Archive | April 2016

Welcome Spring! Welcome Spiders!

With spring in the air I find myself drawn to the outdoors once again. Winter is so dreary – it gets dark too early, and the most appealing past time is to curl up with a mug of tea and either read a book or re-watch the latest Downton Abbey season. But alas! Spring has made it’s appearance – and rather early this year, too ūüôā

With spring comes gardening. As I harvested the first crop of lemon balm this afternoon, I found the full plant was home to so many critters I couldn’t keep track! From black ants, to various sized wood-bugs, to slow snails, to teeny-tiny aphids, to big, juicy, brown camouflaged caterpillars that curled up into a loop as soon as you touch them. But the most intriguing of them all was a green, almost glowing, spider, with two very long front legs, and two thin red stripes down either side of it’s abdomen. Seemingly have come out of no where, he was perched on an old leaf I had just discarded onto my little pile of weeds. He was in no hurry to get anywhere, as spiders always seem to be. After hanging out on the leaf for a while, he casually made his way up the side wood panel of the garden and along the ridge, politely halting while I snapped a few photos along his way, and eventually disappeared into the second lemon balm plant I was not harvesting and uprooting.

God’s creatures never cease to amaze me – whether they are tropical dancing birds in the rainforests of the Amazon, stealthy wild cats in Africa, or little insects in my own back garden.

 

 

A thought from across the pew

e94b70a7413c2c4dadd5ea82278ec0c3¬† ¬† ¬† I was at daily mass the other day at my local parish, and from across the church saw a woman I’ve distantly known for years with her handicapped son,¬†who is the same age as one of my younger sisters – an older teen now. His exact disability is unknown, but upon seeing him for the first time in many many years, his complete and pure innocence was so very apparent. He looked around with such child-like wonder, and toddled behind his mother with ease as she held his hand, pulling him up to and back away from the communion rail with her. This mother’s love and gentleness she has for her son is so real, it shone through her eyes as she lead him back to their pew, despite her focus and her effort. How beautiful, I thought. This mother who has so many other children to care for, so much in life to be fretting and worried over (as most do), yet she has so much kindness and love to give to her handicapped son, who will never make it past the mental age of reason. What a blessing, I thought. He will forever remain untainted by sin. The corruptions of this earthly life will never affect him the way they do the rest of us, he will never have to suffer the pains the rest of us have to after this life and before we reach heaven. And one day, after Our Lord welcomes this mother into heaven, she will one day welcome her baby boy there, too, and he won’t be handicapped, he will be the whole self that¬†God intended him to be for all eternity. And yet, his purity will not have changed, his mother will know him by this same beauty she loved in this world. But her earthly crosses (even though done in complete love) will have been worth every thorn, because they will both be together for all eternity, complete and whole versions of themselves as God intended.¬†Her love and self-sacrifice¬†may very well be what gets her entire family to heaven – and what a beautiful reward she will have when her now handicapped son reaches her, healed and whole, as the man Our Lord created him to be.

Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice Review

 


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*WARNING: SPOILER ALERTS*

So yes, I saw the newest DC Superhero movie, and contrary to vast public reviews, thought it quite good. The plot was interesting, there were some new twists to classic characters without shattering who we know them to be, it avoided explanation scenes of how Batman came to be (which I liked, since we all know the general gist of it already), the fight scenes weren’t over-the-top, the score by Hans Zimmer was excellent, Wonder Woman was a surprisingly good addition, and Clark & Martha’s mother/son relationship (continued from “Man of Steel”) was beautiful.

[It wasn’t perfect, and the¬†things I disliked about it were the blasphemy, Batman’s dream sequences (details further down), and the too-personal bath scene with Clark & Lois. Although the conversation is sweet and shows the characters love for one another, did it really have to be with Lois in the bath tub? No. But it is Hollywood after all.]

I am a die-hard Superman fan, mainly for the exact reason so many others dislike him – he’s “too perfect”. (What reason is that to dislike a character? I love that Superman is nearly indestructible, that his outer armour is so strong he is almost impossible to bring down. There are temptations for him as well but he over comes them without a second thought because he knows the right thing to do, and chooses to do it at all costs. Are we not all called to this kind of virtue?)

Batman’s dark and brooding brokenness (mainly due to his parents death when he was a child) leads him to hate this new “god-like” being, Superman. He sees the destruction caused by Superman and hates the results of it, it’s affect on children (as we see in the opening scene when he saves a little girl whose mother is still in a tumbling/burning building, i.e, dead) and on the rest of his city. As time goes on and he sees more death and destruction (seemingly) caused by Superman, an intense hatred develops deep in his being for Superman. But the failure to invest any thought or emotion in understanding this un-human being is very apparent, and it would seem that this is the perfect opportunity for Batman to unleash his life-long anger by taking down Superman.

Batman is a vigilante. His ways aren’t ethical or humane – as we see when one of his targets has been branded with his bat symbol. The end does justify the means, in Batman’s world. Although he is intelligent, his inability to separate his rabid emotion from the voice of reason is his biggest downfall. This is proved again through his (three?) dream sequences, which basically just emphasize his fear/opinion that Superman is in fact a power hungry beastly demigod. And despite them being merely dreams, Batman allows these dreams to fester his hatred of Superman.

Superman too has sadness and loss in his past, but unlike Batman, he uses it to grow further in the love he was taught by his parents. He sees the power he has, and strives to use it to the best of his ability for the sake of others. He’s found a good woman he loves and will stop at nothing to protect her. The goodness within him is rooted down to his core. He will always do the right thing, no matter it’s affect on him.

