GOD, THE WORLD, THE DEVIL, AND LATE NIGHT TV

Colbert had Ricky Gervais on this evening. He’s not a particular favorite of ours, but we like him well enough. Tonight, he and Colbert got into a mini debate on the existence of God. Gervais, an avowed atheist versus Colbert, the avowed Catholic. No, it wasn’t angry or mean. It was interesting, lively, and thought-provoking.

Colbert asked “Why is there anything rather than nothing?”

Gervais said that was a meaningless question.

They went back and forth for a while, but in the end, the answer is, was, and always will be — we are all agnostics on some level because, unless we think God speaks directly to us — or we are in touch with spirits from “the other side.” We believe what we believe because that’s what we believe. We don’t know anything.

Buddha, Tibet, probably 19th century

Buddha, Tibet, probably 19th century

Garry said he enjoyed it. For once, something interesting that wasn’t politics and I had to agree. But I’m an armchair philosophy and religion nerd. I can talk about this stuff for hours. I never get bored.

I’m a skeptic, closer to an atheist than anything else. But, as I have no direct knowledge, all I can say is “I doubt it, but I suppose it’s possible.”

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Garry would more likely say: “I believe in something, but I’m not sure exactly what.” The same, but different.Nonetheless, he has an inherent buoyancy and optimism which lets him believe things will work out even when it looks hopeless. I envy that.

Yet, I am living proof that miracles happen. If anyone should be dead, it’s me. I can’t close that door without acknowledging that I’ve had some amazing close encounters of the providential kind. I think it’s possible that whatever God is, he has spoken to me at least twice and saved me when I was dying. Let’s not debate this. It’s complicated. Very.

So my husband, who has seen some of the most horrific stuff of which the human race is capable is an optimist and I, who have been saved more than once, am always expecting catastrophe. Go figure, right?

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There’s no logic to this kind of thing. We believe what we believe because that’s what we believe. We can all justify our beliefs, but in the end, belief is faith-based. No matter what you call it. A minister I liked asked me what more I needed … a picture ID with God’s face on it? Because if the experiences I’ve had don’t prove to me that something, someone is watching over me … then what will?

I can’t argue the point. I don’t know who  — or what — is the watcher. God? Satan? Ganeesh? The Lady of the Lake? Spirit of my ancestors? Buddha? A nameless Power? I have no clue and am not willing to speculate. I do not know the answer. I’m not even sure I’m asking the right questions.

The only thing of which I am certain is I don’t have an answer and neither do you. If I ever find an answer, I promise to let you know.

TIME TRAVEL, PARALLEL UNIVERSES & THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT – ELLIN CURLEY

I am fascinated with the concepts of time travel, parallel universes and the Butterfly Effect. Fortunately for me, there are several TV shows today that deal with these things. One is Timeless and another is The Flash. The Flash is a Marvel comic based series in which the hero can run so fast that he can bend time. He can move both forward and backwards in time. Timeless follows a government team of time travelers who have to keep going back in time to prevent the ‘bad guy’ from messing with major past events and drastically changing the timeline.

In both of these shows, each trip back in time results in an altered present. In each, a seemingly random individual who is important to one of the main characters, is either dead in the present or was never born and no longer exists in the present timeline.

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This brings up the Butterfly Effect, a theory popular with time travel enthusiasts. The theory, mostly used in science, states that a small change can result in a large, unrelated change down the road. In everyday life, this means that unimportant decisions, like whether to go out to dinner or eat in, can lead to very different ‘storylines’ in your life.

There is both a movie and a play that depicts the parallel universes created by a minor life decision. The movie is “Sliding Doors” from 1998 and stars Gwyneth Paltrow. It tracks the different careers and love lives that the heroine would have if she a) catches a particular subway train or b) misses the train. For example, if she catches the train, she also gets home in time to catch her boyfriend in bed with another woman. If she misses the train, she also misses this tryst. Her life takes very different paths depending on that fluke of timing.

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The play was a musical called “If/Then”, starring Idina Menzel. The show follows the heroine’s parallel lives if she either chooses to go to lunch with friend ‘A’ or if she chooses to go to a play with friend ‘B’ instead.

Interestingly, in both the movie and the play, the heroine ends up with the same ‘love of her life’, just at different times in her life. Her career paths diverge but I think most people like to believe that some people are ‘destined’ to be together. The Jewish concept of ‘Beshert’ says that every soul is a half soul and that there is another person in the world who is their perfect ‘other half’. So in time travel shows, many aspects of life are allowed to be affected by chance. But we don’t seem to want to accept that chance can also change the big things in life, like true love.

