Wednesday, December 2, 2009
I always feel sort of irresponsible when I find myself trying to "kill time." That's an interesting phrase. Why "kill" it? Well, I understand what the phrase means, but why not something a little friendlier? I don't know. I'm just killing more time by pondering useless nuggets of nonsense that will never really benefit my life in any way, shape or form in the long run. Yet, I do it so much!
I noticed in talking to a friend today that I argue, playfull of course, about the STUPIDEST things in the world, just because it's fun. I don't argue about the philosophical natures of Aristotle vs. Socrates, or the theology of CRC vs. Lutherans, or even the best way to end poverty.
What do I argue about? The origins of ninjas, why Viggo Mortensen is worth my time, and which LOST character best represents the human condition. Hey, wait! That one's legit!
Ok, I think I've sliced and diced this time quite enough. It's bloody and begging for mercy. Off to orchestra!
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
But what about the rest of us? I have to admit, being a female college student doesn’t exactly place me within the film’s target audience, but I’ve always been a fan of stylized films such as Quentin Tarentino and Frank Miller, so I thought, why not give this a shot. It could be fun.
The basic premise of this film is not complicated, which I think the film has going for it. One of its main strengths is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s an overused plot that we’ve seen a million times over, and in much better ways. But this film is not claiming to be Oscar-worthy. They just want to keep your attention for 99 minutes. “Dare you to” might actually be a more accurate description.
The intensity is pretty much non-stop from beginning to end. Right off the bat, the opening scene very quickly turns into a bloody ninja massacre. The gratuitous, extremely animated, and unrealistic violence is actually where a great deal of the cheese factor comes from. It’s nonstop, in-your-face, and unrelenting. The bright red corn-syrup gets more screen time than any two characters. This movie must be entered knowing that or you’ll never make it out alive.
Bloodiness aside, the choreography of the fight scenes are spectacular. The “Matrix” guys were definitely involved. The acrobatics alone were enough to keep me glued. They’re such a visual feast that you can’t take your eyes away. Or maybe you can’t keep your eyes opened. To their credit, my attention was kept from beginning to end. But that may not be to my credit.
A legitimate defense of this movie, however, is that it isn’t completely devoid of any kind of characterization. The title character, Raizo, was worth caring about. He wasn’t overly complicated nor did he have much depth, but he was likeable, so I cared, which is essential to any movie’s success.
Raizo’s story was familiar: the devoted pupil realizes the error of his brutal master’s ways and rebels, seeking revenge. Even the murdered love interest is hardly a new concept. But I didn’t really care because I liked him. For this kind of a movie, that was enough.
The movie made this killing machine a human being. Part of how this was accomplished was by dehumanizing his antagonists. His old master and “brother” from the Ninja training school were completely brutal, violent, unfeeling bastards with no regard for anyone other than their cult-like brotherhood. They’re greatest aspiration in life is to kill. It’s what they’ve been trained for their entire lives and what they live for now.
Also serving as a humanizing factor for Raizo is his relationship with Mika, a legal assistant who gets herself in over her head when she decides to pursue an investigation into the dark underworld of the Ninja culture. Raizo becomes her guardian and they establish a sweet friendship. His relationship with a girl within the Ninja school also gives him an endearing if not predictable attachment for the audience to connect with.
While it isn’t really explained why Raizo and not any of the others saw the brutality and inhumanity of their Ninja Father’s ways, it isn’t really relevant because this movie isn’t a character study or a thought-provoking drama. It’s a movie about ninjas, cool fight scenes, and a guy to cheer for. This then leads back to the question of the use and relevance of this genre, but obviously people keep coming back for it. Today’s morbid fascination with violence is only on fire because we continue to fuel it.
This is not great filmmaking. But it establishes its goal. The question of the dangerous level of desensitization our culture is undergoing is a different issue, but one that certainly shouldn’t be disregarded in relation to this movie.
But regardless, this film knows that that’s exactly what’s happening and they banked on it. Don’t expect to come out with a philosophical discussion on your tongue, but simply, in the words of Neo, “Whoa,”…and perhaps a horrific look in the mirror and question of why exactly we do keep coming back for more. And a deathly fear of shadows.
Or is it ok to say that sometimes you're just looking for a senseless good time?
