Saturday, December 29, 2012

Ready for the finall 100km

Among the Trees at 2400km

Hit the 2400km mark on Sunday before leaving for SK and Christmas. Back now and have 3 days to do the final 100km.  At -20c,  > 30km days would be a challenge, but at -6 it's a nice ride. BTW doing a final ride on the 31st with friends in Fish Creek park. If you're interested let me know.

- Peace

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Les Misérables (Movie Review)

Was invited to a preview screening of Les Misérables.  Was told we'd be on the VIP list. Don't wait in line see the studio rep.  Arrived at the appointed time and the studio rep was not to be found, there were reserved seats so I didn't worry as the theater filled quickly.  When the rep showed up showed up at the last minute she didn't have our name on the list and the theater was full.  Ended up in the front row.   From VIP list to worst seats in the house.

Such a reversal of fortune is at the heart of Les Misérables, but I didn't know that.  I  missed the Les Mis phenon in the 80s when it was everywhere, even in Oboe Jones.  Can't even claim that I saved the money and gave it to the poor.  I did know about the candle sticks, that part has been retold in faith communities a number of times.  Now that I can put that story into the larger context I say Amen.

At it's heart Les Misérables questions what really changes the world.  Revolution?  The Law?  Grace?  It's doesn't offer a quick fix.  Grace can be repaid with theft and a refusal that burns like coals.  Grace can take years to learn, with painful and costly failures in the process.  To freely give is to be truly vulnerable with no guarantee of return.

The story of Les Mis is worth spending time with, and the movie adaptation is deeply engaging.   Powerful performances.  Music that gives voices to suffering and longing.   I can see why Les Mis the musical had a 27 year run.

Three weaknesses I'll note.  It may have been seeing it from the front row, but the visual style wasn't what I was expecting or hoping for from a period piece.  Had been hoping for glimpses of the historic grandeur of Paris that we had seen this summer.   Mostly the movie focuses in on the characters, given the personal nature of the story that makes sense.  The sets never feel real, they feel like elaborate theater sets.  Given the source material that may have been a deliberate choice.

I don't know if it's the movie adaption or inherent in Les Mis, but the romantic love story of the second half fell flat.  There's not much to it.  Boy sees beautiful girl.  Girl see's handsome boy.  Love at first sight.   Given the depth of the rest of the story, this felt really strange.  It's just a set up for more deep questions and moral choices for those around the pair and the movie recovers; but it's the one part of the movie that really dragged for me.

The closing number doesn't fit with the rest of the story.  It's seems to be an ode to the Revolution, but the rest of the story is quite ambivalent about the revolution.  Got rid of the King, now we have a new King as bad as the old King.  It's part of what makes Les Mis work. So having a closing number that seems to embrace the Spirit of the Revolution is odd.   I'm guessing the movie is being faithful to the musical and I'll have to read the book to see if the musical was being faithful to book.  My gut says the musical needed a simple way to wrap things up, and this was the simplest feel good way to do that.  Struggling with grace and it's vulnerabilities doesn't lend it's self to a good closing musical number.

Struggling with grace and freedom is why we need stories like Les Misérables and the movie is powerful and accessible introduction to it.

- Peace

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Elvis and the Popes

Elvis and the Popes

Back in 2005 I blogged about The Pope and Elvis and how the DJ at Graceland had equated the Pope being a spiritual guy and Elvis being a spiritual guy. I've told the story many times since, how I doubted that many people would connect the Pope and Elvis that way. So I had to take a picture of the collection of statues including Elvis and two Popes when I saw them in Burano this summer.

 - Peace

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Armor and Sabbath

Reading Leap Over a Wall by Peterson again. Reading about David and Goliath going over the passage before the famous battle.
Saul answered David, “You can’t go and fight this Philistine. You’re too young and inexperienced—and he’s been at this fighting business since before you were born.”

