Sunday, August 26, 2007



Both the Alien and the Predator franchises eventually pissed me off. Every several years a new one pops up that might save the pack. I have hope for this one. AVP was one of the worst stillborn films I have ever seen. Thank the internet gods that I downloaded it and stole from 20th Century Fox. They wanted to obviously steal from me with that half-baked mistake.

Someone said that this was going to be good. I laughed in their face. Then they sent me the link for the new trailer and I soiled my underoos. It is an R-Rated trailer, so strap yourself in for some decent gore. Furthermore, the "F-YOU!" at the end really cuts to the chase; much like a knock-knock joke I have been telling to mature company that has the the same punchline.

Some great things have happened in both series. David Fincher got his start. Casson and I were discussing this probably less than a week ago. I still need to go back and see Alien Part 3 and see if it was as horrible as I remember it. Predator part one is still one of my all time favorites. My computer at work whispers "anytime" to me whenever a new email comes in. Bill Paxton's "game over" rant ranks as one of my most quoted movie passages.

That being said, I am sure that most if not all of the money is blown for us in the trailer. Lots of heads snapping and popping, and lots of alien acid blood. This definitely brings the action back that I recall from 1986's ALIENS...but will it cut the mustard? No idea, but this is the best trailer that has gone across my laptop in awhile. Check it out:

Friday, August 24, 2007

Mother Teresa

My father tells of a season when he was in the presence of Mother Teresa. When one says "Mother Teresa" one thinks of something completely good. When one thinks of a secular saint, like say "Princess Diana" one thinks of someone trying to good, but not quite nailing it. Mother Teresa nailed it. No doubt about it. She was good. She was good to the core.

My father breaks down his time in her presence as a powerful moment. How could it not be? But now there is all of this stuff that has been release talking about the darkness that she felt and how far away God seemed to her. This was a woman at the top of the spiritual game (in the Catholic sense). Now there is stuff out there that she wrote to her confessors about how abandoned she felt. How she even questioned this fantastic faith that we all knew she had. One argument that I have heard in all of this is that there is so much more power in the fact that she was struggling to "wear a mask" for her public, and that the faith that she demonstrated in that process is beautiful.

Part of me is pissed with the Catholic Church because she requested that these private messages that she would send to her confessors be destroyed. They were not. Leave it to the Catholics to bust out with this stuff. This is a backstab, if you ask me. I don't know the story behind how her papers were released, but it is dirty, whatever it is. If I was to actually confide in someone my deepest spiritual fears, I would expect that the stuff would be kept under wraps...even after my death. Someone is getting paid here, and it seems generous for me to go ahead and say that they can go to hell.

If the woman struggled as hard as the book is saying (based on the excerpts below)...well what kind of chance does a run-of-the-mill bastard like myself have of escaping total spiritual darkness? Not much. This information that is coming out has me flummoxed and shocked.

Here is a taste:

