Week #5

Movies and Foot Travel

I've seen two movies in the past two days, "Something About Mary" and "Permanent Midnight."

"Something About Mary" was better than I would have thought. It wove a rather serious romance with just the right amount of comedy. In other words the movie was more than just a dog in a silly full body cast.

There were plenty of twists in the plot and you left feeling good, which is always nice. Reasons for leaving a movie and feeling bad include: "boy was that a waste of time," "jeez did they have to make it so long," or "for twenty-five cents more I could have gotten the jumbo drink and popcorn."

Noteworthy about the "Something About Mary" viewing was the excellent service at the movie theater. There was long line, but all the windows were open, and the line moved very quickly (in less than a minute). The same was true of the concession stands. Finally when it was all over, a theater worker was standing at the door holding a bowl full of mints, so that you left the place with a good taste in your mouth.

"Permanent Midnight" which also stars Ben Stiller was less satisfying. It kind of left me feeling tired. Most of the movie is devoted to the lead character shooting up heroin and what redemptive moments there are seem to be overshadowed by a constant referral to the past. This probably reflects most people's lives, since they constantly want to use their defeats to define their victories.

I left the theater (which was not passing out mints) with little feeling of empathy for the main character and tired.

In other action, I returned to First Water in the morning, this time with Karen. There were quite a few people on the trail this time, and it seemed an easier hike for me. I'm guessing that the title refers to it being the first place where animals (and humans) could get water on the trail. I learned that it used to be named "Quarter-way" which is a depressing title.

First Water

I will claim ignorance at least at this moment as to why it is the spot is called "First Water", but I spent an hour climbing to reach the point this afternoon. I remember thinking several times on the more arduous parts of the journey that a walk across the hall to the faucet might have been easier, but certainly not as refreshing.

I began my hike up Mt. Wilson Trail full of expectation. I moved above the residential area quickly and the steady sound of traffic below followed me as I made the ascent. Looking down on the roofs of houses and other landmarks I was struck by how small I am in the midst of creation.

There was no one else on the trail, as I continued my trek. I wondered several times what I would do if a bear or other wild animal came at me from the other direction. I read the other day that all the bears had been killed off sometime ago in these parts, and I figured that the rest of the animal kingdom would be fleeing rather than chasing me down the hill.

All of these thoughts continued as I made my way up the trail. I figured that I had been climbing for some time, yet still no sign of first water. At some point I noticed that the noise of the traffic had disappeared, to be replaced by the screeching of a bird. I searched the adjacent hillside in vain trying to find the bird, after while I ventured on. A few feet more and I heard water.

Deep in the canyon below I saw the trickle of water that was making such a thunderous sound. I was amazed at how it captivated my interest, yet the water marked some accomplishment.

I would venture perhaps another mile before I reached the designation, "First Water." The same brook that I had followed from high above was there and it remains for another day to find out why it has received this designation.

Moving in the other direction, I moved quickly. The murmur of the water below was soon replaced by the noise of traffic and once again I was in civilization, as I made my way down the street I moved quickly out of the way of a car that almost hit me.

Can I help you? Not!

First of all for those who are use to seeing football picks here on Fridays, I have not given up just because the Gators lost last week. In fact I have expanded my efforts by creating an entire page devoted to them which you can access by clicking on the caveman trotting into his cave above.

In other revelations, I spent a significant amount of time asking questions to a man who worked in an audio store today. Most of the questions I asked were out of genuine interest about such things as WebTV, small televisions, clock radios and DSS Satellites. What was remarkable about this exchange was that the young man could not answer one of my questions.

As far as I could see he wore no "Trainee" badge or anything else that might have identified him as new to the store. He made no apology for his ignorance, but rather followed me around in the store and asked repeatedly, "Can I help you?"

Later in another store, while trying on hiking boots, a very helpful and knowledgeable clerk continued to reflect on the importance of carrying a first aid kit while hiking. He did this in such a way that it ran like a repetitive advertisement and I expected to see the words “by DICK” appear at any moment.

I asked him at some point if there were a special commission attached to the first aid kit. He responded in a hushed tone, "No, in fact ours is overpriced, if you ask me."

Finally I saw a deer trying to escape from the National Forest tonight. I'm not sure if it made it out or not, but it reminded me that a few days ago I was asked out of the blue if I liked deer meat.

I replied, "no", which seemed to satisfy the questioner.

Somewhere in these puzzle pieces of life there is a picture of a man who is no threat to the deer population, is receiving no answers from those who should know, and is carrying a band aid--just in case.

Thoughts in a (Supposedly)Empty Church
The Church at the top of the hill offered a place both to take a rest and to cool off for a few minutes. So entering, I welcomed the respite. Inside the door thundered an echo like the drop of large rock in an empty cavern as it shut with a thud.

Sitting I noticed, what Karen said her mother had entitled the scrap metal Jesus. It was an incredibly ugly welded piece that hung in the center of the sanctuary. It struck me that it would be a sign of faith for anyone to even have a sense that the thing represented Jesus let alone a person. It's shapeless mass of gnarled metal spoke, I guess of a risen wreck.

I had entitled it the faceless Christ, trying to conceptualize what the artist might have been aiming for and had then written an essay in my head why taking the face of Christ from him was so anti-Christian. After all what made Christianity unique was that it gave God a human face, a real person, someone who could be known rather than a formless being.

