Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Home Court Advantage

Well kinda...

This past weekend when I dragged my family 100 miles for a meal (do you think they'll let me pick Mother's Day lunch???), we decided to take a quick side trip to Franklin & Marshall College, Steve's alma mater. We try to visit there once or twice a year because it is a great place for us to reminisce and it is close enough for a day trip. As a new addition to our stop we brought our tennis rackets for a mini workout at the tennis courts (after all, we needed to work off some of that lunch!) Back in the day, Steve graced the F&M courts with his tennis expertise. But these were not the same courts...F&M has just opened a beautiful new tennis stadium, equipped with state-of-the-art hard courts and beautifully designed viewing areas, including a raised perch with very comfortable seating. As usual, F&M has produced a first class facility, impressive in style and quality...and the perfect place for:
  • Steve and Song Wei to compete in a world class tie-breaker
  • Julie and I to play barefoot tennis with pink tennis balls
  • Song Wei and Z to try their hand at "double court tennis" (a game that Z made up and one you might read about some day in a Dr. Seuss book! Thanks to Song Wei for being such a great sport!)
I know these are not the types of matches Steve encountered at F&M nor are they on the same courts proper. Yet I think he'll agree that old can meet new in beautiful harmony (and complete chaos, as was the case with this visit!). So as an honorary Fummer, I deem this a wonderful addition to our memory bank and the site of future pandemonium.

~Desi

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

From Alaska to the Alps

The last two movies I've watched have been quite the dichotomy. The first one, Grizzly Man, is a documentary about the life and death of Timothy Treadwell. Treadwell lived unarmed for 13 summers on the Alaskan peninsula amid wild grizzly bears. For the last five years, he brought along a video camera.

Treadwell's footage is both spectacular and disturbing, with the bears providing the former and Treadwell the latter. You see, Treadwell apparently had it in his head that by being with the bears (indeed, coming so close as to touch them on their snouts), he was somehow saving the bears...from poachers, from the US government, from the ravages of nature itself. What emerges is not so much a portrait of the bears, but of a man who walks away from society as we normally know it. Treadwell seems to be in search of himself, in search of some deeper meaning in his life. Does he find it with the bears? Who's to say...at times he appears jubiliant, at others on the edge of self-destruction. One might even say that it is not the bear who eventually eats Treadwell that takes his life, but rather that Treadwell himself chose the manner of his own escape and death.

Juxtapose this story with that of the Grand Chartreuse, a monastery high up in the French Alps. The Carthusian monks too eschew civilization as we experience it in our everyday lives. In Into Great Silence, the monks' daily routines are chronicled by a filmmaker who waited 16 years for the opportunity. These are no ordinary lives, and this is no ordinary film. In keeping with the silence that pervades the monastery, there is virtually no speaking in the almost three-hour long documentary. The monks are filmed at chapel, in their rooms, performing chores...and sliding down the mountainside snow in their robes! If you want insight into why the monks have cloistered themselves from society, you will be disappointed, as they themselves do not talk to the camera. But if you want to experience their great silence for just a few hours, this movie will not disappoint. We, in fact, found it hard to walk out of the theater and head right to the car. Rather, we felt the need to talk and sit together for a little while before jumping back into our noisy routines.

If this kind of reflection is one sign of a good film, then both Grizzly Man and Into Great Silence pass this particular test with flying colors.

~Steve

Monday, April 16, 2007

Leave It To Desi

Leave it to Desi
to win our family March Madness competition (again!).

Leave it to Desi
to choose a victory restaurant that is 100 miles away from home (OK...an easy 100 miles).

Leave it to Desi
to insist that an outing at Good 'N Plenty isn't enough for a Saturday.

Leave it to Desi
to walk us through the entire Lancaster Central Market (not that we're complaining!).

Leave it to Desi
to go along with our silly idea to play tennis at Franklin & Marshall's new tennis center.

Leave it to Desi
to play tennis herself...in bare feet!

Leave it to Desi
to buy the kids more F&M-wear at the campus bookstore.

Leave it to Desi
to make sure a great time was had by all.

Thanks Des!

~Steve