Saturday, January 31, 2004

Cold-blooded Old Times...

Wow. Seems like so long ago that I was sitting here in the public library, writing depressing crap on this site and worrying about getting a job and starting my post-graduate life over. Wowsa. Well, I guess it *was* last March, but it feels longer than that.

Hey there kids. Here's your extra-special, Super-Bowl-edition, weekend 'hiya' post.

I'm busy busy. I am learning that the weekend isn't for relaxing. Oh, no. The weekend is for getting everything done that you were too tired to do during the week. To the point where it sounds like that "activity" song from Captain Kangaroo: Driving, shopping, washing, drying,
Sweeping, filing, and collecting... etc.
I'm sure that made no sense unless you heard the tune that goes with it in my head. But since i doubt the music in my head is loud enough, you're going to have to trust me.

Went to the "NFL Experience" with my dad yesterday. For you uninitiated, that's the travelling interactive Exhibit/Activity/Shopping fest that occurs during the week before the Super Bowl, in whatever town the big game is being played. My dad got some free tickets, so we were able to go. I'll give you more details later, including (possibly) a link to a pic of my dad and I there. (Which will, of course, ruin the mystery for some of you as to what I look like. I worry about a drop in my readership, but I may just have to risk it.)

Oh, movie reviews! Yes, indeed, they will be up this weekend. At least two, possibly three. And one of them is Seabiscuit, as a matter of fact. I know my uninformed comments against the horse movie have caused some of you to defend its merits, which I appreciate. But you'll soon hear my thoughts on the matter. Exciting, yes? Okay, no. But I'll feel better about actually getting some reviews up again.

Now I remember the drawback of library computers--time limits. I must go kids, much to do. Stay warm, those of you in cooler climes, enjoy the Big Game, or at least the Big Party. Oh yeah, and All Star Survivor. I'm starting to get excited about that.

One favor to ask. If you are able, those of you who are Stateside, watch the last episode of "Ed" on Friday. I don't know why I'm asking this, but it's a great show and it deserves more praise than it's gotten. And it's a wedding episode, so those of you who love watching weddings will like it.

Okay that's all. I'll post the movie reviews, and more stuff, by Monday night.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Eleven (elven) Nominations to Rule Them All

Academy Award nominations came out today. There's quite a bit to discuss--the wicked snubbing Cold Mountain got from the Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay categories; the apparent obsession the Academy has with that stupid horse movie; and how the film with the second-most nominations is one of the most boring of the year.

As much as I want to cover all of them, I am leaving to meet my family for dinner. And I'm tired.

So I will only give you my predictions for who *will* (but not necessarily should) win the major categories. And anyone that wants to run an Oscar pool or make any category-specific wagers with me: I'm in for five bucks.

Best Actor Male: Bill Murray (Johnny Depp would get my runner-up vote; but where's Viggo?)

Best Actor Female: Charlize Theron (scary!)

Best Supporting Actor Male: Tim Robbins (I'd prefer anyone else...Orlando Bloom, Sean Astin... ANDY SERKIS!!!)

Best Supporting Actor Female: Renee Zellweger (from what I've heard, it should be Shoreh Aghdashloo)

Best Original Screenplay: Lost in Translation

Best Adapted Screenplay: Return of the King

Best Animated Film: Finding Nemo (duh)

Best Score: Return of the King

Best Song: "Into the West", Annie Lennox, Return of the King (although I'm pleased to see "A Mighty Wind" in this category)

Best Director: Pete Jackson (and it's about time!)

Best Picture: Return of the King (as if there were any doubt)

Every other category with Return of the King nominated: Return of the King


I'll tell you what, that stupid Seabiscuit is lucky I'm not in the Academy. I'd make sure it was going down.

Place your bets, ladies and gents. The countdown is, at this moment, 33 days, 0 hours, 6 minutes and 13 seconds.




Monday, January 26, 2004

"You were the best supporting actor, the unforeseen factor..."

" were the guy who pulled the chains behind the stage..."

Hey kids. It's a beautiful day today, here in the home of Super Bowl XXXVVIII...L...Q... something. Yeah, everyone in town's getting ready for the drama, pageantry, and hellacious traffic. If I were a cliche-using man, I'd say you could cut the tension with a knife. But that'd have to be a pretty *keen* knife (what an awful pun), cuz tension's not, you know, a physical thing.


So yeah. Lots of unimportant announcements. Ready? Oh-Kay!

1) Captain Kangaroo died last Friday, at the age of 76. He is survived by his hetero life-partner Mr. Green Jeans and 4000 ping pong balls.

2) There are only TWO more episodes of the greatest show on television. Which is appropriate. No beating of dead horses here. But it's sad. Now there will be *nothing* worth watching on network TV. (No, really, there's nothing else worth watching.) But maybe that's a blessing in disguise. Gives me more time for important things. Like Medal of Honor: Frontline.

3) As of Saturday afternoon, I'm the proud "owner" of a brand new washer and dryer (and two years of payments). Which means I am now a fully-functional, independent young adult. Woo hoo! Time for cartoons.

4) I've decided that as genius as some of Monty Python's Flying Circus is, the *really* great bits can all be put on one hour and a half disc. I have come to this decision after almost seven hours of research.

5) The Lord is my Shepherd, and that rocks my face off.

6) I got phone calls from one of my best friends from OBU, and two friends in the Dallas area that I haven't heard from in a while, on Saturday night. Both calls reaffirmed that there are people who care about me and want the best for me. While I wasn't actually doubting this at the time, the affirmation was nice. You guys rock. See all three of you in March or thereabouts.

