Friday, December 29, 2006

Oh yeah. End of the year stuff, right?

Whoops. Too late.

Look for more end of the year content at the beginning of next year!

In the meantime, here are my belated pictures of the trip to Washington, D.C.

Finally, as you can tell, I put up something new as a profile pic. I'm not sure if it's funny or frightening. So I'll leave it up to you. Post in the comments whether you think the picture should stay or go, and unlike the Slackie voting, I'll actually go with what you decide.

Happy New Year, friends and neighbors. Behave yourselves. Designate a driver as needed. Raise a cup of gladness for auld lang syne. All that good stuff.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Knocking off the rust.

Yesterday, I started reading through a book of essays on writing short stories. It's funny how cynical I've gotten about the craft. I've internally mocked every single essay I've read, aside from the preface written by Joyce Carol Oates. One of the writers so far has suggested keeping notecards with plotlines--single phrase plot summations. He suggested even jotting down ideas from television and books, to be used in your own work.

One could argue that even Shakespeare cribbed from other people, and I acknowledge that's true. But one of the gems this guy culled from other sources was a plot where miners tried to scam a gold find for themselves, by convincing everyone else that the mine was haunted. One of the miners even posed as the ghost, in an attempt to frighten the new owner.

Anyone want to guess where this plot has been used before? Hmm?

That's right, "Scooby-Doo." And the author would have gotten away with it too, if it weren't for us pesky kids and our reruns.

Needless to say, I've read each essay thusfar with a jaundiced eye. The most help I've gotten was the same encouragement I've been hearing all my life. You must write every day. Writing is a lonely business that requires constant determination and self-discipline. (Check, please.) Writing comes from a compulsion, a need, a fire inside.**

You know, if one day deep in the future, people consider my opinion on the subject worthy of publication, I'd write this to the panicked, neurotic slacker-lit-geeks like myself:

Sometimes you just don't have the "fire." Writing is not always a mystical compulsion that drives writers onward. Sometimes, it's just a joy that can be easily overrun by other, often-lesser joys. Sometimes, what drives the writer is not a fire-in-the-belly but an intellectual belief that they can and should do something with the modest skills they have been given and have developed--that their gifts shouldn't be wasted. This isn't egoism; it's accepting what is. Some writers (by which I mean, of course, me) have to kindle their own creative "fires," because they know in the bedrock of their gut that writing's what they're supposed to do. They know that getting the ball rolling takes a lot of effort sometimes, and they must make the conscious choice to do what they know they were meant to do. Not because they are compelled, not because they "must," but because it feels right, and it's a heckuva lot better than honest work.

That last part was a joke. As you can tell, I'm not so good with comedy.

Point is, I haven't had a "fire" that consumes me or an "obsession" with writing that overwhelms me. I've just had a knawing in the back of my head, a voice saying I need to get back to it before it's too late. That the time has come to get on with the thing I know I was supposed to do with my life.

Maybe that's what everyone is talking about when they talk about the "fire" that drives the writer. I think that's a bad analogy. It's really more like a toothache; or, to put a finer point on it, a pain in the backside.

Of course, that sentiment isn't eloquent enough to be repeated in college lit classes.


Why bring this up? Because last night I wrote a short story, for the first time in more than six months, at least. I have had this idea percolating in my head for a while, and last night I got some insights and started making notes. After about four lines of making notes, I said to myself, "Why not just get up and write the dang thing?" So I did.

It's a first draft. It's pretty lousy. But the skeleton of the story is now on "paper," as it were, in my computer. I'm now kicking the concept around in my head. I know what I'm trying to say, but I also realize that I'm not really saying it yet. It doesn't work. But it will.

I've never been one for multiple revisions, mostly because when I finally get around to writing something, it only needs some minor tweaking before I'm satisfied with it.

I don't know if I've gotten worse as a writer, or my expectations of myself are now thankfully higher, but I know for certain that this little 2500-word piece needs more than a little tweaking. It needs an overhaul, possibly a few organ transplants, maybe a complete restructuring.

But now, thanks to maturity or time or experience, I have the disposition to work on it and stick with it until it really is finished, instead of just until I'm finished with it.

It feels weird to write again. Like stretching your newly-mended arm, moments after the cast comes off. It's uncomfortable and scary. You don't know if you can trust it, if it'll hold. It has to be tested--gently at first, then more fiercely. But you can't hold it in that comfortable, bent, atrophied position indefinitely. Might as well not even have it if you're not going to use it for all it can do.

So here we are. Knocking the rust off. Stretching out the smelly, pale, unscrubbed limb.

Time to go to work.

**Something I noticed last night was that I use "the triple" quite a bit. Probably too often. I have to wonder if that crosses the line from "personal style" into "nuisance." I think I may have to keep an eye out for that in the future, lest I become a self-parody.

PBB Cool Ten (12/24-12/30)

10. Merry Christmas, Texans fans! In other news: Kiss my grits, Manning!
9. James Brown died on Christmas. PBB asks that you observe a moment of silence for his passing...then yell, "Whoaw, I feel GOOD!"
8. Former President Gerald Ford also passed away this week. PBB asks that you observe a moment of silence for his passing, followed by a brief fall down a short flight of stairs.
8b. The management here at PBB would like to apologize to anyone offended by that last joke. We agree that it was in poor taste, even if we insist on leaving it in the Cool Ten. The writers responsible for the joke have been sacked.
8c. Llamas llamas llamas llamas llamas.
8d. The management here at PBB would also like to apologize for the lame running joke referencing "Monty Python and the Search for the Holy Grail." The geeks responsible for this tired movie reference have also been sacked.
7. Llamas.
6. Short work weeks make me double-plus happy.
5. So do homemade cookies and leftovers. Thanks, mom!
4. Capsule movie reviews: "Invincible"--inspiring; "The Break-Up"--better than I expected; "Charlotte's Web"--terrific, humble, "some movie."
3. Is it terribly pathetic that my favorite Christmas present was "Guitar Hero II"? ...You know what? I don't care. Because the game friggin rocks. Even if the thrash metal stuff totally eats my lunch in the later levels.
2. Looking forward to the third-annual trip to Killeen to see my favorite face-rocker, his most-excellent wife, and their new baby girl. Look out, evildoers--Hrockthgar and the SLG will unite in a mighty combination of rocking and laziness that will snuff out your dastardly NYE plans! And we will drink much (root)beer. Yes indeed.
1. Christmas with family was good stuff. I love my family.

Friday, December 22, 2006

O Holy Download

If you like Christmas music at all, download this amazing version of "O Holy Night" from the "Studio 60" show-music webpage. On the left-hand-side of the page, you'll see a listing for "O Holy Night" and a picture of a guy playing trumpet. It was performed on the show by New Orleans evacuees, and it's absolutely gorgeous.

So go on. Clickety. Enjoy the holy-day.

White Elephant

Unfortunately, I'm expected to actually get things done today, so I can't type long, but I wanted to convey some sort of Christmas greeting.

"Ho, ho, ho."

I really want to write something powerful and profound about the true meaning of Christmas. ("Lights, please?") But I'm so overwhelmed by my to-do list today that I just don't have it in me.


We had our office "white elephant" party today. For those of you who are uninitiated, you bring a horrible, silly, stupid gift to the party, and place it under the tree. Then people draw numbers, and one can either "steal" someone else's prize or take a new one. Then, at the very end of the game, the person who went first has the option to trade with someone else, no tradebacks.

Last year, I traded for an atrocious candelabra set, that was so awesomely ugly. I displayed it proudly in my office all year. This year, I regifted it.

I was one of the very last ones. The turn before mine, a friend who had acquired a really nice faucet (something she actually wanted) got it stolen by another player; then she got stuck with a bike lock. So I took her bike lock, so she could take back her faucet. I didn't really want the bike lock at first--I don't even own a bike--but I knew she'd like the faucet (she's redoing her bathroom). Of course, then I saw how awesome the bike lock was, and didn't feel so altruistic. So everyone's happy. Except for the other losers, who got lame stuff. Oh well. Bah humbug.


