Friday, December 2, 2011

The War on Christmas (Language Use)

In grand Roberts tradition, we didn't go our for our Advent calendars until after December had actually started. Yes, we're that cheap. And forgetful.

Anyhow, I finally tracked down a few at Target, but they weren't Advent calendars, but Days Until Christmas Countdown Calendars.

I'll be honest - my first reaction was a moment of, "How dare they corrupt such a noble Christmas tradition?" until I noticed that the (empty) shelf next to them had at one point housed actual Advent calendars and they'd simply sold out of them, and that in every single Advent calendar I can remember from my youth, the symbols were all highly secularized. I mean, yes, Christmas trees and candy canes are Christian symbols, but it's mostly reindeer, ice skates and Santa.

My evangelical ire assuaged, the language Nazi in me rose to the surface: "Days Until Christmas Coundown Calendar." When you count down, you go from the higher number to the lower number. This should not be, Target, this should not be, not even for a faux Advent calendar.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Muppet Movie

So it wasn't a super-great movie. The pacing was off in spots, some of the musical numbers weren't all that pizzazzy and, honestly, there just weren't enough Muppets. I mean, Jason Segel is definitely a Muppety man, but I just wanted more.

I loved it, though, particularly for embracing the zaniness and chaos of the Muppets. There were jokes that broke the fourth wall, sight gags galore, and a massive cast of characters.

There was one moment that really got to me, though.

Toward the end of the movie, the Muppets performed "The Rainbow Connection." It wasn't a particularly amazing performance, other than Animal on drums (finally), but what made it special was the audience. About one out of every four people in the movie theater was singing along.

That was what made the movie for me. You felt like you weren't just watching a movie with your friends, you're watching a movie about your friends - it's pretty rare to find that kind of a connection with a movie's characters these days, and that was pretty special.

The Muppet Movie

So it wasn't a great movie. The pacing was off in spots, some of the musical numbers weren't all that pizzazzy and, honestly, there just weren't enough Muppets. I mean, Jason Segel is definitely a Muppety man, but I just wanted more.

I loved it, though, particularly for embracing the zaniness and chaos of the Muppets. There were jokes that broke the fourth wall, sight gags galore, and a massive cast of characters.

There was one moment that really got to me, though.

Toward the end of the movie, the Muppets performed "The Rainbow Connection." It wasn't a particularly performance, other than Animal on drums (finally), but what made it special was the audience. About one out of every four people in the movie theater was singing along.

That was what made the movie for me. You felt like you weren't just watching a movie with your friends, you're watching a movie about your friends - it's pretty rare to find that kind of a connection with a movie's characters these days, and that was pretty special.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

L'esprit de l'escalier et l'esprit de liberté

At work, a friend who shares my faith found out that I support gay marriage. He asked me how I could support gay marriage when I'm not a fan of the gay lifestyle. I wasn't terribly articulate in my defense, honestly.

This weekend I was shelving books in our sideroom when I came across a book from 1940 called, "Toward Freedom." I flipped through the pages and the prose looked turgid, the illustrations a step ahead of a kindergarten primer, but the introduction took me away. I'll quote them now:

More the specifically, the authors of the Democracy Series use the following characteristics to describe the ideals and procedures of democracy.

1. Respect for the dignity and worth of the individual human personality.
2. Open opportunity for the individual.
3. Economic and social security.
4. The search for truth.
5. Free discussion; freedom of speech; freedom of the press.
6. Universal education.
7. The rule of the majority; the rights of the minority; the honest ballot.
8. Justice for the common man; trial by jury; arbitration of disputes; orderly legal processes; freedom from search and seizure; right to petition.
9. Freedom of religion.
10. Respect for the rights of private property.
11. The practice of the fundamental social virtues.
12. The responsibility of the individual to participate in the duties of democracy.

I honestly couldn't have said it better myself.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Grab Bag Post

Just watched the 13th episode of the show, the finale of the first season and while I have enjoyed every minute of it, I really, really didn't appreciate what they did with the last few minutes. I mean, I'm all for cliffhangers but, gah!
Falling Skies, on the other hand, met my expectations beautifully.

