Thursday, June 30, 2005

Cheers, darlin...

Here's to you and your lover boy.

"Glories Strung Like Beads..."

(Most directly from Tommy, by way of Norm, the ineffable Sheila, and others. And I'm not really going to look at their work too long, because i don't want to copy.)


I love in wintertime, when you're bundled, and the icy wind blasts your face, and you breathe that arctic air into your lungs. Winter "cold" has its own taste that I will always associate with college; probably because the coldest of the winters i can remember were spent there.

I love opening an ice-cold bottle of rootbeer, and the way the "fog" hangs around the opening. My mother "taught" me to blow on it, to blow the fog away, but I gulp it down with that first lovely mouthful of root beer. I swear I can taste it.

I love baseball fields. When I was heading toward McAllen, the highway passed what was either a college or semi-pro stadium. The field was low enough--or the highway was high enough--that I could look down into it and see the green of the grass, the milk-chocolate infield with its crisp white lines. And, believe it or not, I almost started crying.

I love the smell of ink. I've written a few poems and a short story about it, actually. The smell of ink in a brand-new book is beautiful and strange. Which always makes me sad, when I buy used books (as I tend to do) and that smell is gone.

I love finding old bookmarks, receipts, ticket-stubs, and other such artifacts in used books. Sometimes, this is the reason I'll buy a book. And I never ever remove these items.

I love it when girls my age wear their hair in pigtails. Don't know why. But I always feel like I can trust a girl in pigtails. (Maybe I shouldn't share that; it could be taken advantage of.) I think it's because wearing pigtails is most common in little girls, and, in my experience, little girls seldom have agendas or ulterior motives. Of course, I was probably just unaware of them, in my youth.

I love "Mystery Science Theater 3000." It's dangerous for me, though, if I watch it with people I don't know and trust. You see--I giggle. When something is continually funny, joke upon joke, I reach a point where I can't stop giggling. It's probably one of the most embarrassing of my traits. So I never watch MST3K with people I've just met. I don't want to give them the wrong idea.

I love my shoes. They're my favorite kind of shoes. I've gotten the same kind three times so far, and will probably continue to do so. Same thing with my glasses.

I love how excited my sisters get when I show up at my parents' house to visit.

I love Stephen King novels. They're great reads. And King has a great (though twisted) sense of humor.

I love the Cubs. Deeply.

I love that I fell back in love with baseball this year, and have recaptured the passion for the game that I last felt in elementary school.

I love how a great rock song is a transcendent, religious experience. How you get shivvers up and down your spine, or goosebumps on your arms, and then when the chorus hits, your eyes well up with tears.

I love blogging. I hate that I love it so much.

I love stories where the hero has to choose between doing what he knows is right, and doing what would be more comfortable/profitable/beneficial to himself. And I love when the hero chooses to be the hero.

I love cheering for the underdog. In any sporting event or story, if I don't have a real dog in the fight, I root for the one everyone counts out. But, as i said, I'm a Cubs fan.

I love the exuberance of the song "Everlasting Love" by U2.

I love getting home from work on Wednesdays, ripping off my necktie, slipping into a ratty tee shirt and shorts, and turning on something loud on the stereo.

I love how much Aslan teaches me about God.

I love meeting someone who, right off the bat, gets all my jokes and allusions, so that I never have to go back and awkwardly explain them.

I love it when--completely unplanned or uncontrolled--my favorite songs come on the radio, one right after another, during a roadtrip. In those moments, I believe all the more in Providence.

I'll try not to blind you with it...

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Thursday Thirteen

Manders came up with a good one: 13 favorite song lines. I'll only claim these are 13 of my favorites. The first 13 I can think of.

1. "I wish i could fly, from this building, from this wall/And if I should try, will you catch me if I fall?"--When I Fall, by Barenaked Ladies
2. "Margery's wingspan's all feathers and coke cans/And TV dinners and letters she won't send..."---Another Horsedreamer's Blues, by Counting Crows
3. "Love is clockwork and cold steel, fingers too numb to feel..."---Love is Blindness, by U2
4. "Love is automatic, love is broken glass on the ground..."---Love is Automatic, by Seth Woods
5. "Those who say the past is not dead can stop and smell the smoke..."---Smoke, by Ben Folds Five
6. "You could have it all, my empire of dirt/I will let you down, I will make you hurt..."---Hurt, as performed by Johnny Cash
7. "Beneath the paint and armor in your eyes, the truth still shines/Jane be Jane..."---Jane, by Ben Folds
8. "It's never over, all my kingdom for a kiss upon her shoulder..."---Lover, You Should've Come Over, by Jeff Buckley
9. "And has two hands and two feet and a long lovely side/And rose three days after he was crucified..."---And, Waterdeep
10. "Somehow I'm gonna get up from this car wreck/Somehow I'll get up and walk away..."---What You Don't Know, by Don Chaffer
11. "Did I take too long, did i get it wrong?/You're still the missing line in my favorite song..."---Lifelong Fling, by Over the Rhine
12. "I hitched a ride, I was a beggar/I had murder on my hands..."---Amazing Grace, Jars of Clay
13. "I don't get many things right the first time/In fact, I am told that a lot/Now I know all the wrong turns, the stumbles and falls brought me here..."---The Luckiest, Ben Folds

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Taylor House, chapter 9: Choice

“Good evening, Mr. Salvador! What brings you by?”

The Columbian lawyer stepped into the entrance hall and took off his hat. He shook Louis’ hand firmly. “I happened to be in the area, and decided to drop in and say hello. How are things, Louis?”

