I’m on to Season 3 on my Mad Men catch-up fest. What you really see in that show is the emptiness of a purely sensual lifestyle; Mad Men has Ecclesiastes written all over it. Emptiness, meaningless, gaping hole in the stomach nihilism. The characters are real, the direction leaves space for thought and it is not schematic. The characters will regularly stop what they are doing and just sit there thinking, you just watch them ruminate their utter vacuity. It’s engrossing stuff to watch because that’s where we all are by nature.
I have probably mentioned at some point that I’ve always fancied going into advertising. The idea was planted into my mind in school during ‘progression’ class on a piece of careers software, I got Advertising Copywriter as my ideal job. Of course the industry is nothing like it was in the 60s. The internet has ruined that like it has everything else. Ah well. Campaigns like this are always interesting to reminisce about though.
A weekend in London babysitting my little brothers and an extended bank holiday have filled the past few days of my life. My parents had gone to a wedding in Yorkshire and were keen for me to keep an eye on ‘the younger’. I had thought that they wanted me to make sure they didn’t do the classic teen-movie thing of inviting all their friends round for a huge party and get the house trashed, but it was more of an opportunity for some sibling bonding. We had a lot of fun playing videogames, going to the park and I enjoyed watching some good fistfights; I also benefited from seeking to share the gospel with the little ones who have not yet professed faith, I’m thankful that God uses our feeble words and answers prayer.
It’s surprising how true the abovementioned school-time situation is. I imagine most attendees to a Western education establishement could tell you a story about someone’s habitat being ransacked by an entire school-load of children. It were like that when I was in school, as soon as one person said that they were thinking about having a house-party the news would spread around the grounds like (queue Southern States drawl) wildfire.
The culprit in our year suffered all the more due to the fact that he wanted to party at his own party. You can picture the situation, hundreds of teenagers in a suburban semi, putting calculators in the microwave (this happened); puking in expensive ceramic containers (this also happened); and throwing bicycles over the neighbour’s fence (yes it did). The host was passed out on the floor. Prior to this he too had had the urge to empty his stomach. Whilst rolling around on the parlour floor, he did not want to ruin the carpet, so when the heaving begun he clawed his way past the Persian rug, and stretched his neck like an athlete on the finishing line, so that his mouth reached the threshold of the next room where the laminate flooring begun and then it was safe to vomit… and then fall asleep in it. So from that point of the evening on, the poor boy was unable to manage his parents’ household and their possessions (wine cellar etc.), until they returned home and everyone either left or suddenly became very polite. Cry cry cry.
I have been reading 2 Chronicles over the past week or so and it’s riveting. It reminded me of many fashionably archaic yet modern royal dramas the most popular being the — watch with your finger on fast-forward — Game of Thrones.
2 Chronicles is full of long and short summings-up of Kings’ lives and the general pattern that emerges over and over again is that the good kings are those who show love and most of all those who honour God and look to him for their strength, the bad kings are those who are brutal, proud, self-reliant and idolatrous. In a more visual setting, Game of Thrones is also barbaric in its portrayal of the consequences of foolish royal lifestyle, honour is generally commended and with immoral behaviour it becomes clear to the viewer that actions have consequences. 2 Chronicles chapter 21 is reminiscent of this unrelenting gross-out repugnance, it speaks of King Jehoram receiving a letter from Elijah telling him that his murderous actions have not gone unnoticed and that he’s pretty much going to die of really bad diarrhoea:
You yourself will be very ill with a lingering disease of the bowels, until the disease causes your bowels to come out.
I just imagine being Elijah having to write this letter, or being the king and reading it. I can smell it all now. I feel sick.
We went to see Brave last night, this also contains talk of kings, tribes and houses. The film was okay, visually great and lots of little details which still sets it apart from most current animation. I love how there are copious amounts of ideas in it, alonf with much research: the trees – indigenous to Scotland no doubt; the language – much Gaelic slang; the little visual gags – a chicken on a stick becoming a shadow of a bear. However, the film feels like it needs a little kick, more emotional potency which would get it from a three star film up to a four or five. You don’t leave the cinema thinking YEAH, you just leave the cinema nodding apathetically.
They were talking about the film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang on the radio this morning. Something that strikes me about that film is that the original book was written by Ian Flemming, writer of James Bond, that always excited me, what sort of magical human was able to come up with such grown-up stories yet in the same breath develop such a fantastic tale for kids!? The other most notable thing about that film was that the version I watched on VHS when I was little (taped from a Bank Holiday airing on ITV no doubt) mysteriously included none of the child-catcher moments! But I have now found out what happened in those early years, and my brother reminded me of it the other day; my mother would fast forward through all the bits where that evil fiend would appear. Well played, he’s scary. However, I feel it may have backfired, because Mam was not always so quick with her trigger! There was an occassion when I did see the child-catcher, and boy is he the scariest, most evil, malicious, out and out demoniacal being that ever entered the movie stage. Every baddie in every nightmare was him! He vindictively penetrated my REM for many years.
