Wednesday, February 25, 2004

"Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return..."

My only post, in honor of the day, I guess.

Being a Protestant, I have never celebrated Ash Wednesday before. It was always classified as one of "those" holidays, the days celebrated by other faiths that would elicit shrugs and the odd "rolled eyes" from my family. We're pretty easy-going people when it comes to other folks' traditions; I like to think we are, anyway.

I have always been intrigued by the mysteries of Catholicism and her traditions. I only voiced this curiosity once to my family, and it was met with disapproval and head-shaking. I never spoke up about it again. But I have always wanted to go to mass. I want to learn Latin. And for some unshaking reason, I really want to participate in this religious tradition today.

I wasn't sure of the basic purpose behind Ash Wednesday. I had a vague silhouette of understanding. It's about penitence, it requires sacrifice, and it begins the season of Lent, a 40-day personal self-denial. I looked it up on the web to make sure I had the basics down. This site was pretty helpful, in that regard.

I always joke that my upbringing was a strange amalgam of Puritanism and Catholicism. The stringent Protestant regulatory system, combined with the monumental guilt carried cross-like by "holy mother church." This is, of course, an exaggeration, but a well-meaning one. My parents are zealous people, and I regard that as a great blessing, to be understood with wisdom.

Today, this feeling of guilt, shame, repentance that the holy-day demands of its adherents seems to resonate with me. Not because I enjoy wallowing in misery, beating my breast because I'm a worm (though I am). But, in an age where shame is unknown, it is refreshing to be again reminded that our best is worthless compared to God's best. All of our supposed goodness and purity is rendered worthless by a single sin, like a black spot on a white shirt. It's a relief to remember that we are dust. Because to do so is to fall helpless into the arms of the Almighty, upon whose grace we must wholly and utterly rely.

So I put it to you, gentle readers. How do you participate in this day, if at all? What do you think about this idea of guilt, sorrow, penitence? I'm curious as to what you think. If you aren't religious, what are your thoughts on all of this?

Another topic of conversation, as you like it: when I did my search for a basic description of Ash Wednesday, Google provided me with an unexpected find. Thank God for T.S. Eliot.

Peace to you, dear friends.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

So I'm biased, what do you want?

There have been some pretty ugly reviews of "The Passion..." that have been released already. (*Cough* Hollywood Reporter *cough*)

But this one is not too bad. Rather favorable. And I would like this film to be treated favorably, or at least fairly, by some of the non-religious press.

Leave it to Roger Ebert to supply a positive review of a divisive religious film.

Monday, February 23, 2004

"Fine, go, you've stayed your hour..."

There you go. An hour of blog-servitude. I hope you are appeased. We'll chat more tomorrow.

(Quick, quick, where's the title from???)
Musical... Notes

The bad puns abound.

Two songs I was recently impressed with:

"Love Song" by 311, from the "50 First Dates" soundtrack: I haven't seen the movie yet, but I heard this track on the radio. Now, anyone who's into 80's music will immediately (or at least, eventually) think: "hey, there was a Cure song called Love Song." Very good, Johnny. You get a gold star. Now, I worry when modern bands cover great classic songs (cuz most modern bands, well, suck), but I was blown away by this faithful verison. They added a backbeat beneath the song, and slowed it down, and it's a near-perfect groove. So yes, I like that.
(The entire soundtrack, not counting Adam Sandler's original "composition", is a series of cover songs played "island style", from what I've read. The reviewer was not that impressed, but the 311 song is still awesome.)

"I Don't Know What to Do With Myself" by The White Stripes, from "Elephant": I just about lost control of the truck when I heard this. My first thought was Cameron Diaz's hysterically awful karaoke version from "My Best Friend's Wedding" [yes, I admit, I watched the theater--but I was on a pseudo-date*]. This version is equally hilarious, mostly because it's nearly as bad. As in "so bad it's good". I didn't know until this afternoon that it was the White Stripes, but now I don't know how I could have missed that. So clearly Jack White screaming the lyrics out. So obviously stripped down was the music. And so so so funny. I'd almost buy the album even if that were the only good track. Good thing it's not. And the second I'm not on the brink of financial ruin, I'm gonna grab it.**


*"pseudo-date": an outing consisting of two people, one of whom is unaware of the other's unspoken affection/longing. In every case, the person who claims to have been on a "pseudo-date" was the amorous half of the pair. The unaware participant would, logically, never use the word, since they were (as stated previously) unaware that such an event was occuring.