TimeTravelSome time travel writers have a different theory. They talk about the fact that the past ‘resists’ change. Rather than believing in the Butterfly Effect as it relates to time travel, many believe that at least the major events in history are more predestined and less susceptible to change. It might seem easy to keep a major past event from happening, especially if small changes in the timeline can eventually result in big ones. But time writers feel that events, like WWI, the assassination of JFK, or the sinking of the Titanic, will find a way to take place no matter how hard you try to prevent it. You might want to read Stephen King’s brilliant book “11/22/63” about attempting to go back in time to prevent the JFK assassination. It was also made into a mini series, but the book is much better.
I guess it is easier to accept the idea that relatively small things, like the details of an individual’s life, are changeable and not ‘meant to be’. Maybe this is because on a small scale, cause and effect is more linear and knowable. On the other hand, historians are still arguing about the multiple and interrelated causes of the Civil War.

delorean time machineMy grandfather was hit by a truck and killed when he stepped off a curb too soon at the age of 88. I used to obsess about what led him to that exact spot at that exact time. I used to imagine the tiny things he could have done differently that would have gotten him to that spot even a second earlier or later.

For about a year after that, I would imagine each time I reached a curb, that it could be my last moment on earth — if the stars were so aligned. Maybe this is the root of my love for some of these theories.

HAPPY SOLSTICE TO ALL – KIM HARRISON

Sunrise - Winter Solstice - New England

Sunrise – Winter Solstice – New England

From Kim Harrison, a happy Hollows Solstice!


 ‘Twas the Night of the Solstice

by Kim Harrison


‘Twas the week before Christmas, and up in the Hollows,
Solstice bonfires were burning, to toast the marshmallows.

The pixies were snug in their stump, even Jenks,
Who claimed he was tired, and needed some winks.

 So I in my parka, and Ivy in her boots,
Were toasting the season, with thirty-year hooch.

When out in the street, there came such a crash,
I thought that it had to be ‘coons in our trash.

Away to the gate, I trudged through the snow,
While Ivy just said, “If it’s Kist, say hello.”

I lifted the latch, and peered to the street,
My face went quite cold.  We were in it thigh deep.

‘Twas a demon, who stood in the headlamps quite bright,
With his coat of green velvet, and his uncommon height.

His eyes, how they glittered, his teeth how they gnashed,
His voice, how he bellowed, his tongue, how it lashed

The street wasn’t holy, so on Big Al came,
As he bellowed, and shouted, and called me by name.

“Morgan, you witch.  You’re a pain in my side.
“Get out of your church.  There’s no place to hide!”

Like hell’s fury unleashed, he strode to my door,
Where he hammered and cursed, like a cheap jilted whore.

But Ivy and I, we circled round back,
To stand in the street and prepare for attack.

“You loser,” I shouted.  “I’m waiting for you.”
And the demon, he spun, taking on a red hue.

Ivy stood ready, and I whispered, “Okay . . .
“If he wants to get rough, I’m ready to play.”

With nary a word, us two girls got to work,
Putting foot into gut, of the soul-sucking jerk.

I circled him quick, with a few words of Latin,
While Ivy distracted him with lots of good wackin’

“Get back!” I yelled out when my trap was complete,
And Ivy somersaulted right over the creep.

My circle sprang up, entrapping him surely,
Al fussed and he fumed, like a demonic fury.

The neighbors all cheered, and came out of their houses,
Where they’d watched the whole thing, like little house mouses.

So Ivy and I, we both bowed real low,
Then banished Big Al, in an overdone show.

But I heard Al exclaim, ‘ere he poofed from our sight
“You won this time witch, but I’ll get you one night!”

– – – – –

Kim Harrison, December 14th, 2005

(Last-minute gift givers, I’ve got your The Turn is coming card for under the tree right here: http://www.kimharrison.net/BookPages/TT/TurnSignedCopy.html )

FILM REVIEW: LA CARA OCULTA (2011) – THE HIDDEN FACE

hidden-face-posterThe Hidden Face (La Cara Oculta) is a supremely dark movie, literally and figuratively. The subject is dark and most of the movie takes place in dim light or actual darkness.

At first glance, I thought it was going to be a whodunnit and I was good with that. But early on, the plot became obvious, so what remained was a race against time. The overall story is standard thriller cum police drama “missing person” stuff.  As the movie opens, we watch a “dear john” video from a young woman leaving her boyfriend with minimal explanation (but a lot of subtext). Her boyfriend (who we will soon learn is a renowned orchestral conductor) watches the video. Apparently baffled, miserable, in despair. It’s a flashback, because the film immediately moves forward to “now” as he meets someone new and begins a relationship. The story flashes back again. Despite how it sounds, the flashing back and forth is not confusing,  just tricky to write about.

