Sunday, January 28, 2007

Keepers of the Earth

Is this not the sweetest possible picture? My Elliot, The Earl of Puppydom. How can anyone say pugs aren't cute? Along with seals and otters they have to be one of the cutest animals on the planet. Shameless plug for pugs.

I haven't reviewed any movies or books for a while. Not because I haven't seen any or read any, but mostly because none of them have been particularly earth shattering. Along came Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont. Saw the film first, available from Netflix and probably your local Blockbuster as well, a British production starring Joan Plowright (a perennial favorite) and Rupert Friend (for those in the know, he is Keira Knightly's beau and Orlando Bloom lookalike)...and then I read the book by Elizabeth Taylor (no, not the actress).

If you must choose one or the other, take the film. The movie expands the characters and their relationship a bit, and in a way that I think was exceptional and remained true to their personalities. I promise you will fall in love with Ludo and Mrs. Palfrey. If you have elderly parents, or have recently lost a parent or grandparent, this film can be difficult to watch. You will need to have a tissue handy, regardless. For me, Joan Plowright reminds me a great deal of my mother, and I found that particularly difficult.

Next comes the real dirt, or scoop. The real reason behind my blog entry.

Oscar nominated documentary film of the year, The Inconvenient Truth

How many times in your life have you had an epiphany? How many times in your life has something happened to you that is so profound it consumes your thoughts for days or weeks after? A book you read, a person you met, an event you witnessed. Maybe it changes your life completely from then on....

This film has been an epiphany for me. I felt compelled to do something after seeing it.

I consider myself to be a very intelligent person. True, I abhore newspapers, and watch the news only rarely. Newspapers are filled with ink that they want me to read, not the truth. Local news is just such fluff. The most depressing and terrible news they can find, the most moronic, or the cotton candy sweetest. And, they keep shoving it at me repeatedly, at 12, 4, 5, 6 and 10 pm. World news is better, but currently gives me feelings of dejavu. Watching the footage out of Iraq is like reliving my childhood when the news was filled with a far off place called Viet Nam. Palm trees have been traded for desert vistas. The world is consumed with celebrity. The public seems more interested in the children conceived by Brad and Angelina, Tom and Katie, the size of J-Lo's bottom, or the revival of Britney Spears career than any of the really terrible things going on in our world.

All around the sky is falling but Chicken Little is too busy watching Deal or No Deal and American Idol.

Despite my aversion to newspapers and news, I keep up. War in Iraq. Politics and wallstreet. Entertainment and the weather. It's all there, in my periferal vision. Global warming for instance. I knew what it was, I had the basics. I recycle so much Mike gets mad because the bins are always overflowing. I try to buy green, eat organic, and make my footprint on the earth a bit smaller. I voted for the development of wind powered energy for Colorado in the last election.
My eyes were open, or I thought they were. It would be more accurate to say I only had open eyeballs painted on my closed lids ala Cannibal Captain Jack Sparrow.
And then I watched An Inconvenient Truth a week ago. My eyes have been opened. Opened so far I need sunglasses to protect me from the glare of the lightbulb that went off. (a long life bulb too, you know, those really expensive ones that cast that blue glow and kind of flicker when they start?)

This film is the story of Al Gore's passionate life long interest in the environment and his attempt to educate the world about Global Warming. One review of the film said it was nothing more than a great platform for Al Gore to reenter the political field. I disagree. I never got that from the film at all. Yes, I could have done with a bit less Al Gore and a bit more about the effects of Global Warming on the world's wildlife, but the film was not a bid for the next presidential election. The film was a very straightforward fact filled presentation of what Global Warming is, its effects, and what we need to do to stop it. There is no question is my mind that this is what Gore was put on this planet to do. Steve Irwin was a wildlife warrior, Al Gore is an environmental warrior.
I thought I knew about Global Warming. I didn't know a thing. Not really. I had no idea we had reached such a state of emergency. I never connected the drought and problems in Darfur to Global Warming. This film has been marketed as "the scariest film you've ever seen." The trailer and posters have been made to capture your attention quickly. The film is in fact subdued. Quiet. The subject matter is strong; the inconvenient truth; frightening, but throughout Al Gore's voice is soft and reassuring, fatherly. The facts are presented to you in a calm, clear and methodical way. The end is in fact quite hopeful.

