Friday, May 28, 2004

Catholic Bishops Want Their MTV

According to an AP report, the Pope is warning that America is headed toward a soulless existence of materialism and moral relativism.

Headed? Really? Good thing we have the Pontiff to point these things out.

I'm just kidding. He's old. He's a bit slow on the uptake, but he's still a sweet guy. And a helluva card player.

Yes, Your Eminence, America is paving the road to soulless consumerism and material-focused living.

In response, American religious leaders are encouraged to engage the popular culture, in an attempt to understand the younger generation of Americans who are headed down this road.

I thought the line about reading the "signs of the times" was funny, though. I can just imagine a roomful of cardinals in full ecclesiastical regalia, huddled around issues of "Tiger Beat" and "Rolling Stone".

If you'll allow me to remove my tongue from my cheek (which sounds more painful than it is), I did want to comment seriously about this. This issue of being culturally relevant is a serious one, I think. We see Christians doing all sorts of things to achieve this, be they useful ways, like starting magazines, or worthless ways, like selling tee-shirts.

And I've heard the arguments (even made the arguments) that the Gospel can be re-presented to each generation, in a way that they can relate to, without the truth of it being changed. Paul became "all things to all men, so that by all possible means [he] might save some."

But I think there is a balance to this. Because in our zeal to adapt the Gospel to the times in which we live, we sometimes end up trying to adapt the truth of the Gospel also. Meaning, what we emphasize begins to change. We give less weight to certain elements of the Gospel that we used to. And this changes the meaning of Christ.

One complaint I heard quite a bit during the whole "Passion" debacle is that the film focused too much on Christ's suffering and death, and not enough on His life and teaching. And while I would have enjoyed more scenes of teaching in addition to the film as it stands, I think these critics miss the point. First, and most obvious, the film isn't called the "Ministry" or the "Teachings" of Christ, for a reason. There is a specific focus that the director-as-storyteller chose. That's it. But I think this belies a deeper problem to some extent.

We are more comfortable with a holy man on a mountain than a suffering God on a cross.

When Jesus is on that mountain, he's nice, clean, safe. Like Buddha. Like Confuscious. Like Plato. Like Ghandi. He's the "good teacher."

But when Jesus is on the cross, we're confronted by the injustice of it. And the injustice stems from the fact that "he who had no sin became sin for us." It's the "for us" that drives people crazy.

Back to topic: The Gospel isn't the Gospel without sin. The Gospel isn't the Gospel without redemption. Jesus didn't walk the earth, only to give us some good thoughts and inspirational poems. There was a specific, vital purpose for his life, and that purpose brings all of his teaching into a new perspective. We were sinful. We were condemned. And now, we are (or can be) redeemed. That's the Gospel. That's the story.

So the inherent danger of trying to make the Gospel "culturally relevant" is that if we go too far, we make the Gospel spiritually inadequate. We cannot whitewash the bald fact that we must be born again. Must die to ourselves and be raised in Christ. If we preach nothing but a feel-good Messiah, we leave the picture incomplete. Jesus must be Lord to be Savior. Otherwise he is neither.

I earnestly commend the Catholic church for this renewed focus on reaching the younger generation. And I agree heartily that this country is becoming more secularized with each passing generation.

But we can take a desire for relevance too far. So far that the cross itself becomes irrelevant. Once that happens, we might as well all just stay home and watch TRL.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

A Deadhead Sticker on a Cadillac...

What did you learn, Dave?

Well, for starters, memory leaves out some details. You forget how awful your college dorm hallway smelled. You forget how greasy and gross your formerly favorite foods are. The chiffon-lensed remembrance of familiar places kept you from choking on the dust, the bugs, and the heat. You realize that every town that Norman Rockwell captured was really just like every other town. And that some towns don't even deserve to be painted. You see the flaws in Mona Lisa's complexion.

But despite all this, you still smile and say, yes, that was my home and I loved it. But the old cliche stands true: you can't go home again. Not really.

A voice inside Don Henley's head insisted that he could never look back. And it's almost right, in a way. You can look back, but you can't ever go. And you don't want to try. Because the memory is pretty, the memory vacuums the corners and sweeps the cobwebs. And the world where the memory used to live doesn't.

But despite all this, you love the place. You love the people. Even the ones you can't stand, you still miss. But now nostalgia is tempered with realism, stoked in the fires of expectation and pounded with the hammer of experience. Sometimes it breaks. Sometimes it stays true. I think my nostalgia remains intact, but thinner. Tougher. More useful.

One of my lasting worries, one I've had for a long time, is forgetting. I often feel that everything needs to be documented, every detail, every song, every story. That voice inside my head says, "Write it down, dave, write it all down, write the world down, because it's fading so so quickly, to shadow, to dust." I'm a documenter. This is part of why I write. This is half of why I blog. I build bridges, I erect memorials.

(Memory is non-current currency, Confederate money, and doesn't go for much these days.)