“Great. Everything’s great. I’m working at a bookstore on the Strand during the week, and that’s going really well. I’m adapting to life down here just fine.”

“I’m very happy to hear this. I must confess, I did not maintain a dispassionate interest in your situation. As your grandfather was a close friend of mine, I was and continue to be very interested in your continued success. If there is ever anything I can do to help you, I hope you will not hesitate to ask.”

“Thank you very much, I appreciate that. Can I get you something to drink?” Louis asked.

“No, thank you, my boy. I cannot stay for more than a few minutes.”

“Would you like to sit down then?” Louis asked, motioning to the study. The lawyer nodded and followed Louis through the open door. After flipping on the light switch, Louis motioned for Salvador to take a seat in one of the leather armchairs in front of the desk. Louis began to walk around the desk to sit in his grandfather’s office chair, but hesitated for a moment before sitting in the other armchair.

“So, Mr. Salvador, how are things?”

“Things are going very well, Louis. My practice is as it is, which is to say, productive. My family is also fine.”

“I’m glad to hear that,” Louis said. (Unlike many who use this phrase, Louis meant it.)

Salvador leaned forward in his chair. “I would love to engage in further small-talk at a future date, but I’m sorry to confess, I do have a specific reason for stopping by.”

Confused, Louis said, “Okay… go ahead.”

“As I indicated earlier, I have a bit of a vested interest in your situation. Not ‘interest’ in a financial sense, as calling it such would seem to imply. That is to say, I am very concerned and—what is the word—eager for you to complete every aspect of the arrangement you have agreed upon. I want very much for you to succeed. As such, I have been keeping tabs on you, so to speak.”

Louis bolted forward a bit, opening his mouth to speak, but Salvador held up a hand to silence him, and then reached down and patted Louis’ hand (the knuckles of which growing white as Louis gripped the arms of his chair).

“Not to say that I have been spying on you, because I have not, Louis,” continued the lawyer. “I have simply been making…inquiries…about your employment and other activities. This is part of my position as executor of your grandfather’s will; as such, I must confirm that you are adhering to your obligations. And it came as no surprise to me when I learned that my inquiries had turned up no false steps on your part. I’m very pleased to know this, as your grandfather would be.”

Louis relaxed his grip and eased back into his seat. “So, if you’ve been checking up on me already, what brings you here?”

“Please, do not think of it as ‘checking up,’ my boy. I’m merely protecting the estate of my friend, your grandfather. But there is one thing that I needed to check with you about. How is the book coming along?”

“The book? Oh, it’s…coming along fine. A little slow getting started, but I’m starting to hit my stride.”

Salvador nodded and smiled. “Very good, Louis. How many chapters have you completed so far?”

“Um, by ‘completed,’ do you mean done on paper, or planned out?”

Salvador’s smile faltered. “Written down. Done on paper.”

“Right, well, not many. I had a bit of a false start, and so I’m now going back and reworking the plot.”

“How many, Louis?”

“None in final form.”

Salvador’s smile disappeared. “How many in draft form?”

Louis looked away, and sighed. “None.”

“Excuse me?”

Louis shrugged. “I’m sorry, Mr. Salvador. I’ve just got so much going on right now that I haven’t really paid much attention to the book. I know I should, but whenever I think about starting it, something else comes up.”

Salvador closed his eyes and pursed his lips. After thirty seconds of breathing through his nose, the lawyer opened his eyes and said in a level tone, “Louis, I realize that you are still a boy in many ways, and that this is the first time you have been on your own since college. I recognize that this provides a few challenges, and that you are, on the whole, meeting these challenges. However, given the particularly delicate conditions of your life here on the island, I cannot ignore this. When you entered into the agreement to live at Taylor House, you committed yourself to specific guidelines, most of which you have kept. However, you are failing your commitment to your grandfather and yourself, and as his representative in this matter, it is my responsibility to say so.”

Louis stared at the paperweight on his grandfather’s desk—the one the lawyer had employed as a gavel on the morning of the reading of the will—during Salvador’s speech. When the lawyer paused to take a breath, Louis stood abruptly. “Well, thank you for your concern, Mr. Salvador. I promise to do better in the—“

“Louis, sit down. I’m not finished.”

“Actually, Mr. Salvador, I need to be—“

“Louis, sit down now!” the lawyer barked, thundering every word.

Shamefaced, Louis sat down. He could feel himself start to cry, and hated that it was happening. When Louis cried, it was always preceded by a prickly feeling in his nose, which felt a bit like having to sneeze. He focused on his breathing, doing his very best not to blink and drip a tell-tale tear. Louis had always been a very emotional person, and more prone to cry than most other boys (and some girls). Fortunately, he was raised by parents who did not see this as a sign of weakness, but one of deep emotional connection and strength. His mother always said he had a poet’s heart; however, his father warned him, some would try to use this tenderness against him, so he would have to learn to closely master his emotions in certain situations.

What Louis did not know, and more in his favor, was that Salvador himself had such a disposition, and could recognize it in others. The lawyer cleared his throat and continued. “I’m sorry to have to speak to you in this way, my boy. I know you mean well. I believe your grandfather knew it, as well. He also realized that good intentions never produced results. I think this is why he included this difficult requirement of you. Living here, in this house, can be a wonderful and comfortable life for you, but you will never achieve greatness by being comfortable.

“The choice, then, lies before you. You may continue to live here—provided you maintain the other four conditions of your housing—for the rest of the 12-month period you agreed upon. At the end of the year, if you have not completed all five requirements, you will be asked to leave, taking only your prior possessions, and I will take care of settling the estate. However, if you have also completed the first and most difficult component of the arrangement, you will be given full and final ownership of Taylor House and its contents. The choice is yours alone, because the power to fulfill it is yours alone.

