Thursday, February 24, 2005

Mint Julep of a Movie: _The Long Hot Summer_

Recently I watched the late 1950s production of _The Long Hot Summer_. Wow... great flick! It stars Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Orson Welles, and Lee Remick. Paul plays a drifter who finds employment doing odd jobs for a small Southern town's main businessman (ie. he owns nigh everything in sight). Joanne's the pretty but plainly-dressed younger sister. Lee's married to Joanne's brother. The brother desires to please his father, played by Orson, but for most of the movie, fails miserably.

The on-screen chemistry between Paul and Joanne is fabulous, heightened by their off-screen romance, which was heating up like the Southern summer weather in which the cast was filming. Joanne is the proverbial schoolmarm and old maid at 23 or 24. And Paul sets out to stir up the passion hidden inside her. She wants none of it. Or does she?

Pater familias promises Paul all sorts of things if he'll take the obstinate daughter as his wife. Pater wants a passel of grandkiddies to ensure his immortality. Paul complies...for a time.

Joanne plays the older daughter with grace. She seems cold but she's not really. She's passionate about keeping her purity. She explains to Paul that she has something of worth that he cannot understand and that she will not give away willy-nilly. She deserves to be cherished and respected, and she'll wait for the man worthy of her.

Good woman!

Watch the movie to see if Paul turns out to be the barn burner and bum everyone thinks he is.

Five polka dots!

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Great Posts of the Week

Dating and Marriage Articles and Posts
Singletons, you don't have to marry someone who isn't God's best for you. Even if you're already engaged. I broke an engagement. If you need to, you ought to! Read this.

Pink Kitty's got a great blog entry about the messages that TV is sending about our men. Check out the comments as well.

Digital Cowboy's ridin' tall in the saddle over at his place and openin' eyes to the truth. Check it out.

Dr. Bray {wow, that sounds odd to say...} is contemplating Ash Wednesday and Lent.

Happy reading and commenting!

Any recommendations of other blogs or sites? Remember, they must be SFW. Thanks!

Hero Award of the Week

goes dad!

Last night I made a surprise visit to my parents' home. SewMama (Mom) and I chatted for a bit. And LuvsTrains (Dad) was in the basement, as usual. I tromped downstairs to say hello to Dad, and he and I hugged (sometimes gals just need those good daddy hugs) and chatted for a bit too.

Reason #1:
He gave me a teddy bear. Spontaneous gift-giving.

Reason #2:
He was patient with me last night. This is the man who snapped at me a lot when I was a little girl. I don't know exactly what has caused him to be gentler with me in the past few years, but I know God's behind it. :o)

Reason #3:
He came to my rescue. My car's temp gauge was climbing, even though I was running the heat on such a cold night. Dad met me at the store where I had parked the car and came inside to look for me. (Again, no barking at me. Amazing!) We examined the car and discovered that it needed coolant. Dad helped me decipher the info. in the owner's manual and helped me pick out a good choice for coolant. Then he put coolant in the tank for me. Yay! (Car seems to be doing fine now.)

I had been wanting to see him for the past couple of weeks. Mom and I always had the better relationship and it's usually her I'm going to see and talk with mostly when I go "home." (Dad's not the talker that I am.) But this time my visit was really more about seeing him. And though he may not think of it this way, he showed me much grace. And he took an interest in me, asking me about things...even reminding me about things I need to take care of...but with such gentleness. It was like Valentine's Day came early!

I think God's using my dad to show me Himself......which is something I knew He could do but felt would never happen.

God can use anything to encourage our faith in Him. Anything. And anyone.

Hear Him whisper: "Is anything too hard for the Lord?" Hear Him reassure you: "Nothing is impossible with God."

Who are your heroes this week? How is God encouraging your faith in Him?

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Redefining "Hottie"

A comment from Nate has made me realize that although I say I value real men, I often take notice first of the "pretty" ones. You know, the ones with chiseled, symmetrical features and riveting eyes... The ones who can do justice to good tailoring and sweaters of almost all kinds. I mean, hey, this is the girl who had a crush on a cute soccer player for almost all of high school. (But in my defense, he did seem to have a heart of gold. Well, as much a heart of gold a boy who isn't a Christian can have. And I don't think he was one at the time.)