So here I stand, sad and free. I look over my shoulder at the last six years, all that I've won, all that I've lost. I want to write it all down and can't. I could try, but I wouldn't capture it right.

I'm starting to learn that some things need to be documented, and some need to fade. To live with your entire history weighing down upon you is to lose your ability to progress. It's madness.

You can't be afraid of the blank page future. You can't be afraid to step into the next chapter without some of the things you had in the last. It's okay to lose your pocketwatch along the way. You may find you don't need it later.

This is not to say that people are pocketwatches, or that relationships are like Bic pens, used then discarded. Not true. My lord, not true. But the Teacher of the Old Testament, in all his bittersweet wisdom, in all his circumspect melancholy, captured the essence of our journey from the first page to the last:
"There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace."

Sometimes you must give up. Sometimes you must throw away. Sometimes you must refrain. Sometimes you must tear down. For memory packrats like me, these are hard teachings. It takes me a while to learn them. It's taken me two years after graduating to "move away" from college.

For my finale, I have to crib a fragment from someone else. Karin knows what I'm saying:

"Changes come
Turn my world around

I have my father's hand
I have my mother's tongue
I look for redemption in everyone

I wanna wear your ring
I have a song to sing
It ain't over babe
In fact it's just begun

Changes come
Turn my world around
Changes come
Bring the whole thing down..."

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Vacation Story #5--"But I don't mind the days gone rolling away..."

The reception was awesome. The Mariott ballroom, catered by the hotel. Delicious food. Fun times. Everyone dancing. I shot more than a roll of film at the reception. Every woman was beautiful, every man was dashing. But I couldn't help but feel a little tug of sadness. It was the last night of my trip. And likely the last time I'd see many of my friends who were in attendance.

There was one particular point in the evening when I felt this the most. I was walking amongst the tables, taking candid shots of friends, strangers, and the occasional centerpiece (trying to be one of the hip artsy kids, like Jonathon Youngblood). And I turned and looked at the crowd on the tiny dance floor, dancing, laughing, smiling. And in the soft golden light of candles and chandeliers, I watched as the music seemed to soften. The dancing crowd was moving in slow motion, and I stood there, in the near-silence of my own reflection, thinking, "This is it--the scene in the movie where the main character realizes that everything he loves is fading." I looked out over the crowd, all the faces I recognized, and felt a stab of sadness. But then, I realized that my sometimes-mantra is true: "It is as it must be." And it must.

My reverie was broken by a soft hand grabbing mine. A woman pulling me out onto the dance floor. My friend's sister, who said that her husband wouldn't dance with her, so she's dancing with me. We danced. She complimented me on my footwork and my voice (I sang along a bit with the music). I insisted, in both cases, that she was too kind. Then I danced with the groom's mother, whom I adore. Great lady. And then the time came for the anxious couple to speed away into the night. We stood outside the door of the hotel, lighting sparklers instead of throwing rice. The sparklers showered the sidewalk with light and false flame. The sparklers were time, burning brightly and quickly. Those who hang on too long burn their fingers. The wisest of us see when the last few seconds of light approach, savor them, then drop the sparkler to the ground and quietly mourn its passing, only for a moment.

I held my sparkler high, and the bride and groom ran past in their world of light and love and only two people, two faces, two rings. Off they sped into the dark, and I watched and waved. The sparkler died and I threw it away.

The crowd remained for a while, then dwindled, until only the Theatre kids remained. We said our goodbyes. I didn't stay until the very end. The romantic idea of being the last one to leave had crossed my mind. But I was tired, and a little lonely, so I put on my brave face, and walked away.

And that was that.

Vacation Story # 4--Being an Usher is Difficult

It shouldn't be, but it is.

I was struck with panic as I rehearsed my part of the wedding ceremony. It should have been simple, but grew more and more complex as we went along. And I panicked, because I didn't want to ruin the wedding of the person I consider my closest friend.

But I made it through, alright. Calmed by hope, encouraged by the notion of my two friends being so very happy, and distracted by the sight of the most beautiful woman in the world, wearing a sleeveless "little black dress."

Yes. The most beautiful woman in the world. A perfect physical specimen of the Human Female. With gorgeous eyes and a soft voice. I was enamored with her from the first moment I met her four years ago. But never in a serious or motivating way, because I never to this day have had a snowball's chance with her. I'm not being self-deprecating, i'm being completely honest. She would be Webster's definition of a "knock-out." But for all my chances, I might as well have been asking Mrs. Potter to climb down off that movie screen. I still think she's outstanding. And the sweetest girl you could meet. The man who wins her heart will be blessed, all the days of his life. But that's neither here nor there. Let's just say, I had to employ a fellow usher to keep me from staring the whole time. Cuz really, who wants to be the "creepy staring guy"?

As to the wedding itself, it was the most beautiful, God-filled wedding I have ever seen. It was like being at a spiritually-moving church service, you just love everyone afterwards. And Josh and Tiff were so happy. They wrote their own vows. Josh let me preview his, both the first draft and the last. And they were great. Every man is a poet when he pours out his heart to his bride, and Josh was no exception. And I cried. Yes, I can admit I did. It was one of the most Beautiful things I've ever experienced. Even more than seeing the girl in the black dress.