“Perhaps you do not wish to live here long-term. This is understandable. Your childhood home is in Chicago. The weather here is usually disagreeable and sometimes quite unpleasant. You have no family here, no strong ties, and no real sense of community. If, after twelve months, you wish to simply leave and consider this a worthwhile life experience, everyone will understand. I too will understand, and will wish you the best of all things. Either way, your decision will be final.

“I cannot tell you what to do. You are free to choose either path. I would only caution you to first think very carefully about what you want, and what is at stake. I would also urge you to decide as soon as possible. If you choose to complete the task before you, you haven’t a moment to lose.”

Louis almost made it through the lawyer’s admonition. However, by the end, he was blinking back tears that began to streak from the corners of his eyes.

Salvador saw this and, not wishing to shame the boy further, rose to leave. He picked up his hat and placed it carefully on his head, and put his hand on Louis’ shoulder. “You are a good man, from a line of good men. Whatever decision you reach will be the right one, I am sure. And as I said, if you need anything, please call me. Have a good night, my boy. I will show myself out.”

The lawyer was walking through the study doorway when Louis turned and said, “Thank you, Mr. Salvador. I’ll do better.”

The lawyer stopped, turning back toward him, and smiled. Had he clearer eyes, Louis would have seen the moisture glistening on Salvador’s own cheek. “I know you will, Louis,” the lawyer replied, and with a nod, he walked out the front door.

Louis walked out of the study, wiping his eyes. Mr. Cross came out of the kitchen, wiping his dripping hands on a towel tucked into his belt. “Was that the door I heard? I’m sorry, sir, I was washing the dishes and had the wireless playing, so I didn’t hear the bell.”

“No worries, Mr. Cross. It was Mr. Salvador.”

“Ah, yes. What brings him here?”

“Checking up on me.”

“Right. Well, that’s his job, I suppose.”


“Anything amiss, Mr. Louis?”

Louis shook his head. “Just getting a reality check. I’ve been a bit…lax in my duties, it seems.”

“Ah, yes. The writing of the book, I take it?”

“Yes—wait, how did you know?”

Cross flushed a bit. “I’m sorry, sir; it’s none of my business, I know. But I live here, too, and I don’t ever see you writing. To be honest, I was a bit concerned myself.”

Louis turned away. “You’re right, it is none of your business,” he snapped. “For it being ‘my choice,’ everyone seems too damned concerned about it.”

Cross sighed, scowling. “Begging your pardon, Mr. Louis, but may I speak plainly?”

Louis looked back at the caretaker, eyes narrowed. “Go ahead.”

“All right then—I was just being polite a moment ago. Fact is, the writing of your book and the fulfillment of your other duties are very much my business, because my fate hangs on them as much as yours does.”

Louis shook his head. “What are you talking about?”

“Ach, forgive me for saying so, but you’re being a bit stupid now, aren’t you, sir? If you go home and the house is sold, I’ll have to find a new place to live, won’t I? And a new job. Easy for you to do, but a bit harder on me.”

“Then why didn’t you say anything?”

Cross straightened a bit and the detached air of a career subservient returned. “Not my place, sir. The way I see it, you’ve got to be your own tugboat.”

Louis wiped his face with his hand, a few new tears replacing the old ones. “Look, I’m sorry, Mr. Cross. I—I wasn’t thinking about what would happen to you.”

Cross cleared his throat, a blush creeping back up his throat. “Not that you should have. I—I beg your pardon, Mr. Louis. I really shouldn’t have said anything about my own situation. I don’t want to try to influence your decision. If you decide that you need to leave, I’ll have plenty of time to make other arrangements for myself. Please don’t give it another thought.”

Louis nodded. “I appreciate you saying that, but you were right. I’ve only been thinking about myself this whole time.”

“Nevertheless, Mr. Louis, I apologize for saying what I did. This decision needs to be based on what you want, and that’s all.”

“I know. When it comes right down to it, I really do want to stay here permanently; but now I’m not sure if I can do what I need to, to make that happen. I’ve just…wasted so much time already.”

After a moment, Cross replied, “My father used to say that what’s broken can be mended, and what can’t be mended isn’t worth having to begin with. Of course, he never owned anything of value in his life, but I don’t think he was too far off, there.”

“So what do I do?”

Cross walked over to Louis, and, in a rare act of physical affection, patted the young man’s shoulder. “Well, tonight, I’ll scramble you some eggs. Once you have a full stomach and a good sleep, in the morning you can decide what comes next.”

"No man can kill me!"

Which Ringwraith are You?
By Lisa

(via Rhesa)

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

"They don't look like Presbyterians!"

Last night, I once again enjoyed what would be my sentimental favorite for the title of "best movie of the 1970's."

Such a crisp and clever script! Such music! What casting!

I mean, what other movie can boast a list of cameo performers such as this:

Charles Durning
Edgar Bergen
Milton Berle
Mel Brooks
James Coburn
Dom Deluise
Elliot Gould
Bob Hope
Madeleine Kahn
Carol Kane
Cloris Leachman
Steve Martin (!!!)
Richard Pryor
Telly Savalas
and the legend himself, Orson Welles

No other film is so packed with star power. No other film is so full of life and magic.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you:

(Arguably) The greatest film of the 1970's

[Okay, okay, so it's not really the greatest. But it's the greatest kids movie, and, in many ways, it's one of my favorites. And I defy any one of you to sit down and watch it now, and not enjoy it immensely. Seriously.]

That's it. Just wanted to throw that out there.

