Thursday, March 30, 2006

The Best of Teacherdave: College Edition

Since I'm lazy, instead of coming up with new material, I'll just repost something I wrote elsewhere.

I found this last night--an article I wrote for the college newspaper in the early fall of 1999 about the upcoming intramural sports seasons. I thought it was funny. Hope you enjoy it.

(Reprinted in its entirety, without permission, because, well, I wrote the dang thing. Come and get me, Bison!)


Ah, the smell of freshly-cut grass, the sweet sounds of referee's whistles, and the sight of my classmates drenched with sweat and covered with a mix of grass and blood--these clues can only mean one thing. It's the beginning of the OBU intramural season!

Oklahoma Baptist University has one of the best intramural sports programs in the western world. The programs are so intense, it is rumored that the U.S. government implemented our methods into the Navy Seals training program last fall. Unfortunately, only two men survived it, so it was quickly dropped, but the fact remains: OBU's intramural sports are the cream of the crop!

As we are all preparing for the start of the flag football, volleyball, and basketball seasons (among others), it's important to remember some basic rules for surviving, uh, I mean, succeeding this season:

1) Be prepared to buy a large amount of aspirin and bandages. The reason for this is simple: you will get injured. Last fall, we set a record for injuries--twenty-seven broken bones, three dozen knee sprains, and one decapitation (don't worry, he's okay!).

[When we consider the origin of the word "intramural" this isn't surprising. The word "intramural" is comprised of two Latin roots: intra-, meaning "internal"; and -mural, meaning "hemorraging."]

2) Feel free to argue each and every call with the officials. This even applies to calls that go your way. After all, what do referees know, anyway? Their jobs are entirely too easy, aren't they? Go ahead: argue, complain, yell, scream, and spit at them. Don't worry about hurting their feelings, either. It isn't as if they were actual people, right? Note: pick your battles wisely, because some officials have been known to hold grudges. Yes, they will remember you.

3) Nothing fuels the fires of competition like bitterness. If you are playing your hallmate's team next week, begin the trash-talking now. Hang signs up to anger them, trash their room, take their uniform and hide it. Though they may seem really upset now, believe me, they'll realize later that you were only adding to the enjoyment of the game. And eventually, they may even start talking to you again.

4) Encourage individual accomplishment. This means trying to prove your ability on every play. Those who preach the joys of "team effort" are only wanting you to carry the slack for the horrible players on your team. Forget about them! Do all that you can to make every play, score every point, and win every game. Although your teammates will get jealous and try to remove you from the team, keep working at it. Someday, they will see what an asset you were, instead of just an ... nevermind.

5)Finally, be sure to have fun. After all, there has to be some good reason for going out every week and being beaten to a pulp by some lineman or center named "Fridge." Intramural sports are meant to be an outlet for the enjoyment and physical excercise of OBU's students. If you aren't enjoying yourself, then you're wasting your time...and five bucks.

Hopefully, these few guidelines will help you have a more enjoyable and successful intramural sports season. Play hard, be safe, and have fun. Unfortunately, I will be unable to participate this year, but I will be with you in spirit.

And I promise to visit you in the hospital.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Okay, I've gotta know...

Who are you, "Augusta, Georgia"? According to the SiteTracker stats, you've been reading PBB pretty extensively.

Not to freak you out or anything. If you'd prefer to be anonymous, that's cool. I'd just like to know who you are, so I can say thanks.

If I already know who you are, and I'm just not connecting your persona to your location, lemme know.

*shake shake shake shake*

Remember Etch-a-Sketch? And how, when you want to start over, you just flip it over and shake it around for a while?

Yeah, I want one of those for today. So consider this blogging-day flipped, shaken, and restarted.

So what happened? I got my hopes up. Shouldn't have done that. Then I blogged, and my disappointment seeped through. Definitely shouldn't have done that.

Lesson learned, and I'm moving on.

[For the record, i'm gonna reuse "My Hips Don't Lie" as a post title at some point. it's too good to waste.]

Monday, March 27, 2006

Just Like Stadium Hot Dogs--All Filler, but Still Tasty

[Please note that the links have been updated a la derecha. If your link was removed and you feel this was unjust, please complain below, because that may be the first time you've commented in months. If you'd like to be linked, please request below, and include shameless flattery.]

Things I've Found to be Interesting Lately:
--Gilligan's Island as a representation of hell?
--Found during my "V for Vendetta" research--an exhaustive site dedicated to the original graphic novel.
--If you love me, you'll buy me this book. Okay, you don't have to. But I'd appreciate it mucho.
--I forgot who linked this when I found it, but I thought it was funny: Church Sign Smackdown!
--Frank Turk (of centuri0n) pulls no punches when he sets his cross-hairs on short-term missions. Read the whole thing and think about it.

By the way, I did the Personal DNA thing. Here's my result. Scroll over each color to get my category ratings.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Gunpowder, Treason, and Plot: A "V for Vendetta" Review

It's a little hard to begin this. I'm going to be chewing on this film and my reaction to it for a while.

To begin:

I have enjoyed dystopia fiction for most of my life. I always found such things interesting. Lord of the Flies, 1984, Alas Babylon. Great books. Very enjoyable. So when I first saw the advertisements for V for Vendetta, I thought, "Rad!"

Then the backlash began. Or, more to the point, the fore-and-back-lash began. The "liberal" reviewers call it "the ballsiest, angriest picture of the current administration" and said it "uses a futuristic totalitarian regime to skewer political fear-mongering and popular complacency in every age, including this one." On the other side of the aisle, the few "conservative" reviewers said that "V FOR VENDETTA plays like a comic book version of an al Qaeda recruiting video" and that it's "a paranoid, left-wing fever dream of what America is here and now."

I'm really tired of the political junk, but decided to brave the tide to see the film. Besides the fact that I deeply love Natalie Portman in a purely superficial way. And Hugo Weaving rocks.

So what did I think of the film? That's a difficult question.

First, the plot: To sum things up without giving too terribly much away, it's the story of an version of England in the future, where a totalitarian government has come to power to unite and protect the citizenry from the "outside evils" of the world. (Think "1984," complete with the giant screens of the "Chancellor's" face.) However, this security has come at a severe and steep price--the freedoms and rights of the people. Now, a mysterious figure who calls himself V and wears a Guy Fawkes mask is trying to lead a revolution of sorts, to overthrow the current regime. Destruction ensues. Caught up in V's 'war' is Evey, an employee of the "BBC" stand-in, who has to decide if she wants to side with the masked man.

I think that catches everyone up to speed.


I'm going to have to unpack this slowly, so bear with me. Let's lay aside the political aspects for the time being. How is the film-as-a-film? Excellent. I found it interesting and enjoyable. The performances were satisfactory-to-excellent. I especially enjoyed Hugo Weaving's "portrayal" of the title character. His vocal work and physicality made the mask an asset instead of a liability. I thought the cinematography and sound work were great. I liked the writing, and found it to be very literate. The special effects were cool. It was a very pretty film to observe.

The story was interesting. I found myself cheering V on a bit, though later I had to really think about why. V isn't a hero, in any normal sense. He's a hero in the way that The Bride in "Kill Bill" is a hero. He's a "hero" in the way Charles Bronson's characters are heroes. Or Edmond Dantes in "The Count of Monte Cristo" (which is often referenced in the film). You cheer for these vengeful characters because, though you "know better," you still enjoy watching the punishment of the wicked, even if it's by someone who isn't "righteous" themselves. It's a visceral reaction. Not a very Christ-like response, obviously. But, well, there it is.

How you see V may affect how you see the film as a whole. If V is nothing but a terrorist, then the film will seem nothing more than a glorification of terrorism (which can be argued, but I disagree). If V is a noble freedom fighter, then you will cheer as he threatens the life of innocent civilians in order to strike a blow for "the people." If V is a madman, fighting a mad government, then you may find yourself uncomfortably siding with him against the tyranny of the government he fights.

