Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Taylor House, chapter 8: "Routine"

Middle-March became middle-May. As it often does, the time passed silently and without incident. Louis quickly grew into his position at the bookstore, and within only a few weeks had mastered the basic skills of shelving and pricing. His employer was impressed with his ability to learn and adapt. By the middle of April, Borokov began mentioning in passing that Louis would soon take on a new set of responsibilities at the store. Not quite a promotion, but certainly an entirely new area of the bookselling business: acquisitions. Louis had made it clear that he was willing to do whatever was required, so the Russian gave him several books and manuals to study. Some were basic guides to the care and restoration of antique books, while others were on the evolution of the printing business. While he couldn’t see the immediate relevance, Louis complied and read everything that his mercurial supervisor handed him. Soon, these books replaced the novels and notebooks that once filled Louis’ ubiquitous canvas messenger bag.

On his lunch breaks, Louis would grab a sandwich and a cup of coffee from the shop across the street. The spring months warmed slowly, so Louis would always sit on one of the benches on the sidewalk, in front of the shop’s wide windows. After lunch, he would return to the bookstore, and would spend his afternoon hours pricing and shelving the previous day’s leftovers. Around four o’clock every day, Trent would come in for the evening shift. Borokov would leave as soon as Trent arrived, leaving him in charge.

Louis and Trent’s working relationship was easy and pleasant. While Trent was technically the most senior employee, he realized that Louis was becoming more valuable to the proprietor in terms of utility, and so he treated Louis as almost an equal. Louis, unsure at first, took to this dynamic soon enough. If one of them had something to take care of during their hour together in the store, the other knew enough to leave him alone. When neither had pressing business, they would often sit at the wide counter, recommending books back and forth. It became a game of sorts, each trying to stump the other. It didn’t take long to prove that Louis was outmatched in the area of semi-obscure literary figures. Trent may not have finished college yet (a fact he was not proud of, but was trying to remedy, one class at a time), but he had certainly read more than Louis had.

This was often true of books that Louis thought he knew. While discussing one of the many upcoming Hollywood blockbusters, Trent referred to one of the film reviewers as a Pangloss. When Louis didn’t acknowledge the reference, Trent shook his head. “Come on, college boy, I thought you would have studied Voltaire in that big-city school of yours.”

“We studied him. Wait--what are you talking about?”

Trent made a big show of rolling his eyes. “Voltaire. Candide. Pangloss.”

“Oh, right, right,” Louis said, shooing away the barb with a waved hand, trying to play off his misstep. “I knew that. I was thinking of something else.”

Trent stopped. “You did read Candide, didn’t you?”

“Of course I did.”

“All of it?”

Louis squirmed. “Some of it.”

“Don’t tell me you’re one of those ‘Cliff’s Notes’ types.”

Louis held up a hand. “Please—there’s no need to be insulting. My philosophy was that if I didn’t have time to read it, I didn’t read it. And I refused to read summaries of any kind, especially ‘Cliff’s Notes’.”

Trent nodded. “The moral high ground, in other words.”

“Exactly. Of course, that meant I only read about 3 chapters of nearly every book we were assigned.”

Trent shook his head as he picked up a stack of romances and headed to the back of the store. “Education is wasted on the lazy!” he laughed.

Louis called after him, “I’m not lazy—I’m an English major!”

Louis’ relationship with the other clerks was polite, thought not quite as chummy. He and Dan regarded each other with a mutual respect, but rarely shared more than pleasantries. Brendan, the teenager in the Clash tee shirt whom Louis “met” on that first day, was the regular weekend clerk. As such, he and Louis didn’t interact much, though when their paths crossed, he always greeted Louis with a nod and a “Dude.”

About a month into Louis’ employment, Trent invited him to come see Brendan’s band play a gig at a small club in Houston. What Trent failed to mention, and Louis failed to ask, was that Brendan was the bass player in a thrash-metal band, and Louis wasn’t prepared for the experience. While he could appreciate the skill required for such an enterprise, he stayed in the back, near the door, trying to avoid the melee that ensued as soon as the band hit the stage. Louis had done a bit of moshing at various times in college, but never in a group of people covered in metal spikes and studs, nor in a group as violent and chaotic. When the madness spread back as far as Louis’ tenuous perch, he stepped outside.

About 20 minutes later, people poured out of the club in various states of medical distress. Some were helping their limping comrades back to their cars. Most were still screaming and cheering. Finally, Trent emerged, sporting an already swollen and darkening bruise on his jaw, a black eye, and a few superficial cuts. Louis asked, “Are you okay?”

Trent grinned. “Sure! This is nothing. You should have been here last time.”

“Are we going to wait for Brendan?”

“Nah, he’s got another gig uptown in an hour. You up for it?”


Trent laughed. “Fine. Let’s go, college boy.”

While Louis’ days were spent in Borokov’s dim bookstall, his evenings were often spent in Taylor House, in the sitting room upstairs, curled up on the chaise with a book. He had brought so many books with him from Chicago, read and unread, that he had yet to go through his grandfather’s vast library. Truth be told, he hadn’t even set foot in there more than twice since the day Mr. Salvador read Linus Taylor’s will. Most of the time, the door between the library and the downstairs hall remained closed, though Louis would sometimes spot Mr. Cross passing through it, carrying cleaning supplies.

Louis called up his parents once a week, usually on Sundays. His mother would fill him in on all of the latest neighborhood gossip, which Louis endured, as a good son often does. His father would discuss business or local sports. Once spring training arrived (“true spring,” his father would call it), their conversations invariably centered around the misfortunes of their beloved Cubs—a topic not quickly exhausted.

As the months passed, Marie spoke more and more of her siblings with Louis. On one April afternoon, she told Louis that she was afraid for Linus, Jr. His firm was making personnel cutbacks, and it looked like he was one of the unhappy few whose vocational heads would roll. During a later call, Marie recounted her previous conversation with her eldest brother--the desperation in his voice, the palpable bitterness in his inquiries about her son. As for the other Taylor children, Louis’ Aunt Janet had not spoken with Marie since the day of the will; this wasn’t all that surprising, considering how she had barely said a word to her since their mother’s funeral. Of course, Marie hadn’t heard from Howie, either; but, as per family practice, Howard Taylor was almost never spoken of, anyway.

At the end of every phone conversation, Louis’ mother would tell him how much she and his father loved him, and how proud they were of him. She would remind him to keep abiding by the terms of his residence in Taylor House, and to stay in touch. He would promise to do so, “of course,” tell her he loved her, and then hang up, immediately burying himself in a book without a second thought.

So Louis fell into a comfortable life. He worked full-time, went out with the other clerks, read voraciously, and, once the temperature crept up enough, went to the beach almost every weekend to read and let the tide roll over his pale, bare feet. Mr. Cross took care of the household chores, made dinner for the two of them more often than not, and provided a formidable chess opponent.

Life, for Louis, was contented.

Which, of course, was the worst possible thing that could have happened to him. Because March became May, and even by the beginning of his fourth month in residence at Taylor House, Louis had yet to begin writing his promised novel—the first and most important condition of his living arrangement. After the first week or so, he had barely given it a second thought. Like so many, Louis lived under the delusion that he had time enough to do everything he wanted or needed to do. But time was exactly what he did not have.

Not that he noticed.

March melted into May, and the unwritten novel hung over him like a shadow he couldn’t see, a spring storm cloud that approached without warning, dark with rain. It was thus his good fortune (or perhaps the good grace of a thoughtful Deity) that Louis’ pleasant but unproductive existence was interrupted by the ringing of his doorbell.

