Thursday, August 31, 2006

The golden age of comedy

As I finally starting watching through Arrested Development last night, I truly began to appreciate the age in which we live: the golden age of comedy. In the last few years, comedies like Corner Gas, My Name Is Earl, The Office (U.S.), the recently cancelled Arrested Development and the currently in limbo Curb Your Enthusiasm have been going strong and getting better each season. Now, think for a moment if there has ever been a time in which five comedies of this quality have graced the small screen. That time does not exist. Now is the golden age of comedy, despite the recent loss of Development and Enthusiasm (which nevertheless persevere on DVD). But the Age shall continue, with the other three all getting stronger, and with the eminent return of Futurama to Comedy Central with 13 new episodes. All of these shows certainly owe a huge debt to Seinfeld, as well as predecessors like Sports Night that helped pave the way for these new comedies to succeed. And do not forget that Stephen Colbert is possibly the funniest thing ever to happen to TV; he and Jon certainly pack a mighty one-two punch. This is the golden age of comedy, so appreciate it while it lasts. If history provides any lessons to us, Danny DeVito is about to get his own sitcom with Rhea Perlman...and that will signal the end of the Age.

Monday, August 28, 2006

They call me "Mister Turner"!

Today was registration day, and tomorrow is the first day of classes. The long-awaited transformation is all but complete. I now have teenagers and fellow adults calling me "Mr. Turner." It feels very surreal to finally be teaching, after so long of waiting for this time, but it's also a good feeling. My lessons are coming together, and I am finally feeling like I can live up to that name. I doubt that I will be posting many more specifics about my internship, due to the sensitive nature of the internet (and the fact that I am now the number one response when you Google my name), but I do plan to continue making the same kind of observations about life as should be expected from the Mind of Turner. That's about it from my corner...Mr. Turner out.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

What's the point?

Some of you, upon reading the title of this post, may have assumed that I would be positing a somewhat fatalistic diatribe about the futility of attempting to change an institution like the evangelical church despite the seemingly obvious alterations that need to be made to make it a more effective and relevant organism; those of you who made that assumption would be wrong - this time. This post was inspired by my recent viewing of the Jack Black comedy Nacho Libre, and a comment from a friend who, upon seeing it, denied that the film had any intrinsic value or that there was any point beyond creating an inane exercise in slapstick comedy. I, as I often do with this friend, disagreed virulently, as I saw some very strong points about faith and identity and God's calling in the film (much as I did in Spiderman 2). But then I got to wondering whether these points are actually inherent in the film, or whether I interpret the film and attempt to find a point, even if there is none apparent. I came to the conclusion that there are times in which I try to find a point when there is none, but that for the most part there is a point to find. I do not know if you can have a film made simply for film's sake - there has to be some kind of point or message beyond simply entertaining. Then again, I probably tend to shy away from the kinds of films that have only that visceral purpose inherent in their existence, or to view them in their proper place (ie. Wayne's World). My point is that there should be a point, and that I like to find that point, regardless of what other people think. Nacho Libre was a Jack Black vehicle, but it had some good points, and it was not just me. That is why I ask "what is the point?"

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Recasting the 'net

You really do not know how much you miss the internet until you get it back. After enduring a summer of dial-up service with spurts of high-speed upon visiting people on the weekends, I am finally in a position in which I have access to the wide world of the web at home. The thing I find interesting is that I do not feel like I know what to do with all of this newfound access. I am so accustomed to checking the most pressing e-mails and performing the absolute minimum of tasks that even though I no longer have to operate under those restrictions I still find myself doing so. I suppose it is a good thing that I am not spending as much time on random sites (like CBC Kids' Games), since I will not have as much time this fall. And of course, this all means that this site is also back at high-speed. Boo yeah.

Man about town

Well, my summer vacation has been crazy - all four days of it. I have really enjoyed the last few days, both because of and in spite of the frenetic pace, but also because I saw a lot of people. There were many people I intended to see, but also many whom I encountered randomly and unexpectedly at social gatherings or while getting my glasses fixed, for example. It was only a few days, but it really gave me a taste of living life in Saskatoon and being the "man about town" that I am. Although it was somewhat disheartening for me to inform the interested party upon being prompted as to my plans for the fall that I would be moving within the week, I was encouraged by the overwhelmingly supportive and positive response I received, which essentially consisted of others either implicitly or explicitly allowing me the space I need to finish my internship well without having the burden of having to maintain life here. That is not to say that I do not want to be that "man about town", or that I want to abandon friendships, but rather to point out that people are willing to sacrifice their preferences for my well-being. So a short respite ends, and the next chapter begins in Humboldt. And Saskatoon during most weekends. That's the Life of Turner for me.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Belief?

"Why do you assume that whenever I'm talking about belief that I'm referring to God?" - Shepherd Book, Serenity
"I don't care what you believe...just believe" - Shepherd Book, Serenity
"...like belief needs a doubt, I need your love" - U2, "Hawkmoon 269"