And there's the rub. It's hard to divorce the politics of this era from your understanding of the movie. I think that, in 30 years, once the rhetoric of this political time has died off, people will be able to view this film as just a film. A theoretical fiction, instead of an allegory. It's pretty clear that the filmmakers wanted to draw clear connections between the totalitarian regime and the American political system, even if that wasn't the original author's intent, twenty years ago. But maybe in three or four decades, this can be seen as an interesting piece of modern (post-modern?) dystopian literature, with little basis in reality.

For the time being, however, we have to address this work of art within the context of this politically-charged culture. In this context, I have to say that the film takes cheap-shots whenever it can. I do agree with the reviewer above that it can be seen as a "left-wing fever dream." Which is to say, it reads like a fiction created by an anti-Bush conspiracy theorist. Those with little sense will say, "the government in the movie staged a biological terrorist event to gain power...JUST LIKE BUSH DID WITH 9/11!!!" This is stupid. Utterly stupid.

I'm taking a side at this point. I'm gonna go ahead and say it. Are there aspects of the Sutler regime in "V for Vendetta" that are made to look like Bush's administration? Sure. Is it a fair comparison? Usually, no. Sutler himself was nothing like Bush. He was eloquent and angry--a dead ringer for Hitler, but nothing like Bush. But the fact is, all of the wicked things presented in the film that the "fictional" government does, some on the left are going to say, "That's the way it is now!"

[And forgive my language, but I call 'bullshit' on that whole line of reasoning. When dissidents, protesters, artists, homosexuals, and foreigners are "black-bagged" and dragged away by secret police--instead of given prominent platforms to express themselves in all levels of art and media--THEN maybe you can talk to me about how "oppressive" the "theocratic" Bush "empire" is. Theocracy? Are you frackin' kidding me? This administration has bent over backwards and kissed its own grits to be as open-minded as possible to other faiths. Bush has been pushing the "religion of peace" moniker as long as anyone else.]

Whew. Okay. I'm back. See what I mean? Politically charged.

There is also a surprisingly strong homosexual theme throughout the film. I wasn't expecting that. It served the story to some limited extent, so I don't have a huge problem with it. I'm not going to cry foul that "they're pushing their agenda" because it doesn't surprise me. I'm just commenting for those who get freaked out by such things.

Religion gets a pretty poor treatment throughout the film. The evil conservative goverment pushes faith, to the point where the church and the state are intertwined. While some believers will be offended by this, I was actually quite okay with it (which, I have to admit, surprised myself). Here's the deal: when the church gets in bed with the state, both are corrupted. It's been happening since the beginning. What I see in this film (though probably not what the filmmakers intended) is a corrupted church that has lost sight of Christ. That's why Christ is never mentioned (outside of being used as profanity, sadly). It's all about "faith." Because faith can be placed in evil things. So, when you see a lustful, perverted bishop, you know that he's serving something other than the true faith. The "Big Brother" has a Bible. The pill-popping political talking head ("paging Rush Limbaugh!") talks about diseases and disaster in America being judgment from God. On the other hand, the lovable closeted TV host has a secret copy of the Koran in his house, not because he is Muslim but because he appreciates the "beautiful imagery." Having that book gets him killed.

In short, Christianity (or at least the form of it presented) is shown to be pretty rotten. But like I said, you can view it two ways. Unfortunately, the unsaved viewer will see all Christians as abusers, murderers, and bigots. (As another reviewer for another film put it, this is where real Christians must step in and say, "it doesn't have to be this way.")

On the whole, I'll say this about the film:

I liked it. I almost wish it could have been made in a less politically-polarized era, but I know that it obviously wouldn't have been. Maybe I wish it could be enjoyed and viewed in a less-polarized era. But the performances were great, and the film gives the viewer dozens of tough questions and ideas to discuss with friends over coffee. For that aspect, it's an important film. I have a good idea of the ideological bent that spawned this work, but I'm almost choosing to read it a little differently, so that I can enjoy it and get more out of it. And that is what good art does. It provides different facets to different viewers.

Like I said, I'm still chewing on this, though, and my opinion isn't fully set yet. So forgive me if I miss something "obvious" that proves how "wrong" I am. I'm getting there.

So, recommended, but with reservations. If you think you can get past the obvious roadblocks, it's well worth the trip.

"Remember, remember..."

Two identity-related comments:

1) Finally saw "V for Vendetta" last night. Look for an extensive post this afternoon, hopefully. Lots to talk about there.

2) I added a photo to my profile, as you can see. FOR THE RECORD: It's a candid shot, I'm dressed strangely and acting a fool, and it doesn't do justice to my hotness.

Just so everybody's clear.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Tied Up Too Tight (the wedding recap)

I tried writing the wedding-weekend recap--three times--but each time, it sounds like a stuffy report. So instead of trying to give anecdotes or descriptions, i'm just gonna free-write this and see how it goes.

You know, I wasn't expecting to go back any time soon. The last time, I called it my "farewell tour" of Oklahoma. There was a lot of very dramatic memory-packing going on. I was saying my goodbyes to a whole section of my past. It actually made for some good posts, if you're interested. So going back this time was...well, odd for me. I felt like a stranger there, again. I didn't even set foot on the college campus until late Friday night, after having driven past it for two days.

It was a weird weekend. Lots of beginnings. Meeting new friends. Watching a new marriage begin. Staying in a new house. Lots of newness. But there were lots of really unexpected memories. The fated stretch of highway that changed all my plans. Friends living in a house where enemies once lived. Meeting a long-lost friend somewhere for lunch, only to find that I'd been there before, with a mutual friend of ours. It was a constant clash of "now" and "then." It actually made me laugh. It still does. Somehow, I guess I wasn't done with all those memories. (Please forgive the intentional vagueries. No use waking up old ghosts.)

I enjoyed meeting (and re-meeting) so many people in person that I had only known online. You know who you are. Good to see old friends who I haven't seen in years. You also know who you are. I suppose it would only be fair to name-drop. But I won't. I'm peevish like that.

Friday night's bachelor activities took place at Makers, a cigar lounge in OKC. The St. Pat's revelries were going on down below, but we stayed in the upper room, breathing in the smoke. I hung back, chair against the wall. I felt disconnected from the proceedings--not in a bad way. I just felt like I should be observing. Documenting in my mind. But not to be written. I can't even remember most of what was said. (Unfortunately, I can remember some.) But I remember feeling very... I don't know. I had the impulse to leave and find women. I joked about that with a few of the guys. But I wanted to.

There was a girl that one of the guys (whose name now escapes me) was flirting with across the room, to the chagrin of her boyfriend seated next to her. There were comments made amongst the members of our party about "making me get into a fight for you tonight." However, nothing came of it. The guy walked over to the girl when her boyfriend was in the bathroom, and the girl ended up saying something to embarrass the guy, who returned to our tables, scowling. That amused me. It also reinforced a deeply-held prejudice in my mind. But I won't tell you what that is.

I had to walk outside at one point. The smoke was getting to be too much for me. My eyes were burning. I went downstairs and out to the sidewalk. I stood at the railing and watched the water of the canal rippling. The water was filthy. Kinda gross. Finally, I realized that standing at the waterfront with a pensive and somewhat lovelorn expression was just a bit too obvious. So I returned. Soon after, the lights were turned on in the establishment, and everyone ambled out to the parking lots. Being the one of only two sober people, I got to drive home. Or rather, to IHOP. Then "home."

