Monday, March 30, 2009

Selling Our Soul at the Crossroads

Do you know who Louis Giglio is? In our Sunday School class we’ve been watching snippets from the movie Expelled along with some video of Giglio performing preaching. I guess the point of these sessions has been to reassure all of us that evolution can’t take our God away from us. At least that’s how it’s felt to me—a big warm hug and it’ll all be okay as long as there’s Intelligent Design. Huddle round the wagons, folks, the atheists are coming. So we hear some scientists speak vaguely about a first cause and how nothing so complex could just come about spontaneously and the big bang as God shooting the starting gun, and then we listen to Giglio wax poetic over the wonders of the universe.

I find this sad and problematic.

First, I think Intelligent Design is a lot of hooey. There’s nothing wrong with evolutionary theory. It works just fine. Why can’t we get over the debunking of a 7-day creation? It’s like we feel the need to stand heroically in front of God, protecting Him from the light sabers of science.

I don’t see how it makes any difference to science if scientists acknowledge God. Does it make any difference to my pipes if my plumber is Christian? So what if we say God started it all? God started it all and then, well, ah, oh, evolution carries on. Or, no, I guess we have to have God tweak it all the way along. Who knows why we had dinosaurs. One of God’s fun experiments, I guess. Maybe they existed just so we could have fossil fuel. Not very far-thinking, though. And hominids, what were they all about? Did God love Neanderthals? Gee, we’re back to the same bloody questions we had in the first place.

On to Giglio. Maybe he’s a fabulous guy. Maybe he’s an amazing preacher and loves God a whole bunch. Me, I tend to distrust preachers who fill auditoriums and sell tickets to their worship services. Giglio loves the universe. Its beauty astounds him. That’s great. He’s got lots of beautiful photos. The universe is beautiful. God’s creation is astounding.

Then he starts talking about something called laminen, a protein molecule that “holds us together,” as he puts it. He shows us a diagram of the molecule. It’s in the shape of a cross. Lots of ooos and aaaahs. Then he shows us a picture of laminen taken by an electron microscope. There’s the cross again, a bit squished and toppled. More hushed admiration.

Alarm bells are going off in my head. Is this guy telling me that God built us out of crosses just so he could make a point gazillions of years later about Jesus dying on a cross? Is that what he’s saying? That God would do something so ridiculously pointlessly stupid just so we could stare slack-jawed at a photo as if we were watching a freak show? Does laminen even really look like this?

No, it doesn’t. It doesn’t look much like a cross at all, actually. Or no more than about a billion other cross-shaped things in the universe. If a cross (as we know the cross) was even what Jesus was nailed to. I don’t think anyone drew a diagram at the time.

Next he shows us photos of constellations. Lots of wowie zowie isn’t this just fab-u talk. He has a letter from an astronaut that acknowledges God (take that, you atheists!). I decide to pass over the “eye of God” comments. I give Giglio the benefit of the doubt that he doesn’t think the center of the constellation is literally God’s eye. We see a photo of the furthest constellation that’s been photographed. “Now I’m going to take you even further out,” he says.

Oh, no. He’s going to show us a picture of the crucifixion, isn’t he? He’s going to be that obvious, that banal. Yep. He beams and nods sagely as the audience laps it up. But that’s not all. For the grand finale we get to see a special photo of a constellation, with, you guessed it, the shape of the cross in the center.


Evangelism has sold its soul to the scientific method but still can’t tell the difference between metaphor and reality.

Do we really think that if we pile up enough scientists who believe in God it will erase the doubts and fears raised by what science reveals? If we see enough crosses in the world, will we finally be certain that God’s eye is watching us?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

What's Rattling Around in My Head

1. DramaQueen did not test into the gifted program. She’s kind of bummed about it. I’m kind of bummed, too, because she tests high in two of the four categories, so I guess she’s just supposed to continue being bored and unchallenged in those two.

2. I still don’t understand Twitter.

3. It’s possible that my ancestors came from an area around Dunakin castle (named something else now) on the Isle of Sky. I would like that to be true just because I like the name Isle of Sky. One of my brothers is the family genealogist and actually enjoys roaming around cemeteries and poking around in dusty old papers.

4. One of my relatives forged some documents trying to establish that we had our own clan. I think it more likely that we were peasants hanging onto a protector clan by the skin of our teeth.

