God, why kill every firstborn?

Yesterday was Passover and every year at this time I am struck by the story in Exodus that so matter-of-factly tells of God deciding to kill the firstborn of every family of both people and animals in order to change a ruler’s mind. It sure sounds harsh. For our home it would’ve meant Leah would die, and maybe even one or more of our pets—we have no idea if any of them were the firstborn in their litter. So would my brother, my uncle, a so many cousins, I don’t want to even think about it. For the Hebrews it was especially troublesome, seeing as animals were their version of money and a a packed fridge.

Now, I do understand the circumstances. We have a land where there is a particular race that has been enslaved and treated harshly, not given all the freedoms and luxuries of the rest of the people of that land, especially those who claimed that land to be their own. And when that oppressed group wants liberation, their oppressor doesn’t want to give in. Sometimes there seems to be a relent, but then the oppressor would have a change of mind and renegue on the deal. (Depressing to think that we live thousands of years later and yet this is actually hitting close to home.)

And I understand that God’s plan was to give them all deliverance and lead them to the promised land, a theme I find redeeming and full of hope. I love it. And to pay the oppressors with a certain degree of cruelty is something I can run with as a movie fan (i.e. a fan of good storytelling). Who doesn’t enjoy hearing of a villain(s) getting what they’ve got coming to ‘em? The frogs, the gnats, the darkness, the boils, all sound like God is playing hardball and for good reason. The antagonists are stubborn, unfeeling, irrational, and unfair. Give them a dose of their own medicine!

But killing the firstborn? There wasn’t even a clause that said he wouldn’t do this if they were of a young age. So a young couple who have a 5-year-old little girl who loves giving hugs to her daddy? She dies! A baby boy who is keeps family members entertained with cooing and gurgling? He does too. The struggling family who doesn’t have as much cattle as the average household may just lose a good portion of what they do have.

And why take this out on all the Egyptians? The story Exodus seems to show that the Egyptians aren’t too cold themselves. They help the Hebrews pack up and give them all kinds of food and supplies for the big journey. Granted, they did this partly out of fear of the Hebrew God, but it was still a good gesture. It wasn’t entirely their fault was it? It was Pharaoh What’s-his-face who was being a deucebag, not them. And why not tell him he will die instead of his firstborn AND everyone else’s?

I wouldn’t say I’ve got an explanation for this, especially since it is obviously still an idea I wrestle with today. But I will say this: it was more Pharaoh’s fault than God’s. God hits him with nine freaking plagues that terrorize the entire country and he still wouldn’t let the people have their freedom. I like to think that I would have given in after plague #1. One look at that bloody river would 1) freak me out in the way The Shining‘s elevator scene does, and 2) make me concerned enough for my nation’s resources to say, “Ok, you got me. Go ahead and go.” But that’s too easy for me to say. I’m as human as Pharaoh. I’m as susceptible to evil as he was. With that amount of power where everyone in your world sees you as a god? With a deeply held tradition that has taught you that you actually are one? With advisors who say the Hebrews may be more of a threat free than enslaved? Yes, I could be just like him.

So, either way, I can be grateful. I may not like the method of persuasion in the story, but I’m not God. I am thankful for deliverance, even when it involves dark, ugly circumstances.

Congratulations Steel Magnolias. This is your week.

And the Oscar goes to…

Best Actress: Julia Roberts as Shelby Eatenton Latcherie in Steel Magnolias.

Best Actor: Fred Astaire as Don Hewes in Easter Parade. I haven’t seen that movie, but man that guy can dance.

Best Quote:  “Fred, I think you and I got off on the wrong foot. You said some things, I flooded some things. Let’s start over, okay?.” — Russell Brand as E.B. in Hop.

