Friday, August 29, 2008

Ain't it just like the night to play tricks when you're trying to be so quiet?

Why is Dave online at...10:42 in the p.m.? Well, I'll tell you.

We got out early for the holiday, so I got some lunch (and ice cream) and came home. Changed into some scrubby clothes. Watched a movie (more in a sec). Was going to watch Disc 3 of "Alias" (Season 2), but the disc won't work in either my DVD player or PS2. I'm suspecting a misprinted disc, which stinks, because it means I'll have to wait half a week before I can get the disc via Netflix. If you're not aware, Alias (which had the same creator as LOST) is not a show you can skip episodes of. Alliances switch faster than Sydney Bristow's hair color. I gotta take it step by step.

So what to do, what to do... I'm gonna get offline here as soon as I'm done. Nothing good comes of being online, with no one around and nothing to do, at almost eleven on a Friday night. (IOW: David's royal rooftop--need I continue?)

So I'm about to curl up with a book and nod off. Party animal, I am.

But a few words about a few things.

Sarah Palin--I like it. I really really like it. She's smart, young, maybe inexperienced (but has more executive experience than Obama, having run an entire state for almost a year), but she's a reformer. She challenged her own party's corruption and won. She's a hockey mom with five kids. She's pro-life. She's pro-gun. She's pro-military (her son is about to be deployed). And she's pro-drilling in ANWR. Total Republican up-and-comer with a sincerity and humanity that others lack.

Rock on, McCain.

"Special Topics in Calamity Physics" by Marisha Pressl--I'd heard lots of good buzz about this book, so when I saw it on the book sale table at work, I snatched it up immediately. To blurb: the book is the first person account of Blue Van Meer, a brilliant but socially awkward high school senior whose political-science-professor father has moved her from town to town nonstop since her childhood. For her senior year, she is thrust into the ivied halls of St. Gallway private school. Blue is so oppressively well-read that nearly every paragraph includes quotes, references, and allusions to a library of reference materials (most of it likely made up, much as Susanna Clarke does with "Jonathon Strange and Mr. Norrell"). For the first two hundred or so pages, the book is a bleak comedy of manners, as Blue tries to interact with and possibly befriend "The Bluebloods"--Gallway's elite clique. She's urged to do so by her inspiring and mysterious teacher, Hannah Schneider. For a while, you (the reader) are thinking, "Okay, so this is a less-repulsive Brett-Easton-Ellis/Cruel-Intentions type of story"--until the plot becomes more twisty and shocking. Suddenly, it's not just a dark comedy, it's a tragedy, a mystery, a nearly absurdist hard-boiled crime drama. Ultimately, the novel has a lot to do with growing up, finding a way to overcome your past and withstand the shocking and earth-shaking storms that life throws at you.

In other words, recommended for those with the stamina for five hundred pages, who appreciate the well-timed cross-reference, and who can overlook some scandalous behavior and bad language.

"I'm Not There"--I just watched Todd Haynes' "biopic" (loosely-used term) of Bob Dylan. Wow. What a trippy film. Dylan is essentially played by six actors (including an African-American boy and a woman, the lovely Cate Blanchett), who are really playing six different characters, none of whom are fully "Bob Dylan." The film explores more of the "myth of Dylan" than the man himself, splintering off six different aspects of his character, his persona, and letting them grow and develop lives of their own. The narrative is told out of order and flashes back and forth between the characters--which is totally appropriate, if you've read his autobiography ("Chronicles Vol. 1"--TOTALLY worth your time, fascinating glimpse of who he is). The fact is, the film is oddly respectful of Dylan the man; there's a degree of distance from the real-life flesh-and-blood version. You never see the "real" Dylan in any one portrayal, because few of us are every fully one thing, one persona, one character. But with all this convention-forsaking story structure, you still care about each of these characters, almost individually.