5. Sometimes I think about the fact that I’m here because my ancestors managed to survive the Black Plague.

6. For some reason, after I drop Firecracker off in the morning and start my drive to work, whatever song is playing on the radio will make me cry. This morning it was Bruce Hornsby’s That’s Just the Way It Is.

7. WiiFit. Is. The. Best. Thing. Ever. So far I excel at the hula hoop.

8. Why did Taylor Swift get a recording contract and why does anyone like Love Story, which I vote one of the suckiest songs ever?

9. Except, there’s the Jonas Brothers. Rolling Stone actually compared them to the Beatles. That reviewer was obviously smoking crack, probably supplied by the bros’ record company.

10. DramaQueen thinks my music sucks and all the singers look weird. And so the generational conflict begins.

11. Yet DramaQueen has not yet figured out that it is very uncool to watch ballroom dancing.

12. I think coupons are a frakkin waste of time. I get so tired of the same old advice about online coupons (most of the sites list the same deals and more than half the time they aren’t coupons at all but some in-store deal for something I don’t need in the first place). I don’t use half the products that appear in these coupons, and the coupons that require multiple purchases are particularly useless. How many things will I buy name-brand? I won’t buy store brand of: Mac N Cheese (Anything but Kraft is immediately detectable as not-Kraft. My kids have radar or something), cereal (man the knock-offs taste awful), coffee and ice-cream. You could spend hours just printing, clipping and organizing the bloody coupons.

13. You can save a lot of money by just not buying anything. No need to use the coupons for the fruit roll-ups, the pre-packaged meals, or the disgust-o snack food.

14. Have you noticed at Walgreens that you don’t even have to have the store coupon on you? You don’t even have to know about the coupon. The cashier keeps their newspaper insert at hand and checks it against your purchase and then just zaps the coupon with her laser to register the savings. That rocks.

15. Now, if someone invents a card where I can download the bloody coupons and hand it over at the register which it automatically checks for matching items, that might be worthwhile.

16. I have got to do something about off-season clothes storage. My closet is the size of a broom cupboard, and my clothes are plotting a mutiny. Already I cannot find some of them.

17. Our dishwasher is exhibiting a desire to remove itself from our cabinetry and advance face down into the center of the kitchen.

18. I have 9 years’ worth of photos in boxes. None of them are in photo albums.

19. From the amount of mail we get, I think at least 12 other people use to live in our house, a number of whom the IRS and Social Security are trying to contact.

20. For reasons I cannot comprehend, Dear Husband does not like Monty Python. Now I have no one to laugh with me over The Upper Class Twit of the Year or The Ministry of Silly Walks.

Friday, March 20, 2009


When I started writing this, I had a very different direction in mind. I hesitate to post yet another psycho-rant. It makes me sound as if I’m never any fun and must spend my days in an Emo funk. But the buried and not so buried somehow claw their way to the top and it’s almost impossible to stop the undead when they really want to get somewhere.

It feels like spring, and I feel springy. Exactly like a spring, coiled and ready to sproing. In devotions we watched one of the Nooma videos, on Noise. Pretty appropriate, as I feel like I’m full of noise. I love Rob Bell. He always makes Christianity seem wondrous instead of churchy and tired. And he has really cool glasses. I’m not quite sure how he pulls them off, they’re so cool.

We all had a lot to say about Noise, which is ironic. It was one of our longer devotions. We talked about how we find it so difficult to be silent. I used to spend much more time in silence than I do now. In New York I spent a lot of time in quiet. I would go into the Cathedral of St. John the Divine or the sanctuary of the Church Around the Corner and sit. I loved quiet. I wrote in quiet. Now one of the few places I have quiet is at work. Too much quiet. I’m isolated in a cubicle away from everyone. It’s quiet but not private, and of course I’m supposed to work and not meditate. I get a bit squirrelly when I have to work without anyone around. Funny, because when I write for myself I can’t stand to be disturbed. But that’s because I have words to fill up my mind. I don’t like total quiet without being able to generate something out of it, something to keep me company. My mind is not a pretty place and I don’t like to be alone with it.