On Dec. 11, 1979, Mother Teresa, the "Saint of the Gutters," went to Oslo. Dressed in her signature blue-bordered sari and shod in sandals despite below-zero temperatures, the former Agnes Bojaxhiu received that ultimate worldly accolade, the Nobel Peace Prize. In her acceptance lecture, Teresa, whose Missionaries of Charity had grown from a one-woman folly in Calcutta in 1948 into a global beacon of self-abnegating care, delivered the kind of message the world had come to expect from her. "It is not enough for us to say, 'I love God, but I do not love my neighbor,'" she said, since in dying on the Cross, God had "[made] himself the hungry one — the naked one — the homeless one." Jesus' hunger, she said, is what "you and I must find" and alleviate. She condemned abortion and bemoaned youthful drug addiction in the West. Finally, she suggested that the upcoming Christmas holiday should remind the world "that radiating joy is real" because Christ is everywhere — "Christ in our hearts, Christ in the poor we meet, Christ in the smile we give and in the smile that we receive."
Yet less than three months earlier, in a letter to a spiritual confidant, the Rev. Michael van der Peet, that is only now being made public, she wrote with weary familiarity of a different Christ, an absent one. "Jesus has a very special love for you," she assured Van der Peet. "[But] as for me, the silence and the emptiness is so great, that I look and do not see, — Listen and do not hear — the tongue moves [in prayer] but does not speak ... I want you to pray for me — that I let Him have [a] free hand."
The two statements, 11 weeks apart, are extravagantly dissonant. The first is typical of the woman the world thought it knew. The second sounds as though it had wandered in from some 1950s existentialist drama. Together they suggest a startling portrait in self-contradiction — that one of the great human icons of the past 100 years, whose remarkable deeds seemed inextricably connected to her closeness to God and who was routinely observed in silent and seemingly peaceful prayer by her associates as well as the television camera, was living out a very different spiritual reality privately, an arid landscape from which the deity had disappeared.
And in fact, that appears to be the case. A new, innocuously titled book, Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light (Doubleday), consisting primarily of correspondence between Teresa and her confessors and superiors over a period of 66 years, provides the spiritual counterpoint to a life known mostly through its works. The letters, many of them preserved against her wishes (she had requested that they be destroyed but was overruled by her church), reveal that for the last nearly half-century of her life she felt no presence of God whatsoever — or, as the book's compiler and editor, the Rev. Brian Kolodiejchuk, writes, "neither in her heart or in the eucharist."
That absence seems to have started at almost precisely the time she began tending the poor and dying in Calcutta, and — except for a five-week break in 1959 — never abated. Although perpetually cheery in public, the Teresa of the letters lived in a state of deep and abiding spiritual pain. In more than 40 communications, many of which have never before been published, she bemoans the "dryness," "darkness," "loneliness" and "torture" she is undergoing. She compares the experience to hell and at one point says it has driven her to doubt the existence of heaven and even of God. She is acutely aware of the discrepancy between her inner state and her public demeanor. "The smile," she writes, is "a mask" or "a cloak that covers everything." Similarly, she wonders whether she is engaged in verbal deception. "I spoke as if my very heart was in love with God — tender, personal love," she remarks to an adviser. "If you were [there], you would have said, 'What hypocrisy.'" Says the Rev. James Martin, an editor at the Jesuit magazine America and the author of My Life with the Saints, a book that dealt with far briefer reports in 2003 of Teresa's doubts: "I've never read a saint's life where the saint has such an intense spiritual darkness. No one knew she was that tormented." Recalls Kolodiejchuk, Come Be My Light's editor: "I read one letter to the Sisters [of Teresa's Missionaries of Charity], and their mouths just dropped open. It will give a whole new dimension to the way people understand her."
The book is hardly the work of some antireligious investigative reporter who Dumpster-dived for Teresa's correspondence. Kolodiejchuk, a senior Missionaries of Charity member, is her postulator, responsible for petitioning for her sainthood and collecting the supporting materials. (Thus far she has been beatified; the next step is canonization.) The letters in the book were gathered as part of that process.
The church anticipates spiritually fallow periods. Indeed, the Spanish mystic St. John of the Cross in the 16th century coined the term the "dark night" of the soul to describe a characteristic stage in the growth of some spiritual masters. Teresa's may be the most extensive such case on record. (The "dark night" of the 18th century mystic St. Paul of the Cross lasted 45 years; he ultimately recovered.) Yet Kolodiejchuk sees it in St. John's context, as darkness within faith. Teresa found ways, starting in the early 1960s, to live with it and abandoned neither her belief nor her work. Kolodiejchuk produced the book as proof of the faith-filled perseverance that he sees as her most spiritually heroic act.
Two very different Catholics predict that the book will be a landmark. The Rev. Matthew Lamb, chairman of the theology department at the conservative Ave Maria University in Florida, thinks Come Be My Light will eventually rank with St. Augustine's Confessions and Thomas Merton's The Seven Storey Mountain as an autobiography of spiritual ascent. Martin of America, a much more liberal institution, calls the book "a new ministry for Mother Teresa, a written ministry of her interior life," and says, "It may be remembered as just as important as her ministry to the poor. It would be a ministry to people who had experienced some doubt, some absence of God in their lives. And you know who that is? Everybody. Atheists, doubters, seekers, believers, everyone."
Not all atheists and doubters will agree. Both Kolodiejchuk and Martin assume that Teresa's inability to perceive Christ in her life did not mean he wasn't there. In fact, they see his absence as part of the divine gift that enabled her to do great work. But to the U.S.'s increasingly assertive cadre of atheists, that argument will seem absurd. They will see the book's Teresa more like the woman in the archetypal country-and-western song who holds a torch for her husband 30 years after he left to buy a pack of cigarettes and never returned. Says Christopher Hitchens, author of The Missionary Position, a scathing polemic on Teresa, and more recently of the atheist manifesto God Is Not Great: "She was no more exempt from the realization that religion is a human fabrication than any other person, and that her attempted cure was more and more professions of faith could only have deepened the pit that she had dug for herself." Meanwhile, some familiar with the smiling mother's extraordinary drive may diagnose her condition less as a gift of God than as a subconscious attempt at the most radical kind of humility: she punished herself with a crippling failure to counterbalance her great successes.
Come Be My Light is that rare thing, a posthumous autobiography that could cause a wholesale reconsideration of a major public figure — one way or another. It raises questions about God and faith, the engine behind great achievement, and the persistence of love, divine and human. That it does so not in any organized, intentional form but as a hodgepodge of desperate notes not intended for daylight should leave readers only more convinced that it is authentic — and that they are, somewhat shockingly, touching the true inner life of a modern saint.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Last Round of Summer Pix

Yeah, a busy summer here. I have been snapping the odd pic, and I am bringing them to you with the little statements. Slacker photojournalism. Here goes...

This piece of birthday cake looked like a photo waiting to happen with the three upturned strawberries. Notice the Scarface sticker on the laptop. All of the PS2 skins are on blowout because the XBOX 360 and the PS3 have everyone's attention. I am pretty much in a PS2 por vida space. I have no idea what is going to pull 500 bones out of my pocket to get on with next gen. It sure isn't the games library currently offered though.

