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Archive for October, 2010

There may be no richer single source of quote-banter than this classic 1977 flick starring Woody Allen’s teeth-achingly neurotic Alvy Singer and Diane Keaton’s Annie Hall.

The exemplar of a brilliant and witty caricature of New York Jewry meets Annie from the country, whose well-rhymed grandmother ‘Grammy Hall’ gives great gifts but hates Jews. Alvy’s grandmother never gave gifts, being ‘too busy being raped by Cossacks’.

Keaton is too awkwardly and genuinely back on her heels in the face of Allen’s onslaught of words to be described.

I somehow missed that slice of Americana that is represented by Allen’s quasi-infinite filmography. Annie Hall is my first effort at getting, um, remediated.

‘Not a bad place to start.

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El 31 de octubre 1517, es la fecha que se conmemora la Reforma Protestante. Este hecho nos recuerda el gesto de aquel monje agustino, doctor en teología, quien luego de un proceso de reflexión y lucha interna, decidió exponer sus ideas. Su intención original era convocar a un debate teológico con los eruditos de su tiempo. ¡Estos fueron sus famosas 95 tesis! Lo cierto es que Lutero jamás imaginó que las verdades expuestas en esas cartillas, no solamente tendrían valor para el círculo académicos de ese entonces, sino que saltarían como bandadas de palomas puestas en libertad, impactando a todas las esferas de la iglesia y el pueblo, hasta nuestra actualidad.

Claro está, la reforma no inició con Lutero; fue un proceso que empezó a gestarse siglos atrás por distintos movimientos conformados por hombres y mujeres disconformes con las influencias que dejó el emperador Constantino. Este hombre se había convertido al cristianismo y en el año 313 promulgó un edicto de tolerancia religiosa hacia los cristianos. Dichas acciones pronosticaban el cese de casi 300 años de persecución y el advenimiento a tiempos de paz; pero en realidad era el presagio de nuevas artimañas que amenazaban con destruir la identidad de la Iglesia. Como reacción a esta alianza: “Iglesia e imperio”, se empezó a notar cambios que en nada contribuían a fortalecer las bases del cristianismo, mientras la iglesia se marchitaba por la aridez de su trato. (more…)

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01 Strange Times (1 Kings 13)

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You may not think of Charlotte as a mecca for Iberian cuisine. You’d be right.

A spectacular exception is to be found on the city’s south side, where the Miró Spanish Grill stands as a welcome outpost of Spanish cuisine.

Uncommonly attractive digs for a shopping-center-based establishment welcome the hungry to a warm dining room and bar. In my three of four visits, staff have been genuinely inviting and attentive.

For its quite reasonable price point, the food does not fall short of exquisite. The wine list sports a selection of the expected Spanish labels with a smattering of California, Argentine, and Chilean alternatives. I recommend the unexpectedly non-oaky Tempranillo (Rioja) from Bodegas Valdemar, which was on offer for a reasonable twenty-eight clams.

Go for the seafood, which appears to be MSG’s strength. Last evening’s special of swordfish and king prawns on a bed of rice have me wishing this early morning that it was still, well, last night.

I find nothing to fault in this high-value outpost of Iberian cuisine plunked down where one might have least expected to stumble upon it.

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Adelaide, as though by choice behind Sydney’s bustle and Melbourne’s pomp, is the gem-like third city of Australia. Informal and welcoming, Adelaide is at her best in Springtime and Autumn, when ubiquitous flowers adorn the otherwise ‘regular folk’ attractiveness of this uncomplicated capital city just under two hours by plane from Sydney.

At the Naval, Military, and Air Force Club of South Australia on Angus and Hutt, a visitor almost concludes that the passing of the British Empire was a mean-spirited rumor.

One sits in a bar booth under a framed newspaper report of Lord Nelson’s death. On the stairwell, passing a framed image of WWII RAF planes on the attack, an acquaintance generously offers that they were no doubt powered by Pratt & Whitney engines. ‘Does that mean they’d be American?’, I innocently answer. ‘Of course!’, comes the reply, as though to say ‘I thought you would have picked up the compliment.’

Quiet and spacious guest rooms, a welcoming bar, and a gently distinguished dining room welcome a guest as though he were a co-conspirator in it all. And, by the end of a stay, one wonders whether, in fact, he is.

A sport-coat and tie mean ‘dressing down’ in these environs. A suit is best for the dinner hour.

But don’t let the formality of it all put you off. Conversation partners are always at hand, welcoming to conversation, and straight-forward in that way that makes Aussies the most uncomplicated population on earth for a visiting American with no axe to grind.