(This is the point where, were I writing a "real" review and it weren't after eleven, I would describe each of the characters with all the appropriate actors' names. However, I'm lazy and tired. Go find it on I will say that Heath Ledger was frustratingly good (as in, I wanted to smack his character) as The Actor, Blanchett as the Provacateur, Christian Bale as the Protester-Turned-Preacher, and Richard Gere (who usually really has to win me over) as an aged Billy the Kid. No lie. TRIPPY FILM. The other two, the boy who called himself "Woody Guthrie" and the younger Dylan being grilled about his work, are great as well. Really no complaints about the acting.

The editing was great, the music was wonderful (a mix of Dylan's original recordings, with some covers of his work), and while it was a little long and suffered from some Peter Jacksonism (a few fake endings), I really enjoyed its experimental nature. If you like Bob Dylan's music, and/or you like unusual/nontraditional storytelling in film, I'd recommend this to you. (Content-wise, it's an "R"--language, drugs, guns, partial nudity, sex, rock-n-roll. So use your judgment.)

The Cubs--are something like 35 games over .500, and have a real shot at winning 100 games for the first time in 73 years. Seriously--Year. Of. Destiny. There's room on the bandwagon if you wanna jump on.

That's it. Be good. Have a safe Labor Day. Go to church on Sunday, call your momma, all that jazz.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Where's the Line?

As reported on several websites, including SayAnythingBlog (where I saw it), some of the interactions between Denver police and protesters this week have turned violent.

One such incident involved a police officer losing his cool and using his baton to "cross-check" a protester who wouldn't follow verbal commands. (The video is here: be aware, there is not only violence but also severe language).

Some observations--

First: I don't care what is being said to him, unless the assailant is actually, um, "assailing" (as in physically attacking) or about to harm a police officer, I don't think that much force needed to be used. The check would have gotten him a 5-minute major if he were on the ice. There is a place for physical response and engagement, but there are degrees.

Second: The video gives no context for the encounter. Because of this, we can't assume that this was unprovoked or entirely unwarranted. (To be clear, I'm not justifying using a pole to knock someone to the ground when they aren't attacking you--but SOME response may have been necessary, if not THAT response.) So we have to keep that in mind as we view this exchange. We don't know what went on before or after.

Third: There is a question that no one seems to be debating in America these days--namely, where is the line when it comes to protesting? What is "peaceful protesting" and when does a protester cross over into disruption and riot-incitement? A man followed Michelle Malkin around (second half of the vid; the first half is funny in a Colbert kind of way) a few days ago, screaming at her, calling her a monster and a killer, ranting and raving, spiting and wailing. He followed her around for a long time, would not leave her alone. There are some who might say, "That's free speech, you can't stop that." My question is, where is the boundary where free speech becomes verbal assault? Is it chants of "Kill _____" when this person is standing right there, in the midst of a pretty unruly crowd?

Fourth: Related to the previous point is the question of what police forces, specifically security/riot squads, are "allowed" to do in these situations. If you have a mob (as these groups of protesters often become) screaming at you, cursing at you, calling for your death or harm, calling you fascist and thug, how much does that try your patience? How hard is it to stay under control? Again, I repeat for clarity, I disagree with simply bowling over a protester who is shouting, even baiting an officer, but who is not throwing rocks or other projectiles, or is not moving at them to attack. But I ask you, where is the line? When is enough enough?

Five: If you find yourself assuming the police are always to blame in these situations, and you don't believe the line is crossed on both sides, I invite you to honestly investigate. The videos of screaming hordes are on the internet, and easy to find.

Six: Unrelated to the two incidents here, but tangential: People who protest in masks in a free society are COWARDS. If you are one of them, let me tell you to your bandana-covered face: YOU. ARE. A. COWARD.

And if you wear a mask because you don't think America is a free society, you're not only a coward but also a fool. Open your eyes. CHINA is a closed society. The fact that you GET to protest proves you're a fool.

