Wednesday, December 31, 2008

NYE Mixtape Blog

Hey folks. I wanted to drop in and say hey, give you an update, talk about a few things. So grab your noisemakers and paper hats...

===

"What are you doing New Year's Eve?"
I hope you have better plans than I do. I'm still sick. I've been sick for a little over a week. It's gone back and forth, but it's now settling into my chest. I'm on antibiotics and all manner of allergy and sinus medications. My accomplishments so far today: I cooked turkey hash, watched about 5 episodes of The Office, and showered. Plan for the rest of the rockin' NYE: watch the rest of Season 3 of The Office (thanks again, Netflix!), eat more turkey hash, and continue to sniffle/wheeze/cough/etc. No kisses for me tonight. So all you who are getting kisses, snag an extra one in my memory, if you don't mind.

Plans for tomorrow are still shaky, but they include more Office, more turkey hash (if any remains), watching the Red Wings game on TV (they're playing outdoor hockey at my beloved Wrigley Field), and maybe slaying some mythical beasties. Oh, and the ubiquitous sniffling, wheezing, et cetera, ad nauseum. In fact, you may go ahead and add nausea too, just to be prepared.

I'm sorry I won't get to see any of you this year. Kelly and Jill, and Trev and Amanda, I'll definitely miss hanging out with you folks. I'll do my best to drive up sometime in the next year and hang out.

===

"A long December and it's easy to believe /Maybe this year will be better than the last..."
This has been a rough year, hasn't it? Personally, nationally. It's been a beast. My family's taken some hits: job losses, personal crises, struggling like the rest of our city to get by without power and available supplies for a while after a hurricane hit. Financial uncertainty, global uncertainty. The political changes that face our nation, which bring hope to some and concern to others. It's been a rough and tumble kind of year.

But I'm going to tell you two true things in response to all this: 1) God is faithful, He hasn't abandoned His people, and He will not ever do so. And I put my trust in that. 2) It's still hard to be excited to wake up in the morning sometimes. It's hard to have faith sometimes. And while I cognitively always believe in the faithfulness of God, it doesn't make some of our struggles any less harrowing. But the fact that God is and that He has compassion on us, keeps me from giving up. So should it keep you from giving up.

===

"So this is the new year / And I don't feel any different..."

If you're a regular reader of PBB, you may be very concernedly asking, "Wait, Dave, what about your usual end-of-the-year posts? What about the PBB Book List? What about the Slackies?!? I MUST HAVE MY SLACKIES!!!!"

Well, calm down, here's the explanation: I'm sick. (What, weren't you paying attention earlier?)

Kidding aside, it's coming: the PBB Reading List, the 2008 mix tape, the Slackies, the whole shebang. You'll see them in the next week or two. I hope.

In the meantime, a holdover from last year: the entirety of "It's a Wonderful Life" posted online, for you to watch at work, at home, wherever. If you've never seen it, do me a personal favor, and make the time to watch it today or tomorrow. You won't regret it. Consider it a belated Christmas present from me to you.

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"Is this the New Year, or just another night?"
It didn't feel like the holidays this year. There were moments when it was nice, no doubt about that. But it just didn't feel special. I don't know what's going on with me lately. A combination of factors, I suppose. But this holiday season wasn't special, so much as survivable. And I hate that I feel that way sometimes, because I have so much that I'm thankful for. But something just felt...off. It still does.

Tonight's the end of a year, but it's still just the middle of a week. Tomorrow there's a Thursday and then a Friday, a weekend and then we're back to Monday. Nothing monumental. ...I'm missing something these days. Excitement. Hope. Verve. I'm going through the motions, but missing the abundance of life. Maybe my "resolution" for the new year is to find ways to restore the joy of life that seems to have been draining out of my days and weeks lately.

===

"Nothing changes on New Years Day..."
(I sometimes hear this as a song of hope...but this line always belies that. Thus, the topic below.)

All anyone is talking about on the news is the fighting between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. Do I want to get into the ugliness here? Not really. This is the type of issue that fills up the comment box with anger and rhetoric.

But I feel compelled to comment, so here you go: War sucks. But terrorism sucks more. Hamas is a terrorist organization responsible for constant rocket attacks and suicide bombings that wound and kill Israeli civilians, and Israel needs to be able to defend itself. Are innocent civilians getting killed in the retaliation? Yes. I hate that. But I blame the cowards who are hiding amongst the civilians, hoping their deaths would provoke outrage against their enemies. Hamas is an army of cowards and scum. I hope the Israeli army and leadership can end this soon, but it should end with the defeat of Hamas, not with concessions and apologies.

There. Bring on the onslaught.

===

"We'll take a cup of kindness yet for auld lang syne..."

It's getting dark. We're approaching sunset. I'm sitting on the floor of my living room, typing this missive into the "work" laptop on my coffee-table. When I hit submit, I'll go back to laying down and watching TV--I mean, recouperating.

Happy New Year, friends and family. May this one be better than the last. May it bring you peace, rest, renewal, restoration, and life in Jesus Christ.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

PBB Presents: Top Five Unassailably Cool Christmas Songs

Because so many of you are questioning if I have a heart at all, or any tenderness for the Christmas season and its music, here are five songs that I like every year. Enjoy!

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#5: "Blue Christmas" by Elvis Presley

Because Elvis is just plain cool. C'mon, you can roll your eyes, and make fun all you like, but you have to admit, deep down, you like this song. Here's a live acoustic version by members of Third Day and Jars of Clay, but if you're a purist, here's a link to the King himself.


#4: "Merry Christmas, Here's to Many More" by Relient K

A newer song, but it's quickly become one of my favorites. The first line captures my usual feeling during the holidays: "I made it through the year and I did not even collapse / I gotta say, thank God for that..." I'm the type of person who gets overwhelmed by the business of work and church and family obligations that it stops being about Jesus and is just about surviving until the next available day off. I mean, I don't even have a Christmas tree up yet. So the harriedness of Christmas is my experience. Yet the song isn't about worry or stress, but about celebration of God's blessings. Good stuff.


#3: "O Holy Night"

One of my favorite Christmas "hymns." I remember a few special occasions of singing this song. It just strikes the right chords in my heart. And I refuse to let South Park's hilariously-irreverent version ruin it for me. Here's an instrumental version of the song performed by jazz musicians who survived Katrina, from the TV show "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip." I loved this heart-warming scene in this episode, so I'm including the version with dialogue and cut-aways. The instrumental-only version is here.


#2: "Drummer Boy" by Jars of Clay

Not even the song in general so much, as this particular version of it. I suppose I could go into how much the song means to me, the idea of bringing whatever gifts we have to Jesus, however humble, and using them to give Him glory. But that's obvious; so I'm just going to say, Jars of Clay is probably my favorite band, and I want Dan Haseltine's scarf. That's all. Enjoy.


#1: "O Come, O Come Emmanuel"

Probably my favorite Christmas song ever. There's just so much here; most importantly, it captures the urgency of Advent, of humanity itself, as it yearns for redemption. We didn't just need a new moral code, another prophet, a new flavor of religion. We needed a savior. We needed redemption. We needed to be made new. Jesus did that. He was "God with us." And He ransomed His people, captive to sin and death. So, rejoice, rejoice. Emmanuel has ransomed us.


Response time: What are some of your favorites, and why? Drop your answers in the com-box. Have a good night.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

So Simple, Even An Athiest Gets It...

(The title's meant in jest, so the easily-offended need to chill.)

You may be familiar with the comedian/entertainer Penn Jillette, either from his two-man illusionist act "Penn and Teller" or from his various cable shows and other speaking and writing events. Sharp guy, funny guy, intellectually honest, and hardcore athiestic. An athiest evangelist, if you will, but with enough of a head on his shoulders to recognize rhetorical/political nonsense (which puts him at the front of the line ahead of guys like Bill Maher).

I happened upon this video diary of his, about a man who gave him a gift of a Bible recently, and his reaction to it. During this video, Jillette explains what he believes about personal belief and "evangelizing" (he uses the word "proselytizing") for it. In this five-minute video, he grasps the urgency of spreading a faith message better than many Christians do. And I have to say, I was surprised. Listen to the whole thing, but pay close attention at around the 3-minute mark.



