Monday, August 22, 2005

March of the Penguins

I've just returned from seeing March of the Penguins.

What an amazing film.

You'd think a film sponsored by National Geographic would be just a nature film.  But director Luc Jacquet was far too clever for that. 

He tells a story.  Gives his hero, the Emperor Penguin, a clear desire to survive and propagate, then confronts his hero with the worst that Mother Nature can hurl in her most ruthless moods.

What kept going through my head as I watched the film was this:  how the heck did the photographers ever get these pictures?  And as the credits roll, you find out how they did it.

What really gives the film magic, however, is the narrator, Morgan Freeman.  Think Shawshank Redemption.  Freeman is at his finest in Penguins, his dry, expressive voice delivering a wry, minimalist script.

Absolutely beautiful.  If you haven't seen it, do.  You'll be moved.

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One of my blog readers asked me what I thought of Agape.  Well, I can finally tell you, since I attended this past Sunday with my friend Sandra.

The place was packed with enthusiastic worshipers.  The sanctuary is a deconstructed warehouse-type building that looked like the inside of a nightclub I once visited in Pittsburgh.  Very cool.

Very similar to the Pentecostal services I've visited and enjoyed in the past.  But also incredibly inclusive and transdenominational.  My friend is Jewish, and she finds it inspiring.  'Nuff said.  Apparently, you must have a modeling contract with CAA in order to attend there (just kidding), or at least it looks that way.  LOL!

I felt very welcome -- the fact that they have you stand while everyone shows you their palms while praying a prayer of welcome might have something to do with that.  I wish I had had a chance to visit afterwards, but my friend was bolting out the door before they finished with the last song.

My home church in Hartville was particularly good at welcoming people and talking about the meaning of life after every service; there were times we didn't get home from church for almost an hour, simply because people liked to catch up on each other's lives after church.

This place felt a lot like that.  People seem to care about each other.  Very warm, emotionally.

My friend was apparently tired -- she slept through the rather long sermon by a noted spiritual author.  Her sermon was "Well, Well, Well:  Part Two."  She was as funny as Whoopi Goldberg (okay, not quite).

She used quips and anecdotes to work through a rather extensive explanation.  Simply put, we grow in the midst of three types of wells:  dug wells, which we've created for ourselves; drilled wells, created by others; and driven wells, created by God. 

Her rhetorical rhythms were entertaining.  They made the sermon memorable.

The music was brilliant and emotional, if you like contemporary.  Just for fun, one of the announcers rapped out two pieces in the style of 50 Cent and Tina Turner.  I'll be back.

                        *     *     *

In order to prepare for the school year, I'm zipping through the reading list I gave my students at the beginning of the summer.  Some wonderful reads. 

Eoin Colfer's Artemis Fowl, which I devoured in a single sitting, more or less.  Garth Nix's Sabriel, another delight.

For me, there are few pleasures more sweet than sitting down in a coffee shop -- and Los Angeles has some delightful coffee bars -- and simply reading for the sheer pleasure of it.  Dorky, I know.  But that's me.

Some people like to curl up in bed to read -- not me.  I like to read in the midst of a crowd of people.  I know, go ahead and analyze that.  But I'll bet I'm not the only one who feels that way.

                        *     *     *

Since I finished my screenplay, I've been working on two other projects.

                        *     *     *

The first book -- probably a distant relative to Chicken Soup for the Soul -- is one that will examine the principles of coaching, using the extracurricular activity I coach now as a case study.

I think the book will fill a distinct gap in education courses:  how to run any extracurricular activity in a way that will develop character in students.  I am packing it full of meaningful anecdotes from two decades of teaching.

It's the book I wish I could have read before I started advising newspaper, yearbook, drama, and student store.  It wouldn't have taken me so long to learn how to develop leadership in students.

                        *     *     *

I'm also in the development stage of a novel, Mennonite Prince -- aka Scars of the Wind -- a coming-of-age story.

I started writing this story while working on my MA at Oxford University in 1996.  Then I set it aside.  It's never been far from my mind since.  Now I'm finally picking it up again.

Hey, at least I'm not bored with my time.

                        *     *     *

I'm so grateful for the new friends I've begun to make through this blog.  Writers are a different breed, and it's good to meet so many good ones.

Please drop me a line if you're reading my blog.  Let me know the location of your own blog.  Let's talk.


vxv789 said...

Hello, Steve:  

Haven't seen March of the Penguins, but I was a member of Agape for a couple of years while going through a difficult time.  It is a most supportive and engrossing community.  Not sure whether or not I would have continued attending after I was doing better, but then they moved farther away from me and it was just too far to drive.  The new place was also a good bit larger and, to me, lacked the familiarity and warmth of the old plece, although that, too, was in a warehouse setting.  The regular preacher was terrific.   Maybe they are having guests now, or maybe he's moved on.

Glad you have found the delightful coffee bars - I am moving to a location that has one or two beyond Starbucks, thank heavens!

Your book for teaching extra-curriculars sounds a great idea - good luck with it.  It sounds very necessary.  Teachers are taught to teach, but the other stuff, they are just supposed to know intuitively and that isn't fair.  Meanwhile, what did you study at Oxford and which college did you attend?  Good luck with the book - you sound like a dedicated writer - with all those projects on the go.  Hope Sir Knavely understands the lack of attention - or does he get plenty while you are working?

I like the openness of your journal,


PS - thanks for your kind comment in my journal.

theresarrt7 said...

I've heard a lot of good things about that Penguin movie.  When it comes out on DVD, I'll have to check it out.  BTW, used to go to a coffee shop called AGAPE back in NC.  It was very evangelical.  You'll definitely note the Pentecostal influences in HURRICANES although I don't attack Pentecostals but rather hypocrisy.  So, we really are back at work, aren't we?  Today is my first day.  I met two classes and my third is at 6:00.  I'm teaching three classes this semester, two developmental writing classes and one introductory writing class.  That's a lot of papers to grade, believe me!  But you'd know all about that, right?  Good luck with your classes, and I'll be checking in on Mennonite Prince from time to time.

theresarrt7 said...

Steven, I just noticed you posted in Beth's journal (Beth's Front Porch).  How wonderful!  When you post, leave a link to your journal, so the blogger can return the visit.  That way it will be easier to integrate into the community.  Wasn't that piece Beth wrote wonderful!

bethsfrontporch said...

Thanks so very much for your comment on my front porch.  Right off the bat, two things were accomplished:  I felt like I connected with someone who cared, and I found your journal.  I'll be back here to read, observe...and, if you're unlucky, comment!  Thanks again.