The day of the wedding brought much needed rains onto the Sooner state. It rained all day. I transported presents in the rain. I transported musical equipment. I helped one lovely woman pack some of the couple's luggage, in the light rain. The rains came down, the mud came up. My shoes and the cuffs of my tuxedo pants were muddy, by evening's end. By the way, those holes on the sides of Converse Chuck Taylor shoes? Make the whole "keeping the feet dry" process impossible.

The wedding was nice. The waiting before the wedding is the same for every wedding, I find. The atmosphere in the "locker room" before a big game, as it were. Same for every group. I think that's cool.

I've told the story too often by now. But, in brief: I got to meet someone this weekend whom the bride has wanted me to "meet" for more than a year now. We seemed to hit it off. I enjoyed her company. Hopefully, we'll get to talk again sometime.

I don't know what else to say, really. I ate lunch at the Hamburger King one time. That's the one place that hasn't changed since I left.

Other thoughts, in bullet form:
  • Jess' brother sounds like Jared Hess.
  • Justin is not a 16 year old.
  • Our waitress at the IHOP at 3 in the morning was named Flower. She had to have been a teenager. She did a good job.
  • I saw the lovely Kara. I missed her. I miss her again.
  • It was nice seeing Mike and Cara Bailey.
  • It was awesome hanging out with "hot" Garrett.
  • I made a point to not go to the Rainbow, because I was afraid that my best memories of it would wither and die.
I have to say, I'm kinda disappointed by my own recap. But I don't want to attempt to write it again. So I'm just gonna hit publish, and apologize now for it being so lame.

Suggested Reading

Jane talks about feelings of failure and the overwhelming love of God. I can't tell you how appropriate this is for me right now.
You're not a burden, but you're a pleasure. You don't shame your Father, but you make Him so proud that He beams brighter than the yuppiest soccer mom. It makes a heck of a difference when you realize He hasn't died for you to be with Him so He can nag at you or tell you everything you did wrong, but that He wants to tell you how good you are and how capable you are.
If only I could really believe that sometimes.

Anyway, it's a good word, so check it out.

[Wedding recap this afternoon.]

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Missing Sportscenter

When I was a senior in high school, I played basketball, believe it or not. Back then, I was weighing in at a svelte 250, and while not a great player by any stretch, I held my own. I managed to not suck.

Our school was so small (in both students and funding) at the time, we played seven-man flag football in the fall. I used each football season to get "in shape" (such as it was) for basketball, my preferred sport. That year, football wound down, and things were going pretty well. I felt pretty good about where i was, going into basketball. Thankfully, I wasn't injured at all. I was ready to go.

At the beginning of basketball season, the coach met with us and told us that things would be different. Partly due to space constraints in the small school and there being only one court to play on, we would be practicing at six in the morning. Every morning. The reprieve would be that practice would be lighter on gamedays.

Jaws dropped. Six a.m.

And so began one of the best seasons of my life, in terms of personal discipline. I got up at five in the morning, when the sun itself had more sense than to be awake. I showered, ate some sort of breakfast, and then was driven to school. The bleary-eyed, angry bunch of us congregated in the lobby of the gym, until Coach walked through. Then we got serious.

He pushed us hard. So very hard. Harder than many of us thought we could go. He was merciless when we were lazy. He was harsh when we were sleepy. There were no excuses accepted in that hour and a half before he'd mercifully release us to shower and go to class.

There were days when I despised that morning alarm. Days when I wanted nothing more than to sleep another hour or so, wake up, watch "Sportscenter" while I ate my cereal, and then go to school. There were days when I hated the sound of Coach's voice, sounding so chipper without having a right to. When he'd get that evil, sarcastic look on his face, and you just wanted to send a chest-pass into his nose as hard as you could. There were days when I hated that discipline.

But Coach understood what we didn't, on those mornings. That the times when you're tired or sleepy or distracted were the most important, and that those were the times you trained the hardest. He knew that discipline has a purpose, and that running hours of passing drills each week would make us smarter and more skilled players. That making us learn offensive set after offensive set, defense after defense, when our teenaged brains were struggling to maintain consciousness, would pay off when a smart team with a smarter coach would figure out our strategy early in the game. He prepared us to make adjustments when the test came, so that we could be successful.

He taught us how to win.

This story doesn't have a Hollywood ending. We didn't "take state"; not even close. Fact is, we got outshot in the second round of the state tournament by a team that we normally matched up well against. Fourth place. Whoopee.

But the success of that season was in the early-morning moments. When you felt on the verge of dropping to the hardwood, but instead somehow put one foot in front of the other and got back in line to do another round of full-court 3-on-2. When your arms felt like lead, but you still kept trying to hit 70% of your free-throws, so that you could call it a day. When you heard the whistle calling you back from the water fountain, and you ran back, somehow more energized that you should have been.

That kind of success means making sacrifices so you can get to bed a little earlier. That success means missing Sportscenter. That success means submitting yourself to the training of another.

Ready for the spiritual parallel? Brace yourself, it's pretty obvious.

Right now, as I sit here in this cube, twenty-five years old, I'm feeling the same feelings of loathing towards spiritual discipline. I have to admit, right now, I'm almost hating the sound of my Coach's voice. Because every time He blows that whistle, it means more of me is gonna hurt. More of my pride is gonna get worn out. A little more of my will is gonna have to die. I've got more laps to run.

We keep talking about discipline as a means to the end--something to "get through" in order to find maturity or strength or whatever.

But what basketball taught me is that the discipline is the victory. And every time I put one foot in front of the other and say "Your Will be done," I achieve what He wanted me to achieve. Submission. Willingness. Obedience.

My prayer for today is that I'll get over myself and get back on the baseline, so I can run the heck out of that 3-on-2.

TeacherDave's Observations on the Mathematics of Christian Singleness

[Disclaimer: In case it's not painfully clear, this is an attempt at humor. It does not necessarily reflect the views of PBB, TeacherDave, or any rational person. I just thought it was funny. Also, please don't school me in the comments about the statistical issues, since i'm just a lowly English major. I'm looking at you, Trav. ;- ) ]

In my many years of experience as a Christian single, I've seen a pretty consistent theorum emerge about the mathematical nature of Christian singleness. While it doesn't necessarily provide any clues to causation, it does serve as some sort of a "proof" to the concept and its corollaries.

There are a few assumptions that this theorum makes. First, one assumes we are dealing with a population of self-professing Christians. Second, we assume that our population of Christians are restricting themselves to marrying other Christians, as many denominations teach and advise, based on their reading of Scripture. Third, we assume that the following concepts work within the context of a Christian university. Expanding this to all levels of higher education will skew the numbers in a way that is unhelpful and rather baffling. Also, it makes me look foolish. So let's dispense with that.

These assumptions being established, we can proceed.

Figure 1 (below) shows the basic structure of this concept, which I have termed "The Bell Curve of Christian Marital Availability."

You will recognize this diagram as a common mathematical bell-curve distribution, divided into four zones.

The first zone is labelled "High School." Please note that as time in high school elapses, the number of potential matches (termed "eligible prospects") increases also (not to mention the feasibility of making such matches).

The second sector of this diagram represents the first two years of college at a four-year private religious college or university. There are some factors that affect the population of "eligible prospects" including "MRS Degree" turnover and another phenomenon called "escaping the bubble." (These may be discussed at a later date.) However, in general, the field of candidates grows and starts to peak at the end of the sophomore year.

At this point, the graph takes a turn. Enough time has passed for the MRS anomalies to be worked out, and the population has not only started pairing off, but have indeed begun the steady succession of marriages that fill the summers after the last three years of college.

In Figure 4 (below), we can see the downswing begin. Please remember that the darkened portion represents the percentage of eligible prospects over time. Indeed, by the end of the senior year, if one is not already involved with another prospect or married already, the number of possible matches has dwindled back to practically as few as there were at the beginning of college.

