Suffragette City 2005

This past week was crazy Thanksgiving time, and in the midst of it all, I realized that I really love the work of Takeshi Kitano. A few months ago, I watched Zatoichi (which is super-great), so last week I picked up Dolls at the library. I realize I'm a few years late on this, but holy crap. What great sweet sweet nectar. So now I've put a number of his older films on hold at the library. I'm a little nervous because I guess Dolls and on were a bit of a departure from his previous work. He used to make a bunch of action films, which are great and all, if you're into that sort of thing.

The conclusion here is that, given the two Kitano films I've seen thus far, he make my list of "People Who Are Reasons Why God Made..." Here's the list so far for Film.

People Who Are The Reasons Why God Made Film
Wong Kar Wai
Jean Pierre-Jeunet
Wolfgang Becker
Jean-Luc Godard
Francois Truffaut
Darren Aronofsky
Terry Gilliam
Lars von Trier

The thing is that a great body of work tends to be required to make the list, so we'll see if things pan out. The list is elite (or at least I'd like to think so). Woopdeewhat


Gary the Gare

Erika's birthday is coming up, followed by Christmas and I haven't purchased a single present. But Coldplay is coming to town in February. Now, you may not know this, but Erika and I don't often go to concerts together. This isn't a big deal, she's just not as into it as I am. She's a good sport about it, but it's not her deal.

But then, like a crystal light shiny across a murky sea tainted by the stale blasts of ever-increasing sludge from the careful disdain of a thousand oil-soaked ducklings, we went to see Keane together last Spring. Oh what a night that was. What joyful bliss on a fresh meadow. Granted, I had to compromise a bit of snobbery in going to see a band that at the time got a lot of radio play. The concert was mainly frequented by business-types who only like what Mtv tell them to like, but I was able to sacrifice such arrogant thoughts with good grace. The result was that both Erika and I had an incredible time at the show (a first in our relationship (our concert going experience to that point was either Erika coming to see bands she didn't care for at all or vice versa)).

This time was one I hoped to recreate at some point in life. Coldplay was such a possibility. All the factors were there (some even moreso, i.e. Coldplay is the second biggest band in the world, so there are literally millions of non-musicocentric people who like them and would be at the show), leading me to believe that this would be the birthday present of the era.

Then ticketmaster showed up. I understand that Coldplay is the second biggest band in the world, so their tickets are going to be fairly pricey. 35 bucks a pop is double my usual spending, but I figured it is worth it to have such a night of shared enjoyment with my wife. So I headed into Angelo's to pick up some tickets. The lady at Angelo's is very nice and helped me in my cheapskate ways to find the cheapest possible tickets (the aforementioned 35 bones). She knew of my reluctance to shell out so much cash (via credit card), and told me of the five dollar building fee per ticket. I thought, I'm sure $35 times 1 billion people is probably enough to cover building fees, but what do I know? Then, there was a $13 per ticket convenience fee. What convenience am I getting?...

$13 is $5 more than I make per hour and this is for each ticket. For that kind of convenience, when I think that I want tickets to a show, ticketmaster should pick up the brainwaves and immediately dispatch some sort of messenger who will come to my house and pick me up in a helicopter. Then, we would go to the venue (in this case the Pepsi Center), so that I can sit in each of the seats that I am considering buying, so that I know that I will have chosen to optimal viewing seats. Then I will purchase the tickets on the way back to my house. Upon getting out of the chopper, the messenger hands me a delicious pizza and wishes me a good day.

But here's the convenience that $13 a ticket gets me in real life...NOTHING. When I buy a ticket from any other vendor or venue, there is no convenience charge. If I get them online, maybe there is a charge to cover the shipping of the tickets, but even that is rare. I realize this is nothing new, but ticketmaster is really a fine example of human depravity. They do what they want because they own big concerts. Fortunately, I don't want to go to many big concerts, so I can thumb my nose at them and say, "Ticketmaster, I refuse to buy tickets to your concerts because you completely miss the point of making music and take advantage of people. Good riddance." Then they will say...well nothing, because they will be too busy making billions of dollars off of people who are willing to spend $60 a person for three hours of enjoyment (That's $20/hour. An amount I am not willing to spend on any kind of joyful entertainment). So anyone who wants to not change anything, join me in my boycott of ticketmaster (didn't this already happen on a national scale when I was 10 years old or something?)