Real men...really valuable real men, that is...cannot always be detected by the appearance-meter. Take the example of Saul and David. (Yep, the guys from the Bible.) In the HCSB, King Saul is described as "impressive." In fact, "there was no one more impressive among the Israelites than he. He stood a head taller than anyone else" (1 Sam. 9:2). But what sort of person was he? Well, his speech and his behavior before being chosen the first king of the Israelites should clue you in. When Samuel told Saul that he is the man that all of Israel wants for their king, Saul replied, "Am I not ... from the smallest of Israel's tribes and isn't my clan the least important of all the clans of the Benjaminite tibe? So why have you said something like this to me?" (1 Sam. 9:21). And then when Saul was to be presented to the Israelites, they could not find him: he had hidden himself (1 Sam. 10:22). Throughout the rest of Saul's life and his kingship, he rebels against God, fearing for his life and his pride rather than trusting the One who put him on the throne in the first place.

In scrambling to keep what was never yours to lose, you will certainly lose it. (Such paradoxes are rampant in God's kingdom!)

A true, real man knows who he is and is neither ashamed nor arrogant. He is humble. He knows that any greatness he has or achieves comes from and is because of God. And it's God's greatness that shows through him, actually. He knows he is a vessel, but not just any vessel---a prized one, though made of clay. This humble, trusting confidence allows him to lead others without bullying, to draw out others' strengths without fearing for his own diminishing, and to stand for truth and for the one true God. He knows that human beings cannot jeopardize his soul, so he does not prize his life, though he is a good steward of all that God has entrusted to him.

I believe this kind of man can be found in the city, in the suburbs, and in the countryside...defend which zone you like. I believe this kind of man can be found at any age. Jane Eyre (of the same-titled book) tells Mr. Rochester that his advantage of years more than hers is only such if he has made good use of that time. (She is 18; he, 36.) And he admits he has not. It is the use of the resources, gifts, abilities, situations, opportunities, and so forth that a man has made that forges his character.

And yes, character can show on the face and in the body. The "ugliest" person, male or female, is transformed by the radiance that shows on the face...from being with God and being transformed internally by Him. But one must look with the eyes of God to see this transformation. Darkness does not understand light. In fact, darkness despises the light.

Saul chose darkness. He chose to half-obey God or to rebel against Him, as if he Saul knew better how to do things. David sought God and desired to please Him. He wanted to live in the light. He had done so since childhood, and this heart for Him was what God saw in David that would make the boy a great king.

When Samuel the prophet was sent to anoint Saul's replacement, Samuel first noticed one of David's brothers, Eliab, who must have been good looking and tall and strong. God instructed Samuel: "Do not look at his appearance or his stature, because I have rejected him. Man does not see what the LORD sees, for man sees what is visible, but the LORD sees the heart" (1 Sam. 16:7.) [Note: In Hebrew thinking, the "heart" is the seat of the will, the emotions, the mental processes...not just the feelings, as we think of it today (which is inaccurate anyway, since our thoughts and emotions proceed from the brain).] God knew that His choice was still in the fields with his flock...being responsible, which is one of the prerequisites for leading people.

{Sidebar: OK, I just gotta say I'm falling in love with our new translation, the Holman Christian Standard Bible®. That's what I'm using for this post.}

Samuel has Jesse send for his youngest son, and when David arrives, God tells Samuel to anoint him. The HCSB words the description of David thusly: "He had beautiful eyes and a healthy, handsome appearance" (1 Sam. 16:12).

I'd say that's a man any woman would be proud to have as her husband. He wrote poetry and was intelligent. He was a strong, capable warrior. His heart bent toward God. OK, he did go rather wild with the many wives did he have? Yeah, he wasn't perfect. But God gives people second chances. And more...

So where are the warrior poets? What do they look like? What are their personalities like?
Well, some are talkers; others are not. Some seem to light up a room the minute they walk in; others are more reserved. Some love the open spaces of the countryside; others dig the city life. But you know them by the way they handle themselves and their unique ways.

One guy I know could deliver the intellectual smackdown on top of anyone's head, but he doesn't. He restrains himself. He volunteers. He never meets a stranger. He gives great hugs. I'd say he's a P31 man if I ever did meet one, and the girl that catches him is one blessed female.

Another guy I know is a stay-at-home dad with a great sense of humor and ability for tellin' a fine yarn or...50. He fiercely defends the honor of his wife, delights in his son's antics, and does all kinds of interesting things to fortify his home.

Yet another was honest with me about his situation...warning me to guard my heart with him.

