Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Adoption leads to Ego Boost

Apparently, sudden bursts of Shakespearean speech have their benefits. When I called a certain blogger "Lady M," I was just hoping that I wouldn't be judged as cheesy/foolish and ignored from that point on.

Little did I know that the name would be embraced and adopted. Which makes me quite happy.

The sound you're hearing is me blushing.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Dig that new blog smell...

A little redesign, link-wise... I don't know if I'll keep it yet.

But I wanted to drop some new names on ya. Show some love to the new guests.

That's all. No big deal.

I leave you with the following inspirational thoughts.

"I have glimpsed the future, and all I can say is...go back." --Diane Cort

"If you were Diane Cort, would you fall for Lloyd? ...Yeah." --Corey Flood

"He's wiggin, man, he's wiggin..." --Gas 'n' Sip guys

"What do we love?" "Pain!" --Lloyd Dobler and his nephew Jason*

*Infinite thanks to Lady M for this character's name.

Monday, March 29, 2004

Stupid freaking code

Okay, cuz my link is being a byosh...

Go check out Lucas and Sarah's pages, because they rock mightily.

But don't get too jazzed about the OBU webring, cuz it looks like most of them suck.
You know, like that kid on Pinnochio...

I'd like to think of myself as a pretty even-keeled guy. Fair, kind, mild-mannered. Treating all people with respect, regardless of their ideology or background.

So why is it that on Sunday, I behaved like a... well...

Eating lunch with the Sunday school class. There's one guy in the class who seems to be pretty okay. Country boy. Knows volumes about plants of all types, soils, watering methods, fertilizers. But the thing is, he's one of these *silly* Republicans. The kind that still call them "freedom" fries. No exaggeration. He takes every possible opportunity to run down the Democratic presidential candidates. Now, don't misunderstand, I agree on most counts. But it's the same litany over and over and over. And he is personally boycotting Heinz ketchup, because of the obvious ties to the Kerry campaign.

I don't know. Having strong opinions is okay. Making a big deal about someone ordering a "French Dip" sandwich at Bennigans because it's called *french* is ridiculous.

So, due to something in the air or the Dr. Pepper (or possibly a little bit of male ego in the presence of the girls), I started...egging him on. Making stupid cracks under my breath, so that only the guy to my left could hear. The waiter's taking too long? "I'll bet he's French." Some plants he was pruning withered? "I'll bet their Democratic plants. Did you see if they leaned too far to the left?"

The guy's name is actually a different spelling of Kerry. I asked him (trying to get a laugh) if he was going to go by some other name until after November. "Oh, no, see mine's spelled this way [spells it], and that's totally different." Oh, okay--*that's* a relief.

It was stupid. It was juvenile. I was egging on an earnest, well-intentioned, politically-minded young man, because he is more zealous about his opinions than I am. And I thought that was dumb. I did all but say so.

I hope he didn't notice. It would have been hard not to, but I hope he didn't. It's not often that I act this way.

But yeah, well done me, for acting like a... well, you know.

Friday, March 26, 2004

"You know, William, in this light, you somewhat resemble David Duchovny..."

Oh, yeah. I'm the cool kind of geeky.

You are 32% geek
You are a geek liaison, which means you go both ways. You can hang out with normal people or you can hang out with geeks which means you often have geeks as friends and/or have a job where you have to mediate between geeks and normal people. This is an important role and one of which you should be proud. In fact, you can make a good deal of money as a translator.

Normal: Tell our geek we need him to work this weekend.

You [to Geek]: We need more than that, Scotty. You'll have to stay until you can squeeze more outta them engines!

Geek [to You]: I'm givin' her all she's got, Captain, but we need more dilithium crystals!

You [to Normal]: He wants to know if he gets overtime.

Take the Polygeek Quiz at

(Thanks to The Famous Rob Byrnes.)

My mother, long the opponent of any kind of movie monsters or gore, has taken her first step towards becoming a born-again "Lord of the Rings" fan.

Last night, I "happened" to turn on the Weathertop scene from "The Fellowship of the Ring", being broadcast on one of the cable channels. My mom and I had just watched the end of "The Apprentice" and there was nothing else on. I said, "just watch this scene with me, and then I gotta get home."

So we watched that scene, and the next. She began asking questions about who each character was, and their relationships to the others. She was trying to keep the names straight. I explained some of the key themes throughout the story, and filled in what backstory I could on each character and people group.

We watched the last 2/3 of the movie. She even lasted through the battle in the woods at the end. Remember, this was the woman who would turn away in disgust at any image of nasty creatures on the commercials, shaking her head and saying, "I can't believe you'd like something gross like that."

This same woman watched most of "Fellowship." I never thought I'd see the day.

I'm going to give her space to let her process it, and I think she'll come to me when she's ready to see more.

I'm hoping she'll soon see the light, and become a full-fledged fan.

(Side-note: My dad came home from work during the final battle. He's a hard-line opponent of anything fantasy or alien-like in TV/movies, and has being merciless in his mocking of the trilogy. He walked in the door, took in the sight of mom and I watching "Fellowship", and turned to me saying, "I can't believe this--you're turning my wife into a geek!" I laughed. "That's the plan," said I, wringing my hands sinisterly.)

It's never intentional. I mean, I don't go looking for them. They appear like arrowheads and dry bones, sifted from the shifting sands of pages. I keep most of them, but as an unofficial rule, never reuse them. They stay in the books where they were found.

This is part of the reason I still buy used books. Of course, used books are cheaper, yes, but there is also a human connection there. The unseen community of readers. I receive each used book I buy from someone else, who may have gotten it from a third, and so on. And each dog-ear, each soup stain and inksmudge, is evidence of that community. Books aren't supposed to stand on shelves, pristine and uncreased, like the porcelain figurines of mom's that you were never allowed to go near. Books are meant to be read, used, kindly abused. Worn out, a bit. It's what makes them more...human.

Every once in a while, I find leftovers. Halfway through one book I bought last year (I can't remember which), there was a ticket stub from the Cincinnati Museum of Natural Science. The faded date was August of 2001. I imagined the reader being halfway through the book when the towers fell. Perhaps after that terrible reality, finishing a novel seemed unimportant, profane in a way. But there the ticket stub stayed, holding place, waiting.

