Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Why so downcast, O my soul?

[I got me some malaise, Binx, as thick as the silence after the bluesman's last note hits the floor.]

The mood around the office is funereal. Everyone is quiet. No one is meeting eyes.

I haven't mentioned that accursed name yet, in my blogposts. I haven't talked about her destruction, the thousands of lives ruined, the hundreds dead. I haven't had the heart to face it full on. Now it's starting to creep into the edges of my perception and I want to mourn it, to mourn for them.

"This world is not my home, i'm just a passing through." But this world can be a pretty jacked up Motel 6, sometimes. And you don't get the full newspaper on your doorstep; just the obit sections.

The Superdome survivors are being bussed here to the Eighth Small Wonder of our Weary Modern World. They will camp out in the structure across the street from my humble little third-story flat. I want to go over there, to help them somehow, to assist in the relief efforts, but it all seems too big for me. From what I can tell, they don't want physical hands, just cash, but cash is what i don't got right now. All i've got is time and breath and two fat hands that can lift and pack and share things.

If I don't help out, if I don't volunteer, if I let my weak selfish self make excuses, and flip TV channels instead of crossing the street to minister, then my shame will be there every day, outside of my window, on my commute, as I walk past quickly with my upturned collar and my cold shoulder.

The worst part of this dark cloud hovering over my desk is that my real concerns right now, my greatest concerns, the ones that i've been thinking about for days, have nothing to do with that wicked hurricane or her displaced victims. My worries are so simple--money and relationships and fabricated existential crises. And if I'm going to miss my favorite TV program.

I want to repent of being so preoccupied with such things. But I must admit that I would doubt my own repentance. And I don't even know the depths of my own heart like the One to whom I would repent does.

I want to weep. But if I weep, I'm afraid I will only be weeping for myself and my own insignificant cares. Such prodigal tears would only shame me more.

Pray for the victims. They need so much.

[Please, God, help me find the path out of my labyrinthine selfishness, so that I can do something useful for once.]

Tuesday, August 30, 2005


TV commentary. Shallow and unimportant, in light of recent events. But that's me, Mister Shallow.

--My favorite episode of "House" is being re-run tonight at 8 p.m. CST on Fox. I won't be able to watch it, sadly, because I'll be spending time hanging out with my soon-to-be-moving-to-Florida friend from high school. So do me a flavor, and watch it for me, and we can talk about it tomorrow. (If you're unfamiliar with the show, go here and poke around for a bit.)

--Mock if you must, but I've been enjoying Rockstar:INXS. It's very entertaining. And though I think Marty Casey should win, Mig will probably win. It's on tonight at 9 p.m. CST on CBS.

--They just ended the show "Brat Camp" a few weeks ago. I found myself caught up in this show, due to its unusual concept. Nine teens considered "at-risk" (an understatement for some of them) are sent against their will to a survival-training/group-therapy camp for troubled kids, in the California desert. They are kept there for over 40 days and told that they will not be allowed to return until the camp counselors, all specially trained in counselling such kids, decide they are ready to make serious changes in their lives at home. You have violent kids, manipulative kids, drug addicts, runaways, and other "loners." But as the show progressed week after week, and you start prying under the surface, there was a different story. One camper was sexually assaulted when she was younger. Another has dyslexia that has never been adequately addressed. Several came from broken homes, or had one or both parents die. All were reacting to the negative circumstances of their world in an equally negative fashion.

What the show ultimately stressed, was that each person must face their circumstances head on, own them, and move on. Each person must take responsibility for their own choices, and each one can decide how to respond. It was refreshing to see such a message so clearly portrayed on TV.

Ultimately, two of the nine fell back into their old ways. One was arrested, and the other is facing trial. But they knew the choice they had to make, and they must now own up to the consequences. A sad but unavoidable fact of life.

--Talking with Ginge today reminded me how much i miss the show "Ed." I haven't mentioned it in a while, so here's a link to the best "Ed" fansite on the internet.

--Who has two thumbs and is eagerly anticipating the return of Smallville? This guy.

--Who needs to watch less TV this fall? Um, yeah, still this guy. Just Gilmores, House, and Smallville. That's it, I SWEAR.

to the girl in the cubicle about to buckle under the pressures of her hostile work environment.

there will come a day
when these light and momentary
troubles will fade into a
misty montage long forgotten,
and you'll look back on
this really-really bad day
and realize that you are stronger
now than you were
before it happened.
i know, it sounds too good
or too stupid to be true,
but it's happened to me, i'm
another satisfied customer,
and not just the president of "hope,"
but also a client.
so be strong, be firmly grounded in the
fact that it could be worse and isn't,
that you are blessed with people who
care about you, and that in just a few
short days, the love of your life will
come winging back to your
waiting, expectant arms.

in the interest of self-disclosure

We'll call this the R.A.Q. Recently Asked Questions. Some of them are real, others are my attempt at humor. Pity laughs will be accepted.