A few other guy friends encourage me about my future aspirations and compliment me on my gifts and talents. They take the time to do it.

One guy I know is passionate about what is best for children in teaching them the Bible and the things of God.

A man from my church who also works here where I do is phenomenal at responding to customer complaints. He does so with grace, gentleness, and restraint...but also firmly communicating the truth.

So many unsung heroes are out there, going about their lives without the applause of fans, without appreciation from friends or family. They aren't hanging their heads in self-pity and defeat, thinking they'll never be more than the worms they are now. No, they are doing what they can with what they have and trusting God will make each one of them a warrior in His army for truth and beauty.

Give me a man who embodies the qualities of Jesus, David, Daniel, Moses, the particular way God has designed the mixture to be in him. That man is the true hottie.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Bollywood and Jane Austen?

Anyone seen Bride and Prejudice? It's a Bollywood-style version of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Duke Diva and I just missed seeing a preview for it (or its DVD) when we entered the theater to watch Finding Neverland. Now I'm all for Bollywood stuff. I really liked Lagaan and Monsoon Wedding. But Jane Austen? I just don't know.

Post-game Wrap-up

I'm learnin' about this thing called Super Bowl at a time. This year I could at least see where the ball was most of the time. Well, only 'cause I squished up my eyes and tried to find it...and I had a seat closer to the screen this year. I really wanted a zoom feature...or some kind of bright color on the ball. All those blue and green uniforms and white and green on the field...a brown ball just gets lost.

Did anyone else think that both teams seemed to be asleep? Kinda like last year? Last year's game got exciting in the second half. This year's was a snore fest pretty much the entire way through. I did see some interesting flips and twirls to catch the ball or to move away from another player.

So...Pink Kitty, Duke Diva, StarGazer (accessorized w/ laptop), Salsa Guy, and I (cute in my open-toed shoes---it was nice 'n' balmy in TN) went to a fellow church member's home for the game. Gorgeous house!!! All singletons there... we had a blast doing an MST3K treatment of the game, the commercials, and the half-time show. Two diehard McCartney fans made it interesting. You know who you are! ;o)

My vote for best commercial was the AmeriQuest advert that had the boyfriend diligently working on a romantic dinner and suffering the misfortune of a curious kitty getting into the marinara sauce. Girlfriend comes home and sees the be-redded furrball...and the boyfriend holding said furrball with meat cleaver in hand. Ooh, see his cool points going down the drain right there.

I've got a suggestion for the female version of the three dolls: Bratty Princess (complete with Daddy's credit card), Psycho Corporate She Beast (fangs and sharp finger nails), and Rabid Feminazi (hairy pits and scary eyeglasses).

Also liked the Diet Pepsi commercial with the hottie walking down the street and then...horror! He and Carson (of the Queer Eye Quints) had a "moment"! So not right. Hilarious...but not right.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

I Love Me Some LOTR

My esteemed blogger colleague Mark has pointed out (click entry title for link), despite the box office success and widespread infatuation of Peter Jackon's trilogy of Lord of the Ring movies, Tolkien's vision didn't completely make it to the screen. (Mark has several entries on LOTR, all well-worth the reading.)

Mark took the more objective tack, and since I pretty much agree with him and he got his entries written and posted faster than I did, I'll take the subjective tack: what did Countess Elena think.

Return of the King
How Sam and Frodo behaved with each other while trudging up Mount Doom was lookin' a little too lovey-dovey for me on first viewing, but having watched the extended version a few times now and having listened to/watched the commentaries and appendices, I see the strong friendship between the two, rather than homosexual overtones. So...I sigh a great sigh of relief.

I know that Peter, Fran, and the other lady didn't think the audience wanted to see the full stories of the Houses of Healing and of Faramir and Eowyn, but I thought that these plotlines should have been more fully developed in the extended version at least. Yeah, I'm a girl, and I like I like to see the guy and the girl get together, especially two such noble souls as F and E. And I like to see how the romance developed...all the nuances of looks and smiles and words said and little gestures---like watching an Impressionist painter at work. In The Houses of Healing chapter of the book, we see the Healer side of Jesus in Aragorn...gentle, diligent in his task, humble. We get the barest glimpses of this side of Aragorn in ROTK: EE.