So the Question: What do you think about this issue? Should there be a self-imposed limit to "free speech"--that is, do you think there's a line civilized people don't cross? Or are extremes in protest (whether verbal or physically violent) justified in extreme times?

Discuss in the com-box below, but BE NICE. No personal attacks--unless you're insulting the cowards in masks.


So I just found out this morning that a company called Digital Praise is releasing "Guitar Praise: Solid Rock"--a Christian rock version of Guitar Hero. My brief thoughts on this are as follows:


And now, a point by point breakdown:

Great song list, with a good mix of classic artists and current favorites: ROCK.

No Stryper: FAIL.

Only currently available for PC: DOUBLE FAIL.

But hopefully, it will be making its way to PS2 and/or Wii, so that I and my sisters can enjoy it. Good job, Christians, it only took us several years to finally make this a reality.

QUESTION OF THE DAY: What are your thoughts on this development? Is this a cool opportunity to rock out to Christian music, or more of the typical greedy marketing of faith? Put your answers below.

And if you can identify the title, I will be stunned, impressed, and saddened all at the same time.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

"Surf dudes with attitudes/Kinda groovin, laid back moves..."

I know it's not the end of April, but I wanted to post this moment of admitted lameness.

For you children of the 80's/early-90's, here's the theme to the show "California Dreams."

Synopsis for those who don't remember: It's a sitcom that came on after "Saved By the Bell" about a group of friends who live in CA and form a band. Typical sitcom-y hijinks. Followed the "Partridge Family" format of 1-2 musical numbers per episode. REALLY good music (for the time, anyway).

If you remember this, and feel like taking a "Saturday Morning in 1993" flashback, a bunch of the songs are on Youtube. Worth a few minutes of reminiscing.

For more stuff like this, also check out Retrojunk, which houses clips and pictures from all sorts of TV shows from the last 3 decades. BUT don't do it at work, or you'll never get anything done.

Admittedly Biased and Completely Unfair Political Commentary

[The first in a series.]

Just read the following headline:

"Pelosi Tells Disappointed Clinton Supporters to Avoid 'Victim Politics' "


So much for ideological consistency. Your party's used it to get votes for years, Nancy--why change your strategy now?

[I know, I know. I'll try to be more even-handed in the future. But that was just too rich.]

Monday, August 25, 2008

That's my story.

He asked, "Where'd you go to school, Dave?" When I told him I went to a private Christian university, he shook his head in disbelief. "See, the way you talk about things, it's like--I always thought you started out believing then you rebelled a long time, and then finally came back to believing that much stronger."

So I said, I grew up Christian. Grew up in the church. Christian schools, the whole bit. Got saved at 6, "rededicated" myself to the faith in 8th grade. I was very sure of myself, what I believed. That assurance certainly bled over into arrogance. I probably just couldn't imagine people not believing the way I do, if they put enough thought into it. I was a "good kid," but I was also very proud of being a "good kid."

And after high school, I went to my small Christian college, and was confronted with folks who seemed to be very devout, but their actions betrayed their speech. People who went to the BCM (Baptist Collegiate Ministry) church-service-type meetings on Tuesday nights, and would sing with hands raised, and after the minister gave the same old message about the rebellious people of Israel, these people would run to the front, beat their breasts, confess their grievous sins. And then would go out and get smashed and sexed up on the weekend, partying with the best of them. And then went back to BCM the next Tuesday. Rinse, repeat.

I saw this and got so disgusted with "church people" (never once looking to myself), and for a while stopped going to church. I used the excuse that I was tired of the "hypocrisy." I started hanging out with my theatre friends, mostly good-hearted kids who drank, smoked, and cussed openly. They wore these traits as badges of authenticity, proof they were "real" (though I wonder, looking back, if some of the drinking-smoking-cursing was as much a mask as the holy-roller front the others wore). I spent many nights hanging out with cynics and naysayers, flexing their intellectual muscles by deconstructing religion and wide-eyed faith.