Q. Dave, why "Perfect Blue Buildings"?
A. It's a song from one of my favorite bands of all time, Counting Crows. It comes from their first album. All of the headings of my links sections are phrases from that song.

Q. When are you going to update the website?
A. Actually, I'm looking into a major update (and possibly domain change) in the next few months. I'll keep you posted on those developments.

Q. Will you post a picture of yourself?
A. No.

Q. Why not?
A. Because.

Q. That's not a good reason.
A. Tough beans.

A. Look, I'm not that photogenic. If you must have something to picture when you're talking to me, I have dark hair, blueish eyes, a red goatee, and Elvis Costello glasses. And I shop at Big and Tall stores. There you go. All you need to know.

Q. So what do you do for a living?
A. I work for a major cancer research center on the Gulf Coast. I edit and proofread patient consent forms for research studies--the forms that explain what the new drugs do, what tests are required for the study, the risks, the benefits, and so forth.

Q. Are you ever going to post another chapter of "Taylor House"?
A. I hope to. I don't want to give up on the project. Right now, I'm not only try to figure out where the novel's plot is going; I'm trying to figure out where my own plot is going. Hopefully, in the meantime, I'll get some more written. Really. I'll try. Promise.

Q. Why do you post the Cool Ten?
A. Because otherwise, this blog would be full of really crappy two-line posts about stuff you don't generally care about (e.g. the Cubs, Smallville, my weekend activities). This way, I get it all out of the way at once. Mostly.

Q. Do you have a girlfriend?
A. No, but I am accepting applications. Just kidding. No, really. Be cool. (The last time I joked about "the future Mrs. TeacherDave", it turned into a big thing.) But seriously, no, I haven't found the right girl yet. Not for the lack of looking. Maybe that dating book will be useful for something after all. Heh.

Q. Do you have an IM name?
A. Sure I do.

Q. What is it, then?
A. ...I don't know if I want to give it out too much. I don't get enough work done as it is.

Q. Fine. Anything else we need to know?
A. Do you like to play "Questions Only"?

Q. What does that mean?
A. What do you think it means?

Q. Wha-- Nevermind.
A. HA! Statement! One-nil!

Q. What are you talking about?
A. Why do you ask?

Q. You're not making any sense.
A. HA! Another statement. Two-nil!

Q. Why do I bother?
A. Foul! Rhetoric! That's game.

Q. I'm never coming back here again.
A. In the words of the eminent philosopher, Bob Dylan, "don't think twice, it's all right."

Monday, August 29, 2005

The Return of the PBB Cool Ten (8/28-9/3)!

10. I just don't have the energy to put the Cubs' record up anymore. Go here, if you must know. It all just makes me sad.
9. It's almost September!
8. I'm going to Pittsburgh in a month!
7. I'm about to embark on a project to investigate a book growing increasingly more popular among Christian singles. I'm fully cynical about what I'll find. I'll keep you posted.
6. I bought a bunch of healthy food at the store yesterday, including: low-carb high-fiber bread, "baker" potatoes, a yellow onion, some green onions, a bag of romaine salad, AND fresh spinach. *proud of self*
6a. [Hoping the brownie points for the health food cancels out the half-gallon of chocolate milk and the Krispy Kreme chocolate cake donuts I also bought.]
5. Stephen King writes for Entertainment Weekly, occasionally. Good times. (He's working on a zombie book, by the way. Dave=happy.)
4. Cool post about Johnny Cash. (I can't remember where I saw this link. Probably Sheila.)
3. "The Screwtape Letters" as read by Joss Ackland? Very, very cool.
2. Willam and Kim are safely moved into town. Yay for friends living close by again!
1. It was the tax collector, not the Pharisee, who went home justified. So there's hope for me.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Capsule Reviews

This should go on my much-neglected movie review page. (Trev, we've failed it, i think.) But I needed some new stuff here, so here you go.

Now in Theaters:

The Great Raid:
This film involves part of WWII history that I'm not as familiar with. It seems like everyone has a basic knowledge of the European theater of the war, but fewer know much about the Pacific theater. This film involves what is, to this day, still the most successful rescue mission in American military history. During this raid, 500 American POW's are rescued from the Japanese, in the Phillipines. From what I've read, the film is incredibly accurate historically, which is amazing. Good film, a bit long, but it gives you a good grasp of the conditions the soldiers lived in, as well as what the civilians in the occupied islands did to work against the Japanese. Many critics have accused the filmmakers of stereotyping the Japanese soldiers, but if this film is as accurate as I've read, then the brutal depictions shouldn't be sugar-coated for modern viewers. Let's show it as it was.

