Friday, November 28, 2008

Thought for the Day
Good Morning Scotland
Radio Scotland
Friday, November 28th, 2008

An exhibit on the History of Pantomime opens tomorrow in Edinburgh. All those famous Dames and baddies from across the decades. While Grand-dad might get all nostalgic, the children would prefer you kept the yearly ritual going by dragging them off to a real live Panto this winter.
You’ll be surprised how they know the plot already and what’s supposed to happen next and how they fit into their role as audience like a hand in a glove They know how it’s supposed to work
At the end of the evening when they’ve been pacified and put to bed in spite of all the sugar coursing through their veins – when you’ve finally combed the last of the popcorn out of their hair and you’re alone with your cup of tea at the table you might secretly wish that the plots in life were not so fixed.
Conversion. Recovery. Repentance. Hope. These all involve a departure from what everybody expects.

“I’m going to stop drinking”
- Oh no you’re not!

I’m going to learn to trust the people I work with
- Look behind you!

This new American administration may change the way America is viewed in the world
- Oh no it won’t!

In spite of the financial crisis I’m going to try and make time for my family
- Oh no you won’t!

You can feel it, can’t you - the suspicion that everything must remain the same?

The little producer sets his desk up out there in the seats during rehearsals and keeps yelling at you

- Yo, Twankey, keep to the script, dammit”

But isn’t that why the people gathered on high ground to hear Jesus speak. Or why the Hebrews agreed, grudgingly or not, to leave Egypt and walk East through the desert to the promised land?

Because some day the script could be different.
Because the force of habit is not one of the laws of nature.
Its grip on us may not be legitimate.
Men and women can be better than they thought,
They can be freer than they’ve been told they are allowed to be.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Annunciation. The Birth of John the Baptist

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Waltz with Bashir

It was my day off yesterday - interrupted a bit by a funeral (that I was attending but not officiating at) so I hit the cinema afterwards. I see films on Mondays which I don't think my lady wife would like. Last week it was The Baader-Meinhof Complex which I may write about later this week since it's still percolating in the back of my head.

Waltz with Bashir is probably one of the better films I've seen for a while. An animated film provoked, as its creator explains, by his inability to remember large segments of his military service in the Israeli army in West Beirut at the time of the massacre of Palestinians by Christian Phalangists in the refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila.

It's not until an old army buddy recounts a series of enigmatic dreams which he has been having that the narrator realizes that other than a scattered series of visual images he can remember almost nothing about his proximity to a horrifying event which took place over a period of 24 hours only hundreds of yards from where he had been deployed as a young soldier. It simply wasn't 'stored in his system'.

Rather than leave it in the shadows he begins a pilgrimage through Israel and across Europe to remake the acquaintance of everybody he served with who had survived the '82 war in order to put the pieces back together.

The mind, you see, is creative. It both erases and supplements. It protects us from what could not possibly be the case since we are moral creatures. As such, memory itself needs to be judged and checked. There are moments of considerable violence in the film - softened by the fact that this is animation.

As cliche as it may sound - the medium here is the message. Memory draws reality quite roughly - bends bits of it - is primitive and plastic - it lightens the load of what would, if filmed or, worse, experienced again in its full brutality, be too heavy a load to carry.

A good film. Worth seeing.

Something for Advent

This video from the dashboard-cam of an Edmonton, Alberta police cruiser caught a meteor strike in the area. It seemed vaguely seasonal: A city, slumbering - life carrying on as usual - the suddenness of the light.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Piano in the Woods

- From CNN

Was it a theft? A prank? A roundabout effort to bring some holiday cheer to the police? Authorities in Harwich, Massachusetts, are probing the mysterious appearance of a piano, in good working condition, in the middle of the woods.

Discovered by a woman who was walking a trail, the Baldwin Acrosonic piano, model number 987, is intact -- and, apparently, in tune.

My money's on elves. It has to do with the elves. You know the old story: the sounds of delightful singing in the forest. Humans trudging and tripping through the bracken to discover the source of the music - they get just a glimpse of the charming circles of elves dancing and singing and the *poof* and the elves disappear leaving the humans with a story which everybody else pooh-poohs and attributes either to drink or an overabundance of childish credulousness.

Well sir, in a day when, curiously, Churches and Cathedrals respond to dwindling congregations by installing massive tracker organs against their west walls and spending mega-bucks on professional music programs it appears that the elves too have fallen victim to the mantra of 'standards, standards, standards'. No elf choir is complete nowadays without its Baldwin Acrosonic.

Except that when the elf choir goes *poof* the evidence remains. Once again the pursuit of excellence finds itself in conflict with First Principles.

It's gonna take some re-thinking, this one.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Conrad Black writes from the hoosegow.....

I suspect that were a parole board asked to determine whether Mr Black had 'reformed' in any way the response likely be a unanimous chorus of ..........."maybe not quite yet".

Some howlers from the article he's written from prison "From my cell I scent the reeking soul of U.S. justice" which appeared in today's Sunday Times:

"Many of the other co-residents are quite interesting and affable, often in a Damon Runyon way, and the regime is not uncivilised."

"I wish to advise Lord Hurd that when I return to the UK I would like to take up more energetically than I did initially his request for assistance in his custodial system reform activities. "

"Obviously, the bloom is off my long-notorious affection for America."

Like any good psychopath
, Mr Black remains completely convex in his being. He bulges out and not in. He is undaunted. The hyperbole continues to spew forth in a veritable torrent. He will be vindicated - he will advise governments - the crowds will come flocking and the money will come flowing in.

This acquiescence to the will of his enemies is merely temporary. His case is 99% won already.
The letter confirming this is in the post.

The membership list of the British National Party was recently leaked to the internet. It contained the usual coterie of thick-necked individuals with a single eye in the middle of their foreheads. It also contained the names of a few police officers, a couple of doctors, a nurse and three vicars.

Bishop Alan writes that none of the three are CofE vicars and that one name was simply erroneous. More here on one of the named vicars with additional comments about the list in general.

Everything is being either downplayed or played up depending on who you are but it did bring to mind the famous scene from Father Ted where he stands behind an unfortunate smudge on the window and gesticulates towards a couple of Chinese visitors who he has invited to the rectory on Craggy Island.

The first clip is HERE. It makes the following video more comprehensible.

If you have a favourite Canadian (even expatriate Canadian) religion/philosophy blog you can vote for it HERE. Your humble servant's meagre offering appears somewhere on the list of about twelve nominees.

We are now in round one. I guess they'll come up with a short list so you might need to check later to see how the Rabbit has fared in the first round.

Should you tell your friends to tell their friends? You might want to do that.

I could not possibly comment.