Saturday, December 31, 2005
If you get bored (in other words, if the bowl games suck), please feel free to browse through. Maybe even leave a comment (c'mon, Jennie and WJ can't do it all themselves!).
Don't say anything nasty. I know where your broadcast lives!
Thursday, December 29, 2005
Speaking of udders, my grandparents have a little ranch in northeastern Oklahoma. Three of the cows jumped the fence. Actually, I guess that may be a bit misleading. At least one of them's a bit bullish. So, I - along with three of my brothers - spent a good part of Christmas afternoon helping to guide them back inside. Not too hard. Keep my distance, stay behind them (way far behind. Even my rural-ignorance knows better than to stand behind a cow.) and ocassionally give them a one-man Mexican Stand-off. Good thing they're about as afraid of me as I am of them, because I'm smarter than them and can recognize their fear. Plus, they weigh - what - six times what I do. After we steered them in (get it? Steer? Yep, you're as much a lame as me) feeding time begins and Chuckie and I get to do our Brokeback Mountain jokes while Caleb is avoiding fresh dung while helping gramps move the cattle to feeding. (Some of them, unfortunately, were paralyzed by the stupid little dog who wanted to eat the rest of the feed. At this point, I wanted the cows to realize their weight.) I was quite shocked, however, during the feeding, at the sight of one tying to mount another. She was avoiding his lewd and inappropriate conduct. The stud wasn't getting the hint, however. Anyway, enough anthromorphologizing. This isn't March of the Penguins. I wasn't aware my grandparents had bulls. I guess it only makes sense. Nobody's really making money on this ranch, so you don't want to spend more money buying baby cows. Yet spotting cows' sex organs wasn't really how I planned to spend my Sunday afternoon.
Went back to my grandparent's house to watch the Bears stomp the Packers. Don't tell the rest of Chicago, but I like Favre. I feel sorry for him. I don't think it's his fault that the Packs suck. He'd threw multiple interceptions per game at the peak of his powers. Only now, there's no running game to keep him from throwing so many erroneous passes, and no receivers capable of understanding that he's gonna throw it up, they just need to be there. And, in this instance, he was pitted against the best defense in the league. But, hey, the Bears are in second place in the NFC (not last place as Sports Illustrated predicted four or five short months ago) with a first-round bye (which means we only have to win two games to make it to the big game). And I'm liking our chances with Grossman (aka Mr. Glass) opening up the offensive end of the field. I'm still saying the Super Bowl is within our grasp. Now, imagine winning SB's XX AND XL. Crazy! And no Fridge in sight. In any case, a great Christmas gift.
And speaking of great Christmas gifts, I've been wanting to do something about the weather recently. Especially since last year's tsunami and watching Hotel Rwanda, I've been restless and wanting to help those who truly are less fortunate. Add that to this sense of lethargic anti-consumerism that I've been talking about but hardly practicing and I decided that I was going to donate all gifts this year to World Vision. And, as may be imagined, that didn't go over so well with some members of my family. You know, I don't care so much. No, wait, I do. But this is what I came to the conclusion of, I'm gonna try that for the next year. Seriously. For all birthday gifts, I'm giving out gift donations to Red Cross, World Vision, One whatever other non-for-profit the recipient wants (within range of my conscience, of course). And I want the same thing for my birthday. I want people, instead of giving me gift certificates or other things I don't really need, to make out donations to people who need more than I - or just about anybody I know - need, people who are in real need, not this imaginary need most Westerners have for excess, but a tangible, physical, bodily need.
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
6) Donald Miller - Blue Like Jazz. I know a lot of Christian leaders are putting this book at the top of their lists. And it's good. But I like his third book better. And honestly, I'd rather have put Dallas Willard's Spirit of the Disciplines in this list. But I realized that it doesn't qualify, as I only read through a quarter of it. Darn my ADD.
5) Fyodor Doesteovsky - The Idiot. This is the only fiction that I've really felt like reading this year and the only fiction I'll be taking with me on my retreat next week. I don't know if I would've made it anywhere near as far with The Brothers Karamozov, written around the same period. Much like the characters in the novel, however, I've instantly fallen in love with the titular prince.
4) Philip Yancey - The Bible Jesus Read. I've had this hankering for all things historically grounded and Jesus. And Yancey has had a big part of fulfilling and feeding that itch (along with N.T. Wright). In this book, he looks at the suffering and the God that Jesus would have been well-acquianted with from the Holy (and often ignored in contemporary churches) Scriptures of the Old Testament, the only Bible that Jesus would've read. Of utmost enjoyment to me was the chapter on the Psalms, the frustrating and glorious dregs of humanity speaking to God (as most of the books that Yancey chose in this selection are) through suffering, despair, faith, doubt, victories, losses, worship and other such human experiences.
3) Eugene Peterson - A Long Obedience in the Same Direction. Peterson, the translator/paraphraser of The Message version of the Bible, has a way at tugging at the simple Christian trying to live the simple Christian life and yet being pulled in all directions. He, having been a minister for so many years to a relatively small church, knows the simple truth of the Gospels, that God has freed us through Christ to live for him and in him and through him, all of our lives and in every bit of our lives. As the title suggests, it's completely against the grain of the sexy, Your Best Life Now, Instant Discipleship, Jesus' Guide to Being a Successful CEO type of modern crap prevailing around, allowing for Kanye West to get Gospel music recognition without living or even acknowleging a truly Christian worldview of Christ as King. Anyway, enough of the tirade. The book isn't angry. I am. Sorry.
