Friday, June 05, 2009

Pop Culture Roundup

I've been reading Barbara Brown Taylor's new book, An Altar in the World. It's a spiritual practice book of sorts, although no concrete step-by-step how-to is included. In Taylor's style, she instead writes chapter after chapter ruminating on different ways one may deepen one's sense of the divine simply by slowing down and paying attention to one's surroundings: to creation, to the simple actions that make up the day, to other people. In her chapter entitled "The Practice of Getting Lost" (essentially, deviating from one's normal life routines and experiencing the unfamiliar), she writes, "Anything can become a spiritual practice once you are willing to approach it that way--once you let it bring you to your knees and show you what is real, including who you really are, who other people are, and how near God can be when you have lost your way." Those looking for the aforementioned instruction manual will be sorely disappointed. But I find that her point is not to present such fact, instructions would be antithetical to her premise that simply paying attention, adding an element of prayerfulness and thankfulness and vigilance to one's everyday actions will deepen one's sense of connection between oneself, those actions, and God.

I finally got around to watching The Wrestler this week. I have little doubt that this is closer to the lives of the vast majority of professional wrestlers. The WWE has released statements to the contrary, which is simply in the name of protecting their own public image, but wrestling biographies that I've read suggest that this movie is closer to the real deal for most workers. Mickey Rourke plays Randy "The Ram" Robinson, a wrestler who, while enjoying a legend-status sort of reputation in the wrestling world, has a broken-down body, lives in a trailer, is struggling to make rent every month, has a daughter who hates him, and whose only friend is a stripper he visits every few weeks. The combination of these things makes for a pretty tragic story about a guy who turns to the only thing that provides any sort of meaning or comfort for him, even after he should. Some analyses provided by people who know wrestling suggest that this movie showcases the addiction that wrestlers acquire for the limelight and the cheers, but to me it was more clear that for "The Ram," wrestling was simply the only thing in his life that was a sure thing; that made sense. He says as much near the end. It was an excellent film in many respects...just not a very uplifting one.

I don't often watch the MTV Movie Awards, or the MTV Video Music Awards. The only times I've enjoyed watching either one have been when I've watched with other people and we can make fun of it the whole time. The only reason I watched this year's Movie Awards at all was because Coffeewife wanted to see the trailer for New Moon that was set to air during it. They also showed sneak peeks of the new Transformers and Harry Potter movies, so I was actually glad for that. The rest of the show was the usual amusing moments, intentional and otherwise. Definitely a good way to waste two hours of one's life.

DMB's new album, Big Whiskey and the Groogrux King, dropped this past week (have I mentioned that?). Here's a special report that recently aired on CBS documenting the band's recent ups and downs and its approach to making their latest, which I'll go ahead and call one of their best efforts: