April 29, 2009

I Can't Believe I'm Saying This...

...but I may have joined the hordes of girls and women who think that Zac Efron has got it going on.

I didn't mean to.

It starts out innocently enough. An offer of a free movie with a couple of friends. We go to the theatre and find out our passes are no good for 3D. So Monsters vs Aliens is out. The next reasonable showing of a movie is 17 Again - the story of a 30-something man in a midlife crisis who magically turns into his senior year self. So we get tickets.

I console myself with the knowledge that this is a movie with Matthew Perry, and since I'm on a Friends bender, that can be my motivation (Kind of like the time I watched What a Girl Wants, because Colin Firth is Amanda Bynes' father). I also fail to vocalize that Chandler is my second-least-favourite Friend, right after Monica. Honestly, I don't get their relationship. She is borderline psycho, and he cracks ridiculous jokes. How does it ever last!?

Anyway. I am having a good time, and the movie hasn't even started. We are talking. We are laughing. We are judging the trailers. We whisper to each other, Worst movie ever! just as the boy down the row says to his girlfriend, That looks great! We unanimously tear up at the trailer for My Sister's Keeper, and eventually the movie starts.

I scoff a little at Zac's opening scene. He glistens with sweat and throws three-pointer after three-pointer. It is just before the big game. We find out he is best friends with the waterboy, yet manages to be obviously & wildly popular. The cheerleaders start their routine to "Bust a Move" by Young MC. And then - what's that? Zac is dancing with the cheerleaders?

Come on.

Yet there is some sort of appeal...some sort of wholesome charm, and by the time Zac (as Mike O'Donnell being Mark Gold) delivers a passionate plea to his health class in favour of abstinence until marriage (including and generally targeted toward his daughter, who is soon to develop a crush on him) - well, by this point, I can no longer hate Zac for being amazing.

Here's the thing: I know it's not for real. He's just a guy with a great smile, vocal chords and some dance training. He's not his characters - any of them. He's not available (although gets another thumbs-up for being in a longterm relationship) and he's not even potential.

Zac, I don't have a crush on you (in case you read my blog. I know it's pretty cool). But I get why you're such a big deal. And I want for you to learn the same lesson that Mike learned - to pick the good people over the fame & fortune. Ten or twenty years down the road, don't throw it all away in search of your glory days. Having a wife and a couple of kids might not be as glamorous as High School Musical 28, but it is a good thing to have. So hang the hammock, finish the bbq pit, and by golly, don't ever kiss someone half - or twice - your age. Unless you are secretly their husband trapped in a body that has de-aged overnight.

final note. best line of the movie:
"I told you to dress like a dad...you look like Clay Aiken."
"Hey! Leave him out of this..."

April 28, 2009

A Book, A Video, A Diamond

I finished A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. A great read, for the first 3/4. Then it seemed like the author wanted to finish with the story, and what had previously unfolded slowly and with great depth rapid-fired through the years. Francie's childhood moves slowly, languidly, and then bam, adolescence. This is probably accurate to how we often feel, but I just had trouble buying some of the character development (and characters who didn't really get developed) towards the end. So I'd give it 3.5/5.

As a sidenote, I loved the description of Brooklyn at the turn of the 20th century, and the discovery that it was Thanksgiving not Halloween that had children dressed up with masks and collecting candy. Who woulda thunk?

A friend mentioned Return of the King in an email to me today. Without fail, I immediately think of this scene from the special features on the extended DVD:

"I saw stars...and I think, I think I fell in love. For a split second. And then, I felt a bit sick."

Finally, in case you can't decide between cremation and burial, you should definitely just make your loved one into a diamond instead.

April 26, 2009

Autism: The Musical

If you were to poll any group of people and ask what two words do not belong together, it would not surprise me in the least if someone were to say "Autism and musicals." So when my friend suggested we watch a movie called Autism: The Musical, it caught me off guard. My instinctive mental picture was a singing and dancing ensemble dealing with autism similarly to Rent's take on AIDS. But it didn't seem right.

Turns out, that's not exactly what it was. Autism, the Muscial is a documentary that tells the story of five children with autism, their parents, and one woman's plan to help kids with autism through theatre and music.

It is moving. It is heartbreaking. It makes me afraid of having a child with disabilities, but it also makes me want to adopt a child with disabilities.

It makes me wonder what kind of mom I'll be, and whether I will become consumed with my children. Will children make my marriage stronger or destroy it?