2) Philip Yancey - The Jesus I Never Knew. I accidentally left this in the church van a few months back. I hope whoever has it is enjoying it as much as I was. I have to buy a new copy. Yancey's a great writer, a bit of a journalist with a keen eye for the right phrasing. And I love his attention and gaze at the iconoclastic God in the flesh. And the voices he brings in to also comment on Jesus.
1) Donald Miller - Searching for God Knows What. Okay, despite being one of the few books I managed to finish reading (and relatively quickly at that), it's also - for my head-into-Jesus fascination this year, certainly - a great book. Not as scholarly or comprehensive as Yancey's (not that Yancey is scholarly... umm... I'm just digging myself into a big hole here aren't I?), but certainly more personal, more reactionary, more visceral.
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
6) Tie: Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit and Broken Flowers.
The W&G film is chock-full of puns. So many, and some pretty decently, that I had to laugh, several times. Also, it's a watchable film, meaning that there's a lot moving with each frame. I still don't know how they moved the bunnies in space. Or why they decided to leave fingerprints all over the clay figures. BF is a completely different movie, all atmosphere, some disgusting shock, some anticipated disgust (there's a daughter trying to titillate the protagonist by the name of Lolita. The protaganist, a burned-out lady's man trying to come to amends with his philandeering past is named Don Jonston, and there are several references throughout to his namesake - don't think too hard on that one.) But two things are going for this piece, 1) Bill Murray; 2) Jim Jarmusch. What is interesting in this moving picture is the space and silence that these two collaborate on so well.
5) Serenity - Upon getting around to watching the Firefly series on DVD (and loving it), I saw this film as a good continuation (hopefully, not a coda) to what Joss Whedon had already, though too briefly, begun on Fox. Not a great filmic movie (Whedon's first, abouttimeIsay), but un, exciting and with some themes to chew upon (the requisite Whedon's teamwork and sacrifice being tentamount, but, I'm a sucker for those punches). As far as the movie/series: Think of Han Solo before he came into contact with Old Ben and the rebels and when he shot first, only slightly closer to Earth and you have a good idea.
4) Batman Begins - OK, so I ended up liking it. Very well done. I rarely watch a movie more than once, but if it holds up under multiple viewings, it gets top honors. Everything else there is to say about it, I already did.
3) The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - Maybe I'll like it more, maybe I won't, I don't know. Tilda Swinton was (and apparently is, in real life) pure evil. The girl who played Lucy a heart-stringer and a pure delight, and Liam Neeson had a decent Aslan voice (much more regal than the nasally and pseudo-Shakespearean actor trying to keep up with the legacy of the Lion in the Focus on the Family audiobooks. Sorry, Adam). But really, credit goes to C.S. Lewis. Anyway, who listens to me?
2) Kung-Fu Hustle - It made me laugh. Hard. Often. A live-action martial-arts Looney Tunes with physical comedy coming from all directions. A much better review is here.
1) Hotel Rwanda - I dare you to watch it and not cry. If a mark of a real work of art is by how it moves you - how it truly, deeply affects you and the way you view the world and draws you to actual movement - then this would be the piece de resistance of the year. No propaganda, just a a necessary and powerful story told well. Give to Compassion Int'l, the Red Cross, Data, World Vision. Press your congressperson, president, prime minister, mayor, water reclamation district manager, to action on behalf of justice, to release the financial burbens of Third World (or, more accurately, 2/3's World) Nations. Get others to join on the humanitarian bandwagon. But mostly, promote peace and love and - like Daniel - beseech God on all of our behalf.
Friday, December 23, 2005
6. Switchfoot - Nothing Is Sound. A rock record, nice. I've followed them since the smart little surfers recorded that little demo and then went on to be produced by Charlie Peacock and then appeared on the radio. The difference between them and Jars of Clay (a band which I respect, btw)? I still buy all of Switchfoot's stuff (largely because I don't have to go to a Christian bookstore to get it), and I legitimately devoured Foreman and Co. before they ever got any press. However, both groups show a highly mature world-view and social consciousness completely out of step with the Contemporary Christian Music I grew up with (sans the Taylors Steve and Terry).
5. L.A. Symphony - Disappear Here - I've reported or discussed them a couple times. 'Nuff said. It's fun. It's a little romp. I do want to add this caveat, though: One of my youth girls was dancing to an old LAS song during a Christmas party last week. I was happy. There's hope for the youth yet. Speaking of LAS and Christmas, hear this ditty. "Call me Santa the Jerk."
4. DeepSpace 5 - Unique, Just Like Everyone Else - In lieu of a new Mars Ill record, more proof that the best thing going on in the aforementioned CCM scene is in the hip-hop movement - both the more underground and artistic side represented by the likes of DS5 and Mars Ill and the more upfront Gospel Rappers represented by the Cross Movement crew. Personally, I think both sides are necessary and great at what they're doing, and being where - seemingly - they need to be. Also UJLEE still has my lyric for the year, "I wanna touch the fans like Ron Artest." By the way, some of my misgivings about the leanings on rock in this record have been allayed. I'm liking it more.