I have a problem with screaming. I grew up with parents whose main form of communication was screaming. They didn’t scream at me, usually, but they screamed at each other. Now I find myself screaming periodically at the girls. It’s not the best parenting method. I’m a firm believer that spanking and threats aren’t viable, and yet I find myself resorting to coercion when I’m on my last leg. I can tell I let my impatience show all too often because the girls are now extremely impatient with each other. I feel like every time I try to improve in this area I end up worse than I began. My therapist encourages me to identify the physical sensation I get just before I lose it. Well, I haven’t been able to do that. One moment I’m dealing and the next I’m a banshee. For someone who was never directly threatened or coerced as a child, I sure am good at it.

Except, of course, there are all sorts of coercion and all types of threats. My mom’s main threat was that she would die. Basically, I was killing her. Weird how refusing to do the dishes can be lethal. She was much older than anyone else’s mom (42 when I was born) and I was very afraid of her dying. And the main form of coercion was the usually unspoken but sometimes spoken threat that mom would be hauled off to the asylum. That was the scariest thing imaginable—having to rely on dad for my day-to-day needs. I was very invested in keeping mom sane--and I had no idea she was actually mentally ill at the time. I didn’t know that until I was in my 20s. Have you ever seen someone make fun of another person for being mentally ill? My dad did that all the time. When my mom would have one of her spells he would tell her how stupid and crazy she was, and she would tell him how much he disgusted her and how vile he was, and she would mock certain habits, like the way he ate, by mimicking him. My mother’s “episodes” were ugly, full of repetitive, sometimes nonsensical rants and paranoia. She would become cold, unreachable and as furious as, well, one of the Furies. My dad would eventually run away somewhere, but I got to listen to the full litany of weirdness that scared me because I didn’t know where it came from and because it was completely impervious to reason. When she was sane she worked very hard at getting me on her side, making me her ally. Dad was not so successful in his attempts. I can still remember him sidling up to me when she was in full form during a visit to my grandparents. In a very low voice, a slimy, oily voice, the kind of voice reserved for dirty jokes and propositions, he told me that sometimes mom was not quite well and I shouldn’t let it bother me. If there is any one thing in my childhood that makes me angrier than any other, it may be that single attempt on his part to gain my favor.

I hated my mom for acting nuts and hated my dad because he always seemed to provoke her, and sometimes I would get this crawly icky feeling that I was going to wake up one morning with an axe in one hand and be completely unable to stop myself from killing them. And then I would be alone, very alone, all life-lines cut and evil settling in. At one time my mother was obsessed with the idea of possession—creepy obsessed. I was certain she thought I was possessed, and I was convinced it was a real possibility, that at any moment a demon could nest in me while I watched helplessly as my body was taken over. It seems so ridiculous now, but at the time I would lie paralyzed on my bed, waiting for any sign that a demon had come a knockin’

So I soaked up a lot of fury, and I am very very angry at my child self for not being able to make everything right. Logic does no good here. It makes no difference that I know it was impossible for a little girl to fix the huge mess my family made--the anger and self-loathing are still there. You’d think in this amount of time and oodles of therapy later I would have made some inroads in processing and transforming this.

It’s scary to have two daughters, living breathing projections of my child-self and potential recipients of my rage. It was one of the reasons I vowed never to have children. Now I have two beautiful girls and I’m afraid of what they’ll inherit. I love them so much, but then again, my mother loved me.

RevGals Friday Five: Signs of Spring

My beloved speaks and says to me: “Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away; for now the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. The fig tree puts forth its figs, and the vines are in blossom; they give forth fragrance. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away. (Song of Solomon 2:10-13, NRSV)

Songbird at RevGals writes: In the late, late winter, as the snow begins to recede here in Maine, we begin to look almost desperately for signs of spring, signs of hope that the weather has turned and a new day is on the horizon. For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, Easter and Spring twine inextricably, the crocuses and daffodils peeking through the Earth as we await the risen Christ.

Share with us five signs of hope that you can see today or have experienced in the past.