Viva La Revolution

This morning I was at the gas station. While I was standing outside my car (no static electricity for me, thanks...I'm not paranoid), I looked at the little ad buddy above the pump. It was an ad for mini Coopers. Here (more or less) is what it said...

Next time you get gas, go inside to pay. Talk to the cashier. Ask them the craziest thing they have ever seen at work. They'll probably have a great story. Or they may say, "Here's your change." Either way, it's just good to talk to people.

I was so happy. This is something that I first really started thinking about when my brother's prof brought it up in his Christian Ethics class. Even though all this convenience stuff (pay-at-the-pump, self-checkout at the grocery store, redbox dvds, self-checkout at the library)is supposed to be for convenience, it ultimately succeeds in cutting out a lot of interaction in our days (depending on the day, and how much money we have to spend that day). I realize that the usual discourse is...

"Hello" (my personal favorite greeting)
"How's it going?"
"Well, have a good day."
"Thanks, you too."

But part of why our interaction is so lame is our lack of experience in interacting due to all our "conveniences." I'm not suggesting that this is the sole culprit. This has been a problem for a long time (see the film Good Morning). But we need to become better conversationalists. Take the time to really interact with the people at the grocery store.

This is something I'm still working on myself. For the sake of honesty, I have to admit that I read this just after I had paid at the pump. I guess my point is that we do all this stuff to save time, but it doesn't really save us that much time. With the four extra minutes I saved by not going inside, I was able to sit at work today four extra minutes. Not really worth it.

My grounding for all of this is that I believe we were created to interact. It's the way the Trinity works, and that's what I think part of the Imago Dei is. If our conversations start out worthless, it gives us a place to improve. What what.


Leagues of Despair

Yesterday I received an e-mail from my good pal Paco, who is working with the Relief Effort in Pakistan right now. Basically it was desperate plea for money to help buy tents for people to live in before the harsh winter comes. If the funds don't come in, thousands of people will die. This created a deep sense of urgency and panic in my soul to do whatever I could to raise money for this effort.

One of my attempts to garner support was to email my professors to see if I could pass out the letter he sent me to students prior to class. One of my professors told me that such an action will not be possible, because if we did this every time a student had a worthy cause, there would be no end to such appeals. In some ways I can understand this. He also said that the campus president is deciding the best way for the Campus to aid the problems in Pakistan.

It took everything in me to restrain my anger upon receiving this reply. People will die if the aid doesn't come in. Meanwhile our president sits on his thumbs waiting to decide the best way to help. The earthquakes happened over a month ago. How long does it take to take action? I am going to contact the president about this need, but given his usual deafness, I'm not very hopeful.

I hope this post isn't too much of a knee-jerk reaction. Perhaps I should have taken some time to reflect before writing my thoughts. However, my brother and wife are unavailable to talk right now, so I have to vent somewhere. I guess the hardest part is that all of this comes from a professor that I highly respect and admire.

Here's my question...when a disaster happens outside our country, what does it take for Christians to make it a priority to help? Sure we pray about it (which is important), but don't ask us to sacrifice anything. We'll help out with the problems in America because we are continually reminded of the devastation by the news. But if something happens in another part of the world, forget about it. Oh, we'll say that we are going to help, but we take five months to decide how to help. Then we just let it slip our minds.

I must include that some people have been very great about this need. One of my friends works at a church that is not very affluent, but he was quick to get his congregation behind this effort. One of my professors (who is not American, by the way), was very eager to allow me to pass out the information in class and talk about it.

If I'm being ridiculous, tell me. I'm trying to be balanced about this, but it is so maddening that we are so stingy in such an affluent nation (this coming two days after Trevor taught on not being a slave to anything (specifically Money)). Back to work now, Ryan