Friday, July 20, 2007

Blood and Glory

I've had an interesting intertextual experience the last few days. At the same time that I've been finishing the extended editions of Lord of the Rings, I've been starting the 10 part HBO series Band of Brothers. I didn't see any obvious connections the first night that I watched some of both, and I think it had to do with the order in which they were watched. When I watched part one of Return of the King, and then watched part one of Band of Brothers, I didin't make any mental notes on the relationship between the two. Therefor, it was quite a shock the other night when I found it really jarring to go from two episodes of Band of Brothers, to the final portion of Return of the King.
Part of what is refreshing, inspiring or at least uncomplicated about Lord of the Rings, is that Sauron really is a faceless, one dimensional evil. Orcs and Uruk-Hai are merciless monsters whose deaths we can really root for. When we see Merry and Pippin rush at the Black Gates with swords raised, we are struck by their bravery and courage, and want to see them victorious in killing as many of the enemy as possible. We love seeing the Rohirrim ride onto Pelinor fields, stomping over the orcs and chopping off heads as they go, because evil is being stomped out, and the riders are overcoming their fear and fighting for a glorious cause against all odds. Basically, when we watch the battles in LOTR, our cheering for the warfare is not bloodthirsty- it's cheering for good triumphing over evil, courage conquering fear, nobility and strength overpowering darkeness.

But when you watch these massive battles, after watching portrayals of real WWII battles, the experience isn't so comfortable. If you don't know, Band of Brothers is based on the real experiences of one company, through the entirety of the war, and at the start of each episode, you hear interviews with some of the actual men who are characters, but it won't be revealed till the last episode which men these are, so you truly don't know who is going to survive or not. Even though the series is evocative in style of Saving Private Ryan, etc, watching Band of Brothers is a totally different experience because you really don't know who's going to make it from skirmish to skirmish. You can't rest in the secure narrative of a Hollywood plotline because this is what really happened: your main character could be shot randomly at any moment. It's intense. Well, add to that, that it's so much harder to watch these men, who are for the most part, terrified by what they're doing, have to run around shooting as many people as possible. You watch body after body fall, sometimes enemy, soemtimes not. And when the company succeeds in taking a position, it really means that they managed to kill everyone who was there. You really get a sense of how ridiculous war is. It comes down to a mere matter or killing more of them before they can kill more of you.
So the shift from watching two parts of Band of Brothers, to the final stands of Return of the King, the "glorious battles" were harder to watch. It's not that I questioned suddenly whether or not Aragorn and company were justified in fighting to save Middle Earth, but it was more that I found it less easy to want to let myself enjoy the battles. Only an hour or so ago, watching men fight and kill one another was stressful, sad, confusing, heartbreaking, and scary. Now it was (supposed to be) inspiring, uplifting and glorious. And allegorically, it totally is, but I just couldn't sit with it in the same way. It's actually something I've been thinking about recently: when it is that we feel roused and inspired by battle stories, where in real life, we cringe at it. I've had this image with me for awhile which I really won't try to explain because it wouldn't come across by writing it, and wouldn't make sense, but basically, this idea of a battle where the "good guys" defeat the enemy by disarming them through embrace. And I'm not gonna break it down too much, because I wouldn't succeed in making it less cheesy than it already sounds, but in my head it's very dramatic and cool, so just trust me on it. But could there have been a way, even in LOTR, that blood isn't the means by which victory is won? Or have I just accidentally, allegorically, answered my own question. Jesus, anyone?