I'm going to make this so easy for you. You don't have to get in your car, use gas, or even leave your computer chair. You can of course go out and rent the film as I did. I highly recommend this method. There are 30 minutes of updated information in the DVD extras. I'd suggest you not watch it alone. Share it. You're going to need someone to talk to when its over. You can purchase a copy, as I did, because you want to show it to others. You can buy the book by the same name and read it.

(FYI The DVD is sold everywhere at the same price, $19.99. It was sold out everywhere I looked. Finally located 3 copies at Walmart in the new releases. It is hard to find because it is packaged in a thin, recycled cardboard cover. The entire product is made from recycled material, and a portion of the film proceeds go to support the bipartisan climate effot, The Alliance for Climate Protection. )

You can view the entire film online, total run time 1 hour 35 min:

You can view just Al Gore's presentation. The picture and sound quality is not great.

An excellent interview with Al Gore about the film:

You can hear Al addressing the audience at TEDtalks. This was taped prior to the film's release, but the information is interesting:
I told you I'd make this easy!
Please put your political opinions aside. Global Warming is world wide. It is bipartisan.
This is not a political issue, it is a moral one.

This far out weighs the war in Iraq, terrorism or illegal immigration. We have an obligation to not only our fellow man, but more importantly to the planet earth and all the living things that inhabit her. Watch this film if you are a parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle. There are little ones coming after you and we owe them a world and a life.
Watch this film if you read my blog. I don't care if you read it for its humor, the knitting news, the ocean theme, or just because its on the list of newly updated blogs. Watch this fim if you care about animals and the environment. Watch this film if you love science, there are graphs and flow charts and oodles of pretty colors. Watch this film if you love photography, the photos are heatwrenching and beautiful. Watch this film if you have strong religious convictions. God gave us this planet and the birds and beasts to care for. Religious leaders around the world are getting behind this fight.

Watch this film for yourself, for your family.
Watch this film for me.

From space, Earth is nothing more than a glowing pixel dot in the vast darkness. Yet everything that has ever happened, has happened here. All of history. Every piece of art was created here. Every piece of music heard here. Every momentous event in your life, in anyone's life occurred here. Every love. Every life. Every death. It's the only home we have.


Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The Lion In Winter

An old year ends a new one begins. Resolutions are generally not part of my new year adjenda. There are thoughts I turn over in my head and I make jokes about what I want from the coming year, but I really play it all by ear. One day at a time. Life seems much easier to take thought of tiny increments like that. I don't fly by the seat of my pants exactly. I think of it more as allowing lots of leaway for things to turn upside down and sideways. Upside down and sideways while wearing kitten heels is what life tends to feel like for me most of the time. The hardest part of these first January days will be facing putting the decorations away. I find that so depressing.

What is there really for me to talk about but SNOW? It is consuming my life. We've made the world news. Blizzards. Cabin fever. Stir crazy. Am currently living through the aftermath of the third storm in as many weeks. Those in the know say there is another massive storm brewing on the horizon and all indications are that it will be a blizzard equal to our Christmas one.

It's all my fault. I was the one who complained about living in the rocky mountains, and whined about not liking snow. I apologise Colorado. I sent out bad karma and got it back 100 fold. Days before Christmas, with Mike away in Baltimore, karma blew in 32 inches with drifts 5 feet high. DIA closed and for a while there I didn't think we would all be together for Christmas. When the driveway drift began to reach the 2 foot mark I tried to fire up the snowblower. At the 4 foot mark I asked the neighbors for help. They refused. Yes, refused. I live in yuppie hell where the activity of choice during a blizzard it to drive ones 4-wheel drive car up and down the streets behind wrap around sunglasses because we can. If we pass someone who is driving too slow, stranded, or even snowblowing too close to the street, we blare our horn and give a universal hand gesture, (and it isn't the peace sign).

I got stuck 6 times in one week. Four of those in just the return trip from the grocery store and all within blocks of my house. Twice in front of my own driveway. I refuse to give in. I will not buy a 4-wheel drive, I will not put that strain on the environment, the roads, the oil reserves, the artic circle or my gas card. To add insult to injury vandals attacked our yard decorations and butchered our baby polar bear. His legs were torn from his body, his electrical entrails strewn across the lawn and his body mounted on top of the light up seal.