7) Return of the King won four Golden Globes (best score, best song, best director, best picture--drama), which makes me happy, because it means that Peter Jackson and the incredible people involved may finally get the love they deserve, come Oscar time. Mad props also, to Best Actor (comedy) winner Bill Murray, who is still one of the funniest guys I can think of.

7b.) Is Al Pacino trying desperately to hold onto his youth or what? Memo to Al: "The floppy hair in the eyes and ratty-half-ponytail only work for Johnny Depp, pal. I'm sorry. Get back to the 'Scent of a Woman' hair, or the Godfather III spiky buzz cut. None of this 'check-me-out-I'm-young-and-hip' business. You're a mature actor, for pete's sake. Do you see Jack Nicholson doing any of that crap? No sir! Have some self-respect, man! Thank you. Dave Mitchell, Fan."

7c.) Electroshock, anyone?


So yeah, that's what's happening with me.

I know, I know, I'm supposed to have a movie review for you. I will...soon...even if it's just a review of a film in my personal collection. Just so there's something, right?

Patience, friends. Patience.

"Here's your day in the sun, Lou
See it now that you're done,
You are the luckiest man on the face of the earth..."
"Innocent Jane's got an innocent name..."

"...But she'll confess to you--everybody's guilty."

Been thinking about holiness for the last few weeks. It seems like I go through these seasons where I'm growing closer to God, reading the Word, digging in, changing some habits, and then like the tide, I wash out, and start back at the beginning. There are several reasons why this happens, but they all add up to a combination of half-hearted commitment and the foolish idea of self-help.

Commitment to Christ isn't a buffet style event, like my recent selection of insurance plans. I had to choose which part I wanted in each category, weighing cost versus benefit.

And although we spout so much noise to the contrary, sometimes our "commitment" to following Christ turns into that. We're willing to go to church, but not to witness. We'll read the Bible sometimes, but won't sacrifice sleep or TV to do so. We'll give up a few kinds of entertainment (usually things we don't care for, anyway) but won't even consider giving up other kinds ('you don't understand, I *have to* watch "Sex in the City"').

It's like the kid who says he wants to give to the poor, and fills his bag with brussel sprouts and itchy, ugly sweaters. We're willing to give up things we never liked to begin with.

But sometimes God asks us to change in ways we don't want to. He tries to shake up areas of our lives that are comfortable. To paraphrase a line I read recently, God's more interested in carving our character than catering to our comfort. And he'll ask us to let go of things that we hold dearly, whether we realize that we do or not.

Not only can I be half-hearted in commitment, but I also get this idea that I can fix myself. We think of holiness as a plan of action. "If I do this, this, and this, I'll be more holy." But we misread the Bible when that's our focus. In my translation of the Bible, God says, "Be holy, as I am holy." He doesn't say "become" holy. But too many times, we try to "become" holy, and we fail miserably, because we lean on our own strength.

It's almost laughable to think about. When we are tempted and fall, we then base our plan of personal redemption on the strength of our own will to do right--the very will that failed to begin with. Like breaking your foot and then trying to prove your fortitude by walking to the doctor. You may get a step or two in the right direction, but you'll end up falling again.

Our "will" is malfunctional. It's broken. It's weak. Because it's based on our own power, as if any of us can save ourselves. If we could do that, Jesus wouldn't have had to come down to earth. His death on the cross would mean nothing.

But it did mean something, because he healed us when we couldn't heal ourselves. And when we understand and live in the knowledge of that healing, we find peace. He has made us holy, as in "set apart." We couldn't set ourselves apart.

But by our own power, we *can* blend back in.

That's what we do. We blend. We follow. We get caught up in so many unimportant material things, that we lose focus on the fact that we are set apart.

That's part of what God's been saying to me lately. I had forgotten that I was set apart, and I was blending into the world around me. And God the Father, in his wisdom, has been calling me back. He still says "Be holy, as I am Holy."

We are called to be set apart. The question is whether we are willing to live out this truth in a daily way.

There's an article in Relevant Online about holiness. The author really hammers home that holiness can't be earned, and that we should focus on God's holiness instead of our unholiness. I'm not sure if I agree with that totally. Yes, we cannot be holy on our own, and yes, our attention should always be on God rather than on us.

But holiness (in a day-to-day sense) is not automatic, like salvation. Just because we are set apart doesn't mean we are clean. Not yet. And we can't ignore the fact that we still have attitudes and habits that keep us from being clean, and these flaws in our character must be fought and overcome through Christ's power.

I don't know, I may be wrong about all of this. But I don't trust any attitude that tries to glaze over the sinfulness of human nature, and the daily need for grace. I may be misreading him, but that's what the Relevant author sounded like he was doing. We can't de-emphasize our daily mistakes without losing our understanding of how desparate our need is for grace. I'm not talking about wallowing in guilt--i've done that too.

What I mean is we need a realistic view of things. If you are a Christian, you are the King's redeemed child, filthy and bleeding but forgiven. Nothing can remove you from God's love or faithfulness, but you have to choose to live as His child. And being the child of the king means giving up your old rags, and not playing in the filth anymore. We can choose to do that. We must choose daily to do that. Or else we'll look like everyone else's children.

Thoughts? Maybe discussion of the difference (if any) between holiness and sanctification (we're getting all theological now)?

I don't claim to have the answers. I'm still working through this. But this is what I've got so far.

If you're still reading, thanks for sticking through this. I appreciate it.

Friday, January 23, 2004

"Where were you while we were getting high?"

Why, in a champagne supernova, of course!

Happy Friday, friends and neighbors. I'm kinda loopy right now, so if I say things that don't make sense...make even less sense than usual...check your calendars. Friday. It's friday. At four-twenty-six.

