Friday, December 30, 2005

Friday Five - New Year's Resolutions

1) Do you make New Year's Resolutions?
I don't make them.

2) If so, are they generally successful?
See #1

3) Do you write them down, or make a mental list?
See #1

4) Even if you don't make resolutions, is there something you want to focus on in the New Year?
I'm working on an idea for my sermon on Sunday (hey, is anyone else going to be in CHURCH on Sunday? Prolly not, I'd reckon. But I'll be there, preaching) about making one resolution - to be intentional about being in the present moment - and then the rest of the resolutions will fall into place. Sort of a Christian-ish Be Here Now. And that will be a good message for me, too, btw.

5) And do you have plans for New Year's Eve?
Um, there's that sermon that needs working on.
And probably a movie and dinner and lots of being grateful that we're all home together and mostly well again.

And now for something completely different

I found a cool new-to-me site today, en route to looking up stuff about the desert fatherers and mothers, bless 'em, for my sermon on Sunday. The Hermitary - about everything hermit....

Suddenly kind of, well, cute is really the word that comes to mind

Hmm, guess I'll have to take back all that snotty stuff I said that one time about Peter Jackson and his greasy hair.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

movie review

We went to the Narnia movie today and let me first say that I've probably read the book fifty times and I spent most of my childhood banging around in the woods pretending to be Lucy, so there's no way it could be on any screen the way it already lives and breathes in my bones.

That said, the good stuff. Aslan (although incomprehensibly small) was a good mix of regal and sad and they got his hair right, which is often distracting to me in CG. The child actors were excellent, especially William Moseley, who played Peter. And the special effects, particularly in the battle scenes, are great - another score for WETA. And MR. TUMNUS (James McAvoy) rocked the HOUSE.

But, but, but...

It's not WAR story, you guys. It's an ADVENTURE story that has a battle IN IT, and that's a totally different thing. By spending so much time, money and effort on getting the battle at the end nailed, the production missed out on a big chance to really develop the rest of the characters so we could know them and love them. Even the change from winter to spring, which SHOULD happen quickly, was just absurdly rushed, presumably so that the story could hurry up and get to the battle scene, which we had no emotional investment in by the time we arrived there, kind of out of breath.

Another disappointment to me was the way Susan and Peter kept talking about trying to get "home." One of main delights of the book is the way that the children, once they enter into the world of Narnia, are totally immersed in it, without distraction. And if the story is really a metaphor for the Christian life, then focus is part of what we're aiming for, right?

Well, I wouldn't say "stay away," but I think a big opportunity was missed. I'll be very curious to see what happens with Caspian, which is now tentatively set for 2007.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Book report

Don't worry. When I slipped on the steep mossy driveway while taking out the garbage and fell flat on my back and skinned my palms and shouted out a filthy cuss word, I had luckily just taken two tylenol for the muscles that are still sore from coughing for the last six weeks (can you actually CRACK a rib from coughing when you are 37 years old, or does that just happen to really old women who already have osteoperosis?), so it hardly hurt at all.

Nah, you definately don't want to hear about what's going on with me.

Instead, let me tell you what I've been reading.
First, wunderkind Zadie Smith's big rip on academia, On Beauty, which I read alot ABOUT before reading. It's funny, like they said it would be, and I was definately rooting for some of the characters, and at first I was very captivated by her writing. She puts words together really well and, unlike some of the reviewers on Amazon for example, I forgave her for writing British English, instead of American English. Since most of the characters had at least one foot in each world, it sort of made sense to me. But in spite of the humor of it (one main character is a Rembrandt scholar who hates Rembrandt) it was ultimately so cynical and kind of sad that I gave up on it in the end. Maybe I've seen too much of the real thing to ever think that The Results of An Affair can actually be all that hilarious.

And Jeff and I have been trading back and forth - sometimes reading aloud and sometimes waiting til the other one's asleep and sneakily reading ahead - these books by George R R Martin. We've finished the first one, Game of Thrones, and are now about half way through the second, Clash of Kings. (Thanks to Songbird for the recommendation!) These are funny, too, although in a different way, and good characters, too, although in a very, very, very different way. But we are really enjoying them - the author is a screenwriter, too and you can tell, and I mean that as a complement. The books, truly, have pretty much everything in them - compelling relationships, unfathomable plotlines, fascinating religious/cultural/social stuff, humor, fighting, and great character (both male and female). These are books you can really get lost in. If you aren't too squeamish about violence or ten year old girls having to choose between starvation and eating live worms, and aren't daunted by a series that, in total, is certainly going to run at least five thousand pages, I totally recommend them.

Can you tell anything about yourself by looking at the author headshots of books you're reading? If you can, I cant help but see it as confirmation that I'll probably never be all sophisticated and gorgeous and super intellectual, but instead am pretty much certainly consigned to life of cheerful geekiness.