PBB (belated) Cool Ten [5/29-6/4]

10. As ice.
9. 25-24. Over .500, baby!
8. Cold Roses and Rebel, Sweetheart. Nine bucks each. That's cool.
7. Beginning my summer reading project last night. Right now, I'm pacing myself (a chapter or two a night) while I finish up some other books. Then, I'll dive in.
6. Chapter 8 (or 9--I forget) of "Taylor House" will be up this afternoon.
5. Spending time with my best friend from college. I will miss him and his lovely wife, when they move away.
4. Hanging out and eating good fajitas with the SunSco group. An all-evening Sunday event that included multiple board games and 3+ hours of Halo 2.
3. Obedience. Sucks in the short term, but is rewarding in the long term. Or so I'm told.
2. U.S. veterans. My best posts and the full extent of my attempts at eloquence couldn't even begin to do these men and women justice. If you are or know a veteran, make a point of telling them that I, one of the faceless masses they have protected, am eternally grateful for their service, and support them wholeheartedly.
1. You know how, when you've been avoiding God, because you're not following His will, and you finally realize that you're miserable and powerless without Him, and you turn back to Him and He welcomes you with open arms? That's the coolest thing of all.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Quick Hits

  • Finished watching The Aviator last night. Holy crap. I'm now willing to take back pretty much every snarky thing I've ever said about Leonardo DiCaprio's acting skills. I mean, damn. He was phenomenal. The movie was also great, and should have won more awards than it did. (Sidenote: You Wainwright fans will appreciate that, not only does Rufus perform in the movie, but so does his father Louden and his sister Martha. I thought that was keen.) So there you go. Mark it down, folks--"Dave praises DiCaprio performance."
  • I found this interesting. Points to consider, perhaps, if you are of that political persuasion. (Alliteration run rampant, it seems.)
  • Going to see SWe.3 again in... roughly 3 1/2 hours. Woohoo!
  • Some things never get old. Example: "I've got a fever! And the only prescription is..."
  • Come on, folks. The Dead Letter thing isn't *that* creepy. Okay. Fine. We're opening it up. You may now write to living celebrities as well. Just write.
  • I'm looking forward to a weekend with family and friends. Enjoy the holiday, but use it for what it's intended. Remember the cost of your freedom. Honor the fallen, and the ones still fighting.

Thursday, May 26, 2005


i got holes in my pockets
from the grudges i've carried,
when their cruel points and
sharp edges pierced
the thin cloth and tore it open,
slicing through the surface of
the flesh of my thigh and
drawing rivulets of blood that
ran down my legs, under my
pants, and onto my dusty, black shoes.

the pocket holes and thigh scars
are all that's left from those dark
days, but now it seems
the holes i'd made
keep me from carrying
anything good in my
pockets anymore.

Meme: Triples

(courtesy of G Dawney)

3 names I go (or have gone) by: The Dave, Mr. M, Classical-Dave

3 Screen-names I've had: deberge (from De Bergerac), teacherdave, perfectbluedave (my AIM name, hint hint)

3 physical things I like about myself: my voice, my red goatee, my eyes

3 physical things I dislike about myself: my weight (score that three times)

3 parts of my heritage: Irish, German, Scottish

3 things I am wearing right now: my Elvis-Costello-style glasses [a Dave trademark], black Sketchers (my fun clunky shoes), my work ID badge (bad pic)

3 favorite bands / musical artists: u2, Counting Crows, Waterdeep/Don Chaffer

3 (of many) favorite songs: first three that come to mind, so this is hardly definitive. "One Headlight", Wallflowers. "Love is Automatic," Seth Woods. "Love is Blindness", U2.

3 things I want in a relationship: (GDawney's answers were fantastic, by the way, so I'll try not to copy.) Trust. Affection. Humor.

3 physical things about the preferred sex that appeal to me: [Danger, Will Robinson.] Dark hair, light skin, and ...curves.

3 of my favorite hobbies: Reading, Writing, Blogging

3 things I want to do really badly right now: in this very moment--go home, watch the rest of The Aviator, and get some Chinese for lunch; in the near future--finish my book, lose weight [the approximate mass of a Backstreet Boy, if you must know].

3 things that scare me: getting in the way of what God wants for my life; leaving things unfinished when I die; not setting a good example for my sisters.

3 of my everyday essentials: food, music, natural light

3 careers you have considered or are considering: actor, writer, ninja

3 places you want to go on vacation: (I miss) England; Ireland; New York

3 kids' names you like: (m) Mason, Thomas, Jack; (f) Rebecca, Elizabeth, Brooklyn

3 things you want to do before you die: finish writing all four books in my head (and several others if i can); marriage; fatherhood

3 ways I am stereotypically a boy: I can be aggressive and argumentative when need be; I forget things...a lot (especially people's names); my love for Cubs baseball, Texans football, and NHL Hockey.

3 ways I am stereotypically a girl: I listen and console; I can appreciate romantic movies and the need for a good cathartic cry once in a while; I'm very much a feelings person, and a pathetic romantic at heart.

3 celeb crushes: the lovely Scarlett Johannson; the breathtaking Natalie Portman; the incomprable Uma Thurman. (funny how they hardly fit my "type" as indicated above.)

There you are, GDawg.

All, or Nothing at All... (slightly updated)

Kelly just wrote a pretty excellent post about his attitude toward Universalism. Read his first for some background. (I probably repeat more than a few of his points, so I want to give him the props right off the bat.)

I have a problem with Universalism. But not necessarily just because I don't consider it "orthodox" enough.

I believe in freedom of religion. Absolutely and completely. If you want to practice an established non-Christian faith (such as Islam or Buddhism), that's your choice. If you want to step out further into more creative theological territory and worship doorknobs and Neil Diamond and Donald Trump's hair, that's also your choice. If you choose to believe in no religion at all, in no god at all, I support the right to make that choice.

I will try to convince you otherwise. That's my right, also. (And vice versa.)

My attitude is like this: we're all trapped in a burning building, in a room with several doors that's filling up with smoke. I know the designer who built the building, and because of this, I know that the blue door is the only way out of the building. The rest lead down different hallways; some simply dead-end, while others travel through corridors first. Now, I'll try to convince you that the blue door is the only way to safety, but I can't conk you over the head and drag you there. You have to choose to trust the word of my designer friend. Some will be convinced that the red door is actually the way out. Others will be convinced that several of the doors are the way out, but they take a long time choosing. Others still will sit on the floor cross-legged, convinced that none lead toward the fresh air outside.

The universalist approach is that all the doors lead outside. The Christian approach is that the "blue door" is the way out.

The sticky wicket is that to go through the Blue Door, you can't go through the other doors. They are mutually exclusive. I didn't make it this way. Man didn't make it this way. Church tradition didn't choose this.

Jesus said it himself. No one gets to God the Father, except through him. It's repeated several times in the New Testament. There is no other way, and no other Name, through which the world is saved from eternal judgment.

What I've seen more often in recent years, and what troubles me, is a kind of half-Christianity that people tend to adopt. They're down with the "God is love" message, but they balk at the idea of God letting anyone go to hell. "A loving god wouldn't send people to hell," is the argument. And this is completely contrary to what the Bible clearly teaches.

It's a tough pill to swallow. But if you want to claim the name of Christ, you have to swallow it. All of it. The soft and the hard. The sweet and the bitter.

Because God is as Just as He is Merciful. Without His Mercy, His Justice is unbearable; but without His Justice, His Mercy is meaningless.

What is God's Justice? That because He is our Creator, and we rebelled through our sin, we must submit ourselves to the saving work of Jesus Christ, as a covering and pardon for our crime against God. If we do not, then our guilt is upon our own heads, and (as Paul writes) "the wages of sin is death."

If we deny Christ's payment for our sin, if we deny the need for such a payment, then our punishment, our separation from God, is the full working out of His Justice.

If we confess our sins, and accept Christ's covering for our guilt, then our relationship with God, our eternal life together with Him in Heaven, is the full working of His Mercy.

Those are the parameters. That's the choice, according to the Bible.