And I ushed perfectly, if I do say so myself. Didn't trip the mother of the groom or anything.

Vacation Story # 3a--Like a bow, double-knotted

I saw her for the last time. She is standing in full graduation regalia, her proud parents camcordering away. I'm searching for my friend, and we end up almost running into each other. She calls out "Hey David!" (I'm not sure why she used my full name.) I wasn't paying attention, but now I see her. She's still beautiful.

I can't remember exactly what I said. I think it included, "hi; congratulations; good luck; take care; i'm looking for josh; bye." But with feeling, because I meant all of it.

I was in a hurry. I was also caught offguard. So late in the trip, I didn't expect to see her at all. But the thirty seconds were good. My last memory of her is good. And that makes me happy.

If I didn't say all of that then, I'm saying it now. Good luck, Ophelia. Really and truly. Your contribution to the world will be great, so be brave, be strong, and make it. You will always be important to me, and your happiness makes me glad. Best wishes and love. --Dave

Vacation Story #3--Famous Last Words (Parental Advisory--Explicit Dialogue)

I was watching graduation on the local cable access channel. I had woken up late, so I was getting dressed, watching several of my friends walk across the stage. Finally, the time came for the Theatre Department to graduate, including my generous host. The first name called was my friend Bree.

A brief biography of Bree: Bree came to OBU as the average Christian high school graduate. Raised in the church, very polite, very proper. Raised no hell and only small amounts of heck. A good kid. Fast-forward to now: he seems to have been burned by religion and Christian hypocrisy and has found his meaning in the non-meaning of absurdist theatre. He has decided (and will debate the point) that realism is dead as an art form, and the only impetus of social change left at his disposal is absurdist shock theatre. He has lost faith in redemption. He thinks like Freud. He lives like Casanova. Or least attempts to. His bedposts are heavily notched.

A brief note about my alma mater: typical Baptist college, very insulated, very above-board. Its president is pretty much a tool, but I find it hard to hate the man. He's a product of his own system. He can't help it.

Scene: Graduation. Bree walking across the stage to accept his diploma (cover) and shake President Brister's hand.

As I watch on TV, I see Brister and Bree exchange words, and Brister's plastered smile is momentarily shaken. He regains himself and turns to shake the hand of the next happy graduate, his smile firmly in place.

I'm intrigued. Excited. Pleased. Soon after, I find the graduate Bree, and ask him what it was that he said. His account of the exchange is as follows:

"So I'm walking up to him, and he sticks out his hand and says, "Congratulations, Bree, are you excited?" And I look right back at him [big smile on his face] and say without missing a beat, "You have no fucking idea, sir!"

I laughed my double-wide ass off.

Vacation Story #2--Who's that Girl? Oh. It's Josh.

We dressed up my friend in hunter green stockings (like men in TIGHT tights), a dirty, holey white tank-top undershirt (or "wife-beater" for you Springer fans). They (we minus me)took turns covering his face with make-up, until he looked scarier than a two-dollar callgirl. From Ponca City. And then we all went out to eat.

"They" being Josh's frat brothers. They allowed me into their meeting room for the first time ever. Like Geraldo opening the mummy's tomb, except I found something. Several of them were my friends of old, who returned for the occasion. The occasion being the advent of Josh's impending nuptuals.

We went to Chili's. Waited outside for fifteen minutes. Talked. I walked over to the Blockbuster next door to talk to my friend who worked there. She was happy to see me. She was graduating soon. She was going to be living in a town near my hometown for the summer. She wanted my phone number so we could hang out, and so she'd have a place to crash if she got too drunk in Houston. I gave her my number. I don't know why.

There was a time when I found her moderately attractive, and likely would have made out with her if given the opportunity. I don't know why that was, either.

While now I have more sense than to ever do that, I still didn't have enough sense to avoid giving this person my home phone number. I don't know why.

I returned to the group. We were finally seated. We were assigned the only non-attractive waitress in the restaurant. She fed us lots of tortilla chips. She took our orders. We ate more tortilla chips. For the next hour. Finally the food was served. My chicken fried steak was over done. Nuclear waste. Needed a hacksaw. I informed the waitress at the end of the meal, politely. She offered a replacement, but I was too full. From all the chips. So I declined hoping she'd give me some sort of discount, the only decent thing to do in that situation. She didn't.

We left. Went to someone's apartment. Watched DVDs of the Family Guy and did nothing. I waited for a phone call from a friend who wanted to hang out. I changed clothes, expecting her to call. She didn't.

It was just like you were there, wasn't it.

Vacation Story #1--Strange Things are Happening...

A general overview.

I started to use the predictable David Bowie reference in the title (and all of his ch-ch-ch-ch-changes), but I went the Randy Newman/"Toy Story" route instead. Not sure why.

I have spoken before of some of my motivations for the trip, the closing of the old book, beginning of the new one.