** My claims of being in dire monetary straits are exaggerated. All my bills are paid regularly and mostly on time, so no need to worry. However, no financial contributions will be turned away.
The Problem with Prospecting

(This concept was touched on at Metro (Bible Study) last week, and I thought it was useful, so I will briefly reiterate and expound. With apologies to Ben Stuart for probably butchering his idea.)

It's all about how you look at people.

Imagine you are a hip, single twentysomething "on the prowl", as most are. (If you are neither single, hip, nor twentysomething, this may take more imagination to process.) You walk into a coffee shop/bar/mall/generic-public-place-with-a-mixed-crowd-approximately-your-age. You spot a group of equally hip, equally single twentysomethings of the opposite gender (let's stick to hetero singles, there's too much to address otherwise).

Unless you are a member of a monastic order, you have a complete lack of gender-specific hormones, or you are Trevor, your first impulse is to "check" these parties "out." Hopefully, you have enough finesse to avoid the "stare-and-drool-openly" technique common to college males. But, however furtively, you take a look. You evaluate. You size up any nearby competition. Then, you either advance and present yourself, or sit back and ponder the likelihood of your success/failure.

It comes naturally. The animal instinct of sizing up prospective mates.

But if you are a Christian, this is totally, totally wrong.

*Cartoonish 'spit take'* "What???"

Yeah. Completely wrong.

I direct your attention to I Timothy 5. "...Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity." (While this verse is gender-specific as it pertains to ol' Timmy, you ladies can extrapolate what that means to you.)

This is one of many such passages in the NT. To put in modern context, treat the cute guy at church like your brother. Treat that hot girlie at work like your sister.

(I shouldn't have to drag this out, but I feel there may be a few of you who aren't quite making the jump with me.)

Would you "check out" your brother or sister? If your answer is no (and I hope for your sake that it is, cuz otherwise that's just nasty), then you should not be checking out other opposite-gender, hip, single folks. Period. No exceptions.

"But Dave--" I hear all of you saying immediately. "That's totally unreasonable."

Yeah, it seems that way. I've been thinking about this lately. I've been trying to think my way around it. "As long as it isn't lust..." "No one is being hurt..." Etc. etc. etc. All the lame excuses. Because, yes, I'm a guy, if I see a cute girl, my first instinct is to check her out. This doesn't mean I'm some kind of creepy guy, and if it does, then each and every one of you are creepy too. Except Trevor. There's no use in self-righteously denying it, cuz that would be a lie on top of everything else.

We can justify this "harmless habit" all we want, but at the end of the discussion, it comes down to how you look at people. I think this can be cleared up in a few questions, answered honestly:

--How does Jesus look at people? How does he evaluate them?

--When you are "checking out" someone (even innocently, if there is such a way), are you really looking at them the way Jesus does?

...Conviction, anyone? Yeah, me too.

I don't know, just something to think about.

Quiz of the Day

This is for all you English geeks (and wannabe English geeks) out there.

I present two words to you that I've actually seen (or heard) used. It's your job to create an appropriate and thorough definition of either/both. Feel free to whip up multiple definitions. I'll post the consensus voting in a few days.

1. portentious

2. mannifactured

You may open your books and begin.
Something is owed

Yes, I feel that I owe you loyal readers something for the lack of posts in the past...egad, five days. Remember the times when I wouldn't post for a few weeks? Um, yeah, I wasn't addicted to it then.

So yes, something is owed. I owe you. As such, I hereby present my services as blog-slave, for the next 45 minutes or so. As many as I can crank out.

I hope these terms are acceptable.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

You're just gonna have to make do

I had a couple of posts planned--topics that have come up in reading or discussion or simple curiosity and contemplation (read: boredom). But it's ten minutes to six. My meetings today ran about an hour and a half longer than normal. I'm sleepy and starving, and really friends, I don't want to stay here much longer.

So a few comments covering general interest topics will have to suffice.

--Again, many thanks to my dear friend Manders for her support and name-droppage. Although, this blog being given the distinction of "bomb diggity" does raise the expectation levels of the reading public. I will do my best to meet the challenge with bravado and panache (which i think is French for "cake", in which case, "Mucho panache").