What brought this up? Why did I dust off this cinematic gem?

Because I found a fantastic little site online that I think you (especially you, Josh) should check out: Statler and Waldorf--From the Balcony. Yes, it's the two old guys, except they're reviewing movie trailers, instead of movies. Good times.

So yeah, watching that yesterday made me a little nostalgic for what was a major part of my childhood. So tonight I just might put in one of the other two original films. And I am eagerly awaiting the release of the first season of the show on DVD this August.

Birthday Greetings...

...go out to Mr. John Cusack, a film favorite here at PBB! He turns the big 3-9 today! Way to go, sir!

[we now return you to your regularly scheduled blogging]

Monday, June 27, 2005

Makes my day

There's nothing like indulging your juvenile sense of humor, while reading the news.

The humor here just has to be on purpose. There's no other explanation.

At any rate, it made me smile.

*snip* What I meant to say was...

Good to be back, I think.

You know when you read something online on a weblog, and you think, "what a steaming load of self-pitying ass that is!" And then you realize it's your own page? Yeah. Never happens to me, either.

Thank you Kelly, Manders, Josh, Trav, and Steph, for your comments in my absence.

PBB Cool Ten: Vacation Edition (6/19-7/2)

10. 38-36. Hit a bit of a cold streak (including a sweep by the Yanks), but just took two out of three from the best team in baseball. As long as we stay over .500, I'm okay for now.
9. Got to see the Triumph best-of video, finally. It was great--for me to poop on!!!
8. "So come pick me up, I've landed..."
7. Chapter 9 of Taylor House is done...ish.
6. Gilead--read it. Read it now. Right now.
5. Batman Begins--my favorite summer movie, thusfar. (Yes, even more than Ep. 3.)
4. Hanging with the Joules was most righteous. I missed them mucho. (Jerry has an almost-mullet now, it's very impressive.)
3. I teach SunSco in two weeks. I'm not sure if this is the real transition, but it's definitely gearing up for it.
2. The Chronicles of Narnia is rocking my face clean off.
1. Philippians, and getting some perspective.


Vacation Highlights, bulletized:

  • Chilling with the Joules. Their dog is still scared of me, for no good reason. We went to South Padre Island, and I think I'm still sandy. But it was great. And I got a fun hat. My new party hat. Good times.
  • Watched Triumph and Rock Star with Jerry and Cass, as well as part of a Shakira concert. They're big Shakira fans. And now, so am I. (She sings good too.)
  • Putt-putt with my best friend from high school. I lost, as usual. I'm not what you'd call a finesse golfer. I'm more of a "whack it pretty hard and let it bounce around and see what happens" golfer.
  • Chilling with the Cain a couple of times. One of which included blowing eight bucks in quarters on the Simpsons arcade game, which we almost beat (Burns was almost destroyed--we were so close!). Oddly enough, my character of choice--Lisa. Partly because the joystick for Bart was stuck, and wouldn't work right.
  • Video View: the original Vincent Price version of "House on Haunted Hill" (meh); "The Time Machine" with Guy Pearse (could have been SO much better if they just took the time to explain and explore more of the ideas; totally rushed movie); and "Annie Hall" (honestly, I don't see what the big deal is; my opinion of Woody Allen movies [aside from "Everyone Says I Love You"] remains unchanged: "Meh.").
  • Batman Begins (twice). Oh yeah. Good flick.
  • The touring Cooperstown exhibit "Baseball as America," currently at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. In a word, righteous. Totally awesome. Shoeless Joe Jackson's Shoes! The Bat from "The Natural"! Harry Carey's glasses! So many awesome artifacts from America's pastime. Worth every minute.
  • Galveston on Friday, for two hours of walking around and people-watching. Very enjoyable and relaxing. It's nice living less than an hour from the island.
  • Finished "The Friendly Dickens," "The Horse and His Boy," and "Prince Caspian." Began "Gilead." About to begin "Voyage of the Dawn Treader."

That's all I can think of now. I'm sure you're oh so fascinated.


So that's it. Maybe I'll post later today. Maybe not. Right now I'm going to enjoy my pretzels and read "Gilead," because it's freakin amazing.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

BBP (6/16)


and when you kiss her goodbye
try not to think of that first moment
when your eyes met and you felt
your soul burst into flame,
spontaneous spiritual combustion
(that is only now ashes and wisps of smoke).
try very hard not to think of how
hard it was to say hello that first time,
to reteach your nervous mouth to form words,
because you were so stunned by the
sight of her, looking at you, coy and half-smiling,
patiently waiting as you sputtered and stared,
mouth open, straining to say hello.
and when you kiss her goodbye and
your lips part, breathe in that last shared
breath, don't hesitate, breath it in and hold it,
hold it in as long as your lungs will allow, because
once the warm west wind dispels it into the night,
it will never exist again, neither to be shared
nor to be hoarded in your pained chest.


everyone loved him, though he was
no gentlemen. everyone found him
entertaining, though he was often
temperamental, vain, childish, selfish,
and manic. when he was working, he
was a man possessed. when he
was at home, he was a man imprisoned.
when he was dallying with his kept
woman, he was no man at all.
he was the best of men; he was the worst of men.

i loved his books in my youth, reading them
feverishly, while my peers struggled.
i considered him the greatest, and wanted
to be a writer just like him. and now that
i am older, now that i know more
about the man he was, i feel a bit differently.
he is still the greatest, and i still love him,
but i don't respect him. and the more i learn,
the sadder for him i become.

dear boz--you poor, stupid genius.


in the dead fields of war, where
banners hung forlorn from broken
lances, a sparrow flitted from the treetop to
the gilded tip of a royal standard, still borne upright
by its dead keeper. the tiny beast fluttered
down to the ground, where the flag-bearer's
spilled blood splattered the sad earth and
speckled a white wildflower near his head.
the bird pulled the flower from the ground,
bloom and all, with its beak, and took flight.
the noble creature carried it up to the nest,
where its mate sat atop their first egg,
keeping it warm against the cool nightwind;
he offered his gift, which she accepted with
her sparrow's smile (an expression only known
to the birds of the air).