My biggest concern was that this would be another scifi show that'd burn me. First was Flash Forward which started out with an amazing premiere that quickly petered out into a meaningless parade of boring subplots. V at least had the decency to be terrible from the very beginning but, still, it was terrible in ways that I haven't seen outside of B movies. And then The Event, which started by having a plane disappear in midflight and went on its mid-season break by showing us that - gasp! - villainous Hal Holbrook* likes to play Calvinchess.

What Falling Skies seems to have learned, and learned well, is that good shows show rather than tell, but they show in increments, building story and character rather than worrying about whether their plot points are flashy enough. Given the pedigree of the show, this shouldn't be too surprising. I'm hoping it can sustain what's it built up so far.
 On Thursday I'm going to get a chance to teach a group of 3rd and 4th grade boys about the 139th Psalm, a personal favourite. I've spent quite a lot of time getting this lesson ready, so I'm hoping it goes well.
Every night, I put Brandon down to bed. Before I go downstairs, we pray, and as part of that prayer I thank God for something I love about Brandon. It's a bit of a ritual, but I think it's important for kids to know that they are special and wonderful.

Anyway, tonight, I thanked God for Brandon's curiosity. I hardly got to see him at all since I left for work shortly after waking up and then tonight was our church softball game, but the entire time we were there he spent exploring a giant broken log along with a bunch of other kids. He was poking it with sticks, putting his head through holes and generally making himself very, very dirty.

After we prayed, Brandon asked, "Dad, what's curdi . . . curiotis . . . that thing you were talking about?"

Love that kid

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Christians and tipping

Today, my boys and I went out to eat, and it cost us $7, although I spent $12. We went to Friendly's, Graeme's favourite family restaurant, when they were running a special. Buy one adult entree, get a kid's meal free. I also had a coupon, one that clearly said it couldn't be combined with other coupons but said nothing of special offers, that had the same deal. So, we paid for my meal, but got three of them.

I thought it was a pretty clever deal but as soon as I presented it to her (and eventually to her manager, who didn't think the coupon applied), I saw that she was displeased. She thought she knew who I was. I was a Sunday Christian.

Brothers and sisters, I've worked in restaurants and the stories about Christians being lousy tippers are not just stories. I counted cash, which included tips, on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, meaning that on Monday I was counting up Sunday's money. Tips average around 4% of the total bill, when the rest of the week they averaged about 10%. Yeah, you could argue that the Christians, who came in wearing their Sunday best, sometimes staying for hours and debating theology over free drink after free drink after free drink, were just the most visible cheap diners, but I disagree.

One afternoon, a deacon from my own church came while I was covering a server's shift. We had a nice conversation as I took his order, and I quizzed him about the Sunday School I was missing. He let me know that a lady at church was looking for me because she needed a city for Friday. It was friendly. My tip, on his $40 bill? 41 cents. Cheapskate.

For those who don't know, waitstaff make less than anyone else in the kitchen, at least based on hourly wage. The difference in their actual rate of pay and what they need to live is made up by tips. It's an inefficient system, true, but it's what we have to work with. I'm of the opinion that if you're budgeting to go out to eat, you budget in at least 10% for tip, more for nicer restaurants where the servers have to do more work. Consider it part of your bill, even if it's not on the receipt.

So, this waitress had decided who I was: a Sunday Christian. She was still efficient and polite throughout the meal. Brandon's meal was delivered with the wrong kind of fries, so she immediately got another plate. When Graeme ordered a soda with his meal (he doesn't like soda), she offered to replace it with another drink he did like free of charge. I never saw the bottom of my water glass. When she stopped, whether to drop off food or just check in (which she did frequently), she talked to the boys as much as she did to me and seemed genuinely interested in the conversation. She was excellent, frankly.

