Unphotographable

This is a picture I did not take of a kid with a red plastic shovel, taking advantage of the day’s snowfall to fill a green plastic grocery bag with snow, assisting his buddy in constructing a formidable apple tree-backed snow fort.

Review of Legion

When Sherry, Melissa, and I went to see Legion, we were the only ones laughing in the theatre, as far as we could tell. And believe me, the movie is ludicrous.

That said, we all loved it. Hot Angel Bettany. Religious “interpretation”. Blowing shit up. Awww yeaaaah.

It was a bit problematic the following day when my brain switched back on and started asking questions about logic and plot. Blessedly, Sherry and Melissa set me right, for that way lies madness. (I’m still annoyed the movie poster lied about Hot Angel Bettany being shirtless in the film, though, and that there was no hawt Michael/Gabriel gayngel action.)

Anyway, Sherry found this gem of a review of the film, which sums up our sentiments exactly. Enjoy. 🙂

Bag pimpin’

Sherry and I (more me) had been casually looking for a new bag for some time. A bag with nebulous yet somehow specific specifications, not too big or too small, the right size for books when we’d go on a walk to the library, and with enough pockets and room for accessories — wallet, camera, phone, lip balm, etc.

Shortly before Christmas we found said bag, on Etsy, not surprisingly, with vendor Mims of Maine. The classic convertible backpack, which is of good size, can be worn as a backpack or a handbag, and which comes in a wide assortment of thoroughly funky prints. I got this orange one. (I think she’s raised the prices, but they’re still a great deal at that price.)

We were really impressed when the bags arrived — these things are made well enough to survive a nuclear blast (especially since we got the leather reinforcement on the bottom). While made of fabric, it’s thick and layered enough to be stiffer than leather bags I own, and the zippers might even be more heavy duty than Roots leather. (Which, if you’re familiar with it, is sayin’ something.)

The backpack vs. handbag function with the straps works via two leather sliders, and I won’t really know how comfortable the bag is in either position until I’m not carrying it while wearing a winter coat.

Both of us are thrilled with our respective gifts, however, and can’t wait for some nice spring weather to try them out. (Though, ironically, but the time said weather arrives, there’s a chance I’ll be living next to the library, and thus our traditional jaunts will have to be rejigged somewhat…)

“You’ve killed God!”

Last weekend Sherry and I went to see Creation. An interesting juxtaposition to seeing Paul Bettany in Legion not long before. (Inside tip: at no point in the film does Hot Angel Bettany get topless like in the poster. Also, no hot gayngel action. Just FYI.)

Fascinating how Bettany didn’t even look like the same person in Creation. Also, Martha West, who played Annie Darwin, totally reminded me of Billie Piper. But that’s neither here nor there.

They set the movie during what would at first seem like an improbable time in Darwin’s life to make a movie about — post-Beagle voyage, pre-publication of On the Origin of Species, and at a time when he was, by all accounts, pretty miserable.

I’d known Darwin had a hard time with the ideas in his evolutionary theories, and with his wife’s beliefs (she was devoutly Christian). He tried to maintain his own Christian faith when evidence against God’s perfect creation was right in front of him (and all around him on the ship, in his study, in his dovecote…) I don’t know if it actually happened or not, but there’s a scene where his daughter comes home with bloody knees from being made to kneel on rock salt — her punishment from the local parson for contradicting him and insisting dinosaurs did exist, as her father said.

I hadn’t known, however, just what a mess Darwin’s mind and body were for so long. Apparently at any number of points in his life, including before he and Emma were married, pressures on him and his work caused his health to suffer. Of course, given his extensive global travels and the relatively primitive nature of medicine in those days, it’s certainly possible he picked up a chronic ailment or two as well. The deaths of three of his 10 children, including Annie, his favourite, couldn’t have helped his state, either.

The emotional torture he went through vacillating over whether to make his theory public is present throughout the story, and they also tie it closely to the demons he fought after the death of Annie, as well. She is his wife Emma’s foil in the story, as imaginative and excited about science and the natural world as his wife is opposed to its “dangers”. Even receiving correspondence from Alfred Russell Wallace, who comes to develop the same theory as Darwin, completely independently, don’t fully spur him to complete the book. Quite the opposite; Darwin seems relieved to be able to hand the mantle of “God-killer” to someone else.