Had I the time or presence of mind to write something profound about the holiday, what I would have written would probably have been about how Christmas is the greatest day in the world because it signifies resurrection. By entering humanity to die for our sin, Jesus took our death upon Himself and gave us His life. I was reading Romans 8 this week, and was just struck by the sheer weight of that idea. We have life in the Spirit, because the death our flesh deserves was borne on the back of the Son of God.

My favorite verse in the Bible, one I quote almost weekly in class, is II Corinthians 5:21, which says, "God (the Father) made Him (the Son) who had no sin to BE sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God."

That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown. A little baby in a manger grew up mighty in word and deed, and lived a perfect life so that He could trade His perfection for our corruption, bear the weight and punishment of God's wrath upon our sin, and give us His righteousness and life.

In that "white elephant" trade, we got an immeasurably good deal. Because our corruption, our deserved death of body and soul, was a whole lot worse than a bike lock or an ugly candelabra. But Jesus Christ, the Son of the Most High, made that trade for our sake. He gave us what we needed, and took upon Himself suffering and punishment and wrath that He did not deserve. It was "unjust," by human standards, and He embraced that "injustice" so that God's Just anger against sin could be satisfied and we could still be spared.

And on this Monday, we who are God's Children will remember the God who became the baby, the baby who became a man, the man who lived for the very purpose of dying, and the death and resurrection that gave us a life we could never earn or deserve.

And that will make it a Merry Christmas, for one and all.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

A TKO of Awesome

Last night, I was presented with a choice: go get a much-needed haircut, or go with my friend Will to see "Rocky Balboa."

Are you kidding me? That's a "choice"? Of COURSE I went to the movie.

(Briefly, here is my opinion of the previous Rocky movies, for context: Rocky--AWESOME; Rocky II--still pretty awesome; Rocky III--less awesome, but still pretty good; Rocky IV--realistically, it's just a pretty good film, but in terms of "awesomely cheesy," it's the Greatest Film Ever Made By Humans; Rocky V--up to the streetfight--lame; the streetfight--marginally awesome.)

So here's why the experience was three-times awesome:

1) Because we went to an AMC theater, I got to use my MovieWatcher card, a little "membership" card that tallies points for every movie you see, and gives you free stuff occasionally. Last night, I got the big prize, "A Night at the Movies." (Sounds like a Marx Bros. film!) That gets me a free ticket to a non-new-release film, a small popcorn, and a small drink.

2) About 30 minutes into the movie, when the reel changed, we lost the upper third of the picture. We watched about ten minutes of people walking around with their heads cut off by the top of the screen. It wasn't so bad--kinda funny, actually. And we could tell what was going on. It did kinda ruin one of the dramatic moments of the film (yes, moments plural--there were several). But finally, someone from Guest Services walked in and said we would all get free movie passes for the inconvenience. (The downside is I had to surrender my ticket stub. If you're a packrat like me, that kinda stinks.) So, free movie pass #2--score!

3) The movie itself. You want a review? You got it. I'll employ spoiler tags when necessary.

The movie itself takes place in present time, quite a few years after the last film's events. A few of the original cast, or at least, the previous cast, are still present. Starring along with Stallone is Burt Young, whose "Paulie" hasn't aged nearly as well as Stallone has (couldn't afford the plastic surgery, I guess!). Also in the film is Tony Burton, as Rocky's trainer "Duke," who replaced Apollo Creed as Rocky's trainer after Apollo ended up on the wrong end of the Drago fight. A surprising returning character is "Little Marie" from the first film (the girl Rocky walks home who responds to his suggestion to quit smoking with "Screw you, creepo!"). Marie turns out to be a major character in this final Rocky film. (Side note: This is not the original actress who played Little Marie in the 1976 "Rocky." But according to IMDB, she reprised the role of Marie in Rocky V, and the scenes were deleted from the film. Interesting.)

Thematically, the first half of the movie has a lot to say. It deals with issues of growing older, living in the past and in memory, feeling like you have nothing to give to the world, letting others define you instead deciding who you are and defining yourself. It addresses the idea of judging people based on their appearance (both in terms of cultural accoutrement and physical age and ability). The film touches on the issue of pushing yourself to your limits, to see what you're really made of; having self-respect; letting go of past hurts and looking ahead to life.

That's the first half of the movie. The second half's main theme is hittin' folks real good.

There's some great acting in this movie, and inexplicably, quite a bit of it is done by Stallone himself. It is probably easy for him, because this character is him in so many ways (or he is the character--it's hard to see where one ends and the next begins). But he has some really great moments in the film. And the dialogue overall is well-executed. Not perfect, but often funny and at times very poignant.

The way he deals with Rocky's grief over absence of Adrian since her death, and Paulie's pain and regret over how he treated her, are rather moving. These moments really took the movie from being a good sports movie to a pretty powerful meditation on dealing with loss. I mean, this isn't Oscar-fodder, but if the Oscars weren't so dadgum pretentious, it maybe could be.

But the real reason anyone would see this movie is the fight, right? Yeah. Me too. Rocky gets back in the ring (no big secret why, but I won't dwell on it, lest I spoil it), and trains to fight yet another impossible foe. The training montage is great, but is also more realistic. The fact that he's practically a senior citizen is laughed off. The gym air is filled with dust and powder, giving the sequence a gritty, realistic feel.

The fight itself is pretty impressive, because it seems so realistic. I joked with Will that every Rocky fight has "The Turn"--the point in the last or nearly-last round where Rocky's opponent hits him hard, and Rocky bends to the point you're almost convinced he'll fall for the last time. But then, the music swells, and Rocky spins back around with a devastating hook that stuns his opponent and opens the door for Rocky to pummel him and win the match.

The thing I liked about this fight--there wasn't "The Turn." There were a couple "Turn"-like moments for each competitor, but really, the fight was just a brutal slugfest. It was gruelling, punishing, and tough to watch. During the fight, Rocky had flashbacks to images of other fights. We get things like shots of Adrian covering her face from "Rocky IV," and Mickey in Rocky's corner screaming his head off.

There's a moment when we get to hear Rocky's internal voice, willing himself back to his feet, that gave me actual chills.

An interesting parallel--in the original "Rocky," the commentators wrote Rocky off because he was too young and inexperienced. In this film, they write him off because he's too old and brittle. At the beginning and end of his career, he's not taken seriously, and has to push himself for his own sake, to earn self-respect more than anything else.

One thing I'm kinda surprised people have not given the film credit for is the visual style. Quite a bit of the movie is filmed with hand-cameras, so it has more of a gritty, stripped-down feel to it. The scenes in Las Vegas for the fight look like they were filmed with TV cameras, and have the "live TV feed" quality to the image. But the coolest parts were during the fight, between rounds when the frame would go to black-and-white, with certain objects in the frame in bold color, like blood running down a face or the gold of the boxing trunks. Reminded me of Robert Rodriguez's "Sin City" in that regard (...not that I've ever seen that movie. ahem.).

So how does it end? How it began. Rocky goes to the very last round, toe to toe with the cocky current champ who didn't think Rocky had a chance, and then Rocky loses by split decision. In this film, he doesn't even wait around for the results. I think he knew he "lost" the fight, but it wasn't about the judges' vote. It was about Rocky digging deep into the "basement" and finding every last bit of heart he knew he had, to prove to himself more than anyone else that his best stuff wasn't all behind him. And that was worth watching.

Final judgment?

If you like Rocky at all, go see this film. If you like movies about heroes, go see the film. If you like movies about dealing with aging and finding meaning, go see this film. If you like movies where people are hittin' each other real good, go see this film. If you're looking for a story that will uplift you, inspire you, and leave you feeling generally pretty good, go see this film.

If you're cynical, heartless, negative, snobby, or just overall nasty, well, just go see Apocalypto or some crap.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Green can be cool and friendly-like. (UPDATED)

[currently listening: "It's Not Easy Being Green," Kermit the Frog (from "mellow mix CD" given by a coworker) ]

1. You wanna get me a present that will make me immensely happy? Find me some kind of keychain or something, where I can push a button and Timmy from "South Park" says, "eerrrrRRR--TIMMAH!" Because that would make my year. And it would make work more fun.

2. Favorite Christmas card received so far: it has a photo of two nuns on a sled on the front, and inside it says, "You've been good this year, despite a few bad habits." Yeah, nun-humor works for me.

2b. Favorite Christmas card sent this year: ... Okay, I haven't sent any YET. But I will, I swear. Probably in January. But I'm giving my sister a Napoleon Dynamite one, because she hates the movie. (Brotherly annoyance: check!)

3. Keep nominating your Slackie favorites! You've come up with some that I haven't thought of!

4. Speaking of Slackies, I'm sorry to report that we will not be handing out an official award for "Best Adult Beverage." As it turns out, the esteemed judging panel doesn't drink, so it was decided that it was unfair to award solely based on hearsay. You are free to nominate and vote on the category, but there will not be an official announcement of the winner. We here at "Slackie 2006(TM)" apologize for the inconvenience.

5. Signs I'm really tired: it took me over three and a half minutes to realize I've been listening to Paula Cole's "I Don't Want to Wait" on the mix CD.

5b. Signs I'm really tired and even more apathetic: It just finished playing through to completion.

UPDATE: 6. Quote of the day comes from Kinsey: *randomly, in the midst of an IM session* "I wonder if I can get a pedicure at the Newark airport." For some reason, that cracked me up.

7. Finally, some linky love for your perusal and enjoyment:

7. That's it. Meeting day. Busy busy. I'll post again before the holiday, yeah? paz.

Monday, December 18, 2006

"I hear in my mind all of these voices/I hear in my mind all of these words..."

I suddenly want to creatively write, right this instant. To just go off on some fictional impetus for the next few hours. Right now. This very moment.

I need one of you to call in to my second job and ask off for me. Go ahead, I'll wait here.

[currently listening: "Fidelity," Regina Spektor]

Sunday, December 17, 2006

The *Real* Awards Season Has Begun!

As you may have heard, some other dumb award show nominations are out, which means one important thing: It's almost SLACKIE(TM) season!

So here's how it works. I'll be accepting nominations for any and all categories for a week, then I'll post the ballot next Friday. You'll have a week or so to re-vote or campaign for anyone who hasn't voted yet. Then, the big day will by January 2!

This Year's Categories are:
  • Movie of the Year
  • Album of the Year
  • Book of the Year
  • TV Show (Returning) of the Year
  • TV Show (New) of the Year
  • Worst Movie of the Year
  • Underrated Artistic Endeavor of the Year
  • Overrated Artistic Endeavor of the Year
  • News Event of the Year (serious)
  • The "TomKat" Prize for Most Ludicrous Non-story News Event of the Year
  • Sports Story of the Year
  • The "D'Oh!" Award for Biggest Screw-up by a Government/Politician
  • The "Paris Hilton" Prize for Most Over-Exposed Lingering Celebrity (formerly called the You're Still Here?!?" award)
  • The "Your 15 Minutes are Up" Award for most Over-Exposed New Celebrity
  • Blog of the Year
  • Buffoon of the Year
  • Soap/Bodywash of the Year
  • Birthday Cake Flavor of the Year
  • Beverage of the Year (adult and non-adult)
  • Best Future "Slackie"(TM) category
  • Fictional Character of the Year (male and female)
  • YouTube Video of the Year
  • Cheese of the Year

Go to it. The countdown to Slackie(TM) 2006 has begun!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Song Dedication

For anyone who needs it today.


To everyone who's lost someone they love
Long before it was their time
You feel like the days you had were not enough
when you said goodbye

And to all of the people with burdens and pains
Keeping you back from your life
You believe that there's nothing and there is no one
Who can make it right

There is hope for the helpless
Rest for the weary
Love for the broken heart
There is grace and forgiveness
Mercy and healing
He'll meet you wherever you are
Cry out to Jesus,
Cry out to Jesus

For the marriage that's struggling just to hang on
They lost all of their faith in love
They've done all they can to make it right again
Still it's not enough

For the ones who can't break the addictions and chains
You try to give up but you come back again
Just remember that you're not alone in your shame
And your suffering

When your lonely
And it feels like the whole world is falling on you
You just reach out, you just cry out to Jesus
Cry to Jesus

To the widow who struggles with being alone
Wiping the tears from her eyes
For the children around the world without a home
Say a prayer tonight

There is hope for the helpless
Rest for the weary
Love for the broken heart
There is grace and forgiveness
Mercy and healing
He'll meet you wherever you are
Cry out to Jesus,
Cry out to Jesus

"Cry Out to Jesus," Third Day

Monday, December 11, 2006

"They made a statue of us..."

I'm completely smitten with Regina Spektor. She's so purty.


(Why the radio silence, Dave? What's the reason?)

No reason. Really, there's no particular reason. I'm just not feeling the whole "blogging" gig lately. I'm not quitting, not by a long stretch. But I'm feeling... What am I feeling? Ambivalent? Maybe that's it. I'm really busy with lots of little things, and I'm just not in the mood to write a whole lot.

Plus, I think I'm trying to birth some difficult changes or decisions in my life right now (some that I may not even be aware of) and I'm getting a little twisted up in myself, so the things I could blog would probably not be of much help or edification.

(that sounded a lot more ominous than it should have. and there's less subtext here than you think.)

Either way, I feel a little disordered.

I'll get back to you on this later, maybe.

Friday, December 08, 2006


Just want to share my good news. Just got a raise. A big one.

Thank you, God. You are awesome. Such a gracious Provider.

Don't confuse it, gang. Not gloating. I did not do this. God did this.


Thursday, December 07, 2006


[Disclaimer: I've forgotten where I got half of these links. So, if you linked some of this stuff first, and I didn't note that, comment or email with a post link, and I'll tip the cap in your direction. Groovy? Thanks.]

Later today: maybe a nice "where I'm at right now" post to mix things up.

And yes, I'm still going to recap some Washington action. It will happen.

In the meantime, entertain yourselves thusly:
  • For the maplovers and the curious, here's a blog about strange maps. Interesting.
  • As we wait for the return of the second-best show on television ("Lost," of course), IGN reviews Lost's top 50 unresolved loose ends. [h-t: Pop Candy, probably]
  • Sometimes funny, often profane, E-closure is where people air out their dirty breakup laundry, including email conversations and letters from the fallout of ugly break-ups. Seriously, it's like a trainwreck--and just as fascinating.
  • Sylvester Stallone is professing Christianity and talking about the spiritual aspects of the "Rocky" movies. ...No, there isn't a punchline. (Get it? Punchline? hahahaha.)
  • Speaking of Sly, Ain't It Cool News is posting an ongoing fan-question interview of the actor here. So far, there are six parts, and I believe there will be up to six more. And I have to say, after reading some of these, either there's a ghostwriter involved on Sly's end or else he's a surprisingly articulate man. [h-t: Pop Candy]
  • Ever had your iPod (or other such device) coincidentally play the perfect song to match whatever you were doing or experiencing? Yeah, you're not the only one.
  • I was going to write a lengthy blog post about the chicken-little cries of "theocracy!" that are so prevalent in our culture. Well, so much for that. Ross Douthat beat me to it.
  • Fimoculous lists the "Best blogs you've never heard of." One of the ones I know you have heard of is #7, since I crib links from her on a regular basis. Some of my other favorites from this list: Starbucks Gossip, Indexed, and T-shirt Critic. [h-t: #7...who else?]
  • Dying to see some more footage from Spiderman 3? Die no more, ladies, die no more. [h-t: Kelly]
That's all so far. Have a good Thursday. I'll be back this afternoon.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Secret ninjas. They keep following me around.

Geez, does EVERYONE have a day now?!?

Just as long as you all realize that ETL is still the greatest fake holiday in Internets history.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Early Warning Signs of Writer's Itch

Saw part of "Alex and Emma" on TV yesterday. Yes, it's a sappy and contrived rom-com, but it's still mildy sweet and appealing. And, it also gives an interesting look into the writing process, and the way writers cull their daily lives for inspiration. (The plot is apparently a wink and nod to Doestoyevsky's writing of the novel, "The Gambler." Go figure.)

