Monday, July 28, 2008

Online Reading

A very interesting piece on literacy and the age of internet reading. Also raises the question: is reading still reading, whether you're doing it with text messages, comic books, or literature?

Dark Knight

While the new Batman is still setting records since it's release 10 days ago, I began to wonder if it's the momentum created by Heath Ledger's untimely death last January or if people can really be this much into dark films? Obviously, it must be Heath Ledger that has made this film the blockbuster it is - and not so much that his death has been a contributor to the box office receipts, but also that he must have turned in a truly convincing, stunning performance as an evil villain (I have not seen the film so I'm going based on other people's opinions expressed to me).

This article from the WSJ acknowledges it as such:
"The Dark Knight" isn't simply another superhero movie. In fact, taken on its own terms, it's really not a superhero movie at all: It's a supervillain movie, and the many critics and fans who are calling for Mr. Ledger to be nominated for an Academy Award are reading the film correctly -- they want him nominated for best actor, not best supporting actor

But then the author goes on to ruminate over whether or not Dark Knight was actually a contributor to Heath Ledger's death:
But there is another, more troubling, aspect to this part of the story. We know that Mr. Ledger died of an overdose of prescription drugs after a period of insomnia and acute depression. What we see on the screen in "The Dark Knight" -- as we are plunged into a netherworld that provides no escape from its brutal realities -- may well be a projection of Mr. Ledger's inner torment as he tried to fight those afflictions: a portrait of a Method actor who could not keep a proper distance from his role, an artist who stared too long into the abyss and saw a twisted, drug-addled death mask staring back at him. (This past weekend, Christian Bale was arrested then released on bail following charges of assault from his mother and sister; "The Dark Knight" must present one heck of an abyss.)

The author then concludes:
We know enough about how involved actors can be in their roles to see that this idea is not far-fetched. Does that make "The Dark Knight" a $180 million-plus snuff film? Give that a thought before you plunk your $229 down for that action figure.

This should give us pause. If life and art so tragically merge together, then how should we view movies that take people into deeper despair and darkness? I'm not advocating slappy-happy, feel good films. I'm just wondering if, in our search for authenticity, we haven't overstepped some bounds in the presentation of evil and darkness, most especially when it's presented without a hope?

How sad that a hope or redemption wasn't offered in the film - one that Heath Ledger could have grabbed onto as he immersed himself in his role. Who knows - perhaps he would be alive today...

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Yet Sovereign Mercy Calls

How oft, alas, this wretched heart
Has wandered from the Lord,
How oft my roving thoughts depart,
Forgetful of His Word.

Yet sovereign mercy calls, "Return!"
Dear Lord, and may I come?
My vile ingratitude I mourn;
O take the wanderer home.

And canst thou, wilt thou yet forgive,
And bid my crimes remove?
And shall a pardoned rebel live,
To speak thy wondrous love?

Almighty grace, thy healing power,
How glorious, how divine!
That can to life and bliss restore
So vile a heart as mine!

Thy pardoning love, so free, so sweet,
Dear Saviour, I adore;
O keep me at thy sacred feet,
And let me rove no more.

Anne Steele bio here.
Music composed, performed by Benj Pocta here.
Our church sings this with strings and piano accompaniment - it is indescribably beautiful!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

What I've Been Busy With This Week:

After a week of building rockets and learning about space, we took the campers to launch their rockets in a near-by parking lot on campus. The local media (paper and CBS affiliate station) were there for the launch, which was a surprise to me (we were not told until we got to the launch site) but very exciting for the campers, who all vied for interviews and photographs. Media fascination begins very young, obviously. As for me, I was able to successfully avoid the cameras, although my supervisor and co-worker were not so fortunate. :)

Why God Doesn't Fully Explain Pain

One of the reasons God rarely gives micro reasons for his painful providences, but regularly gives magnificent macro reasons, is that there are too many micro reasons for us to manage, namely, millions and millions and millions and millions and millions. -John Piper
read the post in it's entirety here.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

A Day at The Dallas World Aquarium

We took the time during a visit with family from out-of-town to spend a day at the aquarium. It was their first time and our second (after 7 years). This is only a small sampling of all that we saw there.
You start by going up to the third level and following the spiraling walkway down. Along the way you encounter the animals.
Above is the waterfall at the beginning of the walk.

Some flamingos on the way.

A view of the waterfall from the second level.

The huge 22,000 gallon salt water tank from an above ground view. You can see the people in the tunnel below if you look closely.

The tunnel through the tank. A very popular place for both kids and adults as it provides a great view of the various sea life in the tank, with sharks being the most popular attraction (and the shark feeding the most anticipated).

One of many aquariums.

This makes me think of Finding Nemo. :)

Other than the penguins and sharks, the octopus has to be one of the main attractions at the DWA. Adults and children alike all pushed and crowded around this exhibit.
Not sure where the intrigue and curiosity over the octopus comes from. Maybe an obsession with sea monsters?
Manatees at the aquarium like to put on a show for their audience. They swam to the window, turned somersaults (imagine an animal weighing well over a ton doing that on land!) and occasionally flicked their tails to the people watching from the above ground level.
Aquarium manatee cam here.

My beautiful mom and sis.

Howler monkeys. They are much quieter than their name suggests.

Sea otters are ugly but fascinating. They are big on hamming it up for their visitors. They had to be the most visitor-conscious, ego-driven animals there! :)
Aquarium otter cam here.

Sisters having fun (as usual)

Friday, July 04, 2008

At the Zoo: Penguins

At the Zoo: Birds

At the Zoo: African Savannah

At the Zoo: Primates

photos by Landon

Kathryn at 6 mos.

An Update (for those who still read this blog - if there are any left)

It's been awhile since my last update here. I haven't even posted pictures of my adorable niece (new ones to be posted asap). You know I must be a little overwhelmed to not have new pictures of her on here. :-)

It's been a crazy summer, much busier than I had expected it to be when May was ending and I was anticipating my summer break. This is the first week that I have not had anything on my calendar since the start of summer, but it too has been interrupted by a family visit so I remain very busy in spite of the break. It's not as though it has been a bad kind of busy - it has been a lot of fun as we have made trips to the zoo, the aquarium, the movies (my last visit to a movie theater was over a year ago), the park, and so forth. I'm enjoying it to the full as next week I begin my summer job which will last the entire month of July. Hopefully I will become better organized with my time so that I can better keep up with emails and blogging this month. In the meantime,
I have quite a bevy of pictures to share with you to make up for my sparse posting...

Happy 4th!

photo by Landon