I'd completed my calculations prior to the bill's arrival and determined my tip. I gave her a 20 for the bill and she gave me the change while Brandon still madly attempted to finish his double ice cream cone.

She came back to clean up the table before she left and saw a $5 bill, a little more than 12% of what the bill would've been without coupons, sitting on the table. I told her, "God bless," and the boys and I took our leave.

I don't know what impact that had. I really only did what a good diner ought to do, nothing more, but it's more than some might do. She seemed pleased to see the tip, and I hope that I had some small effect, that I was able to slightly erode her perception of the cheapskate Sunday Christian.

Monday, May 23, 2011

An Open Goodbye To The Event

Goodbye, you stupid show.

No, no, I don't just mean that as a simple insult. I'm not resorting to schoolyard language rather than using my grown-up words. You, as an actual show, are stupid and have been from very early on.

You played cagey with whether The Event was a plane disappearing in midair, which we'd seen on Lost, whether it was the attempted assassination of the president, which we've seen on almost every season of Lost, whether it was a vast and ancient secret society watching over us, which we've seen on Fringe with a much cooler secret society, whether it was the revelation that there are aliens living among us, which we've seen on Roswell . . . I'm going to stop there. As a science fiction, I don't think there's anything much worse than being scooped by Roswell, unless you're also scooped by Wolf Lake.

So, goodbye, stupid show. You ignored basic history civic history. I counted six times that anyone in the same room as the president should've - not could've, but should've - had the president arrested and taken out of the room on the spot for violating basic rule of law. You ignore science. H1N1 didn't come from avian flu. Accelerants don't work that way. You're a science fiction show, so I can deal with a few violations of the laws of thermodynamics and a somewhat quirky interpretation of the uses of wormhole technology, but get the basic stuff right or, well, get cancelled.

Goodbye to your stupid, convoluted, hackneyed subplots. It's pretty customary for a cancelled show to leave a few thread hanging, but I think you might set some kind of record. And I don't care about any of them. I don't care about the aliens coming to Earth, I don't care about the secret society, I don't care about the assassin who's learning to love, I don't care that Jason Ritter's girlfriend has the funny syphilis. It's all been done before, and done better.

Goodbye to your terrible dialogue.

I'll give this to you, though, you had some cool location shots right at the beginning there. Really, the desert scenes were great, and I loved the setting for the disappearance of the plane. It felt very open and real in a way that most shows seem to actively avoid.

I know, this is the part where is seems like I'm having a change of heart and any minute now you're expecting I'll say, "It's not you, it's me." Well, if I do that, then I must be feverish, because it's not me, it's you. You're stupid. And goodbye.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Day After

ETA: The story mentioned in here is true, basically, other than that it appears to come from a one-on-one interview with Marilyn and Michael Moore. The link to "money quote" is here. The post will remain as is because I'm lazy.

There's a story - probably apocryphal, but most useful stories are - that after the Columbine shooting, Marilyn Manson and a bunch of talking heads were sitting around jawing about the incident. Manson was there because, of course, his music was somehow implicated in the incident.*

The question came up, "What would you say to those kids, if you had the chance?" The talking heads gave their answers and Marilyn (can I call him Marilyn? not sure on the protocol there) replied, "I wouldn't have talked. I'd have listened."

Regardless of the story's truth, like any parable, it makes a good point. When someone feels isolated, alone and depressed, as those boys did, it often does no good to just talk at them.

Tonight, beginning at 6 pm EST, Harold Camping believes that the Lord will be coming back to take away his faithful remnant. He has taken an already well-stretched eschatology and added into it his own special mix of numerology, Zionism and governmental conspiracies and concluded that the world will be coming to an end shortly afterwards.

 The world will end, eventually - maybe in fire, maybe in ice - and it could sneak up on is, but the smart money says that he's wrong, which means that tonight and tomorrow morning every one of his followers is going to feel a little like those lost boys of Columbine: isolated, alone and depressed. And so tonight and tomorrow morning and for many days afterwards, we're going to have show them compassion.

