Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Difficult times lie ahead

There's a powerful scene at the very conclusion of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Harry has just endured all of the efforts of Lord Voldemort to kill him, witnessed the death of his classmate Cedric, and been warned about the future by Dumbledore, who tells Harry that "Difficult times lie ahead, Harry. The time is coming soon when you must choose between what is right, and what is easy." Understandably, Harry is shaken up from all of the events of the past year. In this scene, Harry sees all of his fellow students celebrating and rejoicing that the school year is over, but he's not a part of it. He's standing apart from the celebrations, and the look on his face conveys the reality in which he lives: his life is not normal, he has not endured normal circumstances, and he is not normal. The depth of his experience is seen in that one little look, in which you can tell how much he wants to be normal, but resigns himself to the reality that he isn't. He may be "normal" one day, but it is more likely that he will always be "the boy who lived." After a moment, Ron and Hermione come alongside him and walk with him down the hallway, and the movie ends. It's a scene that may have passed many people by, but it really hit home for me. I know that look, because I've had that look. I have that look. Although it has been tough so far, I know that difficult times still lie ahead. And I need to continue to choose what is right for me.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Student christmas carols

I figured it was time to get into the holiday spirit, but the problem is that I'm still in school. So I decided to alter some of my favourite Christmas carols so that they were more applicable for still being in school. See how many you can identify, and sing along when you can. There might be another installment coming up, but for now, enjoy!

Rejoice all ye students! Sing in exultation! Classes are soon over, and Christmas is near. Finals are stressful, but they'll soon be over. Now let's go drink some egg nog, eat some mandarin oranges, and have a merry Christmas...until January.

O little undergraduate / how much we see you lie / when you plagiarize and fake / and try to pass things by. / The prof will surely give you / a well-deserved fail / At least you are only expelled / and not rotting in jail.

It came upon a midnight clear / that heavenly thesis I needed / and now I can finish this paper / and finally get some sleep. / Professors will grade it / and find some problems / but I'll probably do well anyway. / I say that this won't happen again / but then comes the next paper...

Late in the night, holy crap / I'm not calm, it's not looking bright / why can I not put this in a sentence / man, this thing doesn't make any sense / But now the paper is done / Now the paper is done

"Away" on Messenger / means I'm probably still there / working on a paper / about which I don't care / The stars in the bright sky / are fading from sight / because it's now sunrise / and I stayed up all night!

With two weeks left in the semester, I still have in front of me: ...Eight school nights, seven Christmas parties, six Survivors left, five presents to buy! Four final exams, three gift exchanges, two term papers, and one more semester till I'm done my Arts degree!

Happy Holidays...if they ever get here.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Why Buy Nothing Day?

Today, November 25, was "Buy Nothing Day." The day is so named because people at Adbusters years ago decided that it would be a great idea to take a stance on the biggest shopping day of the year in the United States, the Friday directly after Thanksgiving, and that a great way to make a point about consumerism and all those kind of issues would be to engage in a protest that day by not buying anything. It's a great idea that I think has had a lot of success across the globe. But why is the entire globe subjected to this one day? Wouldn't it make more sense to adjust it in different countries for their shopping days, like Boxing Day (December 26) in Canada? Isn't this just another example of Americans forcing their views on the world? Of course, this is against the establishment, so it's okay to do so. Sometimes I just get sick of the whole "anti-establishment" movement; it doesn't prove anything except that people are willing to give their blind allegiance to anti-establishment instead of establishment. The point is, I didn't buy anything consequential, but it wasn't by choice; it was more by circumstance. And in order for a protest to be effective, there needs to be some kind of sacrifice and effect. If BND was moved in Canada to Boxing Day, then it would be meaningful. Until then, it's like American Thanksgiving - a quaint ritual that non-Americans don't understand and that Americans don't understand why non-Americans don't understand it because they're America and what they say should go. But of course, the main reason I bought nothing is because...well...buying things takes money, so most days from now until Christmas are "Buy Nothing Day" for Turner. My own little protest against being broke.