The point: watch this movie. Think about autism.

April 21, 2009

A City, A Plant & A Book

I like picking up a new book and getting sucked in. Anybody recognize these quotes? They both had me pause, re-read, and smile.

Katie had a fierce desire for survival which made her a fighter. Johnny had a hankering after immortality which made him a useless dreamer. And that was the great difference between these two who loved each other so well.

Sissy had two great failings. She was a great lover and a great mother. She had so much of tenderness in her, so much of wanting to give of herself to whoever needed what she had, whether it was her money, her time, the clothes off her back, her pity, her understanding, her friendship or her companionship or her love.

April 20, 2009

Start at the End

I wasn't ever really into Friends. First, I wasn't allowed to watch it. Then it was uber-popular and I refused to go with the trends. But now it's on at 6:30pm on basic cable - it's the only thing that is remotely worth watching at 6:30pm, so I have seen a handful of episodes.

Yesterday I was at a friend's house, and she has every single season. Every single one. Except for Season 9. But that's okay. So when I asked to borrow a season, the question was, Where do I want to start?

To me the answer was obvious: Season 10. I like to know the end from the beginning.

I don't usually mind when people spoil movies for me. I often read the end of a book before I am halfway through. I like conclusions. I like certainty. I like knowing how things end.

So last night I watched half of the season. Phoebe got married. Chandler and Monica are adopting and moving to the suburbs.* I know where everyone will end up, and after this, I can go back and watch all the turmoil of how they end up there.

*(Wendy commented sometime ago that life is like Friends - our singles-fun-in-the-city era will end as our friends get married. Have babies. Move to the suburbs.)

This is the episode I am currently watching:

April 17, 2009

Shock! Amazement!

Men who live with their fiancees before marriage are more likely to cheat. As are those who look at porn.

Wow. Who would have thought such a correlation would prove true?

So, as these women say (in reference to pornography), "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em...."



April 16, 2009

Conflict Resolution 101

I have tried (in vain) to find a clip on YouTube. It is my favourite conflict-resolution-in-a-movie scene, and it is from Zoolander.

(edit: I found a better transcription of their conversation!)

The scene starts with Derek and Matilda approaching Hansel's loft. Hansel and Derek are model enemies, but this is the only place that he will be safe from the evil Russian woman, Katinka Ingabogovinanana. So they knock on the door, Matilda explains the situation and asks if Derek can stay the night.

Hansel: Yeah, you're cool to hide here, but first me and him got to straighten some s*** out.

Derek Zoolander: Fine.

Why you been acting so messed up towards me?

Why you been acting so messed up towards me?

Well, you go first.

I don't know maybe I felt a little threatened or something because your career is just kind of blossoming and mine is kind of winding down or whatever.

And I felt like this guy is really hurting me. And it hurt.

And I felt like when you told me to, 'Dere-lick my balls,' that really hurt.

Maybe I was scared man. You're Derek Zoolander. Yeah, you're Derek Zoolander. Do you know what it's like to be another model and be in Derek Zoolander's shadow? You want to hear something crazy? Your work in the Winter 95 International Male catalog, made me want to be a model. I freaking worship you man!

I'm sorry I was whack.

I was whack.

No, I was whack.

They hug. They are friends. The end.

April 15, 2009

A Brief Sermon Critique

I am trying to be less rebellious. So when three friends in the span of a week recommended that I check out this sermon (entitled "Trial: Marriage and Men"), I decided to take a gander.

I was surprised to discover that it had a partner sermon, entitled "Trial: Marriage and Women." Why would my female friends tell me to listen to a sermon about men and neglect to say that there was also one about women? So I downloaded both.

I decided to start with the one for women, from 1 Peter 3:1-6. It was pretty good. Nothing that really shocked me with its newness, but a defense of the complimentarian view of women and marriage. We as women are called to submit -to husbands who are loving as Christ loves the Church. And when they don't - we're called to live godly lives that will show them Jesus...This is not a very strong summary of a decent sermon. It was good. It made me think - I'm not a wife, but my character isn't going to change overnight. I am not going to magically wake up the morning after my wedding and Voila! I am gentle. I need to be actively cultivating a Jesus-loving character right now.

