Friday, December 20, 2013

7 Quick Takes Vol. 25

Merry Christmas to all from Conversion Diary!

1.   So, I learned something about myself over past couple weeks: I’m really, really bad at fasting. I’ve been trying to do it on Fridays, but the trouble is that it makes me lethargic, irritable, and prone to overindulgence after it’s over. So far the attempts have been “eat nothing for set period” and “eat only specific things.” Neither has worked out too well. Now, obviously I’m not going to ‘give up’ fasting (hmmm…fast from a fast…). I suppose I just need to practice a little more. Still, I thought it was kind of interesting.

2.       This week I did something rare for me and wrote a couple short (very short) stories. My stories tend to either be too short to be worth bothering about or too long to fit in the short-story format. For these, however, I decided just to run with it. One is a quick piece set in the ‘Gods and Monsters’ universe, which needs a good deal more work before it can be shown, and the other is a slightly-Lovecraftian horror story, which I’m much more satisfied with. One or both might be posted for viewing sometime in the future, but I didn’t think they were very ‘Christmasy.’

3.       I was planning on doing a post on the Duck Dynasty controversy that exploded this week. I had it all written and was letting it sit so that I could review it with a clear head and take out anything too nasty, when I found that two of my favorite bloggers – Matt Walsh and Larry Correia – had already dealt with it. Posting on a subject that those two have lit into is a little like kicking something that’s already been mauled by a cougar and a grizzly: it’s not just pointless, you actually feel kinda bad about it (language warning on both of them if you decide to follow the links). Their basic conclusion is “A&E are idiots.”  
All I can really add to the topic is my deep amusement at the GLAAD writer’s comment that Robertson’s words “Fly in the face of what true Christians believe.” Robertson was quoting the Bible!  
That, and the author of the original article in question is a real tool. Seriously; go read it and you’ll find the contempt for Christianity, Conservatism, and the Robertsons themselves just oozing between the lines.  

4.       I’m very behind on my Christmas shopping and card sending, but I am not going to panic. I am not going to panic. I am not going to panic…

5.       You know what’s a good sign? When you review the next chapter of your book before publishing it online and then find yourself getting sucked into your own story months after you wrote it. I definitely see a lot that could be fixed or improved, but I was surprised how much I enjoyed re-visiting Chronicles of Hendricks. Ordinarily, rereading my own work is a purely painful experience, so I’m taking this as a sign that I’m improving as a writer.

6.       So, I saw The Desolation of Smaug, and I’m working on a review. I really, really hate to say this, but it wasn’t very good. It was the first of Jackson’s Middle-Earth films that have to give an negative assessment of. There’s very little Bilbo, there much too much new crap that doesn’t fit, I’m sick to death of badass hot-warrior-chicks, and the climactic action sequence (original to the film) is so stupid and pointless that it makes the sauropod stampede in King Kong look restrained and dignified.
On the plus side, Smaug himself – as voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch – is all-but perfect. But alas, neither he nor the still-excellent Martin Freeman as Bilbo can save the movie, since they’re just not in it enough. At least the first film, bloated though it was, knew to keep Bilbo front and center.   

7.       This has been the week of weeks regarding stupid things happening at work; our always-touchy new printer surpassed itself by frying some of its hardware, which took three days to fix and we still don’t know how it happened. An unfortunate mix-up regarding a meeting with two ‘Todds’ and my not reading the email closely enough resulted in a working lunch that was a sandwich short. I’ve discovered a pair of keys in my desk that don’t appear to correspond with anything in the building. A mix-up on those keys and the building master key led to a long, uncomfortable conversation with a coworker that seemed to be nothing more than “we should really label these,” but kept looping back in on itself for no apparent reason that I could discover. Finally (and this might require a little explanation), yesterday (two days before break) I processed an ‘urgent’ purchase order, which then had a follow-up request to charge it to one of the vendor’s other locations. This very same vendor had put in a request months ago to charge to a specific location, which (after a good deal of wrangling with the people who handle that) we did. Now they’re asking this one to be charged to their old location. I died a little inside when I read that request and had to remind them that this is not at all feasible when half the company is already on vacation.
I’m wondering whether God is telling me that it’s about time to get serious about moving on?

Vive Christus Rex!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

A Brief Scene in Heaven

Scene: Sts. Valentine and Patrick are standing back to back, arms folded, looking extremely grumpy.

Valentine: “I was beheaded for trying to convert the friggin’ Roman Emperor.”