--I would like to state for the record my disappointment at the hiatus of a certain weblog personality. You will be missed. Thanks for your email, by the way. Don't worry--even though you began it with "dearest Dave", I won't read anything into that. My darling.

--I'm just kidding, Sarah.


--Elsewhere in world news: I understand that I have been lax in posting movie reviews as of late, and will try my very very best to catch up with the two movies I've seen in the interim.

--No more Howard Dean to kick around, huh? Well, we all knew it would end sometime. This does mean that all those references I was planning to make to the now-infamous "I have a scream" speech will be decidedly less funny and topical. Thus ends my brilliant career as a political satirist.

--In case you weren't aware, I had a brilliant career as a political satirist. It ended abruptly. Just as it began.

--The Muppets were bought by the (Disney Inc.) Dark Side (a.k.a. "the really REAL evil empire") this week. While this means that we may see more Muppets specials and possibly another movie, they will probably be on par with the Muppets' recent Pizza Hut commercial. Or Atlantis. Don't make me choose which one was worse.

Is it time to go? Yes. Yes it is.

"Say goodnight, Gracie."

"Goodnight, Gracie."

Monday, February 16, 2004

An Absolutely Meaningless Post, the Purpose of Which is to use the Silly Catchphrases Recently Garnered from HomeStar Runner

I just got a box of Girl Scout cookies from my cool co-worker. They're the kind with the peanut butter and the chocolate, and they're "A' PRETTY-PRETTY GOOD!"

Though not as good as "TECHNOCHOCOLATE (duh duh duh duh duh duh duh...)".

Well, that's it, then. In the words of my close personal friend and everyday hero, THNIKKAMAN:


He's the DJ... I'm the rapper...

Or is it "I'm the DJ, he's the rapper"... I'm not sure.

Either way, it's all good.

I had the good fortune to stumble across (figuratively) the first Brave Saint Saturn album in CD Warehouse's "clearance" rack. I have heard a great deal of this band from some unabashedly obsessive fans. *Cough*--Will--*cough*.

And when it was being sold for the "low, low" price of 1.99, how could I refuse?

After listening to this album again, I have one comment: what kind of industrial strength crack was I smoking, not to love this album the first time I heard it?

Good times, man. Really good. There's some strange "Yoshimi" vibe at work here. Not directly, mind you. Just the slightest hint of mental/emotional association with Flaming Lips. Unintended (impossible, historically speaking) but present. Like how Coldplay's album "A Rush of Blood to the Head" always reminds me of Pink Floyd, inexplicably.

So thank you, Will, for drilling into my overly thick noggin how great BS2 is. Because now, finally, in the end of things, I agree.

"...And I always check myself before I wreck myself..."

Postscript: The new, two-disc Five Iron Frenzy finale is hitting stores on April 20th. It will include the last FIF album (only available during the tour) plus a live disc of their last show ever, in Denver. Entitled "The End is Here", it will be, without a doubt, the best album to be released in Christendom in the last five years. And that, you can quote me on.
Strangers on a Train

I stepped on the train car at three minutes to eight, almost late but no one really notices that. I stood next to the door; the next stop was mine. I leaned back against the rail, my right arm behind me, holding the rail loosely for the one turn that would throw me to the right. As the doors were about to close, the last rider stepped on the train and stood in front of me, holding the opposite rail.

I don't know what it was about her that I found so...fascinating. She was pretty but not striking. Her strawberry blonde hair cut just above the shoulders. She was wearing a burgundy wool coat, knee-length, and below that a dress reached her white ankles. She had a purse and another larger bag, both slung over the opposite shoulder.

The train jerked forward. The ride lasted just over two minutes. During those two minutes, I pretended to look disinterestedly out the window, all the time watching her in the periphery. Then I turned and looked at her, as her eyes met mine.

She smiled. I smiled (no teeth, the self-conscious faux-embarrassed smile) and then looked away again. Then we arrived at the platform. She stepped out first, quickly, and made her way up the stairs to the skybridge over the street.

I was ten feet behind her. She reached the top of the stairs and turned right. I reached the top of the stairs, turned to watch her walk away for a moment, then turned left.

As my dear friend Marie De Salle would say, "Ah, so it is."