It helps when the Norman Rockwell town you remember goes for some massive changes while you were gone.

Okay, not "massive." But certainly big enough to notice. I'll mention only two.

Change #1--the G.C. (Geiger Center, for all you non-Bison), my alma mater's student union-type building. Here's what I remember. A wide open rectangular room with support pillars spaced out periodically. Lots of ratty couches, a few nicked side tables. One big projection-screen TV. Then, the Game room, with its three pool tables, air hockey table, two ping pong tables, and chessboard. As well as several old-school or semi-old-school arcade games (Galaga, Lethal Enforcers, Killer Instinct, 1942, that old Neo-Geo four-pack). A pinball machine even. Also in the GC was the "snack bar", cleverly named the Geiger Counter. It was just that, a snack bar. There were two soda fountains, a glass refrigerator case of bottled drinks, and a counter with small shelves of various snacks. Behind the counter was a grill, where you could order hamburgers, hot dogs, whatever.

Now. The GC has all sorts of weird walls, turning the one wide-open space into five or so. New furniture, ceiling-mounted flat-screen TVs (four of them, I think). The game room is completely gone, replaced by a semi-enclosed study area with a bank of five DSL connected computers for common use. And the snack "bar" has turned into a campus grocery store, with five aisles, seven or eight glass refrigerator cases and a coffee bar. It's a frickin convenience store. What the crap.

Now you may say, "Dave, that all sounds great. They've made some nice upgrades. Outside of losing the gameroom, it sounds like a vast improvement." And I would agree. But I liked it the way I remember it. And that's gone. Out with the old.

Change #2--Even more disappointing is finding that your favorite "greasy spoon" is trying to become high-brow, or at least appear so. The Rainbow Inn, God's gift to small town dining, tore down the cheesy, six-shades-of-brown, "fake bookshelf" wallpaper with all its terribly misproportioned books, and painted the two walls it covered white. They took down all the cowboy decor and horseshoe art, and hung impressionist paintings. What the crap? You trying to be Denny's now?

And insult added to psychological injury occured when I ordered my favorite meal, the meal that the great and illustrious Marty termed "what God eats on vacation", and this delectable dish was absolutely awful. They ruined it. And i was furious.

Now you may say, "Dave, every establishment needs a facelift. Sounds like they're trying to be a bit more respectable and classy, which is no crime." And I would agree. But I liked it the way I remember it. And that's gone. Out with the old.

Picking up on the theme yet? That's okay, it's pretty much repeated throughout the weekend.

Memory being replaced by reality, and the ensuing disappointment.

It really was a good weekend. But it was good like getting punished is good. Like breaking up is good. In retrospect, and only if you learn your lesson. Which I have.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

This is an Actual Phone Conversation with a Consent Editor

Me: Office of Protocol Compliance*, this is Dave.

Her: Yes, I'm calling to check on the status of my protocol.

Me: Sure, what's the number?

Her: 04215.* It went to the meeting this week, and I haven't heard anything back about the consent being approved.

Me: Let's see. [scrambling to pull up documents]. Yes. It was approved with a few contingencies... You should be getting a memo from the OPC* coordinators in the next few days.

Her: I haven't gotten one yet, should I expect it soon?

Me: Yes, ma'am. If it's not already in the mail on its way to you, it should be sent out in the next day or so.

Her: Okay... So can I have your phone number?

Me: [puzzled expression] Sure. My extension is...

Her: No, I mean your home phone number?

[Long pause.]

Me: Can I ask why you need it?

Her: Because I saw you in the meeting, and frankly, I thought you were pretty hot.

[Longer pause]

Me: Well, that's a pretty good trick, considering I wasn't at last week's meeting?

Her: Who said I'm talking about last week's meeting?

[Even longer pause]

Me: Um... I don't think that's a good idea. But thanks.

Her: Really? That's too bad. [stifled giggle]

Me: [thinking "Wait a minute... I recognize that laugh."]


So yes. My pregnant, married coworker. She's oh so funny. The sad thing is, she had me going all the way until she laughed.

The sadder thing is, I'm kinda disappointed it was a joke.

*Not actual names or numbers. You think I'd leak info out like that???

(I'll deliver with the fun vacation stories tomorrow. I'm meeting the folks for dinner tonight. Later.)

"Welcome back, my friends, to the show that never ends..."

"...We're so glad you can attend, come inside, come inside."

That's right, kiddies. The Teacher is back from his trek to the red dirt hills and howling gale-force winds of central Oklahoma. And I return bearing a message of hope:

God is good. And His mercy endures forever.

Nothing more clearly demonstrates the goodness, mercy, and generosity of the Almighty God than a wedding between two amazing Christian people.

That, and the joy of hanging out with a group of friends you've grown to love dearly over only a handful of years.

Yes. The trip was good. I'll post about it in detail over the next two or three days, because there were several noteworthy things that occurred, both externally and internally. Lots of fun self-analysis to be performed.