I began "The Crying of Lot 49" today. When I started reading, the book fell open to about page 40, revealing a receipt for its purchase. The last reader bought it from London Drugs in Calgary. January 10, 1996. They paid 6.42 with their credit card. The credit card number is right there, all sixteen digits in Roman squads. I wonder who bought it. Why it was apparently bought at a drug store. Was the reader getting medicine and decided to add a good read to the prescription? Perhaps they were buying a card for someone's birthday, and got the book for themselves. So many possibilities. I wonder how this book, bought so far away, ended up on a used bookstore shelf in Houston.

I've found several such pieces of lives, ticket stubs, grocery lists, pieces of paper. Fragments of other readers, scattered across my path. I try to keep them. I've kept most. I've made my own, using fragments of flyers and notecards to hold my pages. I don't know if I've left any for other people, but I think that's the idea. I doubt highly that my Canadian friend intended on leaving me his/her credit card number. I don't think my Ohioan neighbor realized I would see when (s)he visited the dinosaur bones.

The point is not to leave notes for others, with a wink. To do so would be to present what you wish the next reader to see; and that's not reality. The joy of finding old notes and ticket stubs is in catching past readers unawares, sneaking into their lives for a moment, and snatching some of their unimportant shreds. I'm sure I've surprised unknown readers myself, informing them of what movies I've seen, and what I needed at Walmart. And that makes me happy. The cycle goes on.

The one idea that's always fascinated me, my one conceptual obsession, is the vast interconnectedness of people. Six degrees of Kevin Bacon on a global scale. And one small way I think these connections are made is through bookmarks, stamps, shopping lists, and love letters, jammed in the pages of paperbacks.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Meaningless Update of a General Flavor

In lieu of a side bar reference (since I'm not smart enough to figure out how to accomplish it), here you go:

Listening to:
She Must and Shall Go Free , Derek Webb--beautiful, just beautiful
Ben Folds Live , Ben Folds--profane but absolutely brilliant
O , Damien Rice--Julia was totally right; I adore this album

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind :Which just might introduce Jim to Oscar; could easily sneak into my top twenty-five of all time. Easily.
Say Anything (VHS) :Purchased at Target for five bucks a couple of weeks ago; has been viewed about 7-8 times so far. Still in VCR.
Spun :Awful. Don't bother. I was lured in by the cast (Schwartzman, Fugit, Leguizamo, Suvari, Brit Murphy). I want my four bucks back.
Kingdom Hospital :Okay, fine, it's not "The Kingdom." But Lars Von Trier is an executive producer, and it's still Steven freaking King. Totally warped but still very entertaining. Take that, you snobs.

The Visitation , Frank Peretti: Interesting read. Despite glaring stylistic problems, the story concept kept me hooked. Not too bad, overall.
Letters to Malcolm... , C.S. Lewis: Lewis was a genius. This is more great stuff, about the Church and prayer.

Shadows of Destiny, PS2: A great game concept, well-written story, interesting plot progression. More linear than you'd think (it's no Chrono Trigger), but I really like it.
Medal of Honor: Frontline, PS2: My lasting obsession. I will defeat you yet, Fascist hordes!!!
Great big pile of "vapid, obvious, pseudo-intellectual self-examination"

You know, you'd think that by now, I'd have grown up. Or at least matured enough to avoid getting caught up in juvenile spats over things that aren't actually real. But this does not seem to be the case.

Example: Yesterday, I allowed myself to get involved in a skirmish on a website's comment forum. The point of this argument was whether or not a person can put pretty much anything they want on the website that they personally pay for and maintain. I said, yes, of course, it belongs to the author, let them be. Others seem to disagree. The discussion turned ugly. Lots of sarcasm, insults, and condescension being flung around. And yes, kiddies, your friendly neighborhood Teacher was right in the middle of it. I am shamed to admit it, but I did use certain words (not in attack, so much as just a seasoning to the comments...that might be why it's called salty language) that I know I didn't need to, and shouldn't have. I let it get personal.

Last night, on the way home, I chided myself for letting it get to me. I was really kinda bothered by it all. And I realized--it's...not...real. It's a bogus argument among several people (who will probably never meet each other) on a website's comment forum. The argument itself is pretty much a moot point anyway. The author of the site usually never lets criticism of the site's past content affect the site's future content. Which is why I am a loyal reader.

So yeah, I got entangled into a useless waste of energy and frustration. Actually, it's more like "I leapt headlong into" said event. And now I feel sheepish.

So, in response to this sequence of events, I make this pledge to myself, and you, my loving readers (and even you unloving readers...): I, TeacherDave, will not involve myself in petty arguments on internet forums and comment pages, especially when it concerns something absurd like whether or not the author and perpetuator of a webpage has the right to control the content of said page according to their personal preference, rather than some sort of "mandate" from the disgruntled online "masses."

No more argument silliness. There's no reason for it.

By the way, AJ... I love you, man.

Monday, March 22, 2004

The People's Republic of Googlism

Thanks to Emily for reminding me this brilliance was out there.

Googlism Results for "Dave Mitchell" (edited to fit your screen and to fit the time allotted)

dave mitchell is no stranger to the violence of the job (heh... collate this!)
dave mitchell is an excellent presenter (especially when presenting violence on the job)

dave mitchell is a principal of the systems consulting consortium (wait until they hear *that* at the reunion!)
dave mitchell is in rotterdam at the moment for talks (mainly asking for directions, since I have only vague ideas where Rotterdam is)

dave mitchell is a computer scientist whose research interests involve some of the key problems associated with many tasks in artificial (...what? intelligence? insemination? sweetener?)

dave mitchell is currently coaching the sir sandford fleming women's team and the peterborough city women's team
dave mitchell is still desperate to sign an experienced goalkeeper (oh, man, *am* I... cuz Lulu just had a baby, and Ramona was busted for cocaine possession... there goes the season... bugger.)

dave mitchell is now retired and works partially as a principal of the systems consulting consortium (man, that was a short career)

dave mitchell is a performer that is in demand by both gospel and clown groups all across the world (remember that guy? creepy...)
dave mitchell is a seasoned people ("oh yeah, dave mitchell, he's good people... seasoned people")

dave mitchell is a high school math teacher and is well known for using rap ("you better check your math, before you wreck your math")

dave mitchell is a professional magician and ventriloquist who specializes in school show entertainment (I am called "the Mysterious Dave-o")

dave mitchell is the spatial information officer with the australian koala foundation (apparently, "spatial information officer" is the official term for assistant copy machine operator; but they let me hold a koala all day long!)