If that has any special significance to any of you, lemme know, cuz I got nothin.

So yeah. My boss is about to bail. He's been playing Yahoo pool for the past couple hours, while I finished up a few small assignments and went bloghopping. That's just too much man, jumping from link to link to link. Reading strange and unusual pages. Laughing at strangers commenting on other strangers.

After a while, it just becomes an overwhelming amount of information. I nearly blacked out for some reason. I don't know. Needing to disconnect?

(Strike through "blacked out" and replace with "fell asleep")

What will I do this evening, you are no doubt asking? Nothing terribly sexy. Washing dishes. Watching Ed. Playing some PS2. It's like I'm still fourteen. But with bills.

But what would I do instead? Go out? With whom? Where? I don't drink, and I don't have a "Friends" group at the moment, so going alone to clubs seems foolish. No shopping or movies, can't afford it. I may go check out some live music, but that seems like a group activity too. Maybe I'm just over thinking this.

Speaking of overhthinking...

I've been going through some odd internal struggles lately. Struggles isn't the right word. "Issues"? "Processing"? Things that are coming to mind out of nowhere, old things. Like I'm pulling memories out, reorganizing them, and refiling them elsewhere. Compressing the old files. Trying to find meaning from the pieces of past events. Rattling them in my hands and throwing them down into the dirt, like runes.

I don't know if I'm still missing resolution, or just trying to gain a better perspective on my life as it stands currently. I'm rifling through the old papers, trying to find anything left undone that I need to do before moving onto whatever next stage I'm looking for. Unfinished business. Getting some of my internal affairs in order.

I'm making no sense, I know. For being a writer, I sure have a hard time describing things. One more shot: I can't find rest yet. I'm being nagged by the idea that there are still things to set right in my life, things that are preventing me from pursuing the next set of goals. And so I'm always slightly dissatisfied, because I know I'm still missing the last few jigsaw pieces. So I'm looking under the bed and behind the desk, inside the couch, and on top of the high shelves, trying to find those last pieces I need. I feel like I'm getting close. But until I can get there, I feel like I need to reshuffle/restructure/re-evaluate every part of my life, so that the unsettled things shake out onto the floor.

I don't know if this is a faithless impatience or a divinely directed disquiet. Or if I'm just full of crap, and have nothing to do, so I am inventing crises and psychological drama to fill the time.

I'm coming up on Quarter-life Crisis time, so maybe I'm just getting a head start on it.
I have decided that it's time to put up or shut up, concerning the whole writing thing. I need to get this business going, or else just stop talking about. Refer to writing in the past tense. Shelve it and move on. And this, I cannot do. So Dave's gonna get down to it.

I'm thoroughly enjoying the McSweeney's book I'm reading, and it is renewing my faith in the short story. I will start there. I have two half-formed hatchlings that have atrophied in their digital incubator. I have to revive them, and soon.

Geez, I'm abusing metaphor usage in this post. It's sick, is what it is.
I need to talk to some folks. Cain. Kara. That will help with some of the earlier things.

It's time to go, kids. Have a good weekend. I'll have a movie review up on "Better than Critics" sometime Monday.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

I can't believe it... it's too good to be true...

Thanks to Relevant, I've found the ultimate time waster. NES fans of the world, unite!!!!
It's a Sickness, I can't help it...

You are Spike Speigel!
Spike Speigel

Which Cowboy Bebop character are you?
brought to you by Quizilla
Happy Freakin Chinese New Year!!!

I just found out that yesterday was Chinese New Year.

This year is the Year of the Monkey!!! Why is that important? Because I was a Monkey Baby! (Stop laughing.)

I don't know what this means exactly, but I think it's fun.

So, "Gung Yay Fat Choy!" or however it goes. Happy freakin Chinese New Year!!!
Movies, movies, and more movies...

Two quick things on my lunch break.

One: For once, Blockbuster Video has proven to be useful. I went there yesterday and was able to get my fix, even if it is only a one-week rental.

*shouting to the heavens, with thunder crashing and lightening flashing behind* "Curse you, Illustrious Mike! Curse you!!!"

Two: The positive response for my "Big Fish" review got me thinking. Trevor and I had begun a movie review website, which we had planned on updating frequently and keeping current. Alas, after three reviews from me and NONE from Trevor, it seems we quickly gave up on our dreams of being the next Siskel and Ebert (but not Roeper, that guy's a joke, man). Well, I think it's time to give it another shot. So--look for a new movie review every Friday or so. One a week minimum. More, if I have time (which isn't likely, so you're lucky to get one).

I also reviewed the abominable "Daredevil" (no, it doesn't get a link) in February, so you're welcome to check that out too.

If you have any suggestions for movies to review in the future, lemme know. I'll see what I can do.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

"How do you afford your rock and roll lifestyle?"

Man. You wanna talk about an intense experience? Try sitting down with your bills, and writing over $1400 worth of checks in less than 45 minutes. And that's not even all of my bills.

Gee, being an adult

But living in my own apartment *is* fun, so no complaints.

But the question remains: how do all these kids afford their rock and roll lifestyles, eh? How does that work? I'm not sticking to my budget at all, and I'm still not flashing the proverbial "bling bling" by any means.

Crazy. But you know what? My needs are being met day by day. God is good.

My big goal for the next month: getting a line of credit at Conn's so I can get a washer and dryer. Though technically not a current necessity, I'll need them when I move into a house in a few years (hopefully). And my current digs has all the connections necessary for complete laundry independence.

(Side Rant: I'm noticing that people are starting to spell the second-from-last word in the previous paragraph "compleat". And it annoys the crap out of me. Why must we change what already works? It's "complete". C-O-M-P-L-E-T-E. Quit messing around.)