But right now, I'm supposed to be editing a document concerning "a Phase II study of rituximab-CHOP with Pegylated Liposomal Doxyrubicin..." so I need to get on that.

More to come.

Friday, May 14, 2004

On the Road Again

Well, it's time to take this rolling wreck on the road. Which is to say, I'll be absent for the next...ten days or so.

I'm taking that great pilgrimage up Interstate 45 to points north, to wine and dine with beloved friends, and to celebrate the impending nuptials of my dear friends Josh and Tiffany.

I know, I know. I'll miss you too.

While I could sublet these perfect blue buildings to another inhabitant for the interim, I'd rather let this sad sagging site stand empty, so that you all can fill my comment box with countless messages of well-wishing and yearning for my return. (Example: "Oh Dave, how could you leave us, when we need you so! It's not the same without you! Please never leave us again!!!" and so on.)

So, I'll leave with this:

"May your life in this world be a happy one
May the sun be warm and may the skies be blue
May the storms that cloud your way
Clear the air for a brighter day
And may the saints and Savior watch over you..."

"Blessing" by The Electrics

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Happiness is...

Being the only person in your four-cubicle office during lunch hour when "Dead and Bloated" comes on the radio, turning it up semi-loud, and rocking out in the relative privacy of your cubicle.

"I'm a stranger in this town..."

Song of the Day. Little something from the Bush boys. This is the current vibe in my mind.


"Letting the Cables Sleep"

You in the dark
You in the pain
You on the run
Living a hell
Living your ghost
Living your end
Never seem to get in the place that I belong
Don't wanna lose the time
Lose the time to come

Whatever you say it's alright
Whatever you do it's all good
Whatever you say it's alright
Silence is not the way
We need to talk about it
If heaven is on the way
If heaven is on the way

You in the sea
On a decline
Breaking the waves
Watching the lights go down
Letting the cables sleep

Whatever you say it's alright
Whatever you do it's all good
Whatever you say it's alright
Silence is not the way
We need to talk about it
If heaven is on the way
We'll wrap the world around it
If heaven is on the way
If heaven is on the way

I'm a stranger in this town
I'm a stranger in this town

If heaven is on the way
If heaven is on the way
I'm a stranger in this town
I'm a stranger in this town

Tuesday, May 11, 2004


This is a fun little tale. Gather 'round.

When I was a sophomore at OBU, I fell in love with a girl. First of all, this shouldn't be too surprising, since I fell for a total of four girls while at OBU, only one ever returning my affections. Secondly, it shouldn't be surprising that I say I "fell in love." Being a person of great and dramatic feeling, I tend to fall all the way in love, even when the object of my affection is unaware or unresponsive to my great outpouring of feeling. (I could go into the difference between actual love and being "in love" at this point, but I feel certain that most of you are with me on that already. So we will move on.)

This girl, whom we will call Susie (although her name was Tiffany), was magnificent. She was fun, she was funny, she was kind and sweet-tempered. And she had a rock-solid faith in Christ. She was, what we called in my small Baptist college, "the total package." And I fell for her. Hard. Because she had all of the main qualities I was looking for in a girlfriend/potential wife.

And she was a stone-cold fox.

I told my roommate about my growing affection for her. He was encouraging, but not abundantly so.

A few months passed. I still felt rather strongly about her but had yet to make my "move", as the kids called it. Then she started talking about the whole "kissing dating goodbye" business that was so popular then. Undaunted, I continued in my mission to love her from afar and never tell her how I felt. I was not sure how this was supposed to let her know of my intentions, or overcome her newly-minted stance on male-female relations. But I was resolute.

Then the defining moment in this half-relationship came. My roommate Guido (whose real name was Trevor) invited everyone in the "gang" (group of friends, not to be confused with an exclusive, violent subculture utilizing ritualistic conflict and crime to create a self-perpetuating social order) to drive with him to his ancestral home in the far off land of Kansas City, Missouri. Although I had never been to Kansas City, and had oft heard of its marvels, I was forced by cruel, cruel fate to stay and work that weekend, at my menial occupation, washing other peoples' dishes.

The weekend progressed slowly, and finally everyone returned. We all ate at a local 24-hour dining establishment (Denny's) that night, and the group discussed the grand time they had on the journey.

But what caught my attention immediately was that there was--could it be?--some sort of spark betwixt Guido and the fair Susie. At first, I thought I was imagining things, but no, it was true. Susie and her friend...I can't think of a pseudonym, so we'll name her Shannon (as her mother did), went to the restroom, and I turned to Guido and said, "Look, man, if something is happening between you and Susie, it's okay...I'm cool with it."

Obviously I was lying. Any friend worth their salt would have seen that. I was trying to be Sydney from Dickens' Tale of Two Cities, willingly putting my head on the guillotine for the sake of my friends' happiness. But, of course, my dear friend, my compatriot, my blood-brother Guido would see this clearly. Surely he would not take me up on my offer.

"I'm glad you feel that way," Guido intimated. "Because I've been praying about it, and..."

