Thursday, July 24, 2014

London Calling #2

Doctor Who Complete First Season

Really, is there any surprise that I would choose to rewatch Doctor Who?  Wouldn't you?  I really love Christopher Eccleston in the role.  I suppose I can't say much because I don't want to cause any spoilers.  It took me a few episodes before I became excited with the show but once I was hooked, I was binge-watching, several episodes a day.  I don't know that anyone and everyone would love the show but I can see why those who do are downright fanatical, even passionate.  I suppose if we happen to see a blue police box on our trip, I'll want to take a picture but I don't think we'll be going out of our way to find one.

I Give It a Year

I loved the premise of this film, a sort of anti-romantic-comedy.  A couple marry and quickly realize that maybe they made a huge mistake.  It doesn't help that their friends all agree and doubt the success of their marriage.  Plus, there is the temptation of other people, more suited to the two.

I was hoping for some dark, wry humor.  Instead, I found the movie a bit silly and not nearly as funny as it could have been.  Oh yes, and very predictable.

Secrets of Henry VIII Palace:  Hampton Court

Our trip is well timed because we'll be able to visit some of the palaces and castles.  We won't be there long enough to tour them all but who would want to do that in one trip anyway?  Hampton Court, however, is not our list of places to see.  But oh it's hard to resist after watching this.  There are some gorgeous tapestries I have only seen in books and the architecture of parts of the palace are gilded and oh so pretty.  I am hard pressed not to add it to our places to go and things to see.

Sense and Sensibility

This is another rewatch for me.  There aren't many Jane Austen stories that I could easily find that I haven't already seen and how could I possibly not watch a Jane Austen film?  Ang Lee's direction is so subtle, so beautiful.  There is a perfect delicacy to his work that is ideal for period pieces.  (Of course, I say this knowing that I adored what he did in Brokeback Mountain and that can hardly qualify as a period piece.)  The casting is very good and, although this is not my favorite Austen story, I did enjoy this elegant film every time I've watched it.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Weekly Quotes Part 28

Disclaimer:  The following quotes are from various reading resources.  I copied them out because I found them interesting.  Interesting does not mean that I necessarily agree with the idea.  Interesting can be provocative as much as inspiring. If you are curious why I copied down a quote, feel free to ask me why; but please bear in mind the date of this post.  Ask me a year from now why I chose a particular sentence or even paragraph and I may have no clue what it was, at the time, that made me think it was worth recording.  Also, please check out my review blog for reviews of these, and other books and things.

The Mindfulness Path to Self-Compassion 

Words shape our experience.  (137)

You can tailor the phrases for everyday challenges in your own life.  For example, if you’re caught up in shame, you can repeat “May I accept myself just as I am.”  If you feel angry, try “May I be safe and free from anger.”  (138)

I know that self-directed loving-kindness makes me a better person, so I remind myself, “Give yourself the attention you need so you don’t need so much attention!”  (140)

Ironically, it’s precisely when we need love the most that it is hardest to give it to ourselves.  (141)

Sometimes we need to sneak up on ourselves with kindness (144)

Misquoting Jesus

I do not want to convey the false impression that this kind of theological change of the text happened every time a scribe sat down to copy a passage.  It happened on occasion.  And when it happened, it had a profound effect on the text.  (178)

Scholars today are by and large convinced that I Timothy was not written by Paul but by one of his later, second-generation followers.  (181-182)

In almost every instance in which a change of this sort occurs, the text is changes in order to limit the role of women and to minimize their importance to the Christian movement.  (182)

It is difficult to reconcile these two views—either Paul allowed women to speak (with covered heads, [I Corinthians] chapter 11) or not (chapter 14).  As it seems unreasonable to think that Paul would flat out contradict himself within the short space of three chapters, it appears that the verses in question do not derive from Paul.  (184)

Contrary to what many people appear to think, there was nothing “illegal” about Christianity, per se, in those early years.  Christianity itself was not outlawed, and Christians for the most part did not need to go into hiding.  The idea that they had to stay in the Roman catacombs in order to avoid persecution, and greeted one another through secret signs such as the symbol of the fish, is nothing but the stuff of legend.  (196)

I Touch the Earth, the Earth Touches Me

Filling my head with thoughts sometimes gives me the illusion of not being alone.