Which made me think of other movies about writers that I liked, and for the life of me, I was having trouble coming up with more than a couple.

So here's your question of the day: Have any favorite movies about writers and, more importantly, the writing process?

Here are a few I can think of:

Adaptation: Charlie Kaufman's kooky classic.
Wonder Boys: Michael Douglas and his neverending novel. (Film based on a great book, by the way.)
Capote: Phillip Seymour Hoffman was outstanding.

If we're including screenwriters/playwrights, you can probably add "Barton Fink" and "State and Main."

Anything else? C'mon, gimme your best shots. I'm in search of a little cinematic inspiration.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Shamelessly Stolen Post Topic.

To paraphrase my man Barney Stinson: "Haaaaaaaaaave you met Manders?"

Her ever-entertaining Thursday 13 topic this week is movie quotes. You know me; I can't resist. So I'll try not to copy her answers. I'm pretty sure I've done this one before, but what the heck.

Thirteen of my Favorite Movie Quotes:

1) "...I have to tell Corey I love her by 1:37." "That's an excellent time." --AJ and Lucas, "Empire Records"

(Another: "Who glued these quarters down?" "I did." "What the hell for, man?" "I don't feel that I need to explain my art to you, Warren." --Warren and AJ)

2) " 'Sweet?' Where do you get off? Where do you get 'sweet'? I am dark and mysterious, and I am PISSED OFF! I could be very dangerous to all of you! And you should know that about me... I am THE ENEMY!" --William Miller, "Almost Famous"

3) "If only I could meet someone new. I guess my chances of that happening are somewhat diminished, seeing that I'm incapable of making eye contact with a woman I don't know." --Joel Barrish, "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind"

4) "Why Johnny Ringo, you look like someone just walked over your grave." --Doc Holliday, "Tombstone" [so many to choose from there.]

5) "Hey, I'm not the smartest guy in the world, but I'm certainly not the dumbest. I mean, I've read books like "The Unbearable Lightness of Being" and "Love in the Time of Cholera", and I think I've understood them. They're about girls, right? Just kidding. But I have to say my all-time favorite book is Johnny Cash's autobiography "Cash" by Johnny Cash." --Rob Gordon, "High Fidelity" [SO many possibilities there]

6) "As you know, l'm quite keen on comic books. Especially the ones about superheroes. I find the whole mythology surrounding superheroes fascinating. Take my favorite superhero, Superman. Not a great comic book. Not particularly well-drawn. But the mythology... The mythology is not only great, it's unique. Now, a staple of the superhero mythology is, there's the superhero and there's the alter ego. Batman is actually Bruce Wayne, Spider-Man is actually Peter Parker. When that character wakes up in the morning, he's Peter Parker. He has to put on a costume to become Spider-Man. And it is in that characteristic Superman stands alone. Superman didn't become Superman. Superman was born Superman. When Superman wakes up in the morning, he's Superman. His alter ego is Clark Kent. His outfit with the big red "S", that's the blanket he was wrapped in as a baby when the Kents found him. Those are his clothes. What Kent wears - the glasses, the business suit - that's the costume. That's the costume Superman wears to blend in with us. Clark Kent is how Superman views us. And what are the characteristics of Clark Kent. He's weak... he's unsure of himself... he's a coward. Clark Kent is Superman's critique on the whole human race. Sorta like Beatrix Kiddo and Mrs. Tommy Plimpton." --Bill, "Kill Bill v. 2"

7) "That woman deserves her revenge... and we deserve to die. [laughs] But then again, so does she. So... I guess, we'll just see." --Budd, "Kill Bill v. 2"

8) "Wow, Trumpy, you do stupid things!" --Joel Hodgson, "MST3K: Pod People"

[It warms my heart that there's a whole thread on the page for the real movie, that is nothing but fans quoting the MST dialogue. Beauty.]

9) "Who is Keyser Soze? He is supposed to be Turkish. Some say his father was German. Nobody believed he was real. Nobody ever saw him or knew anybody that ever worked directly for him, but to hear Kobayashi tell it, anybody could have worked for Soze. You never knew. That was his power. The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist. And poof. Just like that, he's gone." --Verbal Kint, "The Usual Suspects"

10) *sung* "When Cameron was in Egypt-land..." "Let my Cameron go!"--Cameron Frye, "Ferris Bueller's Day Off"

11) "I'm German-Irish, actually." --Tom Hagen, "The Godfather"

12) "I want you to get into the deep beautiful melancholy of everything that's happened." --Claire, "Elizabethtown"

13) "It doesn't matter whether you're selling Jesus or Buddha or civil rights or 'How to Make Money in Real Estate With No Money Down.' That doesn't make you a human being; it makes you a marketing rep. If you want to talk to somebody honestly, as a human being, ask him about his kids. Find out what his dreams are - just to find out, for no other reason. Because as soon as you lay your hands on a conversation to steer it, it's not a conversation anymore; it's a pitch. And you're not a human being; you're a marketing rep." --Phil, "The Big Kahuna"

Confession Time: Music Edition

I loved the band No Doubt. Still do. Still listen to their stuff. But Gwen's first solo album, "Love Angel Music Baby," kinda freaked me out. I wasn't down with the crazy Japanese-influenced, heavily-R&B style she picked up. I was hoping for more of "Ska" Gwen, who is clearly in the deep past now. So yeah, I kinda hated the first album.

Well, her follow-up album, "The Sweet Escape," is on AOL right now, and I have to admit, something about it draws me in. I'm almost afraid to admit it, but--I kinda like it. Even despite the random yodelling on the first track. I can't figure out why I'm intrigued by the record. And that kind of freaks me out, too.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Eponymous Quotation

Re-reading a novel you loved is like revisiting a city where you loved: you do it in the company of your younger self. You may not get on with your younger self, or else the absence of what is missing colours your judgment. Despite my reservations, however, I wouldn't want a word of "If on a winter's night a traveller" to be different, and if [Italo] Calvino's ghost seeks me out after this, I'll still get down on my knees and pay homage... My conclusions, for what they are worth, are: some books are best loved when young; the older me has more time for Calvino the fabulist (Our Ancestors), Calvino the short-story writer (Adam, One Afternoon) or Calvino the essayist (Six Memos for the Next Millennium) than for Calvino the Escher; and that however breathtakingly inventive a book is, it is only breathtakingly inventive once. But once is better than never.

--David Mitchell (author of Ghostwritten and Cloud Atlas) in a Guardian piece on rereading Calvino's famous novel.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

PBB Recommends

"Love," The Beatles
This isn't a canonical album, but it should be. It was produced by George and Giles Martin as the soundtrack for a Cirque Du Soleil production of the same name. The best way to describe the project is, if you listened to the entire Beatles catalogue and then had a really trippy fever dream, this would be the soundtrack. The album mixes and mashes and blends so many tracks into a seamless, psychadelic tapestry. Like "Abbey Road," almost every song blends into the next one. Elements of diverse songs are layered on top of each other, so that one can recognize three or four songs being referenced at the same time. For the Beatles fan, this could either be a blasphemy or a stroke of brilliance. I vote for the latter.

"Our Sacred Honor," edited by William Bennett
Bennett, most famously known for his "Book of Virtues" and his unfortunate gambling problem, here compiles the letters, speeches, and personal writings of the Founders, and organizes them based on a handful of important themes: patriotism, love and courtship, friendship and civility, education of head and heart, industry and frugality, justice, and piety. In reading this book, I'm struck by how prescient these historical figures were regarding the importance of these virtues in a just and thriving society, and how the lack of them would destroy the country they pledged their lives, lands, and sacred honor to create. As I read the words of Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Adams (both John and Abigail), Franklin, and others, I'm inspired and emboldened to strive for the ideal, not only for what America could be, but what we as individual people could be. They believed that we don't have to settle for a society that caters to the basest parts of human nature. They constantly looked to God for the strength and direction to make this country a place of good men living good lives.