  1. I’ve seen daffodils. Here they aren’t just peeking through but are in full flower. Nothing says spring like daffodils. They are such bright and happy flowers, smiling flowers.
  2. Our lawn is covered with flowering weeds. Yep, weeds. But the girls don’t care if they’re weeds. All they see is a carpet of tiny purple flowers. I felt the same when I was young. I would pick the flowers and put them in my hair or bring them in to my mom.
  3. Light, so much light. Light that stretches further into the evening. Light that is still soft, unlike the harsh light of summer.
  4. Easter baskets. I know that it’s very commercial and not at all relevant to the real meaning of Easter, but I love going into stores and seeing the racks of Easter candy (especially the jelly beans!) and the baskets. Yes, the baskets have ballooned into elaborate constructions with toys galore, but I still enjoy them. I love the colored cellophane and grass, and now the baskets themselves are so varied and pretty.
  5. The sounds of children playing outdoors. They’ve been let loose! Our neighbors have a wooden play set outside, and now we hear the kids as they climb, slide and swing. Yesterday I found a notice that the exterminator had been by – hopefully we can get rid of the fire ants in our yard.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

And now for something completely serious

So enough of vapidness. Time for a bit of gravitas. It is Lent, after all. Not that I have ever observed Lent. But it seems a good time to accomplish a task I’ve been avoiding.

My therapist gave me an assignment weeks ago that I have not been able to process. Two assignments, actually. The first is to write about whether depression is a choice, and the second is to describe my ideal life.

Is it any wonder I’ve preferred to immerse myself in frivolity and look at pretty boys?

Of course I don’t believe depression is a choice. Who would choose such misery? There’s no payoff. When people think of it as a choice, what they are really thinking of is a bit of the blues, a soaking in self-pity, a stubborn refusal to put a positive spin on things. Those are so very different from depression. Over the years I’ve experienced all sorts of cognitive therapy techniques. Relaxation. Guided meditation. Rewriting your inner scripts. They have their place. Which comes first, the wrong thinking or the depression? Once the neurological switch is tripped, does it even matter?

I don’t know why some people just feel a bit glum, a bit low and others flail about in inner darkness. Genetics? I find that once I’m far enough along, rewriting scripts isn’t very effective. It feels like I’m traveling farther from either positive or negative thoughts into numbness. The numbness is superficial but tenacious. Underneath is a tremendous rage. Wouldn’t you be angry if you were caged and trapped? Numbness is the cage door. That is deep depression, when there is fury inside beating against enormous resistance, resistance so strong that it has drawn all my energy into itself. These are the times I feel the urge to hurt myself crawling over my skin, because that release is so calming and so immediate.

(I’ve never even mentioned my history of self-injury to my therapist. Oh, the things I leave out of my personal narrative.)

I’m thankful that I haven’t felt that way in a long time. I no longer feel the need to sneak the X-acto blades from the workroom supply, just in case. Having children is an amazing deterrent. They watch your every move. And Dear Husband. The few times I’ve slipped he has been furious. He’s so practical. If it isn’t the solution, why are you wasting your time? It’s self-seeking, self-pitying. Find a way out, any way out. For once fear and shame created a positive outcome, and so I have retrained my impulses, which is just as well. And I’m medicated. I can’t dip too deep anymore. I’m buoyed on a pharmaceutical sea.

Choices. When options aren’t available, you simply make do. When I experienced my first depression, my parents didn’t notice. Or they did and hoped it would go away. Or they did and were so afraid I would be like my mother they ignored it. Why didn’t I ask to see a psychiatrist? Did I ask? Did I hint? Did I think it was so outside the realm of possibilities that I didn’t bother? Did I choose not to talk to anyone about it, or was I rebuffed? Did I think it wouldn’t do any good, that they would simply look at me as a freak and send me on my way? Would I have even been able to describe what I felt? What would I have said? I want to die? I hate myself? I don’t understand your world? I can’t fix this? Someone help me?

As choices became available to handle depression, I took them. I’ve found that behavior can be modified, even if you still feel like shit. I have enough experience to know that the worst will pass or at least change. But depression itself, it comes when it will.

Onward then, to my second task. My ideal life. This is hard. I have a notable lack of ambition. I’ve gone through life letting circumstance make decisions for me. Even when I was young I couldn’t imagine myself into any particular life. When kids were starting to think about careers, even in high school, I simply knew that I wanted to study literature. That’s as far as I got. I didn’t want to teach, I knew that. I didn’t want to marry or have a family. Otherwise I had no idea. I wasn’t sure I was going to live past 20 anyway. I’ve gone on having no idea through college and grad school and a number of jobs.

