night to sip coffee, try Dakota’s (Georgia’s daughter) latest baking inventions, chat, and occasionally knit. They become a support system during betrayals, stalled careers, pregnancy, teetering marriages, blossoming romances, and everything else you can think of. I love the structure of the book—built around knitting instructions, and the way she ties that in at the end, well, I won’t ruin it, but I liked it.
Personal Writing Lesson: Jacobs has a habit of jumping POVs. We’re going along, perhaps in Georgia’s POV and suddenly we’re in Anna’s mind. Did I miss something? I think the reason this bothered me was because it took away from the reader’s secret. You know, when you get to see how different people think, but they don’t see it between themselves, so you know something the characters in the book don’t know, and it’s always fun to see their reactions when they misunderstand what’s really going on. (Wshoo, I’m out of breath!) With Friday Night, we miss those fun reactions because right when they would occur, Jacobs jumps POV so that it feels like everyone knows everything.
Another thing I learned: good characterization makes up for a whole lot. As I mentioned above, Jacobs takes a while to unfold the raison d’etre of the book. I don’t know why I’m reading. But it was okay because I liked the characters and wanted to be a part of their lives.
I used to knit (a tiny bit) when I was but a slip of a girl. This book inspired me to take it up again. Seriously, I’m doing searches at my library to find How-To books.
05 April 2007
Today we're playing the Pyramid game (man, I loved that show, that and Jeopardy).
By the way, I have 911 on standby. Two posts on the same day two weeks in a row.
But I have to tell you about two things in my life.
One - my first list. On Sunday, I planned (and executed, I might add) a barbeque at a nearby lake (technically man-made reservoir) for my husband's birthday (which isn't really near the date of the celebration, but who's counting?). To get everything just right, I made a list. For those of you who don't know me, I hate lists. Detest them. Didn't even make them during finals week for grad school. And the one or two times I started a list, I lost it before I could even finish the list. But for this, I made a list. A good one, I might add. I never lost it (maybe I still have it - I should find it and frame it). It was a long list with lots of items on it. I used it. I got everything I needed and got it to the picnic site (which has never happened before). Everything went smashingly. I'm so proud.
Except that now my husband knows I can do it. I need to mess up royally next time to keep the stats up.
The second thing I have to tell you is that I'm going crazy. You need to know this in case of anything that may happen in the next few days. Ants, yes, ants, tiny little "harmless" (uh-huh) ants have taken over my kitchen. Entirely. In my cabinets. In my pantry. In my dishwasher (and the clean dishes). All over the floor. On the stove. And then, on the other side of the house, they carpet the bath tub. You turn on the faucet, and they pour out, almost as many ants as there is water. Nothing stops them. I have spent hours this week cleaning with bleach (cleaning the same thing over and over and over again). I vacuum them up every time I walk into the kitchen (mainly to create a viable walking path to the sink or something). I've tried vinegar. I've tried cinnamon (a suggestion for someone - I'm desperate). I walk out of the kitchen and find them on my shirt (because I dared to lean against the counter for a moment) and up my legs (because I dared to walk - so, yes, I have ants in my pants). My friend, Michelle (of Misfit Writer notoriety) wrote a story of an alcoholic who goes crazy - she sees ants crawling all over her and into her veins and up to her brain. I discovered this week that I am this character (except that I gave up alcohol for Lent so I haven't had a drink in how many days?). Ants all over.
I'm going crazy.
Sorry for the non-thinking post right after my nominations!
1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think,
04 April 2007
Author Laura Ruby writes a witting account of the all-too-common “blended” families (which she reveals to be more jagged cliff than your favorite brew—house brew, get it? Blended house brew? Ohhhh). Focused mainly on stepmoms and their attempts to get a family going and surviving with all the extra childhood instability problems, the book is anecdote-funny but also a sad commentary on the state of the family. Ruby provides a “family tree” in the beginning, and thank goodness she did because I constantly flipped to that page to keep all the convoluted relationships straight. It's full of broken branches, new limbs, and kiddo twigs (oh what a tangled web we weave). You’ve got bitter adolescents, “psycho” exes, and optimistic new relationships, and somehow, you’ve got new families that work. For the most part. And the book is funny. That Laura Ruby has a great sense of humor.