Today (I started while doing my morning crunches), I listened to the men's sermon. One verse - 1 Peter 3:7. How long of a sermon could it be? Oh, 1 hour, 12 minutes! That does include Q&A though. So what did I think? Well, I don't think I disagreed with any of the content. It was an overt challenge for men to love their wives, to sacrifice for them, and to be mature (I love that some Americans pronounce this word ma-toor). I believe each of those things is biblical. I believe each of those things is good. I want a man willing to do all those things.

There was, however, one phrase that bothered me. "We deal with men as men." To me, this statement seemed to mean, "We deal with men in anger." Yes, many men are failing miserably to be godly men and husbands. Yes, they need a wake-up call. Yes, they need to take these things seriously. But do I think that yelling at men, calling them "jokes" is the appropriate step to jar them to action?

I have trouble seeing how this would lead to heartfelt, longterm, Jesus-motivated change. I see short-term, self-reliant efforts coming out of this. Maybe because I'm a girl. Maybe men really are okay with other men telling them to shape up. (Maybe that's why so many men join the army). What I'm saying is, I wish this same message could have been given with the same heartfelt rebuke and challenge and a little yes of the angry-sounding yelling and name-calling.

As I write this, I realize that in a sense, I do agree with the statement that men deal with men as men - by which I mean, a man can speak into another man's life in this area in a way which, were it to come from me or another woman, would be belittling or un-loving...I can't see myself telling any of my guy friends that they really should check out this sermon.

So I say a hearty "Amen!" to the call for men to step up to the plate, find a Jesus-loving women and make her a Jesus-loving wife that you can serve. Help her learn to submit. She'll help you learn to lead. And while I appreciate my friends' recommendation, I feel fairly convicted that I should relisten to the women's sermon: rather than joining the lament on the state of man-hood in the church today, I think I need to be a more Jesus-loving woman.

April 13, 2009

Babes & Boobs 2.0

This is my nephew. He is the world's cutest baby. Except that, at 21 months, he doesn't think he's a baby.

"Are you a baby?"
"What are you then?"

Yesterday, we are at my grandma's for Easter. In her apartment are many pictures of family. My dad is working on Grandma's computer and Jake comes into the room. Seeing a family picture from before his birth, he proceeds to point to each person and say their name.

"Mommy, Daddy, Aunt Sarah, Gramma, Grampa, Aunt Beth, Uncle Jon..."

My dad is thoroughly impressed, and when a few more of us come in, he tries to get Jake to re-enact his brilliance.

"Mommy, Daddy, Someone else, someone else..."

Seriously, what 2 year-old is this smart?! And funny!

A little bit later, we visit another picture. This one, he is in. As his mom and I point out people, we ask, "Who's this?"

He dutifully answers, "Grampa, Gramma, Uncle Lalo, Aunt Sarah, Daddy, Mommy, Aunt Beth, Uncle Jon..."

He skips himself, sitting on Mommy's lap, so we go back. "And who's this, between Mommy and Aunt Beth?"

He pauses, not saying anything for a little bit. Then he comes up with an answer, that while accurate, is not exactly what we were looking for...

"Momma's boo-boos," he chirps, pointing at his mother's chest.

April 12, 2009

Babes & Boobs 1.0

There is a boy (man?) at my church who is big, good-looking, and gentle. An attractive combination, to say the least. We have often smiled at each other, but rarely spoken. I find myself more than flustered around him, my vocabulary dwindling down to a single word: Hi. After that, my mind is a complete and utter blank.

Last week after our Maundy Thursday gathering, I held a sleeping baby in my arms. Adorable, six-week-old baby, with little drool bubbles on his lips and a warm, lovely weight. I was chatting with a couple of friends when he approached, saying "Hey," to my friends. In a flash, I thought to myself, This is it. He knows my friends...I'm holding a cute baby...finally, we can have some sort of conversation!

He looked at the baby in my arms slightly quizzically, knowing that I don't (and shouldn't) have a child of my own. I said, "Oh, it's so-and-so's little guy..." He nodded and took a closer look at the baby. I thought, I have nothing more to say. Once again...what else do I say??

Before I thought of something witty or even mundane to continue the conversation with, he spoke again.

"Looks like he tried to bite you," he said, pointing out the fact that drool had been transferred from the baby's mouth to the exact centre of my boob.

The next thirty seconds are all a blur. Internally freaking out, externally blank, I am not sure how my oh-so-intelligent response of "Yeah..." came across. Nor am I sure where the conversation went after that, or how many milliseconds later he wandered away from us.