So yes, no fancy clothes, or spinning wheel rims on the ol' truck. No 58" TV (although I do have my Walmart DVD player hooked up to the stereo, so I can pretend I have surround sound). All my furniture is either Walmart or second-hand. And it's all good.

Who needs the rock-and-roll lifestyle, anyway.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

"The thing about iceburgs is..."

You only see ten percent. The rest, the ninety percent left, is underwater.

Which is kinda like "Big Fish". I got the feeling that I didn't get all of it.

Sometimes, works of art give you the idea that you're "not getting it", not really. Some works justify a further search for meaning and importance, and provide a rewarding experience when that deeper truth is found. Some really don't, and end up being disappointing after you waste the time going deeper. I think "Big Fish" is in the first category.

It's hard to really say what I thought about "Big Fish." I... liked it? Yes, I did. Loved it? I don't know. I'd need to see it again.

I saw the movie, in the first place, because of three names. Ewan McGregor. Billy Crudup. Tim Burton. And while it is nothing like other Tim Burton films, it was interesting. Very interesting.

Although it is no evangelical tool, the film contained several object lessons. Nuggets of truth. If you wanted to look.

I'll present one (hopefully not spoiling your enjoyment of any future viewings). There is a town in the story named Spectre. It is located in the midst of a vast, dangerous forest, and is by comparison the most idyllic location imaginable. No one wears shoes, because the grass is green and soft. Everyone is wearing light colors, almost faded to white. Everyone is smiling, friendly, happy. The main character loses his shoes during his visit, and they end up hanging off a powerline, just like everyone elses. He meets a well-known poet, who once had dreams of travel, yet decided to stay, and in the process lost his poetic voice. While everything and everyone seems perfect, the main character realizes that if he stays, he'll never fulfill his potential, and will also break a promise he made. So to the shock of everyone in town, he decides to leave. A little girl asks, "but how will you leave without your shoes?" The main character responds, "Well, I imagine it will hurt a lot. But i've got to go."

I thought about this scene quite a bit on the way home. And this is what I got out of it. The town of Spectre (an illusion, perhaps?) represents the "good" (which Lewis-scholars remember is the enemy of the "best") that can cross our path. And it may be nice, and we may be satisfied. But if we know we are destined (called) for better things, we cannot settle for the "good", no matter how tempting it is. Just as Edward, the main character, decides. He feels his destiny leading him out of town, and he must follow.

Now comes the interesting part. He's lost his shoes. The famous poet living there hung up his shoes and never left. And in a way, never fulfilled the poetic part of his destiny (although he ends up doing a lot of good later). But Edward, feeling the pull to leave, decides to leave the soft, green ease of the "good" for the difficult, rocky, painful path to the "better." Which is an uncommon philosophy to take, in this culture. And because he made the hard choice, he went on to live a miraculous life.

That was one scene from the movie. There are quite a few to chew on. I'm still chewing.

Bottom line: I enjoyed the movie, quite a bit. Lots to think about, which is uncommon for movies these days. It's not deeply philosophical, but it's not shallow either. Although there were too many instances of naked backside in this movie (of both genders), I would certainly recommend it to anyone who wants a movie with some ideas to chew on.

I'm trying desparately to find something interesting/ironic/comedic/intriguing for the title of this post, but so far have come up with a couple of non-descriptive song titles and a few overly-obscure movie quotes that sound unusual/inappropriate when taken out of their original context, so I think I'll just start typing now.

It's Tuesday afternoon, and I'm near-comatose. Not the faintest idea why.

I actually watched Empire Records again over the three-day-weekend, for the sixtieth time or so. Oddly, another blogsmith mentioned the illustrious "Lucas" from said film in a recent post. I thought that was keen. Cheers to her.

(Additional "Empire" trivia: Kimo Wills, who plays "Eddie", is from right here in Houston, Texas. How rad is that. Okay, not *really* rad, but it amuses me... Renee Zellweger, "Gina", was born here too, for that matter. Okay, born in Katy, but that's close enough. A suburb, almost.)

Let's see. Does anyone else think that Howard Dean is kind of a whack-job? Cuz I do. He is passionate, I'll give him that. But I'd be kinda freaked out if he became president. I can just imagine him at a nuclear disarmament conference with North Korea, and Kim Jong Il (Korea', leader... *cough*--dictator--*cough*) interrupts then-president Dean during a discussion. Dean jumps up, eyes and forehead-veins bulging, and screams, "You sit down! You've had your say, let me have mine!!!" It'd be all over right then. Brace for impact. People think Bush is a cowboy? Dean would be Yosemite Sam, guns blazing. Hair-trigger temper, that one has.


You know what's fun? Your parent's saying that your first post-graduation profession wasn't a *real* job anyway. Yeah. Neat how that works. Makes me feel good. This comes after an argument in which the other parent said my current career is a "circus" job, implying that it wasn't like *real* work. Later, this statement was retracted. But you can't argue that it wasn't meant. If it wasn't in the mind in the first place, it wouldn't have been said.

So yes, the fruitless pursuit of parental validation continues.

Thanks to influence of the illustrious Mike Norris, I have a new curiosity to explore: Cowboy Bebop. Just when I had given up cable TV too. Well, it's too late now, I already mailed the box and remote back to DirecTV.

Hmm... What else is going on... Finished "From A Buick 8." Started "McSweeney's Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Tales." Woo woo.

Hasn't this just been a link-fest. Fun times for all, I'm sure.

Although I'm tired, and hungry (my foray into non-premixed stir fry not ending as well as I had hoped, and the bringing of leftover stirfry for lunch being a mistake, resulting in my picking at the few pieces of meat and throwing the rest away, leaving me unfulfilled), I will crank out one last post before going home.