3. Over the Rhine - Drunkard's Prayer - I almost forgot that this record came out this year. I also forgot to burn it to my laptop. Shame on me (actually, there are four on this list yet to be burned as of yet, which tells you how random I've been about this business). I talked about them earlier this year, also, but not for long if I recollect. Very raw, very stripped, sometimes sad but yet, always sweet and inviting and warm even though the subject matter (a marriage on the rocks) isn't. It helps that I know the outcome, that the sacrifices that Linford and Karen made to save their marriage work worked. But then again, my favorite album (Dig, Adam Again) did not end so happily. I shudder. I guess this is a topic for a longer post (yeah, like I'll ever get around to that!) PS, listening to the cd in the car ride home. My brother (a total hip hop head) was humming along, much like my grandma did to my second selection.
2. Sufjan Stevens - Illinois - I'm not using the pun title. One of the cleverest albums I've ever heard, only with far more substance than a They Might Be Giants LP. "John Wayne Gacy, Jr." is one of the most disturbing songs I've ever heard, so much so that I have to hit skip every time I hear it. That's a compliment. That's how much it burns into the psyche like a madman. One of my friends/co-teachers thinks it's a gip, though, that the song "Chicago" only marginally deals with Chicago. It's okay, I say. The album only marginally deals with Illinois. As cliche as it may seem, the topic here is the human condition. Illinois is just the template with which to do it, however beautifully he does it. Brian Wilson may have used Southern California (as well as his bedroom) and a beautiful and avante-garde pop orchestra to explore the turbulance of youth, Stevens is using the history and typography of Illinois as well as a beautiful and avante-garde pop orchestra (arranged solely by him) to explore the turbulance of contemporary times. Edit: NPR has called it the best record for the last few years, and Jeffrey Overstreet is all over it.
1. Arcade Fire - Funeral - I'm not so much a music head that I could accurately make the comparison, but I think Brian Wilson's mantle is being passed down. This is chamber rock at its sweetest, with plenty of grounded emotion, changes within songs, pulls and pushes, and a beautiful and short-lived Ronnettes impersonation. And, oh yeah, it rocks. Anyway, everybody has talked about this release (including Bowie, U2, etc., etc.). I just thought you should know that you need to get this album. And the five above it.
Thursday, December 22, 2005
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
There's nothing to do in the southern/midwestern dustbowl, honestly, at least not in my parents' corner of the state (near the Ozarks and MO). So, we tend to spend a lot of our time at the multiplex the next state over (seriously) or at the Wal-Mart (though that's increasingly depressing and losing its interest for me). So, I haven't seen several movies that may just be of interest.
And what are those movies, you may ask?
King Kong. Apparently, not the great feast we should expect from Peter Jackson. More like three hour popcorn. OK, but I want free refills.
The Chronic-What-cles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Honestly, saw this. Also doesn't live up to expectations for me. But my expectations were exceptionally high. Good movie, great family movie, great, great source.
Spring-Time for Hitler, I mean, The Producers. No, of course I never saw it in its show revues and only caught glimpses of it from the original movie. But, why the heck not? Oh yeah, money.
Munich. Doubt it'll be out. Probably not good family fodder (I'm the only film nerd - a few steps below film geek, not as cool in the same circles - in my immediate family), but it'd top these other movies, much as Good Night and Good Luck topped my wanting to see Pride and Prejudicial Romantic Foppery.
Rent. Why? 'Cause, Everybody's got AIDS. (Ten points to the first correct credit for that quote/song).
Fun with Dick and Jane. Yes, I loved his memory movie, and the one where a tv producer was playing his God, but Carrey's been out of my favor for a bit. This looks like both a good return to form and a forward-looking bit for him (though Enron's been out of the news for a couple years. In fact, it may be good for that reason. Bring people to talk about the greediness of the culture of a slash-and-burn corporation economy.
Monday, December 19, 2005
Lucy (as psychologist): I know how you feel about all this Christmas business. I never get what I really want. I always get a lot of stupid toys or clothes or something like that.
CB: What is it you want?
Lucy: Real estate!
Lucy (to Linus, emploring him why he should get rid of his security blanket): I'll give you five good reasons why you should take off that stupid blanket: (counts off her fingers as she makes a fist with them) One, Two, Three, Four, Five.
Linus (having averted that tragedy): Not only is Christmas getting too commercial, it's also getting too dangerous!
Other kids to CB as he goes out to get a Christmas tree: Don't mess it up, Charlie Brown, like you always do!
Linus' answer to Charlie Brown's question, "Isn't there anyone hear who could tell me what Christmas is all about?"
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them; and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
The Vince Guaraldi soundtrack.
This great scene
The child actors (literally) stumbling over their own lines.
The not-so-subtle arch-to-the left that the poor tree makes after Charlie Brown puts an ornament on the top, which he imitates as he lumbers off, also to the left.
The support that Charlie and his tree literally and figuratively get from his friends.
Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown, you old block-head!
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
The following is from chapter 3, Providence: God guards you from every evil. It's inspiration is Psalm 121. As quoted in full from the Message paraphrase:
1 I look up to the mountains; does my strength come from mountains? 2 No, my strength comes from God, who made heaven, and earth, and mountains. 3 He won't let you stumble, your Guardian God won't fall asleep. 4 Not on your life! Israel's Guardian will never doze or sleep. 5 God's your Guardian, right at your side to protect you - 6 Shielding you from sunstroke, sheltering you from moonstroke. 7 God guards you from every evil, he guards your very life. 8 He guards you when you leave and when you return, he guards you now, he guards you always.