One thing I appreciated about this film, that sets it apart from other recent war movies (with the exception of Saving Private Ryan): There's no pandering or backpedalling. No "we were just as bad" justifications or "they were misunderstood" apologism. Most modern filmmakers feel the need to do this type of thing to show that America is barbaric too, so that it doesn't seem like we're elevating ourselves above our former enemies. There's no need for that here. No need for post-Vietnam-era second-guessing and self-doubt. We were attacked by the Japanese, and we were right to defend ourselves, as well as the countries that were being conquered in the name of the Japanese "empire." So bravo to the filmmakers for resisting the temptation to soften the pro-American-military feeling of the movie.

I also loved that, during the ending credits, they showed actual newsreel footage of troops returning home and being greeting by throngs of appreciative and adoring Americans. Makes you miss the days when the public as a whole showed their support and love for the men and women in uniform, instead of calling them killers, monsters, and tools of the corporate machine.

Now on DVD:

Coach Carter:
Basically, "Stand and Deliver" on the basketball court. Overall, a very enjoyable film. But I can't give it my full stamp of approval, because of one storyline that left me FURIOUS. One of the student-athletes had a pregnant girlfriend. When she talked about the future at one point, he said, I've got to think about my future, and you should do the same; we have to make certain choices. Later on in the film, it appears that he is going to make the right choice, and take care of the girl and their baby. When he goes to her to tell her so, she says, "You were right, i had to make a choice for myself." When he asks, "what about the baby?", she responds, "There is no baby." She looks somewhat sorry to say this. He responds, "I'm sorry I wasn't there for you, when it happened." And that's basically it. Then they're both happy and look forward to the future together. And the dead baby, aborted for the sake of convenience, just...vanishes. That ruined the film for me. Completely ruined it. I'm happy for you, dude; take control of your life. Take responsibility. But killing your baby is not it. (But then again, i'm an uncaring, unsympathetic middle-class white guy; i've never been in their situation, so what do I know?)

A Lot Like Love:
I went in with low expectations, which is part of the reason why I enjoyed this film, to a point. I laughed several times, and I really wanted to like the characters. But when thinking back over this film, I became more and more disappointed. This is one of the most unromantic movies I've seen in a while. There is no self-sacrifice, no nobility, no common sense even, between these two characters. They use each other as rebounds, and after a night of passion, they make excuses about their complete lack of commitment. Basically, neither of them deserve to be in anything resembling a healthy relationship. It's a paint-by-numbers rom-com that just has a few more numbers than usual. On the other hand, the characters (while being moral vacuums) are mildly amusing, and I really tried to like them. So--worth a RedBox dollar rental, but do yourself a favor and DON'T be like either of these people. Ever.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


--Last night, I read a few essays out of a novel-writing book. For inspiration, I suppose. I have been wanting to get back into the writing mode, but i haven't cared enough about "Taylor House" or any of the short story ideas enough to really put pen to paper (or digit to keyboard, for that matter). So I read an essay about foreshadowing. Instilling smaller scenes with meaning, that relate to the climax of the story. I considered what I've done thusfar, and I think I've done the opposite. Instilled too much meaning to minor scenes that won't have a lasting effect, while not really emphasizing what matters most. There is an analogy somewhere in there relating to the rest of my life, but i'm too lazy to find it and fish it out for you.

--Last night I dreamed about violence. Particularly, "V for Vendetta"-style domestic terrorism. But non-specific. Opaque dreaming. And I was not the victim. Rather, I dreamed that I was somehow familiar with the perpetrators of such crimes. I knew them, and they me. And I was distressed because I couldn't do anything to stop it. I was frustrated, as I tried to keep my loved ones out of the way of the torrent.

There were other dreams, but that's the one I remember.

--Today it occured to me in a significant way that I'm on the verge of 25. And that I'm not a writer in any real and tangible sense. This burned a hole in my chest. I'm worried that I will end up with a life I swore I'd never have. One of dreams and ambitions folded and put in attic boxes like too-small Christmas sweaters.

--The sight of scantily-clad women on television made me turn away in disgust. Not because I have finally reached the maturity of the spiritually sound, for I am no saint. But my disgust was that of someone gorged on sweets who longs for real food and is given cotton candy. I'm repulsed by the bait of fantasy. I long for real relationship. With a dissatisfied sigh, I switched off the TV and did laundry for twenty minutes.

