At Home He's a Tourist

He fills his head with culture/ He gives himself an ulcer.

Thursday, October 21, 2004


Friday Night Lights--Billy Bob Thornton and Lucas Black, best buddies in Slingblade, team up again for this more or less true narrative about one season of high school football in Odessa, Texas. Roughly speaking, the first half is sociology and the second half is Cinderella story. Using grainy film and shaky camera shots, director Peter Berg aims at a pseudo-documentary verisimiltude in portraying the grim realities of life in a declining west Texas town whose citizenry have little to get excited about except the local boys' gridiron success. The suspense in this first part of the movie hinges on sudden reversals of fortune, as the coach and players are alternately lionized and scorned by the rabid populace depending on each week's score. (Speaking of realism, I appreciated the authentic location shots; the unrelieved vistas of dirt, mesquite, and jack pumps do justice to Permian Basin desolation.) Once the team makes it to state playoffs, the movie turns into a standard, though well done, underdog sports flick, complete with a "Do it for the Gipper"-style locker room speech and a last second goal-line stand-off. Billy Bob does a fine job as the coach whose stoic crust occasionally cracks with flare-ups of anger or sardonic humor, and Lucas Black, though all grown up physically, has the same pensive air he had in Slingblade; but one Derek Luke will get more hooplah for his effective emoting as Boobie Miles, a flamboyant, cocksure Deion Sanders in the making who meets with tragedy. B+

Monday, October 18, 2004

At work:

--We received a rental copy of John Updike's latest novel thru our McNaughton service. D.B. decided the cover might be too provocative for our upstanding Baptist patrons, and removed it before putting the book on the shelf. Oh well, such is evangelicalism.

--The chair of the Business department wants to spend all their materials budget on a couple of Reuters databases. Fine with me--business majors don't read anyway. (Still checking to see if Pablo is with us.)

Found a $4 used copy of Simon and Garfunkle's Bridge over Troubled Waters. Actually I detest the hits that made this album famous (the title track, "El Condor Pasa," "Cecilia," and "The Boxer") but some of the deep cuts are fun, particularly "So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright." ("Architects come and architects go...")

My bibliothecal brethren, be careful who you shush.

In all other respects our high school students may be mediocre, but at least they're damn good judges of meat!

John Cleese has new wine show for the Food Network. (Yes, occasionally I regret not having cable.)

German develops more efficient brewing technique.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

I'm still hanging with the Calvinists. The pastor gave a topical sermon on church discipline, an especially pertinent subject at this time, he explained, since one of the congregants was going to be excommunicated. I have to admire the church's dedication to sound doctrine, not only in exercising this power (with which most of our easygoing American denominations are too uncomfortable), but in doing so at a time when they need all the members they can get to stay in business. However, the debit was balanced by the official confirmation of a new member, the half-Lebanese woman's daughter, a comely and winsome maid with big brown eyes and long braided hair.

After the service one of the flock, an attorney in his early forties, invited me over to his place to lunch with him and his family. Although I would dislike practicing law, I can see its advantages over librarianship: large home, grand piano in the living room, two beautifully crafted guitars (Martin and Taylor--we had an impromptu jam session after the meal), fine wines. Looks like we have a few things in common--aside from music and booze, he also likes arthouse flicks and, of course, theology. His kids were pretty entertaining as well, intelligent and outspoken--they're being homeschooled on the trivium model, so it's surprising to talk to a twelve-year old who knows modus ponens and the ablative.

This weekend I'll join the parish for a campout at Caprock Canyons State Park.