Wednesday, August 29, 2007

And now, your Wednesday moment of insanity.

["Crazy Eyes" Warning at 0:47/2:11]
[SUPER Crazy Warning at 1:57/2:11]

It's not plagiarism; it's an *homage.*

1. Thanks for your great comments on the reading post. It's gratifying to see several of you are literate and appreciate the written word. While it's admittedly a small and wildly non-representative sample, it still makes me feel good.

2. I have three or four actual (non-linky) posts coming this week. Should be interesting (it is to me, at any rate). So keep an eye out tomorrow for the first.

3. Manders did this today; I haven't done one in a while, so here you go:


Currently Reading: "The Tipping Point," Malcolm Gladwell. This is a pretty interesting little book, if you're into understanding sociological trends. I'm wondering how some of these ideas can be applied to church. Something to ponder.
Just Read: "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," JK Rowling. Prepare your pitchforks, torches, and stoning-stones. One of the upcoming posts is a *gulp* positive review.

Currently Listening: "Illuminate," David Crowder Band. Thanks to the generous insistence (and copyright violation) of a friend, I have a lovely burned copy of an album I should have owned for years now.
Just Listened: "The Trumpet Child," Over the Rhine. Amazing album. If you like Over the Rhine, tinkly piano, sexy female vocals, allusions to Tom Waits, or just music in general, this one is well worth your time.

Currently Watching: "The Bronx is Burning," ESPN's eight-part miniseries about the 1977 Yankees' run to the World Series. The sports angle is cross-cut with the New York mayoral campaign and the hunt for the Son of Sam killer. The miniseries gives a really neat "You Are There" feeling, as it intercuts archival footage from that year with reinacted footage featuring a cast full of notable and recognizable character actors (including El Turturro).
Just Watched: "Marty." This Academy-Award-winning film from 1954 about a lonely, sensitive butcher was touching, if a bit short. Marty (who's not winning any Mr. Universe prizes) meets a girl who's not a "babe" by his friends' standards, and who's not "Italian" enough by his overbearing mother's standards. But he realizes that this girl is his shot at being happy and has to decide if he should take a leap with her, or wait for someone more "perfect" to come along. Good flick.

Currently Drinking: Orange juice and Sprite. Call it a "dry screwdriver"--or, if you're Baptist, call it "punch."
Just Drank: some A&W Root Beer last night, though Manders had the right idea with the IBC.

4. And I'll go one better. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you:

The PBB "On Notice" Board for 9/29/07!!!

Friday, August 24, 2007

"But don't just take my word for it!"

A few interesting articles have surfaced in the last few days regarding reading. According to an AP poll, about 25% of American adults surveyed said they have not read a single book in the last year. [h-t: Rick]

One in four. So, all things being statistically equal, if I go to a sell-out baseball game here in Houston, with a crowd of 40,000 adults in the building [removing kids from the equation and adding in stadium attendants], I could look around at the vast sections of seats and say that 10,000 people in that room have not read a single book in the previous 12 months.

That statistic depresses me. It also frightens me a little.

The pastor in the church where I grew up said over and over again, "Readers are leaders." It was instilled in me, and I believe it. So when I see that, according to this poll, a quarter of the American population doesn't read books at all, it makes me wonder who's leading and who's willing to be led.


Another article: Pat Schroeder, president of the American Association of Publishers, says that liberals read more books than conservatives because conservatives want bumper-sticker slogans. [h-t: PW]

According to Ms. Schroeder's logic, us dum Republkens cant unnerstan longur peeses.

And how does she arrive at this conclusion? Because, on average, of those who read books, liberals read ONE more book per year than conservatives do. One book is the difference between "peeling the onion" and bumper-stickerism. Wow. I'm sure her personal ideology has NOTHING to do with that assessment, does it? (Bonus points to her for the unwarranted Karl Rove name-drop. Good on ya, Pat. Stick to the script!)