If you don't believe that, or only want to believe some of it, you can't honestly claim any of it. Because any version of Christianity, other than how the Bible defines it, is not Christianity. It's a false teaching. Comforting, sure. Easy, yeah. But false and useless.

(This may be a good place to interject that, just because a self-proclaimed Christian doesn't always love his neighbor or tithe to the church or obey all of God's commands, doesn't mean the Gospel itself is any less true. Hypocrisy doesn't invalidate doctrine. Too many times, I've heard non-Christians say, "Oh, you people don't love your neighbors enough! You don't give enough to the poor! See, this whole Christianity thing is all bullshit!" To this I respond, "No, it just means we're not perfect. But hopefully, we are striving to be." Like I've said many times, I never claimed to never be a hypocrite. What I'm working on is trying to be a hypocrite less often.)

Like I said, I don't have a problem with Universalism's existence, per say. There are lots of things I disagree with that I wouldn't destroy. That's not my place.

My problem is that many people, in the name of Universalism, try to call themselves Christians. And it's not true, not in the least. For to be a Christian, you have to deny all other ways to God except Christ. Like I said, it's Jesus' own stipulation on the deal.


Two more things:

1. Universalism certainly sounds more loving and accepting, and less constricting, than Christianity. It's easier, broader, more inclusive. I won't argue this. But consider this. Your child is sick. You know that if you take your child to the doctor, it will involve needles, shots, tests. It will hurt a lot. Your child, understandably, doesn't want to go to the doctor. It will hurt. Maybe, your child says, if you take me to McDonalds for a happy meal, I'll feel better. You know that it may feel a little nicer in the short term, but it won't heal the sickness. Maybe, your child pleads, if we go to the toy store and you buy me a toy, that will make me feel better. And yes, maybe it will in the short term, maybe it will distract your child from the pain she feels, but ultimately, it's no cure.

The world is sick. The condition is terminal. It's called sin. And there are many ways to bring small comforts to this sick world. Religion is one. Entertainment is another. So is sex, and power, and wealth, and fame, and self-deceptions of many kinds. But there is one Doctor. And He alone has the cure. It sucks, it's restrictive--but it's the truth. And we have to decide if we would rather be comfortable and accepting--or healed.

(Some will shake their heads. "It's not that cut-and-dried." I believe it is. Anyone who actually believes the words of Jesus Christ, believes the same. There is only One.)

2. All religions are not equal. For several faiths, by their own standards, they cannot all be equal. There is mutual exclusion. A true believer in Islam will not say, "My Christian brother, you and I will feast together in Paradise." Neither will a Christian say that to a Buddhist.

It sounds great to say, "All religions are equal, and all lead to God." But many of the religions themselves teach otherwise. Especially Christianity. So to say that, I think, is to misunderstand many faiths. Or rather, to deny them in their true forms. All that's left is a cafeteria-style cherry-picking of religious principles, instead of a cohesive belief system.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

"I'm bouncing off the walls again..."


(Name the band. No googling.)

It's bad enough that i'm here at 6:47. But I have gotten a grand total of "jack" and "crap" done, and I still have a boatload to finish. Before I leave.

I hate Wednesdays. They sucketh.

How you been, pal?


Before the meeting today (which, for the record, wasn't even the "Big Ugly"), one of the doctors overheard me mentioning Elvis Costello in passing, and he said (in his righteously thick Irish accent), "You know, U2 has been playing Elvis Costello at their shows. Dropping verses of his songs in the middle of their own. It's unbelievable."

"Really? That's awesome. I've got my tickets for when they come in October."

"I saw them last weekend. And I literally grew up with them, but that show last weekend was the greatest show of theirs I've ever seen."

"Yeah? I've heard as much from others."

"Just amazing."

[Mr. Scott, increase 'Anticipation' to Warp 9. "I jus' canna doit, cap'n. She canna handle it." Oh, she'll handle it, Mr. Scott.]


Finished "Hitchhiker's Guide..." It was good. I'm sorry I saw the movie first, though, because not only did it spoil all the best jokes for me, but the movie has more of a plot than the first book of the 5-book "trilogy." I'm sure if I read all of the books, I'd feel differently, but right now, I'd prefer the movie to the book. And that doesn't happen often.

Right now, I'm reading an awesome Dickens "biography." I don't quite consider it a pure biography--it's like a biography written by a fan. Crossed with a "...For Dummies" book. But smarter and more entertaining. I can't describe it fairly. But it's really really really good, so if you like Dickens (my favorite author growing up), you should check it out ASAP.


[Movie Sign.]

I'm not recommending it. I'm not approving of its content. I'm not promoting it in any way.

But PCU really struck me funny.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

PBB Dead Letter Office: Rich Mullins

Jane writes:

Dear Rich Mullins:

I'm mad that you died before I got to hear you in person. But I'll forgive you if you teach me how to play hammer dulcimer in heaven. Deal?



Fortunately, Rich wasn't too difficult to track down. He was happy to get the letter, and his response is posted below:

Dear Janey,

Good to hear from you! Thanks for dropping me a line.

My death kinda took me by surprise, too. But if there's anything I've learned about the Father, it's that His timing is always better than ours. Everything He does is right and good!

As for your request, absolutely! I've been working up some new material I can teach you. As a matter of fact, I've been giving a few people up here lessons lately. King David (the Psalmist) was a particularly quick study, as soon as he learned the string arrangement.

One last thing: you know how I sang about the beauty of God's creation on Earth, and about how much better Heaven would be?

I had no idea.

Not even my most incredible dreams could describe it. No words can capture it. Even the word "perfect" seems shabby.

The closest I can get is the word "home." Where He is, here I am also. There is no greater joy!

Blessings. Carry on, my sister. And hope for the day when we can both stand in the presence of the Author of Life and Light.

The Peace of Christ to you,



Remember, PBB readers, send in your letters to pbbdeadletters -at-hotmail-dot-com.

Quick Comments

1. I am listening to a leaked version of the new White Stripes album online. Heh. Fun stuff.

2. Lunchtime posting: Our First PBB-DLO correspondence!

3. You are loved.

Unusual Request

While trying to comment on Will's LiveJournal site, the computer returned my comment with the following:

"Please confirm that you are a human."

I typed in the squiggly letters from the grey box into the field below, and it was accepted.

But what cheek, for a mere program to demand empirical evidence of my humanity!

"Please confirm that you are a human."

My writer's brain is starting to whirr. There's a story in there somewhere.

Monday, May 23, 2005

"And it was dreaming outside..."

Frightening Admission: You don't know me. You may think you do, but you don't--not really. If you did, you wouldn't like me as much. You wouldn't respect me, and you certainly wouldn't trust me.

Today, I've been feeling needy.

My baser nature lies to me, and tells me what it thinks I need. I want to believe it, because some needs are easily met.

But I know the truth, and knowing the truth is supposed to set me free. I just don't feel free. I feel hollow and heart-hungry.

Tonight will be a night of playing this song repeatedly.

PBB Hot Five, Cool Five (5/22-5/28)

5. The happy couple who got hitched on Saturday. Not only because they're an attractive pair, but because they were wearing formal wedding clothes for more than six hours on a day where the temp hung around the mid-90s.
4. Coffee.
3. Texas in late May.
2. Cook-out lunch yesterday with the SunSco class. Good time of hanging out.
1. My apartment. I got home Sunday night to find that my air conditioner had broken. The temperature in the apartment was over 90 degrees, according to the thermostat. It took almost four hours for the maintenance guy to fix it.