You can argue that they brought it on themselves. I mean, no one forced them to believe Camping's lies, and surely a moments sensible though would have told them that is was utter foolishness, and one could argue that anyone so willfully deluded isn't worthy of compassion. I'd argue that it doesn't matter, that if compassion is to have any real meaning, then it must be given to those who need it and not to those who deserve it.

One of my co-workers has bought into Camping's line of bunk. On Monday morning, she's going to show up at the office, something she never thought she'd do again. All week I've been thinking, "I wonder what I should say to her." I think I've found my answer. And hopefully you'll find yours too.

* Of course, a lot of people, including me, listened to Marilyn Manson without shooting up a high school. I also listened to Stabbing Westward, Consolidated, Nine Inch Nails and a lot of other music that explains why to this day I tend to listen to music on headphones. I presume that I just wasn't listening to it in the way that makes you crazy, or perhaps Rich Mullins and Jars of Clay serve as some sort of harmonic antidote.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Why I am no longer interested in watching Law & Order: SVU - Caution: Explicit Content

I am a fan of the L&O franchise. I even liked the redheaded stepchildren of the genre, the shows that never really got a chance to catch on or, if we want to honest with ourselves, kinda stunk. That "chung-chung" sound is enough to make me sit in a chair for an hour and come away entertained and, in some cases, kind of thoughtful.

In the past few years, though, I noticed that, for whatever reason, I was no longer able to sit through an entire episode of SVU. It wasn't the nature of the crimes - I'm a grown man, and a fan of true crime and books on crime and punishment, I know people do horrible things to other people - but I just found that whenever the show was on, I'd find a reason to be elsewhere, even if all that meant was reading a book while sharing the living room with my wife.

I know I wasn't interested in the show, that something was actually driving me away from it, but I couldn't put my finger on it until tonight.

I never really caught the plot of the episode, but at the end some college boy who bribed another girl to hide up the fact that he raped and apparently murdered a girl is told by an assistant district attorney that in prison, he'll learn what it's like to be raped on the bathroom floor.

The implication is clear, and it disgusts me.

I'm not a fan of criminals, nor am I "soft on crime." I just think that an office of the law being pleased at an impending act of sexual assault, regardless of the repugnant nature of the person it's going to happen to, is an offence. I appreciate the desire to see the bad guys get their comeuppance, to "get what they deserve," but the purpose of justice isn't vengeance, or at least shouldn't be.

So, sorry L&O:SVU. If it makes you feel any better, thanks to you I'll probably finally get around to finishing House of Leaves.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Thank you, Mythbusters

From the very beginning, when your producers seemed to think that people were actually interested in watching folklorists talking more than watching stuff blow up, I loved Mythbusters.

It's gone through some times that I didn't like it as much - in one season, it seemed that every episode had to end with a bigger explosion than the last - but it's always been a fun show. And what's always kept me interested is what could be the motto of the show: failure is always an option.

I love that they fail as often as they do, as spectacularly as they do, and don't just learn from the failures but revel in them. The learn, they adapt, they laugh and joke about complete and abject failure. I mean, they have the usual frustration that comes from experimentation, the times when they can't even get to the point where they have the option of failing, but, for the most part, they just seem to love what their doing.

On tonight's episode, they mocked up a few crude (Syrian) torpedoes. They put in a rocket motor that, well, blew up. The torpedo became a missile. It was a total failure of the concept of the myth, but rather than getting frustrated, both men were excited by it and set about fixing the experiment to make it work.

Thanks, guys. I love that there's a show out there that I can use to show my boys the joy of failure.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

My (anti)ghost story

Some of my friends and I were talking about brushes we've had with the supernatural. While I've seen some things I don't know the precise cause of, I can't say I've ever seen anything the least bit supernatural.

This is the story, as best as I can remember it: two of my buddies and I were in an old house in the early evening. It was abandoned and condemned - I mean, it had actual "Condemned" signs on it and everything - but we went in anyway because it looked haunted and, honestly, we kind of wondered if there was any cool stuff in there.