Thursday, October 22, 2009
No lengthy posts today, just thoughts of how much fun Tarah's having in heaven on her birthday, and her favorite hymn:). Happy birthday, Peanut. We miss you, but I know you're "there within His arms to rest." Well, you're probably not resting (she's probably dancing her little feet off and talking everyone's ears off), but you know;).
"I Am Jesus; Little Lamb"
by Henrietta L. von Hayn, 1724-1782
1. I am Jesus' little lamb,
Ever glad at heart I am;
For my Shepherd gently guides me,
Knows my need, and well provides me,
Loves me every day the same,
Even calls me by my name.
2. Day by day, at home, away,
Jesus is my Staff and Stay.
When I hunger, Jesus feeds me,
Into pleasant pastures leads me;
When I thirst, He bids me go
Where the quiet waters flow.
3. Who so happy as I am,
Even now the Shepherd's lamb?
And when my short life is ended,
By His angel host attended,
He shall fold me to His breast,
There within His arms to rest.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Last night was the Fall Music Festival, which I was apart of for the orchestra, and today there are two play performances, one of which I'm working at tonight. I don't get to see actually see the play till next week, but by then I'll have a pretty good idea of where the yelling and shouting parts are (that's about all I can here from my work post in the costume shop).
Parents' Weekend is always kind of a funny feel for me. It's not really any different than any other weekend, other than the fact that it's swamped with parents. My parents were here last night for the concert, but they're here for almost every concert so it really didn't feel that different. Which made me realize that maybe I take for granted a little bit the fact that they are here for every concert! It's really pretty cool that they're not only able to do that, but that they take the time to! It's still a 45 min. drive here and back for them, but I don't think they've ever missed more than one or two concerts a semester. Wow.
It's really great to be able to see a lot of my friends from far off getting to see their parents, and it's also a little bittersweet because I know people from far away who's parents simply can't make the trip. Then you kind of have to make your own family. Which is awesome in and of itself, but you still can't help but miss your real family.
I guess everything's bittersweet in some way. There's always someone that isn't happy. There's always going to be someone who feels left out or left behind. That's kind of a sad thought, but reality. And sometimes that person's going to be me. I guess the best I can do is try and give them some extra love and get them through till Christmas:). But the really great thing is that there are loving parents to miss. If you didn't miss them, that'd be much worse (maybe a stretch, but I'm looking on the bright side!). And it makes the reunions that much sweeter. And that goes beyond earthly ones, too.
Monday, October 12, 2009
And besides...it's a new week! Technically, it's Monday now. Mondays are usually one of the longest days of the week, besides the fact that they're Mondays. Class till 3, work till 5, and orchestra till 10. The momentum from the weekend, however, can sometimes make or break my Mondays.
And my weekend was awesome. It started off with a Friday night with friends, games, drinks and snow. In fact, I got to walk outside back to my apartment in it. It was wonderful (but cold, since I was wearing flip flops). Saturday morning I was greeted bright and early by my two oldest brothers to take me to Seward, NE for a Dordt/Concordia football game. The game was terrible, but still fun, the main reason of the visit really being to see Joel, my little brother who is a freshman there. We had a grand time with him (Chinese food, Cards game, DQ, and brotherly banter).
And now, here I am, at the end of another Sunday. It was a perfectly lazy Sunday. I went to church, a walk in the snow, made Brett Favre a birthday cake, had some good conversation with a friend, phone calls from my younger siblings (Tabby excitedly told me that she sat on her bedroom floor with Hannah doing absolutely nothing and Sam won another tennis match) and watched lots of baseball. I'd say I have pretty good momentum for the week (besides the fact that I should've been in bed 2 hours ago due to a prolonged illness).
No profound insight today, just a little update. Oh, and happy Monday:).
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
And I absolutely LOVE to dance. Dancing can communicate with nothing more than body movement and your eyes. You feel dancing (I know, cheesy, again), but its true. Kind of like feeling music. I think one of the reasons God created certain things, like dancing and music, is to communicate things that words just plain can't. There's something soulful about dancing.
So hence forth let it be known that I intend to learn as many dances as I possibly can. So let it be written, so let it be done.
That's about it. Anyone want to learn with me?