I don't think I ever stopped believing in God, or Jesus, or salvation. But I lost sight of God-as-Father during these few semesters. Maybe I'd go to church once in a while, but it never resonated. I started reading a lot of Job, Habakuk, Lamentations. I began to think of God as Zeus, capricious and random, able to strike or smite without regard or reason.

When you live with a concept of God as an unpredictable vengeful deity, it wears on you. It wore on me. And I got so depressed and frustrated. No matter how I tried to distract myself, it never felt right. Finally, I reached a point where I had to say, "God, I don't know who You are anymore. You seem so random and distant."

And the response, inaudible but no less arresting, was something like, "You think I'm random and uncaring because you don't know me well enough. The more you study me, the more you'll understand and see my consistency. If you seek me, you will find me."

That was the beginning of my "return." But it was stalled for another year or so.

My senior year, I fell in love with a girl. We dated for over a year. During that time, my life began to revolve around her. She became the most important thing to me. I all but said as much on more than one occasion; she *was* my life. This was no fault of hers; I think I was so jazzed to be attracted to someone who actually reciprocated that I dove in head first, not thinking.

I still felt the pull of God on my heart, calling me back to Him. But when I'd turn and start following Jesus, I'd immediately feel convicted about this relationship and its place in my life. There were aspects of the relationship that I knew weren't God-honoring, and had to be "put to death" if it was to continue. I wish I could say I realized my error and broke things off then and there. But I didn't. I had a choice between following Jesus or chasing a girl. I chose the girl.

There's nothing wrong with being in love, of course. But any relationship that lasts must be built on a solid foundation of mutual obedience to Christ. My relationship was built on sandier stuff--physical attraction, emotional need, common interests. Nothing sturdy. And as time and distance took their toll, it became clear that all we had left was fleeting and broken.

God doesn't like to share the #1 spot in the life of His servants. And like those woebegone children of Jacob, God will sometimes allow tragedy to strike in order to get our attention. For me, that tragedy was losing first post-graduation "grown-up" job, and then two weeks later, "losing" my girl (no, not dead--but we broke up). Maybe calling it "tragedy" seems too heavy-handed, but when your life is wrapped up around one person, and that person leaves, your life "ends." And that's what it felt like. The rains came down, the floods came up, and the house on the sand went smash.

For nine months, I was out of work. For about five, I was battling what probably could have been diagnosed as clinical depression. Finally, at my lowest point (the Psalmist called it "the pit"), I cried out to God. I gave in. I submitted. I confessed my sin, my rebellion, my selfishness. I fasted and prayed. I pleaded for help. And He rescued me. He brought me out of the pit, out of the miry clay, and put my feet upon a rock. He showed me that He never left, that He still loved me, that He still called me His son and still had plans for me. When I looked at Jesus, I once again saw the compassion of God.

I would be in a totally different place, in all senses of the word, if God had given me what I wanted. I never would have started teaching Sunday School (LIFE group, whatever). I never would have left my teaching job, and would still be broke and miserable. If the girl and I had gotten married like we'd planned, we'd probably be miserable and/or divorced. [As it stands, she married someone else who is a good match for her, and they're happy. And I'm glad of that.] Things would have been radically different. But He was faithful, when I was not, and He never let me go.

I said, That's why I have a heart for people who maybe grew up in the church, but lost sight of God, and got discouraged or burnt out. People who wonder if it's all fake, or not worth living for anymore, and need to be reintroduced to the love and compassion of God, because...

"Because that's your story, right?"

Yeah. That's my story.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Quick Reader Poll (UPDATED)

I have an iTunes gift card. I already have most of it planned out, but i have a couple of bucks left.

What songs should I download?

Poll closes at about 4 today, so I can download the tracks and save them on a flashdrive to take home.

UPDATE: Thanks for your input. While I didn't choose any of your suggestions, I've saved some of them for future Youtube listens and possible eventual downloads. But thank you for helping me out. Some of your songs actually reminded me of OTHER songs that I wanted to download. So you definitely helped.