I have a sense of humor. I can take a joke. You could make my reindeer anatomically correct and I'd laugh. The thought of seals and polar bears engaged in unnatural sex acts in Highlands Ranch is funny right up until you destroyed the display in the process. My quadroplegic amputee baby bear laid in state in the garage waiting for trash pickup, his bright beady black eyes staring at me every time I went out to shovel. Bastards.

The really scary part was the echoingly empty grocery stores. Empty of everything but people. There were potatoes, some spoiled organic broccoli, 2 bags of spring salad mix (which I snarfed). Apples of every color, and kiwi fruit, but not a carrot or lettuce or celery or onion. The meat department consisted of five hams. The dairy department was stark, white and empty. The pillsbury dough boy stood guard over a cooler empty of premade cookie dough, piecrust or biscuits, giggling as people passed by. I seriously thought women would come to blows over the last bag of chocolate chips. Crowds were gathered around the empty pegs where the preshredded cheese normally hangs. Husbands on cellphones talked to stressed out wives.

"Hon, there isn't any shredded marble jack cheese. No,there isn't any regular cheddar either. Nope, no sharp, mild, colby or monteray jack."

Meanwhile, right in front of their faces were several remaining solid bricks of cheese. Humans have apparently lost the ability to shred their own cheese. I grabbed several cheddars turned and ran before the crowd caught on. On the dairy isle one woman resorted to using her feminine wiles on the stockboy

"Eggs, there aren't any eggs? You must have more in back somewhere. "

"I'm sorry, but we are out of eggs."

"Couldn't you check? Surely if you look hard you could find some just for me"

"No, I'm sorry, but I can't even find any just for you."

Meanwhile, the cooler behind her was littered with open egg cartons, each containing one or two broken eggs. A full dozen just flick of the wrist away. It was night of the living dead in the meat department. "Chicken, there is no chicken," moaned the zombies. No, there aren't any breasts, thighs, or drumsticks, but there are WHOLE CHICKENS. That is how they all began, whole. They don't come off the ranch as little dancing hot wings or boneless skinless breast tenderloins. Have knife, cut chicken.

Zombies were also pacing the coffee isle. "What will I do without ground coffee? "

(Was aquite amazed that this creature even existed as I thought everyone had forgotten how to make their own coffee in general as they all seem to live at Starbucks) There were however bins and bags of whole coffee beans and the in store grinder...Yes, it was scary that stores were that empty, but it was even more frightening to find people so helpless and stupid.

If the stores could be wiped out this badly by a two day blizzard what if it were a week? What if that influenza pandemic really happens? Add to list of things to stock for possible disaster; large baseball bat, pitchfork, possibly even rifle and bullets. May need to fend off yuppies from my velveeta cheese and pasta stash... Might be robbed for my coffee grinder. Could I be held ransom and be forced to cut up chicken?

Mike talked me through the snowblower startup via the phone and I managed to get most of the front dug out before I ran out of gas, arms and shoulders. DIA opened late December 22, and Mike finally got home from Baltimore. Having stopped incoming flights, the airport was desparately in need of planes on their end to get people out. He was on one of the few flights allowed in. All together for Christmas. Safe and home.

Mike began shoveling. It was like an archeological dig. He discovered the missing half to the driveway. He was also able to free the trashcans and shovel out some area for the poor dogs. We found two reindeer and a evergreen tree, a momma polar bear mourning her lost cub and a seal. The weather reports were already predicting another storm, equal in intensity to hit at the end of Christmas week. County plows had cleared all the major streets by the 23rd. Mike got out of the neighborhood to pick up our party trays and prime rib we'd ordered. He worked the Bronco game on Christmas Eve.

The second storm hit and gave us another 10 inches of snow to put somewhere. Our streets are like bombed out trenches of frozen wheel ruts. The sidewalk to the mailboxes will not be unearthed until spring. The dogs have given up hope of ever seeing the lawn again. The wind blew the snow back in as soon as paths were opened.

In between shoveling, we did alot of reading, watched alot of movies and took long naps.
New Years came and went. Cars and trucks are still stranded on highways, cattle are starving to death on the plains, and the grocery stores can't stock the shelves fast enough. Another storm hit January 5th. Another 6 inches of snow. Snow is now a four letter word in our house.

Mike flew out to Portland on Sunday after shoveling us out, gasing the car and snowblower and crossing his fingers he gets home before the next storm due in this Friday.

Here's to a early spring, and long hot summer, and an Indian Summer of golden sun and blue skies.