I don't know. I'm just talking through this stuff. And here's a previous post where I ruminate similarly.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Moments of Shalom and Corporate American Convenience Food Providers

Albeit, it's not quite walking into Cheers and having everyone shout my name as I walk over to "my" barstool, but this Monday, I went to the Quiznos in Lower Queen Anne where I go a few times a week, either right before I go to work at Intiman, or between the matinee and evening show at Intiman, or before Monday night pub trivia at Jabu's down the street. Well, after my first few visits to the Quiznos a month or two ago, I decided to try to get to know the staff a little but, mostly because I kept running into them on the street or on the 15 bus, or because when I go there, I usually sit there for about an hour reading for class, and because I'm there for such long stretches of time, often the only customer in there, the staff just sort of got used to me and, in a nice way, stopped being on their best behavior when I'm around and started feeling free to bicker with one another in my presence or stock the beverage fridge, neither of which I mind at all. So, long story long, I walked into Quiznos this Monday, and only saw the newish guy whom I don't know yet, but I walked past the counter to go through to use the restroom before I ordered. When I came back in, staff member Curtis, whom I hadn't seen when I came in, shouted "Your sandwhich is ready." And whaddya know, he'd seen me come in, and went ahead and made my regular roast beef and chedder on wheat, extra mayo, two tomatoes, no oregano, extra toasted. Does this mean I go there too often or that I've finally found the place "where everybody knows my name"? I'm deciding to take this as a moment of heaven on earth, and ignore the part where I name myself as someone who actually hangs out at Quiznos.

Shalom #2
Free Slurpee day at 7-11. It was yesterday, July, 11. get it? 7/11? Albeit (note second use of albeit in one blog post) they were tiny one-serving cups, but it gave me the chance to try Bubble Yum slurpee without the risk of having it ruin a whole large slurpee if it was nasty. It wasn't nasty.

Not Shalom: Cabe and I trying to hit up another 7-11 for another free slurpee after the first one and having the other 7-11 not giving away free slurpees. So much for the free slurpee road trip!

Friday, July 6, 2007

Quotes of the Week

"Kj, I wish you were around because then I would play the accordian for you."

-Katrina Monta, Brooklyn, NY

"Homework is not mentioned in the Bible. Neither is dating or dinosaurs." Kj to Katrina

Monday, July 2, 2007

When the Moon hits your eye...Try to hit it right back!

It's not fair.
The full moon was last night.
There is no reason for me not to be able to sleep right now.
I was even a good girl and climbed into bed before 1am.
That never happens.
And here I am, over an hour later, having had to crawl down the ladder from my loft bed, because there's just no kidding anyone: I cannot sleep.

New moons and full moons tend to screw me up pretty badly, but for most of 2007, I've been so mentally, physically or emotionally exhausted, that I guess I've been able to sleep through crazy moon nights pretty well.
So why tonight, when the moon is only 98% full, am I sitting here typing instead of dreaming about bald eagles, swimming pools and the various B-list celebrities that regularly pop up in my unconcious wanderings?

But the moon last night was definately one for the record books. It may actualy have been the most beautiful moon I've ever seen. Around 10:45, when I was walking home from the bus, it was following me behind some evergreens, and it was glowing yellow- or at least a warm shade of papryus. Once i was at my cul de sac, I had a clear view. The sky was clear except a few linear wisps of cloud below the moon, which were lit up by reflection. It was one of those moons where you sort of expect it to start talking to you. You feel like it's just you and the moon. It's standing right there, you looking at it, it looking at you, and you kind of have to just say "Hey" because it would be rude to not to.

Well, last night I loved that moon.
Tonight, I'm very perturbed by it, if it is indeed the same moon. This moon says, "Hey, I know you're trying to sleep, but instead, why don't you lay awake, and be unavoidably aware of every twig snap on trees outside, every footfall of wild, wandering neighborhood cats, and every toss or turn of your roomates in the other rooms, and how about when you try to think of nice things as you try to fall asleep, you'll only be able to remember and rehash frustrating moments of your life that you can't seem to get away from. How about you do that instead of sleep? Sounds great, right?

Okay, I guess I'm done venting. Funny that I never really use this blog to vent, and the first time I do, it's to passive-aggressively insult the moon.

Extra: This blog entry from March feels very apropos right now. In more ways than one.