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Showing posts from January 29, 2012

Bubble Pop -- Writer's Poke #362

Students like classes that don’t have finals; everyday people, however, like to believe in something final. I suppose that makes sense. No one wants to wake up in the morning, not knowing what’s right and what’s wrong for that day. We like consistency, and some of us will fight for our version of what is right, if for no other reason than for the sake of consistency.


New ideas aren’t always welcome. Pressure to conform is strong. Even when alternatives exist, most of us don’t pay much attention to them. We live in our own bubble reality. That bubble can be family, culture, philosophy, religion, etc. What does it take to pop the bubble of perception? Generally, something dramatic, or traumatic.

In shows like Jericho and Lost, people are thrust into new worlds, and not surprisingly, perhaps, they try to maintain continuity between the world they “knew” and the world they now occupy. At least in Lost, the only way for the characters to triumph is to submit. The desire to return to the …

Jesus Died for You -- Writer's Poke #361

It all started out so innocently. I was 22 and on one last vacation with my parents. Not surprisingly, then, we were in Salt Lake City, and we were at the LDS Tabernacle Visitor’s Center. My goal: avoid eye contact. If I didn’t look interested, and if I kept to myself, perhaps no missionaries would bother me. My singular goal was to survive the morning unmolested. Little did I realize that the LDS had a secret weapon to foil my carefully scripted disinterest: Female missionaries.


Did I mention that I was 22 years old? When I saw her, I had this strong desire to convert on the spot. It didn’t much matter if I believed in Jesus Christ or not. I made God a simple offer; give me this one, I prayed, and I will accept that as a sign of your existence.

I remember that her top button was unbuttoned. She saw that I was interested. What did it matter if I was interested in her rather than her religion? She told me that she was from California, and that, like me, she was an English major. Upo…

Watching You -- Writer's Poke #360

In Krzysztof Kieslowski’s The Decalogue, one of the recurring characters, “the Observer” (my unofficial name for him), never says a word. He’s just there, watching. Tomek, it might be argued, momentarily takes the Observer’s place in Decalogue VI. He’s an observer, too, but perhaps he crosses the line by becoming involved with the person he observes.

One interesting question to consider is: What role does (or should) the Observer play? In Decalogue I, he spends the movie sitting by his lakeside bonfire, but when Pawel drowns, he is markedly absent. In Decalogue II, he is the medical attendant who watches as Dorota tells her unconscious husband that she loves him; he is also there when the Consultant reviews the husband’s medical slides. In Decalogue V, he is there right before Jacek carries out the murder of the taxi cab driver. This scene may be the one where he almost becomes involved; he shakes his head slightly, as if to communicate to Jacek that he shouldn’t carry out his plan. …

Love Curious -- Writer's Poke #359

When one of Tomek’s plans backfires, he sacrifices himself. He makes sure that the humiliation falls on him and not on the woman he loves.


Tomek works at the post office, and he develops a plan. He sends a note to the woman he watches, Magda, informing her that she has a money order waiting for pick-up at the post office. The idea works the first time, but the second time she goes to the post office only to find no money order, she asks to speak with Tomek’s manager. The manager assumes that Magda is trying to commit fraud, and Tomek chases after her to explain that he had been responsible for the whole money-order scheme.

Although Magda is not happy to learn that Tomek has been stalking her for the past year, stealing her mail, and generally harassing her, she nevertheless feels drawn to him. She agrees to go out with him for a drink, and when he tells her that he loves her, she not surprisingly questions his use of the word. At the same time, she takes pity on poor Tomek; she claim…

Stalking Love -- Writer's Poke #358

Tomek likes to watch. Sort of.


For the past year, Tomek has watched an older woman who lives across the courtyard in his apartment complex. He has her schedule down to the minute, and he sets his alarm to correspond to when she arrives home.

She entertains different “gentleman callers,” but Tomek isn’t interested in watching her sexual exploits. His brand of voyeurism is much more pure than that. In fact, when he can figure out a way to kill the mood, so to speak, he’ll do so. His masterpiece: calling the gas company to report a leak in her apartment. That kills the mood, for sure, and Tomek smiles at his cleverness.

His landlady is his absent-friend’s mother. She worries about his love life, but she recognizes that he’s shy, or as she describes him, “gentle.” Does she know that Tomek has a telescope in his room and has been watching a woman with it? Yes, she probably knows, but she doesn’t confront Tomek about it. Rather, she simply encourages him not to be ashamed to bring a girl o…