What I am sure of is that he didn't intend to make a conversation-killing remark.* And that the chances of us ever interacting normatively have plummeted to scarcely above zero. Although, perhaps my three month absence will help return us to the previous level of awkwardness...

*I don't want this entry to come across as making fun of him in any way. He is a stellar guy from what I know of him, and we're all known to inadvertently say awkward things. My heightened level of awkwardness around him merely meant I couldn't compensate for his own awkwardness, something that I usually am not so terrible at.

Wedding Wonder and Woes

Wonder: There is little I love more than being at the wedding of two people who love Jesus & each other deeply. (except maybe holding a baby) In the last two weeks, I have had the privilege of watching two of my closest friends from university marry men who adore them. I am unequivocally happy for them.
(sidenote, I just discovered that the word I have long believed to be unequivocably is actually unequivocally. Now that I have been corrected, so have you)

I am amazed by how two lives can be brought together in a myriad of ways. How people who are so different (or so similar) can be such an incredible blessing to one another. It amazes me to see people commit their lives to one another. To know what heartbreaks and struggles have occurred and will continue to occur. I have a deep respect for my friends who make relationships work. They are not easy.

Woes: There is little that makes me more aware of my singleness than a rash of weddings, engagements and new relationships. Standing today with my coworkers and friends (all of whom are married), I can't help but feeling that there is a disconnect between their lives and mine. It is never intentional, and rarely overt, but it is there. I don't want it to be there. I don't want their contentment to spur me to envy. I don't want to feel uptight when marriage-related conversations come around off-handedly.

The problem, I recognize, is not with them. It is with me. Weddings make me aware of my lack of contentment. Last summer, my friend Jen gave a fantastic talk on developing contentment wherever we are in life. For her, it's enjoying and loving her children and husband, with all the sacrifices they require of her. For me, it means being thankful for my singleness. The point, though, is that God has called us to the present. He has called us to thankfulness, to contentment, and to confidence in His goodness. And I now choose to accept my present as a gift (ha, ha...): a place of joy & privilege & freedom; or to reject it in favour of my preferred non-reality: a place where I would be joyful & blessed & free if my circumstances were different...

I want to choose the former*. Sometimes it's hard.
(endnote: I have friends who met at a wedding and are now married. How does this happen!? I never have an excuse to talk to the good-looking men at weddings. Or anywhere, for that matter.)

*for some reason, I always confuse former and latter. I have to refresh my memory every time.

April 6, 2009

One, Two, Three. Yummy, Yummy, Funny.

It's been awhile since I didn't blog for an entire week. It's kind of nice. But I know you've all missed me. So I have three things to share today: two recipes and a comic.

Recipe #1: Gingerbread Waffles
(made first by my lovely friend Heidi. You will never go back to boring old white waffles again.)

2 eggs
1/3 c. sugar
1/2 c. molasses
6 tbsp oil/shortening
1/2 c hot water
2 c flour
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt

Beat eggs. Add sugar & beat. Add molasses & beat. Add oil to hot water, then add to egg mix. Add dry ingredients. Cook in a waffle maker.

Recipe #2: Yam & Peanut Soup
(made by my friend's friend Emily, this has become a huge favourite in my house)

8 cups vegetable stock
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 tsp salt
6 tbsp minced ginger
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp ground cumin
2 tbsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp paprika
1 red bell pepper, diced
4 medium yams, roughly chopped
1 x 14oz can water-packed pineapple tidbits or crushed
3 ripe tomatoes, chopped
5 tbsp natural smooth peanut butter
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
juice of 2 limes, or more to taste
favorite hot sauce, to taste

1. Heat stock and keep warm on the back burner. In a heavy-bottomed soup pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and a pinch of salt; saute for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Next add garlic, ginger and spices and saute until soft and golden. Stir in red pepper, yams and salt and continue cooking until they start to stick to the bottom of the pot. Add stock to cover, bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer. Cover partially and simmer until yams are tender.

2. Add pineapple with juice, tomatoes, peanut butter and remaining stock and simmer 30 minutes.

3. Heat soup for a further ten minutes. Season to taste with more salt, pineapple juice and/or hot sauce. Just before serving, add chopped cilantro and fresh lime juice.

Comic #1: A Softer World
(Karen, queen of internet, introduced me to this site, and I must note that this is sometimes funny, sometimes tragic, and sometimes inappropriate)