--My unplayed guitar glares hatebeams at me through its cheap vinyl case. I feel guilty every time I walk past it.

--I get jealous when I read other blogs where they share stories of going out with this person or that person and the zany adventures they had. Even the dull stories are better than none. I need a group. I don't have a group. I miss that.

--I went into my boss's office today and basically apologized for being a slacker lately. He hadn't noticed, he said, but he appreciated my candor. I told him I've been in a slump lately, and haven't really had much fire for doing anything. He asked why, and I told him it may have to do with the fact that, though I have a better job than I could have ever asked for, it wasn't what I had dreamed I would be doing after college. He was an English major at UT in his college days, so he understood completely. We have a good relationship.

But while I was finishing up this TMI-laden explanation, I felt myself start to get...emotional. A little teary-eyed, even. He didn't notice that, thankfully. The only explanation I can think of for my physiological response is that it's the first time I've really honestly laid that out verbally to anyone. That I've heard myself wonder aloud whether I should just pack up the old ambitions, and be content with my life as is, without any other professional aspirations.

--For the first time since I started teaching, I'm not really excited about preparing for the next lesson. Not to say I'm not excited at all. Teaching Sunday School is my favorite part of my life right now. Everything else pretty much pales in comparison. But I'm at a loss for what to say. Part of this probably has to do with the underwhelming response to my efforts to boost return visits from people who've visited in the past. I've made phone calls, sent emails, mailed personal notes, and gotten almost no response. I feel like I'm failing a little bit, in this regard. I know, I know, not my fault, do my best, God's in control, etc. etc. But I still feel inadequate in some small way.

--Those dreaded five words have crept back into my mind, as of late: "You see, there's this girl..." No, Dave, don't be a fool! Fight it! Fight it with all your might! But what can I say? I enjoy her company. She's nice. She laughs at my jokes. Unfortunately, I have reservations. Reservations that would shame me to explain, because they are so petty. But there they be. "Hesitation, table for one." (Bad joke, I know.)

--I really am happy for you. You know that right? I mean, forget about all the drama from before. I'm happy for you now. Best wishes. But I'm also jealous of you. Not of "you", but of your good fortune. So I hope you'll forgive me for not falling all over myself for you, because I want your storyline for myself. It's selfish, I recognize that, but that's part of the reason things ended up as they did, isn't it.

--There are some days, I want to be a phoenix. I'm envious of rebirth. I keep feeling like I've already ruined myself again, that now the second chance is too far gone to mend, that my only hope left for redemption is to be consumed by fire and burst forth again, fresh and screeching. I know this isn't so, that it's not necessary, but I still feel that undercurrent try to pull me toward some sort of spirital immolation.

--I don't want to give up. Not at all. But there are days when I get weary of being me. Days when I just want to switch to another person. I hold no illusions that anyone's life is somehow so much better than mine. I know each person has their own problems and dramas. But I'm just so damned bored with being myself these days. I'm tired of the same old face, the same lumbering and sagging frame, the same aches and pains and shortness of breath at the top of the stairs. The same empty apartment with the same five channels on the TV. The same stack of unpaid bills, unfiled documents, unwritten stories, unread books. The same sin cycle, the same weaknesses, the same wickedness, the same shame. What's still holding me together is an occasionally wavering belief in the same God and the same grace that has carried me thusfar. And that's enough, even if it isn't as exciting to me as it ought to be.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

The Sound of Improving, not Settling...

Wanna hear the new Death Cab for Cutie album, "Plans"?

Here you go.

(h-t: Hip Clicks, of course.)

Pat Robertson is a complete dumbass.

And I say this in utter Christian love and respect.

If you ever get the chance to read this post, Brother Pat, I beg you in the sight of God to shut up, because you're making a fool of yourself and all those who bear the name of Christ.

Jesus never called for Augustus' head, let alone any foreign leader's. Go and do thou likewise.

Leave such things to the government and military, because you are official out of your depth.

Which is to say, off the deep end.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Brief comment...

Thanks for your comments on my "piper" post. Keep talking, I'm curious to hear what you think.

No time for Cool Ten this morning. I have to finish some things before noon, and then I'm going to the dentist for a painful couple of hours. So... prayers would be appreciated.


In the meantime, I found an essay last week on "Internet Monk" that you might want to look at.

Of all the blog posts on other sites that I wish I had written, this sits firmly at the top.

This essay by a complete stranger communicates more about who I am deep down, than anything I've ever written myself. Though some of the details are obviously different, the feelings are exactly the same. I've never read anything I've empathized with so much. He puts into a few pages what I've been trying to say for years.