Not Ready To Die

And every day of my life I can feel it getting harder to breathe / With every minute ticking by I'm getting ready to leave
I know a life like mine is not a reason to fret / But I've been busy making scars that you will never forget
If only thirty three years can save my life / I've had twenty three more to make things right
So when I'm taken to the sky and you're still here / You can clear your mind and dry your tears
When I'm taken home - and you're still here / Just clear your mind - dry your tears
I'm burning bridges for the last time / I'm breaking habits for the first time
I saw my future today, it said I'm going away / But I still haven't sung the last line
On my way down...
I'm not ready to lay, not ready to fade / I'm not ready to die.


-"Not Ready To Die," Demon Hunter

You know how people always say to live every day as if it were your last, and that you should be ready for death at any time? I can't, and I'm not. I can do what I can to make the most of every day I have, but I don't think I'd be "at peace" if one of these days were the last of my life. Although I do not feel like I'm holding on to things unnecessarily, I feel as if there is too much for me to do for me to be at peace with leaving this earth. And so I really feel like this Demon Hunter song from their album Summer of Darkness describes my life: I know the work that Jesus has done in my life and that I don't need to be afraid of death, but that there's still more for me to do here. I'm not ready to die.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

I Walked The Line

Walk The Line is a brilliant film. It captures the mystique of this Johnny Cash guy, as well as telling the captivating love story between Johnny and June Carter, in the early years of his career. The film will undoubtedly be compared to 2004's Ray, which was a good film in many respects, but I felt as if Walk The Line is the superior film of the two. It truly felt like it captured the struggle of Cash, America's everyman. Joaquin Phoenix is brilliant, and he is not simply doing an impersonation of the Man in Black; he has transformed himself into Cash. Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon have a strong chemistry, and Robert Patrick plays Ray Cash, Johnny's father, very well. I feel like I know Cash a little better now, and that his music means a little more now that I understand more of his story. Though it is lamentable that the movie did not venture into 1971, when Cash recorded the classic "Man In Black", I can understand and agree with the decision to frame the movie as they did. By the way, one of my favourite exchanges in the film was when Cash was talking to some record executives about recording his 1968 album "At Folsom Prison."
Executive: John, your fans are Christians...churchgoers. They don't want to hear you singing to murderers and rapists.
Cash: Well, maybe they're not Christians then.
Now I need to go buy Cash: An Autobiography. And you need to Walk The Line.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Rejoice, rejoice...

...again I say rejoice. (Phil. 4:4) I figured I would throw in a quick life update for those of you who have been concerned about my general well-being, which has been...not good. If you have not been able to tell, I have been really slogging it through this semester, and the events of the past twelve months are really beginning to take their toll on me. I spent another weekend spinning my wheels, getting some things done, but leaving more important things undone, and feeling unable to accomplish the basic tasks of life (as evidenced by my Saturday night meal of Swedish Berries). This has been a week of self-realization, and it's really tough to admit that I'm not in a normal state. I realized as my prof of my "Religious Perspectives on Death and Dying" course outlined the symptoms of grief that, well, that's me. I have realized that I am just tired of school. I realized that I am having difficulty finding "home" this year. I have generally realized that I am not healthy (yes, it took me this long), and I don't know how to fix it, but that I need fixing. Maybe that means just plugging through, maybe it means making some alternate arrangements. I have about a month of schoolwork to finish in the next two weeks, but I know it will all get done. It is just a question of how. I do not write this to get your sympathy or to complain about how horrible my life is (because it really is not), but primarily as catharsis, and as a way to allow you to know where I am at. Maybe some of you identify with me, maybe you do not, but I hope that Christ speaks through me in my troubles to all of you in some way. Whatever your situation, I know there are people travelling this weary road with me, and that "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength" (Phil. 4:13). This is all for the glory of God, after all.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