Patrick: “I was kidnapped, sold into slavery, escaped, then came back and converted my captors.”

Valentine: “And now…”

Patrick: “My feast is just a day for people to pretend they’re Irish as an excuse to get drunk.”

Valentine: “And my feast is, at best, a chance to buy bad candy and weak greeting cards, and at worst an extra chance for fornication and general unchastity.”

At this point St. Nicholas passes by, not noticing them. Valentine and Patrick watch him thoughtfully for a moment.

Patrick: "'Course, I suppose it could be worse."

Valentine: "Amen."

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Godzilla Teaser

As a huge Godzilla fan, I've been eagerly and somewhat anxiously awaiting the first sight of Gareth Edwards' reboot of the franchise, due out May of next year. Now it's here, and all I can say is:

I confess; after Pacific Rim, I was a little worried about Godzilla; would it be able to distance itself from the other movie? Would it come across as just 'also ran'? What would be different about it?

Judging by this first trailer, the answers are 'yes, no, a lot!'

The first half of the trailer is taken up with a striking new idea; a parachute jump into a kaiju-afflicted city, making our first glimpse of Godzilla a bird's eye view from above. This is something we've never seen before, and seems to indicate that Edwards and his crew are really pulling out the stops in terms of creativity and inspiration. Basically, that scene has done more than almost anything else to reassure me about this movie. The sequence, even in the trailer, is equal parts awe-inspiring, thrilling, and frightening (especially accompanied by music from 2001: A Space Odyssey). In a word, it's exactly what you might have been hoping for.

After this we get a lot of quick scenes, mostly of people running and looking. Nothing especially special (though a brief shot of a crushed train strewn across a highway is impressively alarming). Then, at the very end, we get a long, though smoky and unclear view of the king himself.

What impressed me most is the palpable sense that, for all that this is a reboot, with a new studio and computer-generated effects, that this really is Godzilla. Something about the shape, the size, the way he moves in the little we get to see of him that just feels right. It's not just the fact that he looks like himself - the classic 'tripod' dinosaur shape and spikey plates on his back - it's that they seemed to have captured the majestic, indomitable nature of the character. Basically, I felt as I was watching it that this really is him; the one and only.

Or put it this way: the few, unclear glimpses we have of Godzilla in this trailer were more true to the character than the entire 1998 movie.

My only real complaints about the trailer are that 1. I would have liked to see more, though I suppose that's the point of a teaser, and 2. even allowing that, I wish they hadn't cut away just as Godzilla begins to roar at the end: I would have liked to hear the whole thing.

So, for the full trailer I'm hoping for some sense of the human characters and story, a clearer look at Godzilla (including hearing his full roar), a glimpse at the enemy monsters, and (most importantly) a hint of the atomic ray, because judging by what we've seen so far, I can't wait to see what they're going to do with that. Ideally, the trailer would end with a scene of his plates lighting up, then cut away just as he's about to fire.

Anyway, in case it's unclear, I really, really loved this teaser, and I can't wait to see the full trailer (they better hurry up; the movie is less than five months away). This, more than anything, has brought home to me "yes; this is happening; we're getting a new Godzilla movie."

And now I must return my happy dreams of a sequel featuring the Heath-Ledger-Joker version of King Ghidorah.