It felt like a kick in the chest. Betrayed at every turn. Double-crossed by my friend-turned-rival, who had succeeded in stealing away the heart of the radiant Susie. I struggled to maintain composure. Susie and Shannon returned, and I continued my meal, pretending everything was roses. When all the time, my stomach churned, and my bread grew bitter to my tongue.

For a month, I suffered. Wallowed in the mire of depression. The Kansas City Incident was compounded on a handful of other personal tragedies, in which i was betrayed by several trusted colleagues. But the Kansas City Incident stood out as the worst of all.

Guido and Susie, following that dire prophet Joshua Harris' command, "courted" for about a month. Then, good sense burst through like sunshine. Shannon, selected as the mouthpiece of the "gang", told Susie that she kept Guido's company too often, to the exclusion of other people in her life. Susie relented. Susie and Guido parted ways, and Guido was heartbroken. I understood. I was sorry for him, but not as sorry as I might have been, had circumstances been different.

From that day forward, Susie recanted all talk of dating and courtship, consoling herself with the thin shawl of singleness, choosing the nun-like career of missionary work in far-off countries on other continents. She forswore all romantic possibilities, embracing the charge to be "married to her calling."

After she graduated, I did not see her for several years. Until last night.

She is well. She is home from the field. And she has met a young man, whom she loves very much. I suspect that she will marry him, and he will be blessed with her company all the days of his life. I spoke with her for a while, told her of my comings and goings, and she was pleased to hear of my good stead. And as I said goodbye to her, and walked away, there was only one thought in my mind:

She is STILL a stone-cold fox.


I want to move here in August. Thoughts?

"I am walking on a wire.."

Though I wasn't planning on it originally, through the generosity of my friends I was able to attend the Third Day concert on Saturday at The Pavillion.

Brief review: Great show. Good use of multimedia. Toby Mac (of DC Talk fame) opened the show, and he was great. Third Day was awesome. I really enjoy their stuff, and they played three or four songs from the new album, Wire, which was released a week ago. The title track from said album was my favorite of the show. They incorporated video elements on upstage screens that I imagine will be used in the video for the track. A great show. I really got into, clapping, singing, jumping up and down, dancing around a bit. Making a general fool of myself. Went barefoot for the whole show. We were seated on the expansive lawn, which is like stadium turf and incredibly soft.

There was a really moving presentation for World Vision, and their work in Africa. The band are big supporters of groups like DATA and World Vision, and they talked a lot about the responsibility of the Church in dealing with the AIDS crisis in underdeveloped nations. More on this in a few days, I think.

It was a great time. I would have preferred to spend more time than I did with a Certain Party in attendance, but that's neither here nor there.

I would like to add that it was this Certain Party who actually called me to invite me along. Which is a small thing, but it made me happy.

General News and Grumbling

And now for your random news, in brief:

--"Happy f-ing Birthday, mate": Yesterday was the birthday of Mr. Paul Hewson, known by fans worldwide as Bono of U2. Rock on. He turned 44.

--"More Dramatic Pictures from Iraq": Here are some photos that the mass media outlets are hesitant to show the American public. Proceed with caution.

--"Why didn't you call me?": Look for the sequel to 1995's "Before Sunrise" to come out this July, in limited release (initially). The follow-up, "Before Sunset", will again star Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, and will take place in the present day (i.e. nine years after the first film). The film was shot over 15 days, in Paris, and was directed by Richard Linklater, who helmed the original. Linklater, Hawke, and Delpy co-wrote the script. You can check out the trailer here.

--An Answer to the Question: Concerning last week's dilemma. Turns out the event was cancelled by the parties involved, leaving the question null and void. A pity, though. An answer would have been good.

--So predictable it's scary: The Cubbies gave me a scare for the past two weeks, going 5-5 in their last ten games. And while they are still above .500 and still in second place in the tightest division in baseball, they look like their starting to stall out already, while the Astros seem to be on a roll. It's too early to crap out, guys. Let's step it up.

--I say let's give him the electric chair: German authorities recently caught the kid who spread the "Sasser" worm worldwide. The seventeen-year-old claims he was trying to help his mom out, who is apparently a struggling computer repair tech. As a victim of this worm (which practically shut down whole sections of the hospital's computer system), I have no sympathy for the punk. I think that vicious computer crime should be punished more severely. Give these kids something to worry about, if they get caught.

--I'll be making the trek up IH-45 in eight days. It's odd how excited you can get about driving eight hours to stay in a small town for a week. Guess it must be all the people I love who may actually be excited to see me.

That's your news. Now we'll check on weather with our cutting-edge Weather tracking system.

... (sticks head out window)...

It was hot this morning, with 100% humidity. Now it's raining. Once the rain clears, it will again be hot with 100% humidity. It's friggin Houston, what do you expect.


In the words of the saints...


Looks like the Blogger issues are being resolved. And about damn time.

As you can see, i've decided to adopt the Blogger titling option. It's a bit big, so I can't have the fun ridiculously-long titles of yesteryear. That's okay, though.

