Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Much Ado About Nothing: Movie Review

Not so much a review, maybe, but a rambling discussion of

Have you seen the newest movie version of my favorite Shakespeare comedy? 

John and I went and saw it for our anniversary. 


I purposely did not read any reviews or find out much about it before going.  I just knew that it was a pet project of Joss Whedon, shot in 12 days at his home with a handful of actors who had done other work for him.  I have watched bits of Whedon's show Firefly and heard of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, but I am definitely not among the fanatics who follow Whedon's every move.     

Therefore, I was surprised that I knew any of the actors, but I recognized a few, and was pleasantly surprised by them in Shakespeare roles, using language so different from what they've worked with before.  

That guy who plays the Prince (below) is Reed Diamond and I remember him from way back when he was on the show Homicide.  Funny to see him here, but he really does a great job.

(not Prince, nor the artist formerly known as Prince, but the Prince)

Benedick and Beatrice are the heart of the show, obviously, although I wonder if that was what Shakespeare intended...

I'll leave that question for Shakespeare scholars.

Suffice to say that, for me and probably most modern audiences, B and B are the heart of the show.  The two actors Whedon cast in those roles were unknown to me before this, so I really had no idea what to expect.  

Beatrice is effortless and thoroughly charming (when she wants to be).  Benedick is...meh.  He has a few good moments, mostly when his lines are broadly comedic, but the in-between stuff that takes some nuance and interpretation? Didn't really work.

Still, I cheered with the other romantics in the little theater when B and B finally admit their reluctant love.  That is one of my favorite scenes in Shakespeare, I think.

I love it when Beatrice is ranting about wanting to be a man so she can kill Claudio and she says, "I would eat his heart in the market place!"  No meek and mild Hero, she!  

But that's not the part that makes me sigh.  

I love lines like:

"I love you with so much of my heart that none is left to protest."  


This guy I recognized as the doctor from Firefly.  He is a much better Don John than Keanu Reeves! *shudder* 

Deliciously wicked and he knows how to deliver a line.

Nathan Fillion (right) plays an understated Dogberry, still funny, but not the comedic buffoon he usually is.

The whole thing was shot in black and white which helped to make the language shine.  By eliminating one element of the spectacle, Whedon helped a modern audience to focus on the language without even realizing it.  A master movie-maker working with the master word-smith.

That's just my opinion, though.  I have no idea if that was what Whedon intended or not.  Maybe it's cheaper to shoot in B&W and he decided to cut a corner and save a buck.  I don't know.

Some folks are wondering if this is a desecration of the Bard; if Shakespeare is rolling over in his grave.  A bunch of B-list and TV actors running around someone's backyard in modern dress with widely varying degrees of ability, interpreting his words as they see fit, having a whole lot of fun.

Sounds a little bit like a bunch of social-outcast actors running around an inn yard in whatever costumes they could beg, borrow or steal, with widely varying degrees of ability, interpreting lines as they could, having a whole lot of fun.  

I think Shakespeare would approve.  

As do I.

( One word of caution.  This is not a family-friendly version!  If you thought Branagh took liberties with Boraccio "talking" with Margaret at the window, you will likely swoon with the liberties Whedon took.  So, leave the kids at home.)

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Going Away

Before we left the great state of Minnesota, Mission OPC had a lovely going-away party for us.

We had a good crowd full of current and former members of the church, plus a few other friends.

As going away gifts, they gave us a big box of jelly beans, the finicky old lock from the church's front doors (which John locked and re-locked week after week until they were replaced recently), and a plaque honoring John for his hard work over the last seven years.  

(The plaque reads eight years, but I guess he got credit for an extra one for good behavior.)  

I made a somewhat coherent speech of thanks for the loving care we enjoyed from the congregation, then John preached.  Well, it was more of a devotional-type thing, but I teased him that his coping mechanism for sorrow is theology.

Not such a bad coping mechanism, I guess.  


Mission OPC will always have an enormous space in our hearts.  God blessed us immensely through them and the effects of that blessing will echo through our family for years to come.

These verses from Philippians have taken on new meaning for me over the last few months and I read them with my Mission OPC family in mind.

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1:3-11, ESV)

Thursday, July 18, 2013

June 2013, Part 2

I just realized I never got back to telling about the rest of our trip out west!  

The day after the beach, we went to Henry Cowell State Park to see "the big trees."

In the picture above, we're standing in front of a cross-section of a tree.  The rings are marked with dates of important events in world history.  This tree dates back to before the birth of Christ!

It was chilly under those big trees!  

This picture (above) might give you some idea of the scale of these trees!  Simply enormous!

Enormous and beautiful!  

We really enjoyed that day - and our entire stay - with our California friends.

We were sad to say goodbye, but so thankful for the time we had together!  

Sunday morning, we got up and were on our way to San Jose (couldn't resist), where we met John.  He preached there and we had dinner at the pastor's house afterward.  

The evening service was on the St. Mary's campus and included many of the local OP churches as well as the men from General Assembly.  As you might imagine, the singing was superb!