Curious additional information: According to this poll, those who identify as moderates who read books only average about 5 books a year. What's their problem? My guess--indecision.


So where do I fall in this spectrum?

First, I would self-identify as a "conservative," so that means, on average I'd expect to read 8 books a year.

Last year, I read 47 books. This year, I'm hoping to come close to the same number (though I may take a month off of reading books in September--more on that later, perhaps). Year before last, I read 28. Before that, 28 also.

So no, I'm not typical. I'm the kid who got in trouble for staying up too late reading. I'd sneak a flashlight into my room and read under the covers for hours. Recently, our church had a video retrospective to honor the church library volunteers; a teenaged Teacherdave popped up in the picture montage. I own hundreds of books. I have a "to-be-read" shelf that usually hovers around 50 books, and is constantly being replenished. I hang around used bookstores. I love the smell of new ink.

The thing is, I know I'm not typical, but I shouldn't be so much of an anomaly. In the history of man, we've only had affordable books available to the common populace for about 200 years or so. Before that, they were the privilege of the elite of society. It just bothers me that we take this for granted. There is so much to learn, so much to experience, and we so often shut ourselves away from that because we're too lazy or bored or distracted.

How bad is it getting? Did you notice that even that CNN article linked earlier had a list of bullet-points to summarize the article? How hard is it to read an article with 41 sentences???

Maybe I'm strange. But if I ever have children (and I hope to), I'm going to be turning off the TV (hopefully, there will be no "Yo Gabba Gabba" with which to terrorize toddlers) and sticking books into my kids' hands. Because I still believe it: readers are leaders.

[Incidentally, the reverse is true: leaders are often readers. According to this article, President Bush has already read 60 books this year. *cue sarcastic comments about not counting coloring books*]


What about you? Do you read books? If so, how often and what kinds? If not, why not? Drop me some knowledge in the comments.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to head home.

My plans for the evening?

Why, reading a good book, naturally.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Post-consumer content.

[Go ahead, roll your eyes. I thought the title was pretty clever, myself. *shrug*]

I know that I post quite a few videos on this blog-o-rama, almost too many sometimes. Once i figured out how to import Youtube, the floodgates were pretty much opened. But this is basically because when I find funny or interesting things, I want to share them, you know? As if you were sitting next to me at the computer, and I was saying to you, "I think this is hilarious, and that is cool, and I love this song, and that moves me, and this offends me..."

But I think all the video linkage may become overkill if it drowns out the "real" posts. And it seems like, for all my efforts, fewer people are reading and commenting, and I wonder if that's part of it. Maybe i'm overthinking it and should stop watching stats. I don't know. Just let me know if you're sick of the vids.

I know, this is a weird way to start what is about to become a run-of-the-mill PBB linky-love post, but I wanted to get that out there. Because, as I've said, this blog thing is about me talking to you and sharing with you some part of who I am and what drives me. But if you're bored with the subject or format, we can change it sometimes. So, you know, whatever.

And two more links, each worthy of full attention and deep thought:

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Thanks for all the fish.

This is a little troubling.

I, for one, am preparing myself to welcome our new Vogon overlords.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Mulligan, please.

The weekend left me feeling irritated and disappointed. There is a funny story to be told from it, though, and I'll share that sometime soon. But the overall experience makes me wish I could have a do-over.

I've begun the workweek feeling unrested and disheartened. And rather emo. So i'm not going to blog anything else for a day or so, until my mood changes. Because, really, it's better that way, for everyone concerned.

In the meantime, try making any kind of logical sense out of this bit of madness:

[From the new Nickelodeon show, "Yo Gabba Gabba"]

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Monday, August 13, 2007

Tuning in around the world, all you boys and all you girls.

I want to take this opportunity to give a "shout-out" to you folks visiting PBB.

First, welcome back to the world of blogging, Phil!

Second, greetings to you lovely friends of the lovely Manders who are located in or around Waco.