Finally, in the post-college period, that number of eligible singles shrinks even more. Other phenomena, such as "High School Reunion" and "Everyone Else is Having Babies," take their toll on this population, particularly among the females in the group. More marriages, more pairings, and as a result, fewer prosects.

Let's take a look at a particular case study. As is often typical in such settings, in any given sample population, there are one or two "outliers." These are subjects whom the rest of the population are quite confident will be single longer than they are. These subjects represent the furthest standard deviation from the mean, and are used to give a boundary. Sometimes these statements are given as a positive hypothesis ("If I get married before X, I will be okay."), while others are formed as negative hypotheses ("If I don't get married before X, please someone shoot me.").

Let's say you are in this fourth phase, the "post-college" period, and there is another generally recognized subject who is the "outlier." Let's call this outlier "T." You go along, fairly confident that T will never get married, or at least will take longer than you will. This is through no fault of T's of course. It's simply a fact of nature.

Suddenly, however, nature takes an unexpected turn. Through an act of God (or chance, if you prefer), T suddenly gets married, thus removing him from the equation. This may in fact leave you as the sole outlier instead. This realization can cause quite an emotional uproar in certain segments of the population (most often female, though males have been known to be greatly affected by this). That is why it is important to find as secure of an outlier as possible, when forming your understanding of the scenario at hand.

A corollary of this theorum has to do with the percentage of single friends and married friends you have over time. To simplify things, we will look at the second half of the chart: the last two years of college, and then the post-college years.

As you can see, as time progresses, the balance shifts from a majority of single friends, to a vast and somewhat overpowering majority of married friends. While these married friends are just as treasured as the single friends were (especially since most belonged to the former group at some point), it still becomes difficult to find other singles to socialize with.


I hope that this brief presentation has helped to ease your mind on your single status, or has helped you understand the situation facing your single friends, if you are married. Hopefully, through better understanding of mathematics, we can find a better way to relate to each other in our particular marital contexts.

In the meantime, if anyone knows any intelligent, attractive, Christian single girls in the Houston area, let me know. The sooner, the better.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

"open letter"

consider this an open invitation,
dear brothers and sisters who share
the first part of this wasted century:
take a deep breath, say a quick prayer,
and step down off your dismissal-box.
toss off the cynic-mask, and take a walk
bare-toed through soft grass. accept that
nothing will be as hip as you expect, that the
cutting-edge of "cool" is a cold and lonely place, and
that drowning your mind-meals in irony-sauce
only makes things harder to swallow in the long run.

here's the open call: embrace the lameness within you.
acknowledge that your veneer of detachment is just
a fascade to hide your awkward adjustment into maturity.
learn to weigh created things on their own merits,
and stop trying to decide if you are "allowed" by your
"good taste" to enjoy them. and for the love of all that is
bright and true in this scarred, sad world, stop trying to
impress your peers with five-dollar terminology, invented
by a half-baked sociology grad-student fifteen years ago.
"Post-modernism" is just as much a construct as "modernism"
was. Big shock--everything old is new again, and everything
new is written off as "the garbage produced by corporate
sell-outs." Don't talk about the "emergent" church as if it's
something new and different. If anything, it's a retreating
church, emerging backwards--and that's okay, too.
Be bold, fellow wanderers, have the courage to say
that your forefathers may have actually done some things right!
Don't let the fear of being called "backwards" or "medieval"
cage up your desire to seek the right path in familiar places.

Let's take the shiny wrapping off the concept of "new,"
shall we? Because that propaganda's been spread long
enough. New isn't automatically improved, whether in thought
or speech or religious practice. Divorce the false definition;
"new" is not a moral condition, simply a chronological designation.
The new ways aren't new, anyway, so stop fooling yourself.

And finally, in conclusion, know that you are loved by God. You are
adored by Him. You don't have to be "smart enough" or "pretty enough"
or "strong and successful enough." So much of our striving is for
approval that is already offered. Just be, brothers. Just rest,
sisters. You are loved by God. Be at peace. Accept that love. Don't try
to impress it or earn it or justify it. It cannot be wrested that way.
Just accept it. Be thankful for it. Let it be your life.

"to the dreamers, to make much of hope"

hope is madness, so i shun sanity;
give me simple, bright-colored dreams to replace the cold grey day.
i'd rather live oblivious than in oblivion.
let me sound foolish as i discuss possibility,
and put your "likelihood"s and "probable"s back in your black billfold.
i've lived too long in the land of foolish dreaming
to change my address because of one more disappointment.

let there be feasting without reason!
let there be celebration without solid cause!
let us dance to hear of one dim possibility,
for it has the greatest chance of saving us.

(let us pray that Love will save us.)

too soon the shadow draws in, squeezing
each bright note from bluebirds' songs;
so sing, scream sonnets, with blue birds--
or black birds if you must--
but sing desparately, with the conviction that foolish wishes
are more beautiful a sound than silence.
sing now, before your light grows dark
and accepts that the doubting, dampening voices
know what they're talking about.

get your hopes up! count your hatchless chickens!
enjoy the rosy glow of not knowing
as long as such sweet fog lasts,
and when the heat of day burns it off,
mourn its passing and pray for
more reasons to grow unjustified hope
in your back garden, like contraband plants,
like coca.

let hope be your illegal drug,
smuggle it through your life,
spread it around,
and smoke what you sell.

[rage, rage against the dying of hope.]

Promote Free Speech by Watching "South Park"

Okay, so that was an exaggeration.

Here's the deal. "South Park," a show that is no stranger to angering cultural, ideological, and religious groups, recently created an episode about the "Church" of Scientology and what an unbelievable crock of crap it is.

For the first time (at least in my knowledge), Comedy Central caved to an angered group, and pulled the episode from being aired any more. Representatives of the "Church"--including the Great Couch-Jumper himself--have been infuriated by this episode and want it off the air.

They should know by now: You can't stop the signal.

So here, for your consumption, is that controversial episode. (WARNING: It's "South Park," for pete's sake, so if irreverence and bad language and poor taste offend you, don't watch. Duh.)

Funny thing is, aside from the Scientology stuff and some bad language, it's pretty mild compared to most of the South Park episodes I've seen.

I don't usually promote such controversial things personally or online. And some of you may be questionning if I should be promoting this show at all, as a believer in Christ. I understand that.

The principle of the thing is what I'm after here. If it's all fine and good for this show to offend Christians at times, then it's just as fine and good to offend other groups. That's how this whole "free speech" thing works. You take the good as well as the bad.

Maybe the insane embassy-burners halfway around the world will someday learn this.

[Thanks to Rob from Say Anything for making this episode easily accessible.]

Monday, March 20, 2006

A Post for Will

To quote Darth Vader:

*fists in the air*


Three (point five) Quick Points

1. Update: I'm gonna try to be super-productive this morning so that the boss is happy. So expect wedding weekend recap and my "bell-curve" singleness post either this afternoon or tomorrow.

2. Confession: Last night, on a "whim" I've had for the last several weeks, I shaved off my mustache and goatee completely. I hadn't done it in at least 3 years. I immediately regretted this decision. I'm growing it back as quickly as possible.

3. "Swingers"-Themed Reader Poll: Let's say, hypothetically, one gets the email address of a cool girl at a wedding whom this person wants to get to know better. How long should I--I mean, he, the hypothetical person--wait to email?

Sub-question: Said girl also added that she's bad about reading email and worse about replying, and that she doesn't have regular internets access. Is this a brush-off or a challenge?

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

I'm a little freaked out man...

Suddenly, without warning, the visit counter just explodes to life. Almost 300 visits today?!?


What the crap is going on here, people?

So here's my request:

If you're new to this page, take a quick second and let me know in the comments who you are and how you found your way to this little corner of the blogosphere.

Because I have to admit, I'm kinda freaked out by this.