dave mitchell is from south east district ("Fifth Ward, represent!")

dave mitchell is a graduate of english from the university of saskatchewan and a former summer student with csale (I graduated a year behind Delnor... thanks to the two of you that are laughing at that...)

dave mitchell is capable of and always gets the best out of him (I'm not sure what that means)
dave mitchell is a hotshot young broker at sagamore investment (damn right...I'll make junior partner in a year, tops)

dave mitchell is experimenting with a software package named pancho that may help with the problem (especially if the problem is getting wet when it rains. Expect "Pancho NT" to hit the shelves next spring.)

dave mitchell is a fourteen (and Bo Derek was just a "10")

dave mitchell is filling the graduate seat on senate (I wrote a bill to make cake the national currency... it didn't pass)
dave mitchell is (very existential, man)
dave mitchell is seeking council authorization and approval for the construction plans and specs and authorization to advertise for bid for the (..newly approved Federal Cake-baking Facility, to phase out the dollar as legal tender)

dave mitchell is pleased with the results to date (pleased as punch!)
dave mitchell is doing music for the danimatian donovan's travels (they want it to be nothing but sitar...i don't know why)

dave mitchell is in the thick of a rebuilding season (but only if i can get an experienced goalkeeper... why, Ramona, why???)

dave mitchell is an expert on recycling
dave mitchell is in the midst of the crowd
dave mitchell is the foreman there
dave mitchell is as follows (shouldn't this have been first?)

dave mitchell is the main character in the book it?s like this (and like that and like this, and uh...)

dave mitchell is included (*warm fuzzies*)

dave mitchell is married and also has children ("This is not my beautiful wife! How did I get here???")

dave mitchell is working on revising the concom's policy based on rick johnston's comments (stupid Rick, having to open his big mouth... "but I don't like cake..." jerk...)

dave mitchell is now the adc ("Assitant Director of Cake")

dave mitchell is #479 (Out of 500 total made. "I'm a limited edition!" Certificate of Authenticity included.)

dave mitchell is ontdekt en bij feyenoord is ondergebracht (oh, no, I was afraid my feyenoord was ondergebracht... crap, man!)

dave mitchell is refering to as "smith's conjecture" is not a conjecture (the nerve of that guy!)

dave mitchell is open between 8 (I couldn't decide when I wanted to close...)

dave mitchell is all over this thing (*this* is my favorite... right on, brother!)

dave mitchell is a great guy who seems very willing to work with others (unless he's performing violence on the job)


I have a sneaking suspicion that I'm the only one who will be amused by this. I don't care. I'm still funny.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

More (Prescription) Drug-Induced Dreaming

Bizarre Dream #3:

I am in an industrial complex down here in the Medical Center, and the complex is under seige by a zombie uprising. (Stop laughing.) I am armed with an automatic pistol with a silencer. I pass through a dark doorway into a cavernous room where I see a group of the undead milling around, about thirty yards away. It's a big open room, like a warehouse, lit only by the light coming in through sky lights. So the area where the zombies are standing around is sufficiently lit, but I'm still in semi-shadow, partially obscured by some large crates, cable spools, etc.

I step around a larger crate and raise my weapon. I set my sights on the head of one of the male zombies, a broad-shouldered guy with a blue plaid shirt and jeans. But for whatever reason, I just couldn't pull the trigger. I told myself, I can snipe a few of the closer or more dangerous ones before the rest notice and start looking around, but I just couldn't do it. I have no idea why. I raised the gun, sighted, and lowered it. Raise, sight, lower.

Suddenly, a female zombie spots me and begins running my way. She looked like she used to be middle-aged, and she was wearing a red dress. I stumble backwards, and land in a sitting position on the floor with my right arm propped on a low crate, straight out at shoulder level, still holding the gun. She keeps coming toward me, at a decent clip, howling that creepy howl, and for some reason, I can't lift my weapon. I realize metaconsciously that I'm petrified, and I'm just sitting there, motionless, not screaming, not even making a scared face, just frozen. The she-demon is running (loping is really a better word) closer and closer. I try to will my arm to move, telling myself to raise the gun and fire, but I just couldn't move. I watch her get dangerously close. Fifteen feet. Ten feet. Five. She jumps at me, arms raised, mouth open, fangs bared and dripping, that howl almost deafening.

In mid-flight, she is thrown to my left, in an explosion of fluid and sound. You see, there's also a military detail fighting off the undead. (I think they were Special Forces, or some other predictable specialized unit--I never claimed that my dreams were very original. ) One of the guys had blasted her with a shotgun. Then, the group of seven or eight heavily-armed soldier types (I'd like to mention that there was a female Marine there also--even my dreams are equal-opportunity!) charge toward the crowd of zombies who heard the blast and turned to attack us. The Marines dispatch the undead pretty quickly, and are ready to charge into the next production floor of the warehouse. The guy who had saved me, turns backward to me, and yells, "Come on, man!!!" and turns back, running through the door.

Do I follow them, and redeem myself with equally heroic exploits? No, I sneak off down a hallway to the parking lot, get in my truck, and speed away down the highway. The last thing I remember is that I'm driving north on Highway 59, past the east side of the downtown Houston skyline. The sky is green-grey, and I see several funnel clouds heading toward the skyscrapers and stadiums of Downtown, from the north and north east. As the highway turns more northeast, I see the entirety of Downtown, as the tornados began eating up buildings.

And that's my freaking dream.

I woke up, feeling very disappointed in myself for being spineless. I chided myself for choking when the moment of truth came. I understood that it was just a dream, but it seemed to be indicative of how I would react in the unlikely but possible event of an Undead invasion.

I'm still ashamed. So much so that when I get home, I'm going right to the videostore to rent the original "Dawn of the Dead" and probably one of the "Resident Evil" or "Silent Hill" games. I've got to practice more.

Just in case.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

I don't know what to do with myself...

Don't know just what-- nevermind.

I'm troubled by something, but only one or two of you will understand what I'm talking about on anything more than a general level. Whatever, here goes.

What I've seen is that we tend to pick sides when it comes to friendships. If you have a large group of friends, all friendly with each other, they naturally form a few close-knit groups within the whole. But what happens is when two people have conflict, everyone tends to line up on one side or the other. Let's say you remove one of the parties from the group setting for a time. What seems to happen is that everyone lines up with the person who they're most in contact with, because, after all, they're all friends. But when the removed party returns, the group as a whole plays the outward game of being friendly with the newly returned party, when secretly they have already chosen to stand with the other. Hypocrisy runs rampant. Hurt feelings deepen. Alienation occurs. And the group begins to dissolve.