For me, the "picture" is one from my senior HS trip. The nine of us standing in front of Buckingham Palace. I still have that picture. It's tacked up on my wall.

So there's that.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Paying the Provocative Piper

Just thinking out loud here.

I posted not too long ago about the John Reuben album, "The Boy vs. The Cynic." As you remember, I was none too impressed. I've also discussed my conflict with some of Derek Webb's lyrics, in the context of talking about the Emergent (Post-Modern) church movement.

I have talked at length about my irritation with anti-American, anti-Republican sentiments creeping into my favorite artists' lyrics. (Not that I want to stifle dissent, certainly not. But my opinion's just as valid as theirs.) I expressed my frustration with popular Christian writers impishly spouting the "we're Christian, but don't worry, we're not Repubs" line. This perspective has really become popular in the last five years, as segments of the Church have bent over backwards to distance themselves from the "conservative" presidential administration.

Yet the other night, I was listening to some of my favorite bands from high school (like All Star United and Five Iron Frenzy), and I was singing along with songs like "American Kryptonite" and "Popular Americans" without any qualms.

The question arose in my mind: why am I okay with these songs and not others?

The best I can figure, for good or bad, is this:

The FIF and ASU songs are about America as a whole. The consumer culture, specifically. And I'm okay with taking shots at that. I'm even okay with taking shots at the hypocrisies and foolishness of the Church, from time to time. I mean, any group that produces this and this deserves all of the mockery it receives.

But for some reason, I took offense at Reuben's "Don't accuse me of being conservative" attitude. I took exception to Webb's "I'm ashamed of being white and middle-class" mantra.

So the question arises: Am I more defensive of my white, middle-class conservatism than my country or faith?

I'm tempted to defend this feeling by saying that I'm just tired of being the focus of so many people's ire. After all, it's hip to be liberal and anti-Bush. All the "cool kids" are doing it. Heck, even all of the "cool Christians" are doing it. So one explanation for my reactions could be that I'm just tired of being the butt of Donald Miller's jokes.

But honestly, I don't know if that's all there is to it.

Not that I'm repenting of my beliefs, or my race, or my economic status. Not at all.

But I'm becoming more aware of what groups and beliefs I tend to defend more. And I'm not quite sure of what that says about me.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Linky-love Tuesday

We were due for one, weren't we?

So here you go--some people, places, and things...and maybe a few ideas:

Monday, August 15, 2005

Mr. Mixed-Signals

(Incidental Opening Music: "Cupid's Trick," Elliot Smith)

The wedding was nice. The site was picturesque, as I mentioned. Everything went according to plan (outside of it being too windy to light the "unity candle").

Five attendants per side. I was the only single (as in, unmarried and non-seriously-dating) person on my side. There was only one corresponding person on the estrogen-laden side of the platform.

I had introduced myself. We exchanged very brief pleasantries the night before the wedding. And that's it.

She was cute, quiet. I should have talked to her more. But then again, I'm Dave, right? So I don't do that. ["Idiot."]

Instead, I seemed to always talk to my married friends during the reception, or to my two single female friends (SFF) in attendance.

SFF "A" is a friend that I've always been cool with, but I often get a weird overly attentive vibe from her, almost like a kind of flirty feeling. (On the other hand, we all know how poorly I read these vibes.) And of course I've idly considered the possibility once of asking her out, like ya do. But this is not an option. Sweet girl, a good friend, but my gosh is she boring. Incredibly, debilitatingly boring.

[I pause now to consider the awful rammifications of this person reading my website. I consider changing the previous description. I decide that the previous paragraph is so very apropos, it would be an injustice to edit. I pray for protection from unintended eyes. I continue.]

SFF "B" is fun. Attractive (though not really my "type," as such things go). Very nice. Interesting. But super-enamored with being single. The Singleness Cheerleader type. Not to imply that she is insincere in any way, because I know she's not. But she just Keeps. On. Talking. About. It. I suppose that's better than talking about how much you hate being single. But still.

I sometimes catch myself flirting with the second one. As I did Saturday night. I also danced with the first one. Because she asked, and no one else did. I joked, I smiled. Mister Charming.

Funny thing: all evening, throughout dinner, dancing, talking, I kept looking over at the bridesmaid. I guess you could say I had a bit of a crush on her. But I never went over there. Surely not.

At the end of the evening, as I was tired and trying to find out when the happy couple were heading out (so that I could change into street clothes and go home), I remember stopping by "A and B" and saying, "In case I don't see you before you go, have a safe trip back."