Tuesday morning, we set out for home.  We took a different route from the one we took going out, passing through Idaho, Montana, and North Dakota, for a change of scenery.

Of course, we couldn't resist the Idaho Potato Museum.  Johanna clearly thought we were nuts; she's not one to hide her feelings.

The drive took three loooong days and we were glad to pull up at our temporary home, Pat and Katie's house.  

We had a week to rest, and then head for the east and our new home!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A Day at the Beach

Last weekend, my brother and his family came to visit.  

They arrived Thursday evening, amid much excitement and rejoicing!

On Friday, we kicked around some ideas, but ended up staying home for the day.  The kids were just as happy to play with cousins, and as an super bonus, Tom and Ava unpacked boxes and organized a couple of rooms.  Most importantly, they (mostly Ava) organized the kitchen.  

I can become almost paralyzed when unpacking because I'm trying to "see" the whole thing at once, deciding where to put something that is the "perfect" place, for size, shape, and function!  Ava comes in and see things totally differently and kindly worked her magic for me!  

She and Tom assured me that she likes that sort of thing, so don't worry; I won't make you clean my kitchen when you come to visit!  

Anyway, the next day, we drove to Wildwood, NJ, to visit the beach.

Miss Evie was totally adorable as always!

Before we went, Johanna assured me that this was going to be totally boring because the last beach we went to (in California) she couldn't swim because of the dangerous rip tides.  

She was pleasantly surprised by the New Jersey beach.  She and Maggie had a total blast going in the water.  No complaints of boredom!  

This picture (above) was taken before Will joined in the fun, but it has the rest of the kids.  

Sam spent about 60% of the time in the water and 40% playing in the sand.  

No one wanted to leave at suppertime, but hungry tummies prevailed and we went and got food on the boardwalk.  

We returned home worn out, but content with a good day!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

June, 2013

There is way too much to share from our trip to California, but I will put a few pictures here and give some of the highlights.

Our first night on the road, we stayed with Christina Stegall and her family in Sioux Falls; always a fun time with them!  

Day two we headed across South Dakota and stopped to see the Corn Palace in Mitchell.  Yes, folks, it does exist and the entire facade is decorated in corn cobs.  

I realize that long miles of flat, open land does not appeal to everyone, but it appeals to us and we enjoyed our drive across the prairie.

At the end of that long day, we stopped briefly at Devil's Tower, Wyoming.

The next day was Sunday and we worshiped with a tiny PCA congregation in Sheridan, WY.  They were very friendly and we were sorry to turn down an invitation for a church barbecue that afternoon. 

But time was a-wasting and the West was calling!

So, we drove on to Yellowstone National Park.

We waited in the rain to see Old Faithful!

Right on time, she blew.  I'm told she does that.  

And, of course, we started to see lovely mountains.

Here is how Miss E. spent much of her time on this trip!  She was usually patient and sweet about it, too!

After too short a time in Yellowstone, we drove south out of the park and stayed at Flagg Ranch for the night.  

Next day, it was on to Grand Teton National Park.

Here is Grand Teton with the Snake River in the foreground.  This photo was taken from the spot Ansel Adams stood on to take his famous photo lo those many years ago.

Eventually, we made our way to Jenny Lake where we took a short boat ride across the lake and hiked for a little way up the mountain.  The path followed this rushing mountain stream.  It was a beautiful, but tiring hike, especially with Evie strapped to me!  She may be little, but she gets plenty heavy on a long hike!  

We really enjoyed Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons and look forward to taking the other boys there with us one day.

After that we had to be all business and get going to California.  We crossed Utah and Nevada in one day (yawn!), and stayed in Reno one night before going on to Moraga, CA.  

While John was busy with church business, the kids and I got to meet up with some friends of mine and go play! 

One day we went to the beach.

Sam has been watching too many cartoons about ninjas.

I wiggled my toes in the California sand and dipped them in the Pacific.  It was mighty cold there, though, way too cold to put more than a toe or two in the surf!  

(Yes, I know the Mark Twain quote and summer in San Fran was cold!)

The next installment will include our day at the "big trees."

New Home

We are in our new home!

It feels like it's been a long time comin', but here we are.

We arrived a little over a week ago and found the house in good shape after a month of being without inhabitants.  Except for the air conditioning.  That did not work at all.  And Philadelphia was feeling decidedly tropical just about then.

I do not function well in heat and humidity.

So for the first two nights here, those of us who preferred the discomfort of sleeping on a couch or the floor to the discomfort of sleeping in stifling heat and humidity slept in the family room which has a functioning wall unit a/c.

For the next two nights, we managed to get enough fans blasting in the right direction to sleep in upstairs bedrooms.

But things were still uncomfortable, to say the least.

Finally, on Tuesday, my hero the a/c guy arrived and got the thing to work.


Once that crisis was resolved, I could start worrying about a washer and dryer.  But that's a story for another day.

For now, we are glad to finally be "home," although in most ways it does not yet feel like home.  At least we are no longer living out of suitcases and eating at McDonald's four days a week.