It's the greatest show on TV. This may be a shock to some of you to hear me say this. But I officially am renouncing my insistence of "Smallville" as my favorite TV program. Smallville has really let me down this year, while "Heroes" is fantastic, interesting, emotionally engaging, and suspenseful. This is how TV should be made. At times gruesome, the show constantly plays on the themes of destiny and responsibility, and while it works from a somewhat humanistic worldview (with its emphasis on the randomness of evolution), it still promotes the ideas of responsibility to family and humanity, the valor of altruism, and the victory of good over evil. You can't really ask for more than that on primetime.

"Brick" is an unusual film. It's a detective thriller in a high-school setting, and it is styled and follows 1940's film noir conventions (think: "Maltese Falcon"). It stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt (the kid from "3rd Rock" and "Ten Things I Hate About You"), who channels a sort of teenaged Humphrey Bogart. The dialogue uses noir slang like "the brass" (police) and "the pin" (kingpin). The film follows the conventions of the genre, including character archtypes and characteristic lighting and camera work. If you are a fan of film noir, or simply of films that try to cross genres, this one is worth your time. Great film, great plot, good acting (especially since most of the cast is under 30).

"Guitar Hero II" on PS2
For a while, I decided that I was pretty much satisfied with the video games I currently own, since I so rarely get to play them. Then I tried "GH2" at Best Buy, and was hooked. It's pretty much the guitar-rock version of DDR, but instead of all that nasty physical exertion, you have to play perfectly timed notes and chords on a guitar-shaped controller. So yeah, as much as I am trying to "put away childish things," there is once again a somewhat-pricy video game on my Christmas List.

Turkey Hash
I can't really give an official recipe like Trav would. I'm not that good. Really, I'm only fumbling around the kitchen these days. But it involves a good amount of leftover T-day turkey (light and dark meat), copious chopped yellow/red onions, and several good-sized potatoes. Bake the potatoes in the microwave first, so that they're already cooked. Chop the onions and the potatoes, and toss in the skillet with the turkey and some light olive oil. Season with your favorite spices and seasonings. Fry up in the skillet, plate, and serve. I may be a culinary philistine, but that's darn good eatin', especially in the cold months of winter. YMMV.

Word of the Day

From the as-of-yet-unpublished PBB Lexicon:

riff-punked (rif'-punkt) v. : To be fooled, after the first few bars of a song, into believing that Song "A" is in fact Song "B." This may be accompanied by singing the beginning of the lyrics to the wrongly-guessed song before shamefully realizing the mistake.

[Example: "Man, I totally thought the song on the radio was "Stan" by Eminem, but it turned out to be stupid Dido's original song. I was totally riff-punked."]

Because the wind is high, it blows my mind.

Happy post-Thanksgiving, gentle readers.

I beg your indulgence for a few days more. Due to the holiday and the preceding conference, my workload is teetering on my virtual desk. I must give attention to the most important things.

In the meantime, I'll post a few fun little bits and pieces. D.C. recap and pictures will be posted hopefully at week's end.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

PBB Recommends

Okay, admit it: you're not working any more than I am. So, since we're both slacking off, I thought I'd share what I'm being entertained by online.

--CBS's streaming last night's full episode of "How I Met Your Mother." The best episode of the series so far, and I'd highly recommend it. Click on the "Innertube" box to the right, and check it out. The title is alternately "Slap Bet" and "Robin Sparkles," depending on who you talk to, so I'm not sure. (Note: Fair warning--the jokes can be of a somewhat-risque, "Friends"-like quality, so if you find that offensive, please refrain.)

--AOL is streaming a remastered Beatles album, "Love." Trippy and awesome, this album takes many already-familiar classics and puts them through a psychadelic blender. Totally worth your 78 minutes. Follow the link, and click the crazy yellowish album cover.

--Speaking of streaming awesome, MTV is streaming the soundtrack to "Tenacious D and the Pick of Destiny." I won't link it, though. If you want it, go find it. But consider it marked with the highest PBB content warning.

--I'll probably see this movie on opening weekend, because i'm a big geek. Trev, you up for it?

--And finally, the result of a fabled Jack Chick / Stan Lee collaboration. [h-t: alarm-squared]

So check 'em out, and then get back to work, you slackers!

Holiday Frivolity

That's right! It's the return of everyone's FAVORITE party game and PBB-running-gag:

"Re-Captioning Harry Potter Photos"!!!

(previous installment here and here)

Photo #1:

Gary Oldman hasn't looked this bad since the end of "Dracula."

Photo #2:

"Pshaw! Combs are for Muggles!"

Photo #3:

Director (outside of frame) : "Sorry, Mike, we need to do that take again. Daniel showed up behind you in the frame."
Michael Gambon (foreground) : *dramatic sigh* "D*** IT, DANIEL! DO YOU REALIZE HOW FREAKING HEAVY THIS ROBE IS?!?"
Daniel Ratcliffe: "I could take you, old man. I'm Harry Potter."
Michael Gambon (under his breath): "I really hate you."

Photo #4:

Cue Expendable Dark Arts Teacher #5.

Photo #5:

Entering the Hogwarts dorms, Lord Voldemort realizes where the Hufflepuff house got their name, and why they never seem to factor into any competitions or actions of any kind.

Photo #6:

See, Harry? Girls like boys with short hair now.

Photo #7:

In this "very special episode" of "Hogwarts 90210," Ron and Hermione confront Harry's disruptive habit of sneaking off to the "Potion Room."

Harry: "I don't need your help! I have it under control!"

Photo #8:

"I'm so excited! I'm so excited! I'm so...SCARED, Ron, I'm scared!"

[the caption almost writes itself sometimes.]

Photo #9:

Explosive news bulletin in 3... 2...

Photo #10:

Don't be fooled--it's "V for Voldemort," punks!!!


[H-t: Yahoo! Movies. As always, please don't sue]

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

"Yeah, I left with nothin', nothin' but the thought of you."

...I went wandering.


I'm getting ready to fly out tomorrow morning.

I have so many stories, but I don't know if I can really tell them all well.

I'll be sharing bits and pieces over the next few weeks.

It was a good trip, mostly. And the good parts were really good.

The best part of all of this is that I'm really ready to write now. Really ready. It may be too late for NaNo, but not too late to begin.


Today I visited history up close. I saw pieces of parchment that changed the world, and a gleaming dome that still stands for a city on a hill. It was a good day.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Okay, maybe not.

Okay, the live-blogging the trip thing isn't working out. I'm just too worn out at the end of the day to recount everything. So, I'll try to recap as best as I can when I get back.

Thanks for your patience.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Greetings from our nation's capitol!

I'm here, safe on the ground. I'll have access to the internets all week, so expect some fun trip-blogging.

That's it. Gotta go.

P.S. The hotel's pretty sweet.

Monday, November 13, 2006

As if there were any doubt.

Your Movie Buff Quotient: 94%
You are a movie buff of the most obsessive variety. If a movie exists, chances are that you've seen it.You're an expert on movie facts and trivia. It's hard to stump you with a question about film.

[h-t: Wells]

Friday, November 10, 2006

Notes from the Underwhelmed.

  • Tomorrow* is Veteran's Day. Make sure to go out of your way to thank the folks in the military, both past and present. They have done and continue to do a difficult and necessary job, so that we can do other things. No matter what your political stripe, that's worthy of some respect and gratitude.
  • The new Spiderman 3 trailer is out. I maintain that it will be the greatest comic-book movie of all time. Yes. Of. All. Time.
  • Sufjan + Christmas = Love. [h-t: Manders, probably.]
  • This carefully toes the line between hilarious and just plain wrong. But still, we now have the answer to the question: what if the Apostle Paul were a mid-level executive for the Burger King Corporation? [h-t: Myles]
  • Thanks to Barry, my keen little iPod, I was just reminded of how utterly amazing is the song "You Always Say Goodnight" by The Juliana Theory. If you own this song somewhere, I'd encourage you to find it tonight, and listen to it as loud as you possibly can, for further proof that emotion is, in fact, not dead. The part when the music swells there just past the middle. Holy cow. And there's even this moment, with about a minute left, where the song suddenly swoops up into Mr. Bungle territory. So choice. For those of you unfortunate enough to never have heard it, here's a Real Rhapsody link to the song. Use your headphones, and turn it up loud. Gooood stuff.
  • "Go deep." [h-t: BHT]

*corrected thanks to Mr. T.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

"Just in case, I will leave my things packed."

