Friday, January 30, 2009

Linky-Love Lightning Round

I'm tired of being here, so let's see how many links i can post in the next 15 minutes. Start the clock... GO:
Aaaaaand, time. Fifteen minutes on the button. Have a good night, gang.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Things that Make My Head Hurt Today


Speaker Nancy Pelosi tries to justify "family planning services" (including abortion) as economic stimulus.

Why? Because if low-income and impoverished women keep their babies, the government will be liable to feed and educate them.

I've heard this argument over and over: that abortion is better than children being destitute. And I've almost stopped trying to argue against it because it belies a certain ideological or philosophical blindness I just can't overcome by rhetoric.

But I've never heard it from a politician's mouth, let alone the Speaker of the House. And I never thought I'd hear the implication that infanticide is a financially beneficial concept.


American Christians are losing some of the key concepts of Christian theology, according to a recent Barna survey.

Here's the key quote:
Evidence of people’s willingness to part with church teaching was shown in other data from the survey regarding what people believe. Among individuals who describe themselves as Christian, for instance, close to half believe that Satan
does not exist, one-third contend that Jesus sinned while He was on earth, two-fifths say they do not have a responsibility to share the Christian faith with others, and one-quarter dismiss the idea that the Bible is accurate in all of the principles it teaches.

*head-desk* *head-desk* *head-desk*

Okay. First, I have to hope that Barna's definition of "Christian" (or the responders' understanding of it) plays a part here. But even so, this shows a troubling circumstance for those who claim Christianity.

Here's the deal, gang. If you are a Christian, a Jesus-follower, there are certain beliefs involved. This is part of what the belief system entails.

First, the Bible says clearly, that Satan is real, that He is our enemy, and He will one day be eternally condemned by God. Second, the Bible says that Jesus was sinless, because in order for Jesus to be our high priest before God, and our substitute who takes on the wrath of God for our sin, He could not have sin of his own. Further, a God who sins is not holy. Read the books of Romans and Hebrews, people, c'mon! Third, IF you believe in that the only way to Heaven is through Jesus, and IF you believe that anyone who doesn't enter through that narrow gate is condemned to hell, then you have a MORAL OBLIGATION to communicate that truth to as many people as you can. As Penn Teller so accurately stated in a video a few weeks back, how much do you have to hate someone in order to let them be hit by the (metaphorical) dumptruck hurtling toward them??? Finally, the accuracy of the Bible is the lynch-pin to all of this, I think, because all of the links I'm putting up are practically meaningless if you don't think the Bible is trustworthy. Because I find it logically inconsistent that someone claims to base their belief about God on a book that they second-guess half the time, because at that point there's no way to know what's accurate and what's not. (But we've had this argument before, haven't we?)

So there. A great big "gaaaah." Why can't Christians just read the Bible? Dang.


Because I haven't pissed off enough people so far, how about this: Annalee Newitz is an IDIOT.

[Before dissecting her arguments, I have to take issue with the phrase, "the Obama Era." This "era" has lasted (at most) ten weeks or so. Yes, I'll even allow the time since the election to be included. So far, I've heard a lot of jabbering about "the Obama Era." Hells bells, Gwen Ifill even wrote a book about it. But I beg of you, please pretty please, can we tone down the purple haze of "hopenchange" until the man (MAN, I said) has actually DONE stuff?]

Newitz asks if the blockbuster TV show "Battlestar Galactica" is still relevent in the current administration. For those of you uninitiated, BSG is a brilliantly conceived and produced, but admittedly left-leaning, sci-fi program. Yes, it's left-leaning, and if Adama's "is our civilization worth saving?" question doesn't convince you, the subtext of moral equivalence should. However, I still dig the show, and watch it every week. But Newitz gives point/counterpoint on whether the show has become a relic of the past "age" (the "Dark Ages" apparently).

She commends the show's multi-cultural, gender-equal leadership. As one commenter astutely points out, the Bush Administration was the most diverse (in regards to race and gender) of ANY administration up to that point, and so far the Obama "era" is only equally so. But then Newitz says the show exhibits liberal siege mentality, and adds, "Zarek and Gaeta's mutiny plot feels like something written for the Bush Era, a cautionary tale of what happens when xenophobia creeps into national policy." Because that's what it was about, hating all foreigners. *eyeroll* Newitz then cites the show's dwindling relevance by stating "the torture years are over."

