Man Is the List-Making Animal

I’m biding my time until my review of Expelled hits the ‘net. Until then, here’s something to break the silence.

I recently discovered a website called YMDb (your movie database), which appears to be nothing more than a massive collection of favorite movie lists from users around the world. Anybody can join, so I quickly logged my top twenty. It’s fun, and it’s free!

Choosing favorites can be as painful as passing a kidney stone, but it’s also a healthful exercise in decision-making, and sometimes you discover things about yourself in the process. Here are my current choices, culled mostly from memory and subject to change at a moment’s notice.
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Tags | Film

Dr. John Mark Reynolds on the Christianity101 TV show

Do you like Philosophy? If so, check out John Mark Reynolds talk with Bruce & Stan about Jesus as a Savior, and more than just a good moral example.

Hey, Obama! What do you mean “Babies Are A Punishment?"

Right upfront I want to say that this not intended to be a political blog. I put Obama’s name in the title because he said what I’m going to talk about, but I’m much more interested in the philosophy behind the statement than who said it.

Here’s the back-story (just in case you’ve been living in a media-free cave since the last weekend in March). While campaigning in Pennsylvania, Obama appeared to back a hypothetical abortion by his daughters saying he wouldn't "punish" them with a baby. Here is a transcript of his comments:

"When it comes specifically to HIV/AIDS, the most important prevention is education, which should include -- which should include abstinence education and teaching the children -- teaching children, you know, that sex is not something casual. But it should also include -- it should also include other, you know, information about contraception because, look, I've got two daughters. 9 years old and 6 years old. I am going to teach them first of all about values and morals. But if they make a mistake, I don't want them punished with a baby."
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The Democrat Race: If Only We Could Netflix It

In another age the village elder would remind the coming generation of the legacy of the clan or tribe. Around the fire, at least as television has portrayed history, the wise man or woman would stand in the flickering flames and tell of what had been and draw lessons for what would be.

Many weary liberals watch today in horror as the Democrat Party destroys itself. It is not the infighting that is killing the race. It is not the hot You-Tube videos. It is that their candidates are committing the greatest sin of the new media age: they have been cool and are cool no longer.

John McCain was never cool and so immune. He was never a show, a movement, or a trend. He has no real catch phrases or already-dated merchandise. He is John McCain and he is running for president as if he was Ike and the world did not need pollsters and oracular pundits to pronounce on cable television.

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Tags | Politics

Shows You What I Know

So, I missed American Idol last night.

But apparently that isn't a problem anymore--missing a show when it's broadcast.

A friend of mine sent me a link on YouTube where I could watch last night's performances. I have to admit, that rocked. I didn't watch them all, but I did watch my favs, and I feel better now.

If someone had told me six months ago that I would be watching American Idol and checking out videos on YouTube, I would have told them they were crazy.

Shows you what I know.

And that's what I like about life. You don't always know what you think you know.

It's in letting go of some of those things you think you know (heck, sometimes you're even sure you know) that you find some of the best surprises. Like a tv show that's really a lot of fun.

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The Cult of Sincerity

As you know, I see a lot of indie films. I also ride the subways with a lot of hipsters. And I know a lot of filmmakers.

And I haven't been this excited about a movie in a while. It's called "The Cult of Sincerity", and it will be the first full-length feature to premiere, for free and in its entirety, on YouTube. The big day is April 8, 2008, and you can read the whole press release or join the Facebook group.

How does it work? The filmmakers teamed up with, a digital music site for indie musicians - AmieStreet will donate $1 for each viewer who signs up for a free no-strings-attached account at their site (and they'll throw in two free music downloads just for kicks). The film is also available for a $3 digital download to your iPod or other mobile video device, and $2 of that will be donated to Fount of Mercy, a charity which works at a very low overhead with grassroots organizations in sub-Saharan Africa to provide help to widows and orphans.

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Tags | Film

Happy Anniversary

Recently, I celebrated  the 3 year anniversary of the surgery during which I almost lost my leg.

How exactly do you celebrate this kind of anniversary, anyway? To the best of my knowledge Hallmark doesn't yet have a Post Surgical line of greeting cards. Do you throw a party? Maybe sprint down the street, in celebration of retaining all of your limbs? Or do you ignore it-- act as if its just another ordinary day, in your very ordinary life which is anything but ordinary since this whole ordeal started.

I was busy on that day. But not too busy to take a stroll down memory lane. I recalled the evening before the surgery, after I'd just found out they'd be operating the next day. I see myself sitting at my dining room table, forcing down my dinner, trying to act as though I was coping just fine, when inside I was dying at the thought of having to tell my 4 year old that I was leaving for the hospital...again. I can feel the helplessness I felt lying on the gurney, waiting to be wheeled into the operating room. They had taken my glasses off to prep me and since I am blind as a bat, that was the moment I'd dreaded more than any other. Never mind that they were going to carve a hole into my groin to repair an aneurysm-- nothing terrified me more than seeing only shadows as I went into surgery.
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My Simplicity is Still Splendor

Living in Africa as a white girl with a U.S. passport means that I live a privileged and protected life.

It's not that I seek privilege. It's more that my education, background, connections and resources mean that regardless of how simple my lifestyle is in comparison to peers back in the States, I live well above the quality of life that the vast majority of Africans around me live. And protection comes with this status. I am protected from hunger, from cold and rain, from heat and back-breaking work.

Essentially, I am not impacted by the elements. I sometimes think that this is the line that truly separates me from most of my African friends. Season in and season out, bread appears on my table. Whether there is enough grass for the cattle or not, I can find milk for my tea. It may be powdered milk imported from Holland, but I can find it.

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March Reviews

Gus Van Sant continues his odyssey through the inner landscapes of wayward youths with Paranoid Park,a film of ambitious formal invention and negligible impact. In tellingthe story of a skater kid (Gabe Nevins) trying to cope with hisinvolvement in a horrible tragedy, Van Sant once again turns toexpressive slow motion to isolate and extend moments of great emotionalturbulence. All of this is very lyrical, some of it strikingly so (theace cinematographer is Christopher Doyle), but for all the time spentwith this uncomprehending lad, the film never reaches beyond theobvious.

Snow Angels marks another step in the devolution of David Gordon Green, the promising young director of George Washington, who with each successive film seems to shed the qualities that made him interesting in the first place. His scenario, a small town gripped with grief over a recent tragedy, promises much, delivers much less. We also get something we haven’t yet seen from Green—mild condescension toward his characters (though they are sensitively acted by all). The ill-judged ending, in which a character does an extremely desperate deed, doesn’t come across as honest. The trick is to make the final moments seem both excessive and unavoidable. In Green’s hands it only seems like a filmmaker’s conceit.

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Tags | Film

Davidson Wildcats: The Glass Slipper Drops

The stage was set, the players were prepared, and the nation anticipated a storybook ending.   And then the glass slipper dropped.   Cracked.   Shattered.    The Davidson Wildcats missed their last second shot to defeat the Kansas Jayhawks.    Final score:   Kansas 59, Davidson 57.

Most pundits never expected Davidson to get this far.   They figured that Kansas would run away with the game.   But as they proved throughout the NCAA tournament, Davidson students should never be underestimated.  They played to win, right until the final second.    As Jason Richards’ three-point shot missed to the left, viewers across America let out a collective sigh.   They wanted to see Stephen Curry and the ‘Cats go to the Final Four.   

I was on the road, enroute to Austin, Texas.

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