And in memory of James Dean, here is the top 10 smoldering actor performances:

  1. Zachary Levi as Flynn Rider in Tangled (2010)
  2. Pierce Brosnan as Stu in Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)
  3. Leonardo DiCaprio as Jack in Titanic (1997)
  4. Brad Pitt as Tristan Ludlow in Legends of the Fall (1995)
  5. Rupert Everett as Prince Charming in Shrek 2 (2004)
  6. Maxwell Caulfield as Michael in Grease 2 (1982)
  7. Channing Tatum as Magic Mike in Magic Mike (2012)
  8. John Stamos as himself in real life (1963-)
  9. James Dean as Jim Stark in Rebel Without a Cause (1955)
  10. Ben Stiller as Derek Zoolander in Zoolander (2001)

This week’s painful misadventure :(

All I was doing was driving and eating a chocolate bunny, but it all went downhill from there. I had just gotten onto the highway in Saint John heading home from a hard day of work, and yes, I have a 1-pound chocolate bunny in my car. I keep it there for this special time of day: work is done, I’m tired, I climb into my little sanctuary (aka ‘13 Hyundai Accent), play one of my favourite podcasts and reach into my lunch bag for a little treat I’d left myself.

The ears were now gone, and so was the tail and the thinner parts along the front of the bunny. On this day I had only the big thick part left. So I had to bite down hard to get that piece of heaven broken off. Annnnnd that’s not all that broke. I felt and heard a crunch that wasn’t made of chocolate. One of my top incisors wasn’t prepared for the solidness of that solid bunny and bent the wrong way, which was slightly forward. You know that sound when you’re trying to break a thick stick and you only made it move a bit out of shape? It makes that fracturing sound? Like the sound of sizzling bacon is played for just a millisecond? It hurt. Bad.

For the next two days I ate only what looked just small enough to fit along the wall of my right cheek. When we had burgers for supper I didn’t use a bun and I cut my patty up into tiny pieces. Now that’s a cataclysm none of us should be subject to. The slightest touch from my tongue, closing my mouth the wrong way, saying any word beginning with the letter F would make me jump and sometimes holler. Which, in turn, would make me want to say yet another word beginning with F. The cycle was ruthless.

And here’s the kicker. Joy and I gave up our health benefit plan when she quit her part-time job. It was a decision we made together and the coverage ran out on February 28 of this year. That’s right, a mere 20 days ago!

I wondered how much it was going to cost to have this tooth pulled and replaced with a fake one like Mick Foley or Ed Helms. Or how much it would cost to have a root canal. After all these years I still don’t know what a root canal actually is, but I was pretty sure that 1) it costed a lot and 2) people fear them. Given that the root of the tooth is most likely involved, I started sweating. I set up an appointment with my dentist for Thursday, two days ago from now.

When I arrived and climbed into the chair he mentioned that he and his wife got my email I’d sent them about the quote I heard when watching Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. I had forgot I’d done that. The quote was Woody Harrelson saying, “You think I care about dentists? I don’t care about dentists! Nobody cares about dentists!” Upon reflection I decided that might have been something better to keep to myself.

He and his assistant checked out my tooth, x-rayed it, and gave me good news. All I needed was time and Advil. So I am a very happy man today. My tooth is already feeling much better. I even took small bites from my pizza as our family sat in the living room watching Slumdog Millionaire. If this was December I’d call it a Christmas miracle. I guess it’s just a plain ol’ birthday miracle.

Congratulations E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. This is your week.

And the Oscar goes to…

Best Actress: Laura Dern as Ellie Sattler in Jurassic Park. Although, I think Drew Barrymore is also very deserving as Gertie in E.T.

Best Actor: Of course, gotta be Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Best Quote:  “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.” — Roy Scheider as Brody in Jaws.

Oh the things I do for a chocolate bunny.

Pick your movie of the week: Spielberg! (Mar 25-31/18)

He’s arguably the greatest director of the last 100+ years and his movies do more than just make a lot of money. They’ve inspired countless films for decades. And next week his newest and much anticipated Ready Player One will be released.

I tried to choose big Spielberg favourites but not ones that might win a little too easily (e.g. Saving Private Ryan, Schindler’s List, etc.). Which of these blockbusters would be your pick for movie of the week?