D. Turner and the Theatre of Fire

I was one of the people who went to see Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire on opening night. It had been awhile since I had seen any movies on opening night (Lord of the Rings were the last, I think), and I had forgotten how much of an electric experience it is to be part of that crowd, eagerly anticipating every scene. There was one feature that I did not appreciate, though: the humidity. Consider that there were four showings of HPatGoF today, running for approximately eleven hours from beginning to end. There was likely no more than twenty minutes breathe time between each showing, so in a total of one of those eleven hours the theatre was not packed. I think I lost weight by sweating. It was a sauna. If anyone there had lit a joint, we would have all been high because the theatre was basically a giant hotbox. That said, it was all worth it. HPatGoF is the best movie so far (also the best of the first four books), and director Mike Newell paces the movie well, inserts comedy when needed, deals with the heavy ending very well, and makes the right decisions in cutting certain sections out (ie no Dursleys in this film). The special effects were also incredibly well done. Brendan Gleeson is brilliant as Mad-Eye Moody, and I am looking forward to seeing how Ralph Fiennes is able to develop Voldemort in the next film. This is definitely one to see in theatres if you can...just wait a week until they cool down a bit.

P.S. More of my thoughts on Potter, epics, pop culture, and the worldview of the Potter world in upcoming blog(s).

Thursday, November 17, 2005

The Wish List

It's that time of year again. The time when I make up a list comprised of things that I want but that I might not necessarily buy myself and I would love to have if other people bought them for me for certain upcoming celebrations (such as, oh, Christmas, or my birthday). It's also the time when I make up a list comprised of things I know I will go out and buy if I do not give myself an extrinsic motivation not to buy them, such as that they are on my Christmas list. For some people it's hard putting together a list of things they want; it always seems incredibly easy for me, and I don't know why it would be hard to do. I guess I do keep a record of pretty much all the movies, books, CDs, and things that I would like to own someday, whereas a lot of people have that in their head (or not at all). The important thing is that the annual Christmas Buying Freeze is now on: anything on my list will not be bought before Christmas. It changes the strategy of constructing such a list. Yes, there is strategy. No, you cannot see the list. Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Playing through the pain

Athletes always get injuries, but the attitude toward injuries changes as the season progresses. Though it is easier for a player to miss games to take time to heal earlier on in the season, as the post-season draws closer, the team relies on the player more to be playing in order to win. This means that players often have to play through injury, at half of their normal capacity. They are unable, of course, to contribute their usual performance, but what they can offer is usually better than nothing. Steve Yzerman on one leg in the 2002 playoffs was still better than most other forwards were with both legs (he should have won the Conn Smythe and not that Swede Lidstrom, but I digress). The point is that there are times where athletes are forced by circumstances to play at less than 100 per cent. The application of this fact is that I realized today that I am like those athletes. I am struggling with school because I have not taken time to heal from everything that has happened in the past year, so I am not operating at 100 per cent, and I am frustrated because I am not able to perform better. I do not know what I need to do to heal, but I know that I just have to keep doing my best and hope that it is still good enough to help win the championship...err, finish my degree.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Deja vu

"I'm still in the midst of papering it up. And of course, as I have been procrastinating, I have been doing a lot of thinking (and cooking...I don't know if I've ever eaten better on my own than this week) about school. The problem is that it's not a question of ability. I know I can do this stuff with my eyes closed. It's mostly the same stuff I've been doing for years, Arts courses. It's a question of passion, of which I currently have little. If school were a job, I would have quit by now to look for something better. I guess I have always looked at school a bit differently than a lot of people. School is where God has called me to be, but it has rarely been my passion. True, there have been occasional classes and professors that have truly stirred up something in me that transcends the ordinary, but for the most part my passion has not laid in my studies."

- Excerpt from "The Passion of the D", November 19, 2004

I was going to sit down and write a "school sucks" post, but I realized I did already. Last year. It troubles me that I am still feeling pretty much the same way toward my schoolwork as I did a year ago. There have been flashes of purpose, but mostly just getting through. One friend commented to me tonight that there has to be some kind of purpose or design in me being where I am, since it doesn't make sense that someone called somewhere by God should live as I do. I still believe there is that purpose, although I do not always see it, or act according to that overriding purpose when I do see it. In one month from today, I'm done this semester. It's both a frightening and invigorating thought that that is how much time is left. Guess I'll just keep on truckin.'