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Spare Change and a Flat Tire

I've been thinking about charity lately. Not in the institutional sense, or the "global impact" sense. Just kindness and generosity to the people around you.

Here's what I 've been chewing on: is a handful of change enough? I don't mean the amount of cash, and I know I could always do better. I often catch myself handing the person only a pocketful of coinage, pulling the few dimes and nickels past the guilty bills folded into fourths. Sometimes I have to be careful not to accidentally pull the bills out along with the change, though if pressed as to why I have to be "careful" about that, I'd color with shame.

But my question is, is giving a beggar some money enough? Why do we feel so great about ourselves for giving a potentially lost person a buck for coffee? Most times, if I catch myself, I'll sprinkle some generic religious cliche on my donation. " (God) bless you." "Have a blessed day." Such phraseology, while well-intentioned, is painfully bland and non-offensive. Almost everyone is down with being blessed. Even the non-/anti-religious will at least humor you. "Blessed? Yeah, sure pal. You too." *Smirk* *chuckle* *shaking head*

Go back to Acts 3. Peter demonstrates what real charity is. The lame man at the temple gate has been begging there for a while, everyone knows him, everyone sees him. The parishoners drop a few shekels in his jar every time they pass, so they can worship with a "clear" conscience. But when the lame man asks Peter for alms, Peter denies him. Peter realizes what the man's real need is. He looks him in the eye and says (roughly), "I don't have any money to give you. But I'll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus, stand up." And he grabs the guy's hand and lifts him (for the first time in years, if ever) onto his formerly limp legs. And the man went off "walking and leaping and praising God" as the song goes. And I'd be willing to bet that he left his jar of change behind.

So here we are. What good are we doing by tossing change at the poor and then rushing past. We may be buying them a burger or some coffee, but they need more. Most of them (most of everyone, really) need Jesus more than coffee. And for some reason, we can't seem to do more than give them a buck, "bless" them, and move on.

I know there's more I need to do. But I'm too...I don't know. Afraid. Lazy. Empty. Lacking love.

An argument could be made that our "quick fix" giving may be motivated on some level by a selfish desire to feel generous without the inconvenience of really going to much trouble. I won't make that argument, because to do so would be too much of a self-indictment.

Another argument could be made that we don't do more than say a quick "blessing" because we don't really care about the souls of the people around us. If we did, we'd be more desparate about sharing Jesus with them. We don't really care because we don't love them like God does. And we don't love them because we're not living totally in the Spirit.

I don't think that last statement is too great of a leap. If we live fully in the Spirit, and we are clothed with the person of Jesus Christ, then we will be passionate about the lost. We will be desparate. We will be heartbroken.

But we're not. I'm not. And because I'm not, I missed an opportunity that I should have seized.

Last night, I was walking from my office building to the train, on the sidewalk along the road. It was dusk, getting dark; the streetlights were turning on. When I was about a hundred yards from the crosswalk to the train platform, I heard a pop behind me. A white Cadillac blew a tire. It rolled up to the light, turned the corner and stopped in the parking lot.

And I heard God speak in my head. His instructions were clear: "Go change her tire."

I walked over and got the attention of the middle-aged woman inside. I offered to change her tire, and she said she had forgotten her cell phone at home, so she was glad for the help. I changed her tire, doing my best not to get my white shirt and tie greasy. While I was trying to work off the flat tire, I kept praying, "God, what do I say to her? What do I do? Please give me the words to say to her." When I got the tire changed, and tossed the tools into the trunk with the flat, the woman handed me some money, which I denied at first, but she insisted and I gave in. As she said thank you again, I realized the moment had come. This was it. I could tell her why I stopped to help, how God loves her and wanted to be part of her life. I looked her in the eye, and spoke.

"Uh...have a blessed day."

She chuckled, considering the circumstances, and said, "thanks." Sure, pal, whatever you say.

She drove off, and I walked to my train platform, dripping sweat and discouragement. I sat waiting for the next train, and thinking, "God, that was it. *The* moment. Why didn't you help me give her something good?" But as I thought, I remembered the day I had just had. It was a horrible day, full of anger, frustration, and a few muttered vulgarities.

I wasn't walking in the Spirit. I was able to hear the clarion call of direct command, but I wasn't in communion with the spirit, "walking in step with" it, like Paul writes in Galatians 5. Because of that, I didn't have any words of encouragement and ministry to give.

