The High Countries

because it’s all paperweight…


Why Maguire, Portman and Gyllenhaal weren't nominated is beyond me...

My girlfriend (Heidi) had a take on Brothers unmatched by any I’ve read. Needless to say, if you haven’t seen the movie. See it.

“…Brothers was a movie i was not expecting at all. Not that i was expecting a movie full of feel-good dialogue and a fairy tale ending but the gritty reality of human experience was intensely thrown into my face. The movie begged me to look at a complexity of characterization I’m not entirely sure i was ready for.

As i was watching i kept thinking i knew what was going to happen. Typical story of a political bashing on the ugliness of war and the irrelevance of marriage in our society today. A “higher calling” by deconstructing traditional institutions and values. I could not have been more wrong. At every turn, every scene change, every climax, I found myself trying to evaluate the purpose of the story.

I kept thinking okay this is going to be about war. I was wrong. This is going to be about destroying the perfect marriage. I was wrong. This is going to be about the false redemption and eventual fall of the rebel brother. I was wrong. This is going to be about how the sins of the father are visited on the sons. I was wrong. This is going to be about children being affected by the whims of their parents. I was wrong. what then, could this movie, so in my face, so painful, so raw have been about?

I was then brought to two specific scenes. The first was the ending scene: a picnic table in the dead of winter. A place where truth was finally communicated, where hope was finally allowed to show a glimmer of a spark. It was perfect. Just a picnic table — a symbol of carefree happiness, the American dream, the perfect life — right in the dead of bleak winter — a symbol of cold, death, and evil. the other scene i thought about was at the very beginning when the family is at the dinner table. The subject of war was being discussed and uncle Tommy asks the youngest daughter who exactly were the bad guys daddy was fighting. The scene goes on with the older daughter answering with humor but the question he asked, i realized, was crucial to the movie’s development and message.

After thinking about this movie for several days with those scenes running over and over in my mind, i finally came to the conclusion that the movie was centered around portraying the deep complexity of humanity. When dealing with people, a simple understanding of right and wrong, black and white does not apply. Each human in the move was capable of great good and great evil in varying degrees. Every time i identified with the “good” guy, they would do something i hated or made me sick. Not a soul in the movie was innocent. Not even the little girls. At the end of the day, however, each received grace. GRACE was the theme. It was the name of the mother. It was tattooed over daddy’s chest. It was granted to each character in their darkest moment.

Humanity is complex. Each person a deep cavern incapable of comprehension. Necessary for life, necessary for “happiness” … is grace. Consequences will be paid, but grace must be given. Unselfish, unconditional grace.

Great movie.”

— Heidi Myers

March 1, 2010 Posted by | Entertainment, Faith, Film Reviews, Lost, Movies | 1 Comment

Another Eruption of Incomprehensible Beauty

A volcano in Chile erupts lightening, ash and beauty in June 2008.

National Geographic—Photograph by Carlos Gutierrez/UPI/Landov

Dear journey-men and journey-women of the High Countries.  I come to you with a pen that was generously offered by the colorful mind that paints these pages with insight for you all to consume.  My hand is a bit timid as I have much to live up to, for I do not do this on a regular basis and in fact have only gone so far as commenting on blogs.  I hope my contribution to this place is exactly that — a contribution — and not, well, a subtraction.  So, I dive in…

As a child of the Italian-dominated gene pool of the Luedke family I have grown up with a knack for the artistic, the visual, and in a walnut shell — the creative.  As a kid, I used to draw into the wee hours of the night trying my darnedest to get the ninja’s shadows the right opacity and that Warhammer 40,000 soldier’s left arm the right flipping size (SO frustrating).  Of the three boys, I was the one who would take out the video camera when the potato gun was being launched to make sure that not only was the event documented, but more importantly, that it looked good and sounded great when the music track was added.  I have a knack for taking pictures and had an absolute BLAST in my Black-and-White Photography I and II classes at Brophy Prep High School.  I am as straight-laced as they come, yet find himself eagerly anticipating flushing out the intricacies of the interior design of my first place with my wife — yes, even down to picking wall colors.  I could go on and tell you about my degree in motion-picture production and my job in television development but I think you get the point…I love to create.

With that said, about two weeks ago I was humbly reminded once again of something that has proven to dismantle any pride built upon these lofty attempts of this thing I call “creativity”.  It fully enraptures my puny mind and will continue to do so until the day a daisy grows on my belly.  I had received an e-mail from my dear older brother Troyton and, as I opened it’s contents, never did I think my jaw could be so deadly heavy.  I stared in awestruck silence at the string of images glowing before my eyes and only one thought pierced the silence, “I’ve been left behind.”  Thankfully, as I began to put together words and read about the wonder I was observing, I learned that I had, in fact, not been left behind.  What I was seeing was just a 9,000-years-due volcano in Chile, exploding with an incomprehensible display of power, destruction, and beauty all in one single performance…no big deal.

After reading on, I learned that this was a volcano colliding with an electrical storm in Chile on May 3rd, 2008.  A National Geographic photographer — Ronald J. Thomas — conveniently captured this show and now, will never work another day in his life.  Mr. Thomas, an atmospheric physicist at New Mexico Tech, who also co-authored the study of this storm said, “…we saw a lot of electrical activity during the eruption and even some small flashes going from the top of the volcano up into the cloud. That hasn’t been noticed before.”  Martin Uman, co-director of the University of Florida Lightning Research program pointed out that, “It’s the first real look at the details of at least one kind of volcano lightning—though of course every volcano might not be the same.”  Oh good.  Uman also noted in regards to the lightning increasing in frequency and girth as the ash and lava carried further from the mouth that, “the implication is that it has produced more charge than it started with. Otherwise [the plume] couldn’t continue to make lightning.”  In layman’s terms: We have no shaboygan’ clue what just happened.

Explaining the unexplainable.

National Geographic—Photograph by Carlos Gutierrez/UPI/Landov

You see, this is what gets me — here is a “simple” volcanic eruption, something that has occurred millions upon millions of times on this earth and the minds that have dedicated their lives to these things are virtually back at square one.  Well, they DID mention that not one volcanic eruption might be the same (have fun studying the rest of your life Dr. Eruption) and in fact, it would prove more fruitful of your time to go steal a tank and destroy an all-glass building.  Don’t even ask, just do it.

I will forever long to witness one of these eruptions in the flesh.  Watching a most impressive display of creativity and wonder on a still screen sweeps my mind away to the place it belongs — nestled on the ash-covered crust.  Oh, what it will do to me when I see it live — sound, trembling earth and all.  Don’t worry, I will bring my camera.

By Todd Stevenson

July 14, 2008 Posted by | Entertainment, Faith | , , , , , , | Leave a comment