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Tired of epics

When Braveheart came out, it was revolutionary. The "Best Picture" of 1995 was a "historical" epic, and it helped revive (define?) a genre. That was ten years ago. In the intervening decade, two other bonafide epics have won Best Picture (Gladiator and Lord of the Rings: Return of the King), while countless others have stolen the attention of the masses, whether for bad or for good. Kingdom of Heaven is one of those epics, and as I watched it tonight I realized how tired I have grown of the genre. There are many features of these epic films that now have become so ubiquitous that they have become mundane. The swelling score. The tortured hero. Killing the enemy with bloody axes in large battles. The princess who succumbs to the hero's advances. The characters who you struggle to identify for half the film. Orlando Bloom. I mean, do we need more of these movies showing events that are often slightly obscure and significantly historically inaccurate? Are epics proving anything anymore, other than that studios like to have big movies come out in summer and around Christmas? Do we need more religious imagery and priestly posturing? Isn't it enough to say that we have Braveheart, which is still considered the standard-bearer of the genre (despite its many faults) and the Lord of the Rings trilogy to sate our appetites for epics? Really, didn't Return of the King pretty much close the book (pun intended) on the genre of the epic? Does anyone actually think they can make a better epic than ROTK? I tend to think it's just an easy way out for directors who don't want to actually make something original (cough*Ridley Scott*cough): can't think of a better idea? It's epic time! In literature, there are very few truly amazing epics: Paradise Lost, The Odyssey, Beowulf, The Faerie Queene, The Lord of the Rings are (or should be) included in that list. But for every successful epic, there was a cheap knockoff just waiting to pull in some cash. Is it that different in movies today? Do these new epics actually teach us anything or accomplish anything new, or do they just repeat the same old cliches and make the same tired observations about Christianity? My vote is the latter. Put the genre to bed for awhile; let it rest, and then someone can revive it in about five years and make an epic worth watching. And maybe it won't have to star Orlando Bloom.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Measuring a blog's worth

What is the "worth" of a blog? Well, here's what one site told me; I don't really know what this even means, but it's kind of cool:



This makes me think about what this site is worth. Is it worth all the time and effort I have put into it? Is it worth the attention of people who have read it faithfully over the past year? Is it worth taking a look at for people who just want to see what's going on in my life? Is it worth the time of avid bloggers who like to see someone who has developed a valuable voice and forum within the blogosphere? I think the answer to all these questions is yes. My blog is worth it all. I'm not trying to be conceited here, but I really do value what I have managed to do here and where it is going. It's really amazing to have this place to share my thoughts and to have people read it. I still think I would probably pursue blogging even if my readership were much smaller, but it helps to know that people want to know what I think. I believe this blog is worth my time, and I can only hope that it is worth yours.

Monday, November 07, 2005

The Premiere of Colbert

The Colbert Report finally debuted in Canada tonight, and I watched eagerly to see how Stephen Colbert fared on his own stage after leaving The Daily Show. Colbert's work was cut out for him after Jon Stewart's brilliant interview with Sen. Barack Obama (D) from Illinois, but I was willing to see it through. Colbert's format was similar to The Daily Show, though with some different departments, such as the Threat Count and The Word, and the acerbic Colbert in place of Stewart. Colbert's delivery is not that much different from his work on the Daily Show, but it did sound forced at times. His interview with New York Attorney-General and 2006 Governor candidate Eliot Spitzer was entertaining, but a little lacking. Colbert directed a segment of his show to Canadians, since it was the premiere up here, and it was amusing, though the jokes he trotted out seemed a little tired. We get it: Canadians speak strange languages and have funny money and get cheap perscription drugs. I think that by the end of the show, I felt like it was a little too much Colbert. I know Comedy Central was looking for someone to partner with Stewart's Daily Show, but I think Colbert would have been better served staying on The Daily Show and occasionally having a featured rant, allowing others to report more. I think both Colbert and the Daily Show have suffered because of his leaving (since Rob Corrdry just is not as good) for now. They might both grow, but for now I think I'm content with the teaser snippet of Colbert that appears at the end of the Daily Show. Colbert's premiere gets "un pouce augmente et un pouce en bas." (That's "one thumb up and one thumb down in French. According to FreeTranslation.com. Figured I'd keep up with the French words. Y'know.) Stewart continues to receive my unending praise, and my suppertime viewership, thanks to Daylight Savings Time!