[crimon-stained petals
and sparrow's smiles
could still redeem the
silent, withered land.]

Why does Snoop Dogg always carry an umbrella?

I've been working really hard lately, so I worked it out to take some time off work. As such, I'll be gone tomorrow and all of next week.

What this means is, I won't be posting for about 10 days. (Sorry to spring this on you. But I figured, too much build-up would just sound self-centered. As if it's some great disruption to your lives or something. I know it's not; it's just a disruption to mine.)

When I come back, I plan on having 4-5 chapters of "Taylor House" queued up and ready to go.

So, instead of sub-letting these perfect blue buildings out to a guest-blogger, I think I'll just lock up at the end of the day, and let the dust settle for a bit. Feel free to leave impassioned pleas for me to audioblog while i'm away. Or whatever. Consider the comment box an open thread. Discuss amongst yourselves. I won't give you a topic.

[Come back this evening--I may toss up some Brown-Bag Poetry later on, if you're into that. We'll see how it plays out.]

But yeah, I'll be back in a week and a half. In the meantime, you really need to check out Amanda's online novel. She's doing some really good work.

So I guess that's it. Thanks for reading. Try not to miss me too much while I'm gone. Catch you guys later.


P.S. Oh, you want to know the punchline to the title? Okay.

Q: Why does Snoop Dogg always carry an umbrella?

A: Fo' drizzle.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Spit and Polish

I'm reworking a old post or two for submission-worthiness. Figured I'd be cool like some folks and submit a few things to Relevant.

I find that I have a very relaxed, conversational style, here in bloggy-bloggy-land. Lots of sentence fragments. Hard to edit. And I start half of my sentences with conjunctions. (Wink.)

As I edit, I'm trying to maintain my "style" (such as it is), while still being printable. (I also abuse the use of parentheses, but this has been evident since my college writing classes.)

Those of you who have submitted blog posts for publication: have you encountered the same difficulties? Or do you just let the post ride as-is (grammatical editing aside)?

I'm unsure whether or not I'm trying too hard.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

"You ARE going through one of those 'what does it all mean' things!"

I pulled five CDs out of the ol' rack at semi-random this morning. I grabbed things that jumped out, that struck my fancy.

They are:

The Beatles, "Revolver"
Cake, "Fashion Nugget"
No Doubt, "Tragic Kingdom"
Jamie Cullum, "Twentysomething"
Michael Buble, "More" (EP released by Target along with "It's Time")

So the question is, can there be an underlying theme? A pattern I'm not seeing? Or is it really just random?

Your theories are welcome, below.

It's like reading tea leaves; but instead of tea leaves, it's CDs. And you don't have to decipher which ones they are, because I just told you.

Unlike Michael Jackson, I have been found...

Guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty.

I haven't crossed the threshold of meeting other bloggers. Not that I don't think you guys are keen and all, but something about that still kinda creeps me out for some reason.

Aside from that, all I have yet to do is register a domain (something I've been considering) to "bat the cycle," as it were.

Wow. How sad am I.

(via Sunburned Jenn)

[By the by, there was a second post yesterday, for those who missed it. I haven't figured out how to switch the template back so that the newest posts pop up first. It used to be that way... but I broke it. Then the compy peed the carpet.]

Monday, June 13, 2005

Clips and Phrases: Three Comments (Updated)

The wedding was lovely. It was held at a swank "dining club" type establishment in midtown. (The type of place where "gentlemen are asked to wear jackets at all times while in the dining room." A veritable swamp of old, rich, white people.) There was a garden patio in the back. Stone floor. Nine-foot-high ivy-covered brick wall enclosure. Trees and falling leaves. A fountain. Quite lovely.

The ceremony was in the morning, because holding it much later would have been stiflingly hot. The minister did his dance. I got to read a Scripture passage. The bride was trying so hard not to cry that she started to rush through her vows, firing them off quickly while trying not to cry.
It was sweet. You could see the full impact of this moment hitting her, and how her joy almost overcame her composure.

It's a funny thing, to be that close to the action. I could see the two of them, holding hands, trembling a little. Overwhelmed and overjoyed. And it really hit home for me. Marriage is so incredibly huge. Such an amazing thing, to pledge your life to another, your energies to their wellbeing. And when you reach it, when you reach THE moment--not the kisses, not the recessional, but the moment where you make your pledge--it hits you like a ton of bricks, and you feel so utterly blessed and unworthy to be there, to repeat those words, to hold that hand and place the ring on that finger. I'd imagine, in that moment, one could second-guess whether a life shared with them is much of a gift to give their beloved. And at the same time, their beloved thinks so much of them, that they're thinking the same thing.

"This is a great mystery." And I'm not even speaking of Christ and the Church. That's even more amazing.

While they were parroting the minister's prompts, I reached into my pants pocket, pulled out the diamond ring, and held it in my fist. When the minister called for the rings, the groom turned to me, and I did the traditional "panicked-checking-of-the-pockets" gag that best men have used for centuries. Fortunately, instead of slugging me, the bride and groom appreciated the break in the tension.