The other thing I get from this is how vitally important it is that Christians treat other people with respect and kindness, and use words seasoned with salt. Because if we treat non-believers, even (especially?) those out-right opposed to our faith, with that kind of dignity and love, we will be living lives worthy of the One whose name we bear, and some may even be won over by that love.

Monday, December 15, 2008

PBB Presents: Top Five Most Heinous Musical Crimes Related to Christmas (2008 Edition)

[Updated and Revised from Last Years list; Now with More Snark!]

It's ten days until Christmas, and you may have been inundated with Christmas music for the past month or so. It doesn't bother me as much these days. I used to be a real Scrooge when it came to Christmas music, but I think a lot of that was just posturing, trying to be "too cool" for Yule. Suffice it to say, if I had to pick a favorite holiday song in college, it would have been "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" by Sixpence None the Richer. (Which is a great track, by the way.)

I can now appreciate Christmas music a bit more. Age will do that to you. Plus, it seems these days like i'm losing touch with the excitement that the holidays always brought, so I try to hang on to it where i can. I'm not quite at the "non-stop carols from Thanksgiving to Christmas" level yet. (My mother lives at that level.) But I can definitely appreciate Christmas music a whole lot more.

However, that doesn't mean I like all Christmas music. In fact, certain songs still annoy and anger me--so much so that I feel it's my duty to unofficially indict these musical crimes and misdemeanors.

Here they are, then: PBB's List of Christmas-themed Musical Crimes.

[Disclaimer: If you like these songs, that's cool. If you think I'm being unnecessarily grumpy or negative, that's fine. Whatever, maybe I am, so what? These are the five songs that I avoid like the plague. Songs that make me turn the radio dial immediately, or off completely if they keep popping up. I'd rather listen to my truck engine idle than sit through these cheesefests ever again. But maybe it's just me, so whatever.]

Dishonorable Mention #1: "Jingle Bell Rock" by Billy Idol

Normally this song would be okay, but I take offence that it turned Billy Idol into this.

I hear he wanted to rewrite the first few lines:

Going broke
Going broke
I need a check
So many child support bills, I'm wrecked
Shredding my image
One song at a time
I'll do stupid things for a dime!

Dishonorable Mention #2: "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" by Dr. Elmo
Why is this song popular? Please, someone, anyone explain the appeal. Because what i've got is geriatric alcoholism and nearly-dead relatives. Not quite a laugh a minute. How has this song survived for almost 30 years?!?


Now the List...


#5: "Feliz Navidad" by Jose Feliciano


I almost didn't list this one, becuase really, it's harmless. But the sad fact is that this song is the "Margaritaville" of Christmas carols--everyone knows the words, everyone sings along with the song, and then everyone is deeply embarrassed afterwards. No Christmas carol should cause this much shame. And honestly, the lyrics aren't that inspiring. No magnificent angelic host, no inspiring star, no world laying pining in sin and error, no captive Israel. Just some dude saying Merry Christmas over and over and over. He doesn't even wish us a prosperous New year "from the bottom of his heart." What's up, Jose? Did you run out of sincere sentiment halfway through?

#4: "Santa Baby" by anyone who thinks it's still sexy.


With this song, you get one or two possible outcomes: the singer comes off as trashy and/or just plain sad. (Or in Kylie Minogue's case, able to speak dolphin.) Seriously, this is just painful. Memo to everyone singing this song ever: You are neither Cynthia Basinet nor Eartha Kitt. You will never sound like Cynthia Basinet or Eartha Kitt. Attempting to sing this song as if you were Cynthia Basinet or Eartha Kitt only demonstrates how ridiculous and incredibly annoying this song sounds. Plus, it makes you look sad and desperate. Please stop. For the love of Christmas, please stop.

#3: "Wonderful Christmastime" by Paul McCartney


First, take everything remotely awesome about 80's synth music. Okay, ready? Now smash it with a candy cane until it's completely unrecognizable and repulsive. Once you're done with that, let it rot for about a year, and then set it on fire. Put out the flames with old pondwater, and then smother it with about 15 gallons of watered down vanilla frosting. What you'll have will still be more palatable than this turd, produced by one-fourth of the greatest band of the twentieth century.

The video is frightening and may in some subconscious way be intended to dissuade kids from doing drugs during the holidays. The disembodied piano-playing hands and the star people freak me out. At about 1:45 into the video, the Spanish Inquisition shows up (unexpected, natch). There's duelling Pauls, some kind of fire, angels vandalizing buildings. I'm giving you the high points here.

What stinks is that there is actually a decent version by Jars of Clay, but I can't enjoy it, because Sir Paul's original is forever tainted.

#2: "Happy Birthday Jesus"


Now at this point, you may be taken aback. "C'mon, Dave, really? You're taking shots at a song sung by sweet little kids?" Yes I am, and I'll explain why.

The main problem is the age paradox. This song could only be sung by small children, because the thought of adults singing it is ridiculous to the extreme. On the other hand, you suffer from the cloyingly sweet little girl's voice, with the thlight lithp of mithing teeth--including one point when she ventures into "Junior-Asparagus" land. Then you have the sweeping orchestration over the children's choir, repeating the EXACT SAME LINES before coming back down into the shaky-voiced (oh, i'm sorry, i meant tender) solo finale.

Obviously, if I were this child's parent, I would be beaming with pride. But it's hard to beam with pride at other people's kids. Have you actually tried going to an elementary school Christmas production lately? It's painful. You only care, you can only stand it, if you have a stake in the endeavour. I don't know this little girl. I'm sure she's a sweetheart. But just like I don't make a habit of seeking out bootlegged soundtracks to every elementary-school Christmas production starring cherubic little tykes in construction paper and cotton ball costumes, I don't want to listen to this dear little child sing a birthday song to Jee-ZAHS, makes no difference that the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir produced it.

I'm sorry, that's just the way I feel.

And now, the biggest Christmas stinker is...



#1: "The Christmas Shoes" by Newsong


If there were ever a tune deserving of criminal prosecution, it's this one--and I say this with absolutely no exaggeration. I can't even express how much I loathe this song. Some of these tracks annoy me, or stick in my mind like a burr that I can't remove. But this one makes me angry, to the point of minor violence. Why? Because it's expressly created to make you cry. A little boy is buying new shoes for his mother, so she'll be pretty when she dies and goes to Heaven tonight.

Holy. Freaking. Crap. And the kid can't afford the shoes, and a stranger buys them for him. For his mom who's dying of some unspecified disease. Because apparently Daddy can't get his butt to the store with his young son to buy the frigging shoes.

The stage-whispery vocals. The telegraphed musical swells at the bridge. The FREAKING CHILDREN'S CHOIR SINGING THE CHORUS AFTER THE BRIDGE!

AAARRRRRGGGGGGHHH!!! MUST SMASH!!!! MUST SMASH!!!!!!!!

*calming breaths*

I still hate you, Newsong. I still hate you very very much.

===

Up Next: "PBB's Top Five Favorite Christmas Songs." Because I'll need to prove that I do actually have a heart, after this tirade...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

My Nose is Nearly Thawed Out...

The last six hours? Crazy. In point-by-point form:

  • Stayed late at work. Stupid work.
  • Snow flurries are lovely and awesome until it starts to feel really cold.
  • Missing my bus by mere seconds, and waiting an HOUR for the next one to show up. While leaning under a building overhang to get some relief from the snow flurries.
  • Random, sudden car trouble.
  • Crazy, bitter, muttering tow truck driver.
  • Still very, very cold.
I'd provide more detail, but it's freaking cold and i'm exhausted. Those of you who pray, pray I can figure out what's going on with my truck. My theory is that my clutch fluid/line is frozen.

Thanks for your patronage, and come again.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Linky-Love: A/V Club Edition

Mostly video links, but hey, it'll keep you busy on Friday.

  • Does it stink that Ben Folds Five reunited for a one-night-only concert in North Carolina, in which they played the entirety of their final album "...Reinhold Messner," and I missed it? Yes. Does it rock that MySpace posted the entire concert vid, with additional interview footage, online? You better believe it does.
  • Want to see a LOST-promo-slash-music-video? Sure you do.
  • One of my favorite Youtube channels is from TED, a conference of notable thinkers and speakers. In this video, the creator of Second Life talks about how it came about, how it functions, and the sociological trends it reveals. The video is 28 minutes, but it's worth it.
  • Oddly, it wasn't until I saw this that I started kinda wanting an iPhone. Because seriously, it could come in handy when I need to summon Epona or something.
  • BSGeeks worldwide are nearly trembling in giddy anticipation of the new season.
  • New Chris Cornell songs! (Brace yourself, because he's going in a...different direction.)
  • If you haven't been watching "Eli Stone," well, you're probably the reason it looks like it won't get picked up for the second-half of the season. THANKS, JERKS. Anyway, where there's a failing TV show with a cult following, there's always a "save our show" campaign.
  • Check out highlights from the Austin City Limits festival.