David said, “I’ve been a shepherd, tending sheep for my father. Whenever a lion or bear came and took a lamb from the flock, I’d go after it, knock it down, and rescue the lamb. If it turned on me, I’d grab it by the throat, wring its neck, and kill it. Lion or bear, it made no difference—I killed it. And I’ll do the same to this Philistine pig who is taunting the troops of God-Alive. God, who delivered me from the teeth of the lion and the claws of the bear, will deliver me from this Philistine.”
Saul said, “Go. And God help you!”

Then Saul outfitted David as a soldier in armor. He put his bronze helmet on his head and belted his sword on him over the armor. David tried to walk but he could hardly budge.
David told Saul, “I can’t even move with all this stuff on me. I’m not used to this.” And he took it all off.
 from 1 Samuel 17 (The Message)

While pondering this passage it struck me that there are parallels in the Gospels.  From the end of Mark 2 for instance:
One Sabbath day he was walking through a field of ripe grain. As his disciples made a path, they pulled off heads of grain. The Pharisees told on them to Jesus: “Look, your disciples are breaking Sabbath rules!”
Jesus said, “Really? Haven’t you ever read what David did when he was hungry, along with those who were with him? How he entered the sanctuary and ate fresh bread off the altar, with the Chief Priest Abiathar right there watching—holy bread that no one but priests were allowed to eat—and handed it out to his companions?” Then Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made to serve us; we weren’t made to serve the Sabbath. The Son of Man is no lackey to the Sabbath. He’s in charge!”
Seems to me both Saul and the Pharisees were working out accepted wisdom, you needed armor to fight, you needed detailed rules to keep the Sabbath.   Yet both were subverting the thing that they were trying to protect.  David wouldn't have won in a traditional armor based fight.  The Pharisees had turned a blessing "take one day a week off -" into a curse.

Do our systems and traditions serve us or do we serve them?  Is Christmas a blessing or a curse?  Does the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution serve it's people or do they offer sacrifices to it?

Just what's running through my head.

 - Peace

Monday, December 17, 2012

2300 KM End in sight

Fish Creek @ 2300km

Hit the 2300km mark yesterday. Just 200km to go by the end of the year. Should hit 2400 km before Christmas. I'll be aiming to hit 2500km goal on the 31st with a final ride of the year event. If you're interested let me know.

- Peace

Thursday, December 13, 2012

We Love Our Neighbours Vol 1

We Love Our Neighbours Vol 1 from Storyboard Solutions on Vimeo.

Noticed the above on Kevin Frank's site. Kevin is my favorite cartoonist and he's now doing animation.  Cool.  The rehabilitation of a Sarnia neighbourhood is in keeping with Kevin's other work. Heaven's Love Thrift Store would fit right in.

- Peace

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

The Paste Holiday Sampler (2012)

As you'd expect the Past Holiday Sampler has the usual Paste suspects - Sufjan Stevens and Great Lake Swimmers. Was delighted to see geek favorite Johnathan Coulton of Portal 'Still Alive' and 'Code Monkey' fame included as well.

From the Noise Trade Page:
Fortunately, every year some of our favorite Paste artists choose to freshen the holiday music genre with new releases, whether they're original compositions or unique takes on traditional holiday favorites. If you're looking for the perfect playlist for that tired "Secret Santa" party or just hoping to amp up your holiday spirit in a new way, look no further than the Paste Holiday Sampler.
You know the drill, email + postal code that the artist can use to contact you gets you 18 hip Christmas songs.

- Peace

Monday, December 03, 2012

31.6 km short, 3 days late

Path at Dusk @ 2200kmn
Hit the 2200km mark today in Fish Creek Park. At the exact same spot that I was at for 2100km, though you wouldn't know that from the picture.

Was 31.6 km short of the 2200km mark at the end of Nov. I'd like to blame it on an issue with the front brake, but we were promised a Chinook that would warm things up so I delayed for that. Got a mild warming today, though not as dramatic as a Chinook.   Still I got out and rode, got quite cool once the sun went down.

With 28 days left and 297 km to go, today's ride puts me right on track.  How ever I'm sure to loose 5 days due to being in SK for Christmas, so it will be a challenge to hit the 2500km mark by the end of 2012.

- Peace