Now here I am in my 40s and it feels a bit ridiculous to be without a plan. My mother used to infuriate me. Her constant refrain until she died was, “I don’t know what I’m supposed to be doing.” In my meaner moods I would tell her that if she didn’t know by now, she never would. And she never did. She was hindered by a mental illness far more significant than mine. She refused medication. She refused therapy. Her vicissitudes kept her confused and distracted. Here I am with lots of lovely medication and therapy, but I still have not made any advances as far as life goals.

I have vague impressions. I would like a creative life. I would like to be able to write again. I would like to be around other creative people. I would like to be around very intelligent people. I would like to be at home with my kids. That’s unexpected, and I may be off-base or it may be standing in for a simple wish for more compatible work, but it has been a longing all the same. I would like to homeschool my children, something else I think might be completely incompatible with my personality, and yet… I would like to travel England. I love England.

You see how very vague that is? I want to write poetry, but I don’t want to be a poet, with all that entails. I want to be at home, and yet I am completely incapable of structuring my own time. England…England we can save money for. Travel at least translates into a tangible goal.

I don’t exactly dream big, do I?

Sometimes I have plans. Lots of plans, but small ones. I’ll paint the house. I’ll take up knitting. I’ll finally learn to garden. I’ll do something with the photos. They go nowhere. They skitter away the moment I turn my back. They suddenly don’t seem so interesting. In fact they are dull.

Has a life of struggling with depression, or bipolar disorder, or whatever it is, rerouted my neurological pathways in such a way that I’m incapable of forming a plan, incapable of even dreaming a dream? Is that what happened to my mother? Will I be just as bad despite all my advantages – the education, the understanding husband, the medication, the therapy?

And now, what connection between this serious navel-gazing and the frivolous listing of the world’s hottest actors according to me? What do these fantasy figures mean, and why do they suddenly loom large in my imagination only to disappear just as quickly? What am I to make of such a preponderance of dominating men? Men who are lie detectors and truth tellers. And they aren’t very pleasant about it. In fact, to be in their line of sight is somewhat humiliating, but also thrilling and transformative. In Secretary, the female character is a cutter, something James Spader’s character picks up on right away and redirects into a series of erotic games. I connected to the woman right away, not because of the similar modus operandum or because I have any desire to participate in an s/m setup, but because I like the ingenious way in which he steers her away from despair by going through her neurosis rather than around it.

It all seems terribly anti-feminist. Is that the way it is, then? I respond to a male figure who dominates, judges and directs? Where’s Freud when you need him? Did thinking about depression and ambition trigger my current fascination with certain characters? Perhaps that silly list began with me feeling lost, defeated, and directionless.

What do I conclude from all this. Not much. I’ve always been good at seeing the connections. Conclusions, not so much.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Because I'm even more shallow than you thought

One of my friends pointed out to me that I left Ciaran Hinds out of my list of beautiful actors. It is, indeed, a sad oversight. I must admit, though, that he does not always look as splendid as he did in Persuasion. I just saw him in Escape to Witch Mountain, in which he looked a bit like my old high school English teacher with a buzz cut. If you listen closely, you can hear his accent peeking through. Not that I mind the lilting sound of an Irish accent, but then again I don’t think Homeland Security would be hiring anyone from Northern Ireland, either. I had a peek at his IMDB entry and was startled to find that he was Herod in the Nativity Story. He was? How did I miss that? And I forgot that he was Lord Tarleton in Amazing Grace. Besides being a baddie, he didn’t look nearly as good in a wig as Ioan. It also took me a good 5 minutes to figure out how to pronounce his name using the odd phonetic notation on Wikipedia. Since he’s Irish, I can’t assume that I know how to pronounce his name by sight. For all I know it could be pronounced “Carson” or “Warren” or even “Cadwalleder.” In Gaelic the word on the page never seems to bear any resemblance to the way it sounds. Imagine the difficulty I had with Ioan Gruffudd. Welsh seems to think that if there’s one letter, there should be a duplicate, just for fun. Still, Mr. Hinds is a man with fabulous bone structure and should be celebrated. Huzzah, Mr. Hinds!