Vivat Christus Rex!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

'Chuck' and the Christian Life

                  Last week I finally finished Chuck, the excellent spy-comedy series that ran from 2007 to 2012. While the show certainly has problematic elements (such as a total embrace of current sexual mores), it also has enough heart, thoughtfulness, and decency to make up for it.
                  The story: Chuck Bartowsky’s life is going nowhere fast. He’s very smart, but he was expelled from college after his best friend framed him for cheating and took his girlfriend, and now he’s working a dead-end job at the local ‘Buy More’ (basically Best Buy with a green rather than blue color pattern) and living with his loving, though concerned sister, Ellie, and her overachiever boyfriend, Devon (nicknamed ‘Captain Awesome’). His free time is mostly devoted to playing video games with his slacker friend, Morgan.
                  All that changes when, one night, he gets an email from his former best friend which, when opened, downloads the top-secret ‘Intersect’ computer – a complete database of all the intel from every government agency – into his brain. The CIA and NSA quickly dispatch their top agents – glamorous Sarah Walker and intimidating John Casey, respectively – to recover it. Finding that Chuck is more capable than he seems, the government decides, for now, to allow him to keep his life while serving as a mobile database for covert missions, with Sarah and Casey assigned as his ‘handlers.’ Sarah poses as his new girlfriend, Casey as a co-worker at the Buy More, and all are closely monitored by the no-nonsense General Beckman.
                  What makes the show so good, and stops it from being merely another spy-movie parody, is the care and honesty it brings to the relationships. A large part of the story is Chuck’s struggles to maintain his connection to his family and friends in the face of his new spy-life. This becomes increasingly difficult, as his undercover activities force him to repeatedly disappoint and lie to everyone he cares most about. As Chuck’s normally a very honest and nice guy, this puts a great strain on him and everyone else.
                  Moreover, Chuck’s “fake relationship” with Sarah also becomes more and more difficult to maintain, both because of his natural honesty and because he’s genuinely fallen for her. The delicate balancing act of pretending to be in a relationship with someone he desperately wants to be in a relationship with is depicted with great care and pathos.
                  This emotional honesty is mixed with a cheerfully cartoonish version of spy-craft; missions that require tuxedoes and dresses, vodka-martinis, secret lairs, glamorous assassins, massive thugs, and super-villains with gloriously silly weapons. The contrast between the down-to-earth, carefully written world of Chuck’s emotional life and the ‘everything-and-the-kitchen-sink’ approach to the spy life works surprisingly well. It emphasizes the alluring contrast between his dull, old life and his exciting new one, while at the same time making us understand his desire to get back to his old life. The spy world may be fun, but it’s his normal, boring life that really matters.
                  Which brings me to the ostensible point of this piece: the themes of Chuck:

1.     Keep Things in Perspective:

             One of the main sources of humor on the show is, as noted, the contrast between Chuck’s normal life at the Buy More and his more exciting life as a spy. But the really funny thing is that Chuck’s co-workers at the Buy More don’t treat it as normal. Indeed, they take the Buy More at least as seriously as Chuck takes international security. Almost every episode the Buy More crew are engaged in some insane scheme, some inner-store power struggle, or some ‘mission’ to boost their business, which they latch onto with Marine-like dedication.
Meanwhile, Chuck, Sarah, and Casey are off, say, trying to recover a biological-weapon before it can be sold to the World’s Greatest Terrorist™.
                  The point here is an amusing satire of the things we think important – office politics, bottom-line initiatives, group dynamics, and so on – and that really don’t matter at all in the grand scheme of things. So what if the Buy More doesn’t out-perform its hated rival, the Large Mart? Who really cares who gets the assistant manager position? Is acquiring the latest new computer before it hits the shelves really that big a deal? And is it worth being cruel, selfish, or dishonest?
                  Well, no it isn’t. Not in a world where crazy corporate executives plot to take over the CIA via internet. But, in another way, it kind of is important. It’s their lives. It may not be as important as saving the world, but saving the world is done precisely for the sake of people like this. The world is kept safe for Democracy because Democracy means ordinary people like the Buy More crew, or Ellie and Awesome, being able to live their ordinary lives. In a way, you could say that Chuck, Sarah, and Casey recover that bio weapon because it would have prevented such ‘unimportant’ things as the struggles of the Buy More.
                  There must be ‘big’ things: governments, armies, nations, and spies, and they are grand and glorious and good in their own ways. But there must also be ‘small’ things: homes, families, friendships, co-workers, and Buy Mores, and it is for their sake that the ‘big’ things exist at all. A small family around their Thanksgiving table, or a retail storefront prepping for Black Friday are the ends; the CIA, NSA, and so on are the means. If they don’t promote and protect such moments, all the spy-craft, underground lairs, glamorous parties, and firefights are simply a waste of time. This dynamic is a universal part of the human experience, and it is well to keep in mind.
                  On a related note:

2.     Don’t Despise the Ordinary:

                  Chuck’s life is your standard boring, underachieving lifestyle. And yet, throughout the first few seasons, he keeps trying to get back to it, or if not exactly to what he had before, at least to some kind of ordinary life. It is, as noted above, what really matters to him, because that is where his friends and family are. In one episode Chuck finds that his relationship with Morgan is fraying due to his spy-life. When Sarah fails to see the big deal, since Morgan is a slacker and an idiot, Chuck responds with a story illustrating how Morgan has been there for Chuck whenever he needed him the most. It was the simple, ordinary things, like inviting him over to play video games all night after his mom disappeared, which made a difference. Those were the important things, more important than high-profile meetings and international incidents.  
                  The contrast is interesting: the spy-world is glamorous and exciting, but it’s shallow. You can’t have real relationships, only quick flings to burn off energy. You simply don’t hang around anyone or anything long enough to really build memories or friendships. Meanwhile the ordinary world may be boring, but it’s deep. There are real, tangible emotions and relationships here. Morgan and Chuck care about each other in a way that spies, even friendly spies, don’t or can’t. More than once there are scenes where Sarah finds herself standing awkwardly to one side while Chuck mingles freely with his family and friends, looking on wistfully at a world she has never known.
                  Chuck wants to get back to his ordinary life because he knows that’s where his roots are. That’s where the things that make him really happy are to be found. That’s where real opportunity is. He enjoys the spy-life, but he knows that there’s no future there for him.
                  Both Casey and Sarah, steeped in the glamorous, shallow life of the spy, are at first contemptuous of Chuck’s ordinary life. But as they spend more time around him, they come to appreciate it and understand his longing for it, and even to come to desire it themselves. Which brings us to:

3.     The Allure of Goodness:

                  There’s a lovely dynamic in the show: as time goes on, Chuck grows from a terrified, awkward bumbler to a genuinely skilled and intelligent spy. At the same time, Sarah and (especially) Casey start off as cold, cynical killing machines, but the more time they spend with Chuck the more his own honesty and kindness rub off on them. They grow into warmer, friendlier, and more caring people. And they slowly turn from literally wanting to kill each other into honest-to-goodness friends.
                  Sarah and Casey are both long-term spies. They’ve never been around anyone or in any place long enough to build any real relationships. But now, effectively stuck in Burbank, surrounded by Chuck’s family and friends, and forced to work with the same people week after week, they begin to build them.
                  The two spies, who are trained to suppress their emotions, to follow all orders, and to be remorseless and detached from other people, begin, perhaps for the first time, to experience real goodness on a regular basis, and find that they like it. They come to appreciate Chuck’s honesty and gentleness and, what’s more, to desire to emulate it themselves. They find, slowly, that they want to be able to trust people, to be honest and open, and to care about others. And by degrees, they do. They put down roots, they build friendships, they learn to trust and to be honest with one another.
                  In the process, they find that they’re happier than they ever thought they would be. Indeed, in contrasting their characters at the start of the show with the ones they have at the end, you wonder whether they’ve ever been happy at all before they started to emulate Chuck. Sarah becomes warm, smiling, and good-humored; not taking herself so seriously and acting much more relaxed around others. Casey finds himself forging friendships and familial bonds, becoming protective and caring of other people, and developing a surprisingly perceptive ear for emotions, which he uses to give his friends relationship advice.
                  What it is, as noted above, is that the spies, seeing the depths and joy in the ‘ordinary’ world, recognize the goodness in them and feel a natural attraction to it. They want to experience it for themselves, and finding that they can’t as they now are, they change so as to be able to. Goodness, especially deep, rich goodness like that, is intensely alluring. Maybe not at first, while the shallower goods of excitement and physical pleasure still beckon, but the more you’re exposed to it, the more irresistible it becomes.
                  And, as they become better people, Sarah and Casey also become better spies. Learning to trust and care for each other, they develop into a much more formidable force than they would have been otherwise. It allows them to read situations better by noting each other’s behavior, to push themselves further than they would ordinarily be able to, and even, when it comes down to it, to tear down conspiracies and unknown enemies, because they know going in who is on their side and who isn’t.

4.     The Importance of Family

                  Finally, perhaps the key theme in Chuck is family. Chuck’s sister, Ellie, is the most important person in his life, his emotional rock, and maintaining his relationship with her is his first priority. Meanwhile, major story arcs revolve around Chuck’s hunt for his long lost parents and the consequences – emotional and otherwise – of this search.
                  The broad dynamic of the show’s characterization has Chuck’s immediate circle coalescing into an odd but effective extended family. Distrustful characters learn to open up, dislike turns into affection and care, couples get married and start families. His extended family is what keeps Chuck stable and, more importantly, morally centered. It is the foundation of his life.
                  The interesting thing is that none of the lead characters had particularly stable family lives. Chuck and Ellie’s mother and father vanished without a trace while they were children, forcing her to raise him. Sarah’s father is a con man and her mother is…complicated. Casey, meanwhile, turns out to have considerable family related baggage of his own.
                  But the characters manage, despite everything, to forge out real, happy family units despite their unpromising backgrounds. This mirrors, in a sense, the way Chuck turns out, despite his completely unpromising start, to grow into a surprisingly competent spy. From out of the wreckage of their lives, the characters struggle, through love, loyalty, and friendship to forge something better for themselves.
                  What this ‘better’ thing turns out to be is family. Family – a real, solid, loving, normal family – is the Holy Grail of the series; the thing that everyone ultimately ends up longing for. Though, as noted, the show takes unchaste behavior such as living together before marriage for granted, it also portrays marriage and family as the goal of any serious relationship. Towards the end it even skewers things like pre-nuptial agreements and easy divorce, and dares to suggest that a successful, professional woman would really prefer to stay at home with her new baby instead.