I watched both Serenity and V For Vendetta in the past week, and I was very interested by the common focus on belief in both movies, and have subsequently been thinking about belief. In V For Vendetta, V stakes his entire course of action on his belief that he can awaken belief through becoming the personification of a lost ideal. He chooses even to hurt the woman he loves (Evie) in order that her belief in something greater than her own life might be awakened. For V, belief is the prerequisite to action, and he has to risk his own life in the belief that his actions will inspire the actions he wants to see. In Serenity, the normally "agnostic" Captain Malcolm Reynolds (I use the term metaphorically, as he is primarily concerned with his immediate circumstances and not with a higher power, not unlike an agnostic) is confronted with a nemesis whose belief in an ideal is so strong that he is willing to kill anyone who gets in his way. Mal is challenged by his spiritual mentor Book to also believe in a cause outside of his own survival with that same intensity as is possessed by his nemesis. Mal eventually has to put his own life on the line because of what he believes, and is forced to have his crew trust him as he does so. Mal has belief despite himself, whereas V's belief is crucial to his identity and existence. But for both V and Mal, belief is a powerful tool and weapon, and it is the motivation behind their actions. It is interesting that in both films that strong believers find themselves having outgrown the circumstances in which their belief was forged and thus have to re-examine their belief and how it must adapt to altered circumstances - in a way, they are forced to doubt their beliefs in order to strengthen them. The notion of belief presented in each of these films is not unlike its reality - belief (or faith) is required to act, and it must be tested in order to be strengthened. Just like V and Mal, actions demonstrate belief, which is reminiscent of the thoughts on faith and deeds found in James 2. But then the concept gets tricky, as some Christians would say that only belief in the Christian God is meaningful; I disagree. Any belief is valuable because it gives purpose and direction, and because it can help us become a better person. I am not saying that all beliefs are equal, or that there is more than one path to God; rather, I think that having belief is preferrable to not having belief, period. Mal did not have belief, which is why Book encouraged him just to believe; I think that was the first step on a long journey for Mal, and that Book understood that the first step is simply to believe in something. V and Mal believed in something bigger than themselves, and they were willing to die for their beliefs; I only hope that if I am ever presented with the necessity of choosing whether to die for my beliefs that both my beliefs and my fortitude are strong enough to put those beliefs into action. That's what I believe about belief.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Runnin' back to Saskatoon

I'm back. It was only a three-hour drive to get back to Saskatoon from camp, but it seemed a lot longer in a lot of ways. I detoured for awhile in Moose Jaw, and then finally finished the journey with mixed feelings. I do not know why, but I did not really want to come back. It is not that I do not want to be in Saskatoon, or that I still want to be at camp - it is good to be here, and it was time to leave; rather, I think the significance of the trip really hit me when I got to Moose Jaw. All the hopes, dreams, vision, expectations and fears of May have now coalesced into realities and memories, and it is time for a new chapter. It was the closure of another chapter, and preparation for actually training to be a professional in my field. I am still a "student," but this is the final year in which I can cling to that designation, and it is rapidly nearing the time at which I can no longer claim to be part of that group. Coming back to Saskatoon means dealing with issues and running errands and moving on - a simultaneously exhilirating and terrifying reality. But for now, I am here in Saskatoon, and getting ready to move on. Sigh.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

A bittersweet day

I woke up at 7:30 to a somewhat overcast and blustery day, and immediately realized the ways in which the day would be bittersweet: not only was it the final day of camp, but it was exactly a year ago that my friend Dwayne passed away after a brief battle with cancer. It has been a long journey since that difficult day, and today, at least in my mind, marks a transition point, from past to future. After today, it will have been over a year since someone to whom I was close died, therein placing more distance between myself and the immediate grief, and I will soon be leaving camp and moving on in my professional career as a teacher. It is, in all, a bittersweet day, but a necessary one.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

The cadence of small towns

I blogged about my sometime affection for Saskatchewan small towns at the end of April, but since then I have had the opportunity to spend a fair bit of time in small towns in southern Saskatchewan (including the ficitional Dog River, in watching through both seasons of Corner Gas in May and June), and I have been greatly entertained by the pace of life in smaller communities. The hustle and bustle of the city is not there, and life just goes slower. I do not know if I would ever want to spend a significant amount of time in a small town, but I do enjoy the pace for short amounts of time.I have been in Assiniboia since last night, and I have spent time on the internet, done some laundry, driven around town, eaten some bacon, visited a guy who lives in a motel (no joke), bought stuff at the Salvation Army, and learned to play Cities and Knights of Catan - just a very relaxing and refreshing time. I think that being in Humboldt for the fall will actually be somewhat relaxing (despite the harried nature of internship), and I may even decide to move to a small town to teach afterward. Ah, small town Saskatchewan.

P.S. As a bonus, here's the cover art for the Season 3 DVD of Corner Gas, due for release on October 3! Yay for all of the characters being drawn as superheroes! Yes-HA!

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

One week...

It is really hard to believe, but there is only one week left in this summer of camp. I am definitely beginning to feel the stress of internship beginning soon, as well as all of the planning that I have yet to do as the semester starts, but I am endeavouring to focus on finishing well here at GTBC. It has been a great summer, and I hope it will have a great conclusion. (By the way, if you were intending to send mail to me, send it to my permanent address, since I will likely be leaving camp before I would receive it.) Now back to our constantly malfunctioning computers...

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Speaking the truth

God not only has a sense of humour, but He also has a sense of adventure. This week is Junior Teen, and our director informed us at staff meeting that she would be speaking this week. She seemed somewhat non-enthusiastic about the idea, so I mentioned that I might be able to help her out. Then I went to the bathroom, and suddenly I had a theme for the week and most of the chapels planned. So I went back to the director and convinced her that I would be able to speak for the entire week. I have wanted to be a speaker at camp since I was a camper, so this has really been the fulfillment of a longtime dream, but it has been a daunting task, given my lack of preparation time. I chose to focus on observing characteristics of God through biblical characters, and the response has amazed me. I am writing this post after Wednesday night's chapel, in which I talked about how Jesus demonstrates God's love, which was followed by a majority of the female campers remaining in the chapel fpr an hour praying. Wow. Despite my problems and lack of preparation, God has used me, and I still have a day and a half left to speak with these campers. God has used me to help change their lives, which is a very humbling experience. I guess I always knew I was a preacher - it has just really had the opportunity to come out this week. But I boast not of myself, but of Christ, because without Him this week would not have gone as it has. So there is another aspect to the Life of Turner - preachin'. God figured.

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