Thursday, September 28, 2006

Top five...

I have just finished reading Nick Hornby's novel High Fidelity, and I must admit that although it was difficult to separate the novel from the film that the film captured the spirit of the book very well, even in Americanizing the setting. The book is brilliant, and reading it made me again realize how much I can identify with Rob, the owner of Championship Vinyl, as far as being a "music guy" goes. (The film, by the way, is in my top five films about relationships, along with Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.) His incorporation of music into all areas of his life reminds me of me (although I've no doubt he would dismiss me for my fandom of U2), because that is what I tend to do. Compilation discs and/or tapes help me express how I feel, and particular records define certain periods of time in my life. (Top five songs that made me want to move in summer 2006: Gnarls Barkley - "Crazy", Keane - "Crystal Ball", Lovedrug - "Rocknroll", Underoath - "There Could Be Nothing After This", Gnarls Barkley - "The Last Time".) Anyway, this book really gives an insight into the mind of a music lover like myself, and helps laypeople understand why people like me think about release dates and compose top five lists and laugh at the songs playing in the supermarket and relate our lives to a Johnny Cash song and ridicule DJs when they play "Cadillac Ranch" and "The Sign" and "Hollaback Girl" back-to-back-to-back. That's life when you live it in "high fidelity."

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

One month down...

It is hard to believe that a full month of my time here in Humboldt has passed already, considering how busy it has been and how much busier it promises to become. I have had a productive month as an upcoming professional, but also in adjusting to the pace of life and in accomplishing some things I have wanted to do for some time. I have been reading fairly voraciously (among my conquests thus far have been Brian McLaren's A New Kind of Christian trilogy, Richard Matheson's I Am Legend, and Nick Hornby's High Fidelity), catching up on television (Arrested Development), and even getting in some time playing video games. It has been difficult to adjust, as an extrovert, to not having people around socially, but it seems like life is just humming along. Now if I can just get in some more exercise, I will be doing great...

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Watch more ZooTV

U2 recently released their ZooTV: Live From Sydney concert on DVD for the first time since the filming of the concert in 1993. (Coincidentally, the concert took place on my sister's ninth birthday. But I digress.) What really struck me as I watched the DVD and all of its extras is that I truly wish that I had been old enough to be a fan of the band at that point (I was ten years old). The complete insanity of the entire ZooTV tour has been captured for posterity, but it would have been so amazing to have lived through some of the now legendary elements of that tour: seeing Bono transform himself into The Fly, MacPhisto, and Mirrorball Man; the giant vidi-walls and satellite signals that were set up on stage for each show; the trabants hanging all over the set; and the complete deconstruction of the entire identity the band had established in the 1980s. It is truly the most interesting period of U2's history, and one of which I have only very faint memories from when it happened. It is still great to relive the brilliance of this period on DVD, and even the more so because this release likely will lead to the release of the remainder of the U2 video catalog on DVD. It's "Even Better Than The Real Thing."

Saturday, September 23, 2006

My secret identity...

...is not so secret. We had an interesting conversation about internet identity at today's Saskblogs barbecue (at which, in true Turner fashion, I knew three of the other four attendees through random past encounters. But I digress.) Some are very guarded about their online nomenclature, whereas some (like myself) are completely open about our "secret identities." I do understand the need for some blogs to have anonymity and/or confidentiality, but I have decided to be who I am, online or in real life. Still, that decision has made for an interesting dilemma, now that I am in a school. Though my teaching career is in its infancy, I have learned quickly that I am now both "D----" and "Mr. Turner" wherever I go. I have seen students at a rock concert and at the mall, so I continually have to be aware of the reality that I am a professional. Does this mean that I am constantly in a state of tension, wondering if my dark deeds will be exposed to the light of the students were I to be seen "out of character"? Not really - it means more that I must continually strive to be a "whole" person, and to live a life in which I do not have those secrets that can be revealed. But I have also been wondering about this identity problem online, since I am pretty easy to find - I am now the number one "D.... Turner" on Google. Do I need to stop doing what I'm doing here just because I am a teacher? I do not think so, but then again, who knows what may come up in the future? All I can do is be who I am, no matter where I am, and trust that my integrity will come through in the end. Mr. Turner out.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

A constant commute

I do not know how people commute all the time. I had to commute to Saskatoon twice this week for different functions, and I found that I was tapped from all of the driving, yet there are several teachers who make the commute every day, one hour each way. I suppose if you have to live in the city and you have a good job, you could make it work, but I think I would be completely burned out if I had to drive two hours each day just to get to work. Even commuting into Saskatoon on the weekends is getting tiring (though I suppose the fact that I have not travelled in only three weekends since the beginning of May contributes to that general feeling). Perhaps the commute is not so much physically tiring as it is psychologically tiring - the constant need to be in two places and the ever-present tension between work and life continually affecting your life. I know I still feel that tension, as part of my life is in Humboldt, but part of my life is still in Saskatoon with my friends and commitments, and that that balance can be easily disrupted. But in the end, my internship is the most important facet of my life (well, not including the givens like God), so that is where it has to be in the pecking order. Such is the constant commute of my life.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