This is how much I like you. I hope you feel guilty.
In the spinning center of sound

You close your eyes. Sit back. In the black you hear the opening seconds of the song. Percussion. Rocking back and forth like a rail car. Buhduhdum-de-dum... Buhduhdum-de-dum. On every first beat and a half of each four beat measure. Buhduhdum-de-dum. (Beat) (Beat) (Beat) Buhduhdum-de-dum.

Then out of the void rises the voice. Unusual. Otherworldly. Speaking English, yes, but with an accent that belies effort. As you listen, the voice sees to come from the center of your head, eminating outward.

"I've seen it all..." she says. Another voice answers, accented also but more commonly so. "What about..." he asks.

She answers. She asks, he answers. Back and forth. All the time, riding the railcar rhythm. All the time, in your head.

The voices rise with intensity, then fall, soften.

Finally, the song comes to an end, not with a bang or a sudden jolt, but with the ease of a train escaping from view and earshot, into the distance, until the only sound you hear is the ever-fading beat. Buhduhdum-de-dum.

There are times when I want to be wrapped up in sound. To disconnect with the physical realities around me and become music. And when I hear this song, I feel this even more.

Friday, January 16, 2004

"Why the hostility, Joe?"

"It's friggin' Rex Manning Day."

Doesn't it just feel like Rex Manning Day? A day so full of optimism and possibility that you know will end up with disappointment, betrayal, a mock funeral, the revelation of drug addiction, a police standoff and a rooftop rock concert?

Or maybe that's just Eddie's special recipe brownies talking. You know, all the sugar.

If you have *NO* idea what I'm talking about, read up and then come back.

Man, I don't know what was up with my heightened hostility yesterday. Yesterday's post only touches the tip of it. But I was hardcore, man. Edgy, jumpy, hyper-sensitive and likely to lash out if antagonized.

Which is why when I got home, I had dinner, a piece of cake, and sat on the couch listening to Counting Crows for about three hours. Just chilling. I actually fell asleep on the couch. Then woke up at about 10p, and went to bed for another eight hours. Wowsa. Nine and a half hours of sleep in one continuous stretch. Awesome.

And now I'm definetely more mellow.


I blog compulsively. And for no legitimate reason, I get annoyed when the blogs I check daily (sometimes twice or three times a day) don't update as often as I do.

I check my comment boxes just as often. And I think "What, no one wants to add anything? It wasn't funny/interesting enough? Or is it just that no one reads the site?" In when this Woody-Allen-like neurosis hits a fever pitch, I get frustrated. (Nevermind the fact that I don't comment that often on other people's sites.)

I don't know exactly what to do about this. I need to find a bigger blog community. Or get a life.

Finding new blogs to read is easier, though.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

I'm not in *that* honest of a mood...

If you saw a post here that was entitled, "Come back later, I'm in too honest a mood...", or a second post that was entitled, "The Opposite of Narcissism", congratulations. Chalk it up there with the Yeti and Loch Ness. Because it will never be seen again.

I put up two "painfully honest" posts, one giving the backstory of a poem/rant/whine I wrote, the other was the piece (of...) itself. I posted them both in a flurry of "openness" and "honesty".

And then I read them again. And summarily deleted them.

The poem, called "The Opposite of Narcissism", was melodramatic slough of self-loathing and self-pity, simultaneously. The irony was that it was, in actuality, an underhanded narcissism, where i stared at my poor, pitiful reflection, and bitched and moaned about being overweight.

It's a freaking poem about being fat and feeling guilty and sorry for myself. How ludicrous.

I was proud of the title, at least. I can't ever use it again, but I was proud of that. Feel free to use it in your own work, with my blessing.

I'm sorry kids. I thought I was being honest, but I was just being needy. I posted first, telling you that I didn't want your pity, sympathy, or encouragement, when these things were exactly what I hoped for.

You want the truth?

The truth is, I am what I am because I choose to be. I choose to be. My laziness, my bad habits, my lack of motivation, they're all choices I make. Day to day. I'm no victim. I'm the perp.

And while I tried to subconsciously disguise my self-serving play for your sympathy as "honesty", deep down, I knew it was all bull. So I deleted it.

I don't know what I was thinking. And I apologize for that near-hypocrisy.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Baby's Got a New Dress

Despite my extreme lack of web-programming, code-y type knowledge, I did a little tinkering with the sidebar, links, whatnot. I like it. For now.

Hello all. Today is January 14th. A good day. In honor of this good day, I'm going somewhere for dinner. Yes indeed. Don't know where.

My resolve to spend less money in the new year collapsed last night, and I procured the two-disc edition of Moulin Rouge. I'm such a wimp. I also got the revised and expanded edition of "The Gunslinger" by The King. I'm a Target whore.

CD Recommendation of the Week: "Professional Rapper" by John Reuben. You *need* to listen to this album. Even if you don't like rap at all, you need to at least read the lyrics of this album. Probably one of the most honest and incisive Christian albums to come out in the past few years. He plainly deals with his personal crises of faith, he slams the protest-happy Christian ghetto, he lifts the curtain on how the Christian music industry has lost its honesty and wants to whitewash their own music. And Reuben's sampling and mixes are fantastic. I'm only a marginal fan of the Christian rap, and I love this album. Supa-dupa-fly.

What? I've got to work now? Geez.


Tuesday, January 13, 2004

A Word of Encouragement to some Dear Friends

I don't know if they read the site anymore. I hope so, but I don't blame them if there are more important things to do.