5. My apartment, once the maintenance guy fixed my AC.
4. The concert on Friday. Good music. But there were a lot of people jumping around in there, so it was rather warm. For that reason, it is low on the "cool" list.
3. Road-tripping. I do some of my best thinking on the road.
2. Seeing a few acquaintences from OBU that I didn't expect to see.
1. Both Mike and Ginny made a big deal about how glad they were I was there. And that pretty much made my week.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Plans for the weekend: Highlights

  1. Go to a rockin' rock show at church tonight. (Shut up.) John Reuben, Pillar, Thousand Foot Krutch, and "Crappy Opening Band No One's Ever Heard Of." That's right, punks!
  2. Get up at five in the AM Saturday. Yawn. Scratch. Shower.
  3. Drive to Denton, listening to a new CD I purchased in honor of the roadtrip, as well as Sink or Swim, and "Doot Doot Music."
  4. Watch two friends from college (who I haven't seen in nearly 5 years) get married (finally... geez, it's like Ross and Rachel over here). Visit with other college friends who I haven't seen in FOREVER.
  5. Cake. And not just any cake--wedding cake. Which translates into "really tasty--but tiny, tiny pieces."
  6. Drive back from Denton Saturday night.
  7. Church, Sunday morning.
  8. Family, Sunday afternoon.
  9. Home-chores, Sunday evening
  10. Just another Manic Monday.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Fortress of Solitude

I watched the original Superman movie the other day. Though I'm becoming a nominal Superman fan, I'd never seen this original movie all the way through. I rented what I guess is the Extended Edition of it, just release recently on DVD, and really enjoyed it. Granted, Lois' spoken-word-poetry internal monologue was atrociously written, but the rest of the movie was pretty much great.

One sequence I found interesting occured after Jonathon Kent (Clark's dad, duh!) died of a heart attack. (For the record, yes, I was wiping away tears; it was a touching moment, gosh!) Clark finds the space ship Jonathon and Martha found him in, hidden away in the storm cellar, and pulls out a green crystal (which is apparently not kryptonite).

Suddenly, he knows what he must do. I mean, he just knows. He tells his mom, and she said that she knew the day would come, but feared it all the same. And he leaves, trekking northward toward... somewhere. The Arctic. The polar ice caps. Somewhere cold.

He throws the crystal, and out of the living ice grows a complex-looking, pointy structure of modern art. He walks in, touches some stuff, whatever, and Marlon Brando's disembodied head appears. Hi, kiddo. I'm your pop.

Brando--err, I mean, Jor-El, Clark (a.k.a. Kal-El)'s father, tells Clark what happened to his home planet, explains his mission, explains his powers, everything. Just spills. He transports Clark... somewhere in space. Not sure if it's some kind of out of body experience, or a physical transportation. Regardless, J-E says that when they return, 12 years will have passed.

Trippy special effects, music, and some dialogue later, and poof! Our little boy's all growns up.

Why am I recapping this? For this reason.

Clark travels to a distant and isolated place, tosses a rock into the ice, and is given all the answers he needed. When his self-education is done, he's a capable and confident adult.

Ever since I walked across the stage in Potter Auditorium, shook the university president's hand, and took my empty diploma folder from him, what I wanted, what I hoped for, was my own Fortress of Solitude, so to speak. Because no matter how much I had learned about Shakespeare and Faulkner and David Hume, I had learned even less about myself. My abilities. My destiny. God's Will for my life, and all that jazz.

In the three years since then, there have been times when I've wanted just that. Some place i can go, where all my questions will be answered and all my abilities revealed, and I will be shown what I'm supposed to do next, step-by-step.


What I believe, deep down, is that it's good I don't have that. Because a life of total foreknowledge is not a life of faith.

Something I considered, after watching the Superman Movie, is that Supes has a kind of shallowness, when it comes to his understanding of identity. What I mean is, he doesn't really seem to appreciate this kind of self-knowledge. He certainly doesn't have to struggle to get it (aside from his arctic hike). It isn't even the death of his father that causes him to search for it; it just seems to happen to him. Only when he nearly loses Lois does he experience the kind of self-doubt that forges his understanding of what being Superman means.

That's why I prefer watching "Smallville." (You knew it was coming.) Because in this version of the mythology, Clark is constantly struggling to understand who he is, where he came from, and what his place in the world should be. He has to decide whether his unique gifts carry a responsibility to the world around him. (Cue Peter's Uncle Ben.) And it's in this constant questioning that he finds himself.

In last night's season finale, Clark is given the key which will surely open up the Fortress of Solitude next season. And when it does, he will have earned the answers he's been searching for.

But back here in real life, I don't have a Fortress of Solitude. I don't have a "quick fix," where I can get all of my answers, and walk away a perfectly together, mature adult.

What I do have is a worthy struggle, though there are days when its worthiness is suspect.

What's even better is that I also have a Great Big God who will teach me through that struggle. And that's much better than some dumb fortress.

Because it makes me wait. It makes me trust. And when God shows me each new step, when he calls me out "to a country I know not" (and not in the guise of Brando's disembodied head, thankfully), I'll hopefully be ready to follow.

"What's that, Lassie?"

What's that you say, girl?

"CBS sucks"?

Why, yes. Yes it does.

"This is unfair"?

Sure seems so.

"Les Moonves is a dumbass"?

That's also true.

In a word: ugh.

In the Waiting Line

Sis and I arrived at the theater at around 9:15 p.m. for the midnight show. When we got there, there were no fewer than 700 fans already in line. Easily.

We joined the first line. We were followed by a group of four teenage girls (and one guy) all wearing homemade tee-shirts that proclaimed, "I Slept With Count Dooku." (In a word: ewww.)

When we realized we were in the wrong line (the theater 13-24 line, instead of our line for Theater 12), we walked around the building to get to the back of *that* line.

(See my audio post.)

As we made our way, we saw that at least one out of five fans wore costumes. Some were homemade, a few were kind of sad (no, pal, wrapping your body in aluminum foil doesn't count as a costume), but most were really intricate and looked professionally made.

We were finally allowed to take our seats. We had the typical screamers who'd yell out "WOOOT! STAR WARS! YEAH! STAR WARS! WOOOOOOOOT!" every five freaking minutes. There were lightsabers everywhere, from the more common extendable plastic ones, to the ones that have what looks like a fluorescent lightbulb for a blade that lights up and makes the "clashing noise" whenever you hit it against something.

Lots of people in robes. They must have been burning up.

The highlight of the pre-film festivities came when two fully-armored Storm Troopers, a fully-armored Boba Fett, a chubby looking "New Hope" Leia (with blaster), and a skinny Emperor, all walked in together, then began posing with people snapping pictures. What a roar of applause that greeted their entrance! I'm sure it was their proudest moment.

Of course, someone shouted out from the upper-level seats, "You're a little short to be a Storm Trooper, aren't ya?"

The characters sat together near the front.

There was applause when the lights dimmed and the "pre-show countdown" commercials transitioned into trailers.

Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Well, that looks rather scandalous. Angelina...yeow. Vince Vaughn's role looks funny.

Wedding Crashers. More Vince Vaughn, along with Owen "Burn-out" Wilson.

Fantastic Four. Jessica Alba's in this? You got it all wrong, Thing--it's "slobberin" time. (Actually, not really, but I couldn't resist the joke.)

The Island. Oh my lovely Scarlett. How can you cheat on me with that hack Ewan McGregor?

Stealth. Supersonic fighter jet with AI? That goes hay-wire??? NOOO! Who ever HEARD of such a thing?

Chronicles of Narnia. My mom (who joined us at around 10:15) decided it will not be our official "family Christmas Day movie" because it would "put the baby in therapy." Dang. Now I'll have to sit through stupid crap. Again.

Then the movie starts. Turn off your phones, geeks.

And the lights don't go down.

Twentieth Century Fox. Applause.

Lucasfilm. Applause.

Main Title. Thunderous tumult of applause.

And the lights don't go down.

The "crawl" starts up. Sith, Dooku, blah blah blah.

Lights still up.