Something about the way I said that, or something else, made B respond, "Sure, Dave; hey, are you all right?" I brushed off the question with a "Sure, just tired" and went upstairs.

I wasn't all right. I'm never all right at weddings; not completely. No matter how incredibly happy I am for the parties involved (which I usually am, very much so), there is always a sliver of jealousy and loneliness mixed in. This usually surfaces in the quiet time after cake is served, when a few parents are still on the dance floor with their kids, when grandparents share quiet laughter by candlelight, when the groom steals furtive clock-ward glances and gazes admiringly on his bride hugging a child or family friend. That lingering time, just before the last great shout when man and wife speed off into the future.

It was in that moment I ran into my friends. But I'm not sure that was the only reason for the query.

I normally comport myself better. Keep the inadvertant flirting to a minimum. But I was a bit all over the map Saturday. And (though it could be and probably is all in my mind) I think I was a little more un-Dave-like than normal.

[I'm trying to find a way to say this to where it makes sense. Clearly, I'm still having trouble.]

Point is, I feel a little embarrassed, because I think my overly-interested behavior in these two SFF was noticed and noted.

If I had been drinking (like half of the guests), I would at least have had an excuse. Sadly, only pineapple punch and Coke in my glass that night.

On any other day, I would have been fine. Because the fact is, I really don't want to ask either of these two friends out. I probably wouldn't normally ask out Ms. Cute Bridesmaid, even. But the events of the day, and the location, and everyone being prettied up, it got to me. I really wanted to be in love on Saturday. But I wasn't. So I acted weird for three hours, and then left.

Ah, well. Damage done, if any. But I do feel a little silly about it.

[Closing music: third track of Coldplay's "X & Y", which i can't find the name of.]

Pop Quiz

What's a month from tomorrow?

You have 24 hours. Go.

PBB Cool Ten (8/14-8/20)

10. 57-61. The bright spot is that we took 3 of 4 from The Enemy (TM). Now tied for third. Praying that this past weekend will be the beginning of an upward swing, since we're staring down the barrel of a three-game Houston series.
9. For the record, the Jurassic Park video game for SNES sucks ACE. I want my four bucks back.
8. I've decided to see a movie tonight. Either "The Great Raid" or "Must Love Dogs." Depends on my mood.
7. Coldplay's newest album: pretty dang good.
6. Say it with me: Are you ready for some...
5. Yay for Willam and Kim!!!!
4. Texas' Hill Country is lovely.
3. The wedding site was lovelier.
2. The wedding of two close friends from church was loveliest.
1. Praying for a big visitor push for this sunday ("Welcome Back Sunday"). Hoping to see some new faces.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Read this.

Read Kelly's post. (No, not because I'm quoted in it...especially.)

Then comment.

No, seriously. Do it.

All my innocence is wasted on the dead and dreaming.**

I've been toying with the idea of writing a series of short stories based on (really, tangentially related to) each of the songs from "August and Everything After."

(I just popped in the Blue disc this morning; that's why this is on my mind.)

What do you think? I think it would be an interesting exercise.

There are a few other ideas for short pieces I'm kicking around, including one about grace and "ungrace" (as Yancey calls it).

And yes, I'm still working on where Taylor House is going next.

Most importantly, I've been brainstorming for a new project that will affect you readers. The birth of a wholly new web presence. I'm right now trying to decide if it will be worth the time and effort. I think it might.

Anyway. That's what's going on creatively. A lot of thinking. Not much "doing," but what else is new?


**And yes, I'm well aware that the title is actually from "Angels of the Silences," which is found on "Recovering the Satellites" and not the "August..." album. It was just what was playing while i was posting... Don't try to front me, punk.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Baseball Bitterness

The current "headline" on the official Cubs homepage is, "Cubs Seek an End to Recent Frustrations."

I know just what you're looking for. It's called...


The way they're playing, looks like they want an extra two months of vacation. UPS couldn't mail it in better.