So wanna see what I got? (Prepare to make fun of me mercilessly.)

  • Band of Horses, "No One's Gonna Love You"
  • Dashboard Confessional, "Stolen" and "Don't Wait" (shut up)
  • Ingrid Michaelsen, "The Way I Am"
  • Jeff Buckley, "Forget Her" and "Everybody Here Wants You"
  • Julia Nunes, "Into the Sunshine"
  • Newsboys, "Stay Strong"
  • Powerglove, "Omnishred"
  • Regina Spektor, "Us"
  • Sanctus Real, "Whatever You're Doing"
  • Weezer, "Perfect Situation"
  • Bright Eyes, "First Day of My Life"

Some of these, I know you're thinking I'm nuts, but the justification is, you buy the one song you like, you don't buy the whole album. So there you go. (I just know the Dashboard picks are gonna cost me.)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

With Apologies to Bobby, and By Request:

Post, she said, you haven't said a lot this week
Videos and linky-loves are (so-to-speak)
Fillers and not content, as you know.
I wanna read something from your soul.
I don't feel like talkin', that's the truth,
But here's a blog post now, kinsey ruth.

The fact is, all the things I feel I cannot tell,
Because a man must learn when not to oversell
All his artist's sensitivities;
It's better to be full of mysteries.
I try to be attractive yet aloof
But here's a blog post now, kinsey ruth.

I just can't decide what this blog's 'sposed to be:
For pop culture comments or a diary.
Some days my poor heart wants to be heard,
Others, I write like a sci-fi nerd.
Yes, I am confused, this page is proof,
But here's a blog post now, kinsey ruth.

Maybe I should just enjoy your company
And not worry 'bout a blog identity.
I'll write when I want to let you in,
And then refrain, to shut you out again.
You can't trust me, my name is John Wilkes Booth--
Just kidding, here's a post now, kinsey ruth.

[a point of reference, if needed]

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Thursday Video View: Musical Mash-ups

(Don't miss the new linky-love post below this one!)

Foo Fighters vs. Guns-n-Roses

Gorillaz vs. The Cure

Green Day vs. The Beatles

The Beatles vs. Guns-N-Roses

Nirvana vs. Daft Punk


Yeah, I know, pinky swears don't mean as much as they used to. It's been a busy week, cut me some slackage.

And in case you need to be bribed into forgiving me, here are all the links I've been digging in the past week or two:
  • The best way to defeat the terrorists? Derision. So let's all have a good laugh at this crybaby. Seriously, I want to smack this guy.
  • My current must-click blog on the web? Cake Wrecks. PLEASE scroll through the archives, and be prepared to laugh until it hurts.
  • Yes, Shia, you've crossed the line into over exposure, and we won't forgive you for Indy 4. So, sound the call, citizens: we've had Enough LaBeouf.
  • The 60's British TV classic "The Prisoner"=awesome. Teddy bears=awesome. Combining the two? Double awesome.
  • Challenge yourself on this rather difficult Civics Quiz.
  • Or figure out your political leanings with this political quiz.
  • Gotta show some love to a Shawnee, OK native who's breaking into the music biz.
  • Those of you who watched Dr. Horrible's Singalong Blog (and if you didn't, shame on you!) will enjoy this.
  • Watch your language, or the Ranger will be after you.
  • This made me laugh for a good long while. And it's called "satire," so don't get your knickers bunched over it.
  • I keep meaning to write a review of "Wall*E," but what I loved most about the film, I can't say any better than this guy.
  • I think I'll be avoiding ordering Domino's Pizza from now on.
  • Best Dark Knight parody I've seen so far: what we've got here is a failure to communicate.
  • Why I'm glad Shakespeare didn't have Facebook.
  • For LOST fans: Here an Aaron, there an Aaron...
  • has listed their "essential" Batman reads for fans of TDK. I've only read a few, but I'm gonna chase down the rest of them.
  • Was I the only one watching "Journeyman" before it was cancelled? That's too bad, because where they were going with it sounds kinda interesting.
  • And finally, two vids from Muppet-related sources:

First, I love Feist. Just wanted to say it. Here's her Sesame Street clip.