I'd love to post more this week, but I've got so much to do before next week's trip out east.

So, apologies for the dearth of postage between now and then. I still want to do the John Goodman / "Studio 60" cultural-religious rumination, but it'll have to wait.

In the meantime, for those of you who pray, I could use some support for the next... well, rest of my life, really. But the next five days, especially.

The good news is that I'll have computer access in D.C., so I can blog the trip in quasi-real-time (WITH pictures!).

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Brief political statement.

Okay, Democrats, your turn: now do better.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Get back, JoJo.

Unrelated note: Have you ever tried to blow your nose on a Shipley's Donuts napkin? It's a process in which you use extreme care and still end up making a disgusting mess of things anyway, needing more napkins.

This is not unlike political discussions on blogs, which is why I have refrained throughout the campaign (emphasis on "pain") season.

[That was not simply a theoretical example to use as a transition. I really just tried to blow my nose on a Shipley's Donuts napkin. Wouldn't recommend it.]


So this morning, I was exercising my right to vote as an American citizen. As I approached the hotel where the voting station was located and walked up to the door, a man standing nearby asked, "Are you here to vote?" I assented, and he stuck a handbill in my palm and said, "Third floor."

I looked down at the glossy cardstock half-sheet, and saw that it listed "your [specific political party] candidates."**

I then noticed that he crossed in front of the sign describing the rules for the officially-mandated "point-of-no-more-propaganda" zone in order to hand me the sheet. According to the rules, he shouldn't have been within 100 feet of the door or inside the building. Which is to say, he broke the rules. According to the sign, it's a misdemeanor.

After voting, I returned to find him the requisite distance from the door. I don't know if it was a surge of conscience or if he got called on it.

I'm inclined toward reporting it to the authorities, so that someone can be posted at the site to make sure he doesn't do it again.

But instead, I'll leave it up to you, the readers. Consider this an informal straw poll.

If you think I should let it be and trust he will do the right thing, tell me.

If you think I should call the polling authorities to report illegal campaigning, tell me.

I'll tally the votes by lunchtime (if there are any) and let you know.


**Withheld the offending party for the purpose of impartial polling.

LATER TODAY: A post on religous issues on TV and why I applauded John Goodman yesterday.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Because my gosh-darned inimitable Americanism compels me to comment on the goings-on of tomorrow.

Go vote.

Pick the candidates that best support what you believe. If you don't know which ones do, take this evening and educate yourself.

Then go tomorrow and participate in this crazy, beautiful thing we call the democratic republic. Because, as much as we gripe and moan about it, it's a gift.

Don't let cynicism or boredom steal your voice. Otherwise, I don't want to hear WORD ONE from you if the people you support don't get elected (or if the people you HATE do).

Seriously. If anyone complains about politics, my first question is going to be, "Did you vote?" If the answer is "no," I'm gonna stop listening. Just so you know.

Friday, November 03, 2006

For the None-of-the-Aboves: Linky-Dinky!

Things to read on your Friday:
  • Sometimes the first step is to admit you have a problem.
  • In case you haven't seen her, Hayden Couri really is the cutest baby in the world.
  • Theological Ninjas hold "real ultimate truth." And I'm really hoping this is satire, and not another "Slice"-like sincere hysterical.
  • Interesting article on the meaning of Dylan's album "Blonde on Blonde" and what it may say about his spiritual journey.
  • Peter Suderman (writer of the really interesting culture blog, Alarm-Alarm) addresses the latest batch of "adultescent" movies, including Zach Braff's "The Last Kiss." Interesting look at these types of films. Even as a fan of "Garden State," I can appreciate his analysis.
  • More Suderman: this time, a review of The Prestige, which I hope to see sometime in the next week or two.
  • One of the links in the above article is to a wiki article about "steampunk." I've been familiar with the concept, but never knew the term. Very interesting.
  • Self-promotion flashback: Remember when I used to do Thursday Brown-bag Poetry?
  • A really great post from Frank over at Pyromaniacs about the whole Mark Driscoll issue. I appreciate Frank's approach. Good stuff here.
  • Oklahoma City is becoming just a little cooler, as a street in downtown is being renamed to honor The Flaming Lips.
  • 3-D Vertigo? Heck yes! Heck yes I will!
  • And the PBB "Lamewad of the Month" award goes to the Planet Fitness gym in Wappinger Falls, NY, and its ludicrous "no grunting" policy. Discrimination against "muscleheads" is NEVER okay. SHAME ON YOU!!!
Happy Friday, all.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

For the Ben Fans: "You were not the same after that."

I was sitting in Balcony section C, nearly in the center of the row. There were only a half-dozen rows of seats behind me. The piano and instruments and music stands on stage looked like small toys scattered on a playroom floor. Then the musicians entered and took their seats. Then the first violin. Then the conductor, who took his place and then spun and bowed with the flourish of a vaudevillean. Then Ben steps into the lights of the stage, dressed in a tee-shirt and khakis. The crowd went nuts.

The orchestra started playing for a few bars, and then Ben joined in, with piano: "Sara spelled without an H was getting bored..."

The crowd was both rivetted and rowdy. Some sang along. Some clapped. Some shouted out the appropriate background cues. There were few if any in the packed concert hall that were not fans of Ben's music.

I really want to give you a blow-by-blow account, but I can't. I knew, even as I watched and experienced the show, that it was blogworthy but that I couldn't do it justice. (I know I'll run the risk of overstatement throughout this post, when describing what it felt like, what it meant to me; so I'll state now that it wasn't a life-changing experience. But it was certainly affecting.) The thing that weighed on me, for as long as I allowed it to, was that it was an experience I really wished I could share with someone. I was alone. While I certainly appreciated the footroom, I would gladly have traded it for a friend.

I always knew Ben Folds wrote great music, but I never realized just how truly beautiful the songs were, until I heard them backed by an 80-piece orchestra. Wow. Just amazing.

The best I can give you, in terms of my account, are observations/anecdotes. These, I'll provide. First, the other tracks Ben performed (in no particular order): One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces, Philosophy, Steven's Last Night in Town, Brick, Smoke (one of my favorite performances!), Cigarette/Fred Jones Part Two (back to back), Narcolepsy, Lullabye, The Ascent of Stan, Not the Same, Jesusland, Landed, Gracie, All U Can Eat, and The Luckiest (his encore).

A few Ben-ecdotes:
  • His kids are actually twins, but Gracie came out a few hours (?) later. After midnight, actually. Which was after Ben's deadline for songs for the "Rockin' the Suburbs" album, so that's why the song for his son is on there, but "Gracie" came later on "Songs for Silverman." This split birth also means that his twins have different birthdays AND different zodiac signs.
  • Before "All U Can Eat," he said he had a "political speech" written out. When he finally launched into it, I was amused (and a bit relieved) to hear that it was a speech against the evils of the buffet--that scourge "with the French name" that maraudes our diners. He talked about the challenge issued by "all you can eat" and how we've beaten it into a submissive "all you care to eat." I thought that was funny.
  • He taught the audience the three-part harmony for "Not the Same." During the song, he didn't sit at the piano, but rather stood in front of a microphone and "conducted" the audience. In the end, he started "conducting" us wildly, much like Bugs Bunny in the famous cartoon.
  • One of the tenors from the Houston Grand Opera joined him on stage for "Narcolepsy" and sang Italian (?) operatic versions of some of the song lyrics, over the top of Ben's singing. The tenor's mike needed to be turned up, though.
  • The words for "Cigarette" (Fred Jones Part One) were, according to Ben, taken word-for-word from a newspaper account of a man who married a woman with a mental condition that caused her temperament to change wildly (even from a non-smoker to a smoker), and then wanted a divorce. Makes the whole thing that much sadder, that it was based in reality.
  • Someone behind me screamed out, "GO SLEDGE!" when the line about Robert Sledge's party came up in "Not the Same."
  • He compared the symphony musicians with rock stars, saying that the symphony "makes something really difficult look easy," while rock stars, by comparison, make something easy look difficult. He then demonstrated the 80's rock-video piano-playing technique (one hand on the keys, while the player stands like a duelist, waving the other hand behind him).
  • At the "end" when everyone clapped and cheered wildly, he came back out for the encore, and made a joke about how it was such a huge surprise to us that he came back. Then he sat down and played, "The Luckiest."
  • He talked about "Philosophy" as his theatrical piece, and how when he wrote the music, the "gay Broadway gene" came out.
  • Fun crowd interaction, especially when people kept screaming, "Rock this *****!" while he was trying to talk.
  • He didn't seem to be in the best "voice" last night, but he still was able to hit all the notes he needed to. The weather may be getting to him, though.
  • That was probably the most profanity ever used on the stage of Jones Hall.
Overall, it was a great experience. I can now check him off of my list of "favorite musicians I'm dying to see perform live." And I went home happy, concert teeshirt in hand.