                  In short, Chuck is far from what you’d call a ‘Christian’ show: religion is pretty much non-existent in the character’s lives, the worldview is pretty much wholly secular (at least it doesn’t, as far as I can remember, engage in the casual religion bashing so common these days). But it is steeped in what you might call the most Christian aspects of secular morality: family, friendships, the allure of love and honesty, and the dignity of ordinary life. Outside the sexual aspect (which, to be fair, does come in a good deal), the show is wholesome and uplifting; the violence is frequent, but cartoonish and almost always justified in context. Issues of honesty, fidelity, and responsibility are handled with care and thoughtfulness and the show typically comes down on the right side of all of them. It’s all around a great show. 

Vivat Christus Rex!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Agents of SHIELD, Psychonauts, and Pope Francis All Walk into a Bar...

I’m really enjoying Agents of SHIELD. I love the Marvel Cinematic Universe (well, with the exception of Iron Man 3, which was a big disappointment), and seeing it from ‘ground level’ of the people handling day-to-day weirdness is pretty darn cool.  
That said, the episode from the week before last was a little annoying (though the fact that they managed to include a bit of classic X-Men lore without violating the rights issues involved almost made up for it) in that its victims of the week were Hollywood! Christians. For those who don’t know, Hollywood! Christians are apparently what the film/television industry think Christians are like. They’re basically people who were apparently trapped in amber somewhere around the Babylonian exile and were revived to found small-town America. So, they’re constantly terrified of God and think whatever happens is His punishment and they freak out and attack anyone who is even mildly 'different' or who just seems to be having a hard time.
This episode focused on a woman who was safety inspector for a research facility that ended up exploding. Then weird things start happening around her, causing her to think God is sending demons to punish her.
Okay, first the obvious question; where the hell is this woman’s pastor? If she is as religious as she’s depicted, and if the small town is as close-knit and religious as it’s supposed to be, shouldn’t they have at least one or two ministers handy? What are they doing while this woman is suffering an emotional breakdown and thinking that she’s surrounded by demonic tormentors?
Maybe this is some weird, super-insulated Protestant sect or something, but shouldn’t at least someone involved be bringing up God’s mercy? Shouldn’t someone be pointing out that messing up on your job, even when it leads to a few deaths, is a minor sin at most, and certainly not one that’s going to get you demonic punishment on Earth? Why doesn’t anyone point out the extreme absurdity of her assumptions, even with regards to her own beliefs? And when one of the main cast quotes ‘God is love,’ why does it seem to come as a profound revelation to this woman? What the heck kind of whacked-out church is running this town anyway, and why did someone think it was the perfect place to build a Large Haledon Collider?  
Now, this points to a very annoying tendency. It seems like many people see Christianity as neatly divided into two mutually exclusive types; the good and the bad. Good Christianity is all about God’s love and mercy, by which they mean “He doesn’t really care what we do, just so long as we don’t hurt anyone.” Bad Christianity is all about God’s wrath and threatens hellfire and punishment and all the rest. The first kind respond to sin with a “God loves you just the way you are” if it’s socially acceptable and a “you make me sad and I’ll pray for you” if it isn’t. The second kind just declare that everyone they have any reason to dislike or think ill of is going to hell and are eager to help them along.
Whenever I encounter this division I feel like Raz’s father at the end of Psychonauts (fast version: an excellent game about a boy who runs away from the circus to attend a summer camp for psychics) when he sees the evil-but-completely-inaccurate mental image his son has of him: “Is that really how you see me?”  
The truth, of course, is that both ‘types’ of Christianity bear only the most tenuous relationship to the real thing. “Good” Christianity is a parody of God’s mercy, which seems to say that, since no sin is beyond His mercy, that means anything we or anyone else happens to like doing is perfectly alright and it’s an evil unchristian thing to even call it a sin (but it’s okay to call calling it a sin a sin). It is, as C.S. Lewis so perceptively described it, the desire for, not a father in Heaven, but a grandfather in Heaven: “a senile benevolence that, as the saying goes, ‘likes to see young people having a good time.’” Basically, this kind of Christianity is little more than a kind of mental comfort blanket: you cozy up with it when you’re down, but it has no practical effect on the rest of your life. It is the Christianity of toothless platitudes like “I feel X, but you may feel different” and “well, so long as you’re basically a good person everything is alright” or “of course I don’t believe in a God who would exclude anyone!” It’s a Christianity so diluted with public opinion and the ‘spirit of the age’ that it’s reduced to little more than secularism with a slight hint of Christianity (the religious equivalent of hot ham water).
“Bad” Christianity, I find, is much more often encountered in movies and books than in real life. The real life equivalent usually boils down to “but look, this is wrong and you shouldn’t be doing it!” But since it’s such a common image, and because I know something like it does exist, I’ll deal with it anyway. Obviously, constant warnings of God’s wrath and predictions of Hell for other people are not part of the Christian life. Christianity is the belief that “God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son” to save it and Our Lord specifically forbade us from speculating on each other’s final destination.
But there’s not really any need to argue against “bad” Christianity, is there? It’s less a position people commonly hold than a parody used to pressure people into embracing “good” Christianity. It exists to say “well, either you’re screaming at people that they deserve to go to Hell or you accept and support whoever we tell you to. Those are your only two options.”
The truth, like Razputin’s father, is that we have a grotesquely warped vision of Christianity, one in which concerns and warnings turn into vicious hatred or offers of help and forgiveness turn into permission to do whatever you want. It’s the childish, unreasoning response of someone who simply doesn’t want to hear what you have to say because it threatens to disrupt his own wishes. It’s to be expected of Raz because he’s about ten (we all remember how evil our parents seemed when they told us that we couldn’t play video games today because we forgot our homework for the third time in a row), but the fact that a goodly chunk of the population continues it into adulthood should be a source of intense vicarious embarrassment for us.
                As well as, frankly, a source of shame for Christians. Somehow or other we’ve come to the point where a large part of the population can swallow bizarre caricatures of us without rolling their eyes at the absurdity of it. We can say that it’s because the media and academia and all the other usual suspects hate us, and that may be true, but that would just emphasize the fact that we need to do a better job of sharing the faith.
                This, incidentally, is what I think Pope Francis has been getting at; people have a warped, ‘meat-circus’ view of Christianity and it is up to us to correct it. Apparently, the way we’ve been going about it hasn’t been working very well, so we need to try something else.
What do we need to do? Well how should I know ("I'm a dentist!"); let’s keep listening and see what the Pope thinks.   