And my favorite song by Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem

Monday, August 11, 2008

PBB Link of the Week

Even if you haven't read "House of Leaves" (I discussed it long ago), you need to read Trav's review of the book. Possibly one of the most fun blog posts I've ever read, and he perfectly captures the style and tone of the book he's reviewing. Form following function, as it were. Classic, and definitely a PBB Hall of Fame link. Awesome.

Maybe I didn't blog you quite as well as I should have...

...but you were always on my mind.

So what's going on, internet fambly? It's been an odd couple of weeks. Moments of difficulty, frustration, growth, gratitude. Tough days, good days. Days when I feel like I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be, and other days when it feels like nothing fits anymore.

You know, basically life'n'stuff.

I'm at work right now. (Duh, Dave.) Work's good, though I'm working on being more productive (he says as he types his blog).

I now live about an hour from work, and close to church and family. That's been an adjustment, because i don't like mornings, and I have to get up early to catch the bus/train. I'm groggy, cranky, and generally a bear in the mornings. But I'm making it work. Adjusting.

Not quite totally moved in. Kitchen, done. Living room, sorta done (though I have two boxes of books with no home; i tossed an old broken-down bookshelf I was using for extra storage). Bedroom/closet, ha. No, not done. Not even close. I don't even have any of my electronic equipment set up, aside from my TV and DVD player in the living room. No PS2, no computer. Who has time?

Church is going well. I've been asked to "graduate" up to the next age bracket, and co-teach the 27-35 class. This is an adjustment. I've been part of the young 20's class for 6 years. I really will only know a few people in the other class. But you go where you're sent, right? Right.

...Wow, you'd think that by taking essentially two weeks off, I'd have something more pithy to contribute to the digital swamp. Apparently not much more than a "this is where I'm at" update, huh?


Odd experience of the week: Going into my old Papa Johns, ordering some pizzas for the family, then sitting on the bench and waiting for the pies to get done. I heard the familiar hum of the oven's conveyor belt, saw the dust of the dough table covering everything with a fine white powder. The smell of the store hasn't changed; vaguely appetizing and yet still old and grey, like the fleeting memory of food. I had spent many Saturday nights there before, could almost feel it returning to me slowly, the excitement of a good night's tips, the frustration of a slow night's boredom and the endless stack of boxes to glue flyers onto and fold, bend, snap, fold-fold, close.

And as I stood and started pacing a little bit, looking at everything, watching the employees (who were probably starting to get alarmed), I had to fight off the urge to fold boxes, or jump on the cut station and start cutting and boxing pizzas. I looked at the chart with the delivery totals on the back wall, partially obscured by the oven, and thought, "I could beat all of these kids." These kids. I listened to them talk about their high school football teams, and their prospects for the upcoming year. And I resisted, thankfully, the urge to intone with some "back-in-my-day" stories of the pizza business. Instead, I just waited, took the pizzas, said thank you, and made my way out, leaving a storefront I used to know well but can no longer claim as my own.


I found some scraps of paper, stuff I'd written two and a half years ago, in a box i was unpacking on Saturday. Two poems, and part of a conversation with a long-standing character of mine from a yet-unfinished novel. And I thought, Wow, these aren't bad. Not that I'm any good judge of what is or isn't bad, especially when it comes to the glaring blindspot of my own writing. But, if nothing else, I enjoyed reading them. I can't say that about everything I write, especially years after the fact. But I liked these. Maybe I'll bring them by sometime and give you a peek.


I need to get to work. Things are piling up, getting hectic. But... I don't know. My heart's somewhere else right now. The where is what I'm trying to figure out.

Take it easy, kids. I'll talk to you tomorrow about something or other. Pinky swear.