I was listening to Waterdeep today. It was the "Live at the New Earth" album. And as I was listening, and driving in to work, I remembered when I found out that my friend and former co-worker was a fan of Waterdeep, as was his wife. How exciting that was, because the band was something that connected to my college years and those good memories.

We talked about Waterdeep now and then. What started it all was how shocked I was, when my friend's wife came downstairs wearing a Waterdeep tee-shirt. I asked how in the world they knew about the band, and it turned out they were big fans. That was great.

He is a dear friend of mine. She and I are not as close, for obvious reasons, but I think she is awesome, just from the little I know her. Their son is adorable.

I miss them. I miss talking to them. I should have been emailing them regularly, but I have been remiss. That's true about a lot of things in my life lately. I want to change that.

They are right now living in a country that is hostile to their Faith. They are there because they know they are Called to be there. I may not ever see them again in this world, but I hope so.

I just wanted to tell the rest of you about them. I obviously can't use their names, though I have little Doubt that some of you know who I'm talking about. But I wanted to tell the rest of you about them, so that you can pray for them.

And I wanted to tell them that I love them and pray for them also. Take care of yourselves, you guys.
It's time to pull the plug...

I just got off the phone with the cable company. I am downgrading from DirecTV Total Choice Plus to Basic Plus. Goodbye, 100+ channels. Goodbye, nifty channelsurfing menu with the picture-in-picture type window showing what's on the currently selected channel. Goodbye, neato remote that feels so powerful in my hands, like a modern claymore slashing through network dreck.

Hello, local channels, A&E, CNBC, TBS, Fox Family, and Headline News.

It was time. I don't watch TV enough to justify having "the good cable". And when I do watch enough TV to justify it, it's because I'm not doing enough of the other things I should. Like, you know, laundry and vacuuming and taking down my Christmas tree (which is still up, by the way; if I keep it up any longer, I'll give the Shawnee "Mafia House" a run for its money).

And I realized that the temptation of "the good cable" was to watch things that weren't doing me any good.

And I further realized that I cannot be a writer and a TV zombie at the same time. It can't happen. Less TV means that when I'm bored, I'll pick up a book, or a pen and paper. Or, you know, dirty laundry.

It's funny how hard it was for me to give up "the good cable". I mean, really really hard. If that seems pathetic to you, and you are living on your own as I am, try unplugging it. Or, in some cases, unplugging the modem. Or the PS2. That uncomfortable eye twitch that you're developing--that's what I'm talking about.

So yeah. Since the only show I ever watch with any regularity is Ed (the best show on network television, for my money), I decided that I didn't need much more than basic.

And now I'm...sad, frankly. And ashamed, because I'm sad. TV shouldn't have meant this much to me.

I'm not brave enough to go cold turkey. And I don't think I have to. I think this will be enough. For a while.

Perhaps, down the road, I'll be strong enough to control myself, and not become a cable junkie again. But when you feel like you need a fix this bad, it's time to stop.

So to give myself (and any brave soul out there who may do something similar) some encouragement, I present, in conclusion, the wise words of one of the most foolish bands around.

"Throw Away Your Television" by Red Hot Chili Peppers

Throw away your television
Time to make this clean decision
Master waits for its collision now
It?s a repeat
Of a story told
It?s a repeat
And it?s getting old

Throw away your television
Make a break big intermission
Recreate your super vision now
It?s a repeat
Of a story told
It?s a repeat
And it?s getting old

Renegades with fancy gauges
Slay the plague for it?s contagious
Pull the plug and take the stages
Throw away your television now

Throw away your television
Take the noose off your ambition
Reinvent your intuition now
It?s a repeat
Of a story told
It?s a repeat
And it?s getting old


Throw away your television
Salivate to repetition
Levitate this ill condition now
It?s a repeat

Monday, January 12, 2004

"Got no place to go, but there's a girl waiting for me down in Mexico..."

Hey kids. It's kind of a mellow day. Which is nice. Could be worse, right? But I've got a wicked case of the "mondays", I guess. Extreme apathy.

So how was everyone's weekends? I had a peachy time. Peachy. ("Superb, Joe. Superb... Superb.")

Went to see Return of the King again. Second time. Even better than the first time. The only drawback to this viewing was the presence of the couple two rows behind me. As the animation was playing which announced the commencement of the "Feature Presentation", I heard the following dialogue ensue:

Woman: Okay, so what is this about?

Man: What do you mean? Didn't you see the first two?

Woman: No.

Man: Okay, I guess I can try to explain.


And for the next forty-five minutes he tries to walk her through the story line while the movie is playing. In vocal levels louder than a whisper. I was...annoyed, to be sure.

Which brings me to what I believe is a pertinent question: why would anyone with a pigeon's worth of sense go to the third movie in a trilogy, without gaining any information about the previous storyline or any of the characters, especially for a movie trilogy so literary and exhaustive? Did she come to the theatre with no idea what she would see, then decide without a second thought that she would forego the prerequisite six and a half hours of cinematic backstory and dive right into the three-and-a-half hour conclusion, hoping that she could catch up enough of the story to enjoy the finale?

And why didn't this question pop into her dim little mind during the commercial for the Army, or, or even the previews, for pete's sake (and mine)? Why did she have to wait until the opening credits to realize, "Gee, I have no earthly idea who any of these people are, what the story is about, and why it's going on. Should I maybe find SOMETHING out before venturing into the three-and-a-half hour film? Hmm, I don't know."

Ugh. But, Brent got to see it for the first time. So the trip was worth it. And Brent, Mike, and I got to eat at New York Pizza in the Willowbrook AMC Courtyard. Good pie. We got the football playoffs special deal--large Pepperoni for eight bucks. And it fed all of us, with a big slice left over. Now that's-a what I call-a pizza.