Disclaimer

Don't want to give the wrong impression... I've been meaning to post something else, but haven't had time.

So leaving that poem as the top post for more than a few days wasn't an exercise in self-indulgence, I promise. It's just the result of a really busy and stressful work-week, coupled with time spent thinking and working on some other projects.

(I'm sure I'm just being paranoid about it. But the last thing I want you to think is that I'm still fishing for feedback.)

So here's a spacer post, to move the poem down from the top spot, so i feel less self-conscious about it.

And here's a spoken-word poem i like:

Saturday, November 29, 2008

torn diary page

i wasted two-thirds of a Saturday watching
sitcoms. i suppose there were smarter things
to do, a more adult-like list, like laundry,
or budgeting, or putting up my Christmas tree.
but i sat, staring at my computer screen,
watching The Office and laughing by myself
inside an empty, cold apartment. well, not empty, not really,
i'm surrounded by a crowd of books stacked on shelves
and floors, and by the door there is a mob of magazines packed
in a rack. in fact, i also have a multitude of nice CDs, some
DVDs, and of course a gang of vinyl records, which
i spin when i want to appreciate the "old school."

but between me and you and the old lamp post,
i have to admit i'd trade them all, books, albums,
magazines, butterscotch candies, sole ownership of
the remote control, i'd put them all down on the table
and shake hands to seal the deal and exchange the lot for
someone to laugh with when i watch The Office
on my laptop computer, a shoulder to bury my face in
as Michael Scott makes a fool of himself,
a hand to grasp as Jim and Pam dance around
their feelings, and two cool eyes to gaze into when
the credits roll.

really. take the lot. that's my offer. all these petty prizes
i've acquired, because Art and Paul were liars,
see, no man is a rock or island,
unless he's elba, or patmos, or off-hours alcatraz.
and piles of creature comforts and pleasant diversions
are cold tokens of a life built around solitude.
really, take it all away and replace them with
a quiet conversation on the train, and maybe a breathy
"good night" whispered in a cell phone,
with an "i love you like my next heartbeat" as the
silent subtext.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I'm about to leave...

...but I felt like I needed to at least say hi.

Hi.

What's going on with me? Not much. I have the next two days off for the Thanksgiving holiday--you'd better believe i'm thankful for THAT--and then the weekend.

I'll try to post a bit more later in the week.

That's all. I'm hungry. Time for lunch.

Here are some treats for you.




Monday, November 24, 2008

Pictures!

Until I can write something entertaining for you, here's a look at my off-hours during last week's work trip.

Orlando!

Enjoy.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Help me stay awake, I'm fallin'...

It's midnight, Cinderella.

I'm flying to Orlando tomor--well, okay, today. In ten-plus hours. Work conference. I'm looking forward to getting away for a few days. The nine-hours-a-day of panel lectures and workshops aren't laugh-a-minute, but it's essentially a work-reimbursed vacation. I'll get to visit Disney World tomorrow night, and eat at some nice restaurants. That'll be nice.

This week has been busy. There's always a lot to do, and... okay, I'll stop. I imagine it gets old hearing me say the same things every day. Work's busy. I'm tired. Too much to do. Blah blah blah. And each of you lovely readers would say the same things, because my life isn't terribly special. Everybody's got a job that gets stressful and hectic. Everybody could use more rest. So why should I waste your time and mine tell you what you already know?

So here's what's out of the ordinary in my world.

--My family's dealing with (or about to deal with) another bit of disappointment. And I want to be strong, and have faith, and be positive. But the only responses I can muster right now are frustration with the situation and God's elusiveness in it, and the rage I feel toward the unrighteous who cause such things to happen. I want to call on God, like the Psalmist did, to be the defender of my family, but for His own unknown reasons He sees fit to strike us. Since I have a hard time being mad at God, I'm focusing my anger on the person "responsible" for this situation. Not necessarily healthy, or justifiably Christ-like. But that's what it is. It sucks. The whole situation sucks.

--I had a bit of a weird health scare a few weeks ago. After a few days, the issue suddenly resolved, and the doctor didn't have any explanations. I have a referral to go get some follow-up tests done, but I almost don't want to (for fear, ironically, that my insurance won't cover it--as well as the fear of finding out something worse). I know I should just make the appointment, but I'm having a hard time with it. Maybe it's the first real time I've confronted my own mortality. I don't know. The thing is, because of my weight, I can't get life insurance, and if something were to happen to me, I'd leave my family with a mess of debt to clean up. I need to have a plan in place to cover that, until I can get the debt taken care of. And until that plan is in place, I really should be more vigilant about my health.

--Last week, I re-read Romans 12:1, and realized that "presenting your body as a living sacrifice" isn't just some spiritual metaphor. It also actually means, "Treat your body as if it belongs to God." Stewardship, in other words. I'm sure if you had told me this in the past, I would have assented. But it took that last time to really have it sink in--taking care of this body IS worship of God. I want to slap myself in the forehead and say "Duh, Dave." So next week, after I return from the conference, it's back to work. For real, this time. Hold me accountable. And you may say, "Dave, that week is Thanksgiving, and the next month will be filled with holiday treats." I know. But if i wait until the new year, I won't get started. Might as well attack this issue at the most inopportune time, so that it's all downhill from there.

--My spiritual life has its ups and downs. Times of strength and good decisions and feeling confident that I'm growing and maturing, and times of weakness, bad decisions, and constantly feeling like I've gotten nowhere. These last few days have been the latter.

--I'm wearing a collared polo-type shirt. Green, blue and white stripes. One of my favorites to wear to work or church. It has an inkstain. I left a pen in the wash a few weeks ago. Twenty-eight years old, and I still leave pens in the wash. I need a wife, if for no other reason that sometimes I just can't be trusted to function on my own. Okay, yeah, and the whole "love" thing.

--My back hurts. I need a new bed. My mattress and box spring are broken down and should have been retired months ago. Five years. It's been a good run.

--It's 12:20. The dryer timer just went off. Time to see if my clothes need another tumble before the bleach load goes in. Just three more cycles. Then sleep for a few hours before I'm up for my flight. Or I make do with the clothes I've got. We'll see if pragmatism wins out.

Say goodnight, Gracie. ("Goodnight, Gracie.")

Friday, November 14, 2008

Pre-Conference Linky Love

Randomness, GO!
  • An instructional video for bloggers.
  • A preview for the upcoming season of LOST, premiering January 21st.
  • Whenever I tell a lame joke, I hear this in my head.
  • Apparently Joaquin Phoenix is done with movies. I have to say, I'm terribly, terribly vexed.
  • I think Joel Hodgson of MST3K is a national treasure. (Okay, maybe I'm overstating, but he's pretty cool nonetheless.)
  • The King says dudes read books, too. As an avid reader, I concur. (Obviously; otherwise I wouldn't use words like "avid" or "concur.")
  • This helped ease the post-election pain quite a bit. (Yes, you Obama supporters can laugh too.)
  • You may have been hearing about the town of Batman, Turkey, suing DC Comics for use of the name "Batman." Well, then there's this guy. He may think he's clever, but signing checks and queuing up to renew his driver's license just got a lot more difficult.
  • Adam Duritz displays bad judgment. (No, not his hair--jerk.)
  • Christopher Hitchens tries to pop some of the Obama-euphoria. (He's just biased against messiahs, I think.)
  • Suddenly Agent Smith doesn't seem as intimidating.
  • Colbert was robbed and should demand a recount. I guess it goes to show that J. Jonah Jamison was in the tank for Obama, like the rest of the media.

Yeah, yeah, yeah...

I've got a couple of things to post today, but i've gotta do some work first.

Just wanted to check in and say: Be back in a few hours, and--

HOLY. CRAP. SMALLVILLE WAS AWESOME.