One unwelcome change that I quickly abandoned is the in-house commenting system, which sucketh. Haloscan, forgive me for abandoning you even for a second.

So, here we are. All is once again well in the PBB world.

And now down to the business of posting. I had a few things to talk about yesterday. Hopefully I can remember them all.

Monday, May 10, 2004

Still Trying to Fix This

Have I mentioned that I don't like change?

We'll make it work soon.

Just hang on for me.


The fun folks at Blogger just changed the whole design of the edit page. I'm still trying to get used to it.

I may need a second, while my head stops spinning.

They messed around with the controls. I'm trying to adjust things.

Bear with me.

Friday, May 07, 2004

"An Unfortunate Slight"

Here's a fun test of your self-respect: A certain party whom you are admittedly "sweet on" discusses plans for an activity the following night with someone standing nearby you, but never invites you outright. You overhear vague details of "when" and clear details of "where" (interrupting to ask, "oh, really, where's that located?"). You ask another of the group (who was invited outright, but cannot attend), and he is "pretty sure" that it is not an exclusive event, but you can't/won't call any of the presumed involved parties to ask as much. And as of this afternoon, you have received no similar invitation via phone message, as the other had.

Do you arrive at the location, hanging around indefinitely until the parties arrive, and risk the awkwardness of being the unwanted fourth in the group? Do you show up, and use the painfully transparent "what a coincidence!" approach? Or do you go home, telling yourself that if you weren't invited outright, the afore-mentioned "certain party" must not be desperate for you to be there--thereby risking the loss of a possibly great evening of conversation and companionship?

While you are deciding, you wonder why the certain party didn't invite you, in person or by phone.

It's not that she thinks you unworthy.

She may just need a moment to deliberate.

Complete with Thick Black Frames and Clunky Shoes

I was itching for some good new music, so I wandered into the expansive CD/DVD section of the fresh-out-of-the-plastic Barnes and Noble down the road from my apartment (or "flat", for all you Continental types). And I picked up two albums that not only give me some gorgeous music to enjoy, but also greatly boost my sadly-lacking "indie cred".

Listening to only the recommendations from all you beautiful babies, and not having heard a single note prior to purchase, I picked up a priceless prize... Ohio. Hot damn. That is a great album. Thank you, all who have raved about it so much. I think it's the keenest thing I've heard in years.

Also, for more fun Americana/folk music, I got the brand new Grant-Lee Phillips, entitled "Virginia Creeper." Beautiful. The first track is still my favorite, though.

So yes. I think between these discs, Clem Snide, and my Elvis Costello/Marty glasses, I can safely claim a modicum of indie credibility. Because you know that's so important to me, two years post-college.

"You got some round wire frames at the junk shop,
They were your trademark at school;
Now they're barely hangin on, and the trends are movin on,
Hard for a man to stay cool..." --b.f.
The One with The Predictable but Satisfying Ending

As much as I hate to be cliched (ha!), I'll follow the presumed chorus of bloggers and voice my sadness at "Friends" being finally over. It's like Back-Cover Syndrome (a fancy name for post-novel depression).

The show was predictable, of course. But the story wouldn't have made sense if Ross hadn't ended up with Rachel, right? The overarching storyline is complete. It's like the brilliant series, Ed. If Ed hadn't ended up with Carol, the whole thing would have seemed to be in vain.

But yes, I was actually pretty depressed after the episode was over. It was like saying goodbye to actual...well, friends. I was disappointed to realize that I knew more about these six fictional characters than I do about the actual people in my life right now (but we've covered this before, haven't we?).

The good that comes out of this is that my ties to television are down to one--"The Practice" concludes in two weeks. After that, I can fully cut the cord. Because there's nothing on TV that will make me a better person, so why give it hours of my week?

But yes. Sad to say goodbye to the six New Yorkers I've enjoyed watching and discussing for the last decade. Hopefully, a decade from now, I'll be able to have a coffee with a group of flesh-and-blood friends that I know even better than I knew Ross, Monica, Chandler, Rachel, Joey, and Phoebe.

Thursday, May 06, 2004


I thought this was a fantastic article. If you like what I usually have to say, you'll really enjoy what Myles has to say as well.

And come back later. I'm sure I'll post something interesting...sometime. Not as good, but somewhat interesting.

Monday, May 03, 2004

The Late Spring of Our Discontent

Today's been monumentally craptastic. I'm getting the travellin' bug, and have to keep telling myself "two and a half weeks to go." So today's been spent half-heartedly wasting time, while genuinely wanting to be productive. No really, boss, I want to do better. Just can't seem to get there.

I don't know why this feeling of...wanderlust, I suppose--why it strikes me ever-so-often. I guess getting in the habit of taking a road trip every three to six months during college is the cause, but outside of a general mild pain-in-the-gut loneliness, I haven't felt it quite this much since just before I went out of town last August. Now, in the past week, I've grown increasingly more restless and irritable.

Come on, I dare ya. Somebody say that it sounds like I've got "a case of the Mondays." Watch how fast I kick your ass.