So reading. One little part of the last month, while I've been mostly blog-free. I haven't been reading anyone else's or hardly writing at all and I miss it. Hopefully, this will be a jump start. Thanks for prayers and good thoughts, by the way. Elijah is doing AWESOME. He just bounced right back from pneumonia. In fact, as I write this, it's 9:45 pm and he's lying in bed hollering for me to bring him a ham sandwich. Yes, things HAVE gotten a little out of hand here at the Brownells since we've all been sick. But a new era of discipline is starting today. I am not bringing him a ham sandwich in bed. I'm not.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

"You will probably actually have a merry Christmas"

Silent Night
You are 'Silent Night'! You really enjoy
Christmas, and you like your Christmases
conventional. For you, Christmas is about
family and traditions, and you rather enjoy the
rituals of going to church at midnight and
turning off the lights before flaming the plum
pudding. Although you find Christmas shopping
frustrating, you like the excitement of
wrapping and hiding presents, and opening a
single door on the Advent Calendar each day.
You like the traditional carols, and probably
teach the children to sing along to them. More
than anyone else, you will probably actually
have a merry Christmas.

What Christmas Carol are you?
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Sunday, December 11, 2005

2 emails

Sent this one on friday:

Date: December 9, 2005 1:53:49 PM PST
Subject: prayers please....

Hello dear friends,

It's a sick-y time around here and I"m writing to ask for prayers and patience.

I've been coughing for almost a month, and now Eli's picked it up and turned it into pneumonia. As of yesterday, he is in Children's Hospital, where he'll likely remian thru the weekend. (Doing much better, btw, under the influence of wonder drug - straight oxygen up the nose). Now, I have totally lost my voice and Jeff's got a fever. Luckily, my Dad is arriving from Wisconsin tomorrow (SAturday) and he'll help out considerably.

In the meantime, I know i have meetings or phone calls or other obligations scheduled with some of you, and I'm just writing to say I dont know when I'll be back on my feet to get back to you individually. Dont know when I'll be back at email, and I obviously cant really talk on the phone right now. For sure anything this weekend and the early part of next week is out, and possibly later. We just all have to get better before we can be out in the world again and I dont know how long that will be.

Thanks in advance for prayers and etc,
Blessing to you and yours,

...and this one today

Date: December 11, 2005 6:40:03 PM PST
Subject: eli update

Dear Ones,

Just a note to thank you for your many kind prayers and help and visits and etc - we are now home from the hospital and Eli is doing so much better. Those doctors actually told him he could go back to day care on Monday which seems, a little, I dont know, hasty or something, considering he had to be hooked up to machines to make sure he was breathing just yesterday. They have great faith in antibiotics, I think.

Anyway, we'll be taking it easy for the next couple of days - I still cant talk at all and I took a nap today from 11 to 4:30... Jeff is somehow the healthiest of any of us. :) My dad is here and he is being a big help. I am so grateful right now for all my family near and far!

All this is making me feel weirdly full of Christmas Spirit and helping me think alot about the real sacrifice of the One Among Us. Discuss among yourselves: Did Christ ever get a head cold? If not, was the Incarnation all that it could have been in terms of really coming to terms with being human?

Oops, getting punchy. Better go.

Thanks again and love, love, love,
Jennifer and the rest of the B's

And did I mention that today I turn 37? So happy (um, or whatever) birthday to me, too.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Cleaning out my inbox...

...and here's a sample of what's in there from the last week or so.

First of all: there's a good, long article about the United Church of Christ winning an award for the "bouncer" ads here.

And if you want to know how cool it is to live downtown, check out this photo from one of Jeff's co-workers, who took this picture of the monorail crash right out of his apartment window. (Don't worry, no one was hurt, but the poor, beleagured monorail will not be running for awhile).

Oh, I just HEART Rev. Billy, don't you?

The landlord (who's from California) warns us about the dangers of cold weather and the possibility of the pipes freezing. The tenants (who are from Minnesota) snicker a little in our sleeves about people who dont know anything about cold weather, but we're covering those outdoor faucets anyway.

Here's an ad from Sojo for a poster of Gandhi's list of 7 Deadly Social Sins - still so sadly relevant.

Here's an Emo from Barbara Crafton at the geranium farm that contains this awesome little Advent gem.
What happens to you if you don't pray? Bad things? Does God turn away, refuse to hear you when you really do need him? None of the above. Bad things don't happen to the unobservant any more often than they do to the devout: stuff just happens, as those bumper stickers used to say. The love of God falls gently upon us all, people much wickeder than I am and people infinitely more righteous. Prayer has nothing to do with staying on God's good side.

All that happens is that you don't have a life of prayer. And, if a life of prayer is what you want, rooted in the exploration of what it mean to be a human being beloved of God, you drift further and further from what you want. You are like a person who needs a hammer but refuses to go to the hardware store.

And, oh dear, I've won this on ebay. Evidently, this was the date and time of my bid: "Dec-01-05 21:30:57 PST." Twenty-one-hundred-hours? When is that exactly? Ovbiously, an injudicious and sentimental hour, probably in the middle of the night. And I have so much shopping for actual presents for real peple that I could have been doing then. Sigh.

I guess before any more of my bad habits are revealed (such as not getting back to old friends who are trying to get in touch with me), I better end this little email inbox tour.

But now I'm so curious (as our friend The Bear would say). What's in YOUR inbox?

Too good to be true!

What a marvelous person! You are the splendid
Christmas tree! You are a spirited person who
almost always in a great mood. Your smiles and
laughter are some things that people usually
look forward to in you. You are someone who is
full of energy and ready for a good time. Most
likely you are a social butterfly. All of these
characteristics make you a beautiful person
inside and out. People just really enjoy to be
around you. Merry Christmas =)

What Christmas Figure Are You?
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I guess there's nothing to really say about it, but take a look at that art up there. :)