Since i'm in the upper section, I jump up, run through the upper-level doors to the weird balcony above the concession stand, and yell down that the lights are still on. By the time I get back, the lights dim all the way off, and I take my seat.

You're welcome, fellow audience members.

A massive space battle, full of motion and noise. And it begins.

What's that? You want my review?

Well, you can't have it. Because I don't do "spoiler-free." At least not often. And I won't for this one.

Super Short Review:

If you have any love for Star Wars at all--

Go. See. It.

It's got the familiar goofy line readings and stilted dialogue that we loved in the originals, plus kick-tail special effects and (gasp!) actual human drama.

And Jar-Jar Binks does not say A SINGLE WORD in this one.

The ending, especially the last scene, actually gave me chills. That's never happened with SW before.

Go see it. Seriously. Go.

Later today:

--An account of my theater experience up to the film's start.

--A rumination on Superman and the quest for self-knowledge.

Have a good morning.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

this is an audio post - click to play

Sci-Fi Fanboy Sing-a-long

It's official. We have reached "Full Geek-out Mode." It's enough to make Weird Al Yankovic wince.

"Last Episode Heartache"
(to the tune of "6th Avenue Heartache" by The Wallflowers")

The alarm clock rings, I knock it down
It's hard to rise, but i can't stop now
Because my world is about to crack
With excitement for, the greatest space attack

And the same black cape
That I once knew
Will be on that screen
Worn by Anakin,
Last Episode Heartache

I get home late, cuz I'm a workin' man
Make some Ramen, I got to eat,
It's time to go, find the line to stand,
To get good seats, before it begins

And the same black mask
That I once knew
Is on that screen
And it's Anakin
Last Episode Heartache

Now the credits roll up on that screen
There's Lucasfilm, and 20th Century
"A long time ago, a far galaxy..."
The trumpets sound, as the titles fly at me

And the same dark fate that pulled at Luke
Now pulls his dad, and it draws him in
Last Episode Heartache
And the Emperor orders him to kill
All of his best friends, oh poor Anakin,
Last Episode Heartache

(guitar solo)

Padme's a goner, but her kids break free
Mace Windu's a dead man, if you ask me
But ol' Luke's the new hope, for a rebel squall
And once he's a Jedi, he'll bring the old man's fall
I got the VHS, but not the DVD,
And now i know (now I know, yeah) the whole story...

And the same black heart
That killed Alderaan
Once loved Natalie
Until he lost his way
Last Episode Heartache

It'll take his boy
Killing off his master
To set him free
From the Dark Side's sway--
Last Episode Heartache.

*cue the "Imperial March" music*

This is it. Tomorrow, I may be too blissed out (or sleepy) to post much. And I'll keep from reviewing or even commenting much on the movie until after the weekend, to give you all a chance to see it first.

So tonight, I have two much-anticipated finales to look forward to--the Smallville season finale (Graduation! Goodbyes! Killer Meteors!) and the REAL finale, the coup de grace, the final destruction of Anakin "Pod-Boy" Skywalker and the phoenix-like ascension of the greatest villain in movie history (take that, Hannibal Lecter).

A few related links:

George Lucas has been talking about how his original perspective of the Evil Empire was (and apparently still is) actually the United States, during the Vietnam era. Hmmm. Here's another perspective, Georgie, from someone who apparently knows something about living under tyranny.

On a less political, but just as touching, note: Here's the final installment of the Darth Vader blog I talked about a few days ago. Go ahead, read it. It really is pretty incredible. I nearly welled up, there at the end. The author of the site can write, that's for sure.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Dead (Celebrity) Letter Office

A while back, Myles posted an open letter to Saint Augustine of Hippo. While Myles' intent was serious, and part of a theme of his posts of late, it did make me think. Writing letters to people from the past? That's kind of a cool idea.

So, this is the beginning of a new segment here on PBB: the Dead Letter Office! You will send in your letters to famous dead people. Could be anything: a fan letter, criticism, suggestions for the "future." I'll use my Mystical Wayback Machine to go back into the past and make the delivery. Who knows, you may even get a response from a dead celebrity printed here from time to time!

Who can you write to? Pretty much anyone. Could be a pop culture icon, famous artist, politician, philosopher, warrior, or spiritual leader. Doesn't have to be a Biblical personage, but it can be (though they're harder to track down).

So write your letters. You can be as positive or negative as you wish. You can ask that question that you've been dying to know the answer to.

Did Einstein wear boxers or briefs? Did Alexander the Great like the color green? What was Elvis' favorite nursery rhyme?

There's only one way to find out--the PBB Dead Letter Office!

Direct all "Dead Letter" correspondence to "pbbdeadletters-at-hotmail-dot-com."

Monday, May 16, 2005

Required Reading: Think of it as an Inside Look...

The funniest thing I've seen in weeks, is your required reading for the day.

Looks like even the Big Black Baddie himself is online now.

*General Grievious voice*

"Lord Vader... bloooooooggg."

(Just the title to his very first entry made me laugh for a good ten minutes. Not sure why, even.)

Seriously. If you're a SW fan at all, you gotta read this. Who knew Vader had such dry wit?

(Hat-tip: Will Collier)

By the way...

Yeah. Take that.

(via Michele)

PBB Cool Ten (3/15-3/21)

10. 16-20. 7 1/2 games behind St. Louis, but 2 1/2 games ahead of Houston. We got a write-up by Peter Gammons--unfortunately, it's about teams that disappoint. No freakin joke, Pete.
9. Do you believe in Sasquatch? Frank Peretti's characters do. (I'm almost halfway into it; it's...good.)
8. You know who else believes in Sasquatch? The D. Comedy Central aired all six shorts from their HBO series. Freakin hilarious.
7. Josh Joplin is really good.
6. Picked up some great books at Half-Price, including the Pulitzer-Prize-winning "Gilead," Shirley Jackson's "The Haunting of Hill House," and an awesome book called "The Friendly Dickens" that I'm looking forward to tearing into.
5. Spent the weekend watching the sisters while my folks were in San Antonio. Which translates into: carted the kids around for hours, played a game of Life (which is totally souped up and a bit more "realistic" now!), watched "Racing Stripes" AND "Kicking and Screaming", put up with hours of lame Disney Channel shows, ate out a few times, and cooked hot dogs and mac-n-cheese for the kiddo on Saturday night. Woo-hoo.
4. Smallville Season Finale is this Wednesday! Can Clark save Smallville from yet another deadly meteor shower??? We'll find out! The real question is, can the show be saved from the recent rash of lame ep's that have crept up throughout the fourth season? I'm hoping the answer to both questions is "yes," but I'm only certain about the first question being answered in the affirmative.
3. Mike and Ginny are getting married this weekend. I'm so happy for them.
2. Last night, I saw The Sad Accordions play at the Taft. Oh man. Expect a post about this later.
1. Oh yeah, punks. Can you feel it? Sixty-one and a half hours away!!!

Thursday, May 12, 2005

"If I could, you know I would/If I could, I would/Let it go..."

Get ready, kids, it's the "if I could" meme!

Don't know what I'm talking about?

Click the link, you lazy kid.

the assignment: choose five or more of the following questions to answer on your blog. link back to my post or further so we can follow the chain.

If I could be a scientist...If I could be a farmer...If I could be a musician...If I could be a doctor...If I could be a painter...If I could be a gardener...If I could be a missionary...If I could be a chef...If I could be an architect...If I could be a linguist...If I could be a psychologist...If I could be a librarian...If I could be an athlete...If I could be a lawyer...If I could be an inn-keeper...If I could be a professor...If I could be a writer...If I could be a llama-rider...If I could be a bonnie pirate... If I could be a photographer... If I could be an astronaut...If I could be a world famous blogger...If I could be a justice on any one court in the world...If I could be married to any current famous political figure...