The moment we say no to the world and yes to God, all our problems are solved,
all our questions answered, all our troubles over...
So, already, by the first sentence, he has grabbed my attention. I know that these statements are not true. I know that, fundamentally, they are a lie. But it's a beautiful lie. And I know it's a beautiful lie because I hear it so often, especially by and to novices and seekers. And, truth is, I want to believe it. I want to say that it's gotta be the truth, that I've been living a lie and that the moment I wake up to faith is the moment that life will cease to be a bother. After further probing, Peterson counters,
Is that what you believe? If it is, I have some incredibly good news for you.
You are wrong...
The promise of the psalm - and both Hebrews and
Christians have always read it this way - is not that we shall never stub our
toes but that no injury, no illness, no accident, no distress will have evil
power over us, hat is, will be able to seperate us from God's purposes in us...
No literature is more realistic and honest in facing the harsh facts of
life than the Bible. At no time is there the faintest suggestion that the life of faith exempts us from difficulties.
Do yout think the way to tell the story of the Christian journey is to describe its trials and tribulations? It is not. It is to name and to describe God who preserves, accompanies and rules us.
All the water in the oceans cannot sink a ship unless it gets inside. Nor can all the trouble in the world harm us unless it gets within us. That is the promise of the psalm: "God guards you from every evil." Not the demon in the loose stone ["He won't let you stumble"], not the fierce attack of the sun god ["Shielding you from sunstroke"], not the malign influence of the moon goddess ["Sheltering you from moonstroke," thought to be the cause of lunacy] - not any of these can separate you from God's call and purpose...
Psalms 121 says that the same faith that works in the big things works in the little things. The God of Genesis 1 who brought light out of darkness is also the God of this day who guards you from every evil.
Monday, December 12, 2005
Yes, visit #2000* is only two clicks away, even as I type this. To celebrate, I'm gonna put my cream and sugar in my decaf Americano. Now, why they call it Americano when so few Americanos drink it is beyond me.
And, as a bonus, for no apparent reason at all, I have included a bad facsimile of a great mural we have outside my school (where I teach Language Arts) in homage of one of the greatest shortstops to ever play the game, and a true humanitarian - Roberto Clemente.
Peace y'all. And thank you.
Sunday, December 11, 2005
I got this chain through email (Thanks Jen), but these things are transferable (duh!). I've been sick this week and the last couple days have been spent on the catch-up-on-social-life weekend, so not much blogging. And what I've done is fairly easy. So, all that to say, sorry. We'll try again soon. (Though Christmas time is going to be nada. Won't even be by a computer for most of it.)
Anyway, enough of the boring stuff. Now what you've all been waiting to hear:
Three Names You Go By
2. Mr. D
3. J. D. (yeah, pretty boring. Life of a novice teacher.)
Three Parts of Your Heritage
1. Puerto Rican
Three Things That Scare You
1. Anything on Fear Factor
2. My mom's health
Three of Your Everyday Essentials
$1. Quiet Time
Three Things You Are Wearing Right Now
1. Boots (it's snowy, folks)
2. Blue Jeans (not too tight, not too loose)
3. Double t-shirts (one from Urban Youth Workers conference earlier this year, the other from DeepSpace 5)
Three Things You Want Out Of Love
1. To be loved / appreciated
2. To have someone to take care of / serve / love
3. To have someone to share with (laughs, work, service, struggles, peace, nights, God the Father, God the Son, God the Spirit)
Three Physical Things About the Opposite Sex That Appeal to You
3. Fitness / Athleticism
Three of Your Favorite Hobbies
Three Things You Want to do Really Badly Right Now
1. Be with my lady
2. Get some more training in teaching
3. Get off this sickness that's wasting so much of my time (free and otherwise) this year
Three Places You Want to go On Vacation
2. Eastern Asia (part. China, Japan and South Korea)
3. Miami, Ok (where, for some strange reason, most of my family's relocated)
Three Things You Want to Do Before You Die
1. Please God
2. Bring people to know Him
3. Restore families (Directly Jennie's answers, yes. But also, honestly, mine.)
Three Ways that you are stereotypically a Chick/Guy
1. I don't mind getting dirty.
2. I can't stand whining or anything sterotypically femalesque on a guy (cf. 'Mangina Monologues')
3. Use of force
Three people you would like to see take this quiz
1. Christine (jerk!)
2. Micah (happy now?)
3. USS Clueless (will you start blogging again, Miss Busy?)
Friday, December 09, 2005
It was December 24th on Hollis Ave in the dark
When I seen a man chilling with his dog in the park
I approached very slowly with my heart full of fear
Looked at his dog, oh my God, an ill reindeer
But then I was illin because the man had a beard
And a bag full of goodies, 12 o'clock had neared
So I turned my head a second and the man had gone
But he left his driver's wallet smack dead on the lawn
I picket the wallet up then I took a pause
Took out the license and it cold said "Santa Claus"
A million dollars in it, cold hundreds of G's
Enough to buy a boat and matching car with ease
But I'd never steal from Santa, cause that ain't right
So I'm going home to mail it back to him that night
But when I got home I bugged, cause under the tree
Was a letter from Santa and all the dough was for me
It's Christmas time in Hollis Queens
Mom's cooking chicken and collard greens
Rice and stuffing, macaroni and cheese
And Santa put gifts under Christmas trees
Decorate the house with lights at night
Snow's on the ground, snow white so bright
In the fireplace is the yule log
Beneath the mistle toe as we drink egg nog
The rhymes you hear are the rhymes of Darryl's
But each and every year we bust Christmas carrols
Rhymes so loud and proud you hear it
It's Christmas time and we got the spirit
Jack Frost chillin, the orchas out?