Yes, the Paths of the Dead parts were pretty cool. Nice sound effects. All the skulls were creepy. Loved the confrontation with the Corsairs on the shores of southern Gondor. That's my man Aragorn. Go get 'em, Tiger! .............. I did think that the breaking of the oath and the redemption of the dead folk was a bigger point in the book... It seemed to be merely a plotline point in the movie, rather than an aspect of Tolkien's faith and worldview.

OK, now, Arwen's life being tied to the fate of the Ring??? What???!!!??? Yeah, that was some major Hollywoodizing there. Shouldn't have been surprised.

Did anyone else chuckle a lot at Hugo Weaving as Elrond? I couldn't help but wait to hear him say, "Here's your sword....Mr. Anderson." (If Mel Brooks can mix up a scific cocktail, so can I!)

As for the multiple endings thing...well, that issue is what separates the men from the boys, the LOTR reading fans from the LOTR-movie-only folks. (If you read the book, you weren't surprised. Speaking of surprise. One friend, on seeing FOTR for the first time, leaned forward, chin in hands, mouth gaping open at the end of the movie. "What?! It's to be continued?! What's that about?!?" He knew zilch about LOTR the books and had had NO idea the movie was the first of a trilogy! His face was priceless. Dagnabit, he'd been jipped!)

Was the LOTR movie trilogy a successful adaptation of the books? I think so, such as can be done in Hollywood by non-Christians. Plotlines were condensed and chopped up and realigned in order to focus the story and to put scenes in chronological order, rather than grouping the stories as Tolkien had done. Even though Jackson and cohorts have other views on sin, good and evil, and the nature of humanity, Tolkien's worldview is still discernible for Christians willing to seek and recognize it in the films. As Mark has stated, Sam's loyalty and hardy nature were highlighted rather than diminished. Gollum still was nasty, corrupted, and pitiful. The Ring still had power that made everyone susceptible to its corruption. Evil was still evil. And good won in the end. And Tolkien's genius, acknowledged but not exalted, was revealed to new generations. For what Peter Jackson set out to do, I think it was successful. For Tolkien, well, we'll ask him when we get to heaven.

Other thoughts as I think of brain's jelly right now.


Whack 'Em with a Clue Bat

Anyone want to join Countess Elena's team? We can whack a few nimrods and nutsos out of the park. Whaddya say?

Rant #1: If it is raining or overcast, turn on your car's headlights!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Rant #2: If you want me to let you in front of me in MY lane, use your signal. That's what they're in your car for. Although it's flattering that you think I have ESP, I do not, however, have ESP. I CANNOT read your mind, and I'd rather not wreck my car or yours. Capisce?

Rant #3: Name-and-claim-it teachings. False, false, false, false, FALSE!!!!! God is not your cash cow, your genie, your slot machine, or your Santa Claus. You think you're sowing a seed of faith into someone's ministry. NO! You're lining some shiny-happy TV evangelist's pockets with your child's college tuition money and paying for Mr. Preacher Hair's Lexus or Lear jet. PULEESE!

Rant #4: Not every single person's singleness is his or her fault. Don't EVEN get me started on this.

Rant #5: When interpreting Scripture.......Thou shalt not take Scripture out of context nor ignore the meanings of the original Hebrew, Greek, or Aramaic. Thou shalt take into consideration the customs of the times and the fact that societies were still largely agrarian.

Rant #6: Mayonnaise and Miracle Whip are NOT the same thing!!!

Rant #7: T-shirt dresses look good on no one. Not even little girls.

Rant #8: Using the same word in an attempt to define the word is NOT creating a definition. It's a repeating yourself.

Rant #9: Remove the lint from the lint trap in clothes dryers you share with others in your building. I appreciate your thinking of me and my curiosity as to whether or not lint really does make cool play dough, but that's OK. Your lint, and mine, can just go in the trash.

Rant #10: Thou shalt not ride my tail lest I stop suddenly and ye be flung into my back seat.

Rant #11: "Wanna hang out sometime?" is not a clear way to request a date from a lady who piques your interest. A specific calendar date, time, activity, offer to pick up said lady, and offer to pay all equal DATE. All other outings may be friends hanging out, undates, maybe dates, or heck-if-I-can-define-it outings. Dates they are not.

Rant #12: Long eyelashes on a guy. *sigh* OK, where's the chocolate? *whacked with the clue bat*

Rant #13: Germany's unemployment laws and legalized prostitution. Gross, gross, gross...

Rant #14: Bad songwriting. Does anyone write intelligent, though-provoking lyrics anymore?

Got any rants to add to the list?