Check out his tour dates. He's in Austin tomorrow, and Tulsa on Saturday.

For the "Losties": (Un)Holy Smoke!

I have to say, I'm digging this season. Lots of crunchy discussion topics.

Bulleted, because I haven't used it lately:
  • Sic transit Eko. So sad to see Eko go, because he was a very interesting character. I loved watching the story of his "redemption" unfold. In this episode's flashback, I think he realized that no matter what he tried to do, he would never be a "good" man. The best he could do is make up for his past sins, and protect the innocent from harm. That's how I read him this time: he's the shepherd. *Insert reference to Sam Jackson's Pulp Fiction speech.*
  • Totally didn't expect him to refuse to confess, though. This episode seemed to show a drastic turn in his "piety."
  • Yay for the smoke monster! I know, it's goofy, but I love that this show is, at its core, about the conflict between faith and reason, between rationalism and mysticism. Even with all of the strange but almost understandable/explainable Dharma stuff, we still get smoke monsters. There's still something mysterious and untamed going on in that island. Interesting.
  • So the question is: Why? I can't figure it. Did the smoke get angry because Eko would not repent? Or was it a preordained end for the man who lived by the sword for so much of his life? Funny, it seems like, as much as the writers deny it, there's still a lot of evidence for the "island as purgatory" theory. Eko was finally and brutally purged of his violent sins.
  • Double-meaning, part one: Island-Yemi saying, "You speak to me as if I were your brother." So is it: 1) Yemi is no longer Eko's brother, because of what he did; or 2) Island-Yemi was never Eko's brother, and was always a manifestation of the Smoke? Crazy.
  • Double-meaning, part deux: Locke telling Desmond, "Don't mistake coincidence for fate." At first, I thought he got that backwards. That he was telling Des not to write off fated events as coincidental. But the actual line implies that Des shouldn't attach the label of "fate" to coincidental things? The first meaning seems more like traditional Locke, but the second fits more of Locke's approach lately. So the question is, does Locke still believe in fate?
  • Eko's last words: You're next. One Internet theorist said that it could be that the Island is punishing Eko, Locke, and Desmond for destroying the Hatch. I'm not sure if that's true, but it sounds interesting.
  • Loved the Locke line, "Well, I'm not Jack." They may be setting up the power-struggle angle again, which is kinda lame, but because I love Locke's character so much, I'll buy it.
  • Sad we didn't see much of Charlie or Hurley in this ep, but I loved their line about trail-finding. Perfectly written.
  • Meanwhile, on "Alcatraz":
  • I don't trust Juliet. I want to, cuz she's attractive. But that's the idea, isn't it? The whole video thing, I think it's a ruse. Either she and BenryGale are still in cahoots, and they're testing Jack, or she's actually more brutal and crazy than Benry, and she's using Jack to kill Ben so she can take control as the supreme Other.
  • Either way, I think they're both still trying to play Jack. Henry, with the desperate-patient, "Okay-I'll-be-honest-now" routine; and Juliet, with the "sympathetic, attractive girl who cooks burgers and needs a hero to help her escape" routine.
  • Sidenote: "To Kill a Mockingbird"? Interesting. Remember the line--"It's a sin to kill a mockingbird, when all they want to do is sing"? Is Ben the mockingbird? Is Jack supposed to be Atticus, "defending" the indefensible Benry? Or maybe the Others are like Boo Radley, misunderstood, feared, and shunned?
  • Finally, I HATE the winter hiatus. Hopefully, the "fall finale" next week will whet our appetites for more.
Okay. That's all I've got. Comment away.

Ben Folds post upcoming.

With your cards to your chest, walking on your toes.

I kinda want to post about last night's episode of "Lost," but knowing how averse several of you are to TV blogging, I'll refrain. All I'll say is, sic transit Eko.


So what I'd really like to post about today is the amazing experience that was the Ben Folds concert with the Houston Symphony last night. But right now, I just don't have the words.

I'll try to fumble through a post of reactions and observations later. Suffice to say right now: wow. Amazing and beautiful.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

No stories yet.

I don't have a whole lot of ABQ stories, because there wasn't that much going on. However, I'll spin whatever tales I can in the next day or two.

But I wanted to toss some things out there for you guys to talk about.

1) I've been reading a handful of books recently that are about spiritual growth, leadership, and other such topics. And I get the feeling that I'm rushing through them, that I'm not giving them enough thought, even though I'm not particularly speed-reading through them.

One idea I had was to start journaling my thoughts and responses to this type of instructional reading, as a way of digesting and remembering the ideas I'm taking in. This would be a paper-only, strictly offline diary. I may occasionally blog about what I'm reading, but the unedited response writing would be for me alone.

Have any of you done something like that before? Does it help you process these ideas better, or help you to make changes in your life and thinking based on these ideas?

2) In that same vein, have any of you ever tried keeping some sort of spiritual journal before, where you write down what's going on in your daily walk? Is it helpful to your growth, or do you find it to be an exercise of self-centeredness?

Your input on either/both of these ideas is much appreciated.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Whew. Didn't think I'd get in. Good thing the basement windows are easy to break.

Manders, I left the shrubbery on the back porch. It's got a nice little fence around it.

So you want to see pictures? Okay, here are pictures:


Be sure to read all the captions. I make funnies.

And tomorrow, my rant about why Flickr is a jerk for not letting me upload pics for free.

Monday, October 30, 2006

*another approach*

okay. just gotta...climb up on the garbage can... and reach the window sill...

"...c'mon, it was open earlier..."


Whoa. Okay. Take it easy, Dave.


Al...most... got... it... op--





*picking the lock*

Can't get the... Try to twist the thing... with the paper clip...


"OUCH! Blasted pin! AARGHH!"


"You crazy dames--let me IN!!!!!"

[ *** ]

Wait. Why's the door locked?

*bang bang bang*

"Lemme in! C'mon guys, this isn't funny!"


"Seriously. It's my blog. Open the door."




"Open up!"


"I'm not going anywhere. You're gonna have to come out sometime!"






"I've got pictures! I've got stories! And if you don't let me in, you don't get to hear or see ANYTHING."

*sitting on the front stoop pouting*

[ *** ]

Thursday, October 26, 2006

I'm gone, man, SOLID gone!

I'm winging my way out to the desert this afternoon. Back Monday. Behave yourselves while I'm gone. Make sure to lock up when you leave. And try not to destroy the place, huh? It took me weeks to get the nacho cheese stains out of the rug back in June. (I'm looking at you, Justin.)

Peace and grace.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

What He Should Have Told Himself.

That 97% of the time, when you're bitten by the "luv" bug, it's no worse than a 24-hour virus, with rare occurences of lightheadedness and flushing. That time and conversation are the best way to dispel crushes. That he was probably just so excited at the possibility of being smitten by someone that he got, as the song goes, "hooked on a feeling." That he should really get to know the person more before getting so goofy about them. That a five-year age difference is still pretty large when you're in your twenties.