Third, as for the rest of you, I have a few ideas about which pages you're searching from, but if you've spent any time here in the last 3 days, I'd like to say hello. So "welcome" to the following visitors (by location):

Newark, Delaware, USA
Trk, Burdur, Turkey
Austin, Texas, USA
McFarland, Wisconsin, USA
Grain Valley, Missouri, USA
Washington, D. C., USA
United Kingdom (in general, I guess)
Rothenbuch, Bayern, Germany
Helsinki, Finland
Rome, Italy
Medina, Ohio, USA
Los Angeles, California, USA
Hillsborough, New Jersey, USA
New York, USA
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Vancouver, Washington, USA
Bend, Oregon, USA
Seattle, Washington, USA
Waco, Texas, USA
Paris, France
Overland Park, Kansas, USA
Duluth, Georgia, USA
San Diego, California, USA

If you'd like, feel free to claim your town or city in the comments below, and "holla back," as the kids say. Or if your town is not shown here, you may also feel free to "represent."

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Junk-Drawer Post.

[A little linky, a little love, a lot of yammering on about things.]

Once I upload my pictures, I'll give you a recap of the "going-to-the-Juicebox-as-a-Cubs-fan" experience. Of course, the ending is already spoiled.

So today, since I have a plethora of links and a dearth of good ideas, I'm opening up the junk drawer and dumping out some old links I've been meaning to find a use for.

  • When the link works, this YouTube video is neat: it uses film clips to count from 100 down to 1. Each quote is a few seconds, but you can imagine the amount of effort it took to compile these clips. And it's fun to find well-known clips mixed among the obscure ones.
  • How about another YouTube video? Here's a series of eerily prescient AT&T ads. Most, if not all, of the technologies promised in these ads 14 years ago have come to pass. Pretty interesting. Especially since most of these technologies were developed by others.
  • Wizard Magazine presents their list of the 50 Greatest Deaths in Comic Book History. The number one choice was pretty obvious and completely appropriate. (Obviously contains spoilers, if you try to avoid such things. Though, if you really cared, you'd have read them already.)
  • How about another Wizard list? Here's the Top 25 Cliffhangers. Geared toward the geeks among us, it includes comics and video games, but there are also TV mentions and other mainstream references for you lamewads who don't get into the cool stuff. (Again, spoileriffic, so be forewarned.)
  • In case you don't read Manders' page (you should) and didn't see the link there, here's the trailer to the new Wes Anderson film, "The Darjeeling Limited."
  • Okay, it's funnier in concept than execution, because really, Gabe Kaplan is the only possible Mr. Kotter. But it's a funny attempt to jump on a cultural bandwagon moment.
  • I'm looking forward to the return of the TV show, "How I Met Your Mother." One of the funniest episodes last season was "Robin Sparkles"--not just because you find out that one of the main characters was a cheesy teen idol in Canada, but because it was the birth of the infamous "slap bet" between Barney and Marshall. Barney lost, and Marshall won 5 free slaps across the face to be delivered at any time from here to eternity. We've already seen two. The question among fans was, will the writers follow up with the next 3 slaps? Well, not only is that storyline not forgotten, but they've given us a countdown timer for Slap #3. I'm not sure if this adds to the excitement or takes away the mystery. I'm leaning toward the former, because even if you know it's coming, it's still freakin hilarious.
  • Can you name all 43 presidents? You have ten minutes. I could only get 32.
  • Did you hear about the entire internet crashing? Onion News Network has this special report.
  • In case you weren't in San Diego for Comic-Con (and most of you weren't, i'm guessing), you missed out on the teaser trailer for the new "Iron Man" movie. Paramount's been trying to scrub it from YouTube, but I found a copy. Watch it soon, it will probably be gone tomorrow.
  • If you don't own the brilliantly bizarre film "Bubba Ho-Tep," it may be time to pick it up, now that this snazzy special edition is available. Thankya, thankyaverymuch.
  • Fans of Waterdeep, rejoice! The new album is now available.
  • I can't believe I haven't blogged about this yet: One of the biggest events surrounding the release of "Transformers" may have been one of the trailers that preceded it. J.J. Abrams (the guy behind "Lost," "Alias," and "Felicity"--no, I can't figure that one out, either) is producing a new monster movie set in New York and filmed entirely with hand-held cameras. It comes out on 1-18-08, and currently has no official title. If you haven't seen the trailer, you must check it out here (click on a screen size). The official website has photographs that can be manipulated like real paper photos (and can also be flipped over). The "working title" for the film--one of them, anyway--is "Cloverfield" which is what fans have been calling it. Based on the trailer, it could be awesome. I'll keep you posted if I find out more.
  • Early in Season 3 of Lost, IGN posted this list of 50 loose ends/mysteries in the show. I saved the link and was planning on posting about how several of these issues have now been addressed ("18 of 50" is my conservative estimate), as an answer to the show's critics who say nothing was resolved this past season. Unfortunately, James Poniewozik of Time Magazine's "Tuned In" blog covered this before I got my lazy butt in gear to do it (I had filed it away and forgotten about it.) I know it means nothing now, but I want to make the claim that I thought of this first.
And finally, because I think this is a pretty song, here's a live version of the song playing over the final end-credits of that anime I keep talking about:

Have a good Thursday (and, possibly, weekend), my friends.

[Communal hat-tip: Several of the links above came from Pop Candy, though I also need to credit Wizbang, Evangelical Outpost, Rick's Good Coffee, and Manders, for contributing to the linkage.]

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


I went over to my parents' house last night. I was dropping off some bicycles my dad picked up for my sisters but couldn't haul in his car. I ate dinner with the family, and after the girls went upstairs, it was just my folks and I watching...something on TV. I forget what exactly.

During the commercials, I kept flipping over to the Cubs game. They're in town this week for a three-game set with the Astros. At one point, my mother turned to me and said, "David, I don't want you to take this the wrong way, but I'm really concerned that sports are becoming too important to you."

I didn't say anything. Fact is, this is a question I've wondered about for a few weeks. I've started asking myself if baseball was taking up too much of my attention and devotion. I serve a jealous God, after all, who has no truck with sharing His solely-deserved glory.

My dad started to say something in my defense, but my mom cut him off. "You don't see it as much; you don't see what I see. I just want him to spend less time watching sports and more time going out and trying to find a nice young lady."

Immediately in my mind, I felt a backlash. I'm not obsessive. I care about other things. I don't have an apartment full of memorabilia, emblazoned with the colors and logo of my favorite team. I don't have a tattoo with the red and blue "C." I'm not that bad. And it's not like my love of the Cubs is the one thing holding me back from finding a wife.

But at the same time, I knew that at some level, she was right. I check the scores more than once a day, I read Cubs blogs, I post YouTube videos that few people comment on (ahem). Whenever there's a televised game, I'm usually watching it. I spend more time watching baseball than reading my Bible and serving others. It's a big part of my life.

I left not too long after. I felt uncomfortable. On the way home, I wrestled with whether or not to listen to the game on the radio. Turned it on. Turned it off. Couldn't decide.

I was really most irritated by the fact that she brings it up after she encouraged me to get tickets for my dad and I for tonight's ballgame. It will be a little harder for me to enjoy it now.

Finally, I arrived home, tired and unhappy. And as I slowly made the turn inside my apartment complex and rounded the corner into the parking lot that wraps around my building, I saw the flashing red and blue lights.

I pulled into my usual parking spot. Thirty yards away, there were two police cruisers, lights flashing. Just beyond, a line of yellow crime scene tape.

I slowly walked up to the nearest officer and asked if something happened. He tersely asked if I was a resident. I pointed up to the top of the building we were standing next to.

