Tuesday, May 22, 2007


My horoscope du jour:
"Just because you have a high level of integrity and are willing to do the spiritual work required by your beliefs, don't think you are better than everyone else. Be careful about self-righteousness; it will only isolate you from those you love. It's healthier to realize that everyone is on their own path and is exactly where they should be at this time."

Friday, May 18, 2007

On Page or Screen

I just finished a delightfully charming book - Baroness Orczy's The Scarlet Pimpernel. Set in 1792, it tells the story of an Englishman who sets out to smuggle French royals out of France to save them from the guillotine during the French Revolution. He is a master of deception and disguise and his identity is known only to his closest comrades - to all others he is simply The Scarlet Pimpernel - a nickname granted from the symbol of the small flower (see left) that he signs to all his messages. ***Warning Spoilers Ahead - if you want to read the book or see the movie without knowing anything about it stop reading now!*** The book follows the tale of Marguerite who secretly admires the Pimpernel while scorning her foppish husband Sir Percy Blackeney. Astute readers (or those that have seen a film or stage version prior to reading it) will easily deduce that the effete Percy and the daring Pimpernel are one in the same. Oddly enough (or shall I say "Odd's Fish!"), one could easily argue that the 1905 novel created the original model for a superhero with a secret identity - over a decade before Johnston McCulley's Don Diego de la Vega, aka Zorro. Plenty of literary critics have compared Percy's witless persona with the mild-mannered Clark Kent or have noted that as one of the wealthiest men in London, the Blackeney fortune is similar to that of Bruce Wayne's.

On reading the book, I was far from new to the tale of the Pimpernel. Sometime in high school I watched the 1982 version of the film The Scarlet Pimpernel starring Anthony Andrews as the lead with supporting roles by a very young Jane Seymour and a dark haired Sir Ian McKellan. (I also saw the 1999 version that was on TV, but I think I liked the '82 film better. And no I haven't seen the musical but I'll jump at the chance to if it comes back to Chicago.) I can't say the I preferred the book or the movie - both are equally charming - but as I read the novel, I had a very clear picture of Anthony Andrews playing Percy. And it brought up some interesting thoughts of the Books vs. Movies debate. Would I have liked the book as much if I had never seen the movie? Would I have pictured a different Pimpernel without the preconceived notions I had in my head?

Generally, I'm a Read the Book Before Seeing the Movie type of person. Mostly because I would rather hate a movie that butchered a good book rather than being disappointed by a book that wasn't as good as it's on screen counterpart. Anyone else have any thoughts on the matter?

As a random side note, I have a "movie" tag in my LibraryThing library and it's interesting to see that over 40 of the books I've read lately have had movie tie-ins. Not sure if this means that my book choices are getting too Hollywood inspired or if screen writers are just getting kind of lazy.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Defining Moment

I need to take a moment to define something. What does the word Christian really mean? In a recent series at my church two brothers from our creative arts team put together a series of videos parodying the Mac/PC comercials. The first went like this:

Yeah, we're a weird church. Some people have taken the whole thing to be rather offensive and it's raised a bit of controversy but if you watch the whole series (and the video in the previous link) you get the point that people oftentimes have a negative association with the word Chrisitan. For further evidence, think about people's views of the late Jerry Fallwell. Here's a man who supposedly wanted to represent the kingdom of God in the politcal arena and yet few would aver that he had God's love at the forefront of his actions. Somehow a word which used to mean good, honest, loving people has become tainted into describing a hypocritical political party. When most people hear the word "Christian" they don't think about Jesus. They don't think about people who give their lives to missions in impoverished countries and they don't think about people who daily sacrifice for their neighbors. They don't picture the family that prays for each other through any type of crisis and draws strength from each other and God's love. But those are the Christ followers that I know, love, admire and emulate. And "Christian" just doesn't describe them accurately.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

And now for something completely different...

Okay. So it's been a rough couple of weeks. But as my seven year old cousin Brian said (at his older brother's funeral), "I don't think Andy would want you to be sad." Beyond sweet, right? He also went on to explain that Andy's up in heaven right now and "he probably has super powers!" So we all agreed that now Andy can run super fast, fly and hopefully have all the super-cool moves of his favorite X-Men hero Colossus. *sigh* Out of the mouths of children. (That's a pic of Colossus/Andy at left for those non-comic geeks out there.)

But life has also been more than a little chaotic because my lab is gearing up to move at the end of the month. It's been craziness all around - I'll spare you the story of the four day old decomposing mouse flesh *ewww* - but things are especially nuts for me since I'm doing the job transition along with wrapping up my class work. I only have five more weeks of my Investigation of Death Scenes class and then I'll get my Forensics certificate. (Woohoo! Lord only knows what I'll do with it...) Overall, it's been a fun series of classes. I might actually miss the cool stuff we've been learning, but I will definitely NOT miss the very late nights.

Although last night - even with class - I was home in time to see the end of the Cubs game... that is, I was home in time to see innings 12, 13, 14, and 15 of the Cubs game. I shouldn't be surprised that they lost (of five extra inning games this year they've only won one) but with games like that you can't help holding on to hope. The highlight for me was when announcers Len Kasper and Bob Brenly decided to sing Take Me Out to the Ballgame as a 14th inning stretch. Some may argue that they're not the most insightful commentators out there, but you have to hand it to them that they know how to have fun.

Not much else to say at present. Had a great weekend - saw Spiderman 3 (Good flick - my only complaint was that there seemed to be too many conflicts for one movie: Superhero v. Supervillain ; Superhero v. Self ; Superhero v. Former Best Friend ; Superhero v. Alien Life Form. Still entertaining though and if you liked 1 and 2 you'll probably enjoy it.) Also went to a really fun Cinco de Mayo party at my sister's house. Margaritas, games and karaoke but perhaps those should be stories for another time.