A moment suspended in time

I did something last night that I do not do often: I paid to go to a show. He Is Legend, Moneen, and Silverstein all opened up for one of the best live bands around, Underoath. He Is Legend put on a decent set despite some sound issues, but Moneen was by far the best of the opening bands. Nothing, however, could compare to the sonic fury that was Underoath. It was one year ago that they graced the stage in Saskatoon as an opening act for The Used with a half-hour set of pure metalcore energy. With that standard fresh in the mind of many in attendance, as well as the anticipation of the performance of new material from this year's hit album Define the Great Line, the crowd buzzed with eager anticipation as the band took the stage. The sextet from Tampa did not disappoint us. From the opening notes of concert (and Line) opener "In Regards To Myself", the band captured the hearts, voices, and energy of the crowd, and they did not let go until the crowd dispersed a dozen songs later, hoarse and drenched with sweat. Underoath cemented their reputation as one of the best in the biz at pacing a show, as the dynamics of song selection allowed for a natural flow between the intense and more reflective moments. The best moment of the set was the somewhat unexpected choice to begin the band's encore, the somewhat slower closer from They're Only Chasing Safety, "Some Will Seek Forgiveness, Others Escape", a song which is perhaps the most worshipful of any that the band has recorded. In the midst of that song, at the end of the melodic phrase "Jesus, I'm ready to come home", the band came in full force on the word "home" before eventually returning to a more peaceful denouement for the song. That moment, to me, defined the evening because it proved Underoath's mastery of their genre muscially, lyrically, and demonstrated their confidence in their vocation, and it remains the moment that is suspended in time.

Underoath's set list: In Regards To Myself / It's Dangerous Business Walking Out Your Front Door / There Could Be Nothing After This / You're Ever So Inviting / I Don't Feel Very Receptive Today / To Whom It May Concern / Young and Aspiring / A Moment Suspended In Time / Writing on the Walls / (Encore) Some Seek Forgiveness, Others Escape / A Boy Brushed Red in Black and White / Everyone Looks So Good From Here

Thursday, September 14, 2006

The 13th Survivor

As many of you know, I am parked in front of the television on Thursday nights at 7 pm for my weekly addiction. Survivor is now in its thirteenth installment, now located on the Cook Islands, and this could be one of the most interesting seasons yet. Although there has been some skepticism about producer Mark Burnett's choice to divide the tribes along racial lines (Latin American, African-American, Asian-American, and Caucasian), I think it will provide one of the most interesting juries in Survivor history. (I do wonder, however, where the representation from Native Americans has been, as I do not recall ANY Native people on any episode of Survivor. Perhaps Burnett thinks they have a built-in advantage after surviving all of the horrible crimes perpetrated against them for the past five centuries? I don't know. But I digress.) It is interesting, however, how different survivors have reacted. Some have seemed completely indifferent to the division, while others are "representing their people." It will certainly be interesting to see what alliances emerge once these tribal lines are blurred, and particularly how the Caucasians do (since most survivors would have the incorrect impression that they have the advantage because of their race). Nevertheless, I plan to watch this season closely, and here are my early early picks for the final four: Jonathan, Sundra, Rebecca, and Yul. Survivors, on your mark!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

A movie a week

In a recent situation in which I was forced to make small talk, the conversation turned (on my directing) to a fairly universal subject: movies. After asking the others present what was the last horrible movie they saw, I realized that I had difficulty answering the question myself, as I do not watch many movies that are not worth my time and thus do not remember the last "bad" movie I watched. After some further reflection on my movie-watching habits, I have found that I watch, on average, one movie each week. I deliberately, most often in a social setting, endeavour to view at least one movie in main theatres each month, with an additional viewing at Rainbow also at a rate of once per month. (There are, of course, the busy seasons in which I will have additional viewings due to a greater volume of releases in which I am interested.) I think that I began this habit in early 2005, when I was writing a weekly "Review in Haiku" feature on this site (a feature that I miss dearly and may yet still resurrect), but it has become fairly entrenched as a part of my (typically) weekend routine. I find that a movie a week is a fairly decent pace, as it allows for the constant influx of valuable culture without the issues that often originate from overindulgence and from a glut of poor members of the medium. In essence, I can keep up with the good stuff, avoid the bad, and still keep life in balance at this pace. I believe that a movie a week - or 52 per year - is a good standard to continue experiencing and evaluating culture, and I would not be surprised to continue this habit for many years. Of course, I would love to set the pace that I watch one movie for every book I read - I am getting there, but I still have some reading to do. Nevertheless, a movie a week keeps the brain fresh and the faith engaged. Now to figure out which movie I will watch this weekend...

