Piercing the darkness

I’m being reminded that the lights strung during the Christmas season are reminders that light pierces the darkness.

We need the reminder.

NASA and Google AI have found an eighth planet in a system far beyond our own, the outermost planet in an orbit similar to the our earth’s rotation around Sol. If I remember correctly, that far-away star is slightly larger than our own, so the whole system is cooking.

That whole system probably glows, filling its huge but small portion of its space. It’s signals reached us, thousands of light years away, but we had to be paying attention.

Closer to home are the white lights the folks in our little town so treasure. Some follow the outlines of the homes they light. Some are higgledy-piggledy strung, a few seemingly just flung onto a porch, a bush, a tree. Some properties just blaze with white light. Other homes and lawns eschew white lights in favor of as many garish LED strings as possible.

Whether careful or haphazard, places glow in communities everywhere during this holiday. Unconsiously or deliberately, we humans are drawn to light, whether it be pinpricks from distant stars, the warmth of our own sun’s fusion or the riot of electrically-induced orgies of glow.

I am reminded.

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An artistic film

Just saw the movie “Loving Vincent.” If you are a Van Gogh fan, it’s a must see. Limited theatrical release. Maybe it’s coming to your neck of the woods! Here’s a link.

The arc of the story is done well, and the film incorporates animation with scenes from Van Gogh’s paintings.

Keep the focus on power

The sexual, salacious details are crowding each other to get our attention. It’s a great way to get people to pay attention to your journalism.

Sure, that’s part of what needs to be reported, but it’s imperative that underneath all those details is the specter of people in positions of power. That’s what enables the abuse to happen.

The person in a position of power succumbs to the temptation to use that power for some sort of personal gratification, with or without the consent of the person that is abused.

The person who is abused does not have the same leverage. That results in a situation in which the person with the power finds it easy to proceed.

I, for one, am not surprised that we have a flood of reports of misuse of power. The powerful have always used their positions to advance or for personal gratification. I welcome the reports, since they highlight the pervasiveness of the problem, an eternal affliction.

So, we have to take note of the details, I suppose. But, it’s more important to keep our focus on the abuse of power, at all levels, not just the sexual. If we focus on the sexual and salacious, we miss the real culprit.

Unison: windmills at night

Fields of windmills generating electricity surround me at intervals traveling in southern Minnesota. These giants spin slowly in the prevailing breezes, feeding power into a grid for customers of the utilities.

Seeing them stride across the landscape during the day is quite a sight, but at night… well, it’s eerie. You don’t see the blades spin, but entire swathes of the generators can be seen by their blinking red lights at their crowns. The eerie thing is the lights blink in unison.

Driving towards, through and past these vast fields of red blinking lights is quite an experience. I wonder what it would be like passing over the top of these giants, at night, with the lights perfectly timed. What kind of image would that suggest? I wonder if that can be seen from the International Space Station.

“Wonder” is a good choice for holidays

I don’t know if writers Jack Thorne, Steven Conrad and writer/director Stephen Chbosky had the present toxic political atmosphere in mind when they created “Wonder,” but I couldn’t help but think of the two-dimensional characterizations rampant in society at present.

It’s sad that we’re being warned away from discussing politics at our dining tables. It’s a symptom of how far we’ve strayed.

The movie skates close to the stereotypical, but a light touch by the creators keeps watchers on the right side of the ice, nonetheless.

It’s a story of a kid with a face different from the rest of us, and the movie is just right for our times, if those viewing it can make the small step to extend its lesson to the present divisiveness in our society.

There’s a dog, life lessons, voice overs, flashbacks, scenes of splits and making up again. The movie does captivate if the viewer just gives it a little slack. It’s plain that the film’s creators want you to think about the dangers of going by appearances, but the restraint they show keeps it from being hokey.

Yes, there is sentiment, but it’s dialed back with good writing in a contemporary setting.

The actors in the main roles, Mom, Dad, brother, sister and assorted friends are well cast.

It’s a good choice for a holiday film to see with the people you know and love.

I’m watching “Elephant Man” in a leisurely fashion. That, too, is a film about appearances. It should be regularly resurrected as a  holiday film, since it carries the same message (“Look beyond first appearances.”), albeit in a heavier, Victorian, sense and in subversive David Lynch fashion. At the risk of being obvious, I’d say the director’s touch in this one is deft, too, but it takes the viewer in a much darker direction.

So, go see “Wonder.” Get out of the house and mingle in a local movie house. Munch on popcorn, cry a little and prepare a New Year’s resolution. It’ll do us all good.

Merry Christmas from the trenches

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Theater Latté Da paid a visit to our community on November 24, thanks to our arts council, to present All Is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914.
It was a splendid evening of song and recitation.
Peter Rothstein originally wrote the production as a radio piece, collaborating with Cantus. The production tours during the Christmas season, naturally, and everything from high tenor to deep basso shines as the cast works through the songs the warring parties sung that Christmas.
The cast also works in letter sent home from the soldiers who were part of that remarkable event.
It happened just once. Superior officers were aghast that such fraternization would take place between enemies.
But, enough documentation of the event remained that it could not be buried in the dusty, dark annals of some archive.
Thanks to this troupe, audiences can get a glimpse of what human beings celebrate when the label of “enemy” is retired for a short spell and people revel in a season that spans countries and overcomes even the harshest conditions of trench warfare.
If this perks your interest, take a peek at the production’s web site and at the excellent supporting historical material.