They will know we are Christians by our cliques.

Look, I don't know what's gone on with my friends, but I know that the group is poisoning itself with this two-faced business. They all need to just get it out in the open and deal with it, and quit this lying, backstabbing bullcrap. Cuz that sucks, and it's unfair to the people being talked about/avoided/cut out.

And I know, I know, I have no idea what's going on, it's not my conflict, and it's none of my business.

I know. I'm not part of the group anymore. But that doesn't mean I stopped caring.

If it weren't for the special occasion, I probably wouldn't even bother showing up in a few months. Because from the sound of it, I don't know any of you guys anymore.

Sorry, readers. Dave's feeling disconnected today. And he misses his "second family" up the highway, which seems to be going through some tough times.

Monday, March 15, 2004

"I dig music... I'm on drugs!!!"

You wanna know what being feverish and taking old medicine in slightly-larger-than-prescribed doses makes you dream about?

Dream #1: I dreamt (I maintain that 'dreamt' is, in fact, a legitimate word--Webster's dictionary revisions be damned!) that I went to the doctor for my bronchitis-like upper repiratory disorder, and was found to have NSCLC, or non-small cell lung cancer. The prognosis not being good, I had a limited time left on earth. I was trying desparately to direct an independent film and complete it before I had to kick off, as a "letter to the world" sort of thing. But my film crew, actors, and extras were lazy and stupid people who wandered around like retarded sheep. I spent a lot of time and energy corralling various personages necessary to the making of my film, and trying to direct them toward useful activity. But in the end, because I wasted so much time with these ungrateful jerks, I never got the film made.

(Interpretation: Cancer or no, I don't have an eternity on this ol' earth. So I should start gathering my rosebuds, so to speak, and start writing the short stories and novels I'm always *talking* about writing.)

Dream #2: I encounter a strange family with a mother, father, and three grown children. These people are apparently involved in some sort of voodoo-based religion, but what strikes me funny is that one of the root words for their pagan incantations is "boo-yah", but it's pronounced BOO-yuh. And they're doing something...I don't know, whipping up curses or something, but they're talking gibberish to each other and the only recognizable part of it is Boo-yuh. Boo-yuh, boo-yuh, boo-yuh.

(Interpretation: One of the meds I'm taking is Codeine-based. I think we can safely place the responsibility for this bizarro dream on the "special cough syrup.")

***Author's Note***
I should set the record straight at this point. I do not approve of the use and abuse of illegal drugs, or legal prescription drugs acquired and/or used illegally. I don't do this, and you shouldn't either. The dru-- er, *medicines* that I have been using this weekend are meds that were prescribed to me in December, the last time I had a malady similar to this one. I was hoping to head the bugger off at the pass by taking the leftovers over the weekend, but it seems I will need some stronger stuff this time. Antibiotics, stuff like that. That's why I'm going to the doctor this afternoon. But I wanted to make it clear. I don't do drugs. Much... No, ever... Much.
Issue #3: "I'm gonna cloud your morals by the end of this song..."

I was talking online to an old school chum a few weeks back, chatting about movies, music, pop culture. I made a joking comment about a female pop vocalist's loose morals, and my friend took offense. He asked if it was very "christian" to make that sort of comment. I thought he was still goofing around; we both went to the Christian university, and we'd make jokes about being "improper", since many of the students' greatest concern was outward appearance. So I responded, "Well, is it any more "christian" to listen to her music, that glorifies sleeping around and being as nasty as possible?"

"Well, yeah."

I did an actual double-take at the instant messenger window. "Okay, how's that?"

"Well, she's talking about experiencing and expressing her sexuality, which is created by God, and I think there's nothing wrong with that." I slowly realized that he was being totally serious. As I understood it, he was raised in an environment similar to mine, so to seriously argue that would be a pretty radical departure from the values of his youth. A departure I wasn't aware had occured.

We debated for a while about what are appropriate expressions of sexuality, in a Christian setting. At first, he copped the "no sex before marriage" line, which youth pastors never seem to qualify with anything else. This often translates to us church kids as "but anything else is okay, as long as you don't *actually* have sex" (the logic made famous by a former president). This idea is clearly not from the Bible, but we tend to ignore that.

Then he went into the "as long as both partners are consenting and legally old enough" approach. Hello? Consent isn't the issue, as far as I'm concerned. Sin is. I heard a preacher once say, "if you're asking 'how far is too far?', you're already too far."

I kept trying to pin him down, asking him finally if it's okay for two consenting Christian partners of appropriate age to do whatever they want sexually, as long as they're commited. His response: "that depends on who you talk to."

"But I'm talking to you. What do *you* think?"

He made a crack about me not having an argument, and signed off.

Okay, he very well could have been pulling my leg the whole time. Really, I hope he was, and that he's having a good laugh at this post, because it is well-earned. But what scared me is not that he necessarily believed this (though I was concerned), but that too many Christians in college and post-college believe the same thing, because they've bought into the culture's lie that sex should be one of the first stages of a relationship, instead of the last stage. This bothers me.

Yes, I'm a traditional guy, when it comes to sexuality. I believe that sex should only be a wedding present given from bride to groom and groom to bride. That's it. While I am "a guy", and am plagued with a healthy libido, I have made a commitment to adhere to this belief. This isn't something I've come up with all by myself. It's in the Bible. If you are a Christian, and claim to believe the Bible, this applies to you. I know I wrote earlier about the attitude single Christians should take toward other opposite-gender believers, and I believe it's true, "for the Bible tells me so." I don't claim to have kept myself perfect in this teaching, because I haven't. I have been to the land of "Too Far," but my Father is faithful, and has always forgiven me. Jesus said that if you lust after someone, you are committing adultery in your heart, with them. And I know I've been guilty of that before too. My prayer is always that Jesus will continue to renew my mind and thinking.

But I know that many people raised in the church don't agree, or at least don't live this out consistently. And I'm not here to throw stones, because I confess to you that I am not without sin. However, when people try to justify that God is "okay with" what He has already called sin, I take offense to that, because that makes God a liar. God is never okay with sin. And being sexually intimate with someone who is not your actual spouse (engagement doesn't count) is sin. Period. That's it. End of argument. To believe otherwise is to go outside the Bible, and at that point, you're on your own.