Sunday, November 06, 2005

The Choices of Master Turner

" 'I wish I could go all the way with you to Rivendell, Mr. Frodo, and see Mr. Bilbo', said Sam. 'And yet the only place I really want to be is in here. I am that torn in two.'
'Poor Sam! It will feel like that, I am afraid', said Frodo. 'But you will be healed. You were meant to be solid and whole, and you will be.' "
-J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King

In this dialogue between Sam and Frodo near the conclusion of The Lord of the Rings, Sam is lamenting his state. He is divided; though he wants to be one place, he also wants to be where he is. He sees the value in both places, and has desire for both. I truly identify with Sam. I don't want to be in university, but I do. I see the value in both being on campus this year and in being done soon. And just like Frodo soothed Sam, so I have many friends who perform that task for me. I was meant to be solid and whole, and I will be.

D needs...

In accordance with a recent meme making the rounds through the blogosphere, I decided to punch in my name with the word "needs" into Google to see what I got. Here are some of the most interesting results:

needs a dated list of TV comedy shows shown on UK television.
needs heartworm treatment.
needs emergency dental care.
needs to assume more vocal leadership on this year's team.
needs YOUR help in writing his next book!
needs a vacation!
needs our mojo. needs a woman.
needs no introduction for all of you. needs a bubble wand too.
needs Laurel's objectivity more than her love. He thinks.
needs a permanent family that will allow him to live with his siblings.
needs to access the internet to gather the latest weather information from BBC Weather.
needs a creative, imaginative lawyer that can provide a flash of inspiration.
needs to choose wisely.
needs to earn the trust and respect of this group and lessen their anxiety.
needs to win so that he can write songs about winning.
needs a new editor.
I think that D needs to get out more.
needs to come up here to Pittsburgh.
"As a result, D needs to drive traffic to his site on every piece of marketing he does - from business cards to bus benches."
Anyway, D needs to get back to his blues roots and stop pandering to the jam-band crowd. That's where he truly shined.
DJ D needs no introduction. But just to reassert it, he will be cardiganned, you will hear patois growls, and he will make you move!
needs to "Win a date with Kelley" and come to play in the snow!!
needs to read Matthew 7:12, "Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets."
So it looks pretty unanimous to me; D needs to be history.

There were far more than that, but I decided to stop. Go ahead, try it for yourself. See what you need. Now, D needs to stop blogging and go eat something.

Blogging the movies

Since I have recently begun to blog more extensively about the movies I go to see, I have encountered a problem. I find that I am constructing several blogs out of one film. Maybe that is not a problem, but it does cause me problems in constructing my thoughts. One post needs to be about the film itself: do I recommend it, was it well-made, the more technical stuff. I often have thoughts about the genre or family to which the movie belongs, which fall into a slightly different category from discussing the film itself. But then I will usually have several posts in my head about different themes in the film. Sometimes I just have to let them sit for awhile until I can get them out and hope that they get out right. I really enjoy how I treat movies though: true, they are a "distraction," but I treat them more like I would a piece of literature, subjecting them to analysis and thought. This means that I only try to see movies that are actually worthy of the time and will stimulate reflection, and ones that I believe that I can get something out of. But sometimes, it's just for entertainment, too. Viewing in the next couple of months: Zathura, HP and the Goblet of Fire, Walk The Line, Narnia, and probably Chicken Little and King Kong. Should be fun!