Into precisely what genre The Hidden Face fits is murky.

It’s creepy, but not a horror movie. It’s a mystery, but so briefly no detective work is required. I was surprised at how soon in the film lays the whole story out. It eliminated any element of surprise or mystery, leaving creepiness without suspense. Does that make it sort-of horror? A ghost story without a ghost? Secrets don’t stay secrets long. The film put everything out there, up front.

The film would benefit from a tighter edit. Too many beauty shots  of the stars walking on the beach, ambling along by the river, looking sad, staring into mirrors (many mirrors, lots of staring), suffering, pondering, despairing. You could trim a lot of it without compromising the story. Fewer shots of Fab walking, thinking, pondering, Adri conducting, flirting, suffering, yada yada. That much B-roll is directorial self-indulgence and it gets old quickly.

After the who-done-what is revealed, the movie becomes a race against the clock. The only remaining question is who will win the race. That’s when I started to lose interest. The situation was indeed creepy, even horrible. But very little was happening and although nothing much is happening, it takes a rather long time to not happen. Back to the editing room!

Have I seen anything like this before? Yes.

Even before they show you everything, there are plenty of tells for anyone familiar with mystery or horror stories. Moreover, the plot is classic and everyone will recognize it. Think fairy tale crossed with Edgar Allen Poe. I believe the movie’s writers assume the situation, the premise itself, will generate sufficient tension without action. No need for story. It doesn’t work for me.  I need a story. So this movie wasn’t my cup of tea, but I’m a coffee drinker. If you like tea, you might love it.

hidden-face-stillThe cinematography is moody and broody. I appreciate the artistry. The “sexy scenes” were just that. Nothing pornographic about them. Had the overall tone of the film not been so edgy, it might have been romantic, even titillating. The sense of “something wrong” overshadows all else and the foreboding short-circuits potential erotica.

My aging eyes I would have preferred more light (as in wattage). The poor quality print may have contributed to the problem because it was difficult to focus on the picture, but most of the film takes place at night or in shadow so it wasn’t brightly lit to start with. After repeated copying of the original print, there was considerable squinting involved for me. Not a movie for the weak of vision.

Did I enjoy it? I liked the beginning a lot. I like the middle, mostly. By the end, I was eager for it to be over. Would I recommend it? It depends on who’s asking. I really wanted to like it, but I couldn’t get into it or wrap my head around it. If the tale had unfolded in a normal timeline rather than flashing back and forth, that might have helped. Maybe. I wish they had saved some surprises for the second half.

The situation was eerie, but for a movie to work for me, I need more. I need a story. Characters to whom I can in some way relate. Interesting dialogue. In this case any dialogue would have helped. Maybe I’m just not artistic enough to appreciate the nuances, but from where I sit, the problem was not too much nuance. It was too little.

FAIRIES – JUDY DYKSTRA-BROWN

This just tickled my fancies while confirming my long held belief that those little people are messing with me, hiding my stuff, and stealing my socks!


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Fairies


When we go to bed, they sneak in
and loll about on the chair cushions,
combing their coarse straight hair,
leaving traces we’ll brush off with the lint brush, blaming the cat.

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They mine the refrigerator,
looking for wine spills or crumbs of cheese.

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The more intrepid jump on the rubber pillow of the sink squirter,
starting a slow drip they can drink from like a water fall,

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then make the long trek into the cave of my computer room,
their eyes on the precarious towers of books.
They give each other a hands-up
onto the power key of my computer,
then all jump in sync to turn it on.


Read the rest of the story: Fairies

GHOSTS OF THE SUPERSTITIONS – GARRY ARMSTRONG

We set out early from Phoenix, heading due east for the Superstition Mountains. We hoped to find the Lost Dutchman’s Mine, see if we could discover the secrets behind the legend.

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I’d seen movies about the legendary mine and the souls lost by their lust for gold.

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It was a good day for our trip. Sunny and mild. The air was fresh, crisp, clean. For a moment, I thought I smelled honeysuckle on the breeze.

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Along the way, the spans of cactus covered desert shadowed by mountains were constant but not deadly companions. They seemed more like nature’s patrol, riding point and drag, to make sure we wouldn’t lose our way. A pilgrim’s awe of God’s country can sometimes lead to disaster.

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We made a stop in Tonto National Park. That’s right, Kemo Sabe. Things have changed. Guess the Great White Father in Washington knows change is blowin’ in the wind.

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No sign of Tonto, the Masked Man, Dan Reed, Silver, Scout, or Victor. Maybe there were off chasing the Cavendish Gang again. Those guys never seem to really die.