Will, you should have stayed an extra hour and watched.

And it wasn't even the bulk of the episode that was so amazing, though I did enjoy "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Chloe."

But the last five minutes or so--daaaaaaaaaang.


And then the trailer for next week--DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANG.


Wow. Cannot Wait.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Why Government-Controlled Health Care is A Bad Idea...

...and can be morally corrupt.

A German doctor was denied residency in Austrailia. Why? Because his mentally disabled son was considered too much of a burden on the system.

Stop and consider that, you who support nationalized healthcare.

The government decided who was WORTHY of their care. And the boy, through no fault of his own, was deemed UNDESIRABLE.

If you aren't chilled by the implications of such a decision, you are utterly blind.

Now tell me that socialized health care is a good idea.

Never forget this: Anything you depend on the government to give you, the government can also take away from you.


[H-T: Say Anything]

Why The Last Season of "Alias" Makes Me Worry About "Lost"

[Today's post is a discussion about the TV shows "Alias" and "LOST." If you're not interested in these shows, or you don't want to be spoiled about the end of the former, consider this your spoiler warning.]

So I finished watching the TV series "Alias" this weekend, and since I'm doing so, oh, two and a half years later than the rest of the viewing public, I have no one but you darlings to discuss this with.

Actually, the lateness of such viewing is actually convenient, because I can use my thoughts about Alias to discuss the current TV phenomenon, LOST.

For those who are unfamiliar with Alias, a brief primer: Sydney Bristow is a secret agent working (along with her father) as part of a "black ops" division of the CIA--or so she thinks, until one day it is revealed to her that she and others have been victims of a horrible ruse, and her employer SD-6 is actually a terrorist/underworld organization. She goes to the actual CIA with her information, and is tasked to work as a double agent (as her father does) in the hopes of one day taking down this rogue organization.

Sounds pretty awesome, right? Well that's because it is.

But this is really just the plot of the first two seasons. In subsequent years, there are other organizations. As one falls, another takes its place. All manner of tragedy befalls Sydney and those she cares for, including deaths of loved ones (some multiple times), abduction and memory loss, and countless betrayals (seriously, literally dozens and dozens of major betrayals).
Through the entire series, there is a plot constant: the prophecies of ancient Italian visionary Milo Rambaldi (written as a cross between DaVinci and Nostrodamus), whose fifteenth-century predictions include detailed schematics of 21st century technologies and events. The heart of Rambaldi's prophecies, however, involves Sydney herself. She's proven to be "The Chosen One," and holds pretty much the fate of the world in her hands. Multiple times.

From the very beginning, the missions and intrigues of the show involved hunting, discovering, stealing, or stealing back devices that Rambaldi made and hid hundreds of years before. Some are part of a grand machine, others are part of smaller machines that do...random stuff. The point being, there was ALWAYS a Rambaldi device to find, steal, steal back, or destroy.

Some characters refused to accept the prophecies as being true; others blindly followed them, insisting that their destiny was to bring Rambaldi's visions to fulfillment.

By the end of the series, I have to admit I felt like the Rambaldi angle was played out. And when the final showdown was Irena Derevko (Syd's mom, a Soviet double-agent/career manipulator) falling through a skylight trying to reach a sphere full of immortality-elixir, I was left a bit cold. So much of the show swirled around what Rambaldi's endgame was--and then his real endgame--and then his REALLY REAL endgame--until finally it was revealed to be simply about immortality. Seriously? That's what five years has gotten me?

It was a fabulous show with some incredible, expectation-defying moments. But in the end, the promise of a momentous payoff was not kept. Jack (Syd's dad) blows himself up to trap the treacherous Sloane in an underground cavern (where he's stuck for eternity, having been revived by Rambaldi's forever-juice). Irena dies. Marshall and Rachel and the others go on with their lives. And the coda of the episode is Syd and Vaughn walking along the beach with their two kids and their friend and former associate Dixon. The end? Yeah, that's all folks.

So here's why I'm worried about LOST:

Alias was created by J.J. Abrams, who was executive producer of the show. Abrams also created LOST, though the executive producing reins have been handed to Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof. Nevertheless, there are some similarities.

The question of faith vs. doubt: In Alias, the idea being debated was Rambaldi's prophecies and the idea of fate versus choice. In Lost, Jack and Locke are pitted against each other as the man of science and man of faith, and Locke insists that his fate is to stay on the island.

The MacGuffin: Alfred Hitchcock coined the term "macguffin" to describe an object that everyone's seeking or fighting over but whose purpose isn't clearly defined. In the behind-the-scenes features on the Alias DVDs, one of the show's creators admitted that Rambaldi was first created as simply a MacGuffin for the characters to run after, and later became something important or vital to the show. In LOST, the MacGuffin may be the Island itself. Or the Smoke Monster. Or Dharma. Or Jacob. Or the four-toed statue. Or the numbers. Or the Others. In short, there are so many ideas or entities of seemly-vital importance that really haven't been described.

The meaning of it all: For a while it seemed like Alias was moving toward something--an idea or concept that bound the story together. While it was presumably Rambaldi for years, in the end, it was merely... well, there really wasn't an overarching theme. Love? Motherhood? "Truth takes time"? By the time the last episode ended, I wasn't sure there was an overarching theme, other than a few ideas about loyalty, choosing love over power, or maybe the question of fate. In LOST, it seems like there's going to be an overarching idea. There is a story being told. The question that remains is, what story is it, and what does it mean? Only time will tell, I guess. We have 2 more seasons to find out.

===

Maybe I'm being a naysayer. But I really like LOST, and I hope that my final assessment of the series will be better than my feelings about Alias--a great show that promised a monster of a payoff but couldn't deliver on the expectations the first three years created.

I guess on January 21st, we'll find out what happens next.

What do you think? Will Cuse/Lindelof deliver on the hopes fans have for LOST? Or should we start moderating our expectations now?

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Coming this week

I've got three "draft-mode" posts in the kitty already, of topics ranging from politics to personal life to television. I'll have a linky love sometime this week, and then either next week or the following week, I'll begin a series of short discussions of the list I posted on Tuesday night: the principles of America's greatness. I had some questions about what i meant by those, and i want to dig into that a little bit.

So all this to say, some actual really-real postage coming, with few if any videos. I'm finally finding things to say, it seems. How about that.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

At last, it comes to an end.

The election, not the world.

I have a few things to say, in response to tonight's events.

I'm an American. I'm proud to be an American. I'm not going to run off to Canada, like other disgruntled voters have said in the past.

As the incoming results are confirming, Barack Obama is my next president. I will never utter the words "Not My President." Like great men in the military have said, you respect the office/uniform, if not the man. I don't agree with many of his ideals, I'm concerned about his future decisions, but like it or not, he's my president. Like I said four years ago--if you refuse to accept a political defeat, you are rejecting democracy. To paraphrase Hunter Thompson, "ya buys yer ticket and takes yer ride." And American democracy wins.

===

To my friends on the left, I have just a few requests:

Don't just do better; do good.

And please don't forget where America's greatness comes from:
  • Its freedom from, not just its freedom to.
  • Its individualism, not its collectivism.
  • The pursuit of happiness, not the guarantee of it.
  • The free expression of religion, not the full muzzling of it.
  • The benevolence of neighbors, not the benefaction of governments.
  • The value of personal responsibility, not perpetual victimhood.
  • The core principles of life, liberty, and democracy--values that have been the bedrock of American self-governance since the beginning.
  • The commitment to nobility, integrity, and courage, from the greatest to the least of us.

Don't lose sight of these things. Embrace these values.

Do good.

===

That's all I have to say. No matter who sits in the White House, God sits on His throne.

I'll say it again, and keep saying it, even if Charlie Rangel doesn't agree with me:

No savior but Jesus.

G'night folks.

Monday, November 03, 2008

What's left to say?

[Great big snip, here.]

If you read this post before 8:20 PM CST, I'd like to apologize. I'm sorry.

That's not the type of thing I want to display. It was ugly, it was bitter, it was confrontational.

I lost sight of Romans 12:21--Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

The "evil" I'm referring to here isn't one candidate or another. It isn't even the followers of one candidate or another. It's the meanness of political invective, and the dark sarcasm I found myself slipping into.

The thing I keep telling people, the thing I need to remind myself, is that while this election has important implications, I believe in something that will last longer than the election, or the presidential term, or this country itself.