Maybe this should be a whole post by itself. Suffice it to say, those five words speak volumes. Her next sentence: "Now that Obama has shut down Gitmo and other foreign prisons, we lack that feeling of panicked recognition as we watch the humans and cylons abusing each other." Okay, first, Gitmo? Not closed. Not yet. There's SO MUCH TO DO before that happens, but folks like Newitz are already dancing in the streets over it. After a quote, Newitz asks if the show won't be taken as seriously without a president who's "beating the 'war on terror' drum". Ugh. That's right, folks. Bush made the whole thing up.

Here's the killer: Newitz describes the show's still relevant examination of the connectedness of religion and politics, but then says that "religious war is being replaced by religious peace."

Um, what?

"Culture wars between Judeo-Christians and Muslims may be on the wane with Obama addressing his inaugural speech to 'a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and non-believers.' ... Under Obama, it's possible that this civilization gap will start to close... If Obama makes good on his promises of religious tolerance, in eight years BSG's religious anguish and culty weirdness may look as dated as Logan's Run."

...Wow. Really?

Is Ms. Newitz's life SO sheltered that she doesn't see that there is GLOBAL conflict? Radical Muslims targeting ALL faiths? And she thinks, as so many do, that Obama is somehow going to calm all world conflicts, and unite us in peace and harmony?

I'm sorry, kids. It's not going to happen. And it's the peak of naivete to buy into that. Because like it or not, we have enemies that are even now burning Obama in effigy and still crying out "death to America." That's not going away. Not in four years, not in eight, maybe not ever.

Come back to the real world, Annalee. It's scarier, sure, but it's still worth living here.


This is just freaking ridiculous. Not on par with the idiocy above, but still ridiculous. Thanks, Manders.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

"Let me in the sound, Let me in the sound, Let me in the sound, sound..."

You may have heard that U2 is releasing their new album on March 3. (If you haven't, then there you go.) Here's a tracklist and description.

Thanks to ever-observant Manders, here's the first single off the new album. (And lyrics.)

Play it loud.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

PBB Movie Reviews

Need ideas for what to see this weekend at the local cineplex? Here are three options I'd recommend:

Gran Torino
Starring Clint Eastwood
(Rated R for violence, language, racial slurs)

Eastwood's final film role (according to reports) is the grizzled Korean War vet Walt Kowalski, who comes home from his wife's funeral to find himself alone in a changing world. The neighborhood he built a life in has changed completely, his children are grown and indifferent, and the only friendships he has are with other oldtimers and a fresh-faced priest who won't leave him alone (his wife's wishes). When Walt finds his Hmong neighbors harrassed by a local gang, he is able to put aside his prejudices to defend the defenseless, and in doing so finds a new purpose for his twilight years.

What I liked about this film is that, while it could have been preachy and obvious, it took a less didactic approach, and did more showing than telling. Walt was a real person instead of a charicature of a "racist who learns acceptance." Change doesn't come easy. What I loved about the film was the ending. I won't spoil it here, but I'll just say, in its way, it gives an amazing picture of the Christian ideal of "overcoming evil with good." As a viewer, I felt the tension between my desire to see the wicked "punished" with righteous vengeance, and my beliefs as a follower of Jesus. The film balances this in a really compelling way.

If you can handle some violence, language, and racial slurs, I highly recommend Eastwood's masterful film.

Slumdog Millionaire
Starring Dev Patel
(Rated R for language, some violence, thematic elements)

When a young man from the slums of Mumbai goes on a miraculous run on India's version of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire," questions are raised, and accusations of cheating begin to fly. In this film by Danny Boyle (director of a bunch of great films), we learn the story of Jamaal, the "slumdog" whose astounding and improbable life journey leads him to the "hot seat" and a chance at the grand prize.

All the hype you've heard about this film? Totally justified. This film is sometimes gritty, at times emotionally brutal, but ultimately unstoppably hopeful. This is one of those films that will leave you feeling good about life. The storytelling technique is engaging. The actors are all phenomenal. Really, you need to go see this film. If there were a way for Slumdog, Gran Torino, and Dark Knight to ALL get the Best Picture Oscar, just as a way to apologize for all the sucky Best Picture winners of the past decade or so, it would prove there is justice in the Academy.

So yeah, go see Slumdog. Trust me. Just go.