One way of looking at a fantasy is to notice what it does for me physically, what it triggers in my body, how it changes my behavior . . . . [W]hat about the fantasies I use to keep myself angry over an incident already past, or the ones I use to stop me from taking a reasonable risk?

Me:  “There is something wrong with my life and I don’t understand what it is.”
Dream:  “Look, I’ll draw you a picture.” 

. . . [M]y dreams could be interpreted as saying, “Look what you were feeling today—you didn’t fully acknowledge it.” 

The insanity of holding back my anger is that I am evidently more willing to risk destroying me than destroying a relationship.

Letter to a Christian Nation

If we are going to take the God of the Bible seriously, we should admit that He never gives us the freedom to follow the commandments we like and neglect the rest.  Nor does He tell us that we can relax the penalties He has imposed for breaking them. (22)

It is clearly possible to say that someone like Hitler was wrong in moral terms without reference to scripture.  (24)

. . .  Christians . . . spend more “moral” energy opposing abortion than fighting genocide . . . are more concerned about human embryos than about the lifesaving promise of stem-cell research . . . preach against condom use in sub-Saharan Africa while millions die from AIDS there each year.  (25)

[A]nyone who feels that the interests of a blastocyst just might supersede the interests of a child with a spinal cord injury has had his moral sense blinded by religious metaphysics.  (32)

[W]hich is more moral:  helping people purely out of concern for their suffering, or helping them because you think the creator of the universe will reward you for it?  (34)

Further Out Than You Thought

What she pictured was elegant, easy, streamlined. As if wisdom could arrive cleanly as mail, or the newspaper on one’s doorstep.  As if wisdom didn’t come from getting dirt under one’s nails.  (11)

To make a fantasy real is to lose the fantasy.  (60)

If labia are lips, then the cunt is a mouth, and a mouth shapes one’s voice into words.  In the beginning was the word—the word made flesh, in the cave where we each were formed. Even closed, labia sing the mystery of the source.  (61)

She was the world without end. . . . (161)

When had they become them?  When had they gone from subject to object?  When had they become the other?  The they on which one can project one’s own darkness, one’s shadow?  (91)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

London Calling #1

I'm collecting things, ideas, travel tips, and such on a Pinterest board but it also occurred to me that I could share some of the other things I'm reading and watching to get ready for our trip in September.

It's All Happening

This is one of those films that mostly an excuse to showcase a studio's talents.  With a thinly disguised "story" about an orphanage needing to raise money and plenty of British talent which, frankly, doesn't make for much of a film because the songs are, for the most part, forgettable.  Not that this is the first or only film that did this sort of thing, trying to feature some of the best of the best of their artists.  Goodness knows, MGM made more movies than I can number doing precisely this sort of thing.  It can work when you have great songs but even talented performers can't make mediocre songs memorable.  So, in the end, this is a waste of talent. I didn't finish this movie humming a single tune. Why else watch a musical if the tunes aren't going to carry you away?

Anna Boleyn

I couldn't resist watching this German silent film about Anne Boleyn, a peculiar choice for a trip to London, I suppose, but it was fun.  The interpretation of events was amusing.  In this film, "Anna" has no interest in marrying the king, there is no love on her part for Henry. Rather, he sets his desires on her and she, as the cover implies, wants nothing better than to escape his lust.  The movie definitely plays loose with fact.  Smeaton is jealous of Anne's feelings for Norris and plots her downfall which underplays the role of the others at court.  Jane Seymour, the next queen, is especially amusing because, in this, she is more conniving, eager to maneuver herself into the king's affections, in effect behaving as many of Anne Boleyn's own detractors claim she herself did.  So a curious choice and I confess I enjoyed it for what it is.  Also interesting is the story of Henny Porten, the actress who plays Anna Boleyn.  She was married to a Jewish man and refused to divorce him as the Nazis came into power. They were eventually left homeless but, when the war ended, Porten made more films, no longer blacklisted.