The rings were placed. The bride tried and failed to slip the groom's band on his middle finger, before he helped her find the right one. Presentation. Meet Mr. and Mrs.

During the reception dinner (which was tasty), the waiter asked the groom if "his wife" would like more tea. He hesitated for a split-second before leaning over to her and asking. A few moments later, I leaned over to him and said, "You'll have to get used to that phrase, I guess." He laughed. "Yeah."

So very grown up, the thought of that is. One's wife. One's husband. Simple phrases with volumes of meaning, bearing so much joy and responsibility.

The mother of the groom asked if I had any sage advice to dispense. I shrugged and said, "Today, he has exceeded the realm of my experience. From this point, he's on his own." Which, of course, is not true. When you're in community, you're never on your own. I may not be able to tell him how to avoid fighting over a poorly-cooked meal or lamentable laundry habits, but I will be able to support him, to keep him accountable. That's still my job, even after the ceremony.*

That's the key to being a best man, I've decided. The key to "standing up for" the person getting married. By standing there, you are, in some small way, co-signing that pact. You are a witness, a third party, who is covenanting to support that union as best as you can. If (God forbid) there comes a time when the groom starts to stray, or in any way tries to break faith with his bride, it is my job (as much as possible) to take a stand against that. I owe that to her. I owe it to him.

Such services are more important than shoepolish on car windows and returning the tuxedos to the store.

[*The sentiments in that last part (and following) were very likely subconsciously swiped from Lauren Winner's excellent article here. Since I can't tell where her original concepts ended and mine began, it's best to give her the full credit.]


Lunch with the husband of the husband-and-wife SunSco teaching team. He tells me that he and his wife feel led to step down in the next several months. They have felt for some time that I was and am being prepared to take over the leadership role in the class. I have felt the same, as I have shared.

But lately, I must admit, I've been having second thoughts. Not because I love teaching SunSco any less; certainly not. But I've been feeling...flawed, as of late. Moreso than usual. Frankly, I don't feel worthy to teach. I am no example.

Funny how God gives you glimpses of other people going through similar circumstances. It's encouraging to know you're not alone.

So there's that. They have yet to talk to the Singles Ministry leader, but he should be okay with it. And I will once again be a regular teacher (of some kind) at the end of the summer.

Such responsibility. I feel so small.


I feel a post brewing about the overanalysis of Scripture. I know, I know, "could there be such a thing?" Well, when it's parced and explained and excused away, to the point of being a limp cabbage leaf of its original self, then yes. And this cabbage leaf is used to excuse behavior.

We don't like the Bible's sharp edges, so we file away at it with our steely knives, try to wear it down. When that doesn't work (which it doesn't), then we pull the biggest fraud of all: we convince ourselves that it did work. We pierce our soiled hands on its sharp points and swear we are unharmed. We run upon the jagged teeth of it, and proclaim it smooth.

We try to soften it, to conform it to our lifestyles, and when it doesn't, we create a sham version of it, all curves and smooth surfaces, call it the true version and the genuine article, and think we are made perfect through it--when we are, in fact, deluded.

Like I said, a post is beginning to brew. Brace for it.

PBB Cool Ten (6/12-6/18)

Guess it's about time, right?

10. 33-28. Took two out of three from the World Champion BoSox. (Boy, I want that third game back.) Six and a half games behind St. Louis, and a game and a half behind Philly in the wild card race.
9. Derrek Lee leads the NL in batting average (.377) and home runs (17), and is third in RBIs (53). That's cool.
8. Good commentary on Thursday's post. Thanks, y'all.
7. Elvis Costello is cool.
6. So is turtle soup.
5. DVD bonanza: Picked up Newsies, Empire Records Extended Edition, and MST3K's The Crawling Hand at Best Buy. Gift cards are cool. Also picked up a copy of the original House on Haunted Hill at the dollar store. Quite a bargain, that.
4. Batman Begins opens on Wednesday.
3. I head south on Friday to spend a couple of days with the Joules.
2. Mom and sisters made it back from vacation, safe and sound.
1. The wedding of Miss A and the Italian was very nice. Congrats to them.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Posting from the Edge of Sanity...

It's past eleven on a Thursday night, and I'm scrambling to get some crap done.

So why the crap am I posting???

I'll tell you why:

Because this kid just became my hero. Holy crap, that's funny.

The TV commentator's response is just as funny. "Was that a secret message?"

[via Say Anything]

(timestamp adjusted for top billing)

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Thursday Quick Hits

I've got two days' worth of work to finish by five, so I'll make this as brief as possible. (Yet I'm posting. I know, I know. But I've got a fever--and the only prescription... is more blogging. And cowbell.)

Too many things going on that I want to comment about:

  • Anne Bancroft died. There are so many tributes on the blogosphere that are better than I could ever do. Our own Trav has a post about it. So does Alex (via Sheila). Check it out. "Sitting on a sofa on a Sunday afternoon..."
  • Notice to awesome bands and musical acts (particularly, performers such as Ben Folds and Iron and Wine): TEXAS NO LONGER HAS THE PLAGUE. YOU CAN ACTUALLY, YOU KNOW, PLAY A DATE HERE ONCE IN A WHILE. Thank you.
  • Fans of the uber-hit "Lost" should check this out.
  • Fans of Star Wars and John Hughes movies should definitely check this out. (Via Sheila)
  • From the "Sick, Sad World" file: A pregnant teenage couple wanted to end the pregnancy, so the girl punched herself in the stomach, while her partner stepped on her stomach, killing the unborn babies (twins) and ending the pregnancy. What happened to them when the authorities found out? Nothing happened to the carrier (I refuse to call her 'mother') of the babies, because she had a "legal right to abortion." Bad luck for the boyfriend though. Double homicide means an automatic life sentence. So much for justice. (For the record, I consider them equally guilty, not equally innocent.) [via Rob]
  • I really really really wanted to do a great D-Day post, but in the end, I had neither time nor energy to do it justice. So, like a good blogger, I leave it to others to do so, and I link to them. Go here, here, and here.

