Monday, March 26, 2007

One man's throw-away is another man's Kristin Scott Thomas.

I recently sat down to watch “Four Weddings and a Funeral” for the first time in a very long time. It reminded me of two forgotten facts:

This is a very good movie.


Sometimes, I wish I were Hugh Grant, minus the whole prostitute thing.

I found that having gone so long without seeing it; I had forgotten much about the plot and characters. One of the main things I had forgotten was Kristin Scott Thomas’ playing “Fiona”, the dejected friend to Grant’s “Charlie” who also happens to be secretly in love with him. The scene that struck me (and inspired this post) was the one in which Fiona confesses to Charlie that he, in fact, is the same bloke “she’s been in love with for ages”. Her confession is followed by an exchange between herself and Charlie that calls to mind a quandary that presently has me bogged down in my own pursuit of love. They continue to discuss the situation in a manner in which not only the fact that her love is unrequited is understood but also that seems to excuse the situation as being out of their own control. As in, Fiona does not seem to feel as though Charlie does not love her because she lacks lovable qualities, but rather because the nature of attraction is so that it falls outside of choice as to when, where, and for whom it strikes. Secondly, I found myself struck at the fact that, while she was purposed to seem ordinary in this role, Kristin Scott Thomas is amazing. I could not avoid the typical “If I were Charlie…” boat because if I were Charlie, I would have ditched both “Carrie” and “Duck-face” (stupid duck-face) for her. For me, Fiona would have ended the discussion, but for Charlie she was not enough.

This struck me as I have recently experienced the end of a relationship for which no quantifiable reason exists. In this particular situation, the girl and myself seemed to possess all the necessary ingredients for a healthy, long-lasting relationship while, at the same time, lacking that driving, nagging, swelling desire to be a part of one another’s every moment of consciousness that we often call love. Therefore, both being in our late twenties and not at all interested in pursuing something so obviously frivolous, we decided it should end sooner rather than later regardless of the fact that there were no immediate cause for it to be so.

So, my quandary lies with the nature of attraction. I have felt what our society calls “being in love”, but the older I get, the more I wonder if the emotions and magnetism that we are taught as indicators of true love are really so. What is the nature of legitimate attraction?

I have friends who have wives or girlfriends that they think hung the moon; whereas, I would see no romantic quality to them. The flipside, I have dated girls that I were absolutely floored by whilst others simply yawned them off as ordinary girls?

Why is one man’s throw-away another man’s Kristin Scott Thomas?


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

When words just won't do.

I have never before, in my adult life, experienced the deconstructing rhythm of a hospital ventilator as it becomes reassurance of both the grasp on someone in the immediate sense and the inevitability of their eventual loss. I have experienced the death of those close to me and/or those I am close to, but in both major instances, one a murder and the other a suicide, there was never a time to prepare for or except that this person you care for, whether directly or vicariously, would no longer be as well as the helplessness of the situation’s inexorable nature.

However, yesterday I spent eight hours in a hospital as a friend with whom I have been as close as anyone for more than two-thirds of my life watched his mother slowly, yet assuredly, expire. I must admit that from the time I received his call on Monday telling me that his mother were being admitted to the emergency room to the call I received from him at around noon yesterday telling me the prognosis were surgery with little chance of recovery or even life through the following day, I held the situation a little too lightly, but when I heard one of the best friends I have ever known tell me that, if the doctors were correct, he had just experienced the last conversation he would ever have with his mother, it jarred me.

There is the obvious helplessness felt when someone close to you goes through a loss of this magnitude, but this disrupted my basic sensibilities in a way that I did not see coming because for eight hours on a Tuesday my friend sat with his dead mother whose heart simply had not yet ceased beating, and having so much time to process things the thought I could not escape was that he will grieve her death but will eventually find his grief replaced by a subtle longing for her to be nothing more than…available. And this crushed me. Six months, three years, he will not be able to pick up the phone and call the woman who, if nothing else, birthed him and tell her that he loves her. His wedding day, the birth of his first child, her perpetual absence will be inescapable. This brought me to the realization that, we all expect things from our loved ones and these expectations are very often not met by them, but the one aspect of truly loving and caring for someone that should never be failed nor overlooked is our availability to them which happens to be the one aspect most often failed and most often overlooked. I know I fail my loved ones, and they fail me.

