Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Ash Wednesday

A few moments I want to remember ...
- standing in the sacristy, wondering where these black, black ashes come from? They look nothing like the gray ones we made from burnt palm leaves. I also recalled the white ashes that were the remains of my father.
- creating a slurry of olive oil and black ash to smear on the foreheads of the faithful
- at noon today, following worship, a roomful of older folks, chatting and laughing over bowls of warm soup, while the ashen crosses on their heads danced in the sun ... a sort of Pentecost. Take that, death and grave!
- Walking through Lunds this afternoon, black cross on my head, black coat, clerical, pants and shoes ... People were quite wary of me. Looked the other direction when they saw my ashes and gave me a wide berth if we happened to be walking toward each other. I felt like such a bad-ass!
- this evening, drawing crosses on white porcelain skin and old leathery skin; on the brow of a woman whose young husband had now become ashes himself; and on the forehead of a redheaded teenager who when I said "Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return," leveled his gaze at me and said, "Is that in the Bible?"
- at the end of a long day, stopping at Burger King for one of my favorite indulgences: a frozen Coke. African American BK employee leans her generous self out the window towards me: "What's up with the black cross on yo' head?"
"Um, it's Ash Wednesday, in the church" ... I begin, thinking, "how do I abridge all the meanings of this day?" but it's enough. "Oh, all right" she says, and the window folds shut.

It is enough ... to know that we were created from the dust, and that when we return to dust, and all of the moments in between, our God is with us.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Oscars, Schmoscars

So, I've had this tradition for many years to try to see every Oscar nominated best picture, and all the flicks with actor/actress nominations AND foreign films and documentaries.

15 years ago, I could actually pull this off. Now? I'm lucky to catch a few. And, these days, I'm much more picky about what I will let into my life, in terms of violence, gratuitous sex, etc... So! My Oscar Quest goal has narrowed considerably.

Here's what I've seen, and my thoughts on award-worthiness, for what it's worth:

1. Best Picture

  • Little Miss Sunshine ~ I LOVE this movie! It is so quirky and endearing; and even though there are a few crude things, the overall message is one of such sweetness ... even hugely dysfunctional families can be full of huge love.
  • The Queen ~ E and I have been trying to see this for months! Hopefully we'll get it in before the big night.
  • Babel, The Departed, Letters From Iwo Jima ~ Sorry. Can't do these. Too bloody intense(abbreviated as 2bi in the following entries).

2. Best Actor - can't comment yet - most of these are WAY 2bi for me

3. Best Actress

  • Penelope Cruz in Volver ~ She absolutely glows in these Pedro Almadovar films. And what a fun picture! Chicks rule! I would love for her to win this one.
  • Dame Judy Dench in Notes on a Scandal ~ turns in another fabulous performance. By the end you hate and pity her in equal measure.
  • Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada ~ She looks amazing, and, of course, kills in every scene she's in, but this was a cake-walk for Meryl. Let somebody else have a chance this year.
  • Helen Mirren in The Queen ~ see #1.
  • Kate Winslet in Little Children ... I'm sure she's also wonderful - I'd love to see this film as well, but will probably end up waiting for the dvd.

4. Best Supporting roles:

  • Alan Arkin and Abigail Breslin in Little Miss Sunshine ~ How cool would it be for little Miss Abigail to walk away with this one? She is just a treat. Arkin was hilarious, but not outstanding. It seems odd to me that Toni Colette (whom I adore) was not also nominated in this category for this film
  • Eddie Murphy and Jennifer Hudson in Dreamgirls ~ Loved this movie/musical, and I truly believe they deserved their Golden Globes in the category of musical --- but I don't know if these performances stand up next to the other nominations.

5. Best Foreign Film:

  • Water ~ was gorgeous, but soooo sad. Forgive me for making a gross generalization, but it seems that almost every film or book I've encountered that takes place in India is just ... tragic.
  • Pan's Labyrinth ~ Had the opportunity to see this one, but backed out because of its surreal nature. That stuff just gets into my psyche and doesn't leave me alone.
  • Don't know if I'll see any of the others ...

6. Best Documentary

  • I predict Al Gore will win this one, but that some sort of election fraud will occur ... I'm interested in seeing Jesus Camp but haven't gotten around to it yet.

Not Oscar-nominated, but worthy films in my book:

Cars ~ We've been living and breathing this movie for months (since all the tie-in merchandise made great potty-training prizes!) and I'm still not tired of it. I just love the characters. Mater cracks me up every time. Guess I'm just a good ol' girl at heart!

Charlotte's Web ~ Absolutely does justice to the book. I'm so thankful for films like this to offset the sarcasm and silliness of Spongebob, Scooby-Doo, et al.

The Holiday ~ Once in a while, E and I like to indulge in a romantic comedy, and this one is an especially good example of the genre. I love me some Jack Black, and thought it was so cool that he was cast in a quasi-romantic role. Kate Winslet is also just a wonder to behold.

Prairie Home Companion ~ Fun to see all of our Midwestern caricatures up there on the big screen, but a little bit disappointing, too. Kind of like seeing a movie of a favorite book, and not having it fit the pictures that were in your head.

Well, that about wraps up my humble opinions ... Can't wait to watch the red carpet and revel in the excitement of it all!