Looking back now, I'm reasonably certain that whoever did the art for the first sections of Silent Hill must've been in the same place because it was a special kind of creepy. On the first floor, there was a bedroom that has been completely trashed. Wallpaper torn off in strips and ribbons, drywall with great long gashes in it, and a mattress in the middle of the floor stained rust-red.

The next room was, if anything, worse. It reeked of mold and decay and there were piles of rat feces all over the place. We moved through the rest of the horror-show in silence until we got to the upstairs floor. One of my buddies began to tell the story he'd heard about how a woman had been murdered by her husband in the room downstairs. As the shadows grew longer, he kept up the story, filling in gruesome details by the dozen.

Then we came to the bathroom. The boards were cracked and up at angles. The walls were thick with mildew. The roof overhead had a great gash in it and through it piss-yellow water poured into the tub, rolling out and over the floor. Here's where I saw something the other guys didn't that changed the way we saw what happened afterwards. I booked it downstairs, a shrieking scream behind me.

One of the guys yelled, "It's the ghost! It's the ghost!", and they were both running for the door. When we ran past the bedroom, the shadows about to turn to twilight, we risked a glimpse inside. My buddies later swore that they saw the outline of a woman, arm outstretched, standing in the middle of the room.

The experience was terrifying for all three of us. My two buddies spread the story of the time we ran away from a poltergeist across town. When I returned from college, I went to an event at the town high school and overheard kids talking about a haunted house on same road as this abandoned house. I'm pretty sure it was the same one.

Here's what I saw. I lagged behind the others, and I saw when the bathtub broke through the floor and lurched to the side, sending a crack from wall to wall. It had been a very rainy spring and the floor gave way, the sound of the wood cracking making a loud, high-pitched noise like a scream. When I ran past the bedroom, I saw a giant piece of plaster, about the height of a woman, falling to the ground.

It might not have been a ghost, but to this day I hate it when I step on a creak step.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Spay or neuter your pets - and don't forget to vaccinate your kids

Growing up, I remember watching The Price is Right more often than is probably healthy. I rarely watched it at home. It was usually at my girlfriend's house or something, but one of the things I remember - that most people remember - is Bob Barker reminding people to spay or neuter their pets.

It was good advice. We had mostly male cats growing up, and it saved on cleaning up after spraying. What females we had, we never had to worry about ending up with a mittful of kittens we couldn't get rid of. It's a surgical procedure, and it comes at some risk to the animal, but the end results justified it. It just made life a little easier, a little more convenient.

Cats - feral cats, specifically - can be a potent vector for disease. They're also, well, cats, and packs of wild creatures roaming the city streets could get dangerous for dogs, others pets and even small children. Read any book on feral animal packs and you'll inevitably come to a chapter on the horrible things that packs of feral domestics can come up with the keep themselves entertained. In these situations, routine spaying and neutering pets doesn't just make life a little easier, it can save lives.

Vaccination has of late unfortunately become regarded as something that we do as a matter of convenience, because parents just don't want to deal with a child have measles, the mumps or chicken pox. And it's also become demonized, the risks of vaccination blown vastly out of proportion and distorted beyond recognition with the actual underlying science.

Lately, there have been reports of schools closing due to high rates of pertussis. Measles is being reported for the first time in decades. Herd immunity is being damaged by parents and caregivers who believe that vaccines cause autism, that they contain aborted fetus DNA, that they have dangerous levels of formaldehyde.

Yes, vaccination carries risk. There can be serious side effects, and you should discuss vaccination with your doctor, as should anyone seeking medical treatment for a child, but please, consider carefully whether you want the higher levels of infant mortality and child mortality of yesteryear to return.