But today my focus was not on the structure hanging above but the oblong box below that my faith told me contained the body and blood of Jesus, his real presence. It was his presence that had drawn me in to this modern cave in the middle of the day. Lowering my sight to the tabernacle, I encountered a sign saying that to enter the sanctuary was to enter a forbidden zone. This was written in English and another language that I could not decipher.

That's strange I thought, to be close to Jesus is off limits? Of course I knew what the prohibition was there for, but it like the faceless Christ distracted me.

As I prayed I thought about the power of the presence of Christ, how it changed the most hardened of hearts, like mine. I thought of the power of that presence that I felt now.

Then something strange happened. I was drawn once more to look at the metallic form and it was then that I noticed that Jesus appeared to have only one eye. "The one-eyed Christ," I said in the silence thinking I had coined a new title for the piece.

The words were no sooner off of my lips when the memory of a woman that I had seen a week earlier popped into my mind. She was getting her hair done across from the chair where I was having mine cut. Looking perfectly normal on the side that was facing me, she had turned to reveal no eye on the other side of her face.

Skin covered where her eye socket must have been at an earlier time. Some deformation, accident or cancer had taken that side of her face, she had seemed nonchalant about it, but it had stayed in my consciousness well after leaving her presence.

Now she was here with me in the church suspended on the wall of the sanctuary rising above empowered by the presence of Christ, who bore her infirmity as well as mine.

First Day of Fall

Fall is a strange name for a season. I read someplace that it originates from the fact that night falls sooner as winter approaches. Anyway today is the first day of fall.

Fall makes me think of the President. His testimony (the videotaped version) bored me. It did not for the record make me feel sorry for him; instead it made me feel that he is sorry, a grown man splitting hairs over definitions and grammar. Truly he is the king of semantics.

The thing that impresses me about Clinton is how educated people defend him and make excuses for him. I have to admit that I do not comprehend it, but obviously there is something of the child in him that brings out the mothering in the nation.

Fall makes me think of the book that I am writing that seems to eternally spin its wheels in the muck of spring. I have entitled it "Overcoming the Fall" and perhaps that's the problem. "Stuck in the Fall" might be more to the point.

Fall makes me think of the commercial where the old lady falls and declares rather loudly, "I've fallen and I can't get up!"

Finally fall makes me think of colored leaves, dried up corn stalks and pumpkins. If I reflect a little more it also makes me think of apple cider, dunking for apples and pumpkin pie. It is the time when sweaters and sweatshirts are taken out of summer storage. It is my favorite time of the year and most of the memories that I cherish revolve around this time of the year.

Fall also reminds me that I am quickly approaching my 40th birthday. It is time to overcome the fall!

Monday Morning Quarterbacking

Well time for the weekly grading of my intuition test. This week I was not too bad; 3-2 on the football picks with both losses happening in overtime.

I think my analysis was fairly correct on all of the games. I had the Miami Dolphins end of the score correct (21), but I would have thought the Steelers would have been able to score at least 14 points rather than the zero that they did.

If you had asked me during the games (at half-time) who was going to win either the Jacksonville or Tampa Bay game, I might not have been as confident, but in the end they prevailed.

The Florida game, had it been played at a neutral site would have been exactly as predicted. In fact had they not turned the ball over, which in my intuitive grasp of the situation I neglected to take into account, I think my prediction would have been right on.

The Miami Hurricanes was just an uneducated guess. I had no feelings one way or the other about it.

Clearly the home run prediction was wrong, but I'll stand by my modified prediction that I made yesterday.

In more weightier matters, there is something disagreeable about waking up and seeing the President lying on television. Watching his testimony was like listening to an adolescent trying to come up with excuses for something that they had been caught in the act doing, rather than a man who is fifty years old and leader of the free world. It's hard to take him seriously about anything.

No excuses here, 3-2's not bad, although I would gladly have traded a pick or two to have been right about my Florida pick.

"We gave you one"

The four of us use to play a regular tennis match every Friday afternoon. It was two against two.

Pete and I were fairly well matched talent wise and we played against Gerry who was close to 50 but a very good player and Tom who wore bright green shorts and was a very good talker.

You see Tom had figured out that what he lacked in skill, he could make up in getting into the heads of his opponents (which he was the master of).

Whenever Tom's side would score he would begin praising Gerry for the fine job and how masterful the two of them were. Meanwhile whenever they gave up a point he would look over at us and laugh while remarking snidely, "We gave you one because we feel sorry for you." Almost every Friday Pete and I would be on the brink on winning against the unorthodox two when the talking would begin. "Oh they've really got us worried now." Pete would begin double faulting, I would begin hitting the ball wildly (trying to bean Tom who was playing close to the net) and we would lose sometimes in three or four sets, but we would always lose.

Well the tortured part of my soul which Tom's voice still rules feels like saying this morning that "we gave you one," to all the Tennessee Volunteer fans. But the rest of my soul (the part that hopefully God is in charge of) feels like throwing up some flax and lighting it and saying Sic Gloriam Mundi, "So goes the glory of the world." In other words "here today, gone tomorrow."

Ah what the hell, you know we gave you one!

Already in Trouble!

I would like to modify yesterday's prediction #6, I based it on faulty information thinking that the regular baseball season was over with this weekend. New prediction with Mcqwire now with 64 is that Sosa will win it with 67. (I'll stick with this one).