I guess I may be preaching to the choir here. But I felt like this needed to be addressed. We have no shame, as a culture. And that bothers me, because every new generation of Christians seems to become more and more accepting of the sexual status quo set by this culture. This is not what we are called to; quite the opposite. The question is, do we care enough to discuss it with our brothers and sisters in Christ? Paul talks about reaching out to the believer who willfully and habitually commits sin, trying to justify it morally, and then calls himself a follower of Jesus. Paul says that if this person refuses to repent of their wicked lifestyle, the Church should not welcome them anymore. This seems like too hard of a teaching sometimes. After all, we're called to love one another, aren't we? Of course, and Paul knew that, saying as much himself. But Paul also knew that we are called to be holy--set apart, different. Otherwise, we lose our "saltiness" and have no effect on the people around us.

I don't know. The whole Janet Jackson controversy has been blown out of proportion, I think, not because what she and Justin did was okay, but because we as a culture never seemed to mind it before. The rest of the show, with its sexually-charged dancing, stripteases, and homoerotic overtones doesn't seem to bother many. Everyone seemed to chuckle or roll their eyes at the Britney-Madonna kiss, but no one protested. The FCC didn't bat an eye. When an MTV awards show last year presented a musical performance with choreography that included dozens of apparently underaged girls stripping and making out, no one made a peep. And *now* we're outraged. Please. What did we expect?

I think I'm really more tired than surprised. I'm tired of morality being made into a sitcom punchline. Because, as things seem to be heading, the joke is going to be on the Church, when even its own flock laughs along.

Issue #2: The Decline and Fall of the Supersize, or: "Would you like a government-approved portion of fries with that?"

I was upset but not surprised to hear the news that McDonalds was "phasing out" its Supersize option, over the course of the next year and a half. I wasn't upset by losing the portion of fries large enough to break the table, because most of you know I'm a big fella, so eating less, for me, is a good thing. However, I don't usually eat all the fries. I do, however, down a few of the supersized drinks everytime. I'm a thirsty fella, cut me some slack.

What irritates me about this decision by the fast-food giant's corporate headquarters is that it takes away the option of getting what you want. It is, in essence, an example of an entity saying, "we know you want something, but we know better than you, so we aren't going to let you have it for your own good." I'd like to serve notice to the CEO of McDonalds: I already have two parents, thank you. I don't need a third. Or a Big Brother, for that matter.

There's been a big flap recently about fast food chains "hiding" their nutritional information from patrons, and using chemicals to "get them hooked" on french fries and scalding hot apple pies. I know the arguments; I read "Fast Food Nation" too. But the crux of this argument is that we as consumers are unable to decide what is best for us, and are unable to choose not to buy a product or service that is advertised to us. I think this is fundamentally flawed reasoning, as you may have guessed.

First of all, I reject the idea of being a helpless victim in the hands of Ronald McDonald. That's totally bogus. Fat people who eat at McDonalds all the time need to own up to the fact that they're fat *because* they eat at McDonald's all the time. I'm a fat person, and I don't blame Jack in the Box for my lovehandles. I don't accuse the Colonel and his "wee beady eyes" for putting a chemical in the chicken to make me crave it fortnightly (smart-arse). It's like blaming my couch for not giving me an "ab" workout. It's a couch! That's not what it's for! If you want to exercise, you have to say no to the couch and do something else!

And I further reject the idea that I can't resist advertising. Come on, be serious. If you are "unable" to resist commercials advertising food products, you have bigger problems than weight. Being that suggestible will end up making you a pawn in some truly evil person's game (and could explain the high ratings for Fear Factor).

The question is, if McDonald's is taking away your size choices, what's next? No Medium or Large size drinks, either? No extra-large pizzas? No double-beef anything? Everyone will eat the same portions of everything, and like it. Because our ever-watchful government is looking out for our best interests.

I hope you've noted the high level of sarcasm throughout this rant. As previously stated, I'm an advocate of personal accountability. If I ever have weight-related health problems, I'm not going to try to convince my doctor that I was duped by Dave Thomas and Dr. Pepper. Because in the end, it's my hand and my mouth.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I think I'm gonna go grab an order of Jumbo Curly Fries from Jack in the Box. Ain't freedom grand?
Issue #1: The Myth of the Conservative Artist

A few weeks ago, I reminded my boss that it was Super Tuesday, the day of several Democratic primaries. He had forgotten about it, and asked, "So do we go vote today?" I replied, "I don't know, boss, that's not my side of the aisle." After a moment of silence, he said, "Wait a minute--you're not a Democrat? I thought you were an English major."

I answered, "I can be an English major and a Republican. Those two aren't mutually exclusive, you know." He wasn't convinced. But this did bring up in my mind the sometimes-mistaken assumption that all artists, be they dramatic, visual, or literary, are automatically liberal minds. For a long time, it's been taken for granted that all big businessmen were elephants, while all creative types were donkeys. But this isn't always the case. Often, yes. But not always. I guess I'm an exception.

I was raised in a conservative Christian home, as I have indicated. Even in my own home, this misconception held some sway. When I announced I was an English major, I could almost hear my father roll his eyes over the phone, as if to say, "Oh, no, there he goes." But to his credit, he quickly came to understand what I did--that conservative artists are not myth, like the Loch Ness monster. There is such a thing. You're reading the work of one.

But how can this be? Are all conservatives in favor of taking away freedom of speech? Aren't all liberals in favor of unfettered artistic license, and the celebration of differing viewpoints? I would argue "no" to both statements. First of all, we need to get past this idea that conservatives want to erase "freedom of speech" from the Bill of Rights, because it's just not so, though the recent FCC uproar seems to indicate otherwise. (For the record, I'm worried about where we're going to end up with that, too.) The desire to "protect the children" from the evils of art-without-restraint is well-intentioned (God deliver us from the deeds of the well-intentioned!), though sometimes misguided. The fears that conservatives may have of a-w-r comes down to the fundamental difference between how conservatives and liberals view self-expression. I'll touch on that in a moment.