And, no, I'm not saying that kids are only as important as your pets. I know for myself that my boys are much more important to me, but it is precisely because of this that I want to do everything I can to protect them, and vaccination is a way to keep them safe that has been proven safe and effective.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Vincent and the Dweller (Doctor Who spoilers ahoy)

I started this blog, what, two days ago, and already it’s having an effect. Okay, so the effect is on my son who doesn’t know I have blog and likely wouldn’t or couldn’t read it even if he did, but it’s still pretty cool.

Graeme, my oldest boy, has been interested in Impressionists and Impressionism lately. He describes as, “painting what your mind remembers and not just what your eyes are seeing,” which is a pretty darned brilliant way of summing it up. He just likes looking through books of art right now and isn’t especially interested in knowing about technique and art history and such, which is fine as I’m pretty poor at both and I’m just happy that his interest in art is expanding out from comic books.*

In the interests of furthering his artistic education, my wife and I decided to watch “Vincent and the Doctor,” an episode from last season in which the great Vincent Van Gogh** teams up with the Doctor and his companion, Amy Pond, to stop a rampaging alien. No, really, that’s the plot.

As with many of the “Doctor Who Meets Dead Famous People” episodes, this tends to be either a much beloved or greatly hated episode without a great deal of middle ground. After about half a dozen viewings, I find myself occupying that rare middle ground – the pacing is wonky in spots and, given how few episodes they had to work with, it would’ve been nice to see the episode tie into the season’s overall plot at least a little bit. I do still love this as a portrayal of an emotionally damaged and reclusive artist, complete with depressive and manic episodes, and thought it would be good for Graeme to be able to see someone like this – talented, but deeply flawed.

He enjoyed the episode immensely, more for the Doctor’s funny lines and the alien monster than anything else, and has asked to watch more, which is something I’ll definitely consider.

Last night, as I put him down to bed, I noticed that he seemed quite upset. He wasn’t crying or anything, just a little misty-eyed and distant. The monster was decently scary and he has a limited tolerance for such things, so I began by dealing with it as directly as I could: “Graeme, was that monster a bit too scary for you?”

“No,” he said, “He was just so sad.”

I really hadn’t expected this, so I asked him to explain. Graeme did, recapping the climax of the episode when the Doctor uses his sonic screwdriver to stop the creature. The creature is weak, though, and old and blind besides and his attempt to stun it proves to be a fatal blow. As the creature lies dying, it says that it’s scared and along and both Vincent and the Doctor try to comfort it as it dies.

I hadn’t thought too much of the scene at the time – it’s pretty much standard, “’Twas beauty that killed the beast,” twaddle that conveniently ignores the grief felt by the families of those slain by the creature – but the Doctor’s actions had more than one unintended consequence. Graeme had a “Maris moment.”

He knew that the creature was vicious and violent, but he also knew that it was intended to be vicious and violent. It was a predator, a hunter, a killer, and when it killed it was just doing the thing that its physiology and inner nature demanded of it. He talked at some length about how the creature’s death made him feel, and talked in the manner of eight-year-olds with long run-on sentences and awkward, fumbling efforts to clearly explain complex moral conundrums, all while trying not to cry, but two things stuck out.

First was his idea for a movie about a pack of troodons being unleashed in a mall at Christmas time. This move NEEDS to happen, people. I’m thinking Corin Nemec in the lead. Working titles include “Jurassic Mall” and “Dino-Christmas.”

Second, at one point he said, “Even if it was a monster, it shouldn’t have to die alone and scared like that.”

I don’t what to do with that. As an ethical statement, it’s simplistic and naïve, but there’s no real substantive argument against it that I’ve been able to find. I know for myself that there are certain people that I feel, in the darker parts of my heart, should die alone and afraid, but when I look closely at those people and those feelings, I find I can’t really sustain it with anything other than the simple desire to see someone else suffer as I believe I’ve suffered. It’s transparently either vengeance or bloodthirstiness.***

I think knew this already, but it was old knowledge, the sort of thing that gets dusty and underused when one lives in a society where vengeance and bloodthirstiness are hardly a part of one’s daily waking life. I’m not talking about wanting the college kids next door to get tinnitus as punishment for their raucous, late-night festivities or your sincere desire that your neighbour’s lawn should be infested with a rare and vicious species of weevil when comes and yells at your lawn being in disrepair. I’m talking eye-for-an-eye stuff where the actual loss of eyes might seem legally appropriate.

