My Amazon customer review of Paul Zahl’s new (and extraordinary) book on world religions:
Let the children have their night of fun and laughter. Let the gifts of Father Christmas delight their play. Let us grown-ups share to the full in their unstinted pleasures before we turn again to the stern task and the formidable years that lie before us, resolved that, by our sacrifice and daring, these same children shall not be robbed of their inheritance or denied their right to live in a free and decent world.
And so, in God’s mercy, a happy Christmas to you all.
— Winston Churchill, Christmas Eve, 1941
“I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round — apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that — as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefore . . . though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, ‘God bless it!'”
Click on the image to enlarge.
Yesterday Jae and I discovered a great Korean restaurant, or “barstaurant” as it styles itself, called Soyo — really good food and exceptionally pretty waitresses.
We also checked out the Fantastic Swap Meet, which used to proclaim itself “the world’s largest indoor swap meet” but for some reason no longer does. It’s very large, however, and filled to bursting with stuff, of every description. Jae managed to resist buying a stun gun, even though they were heavily discounted.
Tonight we dined at Ricardo’s Mexican restaurant, a Las Vegas fixture for many years and very close to my home. I had eaten there once about six years ago and found the food mediocre. It was the same tonight. I’ll try it again six years from now and let you know if anything has changed. They had some good Mexican beer on draft, however, and served vast margaritas. Jae ordered one and somehow finished it. Then he dashed off to a poker tournament at the Luxor.
He’s been making about $50 a day gambling.
[Update: Jae busted out of the tournament before the final table. He made a call he probably shouldn’t have made because he was “feeling lucky”. In retrospect he blames this feeling on the margarita.]
Click on the images to enlarge.
This is not a terribly enjoyable film to watch — it’s harrowing and unsettling. It’s also extremely odd — a film with almost no dialogue. It’s about a sailor on a small boat in the middle of the Indian Ocean whose vessel receives a near-fatal injury, forcing the sailor to improvise a series of responses to the catastrophe in order to survive.
Things go from bad to worse — the sea does what it will with a sailor in distress. But the sailor keeps improvising, in the face of the worst the sea has to offer.
Robert Redford plays the sailor. Those who think that movie stars live or die by the dialogue they’re given need to look at Redford’s performance in this film. He has no dialogue — just a little voice-over speech at the beginning. And yet he’s consistently fascinating to watch.
Probably only an established star could have pulled off a performance like this — someone so confident in his or her screen persona that he or she is sure the audience will pay attention to the smallest details of eye movement, of facial expression. If Redford had overacted this part even a little it would have been a disaster.
So — no dialogue, grueling action on a tiny circumscribed platform, subtle acting . . . and yet the film is riveting. It’s a nautical procedural in which each procedure is invested with suspense, a kind of dogged, stoic heroism, and what Yeats called “the fascination of what’s difficult.”