Paul Blart, Mall Cop
Starring Kevin James
(Rated PG for mild violence, alcohol use)

Paul Blart is a (you guessed it) mall security guard who has tried and failed to join the New Jersey state troopers several times. However, when his mall is taken over on "Black Friday" by a coordinated (and oddly acrobatic) gang of thieves, Blart is the "last line of defense" and makes a "John McClane"-like stand to protect his friends and daughter and foil the plot.

This is a silly, harmless, enjoyable popcorn flick about a loveable schlub who gets an opportunity to be the hero and save the day. Kevin James is a great comedic actor who relies on physical humor and completely selling his character; this is the kind of commitment that makes Will Ferrell so brilliantly funny at times. The film isn't perfect, and may only be worth a rental, but if you've got a family, you can feel good about taking your older kids to see it. (Young kids may get scared by the gunfire and threats of violence. And there is a sequence in which Blart gets drunk accidentally, so if alcohol use is an issue, keep an eye out for that.)

[Coming tomorrow: some capsule video reviews.]

The Ballad of Neifi Perez and Jason Marquis

A personal anecdote.

I've been a Chicago Cubs fan for years, and in recent memory, no player has raised my ire as much as Neifi Perez. Or, as he forever shall be referred to, "Neifi Friggin Perez."

Neifi Friggin Perez was a relic of the lamentable Dusty Baker era of Chicago Cubs history. Baker, a manager of once-respected skill, decided that NFP was his favorite, his prize player, and brought him over from San Francisco near the end of the 2004 season. NFP started strong, and we thought he may be a good addition. The numbers didn't really pan out that way. While not atrocious, they weren't very impressive, and what struck me is that Neifi seemed to be one of the most un-clutch players I've ever seen. For every key hit at the end of the game, he seemed to have ten at-bats where he whiffed on pitches or dribbled DP balls to the infield.

You know how the crowd in Mudville thrilled at the thought of Casey at the Bat? It was the exact opposite reaction for me when Neifi approached the plate in the late innings. A cold dread seized my chest. And more often than not, he would quickly return to the dugout defeated, and I would mutter, "Neifi Friggin Perez."

Of course, I may remember him more negatively than he deserves. As I said, his stats weren't great, but he had some good moments. A grand slam. Some key hits and go-ahead runs. But I remember the negative, and it forever colors my view of his brief stint with the club (less than two full seasons). No matter what happened, he would always be "Neifi FRIGGIN Perez."

In 2004, NFP was traded to Detroit, where he got to play in the Tigers' ill-fated World Series. And later, his career would be marred by several suspensions for using performance-enhancing drugs.

As much as I have hated on NFP, what's happened since? The Cubs have won two division titles but have been unable in the past two years to win a playoff game. Who do we blame for this? Can't be NFP, can it.

But maybe the fault lies with Jason Marquis, or as he is now called "Freaking Jason Marquis." Jason Marquis, washed-up Cardinals pitcher extraordinaire, was picked up by the Cubbies in 2007. He's a #5 pitcher, through and through. An innings-eater with an ERA that's been north of 4.5 since 2004. And if you asked me, "Dave, what's your opinion of Jason Marquis?" I'd have said, "Freakin Jason Marquis is a bum." Now, do the facts play out? Well, in his two years with the Cubs, FJM had a record of 23-18. Both were winning seasons for him. And at the plate, he knocked in 10 RBIs last year. So was it his fault the bats went cold in October? I don't even think he got to pitch a post-season inning last year.

So now, with pitchers and catchers reporting in less than a month, we have to look ourselves in the eye and say, "Who determines how we do this year? Is it Neifi Friggin Perez, who's no longer playing? Is it Freakin Jason Marquis, who was signed during the offseason by the Colorado Rockies?

Or is it going to be THIS team, and no one else, who decides their future? Just the players on the field, not the ghosts of the past.

So what it comes down to is: like so many other things, success or failure comes down to what's done now, in the present, and can't be tied to what's happened in the past.

Can we Cubs fans forget the players from the past who we blamed for all the evils of the world, and accept that, from here on out, it's all about who's playing the game today?

Yes we can.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

It's after six, why am i still here?

Sorry for the scarce posting. I've been off-work for the last five days, and my home-internetting has been impeded. Stupid technology, how you foil me so.

I think i have some things to say. May be worth reading, who knows. But it will have to wait. Time to go home and eat some food.

If I can make the home-internetting happen, I'll try to post something tonight. But suffice to say, words are on their way.