I always thought that if I ever behaved badly, if I allowed my anger and selfishness to affect my attitude, I could keep it to myself so that the only person who is affected by it would be me. Now I know it goes beyond that.

Now my prayer is that the next Christian she meets won't fail the way I did.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Brief Interviews with Procrastinating Men

A few quick hits, mid-shift.

First, ignore yesterday's comments about major changes to the tone of this blog. I've thought about that a bit, and have come to the conclusion that any altering of my "voice" to sound more academic or "mature" would be, in reality, a falsehood. I read blogs like Sarah Hatter's that are topical and finely crafted, without words like "hiya", and I think, "gee, maybe I need to sound more like a writer and less like a..." I don't know, child, maybe.

But I can't be Sarah (clearly), and it would be a hypocrisy to pretend to. She's got her own voice (and she's really quite talented, from all that I've read), and I've got mine. And mine is naturally conversational. Because I don't blog to write essays, I blog to chat with all of you lovely little lunatics.

So, never fear, Will, all is well in the wide wide world of PBB. Although I am serious about toning down the "ums" and "so yeah's". For real.

Number Deux: I would like to take a moment to give a warm hello to one of the less-vocal members of the PBB/ATDTT family. I saw Lindsay E. at church this Sunday, and said a brief hello in passing, but failed to mention this during yesterday's post. This is a grievous error and will never EVER happen again. Everybody say hi to Lindsay. *Hi Lindsay.*

Numero Tres: Once again, the fantabulous Mr. Seth Woods will be appearing in concert at the Taft St. Coffeehouse on Friday night (possibly even with the Sad Accordians and/or Robbie Seay. If any of you in town don't have plans, I highly highly highly suggest attending. He is always entertaining, and the event will make for a great evening. The cost is free, though I suggest bringing some cash for coffee or something. They sell IBC root beer in the hip glass bottles. I like that. Buck and a quarter. And get there at a decent time so that you will park in a legal spot and won't get towed. See his page for details.

In closing: It's 10:08 a.m., rainy, getting colder. I have to work now. Good day.

"You there--cue the music!"

*brass band fanfare of the "Flying Circus" theme*

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

When Passions Attack

Here's an article I didn't really agree with.

Here's an interview that I did like.

Read up.

The movie's opening on Ash Wednesday (Feb. 25).
Barely Out of Tuesday...

Days off are best when at the end of the work week. Even if they're not really "off", just "off-site." Conferences on Mondays disrupt your rhythm for the next four days.

I'm stumbling through my off-center Tuesday, trying to pick up the slack that's gathering in piles at my feet. A few extra hours here and there should do it.

Yesterday was wast-- I mean, spent, at a conference that cost my department a couple hundred dollars, but provided only some stale breakfast breads under the exaggerated guise of "continental breakfast". And I was bored through most of it. I tried, let me assure you, I tried to be excited about this thing, but it ended up being a waste of time. And a big fat negative eight hours of work accomplished for the week. So I'll be stomping on slow-moving baby tomatoes all week. (I tried really hard to make that Pulp Fiction reference work... pity.)

There are a few meaningless things I could share. The last episode of "Ed" was one of the odd ones, a bit unusual in tone, and the level of humor dipped a bit. But it was the last one, and the last five minutes were worth the curious fifty-five previous.

I watched a pretty good Austin City Limits on Saturday--Chris Isaak and Norah Jones (a split episode, not a duet).

I saw the hockey movie "Miracle" this weekend. Good flick.

For the first time, I believe I'm feeling fiction burnout. I think once I finish all my reading-in-progress, I am going to leave fiction for a while and chew on something else. Philosophy, biography. Ideas. I have a few volumes of C.S. Lewis that I've been meaning to read. Of course, I'm not abandoning fiction by any means (how could I, if that is my path?). But I think a brief absence will help me appreciate it again.

There are more meaningful things I will discuss...eventually. But they deserve more time than I can give them here.

I got a call from an old roommate. It was good to hear from him, even though he kept me up much longer than I should have been awake. But I've been meaning to get in touch with him regularly. Hopefully, he'll start blogging regularly, too. (That's your hint, Trev.)