And secondly, liberal thinkers and spokespeople claim to be open to all viewpoints and diverse, but try to use art to spread a traditional Judeo-Christian ethic, and watch how fast you'll get shut down, or marginalized. They were all for pictures of war atrocities to be carried around to protest the war, but can't tolerate when pro-life (or anti-abortion, if you prefer) demonstrators show photos of aborted babies. For some reason, that goes too far, where the other does not. Many of these folks will defend the right of Quentin Tarentino to create the orgy of violence "Kill Bill", but venemously attack Mel Gibson for the level of violence in "The Passion of the Christ." (For the record, I loved both movies.) I have my own theories as to the reason behind the uproar of the mainstream press over the level of violence in Gibson's film, and I'm not going to cop the easy "they hate Jesus" line, because I don't think that's true. But that discussion is best left for later.

Yes, I am a conservative artist. It can be done. To understand this, we need to look at a few basic differences between conservative artists and liberal artists. And you have my word that I will be as "fair and balanced" as possible. haha. Just kidding, I will. I will work out this comparison in literary terms, since that's the world I know best. But I'm sure the painters, actors, and other artists among you are sharp enough to extrapolate these ideas to your particular fields.

1) Conservative writers sometimes convey the concept of moral absolutes, while liberal writers sometimes communicate moral ambiguity.
This is not to say that conservative writers don't use "non-Christian" or amoral characters; rather, there's a clear-cut right and wrong, conveyed implicitly or explicitly in their work. The danger here is that conservative writers have a habit of sermonizing in their work, which is almost always out of place. If you want to preach a sermon, don't write fiction. Also, the zealous conservative writer will stereotype "the ungodly" rather than making them normal human characters with good qualities as well as bad. This is not art, it's propaganda. If you've seen any of the church movies that have to do with sin/death/hell, you know what I'm talking about.

On the other hand, more liberal writers tend not to "judge" the actions of their characters, but allow them to live out their lives as they see fit. Sometimes the most vile characters succeed, while the "upright" ones (who often aren't upright at all) fail. The problem with this is that in the author's attempt to present each character as tolerantly as possible, nothing is deemed unacceptable. Infidelity, dishonesty, even murder can be justified. And I don't think this is healthy. The film "American Beauty", which I adored, gives us a protagonist who uses drugs and fantasizes about underage girls. But we accept that, because he's the hero, and at least he's not as bad as the fanatical ex-marine who abuses his family and stifles any individual expression or creativity. Amoral characters--okay. "Conservative" stereotypical character--bad. But we're not judging them. Of course not.

2) Conservative art can be characterized by restraint, while liberal art tends toward no restraint.
This is a double-edged sword, and a difficult issue to really delineate. Restraint can be both beneficial and detrimental, as we'll discuss in the next point. But conservative art tends to be more restrained than liberal art. There are more taboo subjects for the conservative artist. As a writer, I sometimes avoid writing about things that are unnecessarily offensive. This kind of self-censorship is not a bad thing, sometimes. It takes more creativity to avoid using certain words or topics. This may sound like bunk to some of you, and I don't blame you, because sometimes it sounds ridiculous to me too. But consider it logically: which is more difficult, using the "f-word" as a substitute for almost every part of speech, or having to find more diverse ways of communicating each sentiment? In terms of sheer vocabulary, the second choice is the more challenging. I will admit (perhaps to my detriment or shame), sometimes that's the only good word available. But authors often lean on profanity too much, and it becomes a crutch ("Paging Eminem!"). But this doesn't only apply to "bad words." Sometimes an act of infidelity will get a blushing mention in a text; a sentence or two, alluding to the act's consummation. Other texts will give you every grainy detail, for pages and pages. Why is that needed? One could argue that the free expression of a formerly taboo idea is the point. And that may be. But then the description isn't about the story, it's about the author's agenda. And that's not literature either. (Tony Kushner may argue otherwise, but I'll stick to my guns, so to speak.) When it comes to restraint, the question for each seems to be "Is it really needed?" vs. "What does it hurt?"

3) Conservative art sometimes tends to be more traditional in form and approach, while liberal art tends to be more unconventional.
I don't think this should be the case, but more often than not, it is. This is the downside of restraint for the conservative artist. In our fear of taboo, we will sometimes refrain from breaking new ground. I think this has contributed to the staleness of Christian art, in all forms. And this is why I was thrilled to see Gibson doing something pretty radical, rejecting the sanitary pictures of Christ's cross in favor for a more realistic, gruesome and somber picture. This ruffled feathers, maybe not in the mainstream church, but certainly in the ultra-conservative (and ultra-liberal) parts of it. But Christian art, on the whole, seems to have gone into a coma. Nothing new, nothing exciting, is happening. Nothing challenging is being produced, and the few artists who try to do so are hushed by the Body, and sent to the periphery. This should not be.

The question of being unconventional for the liberal artist is a foregone conclusion. Because there are no restrictions in "true art", there's no fear in doing something brand new. But is this always useful? And is it always artistic? I remember the artist several years back who created a series of pieces using his own blood, urine, and semen pressed between two plates of glass. This became so popular because of its originality that Metallica used one of the images for an album cover. Yes, it was startlingly original, but does that make it good or artistic? The thing is, a truly liberal artist can't answer that question. Because a truly liberal perspective refuses to label anything good or bad (to avoid being judgemental), and considers everything presented as art (to avoid being closed-minded). But can we ever have "master artists" if we praise everything? Or will our democratic view of art eliminate the idea of skill-based advancement and praise?

This doesn't mean that all unconventional art is bad/unartistic from a conservative perspective. Unlike many conservative students in my freshman Humanities course at OBU, I thought Jackson Pollock's work was awesome, in the way he communicated movement and rhythm. Few of my classmates agreed. Maybe I am more liberal than I thought?

That is the question, isn't it? How conservative am I really? I totally believe in moral absolutes and convey them in some way in my writing. I do believe in some measure of restraint, wisely administered. I don't eschew traditionalism, but I'm not afraid to try something new. I guess I'm not *that* conservative. But then again, if I go by the example of the greatest storyteller of all time, I'm doing okay. Jesus Christ believed in moral absolutes, and preached them consistently. He did believe in restraint, but sometimes unleashed brutal words against the hypocrisy of his culture (while never sinning, we should remember). And he taught some traditional teachings, but broke new ground always, by teaching the New Covenant and the "completed" Mosaic law (what? I'm supposed my enemies??? That's crazy-talk!).

Maybe that's the tack that Christian artists should take. Never promising allegiance to one ideological extreme or the other, but always following the leading of the Master Artist, and asking ourselves if what we are doing gives Him honor.