I don't know. Compounding of emotions, swirling thought patterns. Couldn't get to sleep for over an hour last night, just friggin thinking too much.

Here's the skinny, friends and lovers. To abuse a colloquialism, I'm kinda sweet on somebody. And I'm getting the vibe that she may be thinking the same thing about me. But "the vibe", fickle thing that it is, has led me astray many times before. Those of you who've known me the longest can attest to this. To quote the great DJ Rob Gordon, "I've been thinking with my guts since I was fifteen years old. And I'm convinced that..." Well, you fill in the rest. Further compound this confusion with the fact that I'm not sure this is something I should be pursuing at all, for myriad reasons too involved to discuss here. Let's boil it down to this: I'm hesitant, not from fear of rejection (Lord knows I've had enough experience with that for it to lose its sting) but from fear of reciprocity. Fear of then realizing later on that she's not the mythical "one." And having to do the honorable thing and break her heart.

And if all of this sounds overwhelmingly self-important or arrogant to you, kindly hit the "Back" button on your browser and go on about your websurfing. Jackass.

I don't know. Part of me says that I'm overthinking all of this. Another part says underthinking would be a mistake. A third part of me says that the other two parts are being stupid and overly cerebral. A fourth part of me told the third part to shut up. The third part pushed the fourth part. The fourth part just kicked the third part in the crotch. A fifth part just sent the third and fourth parts to the box for two minutes each (roughing).

Disregard the last paragraph. I'm typing under the influence of The Flaming Lips.

Speaking of: I was able to see them live (by satellite) on the Jimmy Kimmel Show the other night. If you haven't seen them live (or by satellite)...well, I can't really describe it to you justly. Let's just say that lots and lots of acid are probably involved. People in full-body animal costumes dancing in the background. And playing in the band. Sid and Marty Kroft would have been proud.

Anyway, back to subject.

Yeah, so that's part of the groundwork for "Short Form." In case you were curious.

What does this have to do with wanderlust? I think part of me (just kidding), rather, part of the reason is that I can recenter while on this trip. One more OBU trip to realign the gauges and put a nice cap on the experience. I know, it puts too much pressure and expectation on my experience of the trip. What can I say, I like to manufacture disappointment. But seriously, I'm hoping this will be a good trip. Lots of introspection, combined with a great deal of Rainbow Grilled Cheese Supreme and a helping of Hamburger King potato wedges.

What's funny is that my heart is still there in Shawnee. If home is where the heart is, then in two weeks I'm gonna try to move back down here to Houston, once and for all. One of my most beloved friends (who I've been accused of being "totally gay with") recently noted that I'm on the verge of closing the book on this part of my life. And while I know I need to (emotional growing pains and all), I don't want to. Really, who wants to leave college?

Funny that this week is the finale of "Friends." Hmm.

Maybe once I can close this book, I'll be ready to open another.

blessed are the petulant
for they shall be indulged
past their just due

blessed are the loud
for they shall be given
deferrence by the quiet

blessed are the braying
for their donkey-talk will be replayed
in conversation

blessed are the self-righteous
for theirs is the sole proprietary
ownership of heaven

blessed are the self-deceptive
for they will be pitied

blessed are the slackers
for they shall be called victims of bad luck
and poor training

blessed are the hypocritical
for they shall usually escape shame
when confronted alone

blessed are the self-indulgent
for they will never allow themselves to
lack any good thing available

blessed are you, when you become so
caught up in personal drama that you have
no perspective, and your so-called friends revile you
for being a blowhard and an ass;
for the television prophets and fundamentalist teachers
were treated with the same contempt.
Short-form (rough-hewn and green)

on my best days i'm upset that I can't find you

grasping only a bare sketch
the faint outline of distinction
with which to recognize the ease of your
slippered tip-toe gracefulness

i've looked upstairs and down
behind bookshelves half-transparent
and in chairs and couches filled with
lounging library lizards sunning

sometimes i doubt that you're real
because no one fits the slipper i've kept locked
in my towered hall, in my jewelled box,
in a case under a glass cover next to the
wilting rose

when i was most recently mistaken
the fault lay in my misreading of
eyebrows raised and bare-teeth smiling
laughter and proximity

proximity i find is easiest to misunderstand

miscontruing the obvious, i leapt heartlong to
the conclusion of interest and (exultation!) attraction
but interest was curiosity clothed in silks,
and attraction, merely friendship in masque

i should have felt it coming
should have realized that she was not you
should have recognized that her form was not
outlined on this page in my hand but since i don't
know you either i can hardly
be blamed for the mistake

on my worst days i curse your veiled name

when you dance behind smoke like an
evil dream taunting me past distraction
playing me Tantalus in your apple-eyed esteem
burning me eyeblind in the charcoal haze surrounding
your chiffoned arms and hips

i can hear you laughing quietly like abaddon's daughter
as you whisper that my guiding outline
cannot lead me aright, for it is
is no more like you than
the scribbling of a child or a poet.