Welcome, though. Feel free to hang around. Hope I can keep you entertained.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

More Pimping of AOL Free Streaming Music

My favorite music page is streaming a bunch of new albums, including two of interest:

The new Building 429 album, for you fans of Christian rock

And the upcoming HARD-FI release. This makes me tremendously happy.

What's Happening (brother)

Busy, busy week for me. Wanted to keep you all abreast of the situation (can I say that in an all-ages blog?).
  • Super-workload today and tomorrow. May not be able to post much at
    all. Will try to impart some final thoughts before...
  • I leave Thursday for the great red-dirted north. I will be in the
    lovely, windy state of Oklahoma until Sunday.
  • During this visit, I will hang out with The Cains, the soon-to-be Taylors,
    and anyone else who wants to chill in OKC and Shawnee.
  • At some point early Friday, I may be in Tulsa hanging out for a little bit
    with Jess. If anyone else happens to be in Tulsa then, and our paths
    just happen to cross
    , I wouldn't be opposed to that. I'm just
  • And on Saturday, I'll be standing up in a monkey suit, watching one of my
    best friends finally get hitched.
  • I will then return to Texas. Maybe on Monday, I'll give you my "bell curve" theory of Christian singleness. Hopefully it will be entertaining.
So there you go. Like I said, I'll try to drop you a post tomorrow.

Just in case I die on the highway, or something.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Because I'm a spineless little follower...

Go to your page and list the last fifteen people who have commented you. If someone has commented twice, skip to the next new commenter.

[This may be difficult, what with never meeting many of you. But what the heck.]

1. Kim
2. Will's friend Holly
3. Will
4. "Madam Librarian"
5. Shook
6. RAD Cara
7. Trev's Dad
8. Angela
9. Trevor
10. Manders
11. Tiffany, sister of Trevor
12. Justin, friend of Trevor
13. GDawney
14. Sarah R.
15. Jesika

Have you ever kissed 4? No. She's cute, but I'm pretty sure her fella (who is either Doyle, Drake, or Dave) would take exception. And then end me.
What's the best memory you have of 10? When I taught a Tuesday morning Bible study in high school, I could always count on her being there. Her commitment was an encouragement. Her friendship still is.
Why are you friends with 9? My old roommate, my fellow Kerr Rat (and intramural basketball teammate), and my close friend. Can't say enough about how rad Trev is. Won't even try. His influence on me was such that he even got me to wear a wallet chain for several months. And though once he tried to steal the girl I was too chicken to ask out (no I won't let that go), he's still one of my best friends.
When's the next time you're gonna see 6? I don't know. For that matter, when's the first time? I guess it depends on the next time I'm in Corsica.
Tell something juicy about number 15: Oh man. Too easy. Two words: Lifetime movies.
What do you like about 8? Um... She commented on my blog. She's proud of my weight-loss. And she's single and going to friends' weddings--I can certainly relate to that.
Is number 1 attractive? Well, Will certainly seems to think so. So I'll go!
What was your first impression of 7? This man deeply loves his family...and guns. Lots of guns.
How did you meet 3? The same way I met most of my favorite people: the OBU Theatre Dept. Not sure over the exact details. Might have been class. Might have been auditions for "Robin Hood" or "All My Sons." Can't remember. I do remember the Hawaiian shirt and carved monkey that his grandparents gave him during the "Our Town" run. In fact, I have a picture.
Do you think 13 could kill someone? Well, duh, she *is* from UTAH, so it's possible. Plus, raising four kids would make just about anyone a little cuckoo. On the other hand, she seems harmless enough. (Famous last words.)
Is 11 your best friend? No, but she's related to one of my best friends. So that's good enough for me.
Do you think 2 has a crush on you? Possible, but unlikely. In fact, highly doubtful. What do you think, Magic 8-Ball? *shakes* "My sources say no." Well, there you go then.
Who do you spend the most time with? Easily #3.
What is the last thing you did with #1? Ate her delicious cooking, and watched "The Visitation" with her and her husband.
Have you ever been to 3's house? Yes, indeed. Two weeks ago, I believe.
Would you ever kiss 5? Nope. A firm handshake will do just fine.
How do you know 4? She found my blog somehow. I can't remember through whom.
Have you ever slept with 5? Yeesh. No. (Man, I picked the wrong person for this slot.) Unless he slept through one of my classes, but I don't think he did. He did sneak Jack-in-the-Box into my class one time, though. Egg rolls, was it?
Do you think 6 is sexy? I guess. I don't know. Ask her husband.
Have you ever liked 7? Sure, I think he's a nice guy. Wait a minute--you that ? No. Gah, what kind of survey is this?!?
Where is the last place you went with 8? The...Internets?
Are you real close to 9? Yes indeed. Maybe a little less now than we were when we shared a dorm room, but still pretty close. [And, to be precise, that should be "really" close. Tsk.]
What kind of relationship do you have with 10? A friendship that has lasted since my high-school (and her middle-school) days. We talk online and email (occasionally). It's a good thing. Mushaboom.
Have you ever kissed 11? I know the names of all three girls I've ever kissed, and Tiffany isn't any of them. Plus, we'd have to meet first. Plus, she's married. So, no.
Have you ever been to the movies with 12? Not yet. Could be this weekend, though!
Have you ever gotten in trouble with 13? Nope. But give us time, brother.
Would you ever make a move on 14? No, because I generally make it a practice not to put "moves" on married mothers-of-two. Furthermore, it would gross her out. And then I'm pretty sure Lucas would pretty much take me apart.
What do you and 15 talk about the most? Lately, how much church people suck. Also, basic pop culture stuff. And why Dory was never good enough for her.

Retraction... actually, more of a Disclaimer

Friday's fun post about the hockey game and its aftermath needs to be marked as "Creative Nonfiction."

I portrayed my compadre Will as being rather sardonic, and I think that was unfair. He was actually really good-natured and supportive throughout the evening (even after the attempts on his life). However, I have to confess, I thought writing his 'character' as I did made it a little funnier. (Was it? Maybe not.)

Okay, more to the heart of things, I was filtering the memory through a lens of embarrassment. I had been arrogant about my navigation skills, and God let me look foolish to keep me humble. So I felt awkward that evening, and that awkwardness bled over into my account.

But I don't want to give the wrong impression, and I'm sorry if I did. Will's my closest friend in Houston, and the one person I want to talk to when I need good advice. For those of you who don't know him, you're missing out, because he's pretty keen.

And for the record, it was the most exciting hockey game I've been to, possibly, ever. So thanks for that, dude.

Okay, everyone, get back to work.

Friday, March 10, 2006

"Another Thursday Night Adventure"; or, "Tarkki Sucks"

Part One: In Which I'm Stunned to Learn That Traffic Occurs in Houston

My good friend Will was kind enough to purchase tickets to last night's Houston Aeros hockey game. For those unaware, Houston has a minor-league hockey franchise playing in the American Hockey League (the hockey equivalent of AAA Baseball). In fact, this year, Houston's team leads the conference in several categories, and has a legitimate shot at a title. Very exciting. So, Will and I have made a point of going to a handful of games this year. Last night was just such a game.

I left work later than I needed to, and hurried home. I changed, and sped (as much as one can speed in evening-rush-hour traffic) to Will's house. Picked up Will, and realized that I was almost out of gas.

Estimated Time until Opening Face-off: 37 minutes.

I finally found a convenience store with working gas-pumps (apparently difficult to come by in Meyer Park). Was charged $2.35 a gallon for regular. I don't know how it is where you are now (and I'm sure you're all going to tell me), but I was paying pennies over $2 just a week or two ago. I tried to make a lame joke about it. "I miss the good old days, when they would at least look you in the eye when they robbed you blind."

Will, being a good friend, made little or no reply.