Monday, August 08, 2005

scrap of something unwritten

and in the early evening of indian summer when the last straining rays of sun slide over the mountaintop into your small valley speckled with tract-homes, remember that in order for the phoenix to fly it must be consumed in flame. that's always the hard part, susan, sitting through the fiery bits and suddenly having doubts about your ability to be resurrected. but you can never let those doubts win, my love, because you are destined to rise again like dawn and lazarus twice over. keep telling yourself that, keep mumbling it like a prayer, as you rock back and forth with your scarred knees pulled tight to your small breasts and you sit in the almost dark hoping and praying and pleading with the unseen God that the bruise-maker won't come home tonight, that he'll get lost in himself again and in his bottle again and will stay out long enough for you to escape on the 5:10 bus. just keep telling yourself that the fire is a doorway through which the phoenix walks to the next sunshine. just keep telling yourself that, keep praying, keep whispering it. and on the other end of that long bus ride, i'll be waiting with posies and ribbons and hands that won't ever turn into fists against you

PBB Cool Ten (8/7-8/13)

10. 54-57, and fourth freakin place behind the Cards, 'Stros, and monster-truckin Brewers. I hate that I love baseball, because baseball loves to hate me.
9. "The Moviegoer" is pretty good so far.
8. The Tommy Lee Jones comedy "Man of the House"--really funny, actually.
7. Hopefully getting a tooth pulled next week. Believe me, this is a cool thing. In the meantime, painkillers are my friends.
6. Ever had Mongolian barbecue? Mmmm, boy.
5. Going up to Austin this weekend. Should be a good time.
4. We're actually getting visitors to come back to SunSco week after week! This is good.
3. Going with my dad to see a special sneak preview screening of "Red Eye."
2. I've got a Willam and Kim in my house! That's fun. "MST3k and Playstation Hockey for everyone!"
1. Two SunSco friends are getting married this Saturday. This means I will once again be donning an uncomfortable and ill-fitting tuxedo for an outdoor ceremony. But it's worth it. They're good kids.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

No Comment

I'm opinionated. Very opinionated. I believe and feel things strongly, and am willing (eager, even) to share these thoughts and feelings with others.

The greatest blessing and curse of blogging is the comment box, both for the writer and the reader. Instant feedback is often a welcome thing; but when such feedback devolves into "flame wars" and arguments/attacks, it becomes a bane on the whole venture.

Those who have been around here long enough remember when we'd have these issue from time to time. Misunderstanding coupled with mis-statement, then combined with the inability of text to convey certain kinds of tone (or the text's tendency to belie unintended tone), often results in major problems between people online. Friendships can be seriously marred by misunderstood jokes, or sincerity that's seen as sarcasm.

So. I find myself becoming more and more hesitant to comment on certain issues, or certain pages. I'll read a post and completely disagree with the person. Or I'll take exception at a blanket statement or characterization that unfairly paints me with its broad brush.

I'll start to type something in response, not in anger (necessarily) but as a means of "correcting misperception and/or misrepresentation." Which is to say, I snap back in the guise of humility.

Then I catch myself. Usually, I'll delete the comment and "walk away." I've learned that most of the time, the comment is not worth the strife. I remind myself that, after all, it's just the internet. It's not as real as the people on each end of it, so it's not worth any attempts to "save face" that result in hurt feelings and misunderstanding.

Paul warns Timothy, "Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen." While this advice was given in a vastly different context, I think Paul would say the same thing about the blogosphere. He instructs the church at Corinth, "Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone." Graceful conversation often means overlooking verbal offenses.

The best example of silence in the face of slander is Jesus. He was falsely accused, lied about, and still he made no reply. He was verbally attacked by the religious leaders, and yet he did not answer their charges. He could have responded; he could have destroyed them rhetorically. He could have argued his way to being released, if he so desired, but he knew that the best response to their slander was to die for them.

So, when people make statements about Americans, "red-staters," Christians, or me personally, I'll probably just shake my head and scroll on. When people praise things that I don't agree with, I will share my opinion openly and honestly when asked, but I'm not going to try to provoke a discussion as much anymore. I'm learning that some things just don't matter as much as living at peace with those around me.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Wednesday Link Dump: Egotistical Edition

(Meaning, these are things that primarily matter to me; so if you don't care about any of these, s'okay.)

  • Check out the trailer for "V for Vendetta." The movie is based on a graphic novel that has to do with totalitarian and reactionary governments, and domestic terrorism. (Interestingly enough, it was first published ten years ago.) Should cause quite a stir. Plus, it stars Natalie Portman and Hugo Weaving, and the screenplay is by the Wachowski brothers (of Matrix fame).
  • Jollyblogger has a post about the dilemmas of the Christian writer.
  • Here's a link of Michael Chabon discussing the writing of his first novel. [hat-tip: sheila]
  • Got an idea for a movie? The Box Office Oracle predicts how well it would do. [hat-tip: second breakfast]
  • A quick guide on prerequisites for singing the blues. [hat-tip: jollyblogger]
  • You may be familiar with World Magazine (especially if you went to CCCS), but you may not know that they have a blog. (If you are allergic to conservative ideology of the "Religious Right" persuasion, you may want to avoid this one.)
  • Firestream is a good source for info on Christian rock. It calls itself a metal site, but I was finding good stuff on Christian alt-rock from my high school days.
  • I haven't read all of it, but I plan on reading and posting about this Christianity Today article about church discipline.
  • For those who need to be on the cutting edge of gaming news, we present "The Escapist" magazine. [via instapundit]
  • A TV show I find interesting and inspiring (though some may disagree). I look forward to Season 2.
  • One of my new interests (it barely classifies as a hobby) is tasting and comparing different kinds of root beer. Well, any attempts I have at developing a comprehensive knowledge of the subject have been eclipsed by this and this. I am ashamed of my weak attempts.