It’s also interesting to consider the excitement with which many of Darwin’s contemporaries looked forward to the theory of evolution going public and changing everything. Though Darwin was astute enough to know what they didn’t seem to want to acknowledge — that science wasn’t going to kill God. Those, like his wife, who wanted to believe, would continue to do so, regardless of evidence. But even a few hundred years earlier, Darwin and anyone else who dared propose such theories would have been persecuted, tortured, and killed for such heresy.

Of course, in the end, Darwin’s health and psychological state improve, and the book gets written and published, thanks to Emma Darwin. (I hadn’t known that, either.) Darwin gives his wife the finished manuscript, asks her to read it, and leaves the decision of whether or not to publish it with her. A rather monumental offering, when you think of it. One of the biggest ideas in modern history could have ended up on a bonfire. Or had burning lamp oil spilled on it. Or fallen off the mail wagon into a ditch when it was sent to the publisher.

The constant head-butting of science and religion is a major theme throughout the movie, of course. But what was equally interesting was the head-butting between the beginnings of a new chapter in modern science and what seems like still-medieval medical practices.

The theory of evolution is about to change the world, and yet you’re still hearing the Darwin family doctor recommend increasing their sick daughter’s doses of mercury, or recommending bleeding. It’s fairly appalling. Or the Gully water cure, in which Darwin was apparently quite a believer, but which seems pretty bizarre nowadays. (Though I’m sure being doused by a deluge of cold water early in the morning is quite bracing…)

All in all, worth watching, and not quite as “quiet” a many English period films, blessedly. Though really, they could have made a film entirely comprised of Darwin’s tales from his travels and the scientific world around him and it would have been wonderful. (Like the tragic humanity of Jenny the orangutan.)

My favourite part of the opening ceremonies

k.d. lang performs Hallelujah

at about 2:30:30. (If I find a direct link, I’ll update.)

k.d. lang’s cover of Cohen’s Hallelujah is my favourite, and she did it proud at the opening ceremonies.

As someone on Twitter noted last night: “That’s Canada for you. A vegan lesbian from Alberta singing a song written by a Quebec Jew.”

Indeed. 🙂

Not that all that other stuff — the satanic canoe fiddling match with Batman, the Prairie Peter Pan, the erectile dysfunction of the Olympic flame lighting, etc. — wasn’t fun, too…

Spectacle

I watched a man die this afternoon. Along with thousands, probably millions of other people. What has unsettled me more than the shock of the accident, I think, is how public it was, how immediate the coverage, and how much the coverage was shaped by media as I’ve come to know it.

Within a few minutes, I saw pictures and video online. I actually heard he was dead before I heard about the accident (in the very first stories Kumaritashvili was only “seriously injured”). I watched the video more than once and discussed the logistics of the crash and when he was probably dead with co-workers. Morbid? Yeah. Normal? Also yeah.

Since then I’ve become increasingly uncomfortable by how some outlets have chosen to report the story (looking at you, Huffington Post), and the social media functions that have accompanied that coverage. Video ratings on a clip of the accident? Really? Of course, I’m a consumer of this media, so I’m as culpable as anyone else.

I initially thought, “Can you imagine his mom seeing this?” and then one of the work guys pointed out that she was probably there when it happened. Which was somehow even worse. It feels like there’s somehow sacrilege in there being so little privacy, so little private grief before the rest of the world comes flooding in, and dissecting, and analyzing.

However, as another of the work guys logically noted, it is a spectator sport. All 15 Olympic sports are spectator sports, so spectators are going to be watching. But the second part of that is that our world is media-saturated, so it’s not just the actual sporting event that’s part of the spectacle, it’s everything around it. It’s the luge training accidents and the figure skating scandals and the playboy athletes and who knows what all else that has come and will come to pass.

Really, none of this should phase me. I am immersed in this world almost all the time. I’m not sure why it’s bothering me. Maybe because I’m still old enough to recall when folks wouldn’t have found out about something like this until the evening news, or tomorrow’s newspapers.

Maybe because, though death is not uncommon in my family (and there was one just recently), it all works very differently. Or maybe it’s acknowledging that my eyes were on the story as soon as I heard, just like everyone else’s, even if it didn’t feel right.

At least, by the grace of the same media that unsettles me now, I will cheer and rejoice and indulge my superstitions with millions of others (especially Canadians) when we compete, and when we win. (Particularly at hockey.) 🙂

Unphotographable

This is a picture I did not take of a man standing patiently on the sidewalk beside a small park, fully bundled for winter walking and holding a slack leash, on the end of which is a boxer puppy, joyfully rolling around on his back in the snow and snorting.