So after having this reality rhythmically beat into my heart by the pumping, humming, and buzzing of this woman’s fading life right before me and worn on my friend’s face, I have to resolve to learn and grow from his plight.

So, I called my mom on the way into the office today just to tell her that I love her and could not remember the last time I had done so.


Monday, March 19, 2007

Chasing my tail...

Effusive apologies for my absence of late. There is just so much going on right now that I've had a difficult time finding time to write. Yet, I feel the need to say something, so here is brief topic for discussion: NCAA scholar-athlete graduation rates. Here are a few of my brief thoughts:

1. The following is link to a USA TODAY article about the subject. In short, it extols the general rise in overall graduation rates among NCAA athletes. I have a number of issues with looking at overall rates in this discussion, as they aren't indicative of the overall problem and is egregiously obfuscatory. Meaning, the problem isn't with sports like golf, lacrosse, or tennis...the problem is with basketball and football...each with graduation rates way below 50%.

2. With the pressures on head coaches to win...students leaving early for the draft...and schools and boosters unwilling to slaughter their cash cows...what is to be done? I would suggest making freshmen ineligible to play. I've not put much thought into it...but it seems to me that this would keep those who might not care about learning away...while giving those freshmen who enroll a chance to adapt to college life. What do you think?

3. Housekeeping issues:

A. There will be more later, but I am truly swamped, and consistent posts will have to wait.

B. Unfortunately, this includes the discussion on Hegel. I'm about 1/3 of the way in...and there is a lot there.

C. How 'bout them Rams. Though I am associated with their crosstown rival, it was great to see them make a run. In other tourney news....look for Tennessee to make some noise. Until then...

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Just because I hate the Gators...

“I'm just excited to send "Fear the Turtle" e-mails again and not have anyone think I'm making a poop joke. I predict the Terps will make the Sweet 16 and then bow out gracefully in a hard-fought, surprisingly close battle with Florida and their trannie center."

- From Bill Simmons’ current column on ESPN

I really do not like Joakim Noah. I’m sure he’s a good guy and everything, but the hair, the “trash-stache”, the dance…oh, and the fact that he absolutely dominates my Dawgs everytime they step on the same court all add up to equal me posting this.

Other “Honorable Mentions” from the column:

From Erich in Arlington: "Watching Barnes manage the second half of the Kansas game was like watching Principal Ed Rooney handle the Ferris Bueller situation."
From Mitch in Kansas City: "My frustration in watching Rick Barnes coach has only been exceeded by reports that Tom Brady has impregnated two different women in the last five months ... and neither of them was my sister or girlfriend."


Friday, March 9, 2007

More to come....soon.

Folks, I've been extremely busy of late....hence, no new posts. This said, there will be a lull after Tuesday...and will do everything I can to update this place soon. In fact, I've a number of things on my mind. Until then, here is a video of one of my favorite songs/artists: Last Goodbye/Jeff Buckley.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Sweet 16 of Love(Spring 2007)....Champion Crowned....Miss Salma Hayek.

Well, we started with 16 beautiful and talented ladies....slowly working our way to crown a champion. The votes have been cast, counted, and recorded...and your Spring 2007 Sweet 16 of Love champion is the buxom beauty from below in Mexico...Salma Hayek. Thoughts/Recollections:

1. There was some serious static from some regarding a couple of the initial entries. Again, it needs to be reiterated that attention to generation gaps, differences in aesthetics, and overall ability was the only given. Yes...there were a number of ladies that should have/could have/would have been on any list like this one...but one can't have an all-star the inaugural event. It leaves no where to go.

2. The most surprising aspect was that a number a ladies participated. Though, we are pleased to have the fairer gender as readers....I wasn't expecting them to be as involved with this particular exercise. It proved to be the difference in many cases. Also, the voting public was almost equally split with regards to Miss Johansson....with people really liking her...and those who really don't like her. Who knew?

3. I voted in all matches...with most of my votes tending to lean with the majority. In the final match, however, I voted for Mrs. Loren.