In the meantime, check out this album by Fiction Family (a collaboration between members of Switchfoot and Nickel Creek). It's totally boss. I'll be listening to it nonstop until AOL takes it off.

More later.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

"I don't wanna know if the answers aren't easy..."

I'm reading lately about living under grace, and what that looks like. And it's funny (or sad) how we so often try to twist living under grace into being another kind of law. We like law, and structure, and knowing exactly where we stand and how close to the line we can get.

And this morning, I'm listening to a Derek Webb album (a singular event, in itself), and I hear this song, which touches on the subject and pokes at me a bit.


vs. 1)
don’t teach me about politics and government
just tell me who to vote for
don’t teach me about truth and beauty
just label my music
don’t teach me how to live like a free man
just give me a new law

i don’t wanna know if the answers aren’t easy
so just bring it down from the mountain to me

i want a new law
i want a new law
gimme that new law

(vs. 2)
don’t teach me about moderation and liberty
i prefer a shot of grape juice
don’t teach me about loving my enemies
don’t teach me how to listen to the Spirit
just give me a new law


what’s the use in trading a law you can never keep
for one you can that cannot get you anything
do not be afraid
do not be afraid
do not be afraid

One of the challenges of the Christian life is understanding that any rules we follow have to come out of the relationship we have with Jesus. There are rules, yes, but rules built on love instead of punishment.

I wonder if the reason we like our rules is that it gives us an objective standard by which to compare ourselves to others. It's harder to compare one relationship to another. The lines are blurrier, the edges a bit more amorphous.

As I'm writing this, I'm trying to come up with a killer closing statement. Something to make you go "wow" or "a-ha." But all i've got is this: I'm a sinner. God's grace saves me. And on my best days, I'm still a sinner. And on my worst days, I'm still a sinner. God's grace, through the blood of Jesus, sustains me. That's my story.

Friday, January 09, 2009

PBB Official Proclamation *trumpets*

Hereby let it be known throughout the land, from this day forth and until further notice:

Smashburger is the Official Burger Joint of Perfect Blue Buildings.

Because holy cow, it's so good.

So it shall be written, so it shall be done.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger

So I'm tweaking with the blog design. Nothing too radical right now, but still different than before.

I also pared down the link bar quite a bit, added a few links i actually read, and deleted lots of links i don't, as well as links for bloggers who don't blog anymore (a.k.a. normal people).

Of course, a blogroll is a delicate and political thing. People feel offended if you drop them from your roll, even if they barely post. So if you now find you've been dropped, it's usually for one of three reasons:

1) You don't blog. A picture of your cat six months ago doesn't count. I've saved your link, but until you start actually blogging again, I'm gonna file you away. It's cool that you got married, but your wedding photo is not sufficient blogging to keep me around for six months.

(To be honest, if I'd just gotten married, I don't know if I'd be blogging all that much for the first six months anyway. I'd have better things to occupy my time, if you know what I'm saying. ...Filling out thank-you cards, I mean. Wait, what were YOU thinking about?)

2) You blog too much. This is the "Sheila/Lileks" rule. There are certain bloggers that I can read for hours. And do. At work. So I've winnowed out some blogs which i don't read often, because when i start I have trouble stopping.

3) I don't care. This is admittedly a crueller reason. ("Crueller" looks like cruller right now. I must be hungry.) But the fact is, there are certain bloggers I've really stopped following up with. I know people have done that with me, and that's cool. The fact is, there are only a handful of bloggers I really care enough about to check on a regular basis. The rest of you are keen people, but I have to prioritize. Especially now, with so much of my time eaten up by my fantasy basketball league. (I'm kidding...somewhat.)


I'm a pretty fair guy, though. If you've been cut from the blogroll and find this grossly unfair, tell me why in the com-box. If you've never been linked here at PBB, make your case below.

In fact, if you read this site at all, please comment below, at least to say hi. Haven't done one of these in a while.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

"Who are you?" "I am Number Two." "Who is Number One?" "You are Number Six."

Okay, kids, check this sweet business out:

AMC is remaking the amazing BBC series "The Prisoner" into a miniseries starring Ian McKellan and Jim Caviezel. While I'm a little uneasy about ANY remake of such a brilliant television series, I'm THRILLED about this:

They've posted the original series online in its entirety. All 17 episodes.