I also somehow left out Gary Oldman. Dear Husband makes fun of me when we watch the Harry Potter movies with Sirius Black, because at some point I was a bit too exuberant in my appreciation. Apparently I called Mr. Oldman “delicious.” I blame my MIL, who brought it up in the first place. Then of course there was Dracula, in which he mostly looked great, with the notable exception of his doppelganger with the weird updo. I still don’t know what that was about. But my first memory of him was in the film Prick Up Your Ears, as bad-boy playwright Joe Orton. He channeled self-centered jack-ass really well. And he threw himself into the role with great, uh, enthusiasm. You would think he was born to meet young men in public restrooms. If he captured anything like the real nature of Orton, no wonder his lover offed him. I find that movie has an odd staying power, particularly the final scene of his funeral, with the Beatles song “A Day in the Life” playing.

As it happens, Gary Oldman and Tim Roth are friends. How did I find this out? Why, by wasting time on a Tim Roth fansite. Yep, while other people were creating great art, feeding the poor, writing sermons and generally getting on with life, I was wasting time surfing a fansite. One with a nice selection of photos, I might add. Anyway, I found out about this rather odd exchange between Gary Oldman and Tim Roth, involving messages inked on their bodies. I won’t put the photos here in case someone at these magazines gets ticked at me, but you can follow this link to view them. Here’s how the site described the correspondence:

“Do Tim and Gary Oldman really write messages to each other on their body parts?
Yes, at one time they did. This is because, according to Tim, that's the best way they could communicate with each other with their busy lives. Some history: In a magazine interview, Gary Oldman was asked to name certain people who he found to be attractive, Tim Roth being one of them. Tim must have read this, because Tim wrote something on his arm (or his head?) that read something along the lines of "G.O. I think you're sexy." Oldman then on the cover of the May 1994 UK edition of Premiere wrote on his arm, "Tim Roth I think you are sexy too!" Then in the April 1995 issue of Detour, Tim wrote on his forehead, "Gary Oldman Let's Do It" … Many of these pictures can be seen on this web site.”

(fans self)

Glory be, where are my smelling salts?


Monday, March 16, 2009

Ring of Fire

I finally saw Fireproof this weekend. I have resisted seeing it because I didn’t like Facing the Giants, and What’s-His-Name who plays the lead irritates me. All that stuff about not kissing anyone but his wife, even for a movie. Sheesh. That seems like one of the advantages of being an actor, getting to kiss lots of people, maybe even of both genders. But I shouldn’t make fun of him for that. I guess. Maybe. He has principles and just because they make me giggle doesn’t mean they aren’t serious business for him, and rather noble and all that.

Anyway, Dear Husband got hold of a copy and it was clear there was no avoiding watching it at some point. I enjoyed it much more than I expected. The acting was pretty good, and where it was amateurish it seemed churlish to make a fuss about it. Here were all these people working for a film they believed in, and gosh darn it giving it their best shot, and I ended up rooting for the poorest actors just because they were trying. There were some parts that were quite humorous, although I wasn’t sure what they were doing there except adding some levity, and I’ll concede that some levity was much needed. The firefighter who gave a little performance in front of a mirror should have his own sitcom.

Fireproof (and Facing the Giants) was filmed in my hometown. I find that not a little amazing. Albany has to be one of the most boring places on the face of the earth. At least that’s how it was for me. I’m a big city girl. I can’t stand to be that far away from a cultural center. Albany isn’t small enough to be considered a small town, big enough to be a true city (not enough books, education and culture) or rural enough to be the country. It’s a bit like an extended suburb with elements of city and country scattered over and around it. It was interesting to see it in film. It’s very flat there. Pancake flat. Lots of trees hanging with Spanish moss. Lots of gnats (The final shot is of a wedding cake, sitting out in the open. My thought was: if that were truly sitting out in the open in Albany GA, it would be covered with insect life and half melted.). I hated that place. A lot. So I’m glad to see that Sherwood Baptist Church has sown a little acre of creativity. If I ever go back to visit, perhaps I’ll see the Good Life City with new eyes. Or at least without the feeling that I could be snared by its sticky web and stuck there forever, gnawed on my giant spiders. Ahem.