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Macau—one of China’s ‘special administrative zones’—can be a bit too special.

Just a ferry’s ride from Hong Kong International Airport and from Hong Kong itself, this former Portuguese colony has found its modern incarnation as a garish Las Vegas of the Orient. All that follows upon a region or a city selling itself to gaming interests is on unapologetic display under Macau’s neon glare.

By contrast, on the relatively rural island of Coloane, the good folk of the Pousada de Coloane welcome guests to a less complicated space. Overlooking the water between Macau’s sectors from its hillside perch, the Pousada offers attentive service, quiet air-conditioned rooms, and excellent food.

The staff—a mixture of Filipinos, Macanese Chinese, and mainline Chinese—are informal and ever helpful.

This is a great place for meetings or a quiet getaway. Taxi and bus service to the Strip in downtown Macau is available. But you may find you’d rather stay at the Pousada and get away from things just a bit longer. My only complaint—iffy Internet service—may be charitably viewed as aid to the isolation you’ve been craving.

The incomparable urban charms of Hong Kong are a short distance away over the water and served by frequent ferry departures.

The price is right at this rustic but not inelegant get-away.

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The Bible is a passionate book.

This remains true even when its preachers, teachers, moralists, and drivers of doctrinal bulldozers conspire to render it dull.

Yet reality is more interesting than mere passion. Even as the Bible’s long, footnoted, and side-barred story of redemption manifests and incites to passion, one of its currents of instruction teaches its reader not to be ruled by passion:

Do not rejoice when your enemies fall, and do not let your heart be glad when they stumble, or else the LORD will see it and be displeased, and turn away his anger from them. Do not fret because of evildoers. Do not envy the wicked; for the evil have no future; the lamp of the wicked will go out.

The exhortation is not ‘weak on evil’ or ‘soft on the enemy’, as the suspicious guardians of our right and their wrong might put things. Indeed, the odd motive clause—or else the Lord will see it … and turn his anger from them—suggests that we should hardly hope that our enemy will soon see his sentence shortened. (more…)

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Johnny (Scott Caan) protests against his father’s cynical claim that ‘Love is a myth … it doesn’t exist’.

Yet his protest is not verbal. Instead, he surrounds himself with matchmakers who would have him settle, hard-to-get bimbos who want him too much, and the affable over-confidence of a man who has sold too many novels at thirty while having suffered too little to earn his wings for writing love’s story.

Mercy (Wendy Glenn) changes everything.

Johnny writes of love but knows nothing of it. He ‘loves it when they leave’. Mercy sees right through the disconnect, through Johnny, and—quite improbably and despite returning on schedule from Johnny’s L.A. to her adopted New York—fails entirely to leave. (more…)

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El imenso libro de Isaías rinde sus tesoros principalmente a los que atentamente disciernen las conexiones que entretejen diversos pasajes en su larga trayectoria.

Al llegar al final del libro, el lector reconoce en la retórica que se lanza contra la liturgia sílabas conocidas y un ángulo de visión reconocible.

El prefacio del libro (capítulo 1), de igual manera, había pronunciado su sentencia contra acciones cúlticas ofrecidas por aquellos cuyas pretensiones religiosas no produjeron un alineamiento de la ética con el consejo y propósito de YHVH:

¿De qué me sirven sus muchos sacrificios? —dice el SEÑOR—. Harto estoy de holocaustos de carneros y de la grasa de animales engordados; la sangre de toros, corderos y cabras no me complace. ¿Por qué vienen a presentarse ante mí? ¿Quién les mandó traer animales para que pisotearan mis atrios? No me sigan trayendo vanas ofrendas; el incienso es para mí una abominación. Luna nueva, día de reposo, asambleas convocadas; ¡no soporto que con su adoración me ofendan! Yo aborrezco sus lunas nuevas y festividades; se me han vuelto una carga que estoy cansado de soportar. Cuando levantan sus manos, yo aparto de ustedes mis ojos; aunque multipliquen sus oraciones, no las escucharé, pues tienen las manos llenas de sangre.
(Isaiah 1:11–15 NVI)

(more…)

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El lector atento de Isaías no tardará mucho en discernir que ‘el destino final de Sión’ (Christopher Seitz) representa una de las preoupaciones mása centrales del libro de Isaías. Es más, es razonable opinar que esta temática figura en el libro como el tema más persistente, programático y unificador de toda la complejidad de sus sesenta y seis capítulos.

Sión será el centro y ombligo de toda la tierra. De ella emanará justicia, instrucción y luz. Hacia ella fluirán todas las naciones. Hacia ella serán recogidos y llevados todos los hijos e hijas perdidos de Jerusalén. (more…)

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