I see Sound of Music and Chitty as sisters either side of Mary Poppins. When I watched S.O.M. I always saw her as Mary Poppins, she was not Maria, likewise Caractus will always be Bert. I have only ever seen those two actors (Julie & Dick) in those three films, at least in their younger years (one must discount Princess Diaries and Night at The Museum), they are the three movie musicals which seem to be most universally loved still today. But maybe I’m missing out on other classics like a little film called The Wizard of Oz or Singing in The Rain.
But Mary Poppins is the best. It’s just so good. So original. We all forgive George Banks for his austere approach and celebrate with him as he is reformed. We love Jane for her sweetness. Michael for his face. Bert for his merrymaking. And everyone fancies Mary Poppins (especially the four year-old me). So I declare it the best, any contenders, fight me.
Yesterday was a day that began with my first this year visit to the Welsh EMW conference. I felt a little bad earlier this week, saying that the conference is over, because for us Welsh speakers it’s far from that. I heard Dafydd Job’s first sermon, he is the main speaker. He preached from the first chapter of Philipians. He tied in the positivity of the passage with an urge for us to be optimistic about what God can do in Wales. It was encouraging. A good reminder to once again pray for revival close to home.
In the evening I persuaded my mother to ask the younger brothers to stay up a bit later so they could come down to our flat for a Brady game of Dixit. I couldn’t resist bringing the little ones down because Gwïon (year 9) adores the game. The dorky dance he did when I told him he could come and play was priceless.
The younger two boys have taken a huge liking to Josie’s dog. They will run around endlessly and tell him to sit, jump, twist and gallop through their legs. He is a labrador, so is ever so obliging. Even Taid had some fun with him, throwing a ball until it rolled all the way down the hill and got stuck under a car. Taid insisted that he find it, skipping down the Buarth and yes (!) he did locate it! Great effort. Well played.
Having no sugar in my tea and coffee is going well, thanks for asking. Although I’m still waiting for that moment that Stephen Fry talks about when I taste a beverage with sugar in it and hate the taste. When I was younger I was puzzled as to why people liked the taste of wine and beer, Dad sought to explain to me that people like to experience an alternative taste. I thought that that would never be true for me, but it is. I like bitter coffee because it brings to my palate something I’m not used to experiencing. The sweet taste of sugar only takes you so far, it doesn’t change. This is extremely surprising coming from me, the sugar-junkie himself. They say children are so exciting to spend time with because everything they see is new to them, perhaps that hunt never ends when we get older and we search and search and search for the next new thing and end up drinking our own urine, jumping out of planes and reading Charles Dickens. It’s definitely the emotion that drives me to listen to new music, I desperately want to feel that moment when the song is so good you can’t move, it’s only a release of endorphins, but you can’t manufacture it (well, you can but that is called drukqs). One moment I remember feeling that was when I first heard Hope There’s Someone. I heard a great C.S. Lewis quote from someone in a seminar last week, he said about how dogs are thick because when you point something out to them, they don’t look at what you’re pointing at, they just look at your finger. But we all do that when we worship the created things not the creator, God has made music, food, trees etc. they are there to declare the glory of God, but we bow down to the things themselves. So we, like never before, it’s time to repent.
Aberystwyth is a different place once all the Christians leave. We got a lift back from London with Sibyl’s Mum (Josie) she likes to visit us. Her dog (Helo) likes to run around on the beach and go in the sea; I like doing those things too. Tonight the decision had to be made firstly between a curry and a barbeque (we chose the barbeque) and then Brave or a barbeque (we chose the barbeque again). My slight hesitation was that it was not as sunny as it was this morning but I just checked the weather and it isn’t going to rain, whoop whoop!
I went to the library and renewed my Mad Men series 1 & 2 boxset for the third week! I just haven’t got enough time to watch all that television. Will Self’s new book Umbrella had also arrived there for me; I’m looking forward to reading that one.
Sibyl’s new tortoise Edna arrived yesterday too! She is an African Redfoot. She eats dandelion leaves and buries herself under sawdust to go to sleep. My youngest bro (Owain) is an animal obsessive, I’m hoping he works with them when he’s older. He was extremely excited that we have a chameleon and a tortoise and five fish aaaaaand we have a dog staying with us! I quote: “it’s the coolest fing evuur.”