We took 610 to 59 (I'm pretending all of you who are unfamiliar with Houston transportation actually understand or care), and things actually progressed at a pretty good clip. Then we hit the jam. Apparently, in the Houston transportation scheme, performing construction on one lane at a time on a vital city highway is just crazy talk. So three or four lanes were shut down, and we were left with two.

Something to understand about Houston drivers: You know how there's those jerks on the road who will speed around the main-lane back-up on an "exit only" lane and then try to jam their way back into traffic, motorist-safety-be-damned?

They all live in Houston. Every last one of them. If you've seen them elsewhere, it's because they were on vacation. They live here the rest of the year.

So as each lane proceeded to shut down, there would be the one or two drivers who would conscientiously merge early, and then the rest who would rocket down that fast-closing lane, then slam their brakes, and shoehorn themselves into the adjacent lane, effectively stopping all forward progress of those in the back of that lane for ten minutes at a time.

ETOF: 17 minutes.

Finally, we got off at Main, and took Main toward the cluster of Midtown high-rises (completely disregarding that claimed to be pointing toward "Downtown" but was pointing east instead of north). I was able to point out the Continental Club, site of a previously-described Thursday adventure.

Will was getting fidgety, in the passenger seat. Will loves his hockey, and hates to be late. In fact, he'd prefer to be about 30 minutes early, so he can watch the warm-ups, scout which players used to be good and whose careers are now fading, and discuss how Houston fans compare to Wichita fans. (At last check: we weren't so hot. But we're improving...maybe.)

We made it into Midtown, and weaved our way through crazy alternating one-way streets toward the arena.

ETOF: 3 minutes.

Part of the deal on the tickets Will got was free parking. He was told to give his name to the person at the lot, and they'd let us in. Well, we tried two different lots at the specific corner we were told, and neither knew what Will was talking about. (As it turns out, one of the lots was the right one, but the person presiding over it was an imbecile. Go figure.) So we circle around (three blocks away, thanks to the freaking street layout), and find a "pay" lot. Fortunately, we don't have to. Pay. A lot. Ahem.

During this time, I tried to make the best of it, although I felt guilty for not starting this excursion earlier, or perhaps getting out of work earlier. I offer that perhaps our lateness is actually a blessing in disguise. That, had we been in our seats, one of us could have been struck by an errant puck and killed instantly. In fact, that our lateness actually saved one or both of our lives.

Will, being a good friend, didn't strangle me right then and there.

[Ironically enough, it would be later that we would defy death.]

ETOF: -12 minutes.

We walk up to the "will call" window. Getting the tickets takes a little longer than it probably should have. Will makes a disgusted grunt or groan or something. I look over. We were handed the parking pass with the tickets. You know, the one we didn't need, if we just gave his name. Ugh.

Finally, we enter the arena. Will proceeds to the seats. I grab a hot dog and meet him there.

Part Two: In Which It is Indisputably Established that Tarkki, In Fact, Sucks

The tickets were as close as I have ever legally sat during a hockey game. (The only other time being when Daniel Gertson and I snuck down to the seats right up against the glass, during the third period of a game against... either Orlando or Manitoba, I can't remember. I think Manitoba. They were right next to the opposing bench, so we picked a certain player to taunt every time he left the ice. The most thrilling moment was when he heard us and hit [actually, tapped] the glass with his stick as he skated by.)

This time, Will and I sat in "fifth" row (in actuality, Row 5 was the third row up, in our section), about seven feet from the glass. The game was thrilling. It's so much more tense when you're close up. You can see the players talking to each other, opponents trading unkind words, teammates encouraging or sharing strategy; you can see their facial expressions. It seems a little more real, because they're not all tiny-looking. As one would expect.

We were close enough that I was actually cold. That never happens. My feet were cold the entire time. That was so rad.

The section next to ours was filled with obsessive screaming fans who were apparently season-ticket holders. They all knew each other and were decked out in Aeros jerseys and shirts. The Super-Fans, basically. And they all had these big cowbells, with handles, covered with the Aeros logo. When the animated scoreboard demanded, "More Cowbell!", those folks went nuts with the cowbell. We're talking, deafening tumultuous cowbell. I told Will that I was waiting until they were done, just to be able to start hearing my ears ringing.

Will, being a good friend, laughed at my lame joke.

One of their more endearing group activities occurred at the end of every period. The rink announcer makes note of there being one minute left, normally. So just before, they would call out, "HOW MUCH TIME IS LEFT?" When the announcer replies, "one minute remaining in the period," they respond, "THANK YOU!"

This was their only endearing group activity, in fact.

Traditionally, whenever the Aeros score a goal, the fans shout in unison, "He shoots! He scores! Hey _____, you suck!" The blank, of course, being the opposing goalie's name. This is particularly entertaining when the goalie has a multi-syllabic Eastern European name. All manner of variations on the name are screamed out. The most important word of the cheer, however--the word to be most clearly emphasized--is the word "suck." There is no doubt in a single fan's mind that the opposing goalie, no matter the jersey or country of origin, sucks. He may be working a 50-save shutout, performing a veritable goalie clinic, and still, we the fans are certain beyound a doubt's shadow that he sucks.

Normally, however, this sentiment is saved for just the hometown team's goal-scoring. But not in the SuperFans' section. No, sir. They made it clear throughout the ENTIRE game that Tarkki indeed sucked. At no time did Tarkki, or anyone else for that matter, have any other inclination of how they felt about his performance. Throughout the evening, we heard a chorus of, "Tar-kki-SUCKS, Tar-kki-SUCKS"; "Hey, Tarkki--YOU SUCK!"; and the more advanced, "Hey, Tarkki--YOU STILL SUCK!"

At one point, Will turns to me and says, "Gee, Dave, I wonder if Tarkki sucks?" I assured him, "I think we'll have our answer in a minute or so." Fortunately, I was proven correct. The great mystery was solved; Tarkki sucks.

The only other notable non-hockey event was the between-period "entertainment." For that night, it was a glorified bar-band called "The Guzzlers." They sang such classics as "Pride and Joy," "Sweet Home Alabama," "Johnny B. Goode," and other such southern-fried standards. Sadly, they did not sing them well. At one point, they brought out the woman who sang the national anthem that night (we were told; obviously, I can't verify this statement) to sing some sort of country song. She fared little better than The Guzzlers. But at least she was better looking. -ish. I turned to Will, "So apparently it's Karaoke Night at the hockey game." He shook his head. "No, I'd be into that. In fact, all of my co-workers would come to that in a heartbeat. But this..." He didn't have to finish his statement. I felt the same way.

The Guzzlers sucked. Worse than Tarkki, maybe.

Fortunately, we were there for a hockey game, rather than a concert. So our disappointment was short-lived.

At the end of the night, the good guys won 4-3, and we returned to the truck, pleased and relieved.

Our relief did not last long.

Part Three: In Which My Bad Driving Nearly Causes Injury to Ourselves and Others on More Than One Occassion

Typical post-sporting-event traffic. I had the bright idea to "beat the crowd" (an action that has never actually happened in human existence, and belongs in the same category as Sasquatch and cheap big-and-tall stores). I turned away from the highway, a scant six blocks away, and tried to cut through the southern part of Midtown to catch US-59 near Main. The problem was that my grasp of the one-way streets was still pretty sketchy. Factor in that i haven't been gettin a lot of rest in the past week. And that I had fallen off the diet wagon, and my eating was irregular and unhealthy for the past 2 or 3 days. And I was coming down off the adrenaline high of the game.

The first near-death experience was when I turned the wrong way down a one-way road. Will began yelling, "It's one-way! It's one-way!" There was oncoming traffic just about fifty yards away, but the real issue was that I nearly hit a guy on a bike. He almost fell over, trying to stop, then screamed at me and made some sort of hand gesture. I tried to yell back, "I'm sorry!" Will shouted, "Just drive, Dave!" So I got back on the road we were on previously. Finally, we made it down to US-59.