I'll likely be gone tomorrow, so have a good weekend, friends.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Status Report

Currently Listening to:
Right Now--"Emergency Exit", Beck (Guero)
Lately--"Landed", Ben Folds (Songs for Silverman)

Currently Reading:
Right Now--"The Friendly Dickens", Norrie Epstein
Lately--"The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe", Clive Staples Lewis

Currently Watching:
Right Now--the clock inch closer to the start of my afternoon meeting
Lately--Season One of "Dead Like Me"

Currently Thinking:
Right Now--"Crap. Less than an hour until the meeting."
Lately--"I had forgotten how good the Chronicles of Narnia really is."

Currently Feeling:
Right Now--Sleepy (post-lunch stupor)
Lately--Burnt out.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

On some days, the Force-choke move comes in handy

You scored as Anakin Skywalker.

Anakin Skywalker


Darth Vader


Obi Wan Kenobi






Clone Trooper


Mace Windu




General Grievous


Padme Amidala




Emperor Palpatine


Which Revenge of the Sith Character are you?
created with

You wouldn't like me when I'm angry...

I just got off the phone with my boss. Apparently, his supervisor has been getting complaint(s) from other employee(s) in my department about the way I interact with them. Yet she (the supervisor) has given us no further explanation as to what I've done that has upset people.

I don't understand.

I say "please" and "thank you." I am patient with stupidity. If I tease, I tease lightly, and then follow-up with reaffirmation that everything is fine.

I'm a passionate person, and I tend to wear my emotions on my sleeve. It's something I have to watch out for, because when I have a bad day, people notice. But at the same time, I never take it out on people in the office.

I just don't understand.

But yet, if someone is offended, no matter how innocuous the interchange, it is my fault. I'm the bad guy.

Well, bump that.

I'm a good employee, I work well with others, and I get the job done.

If I'm aggravated with you, it's almost assured that it's because you've done something stupid that's affecting my work.

Do your job, follow the system, and we shall be at peace, you and I.

But if you screw up, don't get mad at me for being frustrated with you.

"Five hundred twenty-five thousand, six hundred minutes..."

The trailer is up.

I'll be there.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Monday Moment of Irony

I just checked the hotmail account for the PBB Dead Letter Office. There was a new email in the ol' coffin-shaped inbox (kidding, geez), so I clicked to open.

The subject line was "Dealing with a messy inbox?"

The email was from MSN, the creator of the email account...

Sent to a 10.0 Gb email account with an empty inbox, and one (1) total saved email, stored every-so-neatly in its electronic folder.

That's funny, is what that is.

Song of the Day... it's a good reminder...

Left His seamless robe behind
Woke up in a stable and cried
Lived and died and rose again
Savior for a guilty land

It's a story like a children's tune
It's grown familiar as the moon
So now I ride my camel high
I'm aiming for the needle's eye

I chased the wind, but I chased in vain
I chased the earth, it would not sustain

There's only One who never fails
To beckon the morning light
There's only One who set loose the gales
And ties the trees down tight
When all around my soul gives way
He is all my hope and stay
There's only One, only One
Holy One

Lord, You are my Prince of Peace
But this war brings me to my knees
See, there's a table You've prepared
And all my enemies are there
But where my Shepherd leads
Where else can I go?
Who else fills my cup 'til it overflows?

There's only One who never fails
To beckon the morning light
There's only One who set loose the gales
And ties the trees down tight
To the Solid Rock I fly
Though He bids me come and die
There's only One, only One
Holy One

("There's Only One" by Caedmon's Call)

PBB Cool Ten (6/5-6/11)

10. 30-25, punks. Winners of 9 out of their last 10. Only 5.5 games behind the friggin' Cardinals. Leading the National League in home runs, total bases, and slugging percentage. So I have this to say to the doubters:

Moises A-Who?
Sammy So-What?

9. The Longest Yard was funnier than expected. It was also as crass as expected.
8. Cinderella Man was outstanding. Can't recommend it enough.
7. I finished The Magician's Nephew, and now have a new appreciation for what was one of my least favorite books of the Chronicles. We'll see if The Horse and His Boy can redeem itself also.
6. Good times with The Italian. A note on this, later.
5. Good times with my dad, while my mom and sisters are out of town.
4. Did I mention the Cubs have been playing well? Because they are.
3. I may get a week of vacation at the end of the month. Maybe.
2. The wedding of Miss A and the Italian is this Saturday morning. Weddings are nice. Good to see two people who love each other pledge their unending fidelity. It's a beautiful thing.
1. Today is the 61st anniversary of D-Day, the opening salvo of Operation Overlord. On this day, the Allied forces gave Hitler's Third Reich a collective "Up Yours" by storming the beaches of Normandy and beginning the European campaign that ended the tyrant's reign. On this day, three thousand, three hundred ninety-three American soldiers gave up their lives for the sake of freeing people they'd never meet. This kind of self-sacrifice will and should be forever lifted up as the pinnacle of human courage and honor. More on this, later.

Friday, June 03, 2005

"It's [just] my aeroplane..."