I notice that the blogs I enjoy most have the highest reading level, and take on the characteristics of essays rather than conversations. I have really let this blog go, as far as structure and substance. Too conversational. Some of the posts in the last few weeks could have been written by someone much younger. If I don't do something to abate the rising tide of poor grammar, I'll end up substituting numbers for letters and using "smilies" to convey my feelings. If that doomed day should ever occur, please do me the service of pulling the plug.

In the future, I will do my utmost to "kick it up a notch" while maintaining my humor and the occasional foray into weak wordplay.

Thursday, February 05, 2004

"Lost" in Thought

I watched Lost in Translation last night. I'm...conflicted as to what I think about it. I'm going to watch it again tonight. I'll post the review on Friday.

For those of you who can't wait until then, here are two reviews of the film, both positive.

In other movie news, I put up three video reviews on Monday night, including the Seabiscuit review. Curious minds can check that out here.

The Lost in Translation review will be posted there as well.

On a personal note, today I'm a bit better. Still soggy, though. My mood matches the morning weather.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Turning off the Filter

I'm gonna turn off the filter for a moment. You know what I mean, you that blog. The mental filter you use that removes what you think might be misconstrued, misunderstood, or mistaken to mean more that what's written. This filter is fueled by the fear of repercussions, or simply the embarrassment of shared secrets. You don't want the world to know what you're really thinking, do you. Of course not.

But I'm turning off the filter for this post. Because I feel like utter crap right now. And if I don't vent some of this stuff, I'm gonna carry it home with me, where it will fester in my mind until my soul rots.

Everybody's got the good days and bad, right? The good days when you feel appreciated and accepted, where you feel successful and the work of your hands seems divinely blessed. And everything is right with the world.

Then the bad days, when everyone's on your case. And you make stupid mistakes that you never usually make, but because your boss is watching this time, it looks like you're a total moron and a waste of the company's time. You try to tell him that you normally don't do this, and he gives you that condescending look. "Of course," he says. And each new hour hammers home the idea that you don't deserve this job, you're screwing up too much and are destined to be fired, and you are pretty much a failure in general.

And you tell yourself it's not true. You "rebuke" it. You deny it. But the waves of self-loathing keep washing up the sides of your little boat, until your perspective and vision are obscured by the overwhelming tide.

You don't belong here. You're not good enough. Everyone thinks you're a phony. You'll surely lose your job soon.

And then you go home, and you try to have what little social life you can. But the waves keep crashing, baby. And now the wind's blowing. And can you hear what the wind is saying?

You're a social outcast. What's wrong with you? Why don't you have friends? You're going nowhere in life.

But then the lightening flashes. And in the flash, you see the worst of it.

You will never be loved again. Nobody thinks you're special. You will never be adored.

There you sit, in the midst of the storm, the flash and wind and rain and waves, and the nose of your little boat starts dipping beneath the surface. And you scream, and you cry out, and no one hears. No one knows. (Would it matter?)

And then, the storm fades. Dies down. Still there. Still ready to strike, coiled, serpentine, along the edge of your mind. But you think you're safe for the moment. You breathe your too soon sighs of relief.

And whoosh.

Suddenly you're underwater.

Welcome to my Wednesday.

Monday, February 02, 2004

Some Thoughts about Grave Clothes

The Sunday School lesson yesterday was about Lazarus being raised (Gospel of John, chapter 11, for you kids following along). The speaker had some good things to say, but one thing stuck with me. He said that just because Lazarus wasn't alive again, doesn't mean he was totally free. He had to take off the grave clothes, and he needed help for some of it.

So many times, God delivers us from things--addictions, the past, the present. And while we are free (free indeed!), we may not have taken off the grave clothes. That's why these things still come up for us. We stumble around in the same old sins, we wallow in regret or shame. And that's not real freedom.

What I've found is that I've kept my grave clothes. God has delivered me from problems and situations, and the rotten, stinky grave rags have been removed, but instead of giving them to Him, throwing them away, I kept them. And every once in a while, I try them on again, and wallow in the pain and shame that goes with that.

God didn't bring me back to life so that I can play graveyard fashion show. And if you have been delivered from something, He didn't do it so that you can wander back into that, or drive yourself crazy thinking about it.