Secrets of the Tower of London

One of those great PBS programs and a lot of fun to watch, a perfect choice to prepare for our trip.  We absolutely plan on going to the Tower of London because I wish to see the Crown Jewels and Rob the arms and armory.  I suppose it's a bit morbid to also wish to see the place where Anne Boleyn was imprisoned but I will focus on the thought that she also spent the moments before her coronation.  There is something tragic in knowing her career as Queen of England was book-ended by staying in the same chambers.  Anyway, one of the first places we planned to visit is the Tower of London so it makes sense that, when I had an opportunity to watch this, I made it a high priority.

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

You can read my review of this book here.  At the end of the review is a list of other books I am planning to read. If you see one that you want to recommend to me, I would appreciate it.  You know how it is when you have too many choices.  And I didn't even list all of the choices I have on hand.  But I started with this one, a thick tome, because I am on bed rest and wanted to fill the time as best I could.

So more movies next week.  Maybe another book.  Maybe not.  We'll see how much time I devote to reading.  Not sure which British themed book I'm reading now?  Just check out the "Currently Reading" list to the left.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Weekly Weigh-In: Still Losing! Yay!

Still losing weight!  I managed to drop another 1.5 lbs (.68 kg) and have lost all of the weight I gained during my son’s visit.  I’m a mere 2 lbs away from being where I was before I went to visit my mother and gained weight as well.  Lots of yo-yo stuff the past few weeks.  On the plus side, I’m successfully losing weight while on bed rest. 

Yes, I’m using my free weights to work my upper body.

Yes, I’m doing abs. 

And yes, I’m being very careful how I eat, not over-indulging or letting myself get carried away because the only way my knee is going to get better and I will be pain free is if I lose weight.  My being on bed rest is not an excuse or even a reason not to do some exercise.  For abs, I am limited so there isn’t a great deal of variety.  Nonetheless, if the scale isn’t misleading me, then what I’m doing is working and, when my knee is better and I can exercise again, I’ll be able to almost pick up where I left off.  Or close enough that I won’t be stumbling about too much. 

Do I have ideas for what I’ll do when my knee is all better?  Of course I do!  In the meantime, I am content to do what I’m doing. 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Weekly Update: A View from a Bed (Rest)

Seriously, what is there to say?

I’ve been stuck on bed rest for the entire week.  I read.  I watch things on Netflix, on DVD, on whatever.  I listen to music. I fill my day and time.  It’s funny.  To write it all out would seem so boring but I’m not the least bit bored. 

Well, maybe a little bored.  Bored with social media.  I debated deleting my twitter account, the utility of which eludes me.  I have tried to amuse myself on google+ but find myself offended or ambivalent, rarely amused or intrigued. 

For example, someone posed an image of a mother and her daughter shopping at Walmart.  The young girl had her back to the camera but, judging by her long colt-like legs, she’s about 13 or 14.  The mother you can see well enough for her to be recognizable.  The photo made it look like the girl was wearing only a t-shirt and flip-flops—nothing from the waist down. 

Apparently, the person who shared this photo thought it was amusing.  After all, she was wearing only a t-shirt and was asking for it, right?  Ha-ha-ha.

But the image was apparently photo-shopped and the young girl in the image was actually wearing a pair of shorts.  So someone thought it would oh-so-hilarious to make it look like this young girl was shopping without anything on from the waist-down when she wasn’t.  Isn’t that funny?  Can you hear me laughing?

Of course, when the original image was shared with the person who posted the bullshit, the post was not removed.  Nope. It’s still funny after all to take a photo of a minor and make it look like she’s half-naked in a public store because nobody can recognize a child from the back, right?  Well, maybe they could recognize the mother who is standing right there.

And let’s argue for even a moment that the “girl” is actually not a minor, that she’s 20 or 21; does her age even matter?  Is it ever right to take a picture of someone, male or female, and modify it so that the person appears to be naked?  Assume what you will, it doesn’t look like this girl/young woman was aware that her picture was being taken and did not, in any way, give permission to have her picture taken and/or photo-shopped to shame her.

It’s vulgar, not funny, and I really have no stomach for things like this.  But this is the sort of thing people like and they share and they plus and it is ubiquitous.