4. As for our champion...Miss Hayek is one of my personal favorites...and has been for a while. She exudes a sense of purpose with an innate physical beauty that is rarely matched. She's accomplished in her chosen field...i.e. acting/producing/directing...and resists the whole Julia Roberts/Cameron Diaz/Jennifer Lopez 'look at me' crowd. In short, she is magnificently beautiful, abundantly talented, and wonderfully appropriated....and she is our champion.

5. The following are three video from a Letterman interview...and two from movies that I dig(I wanted to use a clip from Fools Rush In, as it is my favorite Salma Hayek movie, but alas, it could not be found). For those who are faint of heart...or have congestive heart problems...proceed with caution(also, there is bit of rough language at the end of the second clip...apologies all around.). Ladies and gentlemen...Miss Salma Hayek.

Friday, March 2, 2007

The Masculine Mystique

In a very belated response to an earlier post by the erudite Vox Inferus, I want to posit a provocative contemplation of masculinity: the masculinity of Christ. Someone very close to me is studying what it means to be a man, as a follower of Christ and as an American in the early 21st century, and so I have begun to muse on what the person of Jesus---the "perfect man"---teaches us about gender roles. My provocative assertion is that, while Jesus showed us an example of perfect masculinity (strength, determination, self-control, spiritual and physical overcoming), he also shows us what in his day and ours would be considered...a feminine side. I think this is best exemplified in his nurturing and healing acts and character, his kindness, gentleness, and his submissiveness. I believe there is a reason God was incarnated as a male human being, that he is referred to as the "perfect man," the "second Adam," and the "bridegroom" of the Church. But because the mission of his life precluded a sexual family life, and indeed sexuality altogether, there is a certain...I won't say "ambiguity," but..."universality"...of his gender roles. I believe such universality would be central to his reaching the other roughly 50% of the human population---the fairer sex. If Christian men must hold up Christ as an example of masculinity, perhaps Christian women must also look to him for an expression of their ideal femininity. (I believe the Roman Catholic Church has found a way to circumvent this, with the development of an adoration of Christ's human mother Mary, the Queen of Heaven; she, however, has no claim to divinity, which presents a problem to most non-Catholics in this respect.)

One can argue historical revision on the part of Christ's early followers, in regards to the tacit nature of Jesus' sexuality and family life, but Christ has been consistently held up as "asexual" (for lack of a better term) by official interpretations of Christianity for two thousand years, and I personally hold rigidly with these pronouncements. But I find such extra-scriptural and extra-theological notions to be furthermore beyond the scope of this post, as I am really more concerned here with the thinking on Christ's gender roles expressed in Christian iconography (i.e., how we "imagine" Christ) through the ages. There are historical reasons for Jesus being perpetually imagined with long, flowing hair, but these artistic representations really have more to do with the customs contemporary to the artists themselves than they do with the historical reality of Jesus' physical appearance. (He probably had very curly hair worn at some medium length.) The popular image of a long-haired Christ, however, has not changed in our day, despite customs changing radically since the Middle Ages. He is also represented consistently as being very slender and waif-like, hung on the Cross, though he must have historically possessed a more muscular physique to have carried such a burden. The Catholic Church especially seems to hold with this iconography, as their crucifix uniformly exhibits an almost-feminine body attached to the Cross. Now, again, I am not making any references here to "sexual" identity, as most ancient and medieval depictions of the feminine would include curves---breasts and hips. I am only referring to the imagining of gender---dominance and submission...traits I believe Christ exemplified simultaneously and perfectly. And so, though our traditional notions of gender identity sharply divide along these lines, it seems to me that a genuine attempt to model one's masculinity on Christ must also include His traditionally-feminine submissiveness, and a reciprocal relationship for women imitating Christlike femininity. This post is not meant to offend, nor to merely provoke; it is only a response to the searches of others to find a Christian alternative to the metrosexualization of male identity in our contemporary society. While Jesus shows us perfect masculinity, he must also be an ideal exemplar to his female followers, and his male disciples should truthfully take this "feminine side" into account.

But We Don't Want the Irish!

