Friday, 1 January 2010


1. On Sunday I served at church again. This will be the last for a little while. I was surprised to see Rev. Leslie there. This meant it was to be a communion service, which I still feel best prepared for. This is the last time I serve for a few weeks now. I still accidentally kicked the little ceramic Magi under my chair whenever I leaned forward.
I am also borrowing The Book of Alternative Services (of The Anglican Church of Canada). So far I've only briefly looked through it. I wanted to see how liturgies were written. I hear them every Sunday, of course, but it's easier to study in writing, so long as you remember that it's prefered form is oral. Over the last few months I have begun pondering the sorts of genres that occur during ritual. It's funny; we discuss all sorts of different genres in English classes but our scope is very limited. I think once I read sermon in one of my English classes. Once or twice I read non-literary academic articles--one of them was an excerpt from Darwin's Origin of the Species. Because my Renaissance professor was a New Historicist, I read a few Renaissance pamphlets. Overall, though, even for genre-interested courses, I have read very little other than prose fiction, written poetry, dictionaries, and non-fiction concerning aesthetics. I have not read many newspaper articles, nor lectures (a hugely important secular genre), nor letters (other than poetic Romantic letters), nor any of the genres concerned with worship services. This gap in my education seems odd--I won't bother going into why it's odd here--and I figured I'd remedy it myself.
Anyway, I once wrote some sort of 'devotional poetry' for a Creative Writing class and a classmate suggested I draw more upon liturgical language, as it was already so poetic. At the time, though, I had no idea how I would access this language, since the church I was attending had little that resembled traditional liturgy. No more than the bare minimum in responsive reading and the 'hymns' were not hymns in the traditional sense, for the most part. Well, now I can access this language, and study its genres (prayer, responsive reading, confession, etc.).

2. I worked this week. Except for brief periods of the day, and I was almost entirely unaware of these, I was all alone at work. Monday through Thursday. By Thursday my work ethic was very low. It's tough to motivate yourself when no one's around for so long. One's mind tends to go off without permission, leaving one rather incapable of working. But I did get quite a lot done, so I'm pleased with that.
Everyone else had this week off; I would have, but I traded it for last week.

3. We put the dog down on Tuesday. Not much to say on that. I'm not actually all that sad; I can't figure out why. I did spend quite a lot of time with her. I don't know. She was old for a dog. I received her and her brother as puppies on my birthday in grade three. I am have a Bachelor of Arts, so you can see that grade three was some time ago, at least in dog years.

4. Also on Tuesday we went to see Sherlock Holmes. I ought to read more of those; I've only read Hound of the Baskervilles. I recognize there's a sort of puritanism debate going on. There's one contingent which is somewhat affronted by how many liberties they took with this most recent movie, and then there's another, more educated contingent which points out that the Sherlock Holmes most people are familiar with is unlike the one in the novels. (Holmes isn't the only one to change, either.) Most people think of the Holmes from the early TV shows and movies, and he's disimilar from the books. Not very many people at all are aware what the Holmes from the books looks like--I've only read one, so I don't think that's a fair assessment--and its difficult to do puritanism well when you don't even know what the original looked like.
The movie itself was fun. Holmes' brilliance was cleverly portrayed, and I must continue to give Robert Downey Jr. props for being charismatic in roles that could be aggravating (ie. Iron Man). Jon will be pleased to know that Rachel McAdams is in this. (Is that why you updated your list, Jon? She's been in the media lately?) While her hairstyle in some scenes made her oddly similar to Helena Bonham Carter--I say "oddly" because she looks nothing like Helena--and she wears period male clothing which makes her look like Oliver Twist sometimes, she nonetheless pulls off a good seductive thief. And I managed to overlook that Watson was played by Jude Law, which is really a good thing, as I for some reason don't like him very much. I also particularly liked how the movie ended.

5. We rented Angels & Demons. It was very similar to the novel, except it omitted one of the more interesting "twists" at the end. I won't spoil it for you, unless you explicitly ask me to. Anyway, it was well-filmed as far as Hollywood goes, and I thought Ewan McGregor was, as usual, excellent.

6. I am enjoying Fallout 3. I know I don't usually talk about computer games here, largely because I never play them any more. However, I do have this new one, and I'm liking how it feels. I don't necessarily mean the in-game ambiance, but rather the interface. I like the way one interacts with the in-game world, the sorts of things one gets to do, and how the Pipboy and VATS work. It's being called the best game ever made, and while I think such a title is a silly idea (how does one judge?), I can understand how this would be a competitor for it. I have hardly scratched the surface of it, and if my track record holds out I won't ever finish it, but I must say this is something I am enjoying. If nothing else it is well-crafted.

7. I spent New Year's Eve updating Wikiquote. And then I went to bed. I don't really do New Year's. I'm one of these people who feels it's too arbitrary and doesn't signify anything of value. It doesn't hit any of the holiday/festival registers; it has no meaning, or at least it lacks obvious signifiers. I recongize that it has to do with turning to a new year, with opportunities and new chances. I celebrated one New Year's in Mexico, and there they have a tradition of eating grapes after midnight and making a wish for each grape. That I can get behind because it's a concrete ceremony (eating grapes) with a concrete reference (wishes) which fulfills a specific spiritual need (hope/petition). But watching fireworks? Fireworks are celebratory, and celebration is also a spiritual need, but what are we celebrating during New Years? Surviving the year? I don't feel like that's a real issue where I live. Not failing at life this year? That's a hard one to take seriously when I'm stuck out here in cultural exile, and anyway it seems awfully pessimistic. I just can't get into it. Any of the winter solstice-type festivals (ie. Christmas) or the spring equinox festivals (Easter) seems to be more sensible to me; the symbolism is clearer. You know, world redemption in the midst of sin and death. That's something that I find meaningful. Celebrating the march of time? Less so.

(8.) We (Mom and I) went for a walk in the woods today, and I took a few decent pictures.

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