Wow. That was lame.


The Packers lost a heartbreaker to the Eagles last night. So once again, I will look upon the Super Bowl with a minimal interest. I'll still go to the Super Bowl party with the Singles group at church. What else would I do, sit home and watch it by myself? At least there's a possibility of meeting interesting new people (read: girls) at the church party.

Reading From a Buick 8 by the King. Good so far.

Saw Moulin Rouge on VH1 last night. I caught the last half hour, and was a bit miffed when they put the commercial break at the absolute worst time (between when Satine dies and Christian lets out that awesome wail). Totally blew my emotional rhythm. I was bracing for the impact of the wail, and the ensuing catharsis (yes, I weep like a baby every time I see that), but was slapped in the face with an abrasive commercial. Which further enforces my belief that all movies shown on TV should be commercial-free. TV shows are designed with commercial breaks in mind. Movies are not. It breaks the flow.

By the way, if I ruined the end of the movie for you, it's your own fault for not seeing that gorgeous film by now.

Guess that's all.

"Hop on my choo-choo/I'll be your engine driver in a bunny suit..."

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Irritated and bemused

I had started a post earlier, which discussed my recent completion of Cold Mountain, at lunch, and then meandered into my general aversion of movie tie-in editions of books, that have a picture of the moviestars on the cover. I mentioned that I only owned two, Dracula (from the Francis Ford Coppola version) and Lord of the Rings (all-in-one edition with the creepy backlit Nazgul on the cover). Actually now that I think about it, I do own another, Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon, which features the grinning mug of Mr. Michael Douglas-Zeta Jones. (I'd be grinning too.)

But I was working on doing all these rad links to images of the covers, to demonstrate my point, when I had my Wednesday "big ugly" meeting. But the time I got back, my computer shut down. All the work lost. And because the big ugly meeting was uglier than usual, I just don't have the heart to go through it all again. Apologies.

But yeah, high recommendation of Cold Mountain. Beautiful, beautiful novel.

Monday, January 05, 2004

I'm totally ripping off Manders

But her idea was wicked-cool, so I feel compelled.

Submitted, ladies and gentlemen, for your approval.

"Dave's Top 100 Songs That He Likes, As They Come to His Mind Right Now"

(I'll have to put the limit of fifteen Counting Crows songs on this list, or else they will take half of it.)

Expect there to be several revisions to this list.

Here we go.

1) "Round Here", Counting Crows
2) "Anna Begins", Counting Crows
3) "Perfect Blue Buildings", Counting Crows [duh]
4) "Beautiful Day", U2
5) "Grace", U2
6) "In God's Country", U2
7) "Barely Breathing", Duncan Sheik
8) "Good Boy", Barenaked Ladies
9) "Let the Sadness Back In", Don Chaffer
10) "At Least I Got a Car", Waterdeep
11) "Can't Stop", Red Hot Chili Peppers
12) "What You Don't Know", Don Chaffer
13) "Gravedigger", Dave Matthews
14) "Have you seen me lately?", Counting Crows
15) "Immigrant Song", Led Zepplin
16) "Like a Rolling Stone", Bob Dylan
17) "The Scientist", Coldplay
18) "A Rush of Blood to the Head", Coldplay
19) "Champagne Supernova", Oasis
20) "Don't Speak", No Doubt (if you're laughing, it's because you don't appreciate it's beauty)


21) "Foolish Games", Jewel
22) "Beautiful Disaster", 311
23) "Something More", Switchfoot
24) "Sweet River Roll", Waterdeep
25) "Blank Page Empire", Further Seems Forever
26) "Everyday I Write the Book", Elvis Costello
27) "Just like Candy", Elvis Costello
28) "She", Elvis Costello
29) "The Joker", Steve Miller Band
30) "Dreamer", Ozzy Osbourne (don't look at me like that)
31) "Comfortably Numb", Pink Floyd
32) "Holiday in Spain", Counting Crows
33) "Sad Songs and Waltzes", Cake
34) "Daria", Cake
35) "Open Book", Cake
36) "The Distance", Cake
37) "Otherside", Red Hot Chili Peppers
38) "Iron Man", Black Sabbath
39) "Walk on the Ocean", Toad the Wet Sprocket
40) "Mother, Mother", Tracy Bonham
41) "Amy Hit the Atmosphere", Counting Crows (i think that's five...I'm trying to pace myself)
42) "Hurt", Johnny Cash (right on, Manders)
43) "Man of Constant Sorrow", Ralph Stanley
44) "Hey Ya", Outkast
45) "Smells Like Teen Spirit", Nirvana
46) "Wish You Were Here", Pink Floyd
47) "Losing My Religion", R.E.M.
48) "The Way I Am", Eminem (I said, don't look at me like that)
49) "Eleanor Rigby", Beatles
50) "For No One", Beatles
51) "October", Seth Woods
52) "Boston", Seth Woods
53) "Ghost of a Man", Seth Woods
54) "Rain King", Counting Crows
55) "Humpty-Dumpty", Aimee Mann
56) "Save Me", Aimee Mann
57) "The Last Polka", Ben Folds
58) "Song for the Dumped", Ben Folds
59) "Missing the War", Ben Folds
60) "Silver Street", Ben Folds
61) "Goodnight Elizabeth", Counting Crows
62) "Miller's Angels", Counting Crows
63) "Raining in Baltimore", Counting Crows
64) "A Million Raindrops", Newsboys
65) "One Girl Army", Five Iron Frenzy
66) "Jane", Barenaked Ladies
67) "Call and Answer", Barenaked Ladies
68) "This Brilliant Dance", Dashboard Confessional
69) "Loser", Beck
70) "Crazy Times", Jars of Clay (can I just say the entire album?)
71) "Tea and Sympathy", Jars of Clay
72) "Amazing Grace", Jars of Clay... (I think that's the title; second track on the new album)
73) "Jesus Freak", DC Talk (come on, it's a classic)
74) "Alycen and the Secret Circle", Kevin Max (whole album, actually)
75) "Good Time", Counting Crows
76) "Stairway to Heaven", Led Zepplin
77) "Fever Dog", Stillwater (if you recognize this, give yourself five extra cool points.)
78) "Do You Realize?", Flaming Lips
79) that track on Flaming Lips' "The Soft Bulletin"... you know the one where... uh... i don't know, all of them
80) "Let's Get It On", as covered by Barry Jive and the Uptown Five (again, cool points at stake)
81) "Mr. Jones", Counting Crows
82) "A Long December", Couting Crows
83) "One", U2
84) if Manders can say Justin Timberlake, can I do one similar? Yes? Okay, guilty pleasure--"Crazy in Love", by Beyonce Knowles... i'm so ashamed of myself
85) "Wonderboy", Tenacious D
86) "Raised in Harlem", T-Bone on "!Hero"
87) "Little Jackie", T-Bone and Crystal Lewis
88) "This Old Man", Guardian
89) "Lead the Way", Guardian
90) "Way Home Back", Guardian
91) "Hitler's Girlfriend", Dime Store Prophets
92) "Fire and Rain", James Taylor
93) "Lonely People", James Taylor
94) "At My Most Beautiful", R.E.M.
95) "Recovering the Satellites", Counting Crows
96) "Rocking the Suburbs", Ben Folds
97) "Pinch Me", Barenaked Ladies
98) "One Down", Ben Folds
99) "Staring at the Sun", U2
100) "Another Horsedreamer's Blues", Counting Crows