The Exorcism of Emily Rose

The Exorcism of Emily Rose is a great film. Despite what people may think from the trailers, it is not a horror film, but a legal drama. The fact that people confuse the tenor and vehicle of movies (like how people thought Shaun of the Dead was a horror when it was a romantic comedy) infuriates me, but I digress. Laura Linney, the thinking man's Jennifer Aniston (as an aside, I love describing somebody as the "thinking man's somebody else"...I don't know why, I just do) performs very well, as does the constantly amazing Tom Wilkinson. The film leaves the viewer with more questions than answers, and discusses many pertinent topics that will cause the viewer to pursue further discussion, such as the existence of the spiritual realm and interplay between medical and spiritual solutions to illnesses. The film was written and directed by Scott Derrickson, a professing Christian, and I found it interesting that his faith clearly had an effect on the film, as it treated Christianity (in particular Catholicism) in a very complimentary light and in fact framed the events of the film within the Catholic worldview. If you are looking for a film that is well-written, well-acted, captivating, and thought-provoking, go see Emily Rose.

2005 CDs: Innovation or imitation?

I have been reflecting lately on the CDs that I have purchased lately, particularly about whether any of them have worked their way into my "cannot live without" list. I'm not so sure that any of them have. But I realized that a significant portion of the artists who have released CDs recently that I have purchased had also released CDs last year, which were some of my favourite albums ever. And CDs released by artists that I have waited a couple of years for were simply not as good as the previous release. Consider with me for a second some of the albums I have purchased recently (if you are able to): Emery - The Question; Project 86 - ...And The Rest Will Follow; Demon Hunter - The Triptych; Blindside - The Great Depression; Switchfoot - Nothing Is Sound; Coldplay - X&Y. It's not that these are bad albums; in fact, they are all very good albums. They are simply overshadowed by the bands' previous releases. Who could compare NIS to The Beautiful Letdown, or X&Y to A Rush of Blood To The Head? You can't. I think 2005 will emerge in time as a great year for music, as I allow these albums to mature and grow and learn how their identity is separate from their predecessors, but it will be difficult. Sometimes that cannot happen until another disc is released, and you can see a bigger picture. For now, I'm suspending judgement, and I'm enjoying these discs for what they are, and not what their predecessors were.

Hey You, I Love Your Soul

Skillet was in town last night, and since they have been one of my favourite bands for about eight years, I figured I would go check them out. Since the last time I saw them three-and-a-half years ago, they have released their biggest album, "Collide," which has had extensive mainstream exposure, so I was very excited to see that material in concert. Despite the absence of lead singer John Cooper's wife, keyboardist Korey Cooper, due to taking care of their three-month-old son Xavier, Skillet put on a great show.
As a long-standing Panhead (the collective name given to fans of the band), I can say that they really do know how to rock out and put on a great show. They played mostly material from Collide, with a few classic tunes interspersed between, which made me realize that I was the age of most of the audience when I began to listen to Skillet. I was disappointed that "Invincible", "The Thirst Is Taking Over", and "Angels Fall Down" were not part of the setlist, but they put on a great show anyway. I think the biggest highlight for me was when the band came on for an encore, and John said that the final song went out to everyone who had been with the band since '96. I'm pretty sure I was the only one there going wild as the band ripped into "I Can," the first track of their first album. Here's the set list as well as I can reconstruct it: Energy; My Obsession; Best Kept Secret; Locked In A Cage; Collide; Forsaken; You're Powerful; A Little More; Alien Youth; Open Wounds; Kill Me Heal Me; Be Thou My Vision; Saviour; I Can (encore). It will be interesting to see what happens with Skillet's next album, which is due for release sometime next summer. Panheads unite!

Am I hip-hop?

KJ-52 was in town on Friday night, and he put on a solid show. It had been awhile since I had been at any kind of hip-hop event, and I was really impressed with his showmanship and his real-ness. You might think that a thirty-some-year-old white guy couldn't be hip-hop, but I could tell that he was being really true to himself and to who God has called him to be. In fact, his style reminded me a lot of my good friend Eternalee, who is a 30-year-old white guy from small-town Saskatchewan who is one of the most respected emcees in the Queen City. But all this got me thinking about my own place in hip-hop. You see, I'm not hip-hop. Unlike Lee or some of my other friends, hip-hop is not my native tongue, or my musical "bread n butter." I understand it and enjoy it and know more about it than the average person does, but it's just not my scene all the time. I have the artists that I like, and I do go through phases where I pay closer attention to it, but it's generally a diversion for me. It's not who I am. But it is the heart language of a significant portion of the culture, particularly the culture I will be immersed in as a teacher, and if you're trying to be a teacher without knowing what hip-hop is saying, you don't know your students. I guess hip-hop is like basketball or American football - I enjoy it and pay some attention to it, but hockey is my sport, and those are more just diversions I take occasionally. So am I hip-hop? No. Am I okay with that? Yeah. Hip-hop, ahippety--hip-hop and you don't stop the rockin'...