For the most part the movie avoided squirm inducing Christian-y dialogue. I was so thankful that What’s-His-Name didn’t go all gushy about Jesus that I could have phoned him up and praised him for his restraint. There was one scene that made me roll my eyes, when the Fount of All Wisdom father talks to What’s-His-Name about forgiving however much you are rejected, and he ends up standing right under a cross. That conveniently placed cross, ready to glow in the light of grace and a beautiful sunset. Barf. Then we get the usual blood atonement speech which miraculously convinces What’s-His-Name that he needs salvation. Just like that. The kind of little talk that would have made me run screaming for the blessed hills of atheism. That’s just me, half heathen that I am.

But like I said, I was so thankful that What’s-His-Name didn’t start talking like a reject from TBN that I could have kissed him, if kissing were allowed. He didn’t run to the firehouse and babble excitedly to everyone who didn’t want to listen, or institute regular prayer meetings at the ol fire station, or go home and announce his conversion to his wife and drag her off to church where she too sees the light and is baptized on the spot, start handing out tracts at the local bus station, or make himself into an obnoxious idiot in any way. He even managed to look like a regular person instead of a Godly Man. Amen.

The message of the movie was great. I had nothing to complain of there. Love is an action and a choice. The situations were believable. He was an utter dick and he finally came to understand his essential dickishness through a series of deliberate actions he had no desire to undertake or any real hope of completing successfully. Christ will work a change in you, and you don’t have to sound like a bad evangelical preacher to convey that.

Now, a little confession. I have to admit that for much of the movie I kept thinking that What’s-His-Name was looking kinda hot. I seem to remember him looking like an utter goofball, but he was definitely easy on the eyes in this film, lean and wiry, hair cut close, revealing, much to my surprise, a rather nice face. The man who played his friend and fellow firefighter was also pleasing in all aspects of his being. I’m not sure that’s what the director and writers had in mind. I am probably very bad.

Oh, yeah. Kirk Cameron. Why can I never remember his name?

Friday, March 13, 2009

Eye Candy for the Mentally Ill

Because I’m feeling dull and unwilling to address weightier issues--such as Who am I? and What am I supposed to be doing with my life? or even What am I going to do about the cat litter?--I’ve decided to indulge in one of my frivolous exercises, listing the most attractive talented actors according to moi. I’ve been doing this periodically ever since high school when my friend Caroline and I came up with groupings we called The British Triumvirate and The Australian Triumvirate. I think, at the time, that The British Triumvirate included Anthony Andrews, Rubert Everett and Jeremy Irons. Close, anyway. The Australian Triumvirate comprised Mel Gibson, the actor who played Scorpio on General Hospital and a Rugby player whose name I cannot remember. Or maybe it was called football. I don’t know. Whatever it was it was a violent game with a ball and well-muscled Australian men. We hadn’t the slightest idea about the rules or scoring, or anything mundane like that.

You get the idea. I haven't advanced much since high school, although I hope I have better haircuts. Okay, back to the list of incredibly hot talented actors.

Hugh Laurie. I’ve liked him since he played the hopelessly addled prince regent in Black Adder. Oh, he is a master of comedy. So when I heard about House, I was expecting great things, and I have not been disappointed. I’ve read that his character was based on Sherlock Holmes. Oddly, I had a crush on Sherlock Holmes as a young girl. (I found fictional men more acceptable than actual men.). House is so mean, so witty, so entertaining. And then he slices through someone with The Glare. Hugh Laurie has a fine pair of eyes with which to glare.

Tim Roth. Okay, I didn’t know who he was until Lie to Me. Reservoir Dogs isn’t my sort of film. Whacked earless artists are usually my thing, but somehow I missed him playing Vincent Van Gogh in Vincent and Theo. When I first saw him in Lie to Me, I thought he was rather ugly, but the accent wore away at my resistance. I love me some British accents. And there’s nothing like a stern, slightly overbearing male character to exert a fascination on me. (Dear Husband should not get any ideas from this that I would like him to be stern. That would be a Bad Idea.) Anyway, Dr. Lightman, his character, pelts his victims/clients with provocative questions until they squirm under his unrelenting gaze, ready to pounce on the slightest tremor or twitch of the eye that gives them away. “Oh now you’re lying.” I think I would swoon.