Sunday, October 4, 2009
On the one hand, that offers some regret, because looking back you realize that whatever it was that you were experiencing for the last time should've been more meaningful, but at the time, it was just another thing you were doing. But in a sense, it's the best that way. For me, anyway. I don't particularly like things planned out, and just letting them happen the way they happen seems to be a pretty good approach to me. No expectations. Things don't necessarily get any better if you think they have to be. What did I get out of this last-fall-break-ever? Nothing spectacular, but lots of little awesome things. And perhaps this is coming from having just seen a movie called "Zombieland" in which one of the morals emerging (yes, it has some morals!) proved to be "Enjoy the little things."
Over this break I got to watch my first movie ever on pay-per-view because my Dad had a coupon that expired the next day. I watched "Ghosts of Girlfriends Past" because I knew there was no way I could ever justify spending money on it. I played President trivia off of the back of a placemat with my two little sisters and brother. We told scary stories with lights out and a flashlight. I made brownies. I watched a sunrise for the first time since the end of the summer. I watched college football with my brothers. I went to a ridiculously stupid horror movie that almost made me laugh to the point of tears. I ate Italian food with my big brothers. I went apple picking! I got to try a pumpkin pie smoothie. I debated the vibrancy of the fall landscape with my brother. I got to see my little brother's tennis match for the first time ever. And the list could go on and on (which I guess it already has, sorry:/), but I did enjoy the little things this weekend:).
The fact that I'll never get this particular break again doesn't mean that I won't have those moments again. I'll just have different ones at different times, maybe with different people. That's an exciting thought. And I am now back on campus, sipping coffee and reading Greek tragedy, trying to figure out what I'm going to write my analysis on that's due on Tuesday while trying not to think about the big game tomorrow. Bring on the little things:).
Thursday, October 1, 2009
As of late, I have noticed a growing appreciation for pure simplicity. I am, as I type, listening to the music of Jason Mraz and Ingrid Michaelson. They have that sort of pure simplicity to their music. Guitar. Their voices. That's about it. There's something calming about it...like, everything's going to be ok. There's a recurring theme in the score on my favorite TV show, "LOST," of just a simple piano tune. No harmony. Just a few notes. But it's incredibly powerful. It, also, just has a gentle reassurance of everything's going to be ok. I don't know why, it just does. Of course, everything isn't always ok, or certainly doesn't feel like it, and that's why I need to remember things more simply, I think.
I used to think that complicated, complex and whatever-else issues and situations were the stuff of life. Like many college students, I used to stay up till all hours trying to solve the mysteries of the world (not that there's anything wrong with that), and now, I'm just here. I'm now.
In the last year and a half I've experienced the death of my 3 1/2 year old princess of a little sister and a wonderful friend. It puts a new spin on things. Perspective changes. Things that seemed important suddenly aren't anymore. As cliche as that might sound, its true. And you don't realize just how true until you're forced to. I guess losing people you love also inevitably makes you look at life the way they did.
Tarah loved to dance. She loved reading books to me, and she loved that I sat next to her at the kitchen table for dinner. She loved to sing. She loved her family. Every night after Dad would read to the kids, while us older kids were off at college, she would *never* forget to remind Dad to pray for us. All of us. Those were the things that were important to her. Singing, dancing, and loving us. Granted, she was only 3 1/2 when she went to heaven, but there's definitley something there. Something beautifully simple. My friend Liz, who was killed just last week, was known for her mantra of 'live simply.'
God put these people in our lives for a reason. They've come and gone so quickly, but left so much. I can't even begin to start to tell what they left for me, but the beauty of simplicity is one of them. The simplicity of loving what's right in front of you. Don't worry about tomorrow. God said so. Don't be irresponsible, of course, and put everything else off. But you get the idea.
Coming home from school for a fall break today, I decided to step outside onto our driveway just after the rain ended and looked out across the fields surrounding our house. It took my breath away. I'm not sure why at that moment it did, but it just did. The beautiful simplicity of the landscape was indescribable. God's handiwork is everywhere, which sometimes causes me to look right past it. But when I take the time to look, I can't pull myself away. And his handiwork isn't just in nature, but in all of you guys, too. I'm so thankful for the life I've been blessed with, including the love that God put in it; my capability to give it to others, and everything I get from others. And this got long-winded a long time ago, so I think I might go enjoy that rain some more.