Wow. That's long.

And so incomplete. Expect many revisions.

I repeat, this is a *first draft*. No angry comments. Irritated, perhaps. Angry, no.

Okay. Um, it's funny to note that around #64, I started feeling guilty about how few Christian songs were on my list, so I tried to overcompensate. Sad but true.

Oh, another thing. There's not enough Waterdeep. Or U2. I'll have to fix that.

Okay, here it is, round one.
"Like those who have no hope"

Have you ever been to a non-believer's funeral? It's the most depressing thing I have ever seen in my life. A roomful of people, crying their eyes out, mourning the loss of a dearly loved friend and family member. Several standing up to recount their favorite memories of the deceased, and then going on to say something like, "I know that *deceased person* will go on to live forever in our hearts..." "We can carry *deceased person* with us always..."

"*Deceased person*, where-ever you are, we love you and miss you."

Where-ever you are? But, don't you know?

No. They didn't. Because they have no hope.

I don't know if I could handle living a life where when people close to me die, I am convinced I'll never see them again. This is what Paul was talking about when he said that Christians "do not mourn like those who have no hope." We have a hope of seeing our redeemed brothers and sisters again, and that hope makes every funeral a celebration.

I've been thinking a lot since that service about my own funeral, how I want the atmosphere and attitude of it to be. I've decided I'm going to take a few hours and write up a set of instructions for it, in case it happens suddenly. I may even make up a mix tape of music to play after the actual service, at the...reception, whatever it's called.

No, I know it sounds morbid, but it's really not. Not for those of us who have hope.

What I know for sure is that I want my funeral to be a party. An actual party. A barbecue, more specifically. I want them to have the service at the church/cemetary, put me in the ground, then go back to the house of whoever's officiating (parents, spouse, children, whatever) and I want them to have a big shindig in my honor. Like a wake, but without me being physically present. I want loud music, barbecue, dancing. I want them to celebrate for me, because I will be celebrating for them, knowing that I will see them again.

When you are a believer in Christ, you cannot see the death of His children as anything but victory. Victory over the grasp of sin and death. The ultimate comeback.

But, I guess if you don't have this attitude, then the death of a parent or spouse is an overwhelming loss. Because to live without Christ is to live without hope. And to live without hope is to live under the shadow of death's threatening grasp, hiding like scared rabbits from the wolf who is destined to snatch you up and end you.
General Hiya Post

Hey folks. Hope everyone's New Year was safe and happy.

Mine was good. A nice pastiche of domestic chores and loafing. *That's* what I call a holiday.

I do want to reinforce the fact, to all concerned friends, that I am not going to jump in front of any busses, no matter what the tone of my emails may indicate to the contrary. No worries.

Um, let's see. Why didn't I post on Friday? Um, laziness? No, actually I pulled up the ol' blog machine but when I went to type, I just had nothing to say. Nothing. Odd. So I didn't post.

I have little more to say today, outside of a nice fun project upcoming.

Oh, actually, I do have something to say. Or at least, a subject to bring up and discuss a bit.

Let's see. On other news, how about some love for the Green Bay Packers? I mean, I had been a longtime Cowboys fan, but in the last few years, I've lost my love for the boys in blue. (Cowboys, not cops. Nevermind.)

So I was surprised to find myself, for the first time ever, cheering for the Packers on Sunday in their wicked-cool overtime win. I think what won me over was the absolute glee on Bret Favre's face, every time he threw a touchdown. He was like a kid playing during the summer in a backyard. It was awesome. Go him. So yeah, I've decided to root for the Packers throughout the NFL playoffs. Hopefully my support won't be the proverbial "Kiss of Death". Lord knows, it didn't help my Texans.

Well, guess that's it for general news. On to a topical entry, and then the freaking cool list Manders did.