"Someone's been shot. Some guys came through that walking gate there and tried to steal a guy's car. He turned and tried to run away with his hands over his head, and they shot him in the back. He's in surgery right now. When we showed up, this guy here" (he pointed to the back of his cruiser) "was walking around on the sidewalk, eye-ing us like he wanted to start trouble, so we're going to talk to him."

The officer then told me to be careful and park in well-lit places, to watch where I'm going and be aware of my surroundings. Things my mother always tells me. I wonder if the victim's mother told him the same things.

I went up to my apartment. Flipped on the game. The Cubs lost. I didn't care. I turned the TV off and turned my stereo to the local classical music station.


Life is short. It's fragile. And the evil that is left to roam free can be unspeakable. And while I know that Paul tells me the Spirit given me is not one of fear but of power and a sound mind, I still feel afraid. I know that God told me through Joshua that He is with me whereever I go, but I still feel alone. I know that Jesus told me that he'd never leave me or forsake me, but I still feel a little abandoned.

I need to read my Bible more. I think it would help put my heart at ease.

But one thing that keeps coming to mind: if that were me, if I were the one shot in the parking lot, and I didn't make it, how do I want to be remembered? What is to be the final word on my life?

If the answer that comes up most is "a Cubs fan," then I've failed as a person. My life has to mean more than that. And if that means pushing aside something I love for something more lasting, then I guess that's what I've got to do.

I don't know how to be a half-hearted fan. When I commit to something, I throw myself into it. I'm having a hard time admitting it, but if I'm going to throw my heart into anything, it has to be more lasting than a baseball team.

But saying that--well, it hurts. Especially in a playoff hunt.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Thursday Video View: "Hey Chicago, Whaddaya Say..." Edition

[A.K.A. The "Finally Caught the Brewers to Take the Divisional Lead" Edition!]

The theme of today's selections is: "Guess where I want to be right now?"

1) 1985. Classic. We miss you, Harry.

2) June 29, 2007. Walk-off.

3) June 25, 2007. Comeback.

4) Bad memories.

5) Imagine this scene in the left field bleachers during the 8th.

And a little bit of iTunes serendipity: The title of the post comes from the song "Go Cubs Go" by Steve Goodman, which plays after every home victory. I downloaded it onto my work computer. What's next on the artist-alphabetized playlist? Sufjan Stevens, "Chicago." Neat.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

"I love cartoons!" Tom said animatedly.

I realized something funny last night. Since last Friday, almost all of the books/DVDs I've been enjoying have been animated or graphic-novel-based.

On Friday, I watched the last two discs of an anime series called "Cowboy Bebop." (Why didn't anyone tell me that Spike dies?!? ...Um, oops, uh, *SPOILER TAG* errm...)

For the past four days, I've read Marvel: Civil War; Civil War: Captain America; and Batman: The Long Halloween (all awesome, especially the Batman).

On Monday night, I watched an animated film called Renaissance. It's a science-fiction/crime drama from France, starring Daniel Craig('s voice). I'll save the plot details, but suffice to say, very very cool pro-vs.-anti genetic research concepts. But R-rated language, violence, and gratuitous nudity (so be advised). Fitting that it had the look and feel of Frank Miller's "Sin City" (the novel, not the live action movie; it looked a bit like the book would, if the pictures moved around--but with even less color). [NOTE: The IMDB site has a tag on the movie's page that implies it might actually be rotoscoped. It's possible, though I kept looking for visual clues that this was the case and couldn't find any. Rotoscoped movies look pretty obvious. The animation in this one was a little too clean for that. Anyway.]

And tonight, I'll likely be watching a movie based on another Frank Miller graphic novel.

All this comic-booky goodness. Seems appropriate, since this past weekend was Comic-Con in San Diego (more about that a little later).

But I guess it's time to get back to reading more grown-up books. Like ones about chambers of secrets and goblets of fire.