My Answers:

If I could be a musician: I would play the guitar and the piano. the reason I know this is that the times i wish most i could play an instrument are when listening to seth woods (guitar) and ben folds (piano). i would write clever slice-of-life songs full of humor and clever wordplay. and i would likely fade into oblivion, with a small but ardent cult following. and when i'm in my twilight years, i'd play some clubs to "keep my hand in", and every once in a while, i'd get some college kid who'd come up to me for an autograph, a kid who'd just discovered my third (and best, i think) album in the bargain bin of a local used music shop. the kid would say that i was a great musician, and i would invite him (or her) to have a seat with me during my break for a chat and a drink (a root beer, of course). and i'd put on my best "wizened veteran" look and say, "look, kiddo, i'll be straight with you: if you have any ambitions about being rich or famous as a songbird, you are in the wrong business. only do this if you can't get psychological help to keep from doing it." but my words wouldn't do any good, and the kid would undoubtedly end up being a clever, unknown musician with a small but devoted following, who'll end up in some club in his (or her, let's be fair) twilight years, giving some college kid the same advice.

If I could be a bonnie pirate: I would practice my "arrrr"s at home in front of the mirror, so that when the time came for scuttling ships and kidnapping governors' daughters, i'd be pitch-perfect. my pirate name would be, "Bloodbeard Dave," and i'd be famous for laughing like a madman during the fiercest of battles.

If I could be an inn-keeper: I'd let you in to warm your feet. then i'd serve you soup and fresh, warm bread.

If I could be married to any current famous political figure: I'd stay single.

If I could be a painter: I'd find a way to finally capture the images in my head. I'd try to make meaningful and emotive pieces, nothing too abstract, but nothing too realistic either. I'd be a rampant impressionist for a good long time, and then finally get my big break with a series of expressionist works about self-image and reflection. After some moderate successes, the critics will circle like vultures, and attack my work for being too derivative and not provocative enough. I will be criticized for using too many blues ("who is he trying to be, Picasso?"), even though it's my favorite color. In the end, I will stop showing and selling, taking up a job at a high school teaching fingerpainting to football players. I will then paint my greatest painting ever, a piece that will transcend all of the ones before it--and once it's complete, i will ceremonially burn it. That way, no one will criticize it, ever.

If I could be a writer: Funny. This is the question i've considered most. If I could be a writer, I'd stop being so terrified of failure that i can't type. I'd write honest books, books full of Truth and Beauty and Reality--but not books that try so hard to be about those things. I would write an accidental masterpiece, a book that tries to avoid being brilliant--and fails. A book that "means" so trifling little to me and so much to others. A book that I describe thus: "it's just about ___... that's all." And while I put on this silly show of being shocked that my book matters, on the inside I will soar on gryphons' wings, roaring and laughing in absolute elation, that something I did matters and will last--if not in print, then at least in someone's soul. That would be my legacy, and I would revel in it.

Tag. You're it:




Lady M


Rinky-Linky-Dinky Thursday

(For the record, I'd love to claim to have coined the phrase "linky-love", but I don't believe I did. Sadly, I don't know where I might have picked it up. If I stole it from you, I apologize for the uncited usage. Heh.)

"I got treats for your surfable..."
  • All you twentysomethings should get involved in this. Come on, who doesn't love talking about being a twentysomething in this day and age? ...Okay, maybe it's just me. (Hat-tip: Huggins.)
  • Speaking of Huggins, here's a great article he wrote about blogging. Why do I love it so much? He quoted me. Righteous.
  • "Hypocrisy, meet PETA. PETA, hypocrisy. What's that? You've already met?" (Via Malkin)
  • For you aspiring Jedi Knights, a tutorial on the inner workings of your greatest weapon. "Not as clumsy or as random as a blaster, but an elegant weapon for a more civilized age." (Via Michele)
  • Something else for the Napoleon Dynamite fans: ND meets Halo.
  • Movie trailer time: the newest Batman spot (including a brief glimpse of Cilian Murphy [from "28 Days Later"] as Dr. Jonathon Crane, a.k.a The Scarecrow).
  • Here's the teaser trailer for the new Harry Potter flick, due in November.
  • And here's the trailer for the new "Zorro" movie with Antonio Banderas. Mock if you must--but I enjoyed the first one quite a bit.
  • On a more serious note: some of you Bison alumni may not be aware, but Dr. Shirley Jones passed away last month. I didn't enjoy her as much--she was one tough cookie, especially when it came to grades and absences. But she was a knowledgable and respected member of the English faculty, and her shadow is long over the department.
There you are. That should keep you occupied for a while.

Coming up (realistically, not like last time when I did two of the seven things I listed) in the next day and a half:
--Yes, Steph, I'll do the "if I could be" game.
--And a new blog activity, inspired by Myles: letters to dead celebrities.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Weekly Whirled News: SPECIAL REPORT

Scientists Discover What Tut Actually Looked Like

Scientists and forensic specialists, through the use of CT scans and other technological thingies, have established what the famous boy king Tutankhamun actually looked like, at the time of his death.

See photo and further details here.

Experts have also ruled out foul play as the cause of the regal youth's demise. Some theories being considered now include death by gangrene, from a broken knee. No word on how the knee was originally broken, though there is some question of whether Tonya Harding's ancestors came from the same region.

Futher important discoveries include verification that the Egyptian ruler was, in fact, not born in Arizona, and did not technically live in Babylonia, but rather lived many miles away, in Egypt.

The big questions still remain, however.

Scientists and researchers have yet to find the answer to how Tut "got so funky" and if he indeed "had a monkey." As soon as these mysteries are unearthed, the information will be released to the public.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Bible Redux: Obedience over Sacrifice

This was how it all went down.

The people of God wanted a king. Despite the dire warnings of the Man of God, who knew what having a king meant, the people demanded it. Though the Man of God had led them for years, they insisted on it. God spoke to his prophet, and said, "Don't sweat it. They aren't rejecting you as their leader; they're rejecting Me. So I'll give them exactly what they want. But warn them of what is to come first; I am a just God, after all."

The people said again, "Man of God, give us a king, so we can be like our neighbors." And the Man of God said, "You stupid people. Don't you realize that having a king will mean all sorts of problems for you? A king will become a burden to you. Better to be led by a perfect God than an imperfect king." The Man of God listed off the awful results of having a king.

But the people pressed him. "Man of God, give us a king, who can go before us and fight our battles."

"Very well!" said the Man of God. True to his word, he found the person that God had selected, and made him King. The King was a mighty warrior, and a good ruler. But the King was also impetuous, and impatient, and immature. Once, when told by the Man of God to wait until his return seven days later to make a sacrifice, the King made the sacrifice too early, before the prophet had arrived, because the people around him began complaining.

The King also made rash vows, difficult to keep. Once, during battle, he swore that any warrior who stopped to eat before they were victorious would be put to death. When his son, who hadn't heard this proclamation, ate some honey and was refreshed, the King found out and would have killed him, if not for the intervention of his soldiers. He was a foolish King.

The final straw came after a battle against a nearby Enemy, an Enemy who had brutally attacked the people many years before. The Man of God instructed the King, "When you defeat the city of the Enemy, you are to destroy every living thing in it, man and woman, child and beast. Leave nothing alive, down to the smallest lamb. Wipe them out. This is the command of the Most High." So the King led his army of 200,000 warriors into battle, and they were successful. The army of the Enemy was slaughtered, along with every one of their people.

However, the King captured the Enemy Ruler and kept him alive, as a prisoner of war. And when the time came to slaughter all of the Enemy's livestock, the King and his warriors destroyed all of the weak, diseased, and ugly animals, but kept the fittest and best cattle alive, as spoils of war.

