Thursday, July 15, 2010

A Tale of Two Zorros...

I've long criticized Christian courtship books for their warm-fuzzy sentimentialism and their stunning silence on just how much hard work courtship actually is (to say nothing of marriage itself.)  There are exceptions, but frankly not as many as there should be. 

"But," cries the Reader, "surely you have deceived me!  Your title mentions Zorro (which is interesting,) and you have started off talking about Christian courtship books (which, if they be interesting at all, are decidedly less so than Zorro.)"  Fear not - I'm getting there, I'm getting there.

You see, one of the many things that courtship books fail to emphasize is, if marriage results, so too (likely) will children.  And as I am coming to discover, babies apparently need to nurse during the nighttime.  I can assure you that being awoken by a crying baby multiple times in the night every few hours is...perhaps less romantic than one might otherwise hope.  (Note: I wouldn't trade it for the world, but being a groggy zombie is definitely something the courtship books never mentioned...)

So, having tested my readers' patience enough, I'll offer the tie-in: during these last couple of nights Elizabeth and myself watched two separate Zorro movies while feeding James: The Mask of Zorro (Deluxe Edition), and The Legend of Zorro (Widescreen Special Edition).  The first film, by and large, was excellent; the second was not.

The Mask of Zorro stars Antonio Banderas, Anthony Hopkins, Catherine Zeta-Jones - talented thespians, all.  The plot was engaging, the action scenes explosive, and the dialogue earnestly-delivered.  It had a few hiccups (and really, Zorro, was it worth a PG-13 rating to have a wholly senseless "partially undressing Zeta-Jones during a swordfight" scene?  Really?)  Nonetheless, on-balance, it was a well-done movie and a good way to pass some time during the middle of the night.

The Legend of Zorro, as a sequel, left much to be desired.  And when I say it "left much to be desired," that is Midwestern understatement for "Good night, that movie was horrid".  To save my friends some trouble, I'll briefly describe the plot.  Just in case you are gung-ho against spoilers, you have been warned; read no further. 

Right, so Zorro and Mrs. Zorro were happily married at the end of the last movie.  Somehow, between the first and second movie, they have taken to quibbling.  Mrs. Zorro doesn't think Zorro is paying enough attention to her; he isn't spending enough time with his son and really, the world doesn't need that much saving, so why don't you stay home with meeeee?  (Her whiny-ness annoyed me greatly, in case you couldn't tell.)  Zorro, who has somehow become a jerk between movie the first and movie the second, decides not to deal with his marital problems and instead spends time with a foul-mouthed friar and gambling with "da boyz" in a hot tub.  Because divorce was so prevalent in 1850's California (particularly among educated Catholic landed nobility,) Zorro and Mrs. Zorro divorce.  Boo hiss.

Fear not, though, because Lil' Zorro Jr. is displaying signs of having superheroic powers too.  After all, he can stickfight with his teacher and swing on poles and stuff.  My, who would've possibly expected that?  Well, since Mrs. Zorro isn't around as much anymore, Lil' Zorro Jr. gets into trouble and thinks his Dad is lame.  After all, his Dad gets beat up by The Bad Guys, unlike Zorro, who is cool.  Of course, LZJ doesn't know that his Dad is, in fact, Zorro.  Now maybe I'm old fashioned, but if I put on a black half-face mask I'm pretty sure a 9-year old James would recognize it was me.  Still, one mustn't expect logic to play a role in movies (and if Clark Kent can go unrecognized by changing glasses, I suppose Zorro can do it by having a half-mask on.)

Anyway, back to the film.  The Bad Guys are two: Crossface Dude and Suave Spanish Nobleman.  Crossface is a big bully and wants the deed to some land (for reasons unclear to me, aside from the fact that he is a Bad Guy).  Zorro fails to protect Random Peasants from Crossface, and this failure causes Zorro to question his calling as a hero.  Apparently Zorro has never failed before to protect anyone ever, so I can understand this first failure provoking an existential crisis.  As it turns out, Suave is dating the former Mrs. Zorro, which only causes Zorro to question his calling even more.

But fear not - it turns out Mrs. Zorro is only dating Suave as an undercover agent at the behest of some Random Government Dudes (who have perhaps ten lines of dialogue between them before they are killed by Suave.)  Suave is evil and his evil bona fides are proved by his nefarious plan to make a Powerful Explosive.  Apparently this Powerful Explosive is made by taking plain soap, boiling it down, and concentrating it.  Because, you know, soap back then was harsh...and if you get it really concentrated, it'll be really harsh.  And it'll explode and stuff, I guess.

You can probably imagine where all this winds up: Zorro and Mrs. Zorro, working separately, discover the nefarious plan.  They realize that only by working together can the Bad Guys be stopped.  Somehow they recall that they like kissing, love each other, and stuff, so they get back together.  Lil' Zorro Jr. displays his new powers, finds out that his dad actually is Zorro, and the day is collectively saved.

I'm not going to lie - this movie was watched over three sessions ranging from 11PM to 5AM.  So perhaps I wasn't paying the most attention, and maybe it's just the greatest film ever.  But...frankly, that's not too likely.  It was horrid movie, and the only way I could purge my bile was to cathartically complain about it.  If someone really liked it, please speak up - otherwise I can safely say I'd love to watch the first movie again, but wouldn't fuss if I never saw the second movie ever again.

Sincerely,
~Benjamin

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A Poem

As I blink in the morning's early light,
A heaven-sent miracle greets my sight.
I gaze sleepily into eyes so bright;
The precious bundle that kept me up all night

Innocent beauty; a face without a line.
Is this blessing truly mine?
New life with mine hereafter entwined,
Sent to remind me of The Divine.

And as the light keeps breaking,
My mind slowly but surely waking
A few moments I have for taking
Prayers of wonder to the King

~Elizabeth

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Our new son...

James Allan Keil was born on July 9.  I'm more exhausted now than I've ever been in my life.  I'm also happier than I've ever been - spending time with James and Elizabeth is just about the best thing ever.  Cheryl Nelson (Elizabeth's mom) is out here visiting, and I just snapped a few quick pictures. 

If you want to see the first set of baby pictures, they can be found on my Flickr site here.

More pictures will come soon.  Also, once I've got some sleep, I've got a few philosophical blog posts drafted out in my head that need to come out too.  All in its proper time... :-)

~Benjamin