I believe that no matter who wins, Jesus is still Lord, the word of God is still true, the Church will withstand not only a Republican or Democrat presidency but even the gates of hell itself, and the Kingdom of God that is both now and not yet will stand forever with Jesus Christ its one and only King. Amen.

So I'm not going to worry. I'm not going to complain. I'm not going to sarcastically assign blame. I'm not going to descend into a dark and nihilistic humour.

Tomorrow, since I have already voted, I will go to the dentist and doctor, get my hair cut and car serviced, watch some "Alias" (season 5, almost done!), and spend the evening with my family, where I will speak only that which is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to the hearers.

Hold me to it, my friends. (And for the record, I've been using that phrase for years before Johnny Mac stole it out from under me. I will not relinquish it, McCain!)

Peace and grace to you, today, tomorrow, and in the days ahead.

[No messiah but Jesus.]

Friday, October 31, 2008

PBB VIDEO(S) OF THE DAY: Don't Vote...At Least Not Because We Told You To

You may have seen this condescending voting video put together by a bunch of actors and musicians. The smug literally emanates off the screen:



WELL...

Dirty Harry has linked to a response video, which I'm declaring the PBB VIDEO OF THE DAY! (DAAAAY DAAAY DAAAAY DAAAY DAAAAY...):



"They read *lines* for a living!"

Brilliant.


(Yes, I will post a couple more times about the election. Once, over the weekend, and once on next Wednesday. Then we can leave this whole political process behind us for a while.)


UPDATED!

Okay, the RUNNER-UP for PBB VIDEO OF THE DAY! (DAAAAY DAAAY DAAAAY DAAAY DAAAAY...) is a follow-up to the McCain Campaign commercials bit I posted a few days ago. This time, Diablo Cody, David Lynch, and M. Night Shyamalan take a stab at creating a John McCain spot. These vids may be my favorite part of this election season, for rizzle:

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I tried writing a Brown-bag Poetry post here...

...but i had to scrap it. Every phrase came out rusty and false. There was no art to it, no deftness. It was all very obvious, very plain, and I was trying to address subjects best left obscured. I couldn't publish the blatant confessions I had written. And I was embarrassed by my bald attempts at topicality and cleverness.

So no, no poetry until I write something worth putting my name on.

===

...Second attempt at meaningful blogging: also failed. My lines stumble along like Frankenstein's monster, all stiff-legged and groaning.

I'm leaving before I do any damage or throw any villagers down a well.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Your Monday Moment of "Cool...Wait--Wha???"

I need to drink more juice. This looks like it could be pretty healthy, let's try this one... Wow, cool, this tastes really good. I wonder how many calories are in this. Lemme look at the label. Wait--only 10% juice? Then what are the ingredients? ...High fructose Corn Syrup--WHAAA???


[This has been your Monday moment of "Cool...Wait--Wha???"]

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Okay, this is brilliant.



(one swear about halfway through, fyi.)

New Random Blog Feature

Today, we introduce a new sporadic feature here at PBB:

Your Moment of "Cool..Wait--wha???"

===

And now, for your Thursday Moment of "Cool...Wait--Wha???"


"Hmmm. I'm waking up fully rested. Haven't done that in a while. And according to the clock, it's only 4:30--that's cool. I may actually get up at five, hit the bus by six, and have a good day today... Wait, is that sunlight? The sun doesn't come up until after seven--WHA?????"


This has been your Thursday Moment of "Cool...Wait--Wha???"

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Wednesday/Thursday Listening

Need a pick-me-up for your workday?

Here's a Johnny Cash tribute album--by a wide variety of artists, including several punk and punk-influenced bands.

Here's a new album by Ryan Adams and the Cardinals (but it's only available for 48 hours).

Cheers.

[h-t: Pop Candy, the best pop culture blog on the interwebs.]

Monday, October 20, 2008

Quick Hits

Jab, jab, jab, body blow, right cross. (That's the joke.)

---Okay, Trev, I'm sorry, but "Dune" is probably one of the worst movies I've ever seen. Like, "Manos Hands Of Fate"-bad. I will admit I didn't finish watching it, and I'm sure the book is probably a lot better. But, DANG, dude. So horrible. The acting. The dialogue. The way it was shot. The plodding self-importance. I really wish I could hear an MST3K-ing of the film. Because that would be the greatest thing since sliced water.

---Signs you need to pray more: When you're cycling through your friends' status updates and profile pics on Facebook, and more than once you have the fleeting thought, "It'd be pretty cool to make out with her." It's a dangerous time for a heart on a wire, my friends.

---Even though I know it's not as much of a foregone conclusion as most media types would lead you to believe, I still can't shake the feeling that Obama is going to win the election--maybe not a landslide but by at least 5 points. And (big shock) I'm not pleased with this. But that's what democracy is about; to paraphrase Hunter S. Thompson (i think), ya buys yer ticket and takes yer ride. And the thing about democracy is, the people get the leader they deserve. You can take that to mean whatever you want it to. I guess I'm just tired of politics and politicking. Let's just get back to life as soon as we can, yeah?

---Brown Bag Poetry comes back this week, if for nothing else than to please that lanky kid up in the Pacific NW.

---My coworkers all left to go vote early. I want to go home early to vote, too. But only if I can "vote" for pizza and sleeping.

---It's already the back half of October. Where's the time gone? I had plans for the last four months of the year, and all a' none of them have been begun. (How about that sentence construction?) Silly Dave and his unfinished plans.

---Capsule Video Review time!

The Lookout: Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Jeff Daniels (Rated R for language, violence, brief nudity, implied sexuality)
Plot: Chris was a kid with a bright future until a stupid choice left deadly consequences, including the death of a friend and his surviving with a brain injury. The injury, while not totally debilitating, limits his advanced mental functions and makes daily life difficult for him. He's left working as an overnight janitor in a smalltown bank, and most of the time he feels angry, like he lost his chance at a normal "life." Much to the concern of his blind roommate (Daniels), Chris befriends Gary, a former classmate of Chris' sister. Gary draws Chris into a dangerous circle of friends and a criminal plot that ultimately turns deadly.
Review: Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a criminally-underrated young actor. You probably know him from the TV show "3rd Rock from the Sun" or the film "Ten Things I Hate About You." But he's grown into an impressive dramatic lead. I've mentioned his movie "Brick" before (seriously, go rent Brick!), and he continues that vein with "The Lookout." I liked the film, overall; it frustrated me, but in a way that kept me dialed in. Meaning, I got frustrated at the characters and their choices. The theme of the movie seems to be about facing consequences, which is why, in retrospect, the film's denoument pulls its punches. But it's a good suspenseful drama with pretty solid performances. Daniels was a scene-stealer. Check it out if you like crime dramas or darker character studies.

[Unrelated side note: JGL is going to be Cobra Commander in the GIJoe movie?!? What the crap?!?]


Run, Fatboy, Run: Starring Simon Pegg, Thandie Newton, Hank Azaria, that mumbling book thief from "Notting Hill" (Rated PG-13 for language, sexual innuendo, nudity (dudity!), and gross/rude humor)
Plot: Dennis panicked and left his pregnant fiancee at the altar, and ever since has been kind of a pathetic man. While his love for Libby never died, it also never motivated him enough to change. When he finds out that his ex is dating Whit, a wealthy financier, he decides he's got to do something to show that he's just as good as his new competition. Whit runs marathons, so Dennis decides he'll do the same. Couldn't be that hard, right?
Review: I watched this because it had Simon Pegg. That's pretty much it. If you like Simon Pegg, that may be enough justification. For everyone else, I'd say it's a mixed bag. It's funny at times, and seems to have its heart in the right place. But ultimately, it's a rude, slapstick-y, gross-out comedy. It tends to push the boundary of its rating, but the gross/rude stuff is all on the boys' side. (Meaning, any sex is implied/discussed instead of shown.) But there is dude-ity, including at least 3 naked male backsides. Overall, I like the fact that the story is about a guy deciding to grow up, keep trying to be a good dad, commit to something, and try to earn the respect of the woman he loved but had done wrong. The rest of the stuff in the movie just brings it down. Meh.

===

Okay, that's the bell. Back to your corners.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Shuffleblog

If you don't know what this is...I'm too sick to explain it. Sorry.