And that's what Christmas is all about
The time is now, the place is here
And the whole wide world is filled with cheer
My name's D.M.C. with the mic in my hand
And I'm chilling and coolin just like a snowman
So open your eyes, lend us an ear
We want to say
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Special thanks to lyrics.com for these lyrics.
Saturday, December 03, 2005
Slightly less than an hour after dragging my knuckles through the house (I slept on the couch last night, in a failed attempt to catch some Letterman before the Sandman's visit), I catch snow. As in, on my shoes with the sludging texture of early and late season precipitation in Chicago.
The sight catches my breath like asphysxiation. Everything that is not concrete is white, at least as far as the view from the top is concerned. I feel nostalgic for family visits to the suburbs, for shopping downtown, for highly expandable - and short-living - radio-controlled cars on a track that leads to nowhere but where it began, for twenty-five different rocking versions of "It's Christmas Time," for trips to the suburbs to see family that we only get to be around once a year, for the highly anticipated gifts so perfectly wrapped by our parents that we are given the illusion - however temporarily - that we have not received another pack of underwear, for that extremely rare occasion when we would receive cool draws (e.g., Underoos), for the feeling that somebody cares deeply for me and that I don't need to worry about not a thing - for I'm covered much as the snow covers the ground.
Although I don't doubt that the love is there as much now as it was then (and immeasurable and in various degrees by many people), self-dependence is hard work and will kill a man as surely and grossly as a immense cold.
A Protestant youth group in Germany is releasing a calendar with photographic illustrations from various biblical stories. Says the pastor of the church, Bernd Grasser, "It’s just wonderful when teenagers commit themselves with their hair and their skin to the Bible."
The skin that the pastor is referring to is exposed sin, as in nekkid exposed sin, to illustrate such 'erotic scenes' as a "bare-breasted Delilah cutting Samson’s hair and a nude Eve offering an apple."
Now, that the Bible is filled with nasty violence and eroticism is true and widely known to anyone who has read the Old Testament after Sunday School. No one's doubting that. And I don't think that anyone can argue that we should "represent the Bible in a way... to interest young people," as one of the models tells Reuters. But titilating and interesting are not the same.
And, seriously, shame on the pastor (I know, I'm sounding like Focus on the Family now), for not showing his congregants how to read the Bible with any modicum of truth. The previously quoted model also has this to say, "It doesn’t say anywhere in the Bible that you are forbidden to show yourself nude." Umm... and Jesus doesn't talk about the evils of giving in to lust and the severe punishments of tempters ("It would be better for a millstone to be tied around his neck and him be dropped into the sea then for the man to tempt one of these little ones to stumble.")
And no, I didn't get this from LarkNews.com. It's here on msnbc news.
Ok, piece of news pt. 2:
I know what this grandma wants for Christmas. But she needs to get off her lazy arse to get it.
Thursday, December 01, 2005
I felt a bit of jealousy toward him.
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
The Bulls are winning. Although nobody expects a breakthrough year for them again, they are in the toughest division and holding their own. Although we lost to the Knicks tonight, both teams seem to be on the right paths recently, them with Larry Brown (if anybody can shape-up Curry, it's Brownie) and us with winning on the West Coast during Barnum & Bailey '05. I still want a good center in Chicago. AD, if you're listening...
Well, we still have (although for a different sport) Kreutz. So, maybe I spoke too hastily about the need for a good center in the city. Although, if I were to qualify that statement as, "a good center who doesn't knock-out other team members in firing ranges," we may still be looking. In other news, the Bears just keep winning. Although some are saying we're overhyped, trust me, Chicago fans are in need of a - and deserve a - little excitement XX years after Super Bowl XX.
Cubs? Oh well, always next year.
Blackhawks may as well move south. Or north. East. West. To Siberia. I don't care. Can we make the Wolves our mainstay pro hockey team? Oh, they already are?
On a less global level, my church finally replaced me (well, in a good way) and I have more time to concentrate on my new teaching job.
We actually have some time in the day, now that the kids have started gym classes, to get some work and preperation done.
And, Starfish Studios, a not-for-profit filmmaking company that I've volunteered for (and would like to again) that works alongside urban children and youth is having a great year. (Although, I'm sure Vision Nehemiah would appreciate your prayers.)
To all: Peace.
Monday, November 28, 2005
Here's how you play this one:
1. Go into your archives.
2. Find your 23rd post.
3. Post the fifth sentence (or closest to it).
4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions.
5. Tag five other people to do the same thing.
Easy enough, right?
In my first month of blogging, by the way, I did close to thirty posts (edit: contrast that with this month, where I barely had a dozen even after a last minute rush), and many of them long. The 23rd was the shortest:
The scary part is, I fit about half these descriptions.
The usual suspects are tagged: Christine, Adam, Alisa, Timi and Gabrielle. If you wanted to be tagged and were not, lo siento, I'm sorry. Maybe you can contact these fine people and they'll give you their tag - or, better yet, maybe they'll tag you. Jen can't be tagged 'cuz she's only got 10 posts (she's a newbie).