Reunited, and it feels so good...

I was hoping for some spontaneity this week. And yesterday afternoon, i got it.

I got a call from two of the coolest people I know, inviting me to meet them in Freeport for dinner. For those of you unfamiliar with Texas geography, Freeport is on the Gulf Coast, and almost a straight-shot down the highway from my house.

It was an easy drive. Past the initial cluster of traffic, it was clear sailing. And how many people can say they've ever travelled through "The City of Enchantment"? Not many, my dear brother, not many.

Freeport was good. Mosquito infested, so I got eaten alive. But good.

Ate at On the River, which was quite tasty. Catfish, shrimp, cole slaw, jalepeno cornbread, baked potato, ice cold root beer. You bet.

Stopped at Buc-ee's convenience store ("Home of the Vaguely Creepy Beaver Logo") on the way back. Got a fountain drink. Decided that Frostie Root Beer is even worse in the fountain than it is in the bottle.

So that's that. Good times had by all. And I came back and watched Pump Up the Volume before bed, for no good reason.

Transparent Flaunting

It's nothing really... and I know I'm just tempting the wrath from on high by bragging about this, but I have to do my little victory dance.

Who's that guy who won a McDonalds prize?

It's me, it's me!

I have to mail a bunch of crap in, but 6-8 weeks later, I will receive my shiny new portable gaming system (retail value of about 250 clams) in the mail.

I've NEVER won anything like this before. This is neat.

Anyway. Wanted to share. Substantive posting (or at least a link dump) this evening.

Monday, August 01, 2005

PBB Cool Ten (7/31-8/6)

10. 53-52. But Nomar and Wood will be back on Friday, reportedly. Bring on the fall.
9. My favorite ballplayer of all time--my sports hero, growing up--was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame this weekend.
8. My best friend and his wife are moving away today. This makes me very sad. But it was cool to see him on Saturday.
7. Cubs Nation was good. Yancey's "Grace" book was great. I have high hopes for Percy's "The Moviegoer."
6. "Sky High" was a pretty good flick, believe it or not. And the Wonka movie was awesome (especially on the IMAX screen). Fun stuff.
5. Smallville premieres in less than two months.
4. I like orange juice.
3. Three words: Texans training camp.
2. Plans for the weekend? Hamlet, and the Ledesma invasion. (Just kidding.) Plans for the week leading up to Saturday? Cleaning, cleaning, cleaning.
1. I love being a SunSco teacher. Just love it.

he tries too hard, and she's had enough

i've got a sidearm smile,
slick and shiny like a swingblade embrace
a turncoat romance
the last dance on my derailing train of thought--

stop, she says. quit trying to be and
just be.

i'm not trying, i swear, not lying, i'm not
working over-hard and over-long
to pan out some over-easy lines,
full of coy wordplay and lascivious
descriptions, dripping with--

no, she says. no, you're doing it again. stop.

you're never happy, i say, never pleased,
you're my unsatisfied soul lover, demanding
too stringent tribute to your sway,
expecting epics of Jones'd love-lines
dedicated to your imperial hips--

please, she says. stop trying to be clever.

clever's all I got, baby cakes, clever's my bag,
my grab, my last grasping mask, because
if i lose clever, all i've got is ordinary, and that's
not enough to keep such sweet company as
clever's gotten me thusfar--

why, she says, why do you do this to me?

do what, says I, try to dazzle you with my
wit, my love-addled rhyme, my fatal flaws,
my devil's smile, all crooked and broken?
why would i try otherwise? can't draw out flies
without my honey-scented notebook of pleas
and prayers, reeking desperate...

i'm leaving, she says. i'm gone, man.

goodbye, says i, sweet grape, sweet lime,
lemon-tongued tart that you are, yes, good and
bye the way, i never really loved you, i just
needed someone to write about. (and if you
buy that most obvious of all my
gold-leafed and illuminated falsehoods,
i'll serve you up another to chase it down, like
bitter follows sour spirits.)

(**how about that, even timestamp lies.**)