Monday, March 08, 2004


I promised last Thursday that we'd begin my three-part mini-rant this afternoon. But I don't want to do this unless I can give it my full energy and thought. And frankly, right now I'm far from clear-thinking and I'm under deadline.

I apologize for this temporary postponement. I should be back to my old form in a day or two.

In the meantime, please visit the fantabulous sites to the right. Most, with the exception of Trevor, post daily or bi-daily. All (including Trevor) are worth a look.

Stick around, kids, the teacher's not finished yet.

Thursday, March 04, 2004

Continued Remarks and Observations

After I shut down my computer at work and went home for the night, I started to think about the last post. What I had written, and whether it had truly communicated what I believe. I started to worry about what people would say. I wondered if I had been too militant, too severe. I considered if my tone could be perceived as self-righteous or arrogant.

Last night, I read part of an article by John Fischer, in the latest issue of Relevant, in which he says the two virtues that have seemed to have disappeared from modern Christianity since the advent of 20th century fundamentalism are kindness and gentleness. He said that when Christians take it upon themselves to be the "guardians of morality in these dark times" they become militant and can easily fall into self-righteousness. This idea hit home. I have seen this done, and I have seen myself do it before.

Yesterday I gave you a lot of my beliefs about the world and the culture I share. Many of these statements are true about my values. Some, like my ideas about art, are still being formed in my own mind. When I wrote the art statement, I was thinking of the recent obsession with reality television, which is low on taste and high on spectacle. But then again, I thought later, do those who create this type of entertainment consider it art? Or is it simply spectacle to them as well? So, as I said, I'm still working on this.

But with kindness and gentleness in mind, I will submit to you one final belief, which covers all the rest.

I believe I am a sinner, totally flawed, unable to be holy or righteous on my own. I am a broken creation. Paul the apostle, considered by most to be the greatest and most influential Christian in the history of the Church, called himself the "chief of sinners." And this is the attitude I take as well. I don't claim to be perfect, or better, or even good. But I'm trying. I'm striving. I make it my goal to fight the good fight, against my own nature, against my own will. And when I say that something is wrong according to the Bible, I do not make that judgement myself, for I have no authority or right to do so. I only try to convey truthfully what I believe the Bible says, because I believe that the Word of God is the moral authority to live by, and that it has the right and the power to slice through all the posturing and relativism, like a two-edged sword dividing joints and marrow.

When I write about social or cultural topics, I have a little difficultly. When I talk about morality, it's hard to not approach it from a Christian perspective. I could try to make arguments from another approach (the social benefit of moral absolutes based on anthropological and historical data, for example), but it would take more effort and time than I can afford to give it on my lunch breaks or after work. So I am only able to "preach to the choir" as it were, concerning these things. And I know some of you are either not believers in Christ, or prefer not to hear anyone's attempt at sermonizing (which I try to sidestep, but cannot guarantee complete avoidance of). But that's why I wrote what I wrote yesterday, and why I'm writing this now, when I should be working. My little rants forthcoming are mostly grounded in my faith in Christ, and my arguments for some things may be arguments made by this Christian to other Christians.

If this does not apply to you, in fact or by your preference, that's your choice. You are still welcome to listen and respond.

I'm not quite sure why I'm belaboring this point. I think part of it is that I want what I write to be interesting and relevant to as many people as possible. I want the average websurfer to stumble across my page and be able to relate in some way to what's being written. And this is still going to be a fun site, I promise those of you who have been with it a long time. Who knows--after these brief rants, I may be so tired of social issues that I'll do nothing but talk about music and Playstation for the next month. But that may not be the case.

For some strange reason, I feel the need to step it up now. There's an unusual urgency in my mind as of late. And this urgency demands that I spend as much time on things that matter in the long term as I do on things that are fun in the now. I could be chatting it up about how ridiculous it was that the "winner" picked on "The Bachelorette" broke up with the girl for having dated Fabio. But ultimately that doesn't matter. Not one bit.

The word I've been repeating like a mantra the past few weeks has been "perspective." And that's what's still in my mind. I need to make sure my perspective on things is correct. I need to reassess what I value and why.

There's always time for jokes and general chit chat, and I will still make time for it. But I owe it to you readers and to myself to also make time for more vital things, more influential things.

My upcoming rants aren't gonna be very long. I've already stolen some of my own thunder with these last two posts. But I do want to touch on some issues over the next week. Things that are important to me for some strange reason.

So on Monday, we'll hit Issue One. Stick around. It may be interesting.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Opening Remarks

This is what happens when you blog about small matters for a few days--you suddenly get several essay-sized ideas at once.

But before launching into these three diatribes, I would like to first give those of you who don't know me as well the opportunity to hear clearly what I'm about, and where I'm coming from. I would call it a "creed" but my desire is to spread the focus of this post to my entire personality and ideology, instead of only explaining my religious beliefs (although those are included).

There are risks involved, of course. I could alienate readers, much to my dismay. I love the fact that each of you read my page, and that I haven't even had contact with all of you. And I would rather not put some of you off with what I have to say and what I'm about.

But the greatest goal of this page is honesty. And honest I must be about myself. If I haven't been clear about where I stand before, I want to be so now. It's time.

My name is Dave, as you can see below. I'm a Christian, I consider myself socially conservative, and I attend a Southern Baptist church. I believe the Bible is true, and I try to live by its commands. I believe that there is only one way to get to God, and that is through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. He is the Door, there is no other. I subscribe to the Apostle's Creed, believing (among other things) in one God, Father of all, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, who lives in the hearts of believers.

I am a registered Republican, and will continue to remain so for the time being, but I do wish my party would care more about the poor and the afflicted. I believe that caring for the sick, the needy, and the helpless was originally supposed to be the job of the Church, but the Church has abandoned that calling. And these needs cannot be ignored. However, in this era when enemies without and within threaten the stability of this country, a strong stance is needed regarding our identity as a soveriegn nation and our self-preservation. And I just don't see the Democratic Party putting much importance in that idea.

I believe in personal responsibility and accountability. You are responsible for your actions, and if you break the law, you should be held accountable for that. If you disobey traffic laws by making illegal turns across train tracks and you get into an accident with the train, you cannot blame the train for not being loud enough. If you are fat (as I am), 99% of the time it's because you choose to eat junk food and refuse to exercise. I refuse to accept the idea that I am a "victim" of bad genes, because most of the time, that's a cop-out.