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

A new kind of Christian?

I had a good conversation with a friend over the weekend during the course of which he revealed to me that I have changed in the time I have known him - that I have become more liberal in many of my beliefs, but that I still manage to maintain that tension between faith and practice and criticism and acceptance in regard to my faith journey. That conversation, as well as my current reading of Brian McLaren's A New Kind of Christian trilogy, has led me to reflect on where I am, where I have been, and where I might be going in my life's quest to follow Jesus. I too realized that I am far more liberal now than I once was: I drink, smoke cigars, cuss, watch movies, and I even listen to bands that are not singing to or about Jesus. There was a time when I would questioned someone like me (although I often still do question myself), and may have even attempted to justify any form of judgement I placed upon said person, even if it were in what I deemed to be the best interests of either that person or of God. There was a time when I would at least have questioned whether or not engaging in such activities was actually productive in one's faith journey, and whether said activities might actually, in fact, detract from one's journey to become like Christ. There was a time when that questioning would not have been productive, but would have been more critical, and thus detrimental to any good I would have purported to perpetrate. Now, when those questions arise, I may have similar answers in some cases, but something is different, as far as I can tell: the focus. My focus then, I believe, was still Jesus, but I needed to have those other areas "in line" with Jesus to support Him in my life; now, my focus is still Jesus, but my faith transcends those human concerns, and He informs those decisions, rather than the decisions conforming to Him. There is a difference between those ideas. I remember when I was at my Fundiest (c. Feb. 2002-Feb. 2003), and although I don't necessarily regret my actions at that time, I would not choose to re-enact them now. I believe that my foray into Fundamentalism helped me to understand more what issues I have with that worldview and helped me reach the point at which I currently reside; I also believe that that time enabled me to understand more of the mindset of the Fundies and Evangelicals so that I could continue to have influence in that world and see the good in that world (since no worldview is entirely flawless or flawful). I think the real turning point for me, the point at which I "converted" (to use the lingo in an ironic sense) to a non-Fundy, was in late December 2003. The occasion? My first drink of alcohol. With one sip, I began to truly deconstruct the arbitrary barriers that I and others had established for me, and to realize that faith goes beyond Fundamentalism. Since that point, I have felt such a freedom to be who God created me to be, and to investigate His entire kingdom - not just the Western branch of Evangelical Presby-Lutheranism (my thanks to Rev. Lovejoy for that phrase) - but to reach beyond and to push those boundaries in my quest for Christ. I will admit that sometimes I have pushed those limits, and have had to lessen the pressure somewhat, but it has been and continues to be a fruitful enterprise in my life here on Earth. This brings me back to what being "a new kind of Christian" means in my life: it means a new outlook, even if a significant portion of the beliefs remain the same. I may now consider myself, albeit jokingly, a "heretical" or "disenfranchised" Evangelical, but right now, I remain an Evangelical. But I have pushed the boundaries in my own life, so I feel fewer of the constraints of traditional Evangelicalism in my journey - I feel like someone who can now not only survive but thrive in the once-dreaded "gray areas" without enduring a faith crisis at every corner. I feel like I can be someone who has a place within the Evangelical community, but also sees the world beyond, and hopes to help others see life in a new way. I know not everyone is called to be "a new kind of Christian" in the McLaren sense of the phrase, or even in my interpretation of the ideal, but I do know that this is my calling, and that we all need to fulfill our calling and to allow Jesus to "make all things new," and that is what will give us our "living hope." All I can do is continue to run the race before me with perseverance, looking toward Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (Heb. 12:1-2), and know that He who has begun a good work in me will carry it on until the day of completion (Phil. 1:6).

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Spoooooooooonnnn!!!!

I was minding my business today, wandering through a local music store, and I figured I would take a stroll through the TV DVD section. It was then that my eyes spied a long-awaited treasure more golden than the yolk that lies at the centre of the egg of freedom, more sweet than the frosting on the cake of justice, more valiant than the heart of the bus driver of liberty...I speak, of course, of...The Tick! [If you are lost at this point, checking the link may help you understand. Maybe.] The adventures of the staunch defender of The City, along with his sidekick Arthur, have finally been released on DVD after a long wait. I was surprised to discover that Buena Vista - a Disney company - released the DVD; what I later discovered was that Disney bought several of the mid-90s Fox Kids properties, and it has taken a while to get them to DVD. Now, however, the spell has been broken, and more Tick awaits, as well as (oh please oh please) the animated X-Men series! I also hope that if this set succeeds that it will instigate the release of other superhero spoofs such as Freakazoid!...because I obviously have nothing better to do than to spend my time in imaginary superhero worlds. Well, my mom thinks I'm cool. Seriously, we watched the DVD together. Sigh.

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