He falls into a set up which results in the vast population believing he is a power-hungry murderer who will turn against them at any moment. Instead of countering this attack, he is saddened and takes the hit. He continues to love and treat fairly those who persecute him. Obviously he disapproves of the Bat’s violent ways around and through the law. You could argue that Superman also thinks himself above the law (which is the biggest point of enmity in the movie), but his interference only surfaces in matters of life and death, and his violence is kept to necessary strides – unlike Batman who, yeah I’m stuck on this, brands his “kill”.

Superman feels the pain he inflicts on others. He is never glowing with happiness after a duel, or puffed with pride when he saves the day. He is only ever concerned with the welfare of others. Batman, however, thrives on inflicting pain – apparently. Instead of delivering the fatal blow when he knocks Superman powerless with kryptonite gas, he beats on the defenseless, wanting Superman to suffer all he can possibly cause. This I found particularly disturbing. It was violent and twisted – continually beating on a defenceless opponent is something the bad guy does, not the good guy. (While neither superheroes are “the bad guy”, Batman does a darn good job at behaving as one).

While Superman has Lois Lane whom he is faithfully committed too (marriage aside), Batman sleeps around. He wakes from a nightmare and we see a woman asleep beside him, her party shoes and clothes strewn about his room – implying a meaningless hook up. We never meet her, never see her again. Call me old fashioned, but there’s something about a good man committing himself to a good woman that confirms his manhood, instead of a passion-crazed man sleeping around with every looker on the block. (Oh, and he also looks Wonder Woman up and down a few times before he knows who she is).

On the opposite end of the scale, is Superman and his unfailing commitment to Lois. She is oftentimes reckless and forward (being an extrovert, I can appreciate these traits in her), and Superman always has his ear to the ground, he’s a constant protector – as he should be. During the climax fight, Superman is completely absorbed in defeating a nasty Kryptonian monster, and yet he hears Lois banging on the wall that is causing her to drown, which he promptly saves her from. Some would argue the constant “damsel in distress” scenario gets to be too much between Superman and Lois Lane, but taking the focus away from the damsel, we find a “man” who always does his duty as protector, despite the audacious actions of the woman he loves.

One of my absolute favourite points about this movie (carried on from “Man of Steel”) is the strong bond between Clark and his mom, Martha. [Side Note: For those who don’t remember, or haven’t seen, there is a scene in “Man of Steel” when Zod (the bad guy) in search for Kal-El (i.e. Superman), threatens Martha and throws her into the ground. From miles and miles away, Superman hears what is going on (he has super hearing after all), and despite being in the middle of a sweet scene with Lois after saving her life, he abruptly blasts into the air, when it cuts to Zod being knocked to Timbuktu as Superman repeatedly punches him through the air screaming “Don’t…Touch…My…Mother!!” Yeah. It’s a pretty awesome scene. But back to this movie…] Clark goes to his mother when all seems lost. He seeks her advice when everyone else has turned on him. And she is faithfully the mother he needs, loving him, encouraging him, and standing by him in all his difficulties, trusting him to make the right decision because she knows he has it in him. Cut forward to when Lex Luther reveals to Superman that he has Martha captive, and it is the most sorrowful Superman has ever been. He is bereaved, nigh on immobile, it isn’t even anger anymore – only heartsickness. There is no question about what he needs to do, and he doesn’t even give thought to Luther’s orders of “bring me the Bat’s head, or Martha dies”. It’s as if Superman doesn’t even hear these words, he immediately decides he needs Batman’s help to save his mom. The mother/son relationship is very beautiful. He values his mother just as much as she values him.

Now we get to Wonder Woman. When I heard she was going to be in this movie I was turned off, “Women empowerment” mentality makes me gag, and WW just seems like a joke. But after this movie, if I was ever going to be a superhero, I’d want to be this version of Wonder Woman (aside from the showy dresses when she’s Diana Prince – ok so maybe Bruce couldn’t help but notice her with these dresses). Her outfit is cool, and not cleavage filled either. Her theme music was badass and fit just perfect in the climax fight scene, she was fit and ripped while still being feminine, plus her fighting skills were really cool, without being over-the-top ridiculous. I also liked her internal struggle over helping Batman & Superman (i.e. the world). She was done with helping mankind, but when it came down to it, she couldn’t walk away, she pulled out the superhero inside her and fought alongside the two others. I’m officially a Wonder Woman fan.

Lex Luther was well done too. He is a classic villain, but there was a new twist on this one. He’s young, almost still a kid it would seem. His mannerisms float closer to psychotic then anything else. Through conversation we learn the reason for his broken and sick self is (to no surprise) his father. He’s a master villain in his planning and manipulation, and it all fit together with the Batman/Superman very well.

So we have an awesome Superman character, a pretty cool Wonder Woman who is refreshingly non-seductive for a strong female lead, a dark and brooding Batman (which, despite my dislike of the character, was well done), a valiant mother figure in Martha, a good and supportive love in Lois, and a well-done evil villain in Lex Luther. The story line was intriguing, the action gripping, the romance sweet, and an all around riveting tale of a good man striving and doing – despite persecution – whatever necessary and in his capacity to live a life of strength, honour, goodness and love. Critics have bashed it, but I completely disagree. I also question why there is such a strong dislike for this movie… perhaps due to the Christ-like figure Superman represents? The fallen mankind Batman could represent? I wonder… indeed I wonder…