(Why am I doing this when I'm tired, sick, and need to go home? Who knows where thoughts come from--they just appear.)

===

1. "A Message to You, Rudy" by The Specials
"Stop your messing around/Better think of your future." Hahaha. I know, I know. ...I told someone recently that I felt like I've been in a holding pattern. I mentioned this before. In the last few days, I've gotten some odd impulses. Impulses of the "i wanna leave my job and do this" variety. Random, sudden, major changes. And I don't know if I really want to do these things, or if I'm just so desparate to break the stagnation that I'm willing to do something drastic. Bad decisions are often made that way, so I need to be careful.

2. "Everybody's Gotta Learn Sometime" by Beck
"Change your heart, look around you..." The last time I got my heart really good and broken, I made the colossal mistake of not setting the bone properly. I didn't do the right things to get it put back together. I turned inward. I ate too much. I fed my depression with books and movies and music that let me wallow in my selfishness and misery. And while I'm not in the sorry state I was all those years ago, I'm still dealing with the effects of those decisions. I never learned how to trust. I never relearned how to see myself properly, instead of in terms of others' approval. As a result, I've been scared of stepping out, scared of risking my feelings or pride or reputation. I've only asked out one girl in the last six plus years. And that attempt was so weak and half-hearted that the poor girl probably didn't realize what I was getting on about. And while part of me is really ready to stop being so scared and childish, I still feel like I need to rebreak and reset my heart before I can be strong enough for the next big thing.

3. "Come Clean" by Harrod & Funck
"You don't really know me/The watery muck flowing through my veins..." I think it's a fair thing to say I've been afraid for the last several years. Afraid of making mistakes. Afraid of letting people down. Afraid of not living up to my own expectations. Afraid of losing weight because it gave me an excuse for why women aren't attracted to me. Afraid of telling people about my faith because I'm so often corrupted and easily swayed by the crowd around me. Afraid of doing something different than I have been doing. Afraid of writing a book and finding out it's garbage and I'm a hack. Afraid of saying no to people who ask things of me. Unfortunately, the realization isn't enough.

4. "Turpentine" by Elvis Costello and the Imposters
"...with a song in my heart that is longing to break..." You know, some of my favorite songs are sad ones. Full of longing and fury and heartbreak. Songs of people wronged or people who have wronged others. Songs full of self-pity, self-loathing, nostalgia, and cruel remembrance. This is music I seem to connect to: music that stirs me in ways that many shiny happy tracks never do. This may be a flaw in my character, my Achilles heel. I know, this is common knowledge. But earlier this afternoon, I was nearly moved to tears by a Jeff Buckley song with this kind of keening lament. And it frustrates me that other things in my life don't connect with me on such a raw, emotional level. I don't know. Some folks just ain't happy without a lost love to mourn--even if they have to borrow someone else's to do so.

5. "Beat It" by Richard Cheese
The best version ever of this Michael Jackson classic begins with a somber piano intro, and ends with a lounge-style singalong. Who knew.

===

Okay, enough confession. Time to rest and wait out this inevitable "crud" that's settling in my head/chest.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

What They Should Have Said: Second Debate Edition

The Question: "...I know both candidates, both of you, expressed support for Israel. If, despite your best diplomatic efforts, Iran attacks Israel, would you be willing to commit US troops in support and defense of Israel, or would you wait on approval from the U.N. Security Council?"

What They Should Have Said:

"Yes, we stand with Israel.

...Oh, you want me to elaborate? Okay.

When our best and most loyal allies are ruthlessly attacked by foreign dictatorships who have publicly and repeatedly stated they want to destroy and stamp out our ally's existence, yes, we will unequivocally support and defend our allies against aggression. That includes Israel. This isn't rocket science. This isn't a grey area. It's what's right. America is loyal to her friends.

The best way to defend our friend Israel is to prevent that scenario from ever happening, and we will use diplomacy if realistically possible, sanctions if needed, and force if threatened, to make sure that the madman at the helm of Iran's arsenal doesn't carry out his murderous dreams."

Yeah. Would've been cool to hear something that clear and direct, rather than non-answers. *sigh*

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

"Time for a milestone, time to begin again..."

So. It's one of those nights where I look backward and then forward, I guess. A good activity to do after 1500 posts.

(For those of you hitting the "panic" button already, no, I'm not stopping the blog. We're not breaking up, don't worry. Heh.)

===

Last month, less than a week after Ike hit, a minor milestone was passed.

A little website called teacherdave.blogspot.com turned six years old. Woot, as the kids say.

Six years.

What's happened in six years?

On the global front, two continuing American wars, countless terrorist attacks, one killer tsunami, several devastating earthquakes, a handful of terrible hurricanes, ongoing African genocide, the fall of Enron, the fall(-ish) of Wall Street, three congressional elections, one presidential election, all manner of technological advances, some really great TV, and three disappointing Cubs playoff runs.

(I'm sure there was other good stuff--that list is overwhelmingly negative. But we hang on to the bad things, don't we?)

On the personal front, a job lost, a relationship ended, a period in the wilderness of soul, a new job, three different apartments, four work trips, three-plus years of serving as a Sunday-School/"Life Group" leader, multiple family crises, around 100 pounds of weight gained, a vast array of worldly possessions acquired, more than 100 books read, and a great deal learned.

A lot. Six years seems long and short at the same time. But either way, it's full.

===

So what's on the horizon? Here's what I'm hoping for the next 6 years.

I'm going to keep blogging for the time being. I like it, you like it, it works. What may change is the tone. I want to be less negative. (Off to a great start, right?) Or at least, less hurtful. Maybe that doesn't always come through in my writing, but the negativity is certainly in my heart. Better start there. And I'm going to try to do some longer pieces from time to time, because i've gotten lazy as a writer. You don't mind the occassional editorial essay or theological exegesis, do you?

I'm going to keep serving at my church, as long as I'm asked to. I love it. It gives me a good sense of who I am and where I fit in the world. That role may change, things may shift, but that is where I belong--in God's house with God's people.

I'm going to get healthy. I am. Seriously. I haven't taken care of myself. Unchanged, this will serve to shorten my life. That will keep me from fulfilling the calling I've been given, so that has to change. I've talked a lot about getting healthy. I'm done talking.

I'm going to write. Another topic of much discussion and little action. Thanks to the inspiration and example of friends, I'm getting back to this love of mine. I will return to finish telling the Taylor House saga, but right now, the inspiration is with a collection of short stories I've been kicking around in my head. Genre fiction. I'm getting some new ideas, and continuations of old ones. I can't ignore this, it's too cool to pass by.

I'm going to heal. There are things in my mind and heart and soul that are broken and out of balance. I've let these issues go without dealing with them, and have gotten used to feeling afraid, ashamed, and unworthy. But I won't be able to be the man I'm called to be if I live my life feeling like a failure or an imposition on the world. So I'm going to get with God, with trusted friends, and possibly others, and work some of this stuff out.

I'm going to, Lord-willing, get a family of my own. Remember, we're talking six years here. Once I get some healing and deal with some things, I'm going to get serious about finding a wife. I believe that's God's will for me--some are called to singleness, I am not. So I have to be prepared for sharing the path with someone else. My finances, health, career, and personal habits need tweaking before that can happen, but I'm willing to do what it takes to get there. My second-deepest desire (after glorifying my Savior) is to be a husband and father. I want to see that through.

I'm going to pursue my calling. God has started pulling me in a new and unexpected direction, the last few months. I resisted it for a while, but I'm finally starting to surrender to it. I'll fill you in when the time comes, if it comes. I've got to lay out a few more fleeces and get a little more clarification, if possible, because I'm a second-guesser, especially when it comes to my own thought-processes. But I know that my life in less than 6 years may likely look very different than my life now. And that's a good thing.

So there you go.

===

I turn 28 in six days. When I started blogging, I was 21. By the time I'm 33-almost-34, who knows what the world will have gone through, or what I personally will have experienced? Who knows what the future holds?

...That's not a rhetorical question, by the way. I know the answer, and if you don't, let me know and I'll tell you.

===

This song has been in my head for a while. It pretty much sums up where I'm at right now. Enjoy.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Okay, one more political post...

...because I told Trevor I would.

This isn't about the current candidates as much as the parties in power for the last fifteen years.