Not only did the transportation powers-that-be have fun screwing up the actual lanes of the highway, but the feeder roads are now non-existent for a large stretch of the road. In their place is a labrynthine series of detours, some of which made an actual circle (four left turns). I had trouble following (or even seeing) signs. Fortunately, Will was there to let me know which signs I was passing.

Finally, I decided, forget this, I'm turning south. I was looking at signs, as I turned under the highway, and proceeded forward, until I heard Will scream "RED LIGHT! RED LIGHT!" I screeched to a stop at the "red light." Cars whizzed by, just a few lengths in front of us. Will fell back in his seat, grabbed his chest, and gasped some (clean) variation of "holy crap." He then proceeded to ask God if He was enjoying the entertainment. I hope so. Neither of us were.

Finally, thankfully, I found Main, and went south until I got to the Med Center, an area that I know well and that has NO ONE-WAY STREETS. On the rest of the way to Will's apartment, he good-naturedly teased me. I didn't take it as well as I should. I pouted.

Will, being a good friend, didn't scream and/or kill me for putting him through the experience.

I tried to assure him that this was just a bad night, and that he didn't have to worry about riding with me in the future. I'm still not sure if he believed me about that. I think he just told me what I wanted to hear until he could get out of the car.

For the rest of the night, all the way home, I was especially jumpy, and second-guessed EVERY SINGLE TURN on my route. At this point, I still don't relish driving anywhere this weekend.

I'm trying to think of a snappy ending for the story. Maybe a moral of some kind. I suppose I could BS something about pride, since I was bragging about being able to find my way back easily through the Midtown Maze. But really, I think the moral of the story is, if we need to go anywhere together, why don't YOU drive?

(Free) Music Recommendation

I just found this song online for free, legal download, and I absolutely love it. I'm actually listening to it for the fourth or fifth time in a row right now.

"Alice," by Tom Waits.

Go download it now.


Coming this afternoon: an account of last night's adventure, including how I almost accidently killed Will three times. Sure to be entertaining.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

All my best post ideas are stolen.

[This time, from the lovely Red.]

No time to post today, so I'll instead leave you with an excerpt from one of my favorite books.

"You did not hear them coming. You hardly heard them go. The grass bent down, sprang up again. They passed like cloud shadows down hill ... the boys of summer, running.

Douglas, left behind, was lost. Panting, he stopped by the rim of the ravine, at the edge of the softly blowing abyss. Here, ears pricked like a deer, he snuffed a danger that was old a billion years ago. Here the town, divided, fell away in halves. Here civilization ceased. Here was only growing earth and a million deaths and rebirths every hour. And here the paths, made or yet unmade, that told of the need of boys traveling, always traveling, to be men.

Douglas turned. This path led in a great dusty snake to the ice house where winter lived on the yellow days. This path raced for the blast-furnace sands of the lake shore in July. This to trees where boys might grow like sour and still-green crab apples, hid among leaves. This to peach orchard, grape arbor, watermelons lying like tortoise-shell cats slumbered by sun. That path, abandoned, but wildly swiveling, to school! This, straight as an arrow, to Saturday cowboy matinees. And this, by the creek waters, to wilderness beyond town....

Douglas squinted. Who could say where town or wideness began? Who could say which owned what and what owned which? There was always and forever that indefinable place where the two struggled and one of them won for a season to possess a certain avenue, a deli, a glen, a tree, a bush. The thin lapping of the great continental sea of grass and flower, starting far out in lonely farm country, moved inward with the thrust of seasons. Each night the wilderness, the meadows, the far country flowed down-creek through ravine and welled up in town with a smell of grass and water, and the town was disinhabited and dead and gone back to earth. And each morning a little more of the ravine edged up into town, threatening to swamp garages like leaking rowboats, devour ancient cars which had been left to the flaking mercies of rain and therefore rust."

--Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Turning a corner.

For those of you who aren't aware, I'm a big guy. Like large. Like, "Violet Beauregard, why did you eat that blueberry chewing gum Mr. Wonka made" large.

Okay, that last bit was slight overstatement. But I am easily the combined weight of three members of N*Sync. Especially if one of them is that runt Timberlake. The combined weight of Timberlake, the Italian guy, and one of the other generic guys.

I've been on a diet for two months. I always hesitate when i say the name of the program, because there's still this weird embarrassed stigma in my head. I wasn't as embarrassed in general about being overweight--it's not an easy fact to hide. But saying, "I'm on *cough*weightwatchers*cough*" is no simple thing.

In two months, I've lost nearly 40 pounds. It's a big victory for me. The going hasn't always been easy, but I'm proud of myself for sticking to this. It's working. I'm changing.

Today, after my can of soup (4 points), I needed a little something else. I was still hungry. I went to the nearest coffee shop here in the medical center, and stood in line. They had no diet soda, and they had the most delicious soft giant cookies I've ever had in my life. I fell into the trap a few weeks back. I'd have one (lovely) and then have to "point it out" (not lovely). Even with my having the maximum amount of food "points" available, one of these saucer-sized cookies (with giant chunks of chocolate baked in, and they're firm without being the least bit crunchy, so that you bend it slowly to break a piece off, oh boy...) would cost me a full third of my daily allowance. Cookie equals meal. Not fun. I usually end up going "over" on those days.

There I stood, in line. Cookie calling my name. I ended up walking away. Went to the other cafeteria-type establishment within walking distance. Had three hardboiled eggs (whites only) and a small handful of carrot sticks with a drop of ranch dressing. And they had diet soda. Total points: 2. Cookie points: somewhere between 10 and 12, by my best guess.

And as I sat in my office, munching on carrots (raw carrots not being my most favorite of vegetable choices), I was struck by the realization--this is actually not bad. In fact, it's pretty good.

I didn't think such a thing was possible. Raw carrots being tasty. Crazy.

This doesn't mark a lifestyle change. I'm not rushing out to buy more raw carrots. Between you and me, I think today might have been a fluke. However, it does seem to indicate that I'm adjusting. And I'm learning to make better choices.

If only this self-control would seep into other areas of my life, I might be on the right track for once.

postcard to a friend i'm proud of.

she's a brave girl, putting her life
in boxes and loading the pieces
into a trailer and driving away.
it's a big step, not just in location
but situation and relation. she's
embracing change like her long-lost
lover, or the brother she welcomes
back from over the seas, clean-shaven
and dressed in military whites.
there may be nights when she stares at the
lights passing through the blinds and casting
bars on the walls, but she will see them
as piano keys playing the melody of some
sweet future song, arias of hope,
refrains of gentle assurance. she knows her
journey is being conducted by a Wise Hand,
who wants His child to be happy and fully alive.

she will thrive there, in the tall grasses.
she will grow. and the flat, dusty landscape
will rise up and call her blessed.

Monday, March 06, 2006

The film I'm most looking forward to seeing this year... (UPDATED)

...doesn't involve mutants** or caped crusaders (though those two movies round out my "top three").

The film I'm anticipating most, as of five minutes ago, is a movie about my favorite radio show of all time.

If you are a reader or friend of this blog, it is now a moral imperative for you to support this film, when it is released this June.

I don't believe that last sentence was an overstatement in any way.

UPDATE: Ach, a collossal blog faux pas. I'm usually better about this.

A very appreciative hat-tip to Manders for the info.

**As stated in the comments, after reviewing the X3 trailer, I may have to revise my list to show APHC as my #2 most anticipated movie of the year. But as much of a Superman fan as I've become, "Returns" still ranks a distant third to Keillor's opus.

Friday, March 03, 2006

The Slackie Results are In!!!