Here's your assignment for the week: If you've never seen "The Prisoner," you need to take some time and check it out. This show is the stylistic grandfather of such landmark shows as "Twin Peaks" and "LOST." Bizarre, jarring, and full of mysteries. Patrick McGoohan is awesome, and the show's visual style is unique and striking. While the series end is sudden and a little frustrating, it's still fitting for such a show.

For realz, yo. Check it out while you can. Worth your precious minutes.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Linky-Love '09!!!! (Early January Edition)

Ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-check it out.

  • Lots of links today will relate to the upcoming spring TV season, so here's a handy-dandy ("Notebook?"), no, calendar of your favorite shows' returns.
  • Show I can't wait for #1--LOST. Here are a couple of spoilery articles, and a few spoilery videos.
  • Show I can't wait for #2--Smallville. Here's one of the teaser trailers. (Here's another.)
  • Speaking of Smallville, here's a clip of Kristin Kreuk (Smallville's "Lana") in her new film, a reboot of the "Street Fighter" film franchise, in which she plays Chun-Li. (The trailer is in Japanese, yes, but it still looks cool.)
  • Here's a classic David Letterman sketch that makes me laugh every time--Dave running the Taco Bell drive-thru.
  • This is for you folks who get misty-eyed during the Oscars' "In Memoriam" sequence--the Turner Classic Movies' version. It's amazing how many notable stars passed away last year.
  • Best Photo Gallery honors go to the cast of How I Met Your Mother, re-enacting notable recent images from news and pop culture.
  • When you want to put the past year in perspective, there's only one distinguished, historical, and entirely even-handed source to turn to: humorist Dave Barry. This is your PBB Mandatory Reading of the Day.
  • I'm convinced this rock anthem should be the theme song for global warming alarmists. (Warning: the video is silly and outrageous in a vaguely scandalous way. FYI.)
  • Re: the above--I'm joking. Calm down. (But honestly, it's the song that immediately pops into my head when people start talking about how we gotta "do something" about the environment.)
  • Here's NPR's list of the best music of 2008.
  • Don't know if you're familiar with the "literal video version" craze on Youtube. It's pretty much music videos by famous rock bands, with the lyrics change to reflect what's actually going on in the video. While this one's still my favorite, these two of Radiohead have caught my eye recently. There are a bunch of copycats online now, but when it's done well, this stuff is brilliant.

That's all, folks. Enjoy your afternoon.

Monday, January 05, 2009

What do I do when I haven't posted in a while but don't have much to say?


Here are a few tracks I've been listening to during the last few weeks.

The first two are by Weezer:

"Miss Sweeney"


Proof that ANYTHING sounds better as a rock song:

Anybody remember this one? Heard it on the radio the other day, and it got stuck in my head:

And finally, a music montage that has NOTHING to do with a show that's returning with new episodes on January 15th:

Thursday, January 01, 2009

You should be going to bed, Dave. Why are you still up?

Two things, and then to bed.


I saw her New Years Eve picture, in which she was kissing a guy I didn't know. And not just "oh, it's new year's, how about a friendly smooch" kissin'--i'm talking passionate, end-of-"When-Harry-Met-Sally" kissing. My first reaction was jealousy. I even checked her Facebook page to see if her status had changed. It had not. So who was this new character, and what right does he have to such friendly relations with my... Well, there's the rub, right? Shewas never my anything. No matter how sweet on her I may have ever been, because I was too afraid to speak up, she was never more than my friend. Barely that. My kind acquaintance, to whom I spoke on and off, but more often than not simply gazed at across the room.

I can't explain or justify my response to the photo in any rational way. I have no claim on her or her affections. This story is just like so many of my stories--the boy who wouldn't man-up and tell the girl how he felt, and then missed his opportunity. The boy who watches the girls he falls for run off with other men. The boy who...stays the boy.

And for the last six years, these stories have sucked.


Goals for 2009:

--Getting healthy. Lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and a lower number on the scale. Setting small goals, and then bigger ones. Making change that lasts, so that I'll stick around long enough to change the world in my small way.

--Actually finishing a writing project. Doesn't matter what it is. Bible Redux. Tayor House. A new short-story collection. Doesn't matter. I'll type "The End" on something this year.

--Acting like a man instead of staying "the boy." Shaking off fears of inadequacy and rejection, and starting to date again. Because, no matter how poetic it may seem, "pining" is only good for trees.

Those are my goals. What are yours? Comment below.