The subject of these two videos is the mortgage crisis, possible causes, and reasons why it wasn't stopped earlier. The first video provides pretty clear indication of which party was against further regulation. Don't believe the hype shovelled out there now; let history (and video) speak for itself:



The second video is more detailed, but also takes some side-swipes i'm not down with. The Obama namedrop is meant to get your attention, I guess. But he had little if anything to do with the current crisis (poor dear didn't have much to do with anything during his term). Not to say he hasn't benefitted, but the real villains? People like Barney Frank.

There's lots of info there, so take some time and check it out:




Okay, that's enough of that. Another post this afternoon, and it will have nothing to do with politics, I promise.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Flying the blue "L" tonight.

[title explanation here]

I was going to post something more personal, a little more introspective, in honor of PBB's 1500th post.

But I want to take a moment to acknowledge the end of the Cubs' 2008 season.

All season (or at least since July), I've been calling it the Year of Destiny.

The reality is, it's just another year. The results are the same, even if the expectations and emotions are higher and deeper.

===

I still love my team. Heck, I'm getting a replica jersey (my first!) for my birthday in a week and a half.

But nights like this, God reminds me that some things, while disappointing, don't matter. They don't last. My life's allegiance is not to a silly baseball team.

As i've said before, if I reach the end of my road and I'm known more as a Cubs fan than a lover and servant of Jesus, I am a failure and my life was wasted.

So even now, as I'm disappointed by a lost playoff series, I say, "Blessed be the name of the Lord." Because what matters, what lasts, isn't done on a baseball diamond--it was accomplished on a cross.

Peace to you, friends. As Frank Turk says, spend tomorrow in the Lord's house with the Lord's people.

I'll be back tomorrow or Monday with a post about other stuff going on in my life.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Admittedly Biased and Unfair Political Post (part whatever): Video Edition

Submitted for your perusal. Please watch in order.

1)



2)



3)




I say this to supporters of both candidates: Don't put your trust in any human being to be the answer to all our problems.

There is only one Savior and Redeemer. His name is Jesus.

Friday, September 26, 2008

"I sold my piano/It couldn't come with me..."

Long time coming, I know, but here ya go.

Three weeks ago, I left work a little early, and made my way up to the Woodlands Pavilion for the Counting Crows concert. I parked, and then hiked what seemed like miles to the venue. For those of you not from around here, the Woodlands Pavilion (or "Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion," as it's also known) is a huge outdoor amphitheater with covered seating (under what appeared to be a circus tent), uncovered seating, and an enormous lawn. I got lawn seats. I always enjoy the freedom of the lawn seats, but am never really prepared for the trek from the distant free parking lots to the venue.

I pass through the gates (with the weapons check that sadly has become a normal part of concertgoing), and checked out the first merch table, looking for a Crows tee-shirt. Now, I'm still a gigantic man, so I wasn't so much shopping for a shirt I can wear *now*, but something I can wear eventually. I'm gonna lose the weight. I promise you.

But no dice. They had a few XL's. That ain't gonna do it. I haven't worn XL shirts since middle school.

I climbed the three or four sets of stairs up to the lawn, and slowly made my way across the lawn to the other side of the venue and the "bigger" merchandise table. Sweat pouring, breathing laborious, I get to the other side to find that they only sent a few XL shirts, and nothing larger. Seriously? This is the South, man, home of fried EVERYTHING. You'd think these merchandisers would anticipate a chubbier crowd.

I settled for a tour poster and a keychain (which, incidentally, I can't find now; i need to clean my house). Then I grabbed a frozen lemonade (hey--I didn't have dinner, and they have Vitamin C, so it was okay; don't look at me like that!), and made my way back to the lawn.

I found a nice clear spot in the crowd, and plopped down just as Augustana was finishing their set. I heard their set while I was t-shirt hunting, and I liked it. I want to check out more of their stuff. Here's their big single, if you're not familiar.

I ate my frosty treat and waited for my friend Sara and her friends to arrive. Sara and her friend Katy arrived. I had a good time chatting with them while the stage crew changed out the instruments and set up the stage for the Crows.

Then, finally, their set began.

Now, i need to confess something: I wasn't sure how much I'd enjoy the show. See, I have been listening to the hype. I read scathing reviews of their newest album "Saturday Nights and Sunday Mornings," and I even said to Sara a few days before, "Yeah, I haven't really enjoyed their latest stuff as much. I'm really going for nostalgia as much as anything." I figured I should get a tee-shirt because I wouldn't be willing to shell out money to watch my once-favorite band phone it in anymore.

I couldn't have been more wrong.

They played with energy, with passion. Sure, their music hasn't really grown much lyrically, but you cannot fault them for lacking faith in their own music. Adam sang the songs as if he still really believed everything he was saying. And it was so much fun.

The stage set-up was cool, a faux-brick-building backdrop with a clock at the top (a la Back to the Future) and screen-windows with different things back-projected on them.

I wish i could say more. I wish I hadn't put this off for three weeks. (Stupid hurricane.) The show deserved a passionate post, like the last one I saw did.

But I was reminded of something important that night: Don't let critics in magazines, or nay-sayers on the radio, convince you that your favorite band isn't cool anymore. Because when those notes play, and your heart leaps, you regret doubting. Maybe they aren't the greatest band in the world, but their passion, combined with your passion for their music, makes their show the greatest show ever.

A few quick notes:
--It cracks me up that my boss knows the actress Monica Potter (the subject of the song "Mrs. Potter's Lullabye").
--Adam said he wrote the song "Washington Square" about when he had to move either to or from NYC (i forget which, now). And it was such a poignant performance. That song became my favorite from the new album, and probably part of my top-ten Crows songs ever.
--The song "Good Time" has an interesting story. Adam told about how "a famous actress" got divorced and soon the tabloids were saying that she and Adam were secretly dating. He saw a magazine cover with this splashed across it, and said, "wow, that would have been cool, had we ever actual met." He never said who the actress was, but my friends and I have figured it out, I think. One of the lines in the song is, "I really like those red-haired girls..." The song was written prior to 2002, when the album was released. After about 20 minutes of feverish googling, I uncovered that US Weekly actually printed a rumor about Adam and actress Nicole Kidman, then recently divorced from Tom Cruise. And Kidman naturally has red hair, IIRC. At any rate, she was sporting red hair for "Moulin Rouge," which was filmed/released in 2001. So I'm convinced it was her.
--The first encore was "Rain King," which they performed with Augustana, who came out and did this a capella bluegrass thing. They sang harmony on the chorus of Rain King.
--Adam tossed in some improv-sounding lyrics in "Miami"--a song I've never been hugely fond of. However, I liked what he did.
--"Walkaways" is just a phenomenal closer. So much longing in that track, so much emotion. And it's only a minute and a half long, so it leaves you wanting more, which is perfectly appropriate.

Here's the playlist, copied from LiveCountingCrows.com:

Mrs. Potter's Lullabye
Richard Manuel
Daylight Fading
Mr. Jones
Washington Square
Omaha
Sundays
Miami
Good Time
Long December

Encore:
Rain King (with Augustana, who sang a great a capella bluegrass intro)
Walkaways

===

I should probably comment on the rest of the show. The "headliner" was Maroon 5. I'm not a fan of Maroon 5.

I liked their first single "Harder to Breathe," and there are a couple of their tunes that get stuck in my head, but I'm not a fan, and their set reinforced it. Here's why:

1) Hello, oversexualized lyrics. I mean, dang, boy. And there were little girls at the show with their parents.

2) I'm convinced the lead singer/guitarist thinks he is Prince. He sings and moves like Prince. And the way he held his guitar gave me Super Bowl flashbacks. And the purple--everything was PURPLE. Lights, banners, everything. Purple.

3) The screaming girl factor. I've talked about this in the past regarding John Mayer (hey, remember him?), but it's even more in effect with this show. Especially with Mr. Sexy-sexy on stage.

4) The couple in front of me were dancing so close together they could have been wearing the same pair of pants. Gross. I know this isn't directly Maroon 5's fault (Budweiser had a hand in it too), but I'm blaming them anyway based on #1.

5) The fact that they're headlining ahead of Counting Crows. Yes, I'm petty like that. Jerks.

Thankfully I had Sara and Katy around to help me make fun of everything.