Aside. As you can see, it is usually the fictional characters rather than the actors themselves I find so compelling. Curious that my first two choices play characters who believe that everyone lies and who spend their shows sorting the lies from the truth. When I was a wee thing, I sometimes would daydream about being on trial for an unnamed crime. Heaven knows what I was working out, but it was always a great relief to have my crime found out, confess, and be sentenced. I very much enjoyed Crime and Punishment when I read it as a teenager, because I could relate to Raskolnikov’s overwhelming need to confess. Except, of course, being an ax murderer, he actually had something to confess. But back to my list.

Ioan Gruffud. Isn’t he pretty? I thought he did wigs and breeches very well in Amazing Grace, channeling charm, righteous indignation, and a love for little bunnies. Oh, how could you not like someone who spends his life championing abolition? And doing it with such good bone structure. I suspect the real Wilberforce was not quite so well knit together. I’m not sure I knew who Gruffud was before that movie, although I gather he had a rather prominent part leading Oscar Wilde astray in Wilde, which I did see. Not sure how I could forget Gruffud and Fry getting hot and heavy, but perhaps it was so tasteful I didn’t notice. Or so embarrassingly cringe-worthy I forgot it (When it’s obvious that actors are totally freaked out about kissing other men, well, it results in scenes you wish they would just leave on the cutting room floor. Remember Michael Caine and Christopher Reeve in Clue? Could it have been more obvious that they were thinking ooo gross the whole time?). Note to self: Revisit Wilde in the interest of education. I’ve never seen the Horatio Hornblower series, and I think it’s about time because Gruffud would look scrumptious in 18th century British naval attire, and no doubt his splendid hair gets whipped about a lot by salt spray. Ahoy.

James McAvoy. Penelope was such a charming film, and I really liked his scruffy, ne’r-do-well who discovers his basic human decency. At the beginning they put rather a lot of red around his eyes—it looked painful, like perpetual pink-eye. Didn’t like him so much in that film with Angelina Jolie. The film made no sense at all, and it seemed rather derivative, part Matrix, part Fight Club. I think Angelina is dead sexy in a scary not-with-a-ten-foot-pole sort of way, and watching the romance scenes was a bit like watching a cobra tracking its lunch.

Rufus Sewell. He was also in Amazing Grace, playing a radical abolitionist with rather odd, poetic-looking hair. For reasons I’ve never quite understood, late in the film he has a scene carrying a baby around a field. I’m not sure if it’s his baby or one he found while out for a walk. Now he’s the lead in the Eleventh Hour, which I thought I wasn’t going to like much, but I find his eyes are a sufficient reason to stick around. They are…startling. I am hoping beyond hope that they avoid any romantic tension between him and his stick of a costar. He would have to draw upon an enormous reservoir to create any chemistry there.

Colin Firth. Ah, Mr. Darcy. Another stern, rather aloof character. He is so very good at British reserve, which is, for some reason, insanely sexy. And what better way to serve up British reserve than in a wet shirt and some knee pants? And, it takes someone special to work those sideburns.

Alan Rickman. Did you know there are groups devoted to Severus Snape as sex symbol? It must partly be his voice, which is, hah, spellbinding. Oh, I guess the bad boys are just irresistible, and it doesn’t get much badder than a Death Eater in a fetching black cape.

Simon Baker, who plays the lead in the Mentalist. I really don’t care for blond hair, but he’s beginning to win me over. Now I think his hair is delightfully tousled. He isn’t cold, but like House and Dr. Lightman, he enjoys messing with people’s minds. It seems essential to cause as much embarrassment as possible to drag out the information you need. And he manages it with a bit of a crinkly smile around his eyes, just to let you know that he’s essentially a nice guy. There’s Tragedy in his past, and I gather he’s looking for revenge. But I think it’s hard to look vengeful with crinkly eyes.

James Spader. Yes, he got a bit pudgy as Boston Legal wore on, and he lost some of the mean, amoral edge that made his character so thrilling to watch. By the end he was almost cuddly. I prefer to think of his character in Secretary, the sadistic lawyer who likes to play interesting games with his willing secretary.

Do you get the feeling that I’m a smidgen submissive?

I’m sure my tastes are indicative of something or other. Such a preference for cold aloof men who relentlessly strip you of your comfortable lies until your true nature is revealed.

Huh. That actually sounds a bit like an old-fashioned psychoanalyst.