This is the top of the hill that I have been mountain biking just about every day with at least one of my brood. The Moss Landing smokestacks were visible this day, and that is why I took the pic. A wonderful view. The cellphone doesn't capture the true beauty or it, nor does it record my incessant panting from the blitz up the hill.

I poured a scotch with strawberries in it. Then I topped the drink off with water. Yes, it sounds weak and frou-frou, but it was BOMB. Then I proceeded to fall asleep watching CITY OF LOST CHILDREN with L-Dogg. He fell asleep too. I don't know how Casson at one time said that this was his favorite movie. That was the third time I have blacked out watching that trash. Three strikes and the film is OUT.

Oak worm moths/caterpillars have taken over. This is a poor tree in the Toys R Us parking lot. You can see some of the webbing on it. This town is beginning to look like KINGDOM OF THE SPIDERS. Those little caterpillars are really pushing it. When you catch one and squeeze him by the head, he doesn't even give you a satisfying death spasm. He just goes limp, because he knows that there will be about three or four million to take his place. There are so many in the trees that you can hear their dung dropping. Millions of the little things defecating at all times of the day. I was outside under a tree on a conference call and heard all of this tinkling. Then I realized I was in a true shitstorm.

I forced the babies to ride across the Boardwalk on the lift last Saturday. What intrigues me the most is the fact that the merry-go-round rings are on the tops of all of these buildings. What also intrigues me is that no one looks up at you. Yet you are watching them.

More rings.

I cut my finger on what I think was part of a wine glass. Here are two shots. Now there is no sign that I even hurt myself at all.

Lift shot of the ocean. The Pacific was beautiful, and cooling with its natural air conditioning. No avection cloud, just the nice breeze of the ocean. Moss Landing is in the distance, but once again, the cameraphone ain't really cutting it.

More overhead shots of the people below. I absolutely love the Boardwalk. I own their souls.

Here is L-Dogg, after a ride to the top of the hill and then down to the park for some shade and some water.

Yzzy makes the best smoothies. Fok Jamba Juice. Yzzy has it all on lock. Sure it looks like brains, but it is a "nice refreshing drink."

We went to breakfast at Chamanade last Sunday morning. That is my bike to the left. If you squint, you can see the Scarface sticker on it too.

Me and the Eyeball on the Giant Dipper last Saturday. Yzzy and Luther are in the car in front.

Shot of the outside of the Boardwalk, taken from the Doubleshot line. 125 feet to the top at a ridiculous speed. It always owns me.

This is Yzzy, working her way to the top of the hill.

A different day, Luther is working his way up, and Yz is behind him. It is just a matter of time before they start beating me to the top.

Another shot from the top. Another attempt at Moss Landing, which was visible.
The other direction from the top of the hill. Trees everywhere. Santa Cruz is the spot.

Yzzy after the hill run, at the park.

Blown radiator hose. Ivan and Luther helped me push it for about 3 blocks. Then I got the towjob. Hector is working hard. I caught a ticket tonight for 72 in a 55. That officer was low-balling it.
The beach in Monterey, before I went to one of my many jacked up meetings at the courthouse. I don't know who that is out on the sand there, but I obviously stole their soul.

At work, there is this sign telling me to recycle. It says underneath the part that says "no trash," "Yo dude, paper towels are trash." Totally patronizing me. So I recycled the sign.

Ivan while he was "it" in a game of tag at the park. He was holing up in this tube, baiting us all to get closer.

He would bait us to get closer and out would come the hand.

A round of scooter tag. That bush between Ivan and Yzzy is prickly as hell. Luther just takes the prickles to get away.

Ivan working his way up the hill.

Ivan at the park.

Ivan and Yzzy at the park. when they would stay with me on days that I was working, i would take them here at lunchtime. Then we would play a violent, sweaty game of tag in the heat of the day. Some days my legs would be so sore from the serious sprinting and slipping that I would do that I would limp around at night. That, coupled with my cardio set at Gold's has really been part of my summer workout. Both of them complained of being sore too. But it has been a lot of fun. On slower days, we would throw the frisbee. Yzzy is a pro. Ivan? Well, I would rather he threw to Yzzy than me at this point.

A different shot of the park. I must add that NO ONE is ever there. This makes it our own space.

This is a hill that we tend to run down at the park. Luther was chasing me full tilt and my leg slipped and I took a serious tumble. He was tumbling after me. He tagged me at the bottom of the hill. I tagged him back and limped outta there.

Another shot of the beautiful Santa Cruz beach. I have no idea who that guy is looking at me. He now knows that I stole his soul though.

An example of Boardwalk traffic. Global warming put this day well into the 80s. My entourage of souls.
Ivan at the park.

The water fountain. If we were a little more primitive, we would probably worship the thing.

Beautiful shots from the courthouse. I had to find some beauty in this hellish situation