Sunday, November 27, 2005
(Yes, yes. I know, "Don't call me Shirley.")
But I am a man blessed by such, and as proof:
We went out yesterday.* For the whole day. She's leaving town in a couple days, and I've only got to see her once before and talk to her a couple times. So, yesterday was to be a special day.
*Sorry, if you know who she is, then I don't need to tell you. If you don't know, I'm at liberty to not tell you at this moment.
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
Sunday, November 20, 2005
My favorite joke is where the emotionally crippled and oedipal younger brother Buster (as an 11 year old) finds out that Rosa, the maid, accidentally let his parakeet out and, as revenge, raids what he believes to be her living area - yes, the kitchen. Later, he throws her favorite toy (the Dirt Devil) at her car (the city bus). That same episode ("Good Grief") has a running visual gag concerning the Vince Guaraldi Trio soundtrack to the Charlie Brown Christmas special and some low laying of the head, along with a special apparence by a large red doghouse and a poorly trained beagle, a spider-hole, an Anne Frank reference, and a mock burial where the only one sad was also trying to get with the bounty-hunter catering the event.
How could you not love this show?
Oh, and there's this little magic act intro/dance.
In the meantime, I found this nifty little AD spot, remniscent of snpp.com (The Simpsons' fans' archive web site), only a little more current.
Oh, by the way, in case you didn't know why I wrote this, Arrested Development has been cancelled. Presumably to make room for better Fox fare, like Stacked and that show with Michael Rappaport that ruins Sunday evenings for countless King of the Hill and Simpsons fans who may want to watch Family Guy and don't care for the weeping shows on ABC.
dull as dirtMuch love to Seeklyrics.com.
you can't assert the kind of light
that might persuade
a strict dictator to retire
fire the army
teach the poor origami
the truth is in
the proof is when
you hear your heart
start asking, "What's my motivation?"
and try as you may, there isn't a way
to explain the kind of change
that would make an Eskimo renounce fur
that would make a vegetarian barbecue hamster
unless you can trace this about-face
to a certain sign...
MAKE 'EM WONDER WHAT YOU'VE GOT
MAKE 'EM WISH THAT THEY WERE NOT
ON THE OUTSIDE LOOKING BORED
LET IT SHINE BEFORE ALL MEN
LET 'EM SEE GOOD WORKS, AND THEN
LET 'EM GLORIFY THE LORD
out of the shaker and onto the plate
it isn't Karma
it sure ain't fate
that would make a Deadhead sell his van
that would make a schizophrenic turn in his crayons
and science seeks a rationale
that shall excuse
this strange behavior
when you let it shine
you will inspire
the kind of entire turnaround
that would make a bouncer take ballet
(even bouncers who aren't...happy)
but out of the glare
with nowhere to turn
you ain't gonna learn it on "What's My Line?"
Thursday, November 17, 2005
be pleasing to you,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
I've found myself repeating that verse to calm me down. I've been cursing quite a bit - albeit underneath my breath - this past school year. But I realize that that's not a good Christian testimony (1) and it's not good and healthy language, which is what my students need to hear (2, and probably more important).
I don't think that there is real justification for swearing. having said that, I'm coming to some horrible grips with myself. I'm finding myself swearing increasingly. More recently, I think it's been dying down, but honestly, the words of my mouth are not acceptable to my God, who is my Rock and my Redeemer.
Therefore, it shows that my thoughts aren't always pure either. Because that's what the mouth does, it eventually exposes what's in the heart.
And the heart is deceitful and wicked. Who can understand it? I certainly can't even comprehend my own heart.
But here's another reason why, as for Christians, it is a big deal to swear: it's language made of words. Jesus himself is described as The Word. Now, one can argue that it's different, that Jesus is the Logos, the answer to the (largely Greek) hypothetical and philosophical questions of life. Or that he is God revealed, or revealed God. But the simple fact of the matter is that God chose to reveal himself by actions AND words. And furthermore, that faith comes by hearing and hearing the Word of God. That God spoke...
So, words are sacred of their own right, for Jesus, by being the Word, made them sacred. For God, by speaking through words, made them sacred. For the Holy Spirit, by consistently using the Word to change and shape lives, makes them sacred. And as such they should be treated by those who worship a sacred God.
Saturday, November 12, 2005
But, in the meantime, I've wanted to do a bit of a run-down on Steve Taylor, one of the most important artists in the formation of my little art-sensitive mind. Taylor was a Christian music recording artist that blew the walls within Christian music. He wrote intelligent (sometimes belligerent, sometimes sensitive) and incisive critical pop music for the times, calling to task social issues like abortion, abortion clinic bombings, the life-boat mentality (evaluation of individual's worth to society and therefore, life), the absence of objective truth, racism (esp. in a certain 'Christian' liberal arts college in the South), personal, familial and public consequences for actions, the weight of heroes, the church-afied people mentality, etc., etc.
I want to periodically print up some of Taylor's lyrics and/or writings. Some of them are from his solo material (most in the 80's), and some from group work (his mainstream but short-lived rock band Chagall Guevera and another pop CCM mainstay, the Newsboys). Today's will be one of the many of the church-afied variety of Steve Taylor song. From the EP of the same name:
I'd gone through so much other stuff
that walking down the aisle was tough
but now I know it's not enough
I want to be a clone
I asked the Lord into my heart
they said that was the way to start
but now you've got to play the part
I want to be a clone
Be a clone and kiss conviction goodnight
cloneliness is next to Godliness, right?