It's time to throw away the grave clothes of past decisions, past regrets, and past lives. To place the smelly, wretched bundles of pain, shame, and fear at the foot of the triumphant cross, and walk away. To look back and watch, like Bunyan's Pilgrim, as your burden rolls away down Calvary, into the empty tomb, where it is buried forever.

It's time to stop dressing like the dead. We are alive in Christ. Let's clothe ourselves in Him, eh?
"Oh, no, not I...I will survive..."

All my stern language about the inherent evils of reality television comes crashing back down on me, and I am undone.

Survivor All Stars is on. Let the gloriously snarky games begin.

You know, I'll ammend all my reality TV bashing. "All reality television is bogus--except All-Star Survivor."

I'm so pathetic.

So yes. Episode One was very very interesting. I missed the beginning and had to kinda catch up, but here's the dilly-yo:

--Instead of two teams of eight, there are three teams of six.

--Until the first challenge, no team knew who had been chosen, and who was on each team. I don't think they even knew there were more than two teams.

--It's a whole new ballgame. The naive trust of each player's first game is long gone. One player noted to his teammates, "I can't trust *any* of you people."

--Richard is evil. We knew it before. Apparently, he became more cocky (stop laughing) and more manipulative since Season One. I'm praying for his exit, just to enjoy the look on his face.

--Richard instituted "Naked Gay Man" already. Geez. Didn't take long.

--My sentimental favorites: Rudy (who is still the man), Rupert, Farmer Tom, and Susan (who is still a raging bee-otch). Odds are, none of them will survive. But that's okay. Cuz as long as Richard, Jerri, and Jersey Rob don't win, it's all good.

--Tina, during Tribal Council, noted that each season's winner has a big bull's-eye on their chest, that revenge and envy is a very important motivator for the other players. Truer words were never uttered. Tina, the tribe has spoken--you're the first Castaway thrown off Survivor All-Stars. Now you can go home and console yourself with your million dollar winnings.


I'm such a Survivor ho.
Coming Soon

I have to get back to work. Coming up, this afternoon:

--Some good thoughts about freedom
--Something...else that's fun!
More Football Revelry

As I said last time, my dad and I went to the NFL Experience last Friday. It was a lot of fun actually. There was a massive football card/autograph/memorabilia show, which would have been a lot cooler when I was thirteen, but was still kinda neat. We got to see my dad's favorite talk radio DJ, who was doing a live show from the convention center.

We got our picture taken in front of the Cadillac display. I'd like to be able to say I'm the skinny one on the left. But that wouldn't be true, now, would it?

And I got to kick a twenty-five yard field goal attempt. I could tell you I was not in good clothes for it, and that I had no room to run up to the ball, and that I was tired from walking around all day. But instead of making (plausible) excuses, I will say this: The ball went off the side of my foot. It went about ten feet before skipping like a stone across a pond. I walked away quickly as some of the more inebriated exhibit-goers began to laugh.

Stupid football.

But it was a once in a lifetime (probably) "experience" for me, so I'm glad (kinda) that I took advantage of the opportunity.

I'll show 'em next time...
Redefining "celebrity exposure"

And I can't go without posting about the evening's other momentary nudity. You've no doubt heard about the bra-dropping--I mean, jaw-dropping--finale to the halftime show, featuring Justin "I'm a Dirty Skank-boy" Timberlake and the incredibly odd Janet Jackson. As I said, I was watching it at church. With families. Who had children. It's funny in retrospect, because it reminded me a bit of the "film editing" scene from Fight Club.

Everybody is denying that it was intentional and rehearsed. Janet won't comment, and Justin says it was a "wardrobe malfunction". Malfunction? What are you, Hal 3000? The thing had snaps, skank-boy. Looks like it "functioned" as it was supposed to.

And as for Janet. I'm sorry, Ms. Jackson, let's be for real: you were wearing a pasty. In the split-second glimpse I got, it looked like it sparkled. You were wearing a sparkly pasty. Now, you may wear it everyday under your clothes, for all I know. And if that's the case, I'm not that surprised--you are Michael's sister, so there's no ceiling to the amount of weirdness you can generate. But don't pull this dog and pony "oops what happened" show. Come on.