On the continuing topic of sports matters that probably interest only myself, another post: college hockey rankings. Now, the Minnesota Golden Gophers were considered the favorite for a #1 ranking at the beginning of the college hockey season, and have continued to be through the majority of the schedule. They fell to the North Dakota Fighting Sioux (the other UND) a few weeks back, and were replaced at the top spot by the surprising Notre Dame Fighting Irish. After sweeping the Gopher men last weekend, the then #5-ranked St. Cloud State Huskies were expected to surpass Notre Dame---who split their weekend series with the lowly Ferris State Bulldogs---for the top spot in the polls. Through what I can only imagine to be greater name recognition, the Irish barely held on to their #1 ranking, and the Huskies (my hometown team) stalled in the 2-hole. I hope this situation is remedied in the next few weeks (though I bear no special ill-will toward the Irish), depending on the continuing great play by St. Cloud State, whose only Division I sport is hockey. With the approach of college hockey's own March Madness---the "Frozen Four"---I sincerely hope for the top seeds to go to St. Cloud State, Minnesota, Notre Dame, and Boston University (my alma mater), though the last was dealt a blow by a loss earlier this week. (I would prefer North Dakota of the two UNDs, but I find that contingency unlikely.) Perhaps sports fans can find a place in their heart for the Frozen Four this month, and readers of this blog will also be updated next week on the second leg of the UEFA Champions League Round of 16. Go Reds!

Thursday, March 1, 2007

2008 GOP Nominee Thoughts and Rankings

1. Sen. Sam Brownback – I have posted many times on my hoping to see Brownback ascend to the “Big Table” of 2008 hopefuls, and while I still hold out hope, the likelihood of earlier primaries does not bode well for this desire of mine. The conventional wisdom is that the Brownback-Hunter-Tancredo ranks will thin out as quickly as do their coffers, a process that should be expedited by the prospect of earlier primaries. My hopes of a Brownback insurgency also took a blow with the official entrance of “The Mayor”. Up until Giuliani jumped in, I could at least hope for the general disdain for McCain, the inevitability of his alienating himself further from the base with every campaign stop he makes, and Romney’s shady history and un-welcomed faith to all push the GOP machine to search the lower tier candidates for a solution much like the Democrats did with Clinton in ’92. However, “America’s Mayor” is in and looking like he may trounce everyone. Which leads me to…

2. Rudy Giuliani – I have resigned myself to the fact that if Rudy’s political persona is not genuine, as those who criticize his personal shortcomings would say, I am sold on it almost irreversibly at this point. Still, I can think of at least three guys technically running right now that I would prefer over him. I love his charisma, and I think his capacity to govern effectively is among the best in the field. So, what’s the hang-up?...Of course it’s the social issues! Rudy supporters counter this question by stating his philosophy on the judiciary with the fact that he vehemently claims that his personal views on abortion, gay rights, etc… do not set him at odds with the party’s base as his philosophy of government alone counters the liberal social agenda. Now, I do not think he’s lying. Actually, something about this guy just screams to me that he should be believed (see the part about me being sold), but I cannot overlook that this is the same position staked out by Ford, Reagan, and Bush the 1st. This is the mentality that gave us jurists like John Paul Stevens, Sandra Day O’Connor, and David Souter. So, please forgive my lack of faith in the “I don’t have a problem with these things, but don’t let that concern you, I’ll appoint proper jurists” argument. Yes, we need to restore the judiciary to its proper role in society, but we also need to stop killing babies and ignoring the social implications in the destruction of marriage as a social institution. With all this, I am left with a guy that I really like and that will most likely be my party’s nominee. So, in the scenario of an imminent primary with the “Brownback’s” having already bowed out, I have to ponder the reality of choosing between Rudy, McCain, and Romney…I say “GOOOO Yankees!!!”…Unless, of course…

3. Newt Gingrich – Newt is close to replacing Bill Bennett as my favorite interview to watch, and oh how I would love a Gingrich candidacy and for so many reasons. With McCain and Romney stumbling, there could possibly be enough room at the table for a fourth player, and I believe Gingrich could secure that seat. I’ll say this, if Brownback is gone come primary season and Newt has, in the meantime, actually entered the race and secured enough of a position to still be around, he then becomes my Rudy-alternative.

So, here’s my 2008 nominee rankings/wishlist:

1. Brownback
2. Gingrich
3. Hunter
4. Huckabee
5. Giuliani
6. Tancredo
7. Romney…
34,498. McCain

What’re yours?