Vivat Christus Rex!

Friday, December 6, 2013

7 Quick Takes Vol. 24

As seen on Conversion Diary.

1.       I was going to lead in with grumblings about last week’s Agents of SHIELD episode, but that turned into a full-length post in its own right, so now I’m one take short.

2.       I may have had my promised post on Chuck ready today, but since I left my zip-drive at home this morning I couldn’t finish it in time. It’s coming up, don’t worry, full of Adam Baldwin-y goodness. Likewise, I started working on a post about what Minecraft teaches us about the last things, but it’s not ready because Igot distractedplaying Minecraft.

3.       Okay, it was all Minecraft. There was also some Rome: Total War thrown in there, and in any case I’m using both games as opportunities to listen to audio books, so I’m educating myself at the same time. So there!

4.       I’ve also been watching a lot of Poirot starring David Suchet. This show has made me think of a number of things. One is the tangible, solid nature of correspondence and business before the advent of computers. The feel of real paper, the clacking of real typewriters, and the scribbling of real pens seemed to make day-to-day life more immediate, more present than it is now. It makes me want to try writing on a typewriter for a change.
The other is the unconscious piety Poirot expresses at one point. On holiday in Rhodes he pokes his head into an old chapel, spies an altar covered in icons and crosses himself before moving on. It’s just a simple, casual act that he does without thinking; something I ought to develop as a habit (incidentally, Poirot is explicitly supposed to be Catholic and David Suchet is a convert to Anglicanism).

5.       Introvert problems: coming up with jokes about your own reclusiveness and not having anyone to share them with.

6.     I’m considering taking a break from the Online Dating Scene. For one thing, it’s frustratingly unhelpful so far, and for another I want to focus on other endeavors. So, pretty much unless I start another interesting interaction sometime in the next week or so I’m going to drop it for a while.

7.    It’s late and I’m tired, so here’s a cute picture from Catholic Memes

Vivat Christus Rex!