I believe that each person chooses the course of their life. You can't choose your parents, or where and when you are born, but you can choose how to react to these circumstances. And that's what they are--circumstances. They are peripheral. Your choices, your attitudes, your actions determine your course in life, and the impact you have on the world. Yes, some of us are born with priveleges that others are not. But I've seen rich kids come to ruin, and I've seen poor kids rise to success. Money is not as relevant to achieving your goals as you believe it is.

I believe the "rat race" is pointless, and that a life spent aquiring a vast empire of material wealth is a life wasted. This applies to both believers and non-believers. In a world where so many millions are starving and sick, we cannot morally justify living to the excesses promoted by this culture. (I will admit that this knowledge does not always prevent me from buying CDs and books on a semi-regular basis.) I believe that we confuse the ideas of "need" and "want" so often, that we have lost touch with what actual need is. And to avoid being confronted with the face of need, we move to the suburbs, or uptown.

I believe that all is not lost for Christianity, but that this generation of Christians have an opportunity to set a new agenda for the Church's role. We need to set aside the aspirations of building projects and "family life centers" that serve almost no one outside the flock. We need to start making sacrifices and making connections. The Church must get its hands dirty, to make a difference. This means more focus on domestic and international missions, and social programs.

I believe that art is vital to civilization, as a tool for introspection and change. However, the standards for art have shifted. You can't talk about "good art" or "bad art" anymore, for fear of sounding judgemental and closed-minded. I don't think this should be the case. The "anything goes" approach to artistic quality and meaning stems from a similar cultural attitude towards life and relationships. Maybe we should rethink this. Unlike past centuries, we have no "master class" of artists, because we have lost the concept of what a master artist is.

I believe the "anything goes" mentality toward life, morality, and relationships is wrong. Relativism may be comforting, but that doesn't make it right. I believe there are moral standards. There is right, there is wrong. I believe this is laid out in the Bible pretty clearly. I know that many people disagree with me, but I am convinced that a person who lives his or her life firmly grounded in biblical principles will be much happier and more well-adjusted than someone who spends there entire life trying to find footing on shifting moral sands and situational ethical beliefs.

I believe that abortion is barbaric, repulsive, and wrong, but I don't think outlawing it outright will make it go away.

I believe that homosexual behavior is wrong. This is clearly stated, without wavering, in both testaments of the Bible. If you are a Christian, and claim to believe the Bible is true, this issue is not up for debate. I'm sorry, it's not. But it's just as wrong to treat homosexual people with any less dignity and respect as you would treat anyone else, and I am ashamed when people who claim the name of Christ treat other people like garbage. I believe in loving and respecting all people as being created in God's image and as individuals thought by God to be worth the sacrificial death of Christ.

Inherent to my belief in personal responsibility is my belief in personal freedom. In order to be responsible, you must be able to choose. For example, I think smoking is gross and self-destructive, but that does not mean that cigarettes should be legislated out of existence. I think that's bogus. Yes, smoking is bad for you. So are chocolate, caffeine, and fatty foods. Can these things be safely taken in moderation? Sure. Do you do so? Do you really? I don't. Not many do. And not many smokers smoke once in a while, either. Another anti-smoking argument is the "I don't want to smell your smoke" issue. I think this argument should be applied to cell-phone users, then, if we are to go down this road. I'm tired of hearing everyone else's conversations. It grates on my nerves, gives me headaches, and takes my attention away from what I'm doing. Let's outlaw all cell-phones, or at least limit them to only being used in your own home. Oh, how about crying babies? Young children cry, they whine, they smell, they get into everything. I say we write a law stating they are to be kept at home until the age of five. What's wrong with that? If we are trying to eliminate "social irritants", let's do it wholesale. Or not at all.

I believe in being sarcastic to make my point sometimes, as evidenced by the above paragraph. If you are unable to recognize sarcasm, you may have difficulty with this blog.

I believe in obeying the law. It may seem like a no-brainer, but it's not, because by their actions most people show that they believe otherwise. You think pot should be legal? Congratulations, try to get the law changed. But don't break the standing laws and think you can use your dissidence as a shield. News flash: you're not a freedom fighter, you're a criminal. Go to jail. If you really think a law is ethically wrong, and decide to use civil disobedience as a last resort, then be willing to accept the consequences of those actions, whatever they may be. Dr. King did.

These are the tip of the proverbial iceburg. I'm opinionated, yes. If this is a problem for you, I apologize. Thanks for visiting. But I refuse to hide my beliefs or ideas for the sake of higher readership.

The next three posts will deal with some of the above subjects, particularly personal responsibility, morality, and how an artist's beliefs affect or color his work. But I wanted to get these ideas on the table before beginning.

Consider this a disclaimer. Or a preview.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

The Day I Swapped my Album Cover for a Children's Book

There are times when I'm almost ashamed by my ignorance.

The cover image of the Counting Crows' third album This Desert Life comes from a twisted "children's" book by the author of the Sandman series.

Why didn't I know this?

Monday, March 01, 2004

"Josephine, you're so good to me, but I know it ain't easy..."

"Josephine, you're so sweet, you must taste just like sugar, and tangerine..."


I'm in a mellow mood today. Very loose. Very liquid. And in this flux, I'm in no state of mind to "recap" or anything of that sort, concerning this weekend's events.

As such, the overly wordy "weekend in review" has been condensed to two items that stood out. As follows:

"I see a lovesick savior and I can see the scars that he wears..."
Go see the Passion of the Christ, if you haven't yet. Yes, I've read all the pros and cons, but in the end, as a piece of religious art, it is worthy of some degree of admiration. Like Michaelangelo's "Pieta." You can appreciate the time and effort involved, and you can connect on at least some level to the message presented. So quit belly-aching, you babies. It's a great flick, a living Renaissance painting. Well-acted. Very very good. For the record, I cried five times.

"It's a clean sweep."
Proud I am of the Fellowship. They deserved all the accolades they received. I'm just sad that it's really over now. Well, at least, until the Special Extended Edition DVD is released (I'm predicting a blue box).

That's it, then.

I will say this minor, unimportant note, in closing. I came to the conclusion that good music was my substitute for alcohol. I could just as easily spend an evening getting smashed on music than in the bottom of a bottle. And my particular vintage of choice this weekend (as referenced in the title) was "Bringing Down the Horse" by the Wallflowers, which I would argue is one of the best albums to come out of the nineties. Period. But then again, who asked me.