Jaws (1975)

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

Jurassic Park (1993)

The Largest Feeling Ever Held in Captivity

Just last night I had a nightmare about captivity. It was one of those dreams that felt so real. There was a foreign country that came into ours and forcibly took over our homes. If they didn’t kill you, they’d keep you captive somewhere like a dirty cellar. I don’t know which nation invaded, but I know we couldn’t understand their language. I can also remember the fear and desperation I felt in that dream, and in such situations wondering about a detail like that is so fleeting. Survival takes precedent.

I remember trying to escape, trying to protect those with me, especially children. And I can even remember that sometimes the invaders would laugh and joke with you amidst it all, which was eerily terrifying. They weren’t dressed as soldiers, just in plain clothes though they were armed and large in number. Of course, as dreams do, it had elements that doesn’t make sense in the awake world. I do believe they had a King Kong-like monster to help them. But even then, the fear was real.

In Blackfish we see what captivity (at least the misappropriated kind) can do to an orca. Surely some captivity with animals is fine, considering that the four animals living in my house are technically all in captivity and would frankly rather not be “freed.” But both this movie and this dream I had helps me try and understand the importance of my actions with relation to animals. In the past I would roll my eyes when people would speak for an animal’s “feelings.” They’re animals! But I came to realize that if they swim away from danger, pull away from pain, run happily to greet you, etc., then they do indeed have feelings and they matter. I may eat meat, enjoy the zoo, and own a caged gecko, but I have to consider the best way to be humane in all ways when it comes to living things.

Congratulations Blackfish. This is your week.

And the Oscar goes to…

Best Actress: N/A

Best Actor: Shamu?

Best Quote:Uhmmm… You know… it was at that point that I realized that maybe Thierry wasn’t actually a film maker, and he was maybe just someone with mental problems who happened to have a camera.” — Banksy in Exit Through the Gift Shop


My favourite documentaries

10. Beyond the Mat (1999)

9. Blackfish (2013)

8. Wrestling Isn’t Wrestling (2015)

7. The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters (2007)

6. Casting JonBenet (2017)

5. TIE: The White Helmets (2016) *short; and Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 409 (2017) *short

4. Jesus Camp (2006)

3. 13th (2016)

2. The Act of Killing (2012)

1. Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom (2015)

(Honourable mentions: Hot Coffee (2011), Bowling for Columbine (2002), Searching for Sugar Man (2012), Cobain: A Montage of Heck (2015), Man on Wire (2008), Hoop Dreams (1994)


Pick your movie of the week: Documentaries! (Mar 18-24/18)

This is only the second movie of the week centering on documentaries, which feels so wrong. These are all ones I’ve seen and loved. Maybe you’ve seen one or more, but just in case, I’m including a brief description of each taken from IMDb. Which one piques your interest most?

Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010)
The story of how an eccentric French shop-keeper and amateur film-maker attempted to locate and befriend Banksy, only to have the artist turn the camera back on its owner.

The Act of Killing (2012)
A documentary which challenges former Indonesian death-squad leaders to reenact their mass-killings in whichever cinematic genres they wish, including classic Hollywood crime scenarios and lavish musical numbers.

Blackfish (2013)
A documentary following the controversial captivity of killer whales, and its dangers for both humans and whales.

13th (2016)
An in-depth look at the prison system in the United States and how it reveals the nation’s history of racial inequality.

Today’s 80’s Movie Stars

The 80’s had some serious movie stars. The following are a list of some of the biggest ones and who I think may have taken their place in the decade we’re in right now:

Congratulations Rocky III. This is your week.

And the Oscar goes to…

Best Actress: Jennifer Beals as Alex Owens in Flashdance.

Best Actor: Hulk Hogan as Thunderlips in Rocky III.

Best Quote: “Of all the things I regret I did, the ones I didn’t, are the ones I mourn the most.” — Brooke Shields as Jade Butterfield in Endless Love.

Well folks, when you’re face to face out in the heat, hang tough, stay hungry. If they stack the odds, let’s just take to the street for the kill with the skill to survive. k?