So ironically, although I have more time to be online, I’ve actually been so uninterested in what is online that I’m just ignoring the world wide web.  Anyway, I could bore you with the things I’m doing (reading, watching, listening) or I can rant about how unhappy the internet makes me (the list of things that I find boring or offensive is endless, truly) or I can just say this:

I’m still on bed rest, my knee still hurts, and I’m actually enjoying my oh-so-quiet life.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Weekly Quotes Part 27

The Mindfulness Path to Self-Compassion 

Sadness is a “soft” emotion—there can be an opening to others, a readiness to receive help.  Anger and hatred, in contrast, are “hard” emotions that flatly reject others.  Soft feelings—sadness, guilt, rejection, embarrassment—require that we befriend them and go through them, feel them until they pass on their own.  Hard feelings like anger require different treatment.  We “let go” or “abandon” anger and hatred, whereas soft feelings become workable when we pass through them.  When we let go of hard feelings, we usually discover soft feelings underneath.  For example, beneath anger is often longing for connection, fear, sadness, or loss.  (117)

We don’t want to eliminate negative feelings—we just don’t want to get stuck on them.  (117)

A review of over 225 published papers showed that positive emotions are related to happiness, and happy people are more likely to be successful in life and resilient in the face of misfortune.  They’re more creative, less racially biased, more likely to succeed to work, and have more satisfactory relationships  (120)

Research shows that expressing anger actually increases the likelihood that we’ll get angry again.  The only way to reduce anger is to stop practicing it—to stop feeding the emotional habit.  (120)

Loving-kindness meditation uses the power of connection, whereas mindfulness meditation primarily uses attention.  (132-133)

Misquoting Jesus

This is not a dispute between scholars who think the text has been altered and those who think it has not.  Everyone knows that the text has been changed; the only question is which reading represents the alteration and which represents the earliest attainable form of the text.  Here scholars sometimes disagree.  (94)

Clearly, the predictors of doom in our own age—the Hal Lindseys (author of The Late Great Planet Earth) and the Timothy LaHayes (coauthor of the Left Behind series)—have had their predecessors, just as they will have their successors, world without end.  (110)

There is even better evidence than this speculative question of which reading the scribes were more likely to invent.  As it turns out, we don’t have any Greek manuscripts of Mark that contain this passage [Mark 1:39-45] until the end of the fourth century, nearly three hundred years after the book was produced.  But we do have two authors who copied this story within twenty years of its first production.  (135)

It is obviously important to know whether Jesus was said to feel compassion or anger in Mark 1:41; whether he was calm and collected or in deep distress in Luke 22: 43-44; and whether he was said to die by God’s grace or “apart from God” in Heb. 2:9.  (149)

The New Testament itself emerge out of these conflicts over God )or the gods), as one group of believers acquired more converts than all the others and decided which books should be included in the canon of scripture.  (153)

The Happiness Project

I’m not happy unless I think I’m happy—and by pushing myself to be mindful of my happiness, I can truly experience it.  (285)

When I was feeling unhappy, I felt dispirited, lethargic, defensive, and uninterested in other people; even worse, when I felt angry or resentful, I searched for excuses to feel even more angry and resentful.  On the other hand, when I felt happy, I was more likely to be lighthearted, generous, creative, kind, encouraging, and helpful.  (285)

The Art of Storytelling

Communication is a skill that can be learned.  This is done one step at a time.  (84)

People tend to believe what they see instead of what they hear.  (100)

For simple occasions, the easiest way to warm up is to quietly sing a variety of songs.  I usually choose songs that force me to go from low to high.  In addition, I do the normal “ha, ha, ha, he, he, he, ho, ho ho, hu, hu, hu” exercises.  (109)

[N]ervousness is not a weakness at all.  (115)

[T]he power is in the story—not my comments about it.  (134)

Letter to a Christian Nation

Understand that the way you view Islam is precisely the way devout Muslims view Christianity.  (7)

To the degree that our actions can affect the experience of other creatures positively or negatively, questions of morality apply.  (8)

If you think that Christianity is the most direct and undefiled expression of love and compassion the world has ever seen, you do not know much about the world’s other religions.  (11)

Admonishments of this kind [The Ten Commandments] are found in virtually every culture throughout recorded history.  (21)

People have been cherry-picking the Bible for millennia to justify their every impulse, moral and otherwise.  (38)