Far away, the word of 'He Who Sees' came to His prophet. He told the Man of God, "I am sorry that I made that man the King, because he has rejected My word and disobeyed My instructions." The anger of the Great and Mighty One burned against the foolish King. The Man of God cried out to his Maker through the night, praying and pleading on behalf of the people and their stupid King.

The next day, the Man of God set out to meet with the King. When the Man of God returned to the camp, he was told that the King had gone to a mountain to set up a monument of his victory over the Enemy. The Man of God went out to meet him.

The King greeted the Man of God warmly. "May the Mighty One bless you! I have completed all of His instructions."

The Man of God could barely contain his anger. "Oh really? Then why is it that, in this empty plain, I hear the bleating of sheep, and the lowing of cattle? Where is it coming from, if you did as you were told?"

The King fumbled for an answer. "Well, it's the soldiers, they spared the best of the livestock from slaughter. But they did it to make a sacrifice to your God. Believe me! They totally destroyed everything else."

"Stop!" said the Man of God. "Stop lying to me! Let me tell you what the Most High told me last night."

The King glanced around, folded his arms, and nervously kicked a pebble at his feet. "G-go ahead."

The Man of God took a deep breath. "Before, you considered yourself nothing. But the Master of Men elevated you to a high position of honor and authority, making you King over His chosen people. He gave you a mission, clear-cut and simple: 'Destroy the Enemy, those wicked people. Make war on them and destroy every living thing, man and woman, child and beast. Leave nothing alive, down to the smallest lamb. Wipe them out.' Why did you not obey His command? Why did you greedily scoop up plunder for yourselves, doing evil in the sight of the All-Seeing One?"

The King took a step forward. "But I did keep the word of the Holy One. I wiped out the Enemy, and captured the Enemy's Ruler. My warriors spared the best livestock to sacrifice them as a burnt offering before your God."

The Man of God lost his composure. "Does the Most High prefer the blood of animals to the obedience of men? Would he rather have the burnt carcasses of rams, instead of His chosen people heeding His commands? Absolutely not! Obedience is better than rituals and sacrifices. To disobey the word of God, to reject His commands, is like turning to another god for instruction, or consulting the spirits of the dead for guidance."

The King's fists clenched, but his mouth was silent, his jaw tight, his lips forming a thin white line.

Samuel lifted his hand and pointed in the face of the King. "Because you have rejected the Almighty One as Lord, He has rejected you as King!"

The King flinched. After a moment, he unclenched his fists and held out open hands before the Man of God. "I have sinned. I disobeyed God's command and your clear instructions. I was afraid of the men turning against me, so I gave in to their demands. I beg you, please forgive my cowardice. Come back to camp with me. Let's worship the Faithful One together."

The Man of God shook his head. "I will not return with you. I will not worship with you. You are rejected by God as King." He turned to walk away.

Whether in a fit of anger or desperation, the King reached out and grabbed hold of the Man of God's robe, tearing it. As soon as he saw what he had done, the King gasped, then let go of the robe and took at step back. The Man of God turned back to the King, with fire in his eyes. "The Most High One has torn this kingdom from your hands! He has taken it from you and given it to one of your neighbors, a man after His own heart, a man better than you. This is certain, and will come to pass. He who is the Glory of His People does not lie or change His mind, as a man does."

The King grew more desperate and pleaded with the prophet. "I have wronged you. But please honor me before my people; come back with me. Worship your God with me." The Man of God considered, and relented. They went back together, and the King worshipped God.

When they had returned, the Man of God said, "Bring me the Enemy Ruler." The Enemy Ruler was brought before him. The man stood before the prophet confidently, thinking he would not be executed. But the prophet drew a sword and said, "Because you have made so many women childless, so shall your mother be childless." Then the Man of God struck down and killed the Enemy Ruler, in front of the Most High and the entire camp.

After that, the man of God left the camp for another place, but the King returned to his hometown. Until the day he died, the Man of God never spoke with the King (though the prophet did speak to the King once from beyond the grave), but he mourned for the King every day of his life.

The Holy One mourned also, that He had made such a man King over His people, even if it was at their own request.


Monday, May 09, 2005

PBB Cool Ten (5/8-5/14) [(mostly) linkless version]

10. 55 site visits without even giving you a post of any substance. I appreciate that, y'all.
9. The (L)Astros lost 16-0 yesterday to the Braves. And are currently tied for last place in the NL Central. Heh. Take that, boss.
9b. Sadly, despite the Cubs' 2-1 win over Philly, they're still 13-17, 6 games behind the first-place Cardinals, and only two games out of the basement.
9c. Did anyone expect that the White Sox would have the best record in baseball, five weeks in? Yeesh.
9d. Of the six teams below .500 in the NL, four of them are in the Central Division. Sad. There's no reason the Cubs shouldn't take it this year. Of course, they're one of those teams, too.
9e. Sorry for all the baseball talk. Moving on.
8. Peretti's not a bad writer.
7. "Have you got your towel?"
6. The ending of the game Kingdom Hearts is cool. Too bad I'm such a weak player, I had to get someone else to beat it for me so I could see it.
5. "This is my homeboy Gorb. He's one crazy dude." Now THAT's comedy.
4. GEEK ALERT: Nine days, five hours, and about 45 minutes, and counting.
3. Mothers are especially cool.
2. Still loving Sink or Swim. Can't say it enough.
1. Spending time during the weekend with two great friends, and my family.

Quote of the Day

Why do I continually harp on and on about how great Lileks is? Because of anecdotes like this, about his daughter's ant farm:
The ant farm, incidentally, is beginning its inevitable decline, proving my point. (And God's.) About 14 ants are left. They’ve been at low tide for a while – they went nuts a few days ago when I gave them some sugar water, but they seem to have come to the conclusion that they’re trapped in a Beckett play. My wife can’t stand to see the thing; she wants me to end their misery.

“They’re not miserable,” I said. “They’re ants, for heaven’s sake. As long as they can build another pointless tunnel and stack the heads of their dead brethren, they’re content.”

We tried Sea Monkeys the other day, but they didn’t come to life. Just as well. I would have been tempted to put some in the Ant Farm to see if the ants would fight the brine shrimp, or perhaps cross-breed in some unholy experiment that would create socially-organized amphibious insects.

Awesome. Especially the Beckett reference.

Patience, gentle readers...

Much ado today. Postings to be...um, posted, during Happy Hour (as in, "boy, am i happy work's over for the day!").

Thursday, May 05, 2005

No poetry today...

Because I wanted to finish reading my book. (By the way, I thought it was very good. Booklovers especially should read it.)

So to make it up to you, and in lieu of more soul-searching posts, more linky-love:
  • Wanna hear the new Weezer album before it's released? Here ya go.
  • This is what Trev and Amanda would call the best of both worlds. Ladies and gentlemen, I present "Anakin Dynamite."
  • For more Star Wars action, you could try this highly-praised fan-film: Revelations.
  • Local weatherman Matt Levine played a dead crewman in a recent ep of "Enterprise."
  • I dare you to press the Big Red Button.
(Links courtesy of various sources, including USA Today, Tainted Bill, and Evangelical Outpost.)

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Perspective: An Study in Contrasts


Doesn't matter.


Doesn't matter.


Doesn't matter.


Not a problem.


Not important.


Not a crisis.

"Torn, torn in two, by what I should and should not do..."

I'm surrounded by it. Everywhere you look, you can't help but step in it. Spring fever. Love. Lust. Marriage.

Wedding mania descends again upon the populace, like swimsuited beachgoers upon the nearest coastline. And it's not leaving before getting a good, dark tan.

I got an invitation in the mail to a wedding in Dallas in the next month. My dear friends Mike and Ginny, whom I haven't seen in several years. Finally--after years of belabouring the point--they have acquiesced to their entwined fates. Good for them. I look forward to celebrating with them.

This past Sunday, I found out that two friends at church, whom I didn't even realize were dating, had eloped. Eloped.