Still and all, my desires for vengeance may be petty, but they are still desires I would like to expunge. Or, failing that, understand and control. Thanks, Graeme. I look forward to learning more from you.

* Not that there’s anything wrong with liking comic books or comic book art – I am a fan myself, but comic books are only one kind of art and it’s a bad thing to be limited in one’s vision.

** Yes, Van Gogh's an Expressionist. You're very clever. Now shaddup.

*** Incidentally I understand and respect that monsters, of both the human and alien varieties, will often die alone and scare because of their nature. It’s hard for others to get close to these rude beasts, and as a consequence, they often meet their end alone. And I can’t help but think that someone truly monstrous, who regards all of reality as something that exists just for them, could be anything but terrified when their time comes. After all, if they are all that matters, then when they die, it’s the death of everything that’s real.  I’m not proposing a national Hospice for Hitler program, but someone being horrible shouldn’t automatically mean that you receive no compassion in death.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Care and Keeping of Your Dweller in Darkness - Part 1: The Synapses

The announcement of my . . . enblogification* was met with a good number of my online friends sharing stories about how hearing one song can lead them to get another song stuck in their head. This is a very, very familiar sensation.

My long-suffering wife, Christy, has become to accustomed to my sudden changes in thought pattern, and they are not limited to musical. It is not unusual at all to hear me say something like, "Oh, speaking of sugar beets, is Castle a new episode tonight?", leaving her to either just answer the question and assume that there's a perfectly logical, albeit tenuous, connection between Castle and sugar beets, or demand to know what lead from one thing to another. Some days, I still remember by the time she thinks to ask.

I'd say that I make these strange connections perhaps three or four times a day. Is this at all common

Saturday, April 2, 2011

An introduction

So, for years I've had this Xanga blog that I never updated because, well, it was a Xanga blog. I guess at some point it was cutting edge, but now trying to put up a blog post there feels like I'm hewing the thing out of raw wood, sanding it down and putting it up without having a chance to put on a coat of varnish or anything.

So, then someone mentioned Blogger having all sorts of nifty tools, and I thought, "I read blogs and I like Blogger - I can totally do this."

So I am.

The title of the blog comes from the first book I ever fell in love with. I read from an early age, but in grade two, at the tender age of eight, this was the book that I gave myself to, body and soul, the one that changed from from the inside out, from the tips of my toes to the ends of my still-atrocious hair.

The book is "Knee-Deep in Thunder," by Sheila Moon. In the perspective of time I recognize that it is not the best book in the world, but the content changed me utterly. I'd grown up in a very conservative evangelical church where it was made obvious to me from a very early age that there were two groups of people in the world: the Evil and the Good. One of these groups - the Good - would triumph and the Evil would be destroyed, thrown into a lake of fire. If someone was Evil there was nothing you could do about it but hope that by taking about God to them enough, they'd learn not to be evil. The precise mechanism by which this would occur was unclear.

In Sheila Moon's book, a young girl named Maris and her dog, Chiaroscuro, end up in a land right out of Native legend. They and a group of giant insects have to stop a group of great beasts from despoiling the land. In any other book, the plucky young girl would find the weapon that's need to destroy them. In this book, she gets captured by them, barely escapes (losing several friends in the process) and manages to capture them.

After they're captured, there's an effort made to rehabilitate them. I remember being shocked by this. The idea that someone that Evil was even worth saving was remarkable, let along that it was the responsibility of people no greater than I to do so, was a revelation.

There's a lot more I could say here about that and maybe in time I will. I don't know what this blog wants to be about, although for now it looks like it's going to be home to some philosophical meandering. Hopefully there's more exciting stuff on the horizon.

For now, welcome to Maris' Vision. Please wipe your feet on the mat.