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Tonto’s land was beautiful, a fitting legacy to the faithful companion who did most of the work but received little respect or credit. Then, we were back on the trail again, heading higher and higher with majestic mountains all around us.

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Growling bellies were a sign for a stop. Turned out to be part of the vast Lost Dutchman’s Mine country. A town for Pilgrims.

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Midday, and the dudes were everywhere. Shops, stores and remnants of the past loomed all around us. Fool’s gold? I’m sure the ghosts of some miners were smiling at all this stuff.

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We pushed on to another picturesque stop as the road climbed higher and higher, seemingly to the sky.

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A stage-coach way station beckoned. Could have been one of Jim Hardie’s drivers who worked for Wells Fargo. He seemed impatient to get moving. His horses needed water and cooling down but had to wait with all those damn Pilgrims getting in the way again.

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Our attention was diverted by a familiar face. His voice and speech pattern gave him away. Unmistakable. Pure frontier gibberish filled the air. Yes, it was Gabby Johnson!! Late of Rock Ridge, Gabby was plying his trade now at this way station.

Photo by Ben Taylor

Photo by Ben Taylor

Gabby was glad to see us. I think he was happy we didn’t mention anything about how he and Rock Ridge had initially treated their new sheriff. Past is past, we figured.

Photo by Ben Taylor

Photo by Ben Taylor

Marilyn and I took turns on Gabby’s Donkey. Photo op time for Pilgrims who secretly think they’re not really dudes.

Photo by Ben Taylor

Clementiny – Photo by Ben Taylor

Clementiny, Gabby’s younger pal, looked on with bemusement. Probably a dawning awareness of what the future held with more Pilgrims looking for their fifteen minutes of cowboy fame.

Photo by Ben Taylor

Photo by Ben Taylor

We were burning daylight as we pushed up the mountain road. Lunch still rested unsteadily with us. The chow had been good but our guts are not what they used to be.

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We found Superstition Mountain and the land surrounding the Lost Dutchman’s Mine. Nice scenery, certainly evocative of the movies of my youth. Nature provided a clean, pristine, multi-hued vista contrasted with the grainy black and white images of those old movies.

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We sighed in the silent satisfaction you get from seeing those fabled images up close. In my sense memory, scenes from the movies played out in a seamless juxtaposition with all that our eyes now saw and recorded. If you love westerns, it doesn’t get any better than this!!

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Daylight was draining as we rode back down the road, stopping here and there to savor the endless scenes of wonder.

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One last sunset beckoned. We found our spot. Our host and old pal, Ben was off somewhere. I spied him lurking amid the tumbleweed and cactus. He had a strange look on his face. Too familiar and scary. Ben reminded me of Fred C. Dobbs in his last moments of sanity in the Sierra Madre mountains.

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Maybe we had spent too much time around the ghost of the Lost Dutchman.

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Maybe the sun had gotten to us. Maybe it figured to end this way, as sure as the turning of the earth.

GHOSTS | THE DAILY POST

WORMHOLES, SOCKS, AND TUPPERWARE – ELLIN CURLEY

Who doesn’t wonder where the other sock from the pair went when it disappeared from the dryer? Don’t you wonder where they’ve gone? It seems to me that with every load of laundry, a pair of socks goes in, but only one comes out.

Does the dryer eat them?

I have bags of lonely, single socks in the back of my closet, all yearning for the day when their long-lost mates will reappear.

My husband theorizes that missing socks go to a parallel universe in which people find extra socks. Two socks go in to their dryer, but three come out.

buddySystemSocks

I like to think somewhere in that universe live the mates to my lonely socks. Somewhere in the great galaxy, they patiently wait for destiny to reunite them with their mates. It’s kind of romantic. Depending on how you feel about socks.

I asked my husband if this theory also explains the Tupperware problem. I have many orphaned lids with no bottoms that fit. Yet I also have plenty of bottoms for which I can find no matching tops. Is my missing Tupperware in the same parallel universe as the socks?

My husband looked at me as if I were crazy. Impossible, right? Because the dryer is the wormhole to that other universe and I swear I’ve never put my Tupperware in the dryer. But maybe the dishwasher is a secondary wormhole. You can never be sure about wormholes. They can appear anywhere, anytime.

missing tupperware universe

The good news? Wormholes can reverse themselves — at least, according to my husband (but I’m not sure who else). Thus it’s possible one day we will begin to find spare socks in the dryer … and superfluous Tupperware pieces in the cabinets.

I’m going to hang onto my bags and boxes of single socks and mismatched Tupperware. I advise you to do the same. If we run out of space to store all this stuff, we’ll simply have to find a way to move to a parallel universe where there’s more storage space.