Friday, November 04, 2005

Baffled by the blogosphere

Now that the issue of pop-ups has been addressed (though not yet solved), I have another query upon which my thoughts have been resting. Has anyone else noticed the seemingly drastic increase in traffic on blogs lately? It seems like my hits have been consistently increasing since school started. Are there more people tuning into blogs now? Is the blog bubble that I, among others, predicted would pop by the end of this year actually growing and strengthening? Is this just a normal consequence of having established a voice and audience over my time blogging, and now there's just new people being added all the time? Or is there some kind of external possibility for what is going on in the blogosphere? Or am I just imagining all of this? Any thoughts?

Pop-up problems

So I'm hearing reports that there are pop-ups on my site. I've had two very separate people raise the issue, wondering what's going on. I've occasionally been getting a pop-up or two m'self when I log in, even though I'm using Google Pop-up blocker. So apparently a couple of pop-ups have leeched onto my site, and I have no idea how they got there. Can a pop-up do that? Or did I inadvertently do something silly somehow? Are a lot of people getting pop-ups? This might rival M's B.C. Fireworks mystery. Any information or advice you can supply is much appreciated.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Life as an English Major

As I have been concocting my latest academic work, one for a Religious Studies classfocussing on how Tolkien advances a Catholic perspective on death and dying in The Lord of the Rings , I have taken the opportunity to reflect not only on how I write papers, but also what I attempt to do with them. I am not a theologian, or a philosopher, or a historian. I do not necessarily delight in the tedium of looking through books. I would far rather focus on the work itself, and use additional research only inasmuch as it helps me to be able to conduct my own analysis using the works in question. Then it hit me: that's what English majors do. I think I actually am getting the right degree. Who knew? Well, Evan, Maryanne, Becca...okay, I guess it was just me who didn't embrace my nature. It kind of feels like Harry Potter as he unravels all the pieces of his past. Hrm.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

D. Turner and the problem of studenthood

"He missed Hogwarts so much it was like having a constant stomachache. He missed the castle, with its secret passageways and ghosts, his lessons..., the post arriving by owl, eating banquets in the Great Hall..., visiting the gamekeeper, Hagrid..., and, espeically, Quidditch, the most popular sport in the wizarding world." (9)
"'I've got to go back - term starts on September the first. It's all that's keeping me going. You don't know what it's like here. I don't belong here. I belong in your world - at Hogwarts.'" (17)

Harry is lost in the Muggle world at the beginning of the second book, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. His heart aches to be where he flourishes because the wizard world is his home. Everything may not always go well there, and there are people trying to kill him, but it's still home. So when he is forced to be in the Muggle world with people that do not love him who don't care about who he is, it just exacerbates the problem. When I read this tonight (since I'm reading one Potter book a week, leading up to the release of Goblet of Fire in theatres on Nov. 18 and also to finally reading Half-Blood Prince before exams start), I identified with Harry. Sometimes I feel the same kind of difficulty being in university...I know it's where I need to be for now, but my heart aches for other things. Hope for a future after bachelor-level arts classes, that's what's often keeping me going. That and the people. And so I'm in the midst of paper season, trying to be somewhere that my heart isn't in all the time, though not nearly as bad as Harry's situation at the Dursleys' house. I guess I just know that stomachache sometimes, and lately it has been one of those times. Where do I belong? For now, it's on university. Who knows in the future? I'd need to take a class in Divination to determine that...or just trust in God.

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