Sunday, November 15, 2009

Be Seeing You?

I watched more television during this past week than I probably did during the whole previous month. Why? I was making a humanitarian hat which, while it does require some visual attention, it demands little mental attention, and the rest of my mind needed something to occupy it. (Oh—a “humanitarian hat” is a knitted/crocheted/loomed hat needed by the Humanitarian Center at this time—in anticipation of the winter weather, to give to needy people.) So, what did I watch (or listen to) on TV?

Normally, all that I watch every day is the bedtime news to get the weather report for tomorrow. But this past week, I watched/listened to “Ah-Nolt” in Terminator 2. I watched/listened to Nicolas Cage in ConAir. I watched/listened to reruns of NCIS, Criminal Minds, and Law and Order. Next time, I think I’ll watch reruns of General Conference!

Of course, during these shows I also watched/listened to a lot of promos for other shows. Shows like the much ballyhooed remake of “The Prisoner” which begins tonight starring the “Count of Monte Cristo” and “Gandalf.”

As you know, I was the First Fan (in our family) of the original “The Prisoner.” And because of our occasional “annual” marathons watching it, everyone in the family had pretty much memorized the opening sequence for each show which went something like: “Where am I? In the Village. What do you want? Information. IN-FORM-A-TION! You won’t get it! By hook or by crook, we will. Who are you? Number Two. Who is number One? You are number Six. I am not a number! I am a free man!”

Judging from the previews and what I’ve read in the newspaper, there will be little resemblance to the original in this remake. Will the star power of Gandalf and the Count be enough to pull it off -- or to pull us in? The New York Daily News says, “Caviezel is a decent actor, but he doesn’t bring enough to carry that much screen time. Six must be riveting, and Caviezel simply isn’t. Ian McKellen gives a fine performance as Two. But most of the time Two simply exudes smug arrogance, so there’s a limit to what McKellen can do.” The Daily News concludes: “Somewhere along the way, this three-night, six-hour production begins to feel less like a compelling metaphor for totalitarian repression and more like a marathon. No offense, but is it over yet?”

So--Will you be watching it?

... Be seeing you?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

"Irreducible..." ... What??

Yesterday, the Knight and I went for a drive up Provo Canyon to the end of the South Fork. During the night before, snow had fallen in the mountains, so that all of the evergreen trees on the north-facing sides of the canyon were picturesquely “flocked.” The blue skies and sunshine artistically illuminated this transformed landscape. It was God’s Christmas card to the world.

We drove slowly so as to savor the wonder of each new view as we passed. “This is good for the soul,” remarked the Knight.

We drove in thoughtful silence. Finally, the Knight asked, “What are you thinking about?”

“The irreducible complexity of eyeballs and flagella,” I said. “And the fact that mathematicians have long looked with skepticism at Darwinian evolution because it is devoid of the precision of mathematical laws, and comprised of too many improbabilities.”

I kid you not.

The Knight was momentarily speechless. You could almost discern the Hopelessly Romantic Knight being abruptly jousted from his steed and tumbling bewilderedly down the mountainside. He recovered nicely however; deftly switching from Romantic to Scientific thought. In retrospect, even I thought it was weird of me to be so not “in the moment” but, instead, exploring intricate intellectual labyrinths and contemplating astonishing philosophical vistas.

This can also be good for the soul.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

A Target Christmas catalog came in the mail this week. It was artfully done: colorful, and full of happy smiling children. It’s goal was to convince you that you could have a joyful Christmas only if you bought all this stuff guaranteed to produce joyful children (stuff available at Target, of course). Mostly that meant very expensive stuff. Mostly that meant electronic stuff. Electronic stuff that had, in every case, one solitary child interacting with an image on a TV screen.

I fear that too many parents, especially parents with little money, will despair (at least subliminally) of having happy children this Christmas because they can’t possibly afford to buy any of this stuff. They may even know that this catalog is a lie—that nothing in it can produce real happiness. Interacting with something electronic is an empty, ultimately unsatisfying endeavor. Loving interactions with other people, genuinely connecting with other people, serving others, seeking to make others happy—this produces real happiness.

I remember being a parent with little or no money for Christmas gifts. I remember overhearing my children say (about dozens of items), “I want THAT for Christmas!” as they watched yet another commercial on TV or looked at yet another printed ad. (Some scriptures come to mind: “their eyes are full of greediness.”) I felt like throwing the TV in the trash just to stop the “I want”s. It was making my children covetous and materialistic. And that guaranteed that they would be miserable on Christmas morning, and that they would think themselves deprived and cheated.

I don’t know at what age a person finally realizes that most “stuff” cannot guarantee happiness. Perhaps some people live their whole lives and never come to that realization. An old song from my parent’s era proclaimed that “the best things in life are free.” It was never a favorite of mine—crummy tune, bad poetry, saccharine sentiments. But, it seems to become truer all the time.

The moon belongs to everyone.
The best things in life are free.
The stars belong to everyone.
They gleam there for you and me.

The flowers in spring,
The robins that sing,
The sunbeams that shine,
They're yours, they're mine.

And love can come to everyone.
The best things in life are free.

My biggest fear is that we are all addicted to our electronic stuff and have lost touch with stuff that is real. And wholesome. And healing. And deeply satisfying. Anyone up for a walk in (or a dive into) the autumn leaves?