Discovering Hugo (and you.)

Usually I really don’t care what movies are nominated for/win Oscars unless its so that I can scoff that the Academy is full of nonsense and that their choices just stink.

At the same time, though, a nomination usually means that the film will be seen by more people. And I certainly hope that will be the case for Hugo.

I was first introduced to the story by my son, who loves Brian Selznick’s The Invention of Hugo Cabret–a unique novel “in words and pictures,” upon which the film is based. More than illustrations, the pictures that make up more than half the bulk of the book wordlessly advance the plot–an homage, of sorts, to the silent films that play an important role of their own in the story. Perhaps this is one of the reasons that Hugo was a better-than-usual book-to-film adaptation–there was something of film within the book already.

The film was not disappointing at all–and I’m delighted that was able to see it on the big screen, where it comes alive under Scorcese’s able direction, Robert Richardson’s stunning cinematography, and Howard Shore’s (of Lord of the Rings fame) haunting and beautiful score. (All three were nominated for Oscars for their respective contributions, and the film was nominated for Best Picture.)

Hugo is also surprisingly, richly theological in some surprisingly Christian ways. I hate reviews that give away substantive facts, but suffice it to say, it is about creativity, it is about vocation, about redemption and grace in the unlikeliest of circumstances. It is about communicating, reconciling, remembering, community-forming love.

All without being the least bit ‘preachy.’

So I’ll be preachy, just for a second: go see Hugo!

And if you’ve seen it/read it, please do share your thoughts below!

How Beer Saved the World

I’m not really a fan of beer, but I think that has more to do with the beer I’ve tasted, not with me. Two times I’ve tasted beer that I liked: once, at Zum Schwarzen Bären in Göttingen, Germany, when I tasted a house-brewed dunkelbier, and once at a pub in Philadelphia following the funeral of our dear friend Sam, when I had a Chimay Rouge. I suspect my taste for beer is somewhat underdeveloped.

So a couple of weeks ago–when I mentioned the fact that I have OI, a genetic defect leading to weaker-than-normal bones–a commenter suggested that I drink beer. Beer, s/he said, contains certain bone-strengthening minerals and has been demonstrated to improve bone density and reduce fractures–more conclusively, apparently, than milk! Sure enough, I consulted Monsieur Google and found the study (and reports on that study) indicating that, indeed, beer is good for the bones.

Beings I can’t just nip round the corner to buy some house-brewed dunkelbier any more, and beings, too, that a case of Chimay Rouge would drink up as much money as I’ll earn writing a decent-length essay, I haven’t exactly been eager to incorporate beer into my health regimen, such that it is. (I am, however, eager to accept recommendations on beers I might like, keeping in mind the preferences I’ve already indicated.)

Here’s the thing, though: I want to like beer.

Why?

Because I love getting drunk? Heavens, no. A bit of ale or wine to gladden my heart is as far as I’m happy to go, thanks!

Because I want to strengthen my bones? Well, yes. That’s not a bad thought. But come on–this is the eat with joy person here.

With all due respect to Hippocrates, food (and drink) is not my medicine, nor vice-versa.

No: I want to like beer because it’s culturally important.

Egyptian Beer Making

Did you know that…

  • the Agricultural Revolution–the beginning of agriculture–was driven by beer–not grain-consumption

which means that beer helped form civilizations

  • bones from Ancient Egypt have been found to contain tetracycline antibiotics…from BEER

which means that, likely, beer helped many ancients fight off certain bacterial infections

  • you can brew beer from nasty, E.Coli infested pond water and it will become drinkable

which means that people living in cities where they’d get sick from the water available could drink beer and be A-OK.

If you’re curious, you can watch How Beer Saved the World here (or streaming on Netflix, if you have that) and learn more about this amazing stuff called beer!