In January, you the readers of PBB voted for the second-annual Slackie Awards (TM) !!! And in true "slacker lit-geek" fashion, it took two months to get the votes tallied. But here, on the eve of some other big award show, it's only fitting that the winners are revealed.

One benefit of the Slackies is you don't have to hear fifteen minutes of my bad jokes to kick this thing off. On the other hand....

Kidding. Anyway. Here we go.

As always, each category will have both the nominee you chose, and the actual winner (chosen by the esteemed panel of judges--me).


Movie of the Year

You said: it was a tie between Star Wars: Episode III and Crash.
And the winner is: Elizabethtown. and, Serenity. and, Walk the Line.
It was hard to pick one this year. At least last year there were two obvious choices. Apparently it was a good year for movies.

Album of the Year

You said: Death Cab for Cutie, Plans
And the winner is: Plans.
Absolutely. One of my favorites of the year.

Book of the Year

You said: it was a tie, with C. S. Lewis, J. K. Rowling, Anne Lamott, and Lauren Winner getting one vote each.
And the winner is: Lauren Winner.
Why? ...well, why not? It's her name, for pete's sake!

TV Show of the Year (returning)

You said: "Arrested Development." Nice try, Trev, but even your ballot-box stuffing couldn't get Battlebutt the win.
And the winner is: "Smallville." (You people should know me well enough by now.) And how could this show not win? This year introduced battling Kryptonians, the Phantom Zone, Clark becoming human then dying and being resurrected, the introduction of Braniac (!), the teasing scenes of Lana's death (not once but TWICE--quit getting my hopes up, dude!), and the death of Jonathon Kent.

[By the way, "Lost" gets runner-up.]

TV Show of the Year (new)

You said: either "The Colbert Report" or "Everyone Hates Chris"
And the winner is: "How I Met Your Mother." Allison Hannigan AND Doogie mean this show won't be denied. Is it inappropriate on a regular basis? Yes. But extremely funny.

Worst Movie Remake of the Year

You said: "Dukes of Hazzard." As if there was any doubt.
And the "winner" is: "Dukes." You good old boys may never mean no harm, but you sure caused it.

Underrated Artistic Endeavour of the Year:

You said: The "Chronic-what-cles of Narnia" Rap. Good choice.
And the winner is: Elizabethtown. It was savaged by critics, but it was a great film.

Overrated Artistic Endeavour of the Year:

You said: "Desperate Housewives."
And the "winner" is: "Desperate Housewives."

News Event of the Year (serious)

You said: Hurricane Katrina.
And the winner is: Katrina. It was the biggest and most tragic story of the year.

News Event of the Year (ludicrous)

You said: TomKat.
And the "winner" is: The courtship/pregnancy/bizarreness of Tom and Katie. And yet, we watched it.

Sports Story of the Year

You said: The White Sox World Series.
And the winner is: Ryne Sandberg inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. (If you don't like it, write your own awards. Ryno was the man, he was my baseball hero growing up, so I'm happy for him. Nyah. Go Cubs!)

Government Screw-up of the Year

You said--and the winner is: Hurricane response. No matter who you think is most responsible, it's clear somebody dropped the ball somewhere.

Ice-cream Topping of the Year

You said: Hot caramel. Didn't see that one coming, actually.
And the winner is: Caramel. Sure, why not. But I'm gonna have to check out that brownie batter thing...

Beverages of the Year (adult and non-adult)

You said: Various kinds of liquor, and root beer, respectively.
And the winners are: The "Blue Whitney" from Dietrich's, and root beer.

Board Game of the Year

You said: Either Mancala, Monopoly, or Operation (Homer Simpson Edition)
And the winner is: Apples to Apples. You really need to play this game.

Burrito of the Year

I'm not even going to count the votes. Everyone knows it's Chipotle all the way.

City of the Year (Domestic and International)

You said: You couldn't come to a consensus.
And the winners are: New Orleans and London, respectively. But I think Houston should get a shout-out too.

Post-It Color of the Year (what the crap?)

You said: Black with white ink.
And the winner is: Black. That's cool.

Buffoon of the Year

You said: Pat Robertson just barely got the edge in your votes. But...
The winner is: Tom Cruise, by a crazy crazy jump off a couch.


You said--and the winner is: Kevin Federline, by a landslide. Well done, K-Fed!


You said: Paris Hilton. Can she be a two-time "winner"?
And the "winner" is: Paris. Why, yes--yes she can.

Blog of the Year

You said: Perfect Blue Buildings. ("You like me! You really like me!")
And the winner is: This Beautiful Mess. She's in Edinburgh, she's back, she's there, she's back, she's there--it's an adventure just trying to keep up with it all. And she's a pretty cool chick too. So there you go.

And finally, here to accept his award for Achievement in Late-Night TV, here is "TV's Craig Ferguson." *applause*

"Thank you, my naughty wee donkeys. *whip-crack sound effect* I would love to stay and chat, but I think this award show is the stupidest thing ever, and I'm only here for the buffet. Thank you. Now watch my blasted show. Our ratings are crap."

Thank you, Craig. You're my favorite Scottish late-night talk-show host on CBS.


That's it folks. Thanks for voting, thanks for playing, and thanks for reading. I go through all of these stupid things for you, as a way of saying, "Hey bud--thanks." After 3 years of blogging, I just can't stop. I don't know what it is.

"I wish I knew how to quit you."

*booing* C'mon, I had to.

Have a good weekend. Enjoy the Oscars, if that's your bag.

Thursday, March 02, 2006


As I waited for my frozen sandwich to cook in the microwave, I reached over to the dispenser of hand santizer on the window sill, partook of a bit of it, and rubbed it on my palms and between my fingers. The smell of Purell carried me suddenly to a sidewalk in London.

It was May, but it was cool and comfortable weather. I was about 3 inches shorter and 200 pounds lighter. I had my backpack over my shoulder. The money belt I promised my mother I'd wear was itchy beneath my shirt. I was standing outside a store, marvelling over the fascinating coinage of the island, big thick pound coins like two of our nickels stuck together. The pound coin has a gravity all its own.

I looked up the street, or rather down, since it was on an incline. Part of the street was in shadow, but farther down the sunlight broke through blinding-white. It was late morning. There were a few cars but mostly just pedestrians. I could hear children. Their sound is distinct, like train whistles or blacksmiths' hammers.

I remember not only the sight and feel of the place, but I remember my own thoughts. I had a crush on Becky (again--you'd think I would have learned the first time, two years earlier), but was convinced that she was either taking up with Josh or Mark. Or Nathan. I remember the fear of leaving high school behind being clouded over by the excitement of this current adventure, short-lived but vivid in its experience. I remember feeling very alive, in this moment. The mustard taste of the future was palpable and strong, but savory and very welcome. I seemed to sense the unspoken, unthought realization that the world existed in unknown and vibrant forms outside of the 5 square miles that contained the majority of my life for the 17 1/2 years up to this point. There was so much more to see, so much more to tell. I got a peek behind the curtain. It was exhilarating.

I looked up the street in the other direction, up the hill this time. I felt the breeze blowing past. There was my group, several yards ahead. I shoved the coins in my pocket, and absent-mindedly pulled the travel bottle of Purell from a pocket in my bag. As I walked, I squeezed a drop into my palm, and rubbed it into both hands. I could smell the sharp, clean aroma that briefly filled my nose and disappeared as quickly as the liquid did from my hands.

The microwave buzzer went off. My sandwich was ready. I returned to my downtown office, finding myself taller, heavier, almost 8 years older. Life has transpired since then. I'm still here, though my five square miles has expanded to include the whole of the city. And as I took my sandwich back to my office, shut my door behind me, and turned on some music, I remembered that feeling of infinite possibility, of the lust for new experiences and adventures, and I wondered whatever happened to that.