I'm grateful that they show the way
'cause I could never know the way
to serve him on my own
I want to be a clone
They told me that I'd fall away
unless I followed what they say
who needs the Bible anyway?
I want to be a clone
Their language it was new to me
but Christianese got through to me
now I can speak it fluently
I want to be a clone
Send in the clones
Ah, I kind of wanted to tell my friends and people about it, you know
You're still a babe
you have to grow
give it twenty years or so
'cause if you want to be one of his
got to act like one of us
So now I see the whole design
my church is an assembly line
the parts are there
I'm feeling fine
I want to be a clone
I've learned enough to stay afloat
but not so much I rock the boat
I'm glad they shoved it down my throat
I want to be a clone
Everybody must get clonedThanks to sockheaven.net for the lyrics and album cover art I just swiped.
Monday, November 07, 2005
I finally got around to getting LA Symphony's Disappear Hear. Nice. Thanks to the cats who kept me up-to-beat. I had heard all this good news about LA Symph and then bought The End Is Now, only to be let-down. This one, though, is a bit of a bouncy, danceable bumper from start-to-finish. Too bad the sound system in my church office consists of blown-out computer speakers.
Also finally getting around to watching the Firefly series on DVD. I still hold to the opinion that you didn't need to watch the series to view Serenity, but it'd help. By the way, rent the whole boat-load. Joss Whedon, space and cowboys! What more need I say?
And, what else has been going on?
Oh yeah! My secret friend has been upgraded to special friend. It's only a matter of time... (Lord, please, take care of those obstacles as only you can.)
Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.
and I will live in the house of the LORD forever.
Friday, November 04, 2005
It's almost kind of funny. I'm not an Alpha Male. I know that. Growing up, I didn't really play sports besides Johnny Tag and various incarnations of tag - including a beaning game we played between trees with a tennis ball. I was fairly athletic, though - if by athletic you mean quick and willowy and nimble at all of 80 pounds. I've always been fairly competitive, but certainly not the brutish stereotype of the man's man, six-pack and football and poker and strippers and... well, you get the picture. Obviously, I've never even been to these man's men hang-outs. In fact, I'm fairly sensitive. I used to cry all the time as a teenager. Of course, now I can't stand it when a young man gets all misty-eyed in my sight. But I couldn't stand my own hyper-sensitivity either.
It's almost kind of funny. If you look at my contacts here or the people I hang out with, they're overwhelmingly female (heck, some of the guys are underwhelmingly female!). But I don't understand how your minds work. I don't! I say mean things all the time. But I'm usually not aware that they're mean things. I come from a place where being sarcastic was a way of demonstrating affection. I won't pick up on the fact that what I said was inconsiderate until it's just about blown up in my face. Or someone (a woman, for sure) will say something to the effect of, "Well, no wonder you're not married yet."
Why am I saying this right now? Am I going through anything, particularly? No, not really.
Am I angry or frustrated at anybody? No, not unless you count myself. And even now, I'm not really angry with me.
I guess I'm just confounded by my own insensitivity to others, by the secrets, thoughts and scents of the woman.
These are not shortcomings, though, of women. That is a different list for a different day, I'm sure (Hopefully, I won't be the fool to write that one). These are just curiosities of mine. These are the wonders, the things too wonderful to me. Why do I find the female so utterly fascinating, yet don't know what or how to deal with her (in general)? How could love that I didn't even know existed yet flickered and once in a while smarted in the recesses of my dumb soul burn so warmly and light me up so vividly in such a short period of epiphany? And what will become of this love, these affections of mine - and hers - if it all blows up like gasoline or burns down like Shakespearean embers at our feet (something we're committed to not allowing to happen. But even still...)? For sure, God will still be at the center, holding it all together, but I can't imagine not being a good bit sadder.
He who holds the keys to lady understanding, let him open the door to illuminate us all! He who has ears to hear, let him hear. He who has mouth to speak, though, don't. I'd rather marvel at this moment. Sister Wisdom, speak your words of life.
Saturday, October 29, 2005
Tomorrow is Youth Sunday. Youth Sunday is an event in my church that takes place every fifth Sunday of the month when the congregation temporarily forgets itself and succumbs to the benefits / fears of what The Future may look like, as the youth group takes over the service. And not only is tomorrow Youth Sunday at New Hope Bible Church tomorrow is also The Worst-Planned Youth Sunday Ever! Certainly under my jurisdiction. I didn’t even find out what the sermon was on until today. Our prospective youth leader is preaching and being introduced tomorrow. My associate pastor said it’s gonna be on “the blood issue.” I was like, “That’s great! Man, I wonder if the worship team could do some old-school powerhouses like ‘Nothing but the Blood’ or ‘The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power.’”
So I asked one of the worship people, the leader for the month. She was pretty excited about the prospect, despite the lateness of it all. And I went out looking for the lyrics, etc. Not like I spent a lot of time on it. Then I talked to a couple of the other worship people (the primary music people) and they were getting excited about it. Until they caught the connection.
“Oh, no. The sermon’s going to be on ‘the blood issue.’”
“Wait. What’s the diff…? Ohh, do you mean…?”
“Yeah, that one.”