Personal Writing Lesson: Ruby skips hither and thither (I just love those words) with tenses and persons (between 3rd and 1st, sometimes using both with the same character’s voice). At first, I tried to figure out the timeline. Okay, the last scene must have happened in the past because it was in past tense but this scene is in present, so it must be happening now. Not so much. The scenes were contemporaneous. And why is Beatrix’s voice sometimes in 1st person and sometimes in 3rd? Perhaps her fragmentary writing is meant to contribute to the fragmentary life. Well done, then, I say. Personally, I learned that you have the voice of the character and the voice of the book as a whole (as well as the even larger concentric circle, the voice of the author). The character voices need to be distinct, but the book needs to have a consistent voice throughout that ties it all together.
02 April 2007
First of all, some observations: this movie is difficult to watch, as in Hotel Rwanda/Sometimes in April difficult. I sobbed. How can humans do this to each other? And how can we fund it and turn a blind eye? I do not mean to say that you shouldn’t watch it. On the contrary, I highly recommend it. The story is great, the cinematography excellent (as a reprieve from the harsh reality of the situation, our eyes are treated to spectacular views), and this brings me to observation number two: the acting is stellar. I’ve never been much in the way of a Leonardo DiCaprio fan, but he deserves kudos for this one. Almost makes up for that sinking ship one. And Djimon Hounsou. Wow. (For those of you wondering, as I was for a bit of the movie, how you know this man: In America, another incredible movie.)
My third observation is purely about me: A Tale of Two Cities ruined me, I believe. I always want the rogue-turned-hero (or really any hero, for that matter) to die as part of the redemption. I’m still reeling over Tolkien’s decision to keep Frodo alive. He should have fell in that lake of fire and died with the ring. I’m not sadistic, mind you (remember the above tears as proof!), I just like a good death when apropos, when it contributes toward the salvation aspect. After the experience, Frodo never fit in. Blood Diamond gives me that death, and it is completely appropriate. Now, if Djimon’s character died, that would have felt wrong, but Leonardo’s character needed to die, not because he ended up being the villain but because it felt right for him and for me as the viewer.
Okay, so now we have the first plot-revealer out of the way. (Sorry, guys.)
Second of all, the themes of redemption throughout this movie left the viewer with the question: how will you continue to contribute toward the redemption of the world? And, I would like to add, how will you acting toward justice and peace be changed? In the movie, Danny Archer (the rogue) struggles with the idea of doing good rather than grab-all-you-can. Caveat: I disagree with the philosophy in the movie that believes that humans can become good on their own or are inherently good and need to just follow their path. I believe that humans can do good actions, but are not intrinsically good apart from God. But back to the story, up until the end, you don’t know which way Danny will go (which is the makings a good story). However, his character continues to develop as he sees the ill done to humans as ill done to humans. He sees faces, in other words. This, and his choice to follow through with it by doing good, changes him. Then there’s the redemption that leads to reconciliation with the father and son (oh dear, here come the tears). Another plot giveaway (close your eyes if you haven’t seen the movie): the son has been kidnapped by the rebel forces, brainwashed and taught to do horrible things. He becomes a child soldier. And you know it’s coming: the face-off between father and son. The son fails the first face-off. Gives father away. Calls him traitor. Then son has a second chance. Son raises gun (tears are flowing right now as I type this). Father tells son who he really is. “You are my son, and I love you. Your mother loves you, and your sisters wait for you.” The father continues to reiterate who the son really is until the son trades the gun in for love. The most powerful scene in the movie, I believe. And how can I not think of God the Father reminding me who I am when I betray Him, when I rebel and then return as the prodigal? I am His daughter. I am loved. He died for me and gives me and abundant and eternal life in His very real kingdom of peace and justice and harmony.
I don’t remember what my third of all was, but let me say this: the movie leaves you with an impression of the beauty and horrors of Africa existing together. Both run deep. TIA, This is Africa, they say. I highly recommend this movie.