Side note: Isn't it interesting how everyone is up in arms over the Jackson incident, while no one is talking about Nelly's "Hot in Herrrre" performance that included a cheerleader striptease of sorts. No one seemed to mind. When Britney Spears did as much three years ago (will *somebody* get that girl some 'satisfaction'???), everyone flipped. Now, it's no big deal. That, my friends, is the REAL disappointment. In five years, nudity on stage during awards shows and ball games will be almost boring. What's next after that? Think we won't get there? Think again.
Excuse me, Mr. Line Judge, but where are your pants?

And then there's this guy, who by all accounts is a serial streaker. Geez man. The guy needs a hobby.

He was reportedly dressed as a line judge, when he jumped down onto the field, stripped down to almost nothing, ran out to where the ball was placed for the 3rd quarter kickoff, and started dancing. Everyone was too stunned to move at first.

Then, the streaker was tackled by a Patriot linebacker, who later denied that it was him. (I'd deny it, too, cuz that's got to be uncomfortable. I'd immediately block out the memory.)

Weirder than advertised.
Com... Mer... Cials....

What's up with the ads during the big game? There were only a few that I was impressed with, while the rest were just kinda dumb. Ooh, the mangy dog bit the preppy guy's crotch. Ha ha ha. Ooh, the horse fart lit on fire and burned the girl's hair. He he he. Ooh, the man walked into the wrong room and got a bikini wax instead of a massage. Ho ho ho.

Come on, people. Surely, we could do better. I mean, even the "Waaaazzzaaaaappp!!!" guys were more inventive than this (at first, anyway).

One commercial I liked that I'm glad got some more attention was the Lay's commecial involving the elderly couple wrestling over a bag of chips. It was so absurd that I laughed during the entire time. And yes, it may be just as tasteless as the others, but dueling geriatrics are more amusing to me that "below the belt" humor, any day of the week.

Another commercial I thought was rather clever was the Pepsi commercial involving a young Jimi Hendrix choosing between Pepsi and Coke, and how that changed his musical destiny. Although I'd like to hear Weird Al take a stab at "Purple Haze."

The commercial I was really impressed with was one that has gone virtually unnoticed in the press that I've seen. It was by the group "Truth" who run the aggressive anti-smoking ads. In this ad, they skewer the "positive" ads that Phillip Morris was forced to air about the dangers of smoking. If you haven't seen the Phillip Morris ad, go here and click on the button for the "lower yielding brands" ad that states "there is no safe cigarette". Then, go here and click on the "Shards o' Glass" ad. Pretty harsh, but dead on.

Now, I should say that I see the Truth people (a.k.a. the American Legacy Foundation) wanting to outlaw smoking, and then torture tobacco manufacturers to death, and I don't agree with that at all. I think smoking is stupid and gross, but if you want to do it, by all means, do it. Because these same anti-smoking people will want to outlaw caffeine and Big Macs next, and they're welcome to try, if they can pry the burger and can out of my cold dead hands.

Anyway, like I said, I think smoking is a dumb personal choice, but it should be a choice, not a law. So I disagree with those folks about that. However, they were right on the money with this ad. The Phillip Morris ad is the result of the massive class action suit against "Big Tobacco" several years back; ads like these are stipulations of that decision. I think the ads themselves are moronic and disingenuous, because if Phillip Morris really wanted people to quit smoking, they'd stop making cigarettes. So you have this tobacco corporation saying "oh, yeah, man, smoking is BAD *wink*". And the Truth folks are showing just how stupid that is. Bottom line: while I don't agree with the ideology behind it, the Truth ad manages to shed light on a rather obvious hypocrisy in the corporate world. So well done them.

All told, I wasn't very impressed with this year's crop of commercials. Good thing (maybe not) that they weren't the only excitement between plays.
"In my mind, I was going for Carolina..."

What a game. Whew. The best Super Bowl match-up I've ever seen. That was awesome. Even if my team lost.

I say "my team" like I was a fan since pre-season. As you all may know, that's not true. But when given a choice between the bruiser favorite and the young underdog, I pick the underdog, no matter how many times I'm wrong. Force of habit. I'm a Cubs fan.

I watched the game at my church, where it was projected onto the three seven-foot screens in the secondary worship center, where the youth group usually has their Sunday morning services. It was hosted by the Singles department, or so I thought, but included families, small children. No one from my class. Except the married couple who took over teaching it last month. So that'

But yes. Great game. Supa dupa game. Well done Houston.

Now, onto the less impressive parts of the evening...