I don’t remember who used the word menstrual first, but I (never one to let go of a good idea no matter how bad it is) was trying to make the connection between Christ’s blood for righteousness and the unclean blood not to be touched in the days of the Old Testament.
“Y’know, like ‘All of our good deeds are as dirty rags.”
“Right,” with an understanding and understated gaze, “dirty tampons.”
“It’s a bit of a stretch.”
I’m still trying to justify it in my head. Finally echo, “Yeah, it’s a bit of a stretch.”
Thursday, October 27, 2005
For all of the hype (and despite the best efforts of SI to curse us yet again), the White Sox took the World Series in less time than it would take for a laughably histrionic Latin American manager to bodily signal for a really large and wide closer.
But, you already knew that. Unless you've been living under a rock. Or the social equivalent of that, northern South America or Toronto.
And, as if talking about it makes it magically become better, I learned some things about manCHILD and Dust from an interview this week. For one, did you know that they're actually supported by networks of people that give of their resources on a regular basis? I don't know if it's incorporated or not, but Mars Ill is, in many ways, a really cool and down-to-earth missionary organization. Take that, Brian.
Sunday, October 23, 2005
I tend to think that that way of thinking is deceptive. Look at the academic, social, moral and sexual scandals that have been rocked from such learned places as the U. of Minnesota, Colorado U., and even the prestigious and Baptist Baylor University. Look at all the monies that come into the NCAA and the top competitive schools through the BCS and March Madness. And then watch where the money trickles. No one can really say that they're getting a fair shake out of the deal. Not the athletes (many of whom can claim to make much more in the pros than their stipend of books and allowances, and many of whom are cheated of a fair education), not the general population (how many regular students in state colleges work their tails off to get a fair share of the educational piece), not the alumni (who are, honestly, being sidewined into helping the school out financially), and not the schools (who lose focus whenever these big events happen).
For all that negative carping I just went on about, there's plenty of positives (school pride, donor funds, the human drama on the stage of the open fields that is sports, unity, healthy outlets for stressed students and alumni, and just plain ol' fun), but my point is that I don't think that the divide between pro- and collegiate- sports it's all that it's cracked up to be.
With that, Sox will continue working their magic tonight. Just as they did with Contreras last night, with his arms of Advil supplements. Crede was, well... no more puns. But he got my player of the game with his tight defensive throwing arm and runs.
And, that's about it.
I'm sure I'll get some comments now.
Friday, October 21, 2005
LA Sympony has dropped a new one. Record. Full-length. And it's more straight forward - so I hear - than The End Is Now. TEIS was decent, but I had heard so much about L.A.S. that it was a major let-down, with a few exceptions. I expect not to be let down this time.
In other underground genius news, Mars Ill is expecting the retooled, reloaded and (this time) released ProPain to drop in January. Lawyers, let my people go!
ProPain: It's enough to give Hank Hill a cardiac arrest, I'll tell you what.
Still favorite line this year:
I wanna touch the fans like Ron Artest.
You've pretty much allowed for a great week in Chicago.
Our dinky little local team - in an area that is go-go baseball first - is going to the semis on Wednesday night. Of course, I'm speaking of the Roberto Clemente Wildcat varsity football team. And the soccer team was in the playoffs, also. Although I didn't hear how they fared.
Sorry, wrong sea-farer.
Whoa! Blow me down!
That's more like it.
And then there's the Sox, so positively reaffirming in their handling of the AL that Sports Illustrated had to curse them. Today, as I was checking back issues of SI I noticed the preseason predictions. Cubs = 2nd place in the Central AL. Close, if I recall. Yanks and Red Sox, 1st and 2nd in the Eastern American. Clairvoyant. Sox = 3rd place, just above the Detroit Tigers in the AL Central. Exsqueeze me? The Detroit Tigers are the Detroit Lions of professional baseball.
I've already written a couple couple articles about this (edit: including a wild but valid prediction the afternoon of the first WS game) but I just thought it was time to hear the truth again. Team sports are supposed to be about the team.
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
But what I arrived at on Monday morning, while I was still struggling to shake the scales from my eyes and the sleep from my step, was unexpected. Ladies were crowding around a print-out news article from the internet. Somebody, I knew this much and not much more, on staff, was killed. It would take me a moment to find out that this lady was Ms. Jones, the dean from the floor directly above us.
Now, at this point, I had already heard a lot about the gang violence, including security guards who had to make certain calls to certain people to clear their way before they arrived in their own neighborhoods and homes. I never assumed that that was the issue here. I'd like to thank God and my own raising, which taught me that everyone is innocent until proven guilty. But then I wouldn't be fully honest. I think I was just slow on the draw.
Her husband murdered her, and tried to murder her son. He was known to be violent. She tried to divorce him. She had restrictions on him, based on his violence.
How do we protect ourselves from the evil influences within and without? The days are evil. The revelation is that I'm only seeing what the truth is. Mothers against daughters, husbands vs. wives, sons against fathers. This generation (not just my supposed generation, X or whatever other label we are given, but humanity in general) is wicked.
Yes, there is plenty of good stuff happening in the world. Plenty of those ah!! moments. But sometimes you just have to face the utter terror in the world. It's scary. But it's reality.
And it doesn't need to be.
Father, teach me to love, completely.
Monday, October 17, 2005
I did before, of course. But, you know. It's different now. Even though I'm the king of jerks and Lord of fools. God is gracious. His mercy is everlasting.