I will give the Maroon 5 guy credit (no, I'm not even gonna look up his name). He sang a cover of Chris Isaak's "Wicked Game." Great song. Granted, he didn't hit the falsetto on the chorus, but he hung in there. So I'll (begrudgingly) give him props for that.

(BTW, if you don't grok "Wicked Game," you should check out the song on iTunes. However, the original Chris Isaak video is totally scandalous, so I can't in good conscience link it directly. Here's less scandalous but decidedly more frightening cover by a goth-rock band.)

===

Some Crows video. First, from the show I saw:




And then, from a week later on the tour:


Awesome. What a great show.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Dave vs. The Anticipation of the Season Premiere

You "Chuck" fans are probably counting the hours until Monday's season premiere, right?

Well, guess what I'm watching right now???**

You're welcome.



**And if you're one of my coworkers or my supervisor, by "right now," I mean "totally on my own time outside of work hours."

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Linky-Love Clearance Sale!

Boy oh boy, I've got a heap 'a links in the ol' linky love bargain bin. Some are a little older, so I'll pass 'em along cheap. Check 'em out and see if any interest you.

  • I've told you about Cake Wrecks, right? Because it's brilliant.
  • Steve McCoy (from the blog Reformissionary) is collaborating on The Subtext, a blog about spreading the gospel in the suburbs. I'm interested in see what he has to say.
  • You guys playing the LOST online game? Sign up quickly; it's about to end. (BTW, if you need to catch up on Lost, G4TV is reairing the series in its entirety every weeknight.) If you don't want to rewatch all of it, just check out this list of the top 50 HOLY CRAP moments from the show.
  • Brad Meltzer (one of the authors of the fascinating "Identity Crisis" Justice League graphic novel) wrote a novel that connects the murder of Mitchell Siegel (the father of one of Superman's creators) to the murder of Cain from Genesis. I'm curious to see how it turned out.
  • I haven't watched this regularly, but I ought to catch up: Kyle Piccolo, Comic Shop Therapist.
  • You've seen the new Microsoft ads with Jerry Seinfeld, right? I was totally gonna snark this up, saying that Microsoft was trying to win over the 20's hipster Mac market using a 50+ year old former stand-up comedian whose primetime sitcom ended almost ten years ago. But you know what? The spot's not half bad.
  • Youtube links: Remy's really funny; Imogen's a genius; this is bizarre; The Shins will not change your life, but are not horrible; this was a pretty fascinating documentary about surviving cancer, and worth your time; remember "Roundhouse" and Crystal Lewis?
  • Remember DARIA? I love this show. If you've never seen it before, watch these episodes (most on this YouTuber's account are divided into two or three parts). Great stuff.
  • I'm actually voting for the Tigh/Roslin ticket. Because Laura Roslin is a babe.
  • I love Superman. I love Superman movies. And while I wasn't too jazzed about the last one (starring Emo-Stalker Kal-El), this makes me hopeful.
  • Do you want lists of artists covering Madonna, Prince, and Michael Jackson? Yes. Yes you do.
  • Man, those evolutionists will fall for ANYTHING. Ahem.
  • Serious Political linkage!!!--John McCain's RNC speech; Fred Thompson's RNC speech (he's such a stud, dude); a graphic of the words used at each convention.
  • Funny Political Linkage!!!!--Palin dodges allegations of Alaska's nonexistence; Palin posts on her Vlog; hijinks at the RNC; the secret bar on Capitol Hill; little-known "Sarah Palin Facts"; and Al Gore's follow-up movie to Inconvenient Truth--"Supernova."
  • A list of the crappiest video-game box-art??? Neato!
  • Random/cool website: Totally Looks Like...
  • Tim Hawkins is funny. I posted a video of his last week or so. Check out the "Smells Like Birthday Cake" video. Na-na-na-na-na-na-CAAAAKE.
  • Having become totally fed up with constantly being eaten by Pacman, Blinky set off to New York to try a career in the fashion industry.
  • I didn't even realize U2 had an album coming out this year! Oh well, I'll still have to wait until 2009!
  • Did I consider, even for a moment, shelling out over seventy bucks for yet another re-release of the Godfather trilogy? Yes. Yes I did. And I'm ashamed of myself.
  • "Synecdoche, New York" looks...weird.
  • A verbal presentation of "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God"? Interesting.
  • More Youtube--Jules Winfield from Pulp Fiction (Sam Jackson) as a hockey coach? Best. Coach. Ever.
  • I've tried to hold off from excessive gloating about my NL Central Champion Chicago Cubs (*cough*YearOfDestiny!*cough*), but I can't help adding a few videos. Okay, maybe a few more videos.

Okay, with this done, expect three more posts this week: a concert review and accounts of the two storms I've weathered this month.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Thanks.

Still dealing with stuff. Will share soon. Don't worry, it's not a) a medical crisis, or b) my parents having marital problems. (Those seem to be the two most frequent guesses.) Everyone is reasonably healthy, and my parents are just as in love as ever.

It's other stuff, and I'll give you the skinny sometime. Just not yet.

Trev, you don't have to come down, and with the recovery effort here going slowly, I wouldn't recommend it at this point. But thanks for the offer. (You're still coming down for the BSG finale in June, right? I'm almost totally current on the episodes and can't wait for the new ones!)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Some days, it doesn't pay to get up in the morning.

Please pray for my family. Can't give any details, but we need emotional and spiritual support in a huge way. Without exaggeration, it feels like God has decided to turn His face away from us, and I have nothing encouraging or hopeful to say to anyone, least of all myself.

Okay, okay, one last thing...

I'd hate to sound like one of those whiny disaster survivors. Really.

But it's been less than a week and the recovery from Ike is already off the national radar?

I mean, a hurricane devastates the Texas coast, and cuts off the power for the fourth largest city in the FREAKING NATION, and you've got nothing? CNN? Fox? MSNBC?

Here's a fun game, readers: find the references to Galveston, Houston, or Ike recovery on the front pages of those sites. Hint: You'll need a magnifying glass.

Didn't we see story after story about Katrina for WEEKS?!? What's the matter--not enough death or destruction to count? Too many--dare I say it--white-skinned red-staters involved?

That's pathetic, national media. Devastation, floods, 1.5 million people still without power and easily accessible supplies after almost a week--and it gets less play than Cindy Mccain lashing out at "The View." Thanks for frakking NOTHING.

I mean, at least Drudge gives us a frakking picture.

Completely Evenhanded and Totally Worthwhile Political Video Posting

Garrett O. (a.k.a. HAWT Garrett) posted this on Facebook, and I think it's brilliant. Worthwhile for voters of ALL ideologies.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

"There's a light at the end of this tunnel..."

Okay, I'm safe and once again connected to the outside world. It's been an adventure. Details to follow. For now, the bulletin:

--Power has finally been restored to my apartment (but not my parents' house--GRRR.)
Because i'm an idiot, i left food in the fridge (thinking I'd only be gone a day or so), and it rotted. Worst offender? Bags o' chicken. So despite my best efforts to air it out and clean it out, the place still smells most foul/fowl.
--Back to work tomorrow, but I won't be logging on to AIM, because I have a beastly tasklist. I know, I know, you're going through Dave-withdrawals. Well, absence makes the heart grow fonder, so you'll REALLY love me when we can finally chat again.
--Please please pray for the folks here on the Texas coast--the devastated thousands in the communities in and around Galveston, as well as the heavily-taxed and frustrated folks up in Houston and its suburbs (like my folks) who are trying to make do without power, without consistent supply of food or gasoline, some without easily accessed water, and all without access to the outside world. The local stations are showing IKE-recovery 24/7, so we have no idea what else is going on.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

What Matters, and What Will Wait.

Lots of stuff to think about and talk about today. But lots of responsibilities and plans to make.

Today is the seventh anniversary of the brutal attack on my country. I wish I could spend some time and give that rememberance its due, but there's a hurricane heading for me. So my thoughts are focused on preparation and family.

Everything else goes on hold until the storm passes. Memory, silence, grave and pressing thoughts. All tossed in the "to-be-completed" box and stowed for the next 72 hours.

Much to do, and little time to do it in.

Have a good day, friends. If it is your wont, say a prayer for the families of the fallen, and a prayer for those bracing for the coming storm. Relish your freedom, and take pride in the way tragedy somehow always brings people closer together.

Let today be a day without politics, a day without posturing.

Peace and grace.