This means that, of regular weekly attenders, six of twelve are engaged or married; two have been dating for several years; and of the final four, one is NewGirl, one is NoInterestGirl, the third is NotAChanceInHellGirl, and the fourth is yours truly. (I can't help but think that God is using this to test my real motives for participating in church. I'm pretty sure I'm passing.)

It's not going away, this "marriage" craze. I hoped maybe this type of thing would die down after college (each summer of which containing at least 2 and as many as 5 weddings of friends). Doesn't seem to be the case. Who knows, maybe once I reach the upper echelons of bachelorhood, I can get some distance from it.

In the meantime, I just have to grin and bear being the (next-)best man and groomsman to each of these lovely people.

I've been skittish lately. I'd like to write it off as part and parcel of this phenomena occuring recently. But I know it's something else.


I'm not doing anything meaningful with my life. Nothing lasting. I'm working, I'm coming home, watching TV. Seeing my family every weekend. I'm consuming. I'm not producing. I'm not serving.

I want to do something meaningful, but I feel overwhelmed by the things that need to be fixed. I flipped through my latest WorldVision newsletter and just sighed and shook my head. (How you must weep, El Roi. Selah.) But I feel utterly powerless to change things. I could commit to making a difference here; I feel like a selfish jackass for not doing so already. But to do so, I think I'd have to make some significant changes in my habits, in my lifestyle. I'd have to disconnect from things I enjoy, the things I'm excited about, to do this. I know it's not as drastic as all that, but it feels that way. I don't have any energy to do anything during the week, so I do it on the weekend. But if I want to serve, if I want to help others, volunteer, serve at a soup kitchen, whatever, it would have to be on a weekend.

During my "me" time. I shudder to even type that. But that's the struggle. To feel like I'm giving up the time I have to relax, to hang out with family and friends, in order to do what I should be doing.

Is this the Kingdom of Heaven? Is this the abundant life? Is this why You said that I must hate my father and mother and sisters in order to follow you? So that when these choices come, there would be no contest, no vacillation, no whining on my part?

I know what I ought to do, and I don't do it. As the Book says--for me, that is sin.

There is so much I want to do with my time. I want to exercise. I want to read. I want to write. I want to learn to play the guitar that sits in the corner gathering dust. I want to hit the open-mike poetry night at Ecclesia. I want to spend time with these people around me that I care about, before some of them disappear behind the marriage veil and others move away to following God's leading in their lives.

Yet each night, as I trudge up the stairs to my apartment, all I can think about is what will take the least time and effort to make for dinner, and if I have to do laundry so I'll have clothes for the rest of the work week. I can sometimes summon the strength to do the daily chores that should come easy to grown-ups and are nothing but irritation and frustration to me. I zone out in front of TV, I read a little sometimes. I listen to music. I get to bed too late, wake up too late, and go through the workday exhausted and overwhelmed. When the weekend comes, I'm relieved, but I'm often mindful of what I "should" be doing. I'm reminded that I shouldn't be so selfish. Yet only on Saturdays do I feel like I can get something accomplished, like I can feel something resembling a "life."

That's the thing I guess. "Take away my life, O God." That's what I should be praying.

It's just so hard to say. I have to let go of any expectations or desires I have for what I want my life to be, so that I can submit--disappear--to the plans and purpose of my Sovereign Lord.

I know, in my head, that I'll only find true contentment when that happens. I'm just trying to believe it in my heart. Right now, I'm torn; there's a disconnect.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Quote of the Day

In the comments section of a Relevant article about TV consumption:
"I think God is telling me to cancel my Netflix, and that makes me sad."

For some reason, I thought this was hilarious.

Link-Dump Tuesday

(technically Monday afternoon, but I wanted it to lead on Tuesday.)

I've been collecting things that I've wanted to post about, things that I thought were interesting and/or entertaining, but I'm not going to have much time for posting this week, I think, so I'll just dump them all here for your general enjoyment and perusal.

[A Note about Attribution: I always try to acknowledge where I get things. Blog plagiarism is not cool. But sometimes... well, I forget. So if one of the unattributed links below is from a previous post of yours, please let me know (providing a link) in the comments, and I'll give you the credit you so richly deserve.]
  • I really wanted to write something thoughtful about the movement away from organized traditional religion that is happening in my generation. Some other time, perhaps. Here's the link to the Wash-Times story.
  • Sigmund Brouwer, a favorite Christian-lit author of mine growing up, has published the first of a new series of novels which dares to hypothesize that the "end times" as described in some parts of the New Testament took place in the first century. Let me emphasize: Brouwer has written a work of fiction that uses this teaching as its basis. Tyndale, home of the bestselling (and ideologically-opposed) "Left Behind" series, is publishing the new series. This doesn't sit well with Tim Lahaye, one of the LB authors, who had a veritable hissy-fit when he learned that Tyndale was publishing Brouwer's "heresy." Most interesting was the quote by Lahaye: "They are going to take the money we made for them and promote this nonsense." [emphasis mine] Make of that what you will. But it is an entertaining situation. Go Tyndale for printing novels ("the LB books are still novels, aren't they, Mr. Lahaye?") with opposing perspectives.
  • Speaking of novels (and I may have already linked to this), my fave church-lit (my term) novelist released his latest book, "Monster" (not to be confused with the recent film). Interview with Frank Peretti here.
  • Make sure to vote in AOL's "Greatest American" contest. Feel free to add your own below.
  • You Superman fans (or comics fans in general) will enjoy this fascinating essay on the nature of Supes--why he makes the choices he does--by Mark Waid (of "Kingdom Come" fame).
  • If you've hit a quarter-century, or you're nearing it, here are some helpful hints for proper manners. In other words, things you should know to be a grown-up. Number 2 hit me close to home; guilty as charged, m'am. (Hat-tip: Sheila)
  • Finally, and most interesting for me, an Oklahoma Gazette cover-story about OBU's administrative crises. Check out the pic of the cover in the upper-left corner of the page. I'll match Lowber's offer: I've got a $20 bounty for any Oklahoma reader who can snag me a good-condition copy of the issue with this cover story. I'm totally serious.
There you go, friends. Lots of linky-love. I'll catch y'all later.

Monday, May 02, 2005

PBB Cool Ten (5/1-5/7)

10. 12-12. Still at .500, still in second place in the division, despite losing the last two games of the Astros series. Ugh. C'mon Mark. Get 'er done, dude.
9. "Joo know what ees cool? Carlito ees cool." (I just had to.)
8. Hopefully getting to hang out with Cain today.
7. I borrowed a copy of Peretti's new book from the library. Mmm. Libraries.
6. Something else cool.
5. "Hitchhiker's" was funny.
4. Hanging with family is always good.
3. Teaching on Sunday went okay. Even though the guest speaker in "big church" covered the same material I did, and covered it better.
2. My shiny new copy of "Sink or Swim."
1. The audio clips from yesterday were recorded at the end of a Don Chaffer concert. He and Lori were vacationing in Galveston, so he decided to play a solo show at Ecclesia Houston and the Taft Street Coffeehouse. I got the mailing list email on Friday, and decided to come out and see him play. He played for more than an hour and a half, and all but maybe 3 or 4 of the songs were new ones, including a few he'd never played in front of an audience before. All I can say--awesome. I finally figured out how to get some signal reception to the cell phone, at the end of the show, so I could snag a few songs for you all. So there you go. An explanation for the audio clips. Enjoy.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Don tries to decide how to end the show...

this is an audio post - click to play

Don finally decides on "I'm Still Here", but the audio quality of my recording was so bad, you couldn't hear it.

I'll do better next time, gentle readers.

More "Scared" solo and Don's attempt at a few covers

this is an audio post - click to play

Don transitions "Scared" into a ten-minute solo

this is an audio post - click to play