I consider myself a reasonably worldly-wise fella. Sufficiently street-smart, culturally savvy. ["Savvy" is an enjoyable word. It should be used more often, as should "parlance."] I'm not quite to the point of familiarity with all manner of ribald terminology or off-color commentary (a stance I'm proud of and strive to protect). I don't watch Howard Stern, so I don't know what the kids are calling things these days. But I know enough to play off things i don't know, and I don't get shocked easily.

Living in this world, and in this culture specifically, one has to develop a bit of a thick moral skin. Not to say that you should be calloused to impure things, but if you allow every offensive thing to get you upset, you will live your entire adult life in the throes of indignant apoplexy. [There are people who function in this manner, who boycott, protest, and complain about every element of popular culture that does not perfectly fit their preferred moral guidelines. Granted, such watchdogs of cultural decency are actually (shockingly) correct in some of their stances, but the trembling, spit-spraying fury with which they attack such objectionable endeavours leaves many others (who would normally agree) cold.]

"More matter, less art." Apologies. To the point, then: though I consider myself somewhat "seasoned" in worldly matters (mentally, if not otherwise), lately I have been confronted by what seems to be my own naivete.

Example: In reading Norrie Epstein's "The Friendly Dickens" (which I heartily recommend), I was shocked to read some of the author's assertions--which she seemed to indicate were common-sense, or at least, widely-held beliefs.

For instance, she states that Dickens often included rather troubling sexual subtexts in his works, insinuating the things he could not directly address. The villain in "Oliver Twist," the detestable Bill Fagin, was a pedophile? I never would have gotten that. Of course, I read the book in high school. I was admittedly much more naive in high school. But even now, I find this harder to believe. She went on to describe the "homoerotic undertones" in "Great Expectations." I mean, hold on a minute there. I never EVER got that from the book. Pip had several close male friendships--but to that degree? Hardly so. Nevertheless, Epstein disagrees.

[Had I the text at hand, I would insert the C.S. Lewis quote here about true loving friendship between men being such an uncommon thing that it is often mistaken for eros. It is found in "The Four Loves" by Lewis, a book I would recommend to anyone who has ever or will ever love anyone in any way in their lifetimes. If this condition doesn't apply to you, you needn't bother with it.]

Thus, I've been reconsidering exactly how "wordly-wise" I am. The answer seems to be, not much. And honestly, I think that's just fine by me. If it be naive to not read Dickens through a Freudian lens, well, there it is. No complaints here.

Truth be told, I'm quite tired of the over-sexualization of classic literature. There's enough sex in there already; no need to hunt for more.

In other words, let it be what it is, and stop reading your own coital preoccupations into it.

On a related note, this new realization of naivete gives me pause when it comes to music. Some pop songs are clearly intended to be lewd ("Baby Got Back", for example; Sir Mix-a-lot is no herpetologist, so any discussion of South American reptiles is obviously figurative). But some others are less so.

Red Hot Chili Peppers is a band famous for their, um, "antics" (e.g. multi-purpose footwear), but what to make of songs like "Aeroplane"? Is there some nefarious subtext I'm missing?

Should I be embarrassed when I sing along with the chorus at the top of my lungs?

These are the questions that plague the moralists among us, here in the early part of the twenty-first century.

[Have a good weekend, kiddies.]

Thursday, June 02, 2005

The Return of Thursday BBP! (6/2)

['late afternoon snack' edition.]


do not falter, young man,
in your quest for glory and honor,
do not second-guess your false steps,
your slipshod softshoe over certain slopes--
do not fret, my lad, you did what you had to do.

do not wonder, young man,
if the one that got away was the
one you should have convinced
to stay awhile--that's ancient history, sir.
better to focus on the present, and let
those marble ruin memories sink into
the back of your forward-thinking mind.

do not whimper, young man,
when you feel the chill winds of solitude
whip at your jacket collar, when you
receive no holiday greeting cards,
when you never get invited up for coffee--
you make these sacrifices for your greater
good, my boy, for the sake of the prize, for the
beautiful brass ring that shines brighter
than any silly wedding band can.

do not worry, young man, that your life
has been wasted on a race you couldn't win.
do not give in, my young son, to the lie
that what matters is who you are and not your
net worth current value liquid asset material holdings.
if we all did that, nothing would get done,
and the whole wide world would come crashing down
around us, a great black mess of emotion and
love and weakness, staining our black hearts red.


i find it hard to reconcile
common sense with
Your teaching. i must have
heard you wrong. for example,
you don't actually want
me to forgive those who
do me wrong, do you?
i mean, i thought you were
all about justice, and the
lifting up of the righteous--
why the sudden change of
heart? (why won't you back
me up? i'm on your side!)
and then you talk about being
judgmental as if it were a
bad thing. i thought we were
supposed to call sin what it is,
to not tolerate it in our tents?
i thought i was being a good
neighbor by saving people around me
from making terrible mistakes, like
that story about the man who
was robbed on the Jericho road.
(speaking of which,
i have a few questions about who
was who in that story, because
surely you meant to say that
the righteous holy men stopped
to help, and the unclean one
didn't. i guess i misheard you.)
but the real problem i'm running
into is this speck-and-beam thing.
i really don't understand. if (for the
sake of argument) I had a speck in my eye,
i should help my brother with his beam,
since I can see his fault so clearly,
right? is that what you were getting at?
(and stop going on about having ears to hear--
i hear just fine. you're the one who refuses to
make any sense.)


when i am hungry
(which does not happen enough)
use it to remind me
that i am weak
and dependent on Your generous mercy
for breath and blood and body.
remind me that You gave me hunger
as a way to tell me that
i cannot live without outside
nourishment, that i am not
self-reliant, that i need You to provide
every good and perfect gift.

when my soul is hungry,
whisper in my ear
the very same thing.