That he really really really shouldn't post everything going through his head, especially not stuff like this, lest he develop a reputation akin to Kittie Bennett. And no one takes Kittie seriously.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

What He Tells Himself.

That he shouldn't get too excited when she tells him that she's going to be his neighbor soon. That, for all he knows, she has a boyfriend. That she may not have any form of religious faith, or for that matter may be involved in something strange or heretical. They still haven't even addressed that subject. That her hair is captivating. That he needs to take a breath. Or a walk. That she may just be acting nice to him, because she's a nice person. That she probably just wants to be friends. That she would offer anyone else a nightly ride to the trainstop in her car. That it's not that big of a deal, and he should just chill out. That she's a really sweet girl. That asking her out would only make their work situation weird and uncomfortable--but only if she says "no." That all these events seem to be spinning toward each other in a strangely timed manner. That he still needs to chill out and not get ahead of himself. That getting ahead of himself is what has always been his downfall, because he tries to rush through the getting-to-know-you stages and right into the future-thinking stages. That sometimes a car ride is just a car ride. That she laughs at all his stupid jokes, and he can't figure out if it's out of pity or something else. That surprising her with coffee that morning was a good "move," but his motives may have been a little murky. That maybe he should just try being her friend before he starts planning how to ask her out. That he loves that she likes his favorite band. That sitting on a downtown train platform grinning like an imbecile is likely to get you beaten up, no matter what the reason. That it's been too long since he's felt this way about anyone, and he has really missed it. That he can't let himself put her or anyone else up on that well-worn pedestal and hope that anything good or lasting can come of it. Never again. That he needs to stop overthinking this. That he misses seeing her and dreads it, at the same time. That he should keep all of this to himself. That he shouldn't hit "publish."

Monday, October 23, 2006

Open letter to an unfamiliar vocalist.


I don't know you. I've never even heard your voice. But something about the way you look at me through the camera, face just turned away, eyes distrustful, arms folded and shoulders defensively hunched, makes me wonder if hearing you speak would be my undoing.

Normally, I could write it off as further manifestation for my love of and infatuation with red-headed girls, especially those who wear such beauty in braids, but there is something more going on. More than your auburn locks and your full lips and your fair skin. It's those world-wary eyes that make me stop in my tracks and consider what kind of bitter tears you must have shed before you finely honed your defenses.

You probably wouldn't like me. You probably would despise my faith or my politics or my taste in music. You would no doubt find me shallow or simple or entirely too boring to be worth your thought. That's okay, I don't take it personally. Some people of certain temperaments just don't mix well with others.

But still there's something that causes me to linger over your snapshot for a moment more, fascinated by some elusive quality in your eyes that makes me wish I could know you better for the simple benefit of learning what it is that captures me so.

Anyway, here's to you, miss. God grant you peace.


Friday, October 20, 2006


One of the questions I have struggled with over the past fifteen months of teaching the 20's bible study at church was how much time I should spend on preparing, planning, and carrying out this ministry. "Should," meaning, how much is expected of me. It's a horrible question; I hate even verbalizing it, because it makes me sound like I'm just trying to do the bare minimum. In a way, I think that may be part of the motivation.

But as a single man who is balancing two jobs, running my own meager household, contemplating a writing career of some kind, and maintaining friendships and family relationships (not even factoring the question of dating and other such social interactions), I find myself wondering how much of a slice this should comprise.

I finally posed this question to a few married-adult teachers, during a teachers' conference thing at church last week. One was a married woman who wasn't teaching at the time, but had in the past; the other was, as I later learned, the married-adult Bible study minister guy (on par with my SunSco "boss," the singles minister).

What the woman said was that, yes, when she taught, the ministry touched many areas of her life. It was incorporated into a lot of her time.

The man concurred, and they both agreed that part of my problem and frustration is that I don't have any kind of support person in class, who can help with the coordination and planning (which are clearly not my gifts).

Nevertheless, I realized over the course of the evening that I've lately been giving less effort toward preparation and planning, and that my class has been suffering because of it.

Then, a few days later, I was reading in Paul's first letter to Timothy, and he writes:
"11Command and teach these things. 12Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. 13Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. 14Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you. 15Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 16Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers." (emphasis added)

That word "wholly" jumped out at me. If I consider the last few months, I have to admit that I haven't been devoted to the work, let alone wholly devoted. Part of the problem has been my attitude. I've been so turned inward that I spend more time feeling sorry for myself or feeling bitter at the non-participants in the group than I have in prayer for them and in study, and as a result, my teaching and caring have dried up. I've become selfish and distracted.

Maybe part of the reason I was so hesitant to give myself wholly to this place of ministry God has led me to, is that to do so means I'd have to give up some things. I'd have to give up my personal agenda, my selfishness, my comfort. My plans for the future, my preferred approach to dealing with life. I'd have to start living a more ordered and outward-focused life. And that's not very easy or comfortable. Lately, I've been all about ease and comfort. What I slowly realized is that serving myself and my own desires left me cold, disconnected, and hopeless.

So, I'm recommitting to take the plunge. To devote myself wholly to the work of the kingdom. And to trust that when I do that, "all these things" will fall into place.

I've been devoted before. I've been committed before. But never completely. Never wholly. And that last bastion of self, like a little yeast, works its way through the whole dough, spoiling the batch. I don't want to be spoiled for service, because I let my self-regard and personal agenda trump my obedience to God.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

TV Rant-let

So I'm watching my videotaped episode of "Gilmore Girls" last night. (Stop snickering; I like the writing, and I think both female leads are attractive. That's a manly enough reason for watching...right?) And I see something that has started happening this season and that leaves me a little ill at ease.

The episode is sponsored by "Aerie," the girls/ladies line of clothing at American Eagle. So at some point during each episode they have two minutes of inane commentary by "the Aerie girls"--six girls of appropriately diverse ethnicity and physical make-up (though none overweight, that I can remember... interesting). And they sit around a bland pastel living room on couches, comfy chairs, and pillows, and make painfully obvious comments about the goings on of the program.

The effect, I assume, is that you feel like you're watching the show with your "girlfriends" and are gabbing about what you like or don't like. Except that all your "girlfriends" are boring and incapable of deep critical thought. (And maybe yours are; I can't say.)

Example dialogue: "Lorelai better watch out for Christopher. He's hurt her before."

Wow. Didja come up with that all by yourself, or was a TV guide from two seasons ago consulted?

I think what bothers me most about these "Aerie girl" moments (okay, second-most, beside the achingly UNinsightful dialogue) is that it pretty much confirms what I and others like me have tried to deny: that "Gilmore Girls" is an irredeemably girly show. For guys, there's no way to justify watching it, where you don't feel like you're trying to excuse an embarrassing habit.

The "Aerie" phenomenon pushes the show clearly into the "Cinematherapy" vein of Lifetime-Network-like programming. And what does the Lifetime Network provide? That's right: "television for women."

The amusing irony is that these girls are exactly the type of girls that the main characters on the show would shun and summarily mock, using literary and pop culture references sure to elude the subjects of their derision.

Anyway, I'm just bothered by this a little.

Plus, Christopher is good for Lorelai right now. Luke should have developed some backbone and taken the lead in the relationship, instead of passively letting Lorelai set the tone and the terms.

So there.

Monday, October 16, 2006

The PBB Cool Ten (10/15-10/21)

10. The Detroit Tigers. For only the third time in 15 years, I'm cheering for an AL team to win the Fall Classic (the others being the Twins in '91 and the BoSox in '04--mainly because I hate the Braves and The Enemy(TM) ). Go Tigers!
9. Podcasts. I currently have a few nice sermon podcasts subscribed to so far (Mark Driscoll, Alistair Begg, my home church's Wednesday night service). If you have any you like, lemme know.
8. Getting up on time and getting to work early. Puts the whole day in a good light.
7. Nick Hornby's newest novel, "A Long Way Down." It's no "High Fidelity," but it's okay. And "okay" for Hornby is better than "good" for most other writers not named King or Coupland.
6. Chipotle burritos. Bad for the diet; good for the tummy.
5. It's almost fall; which means, it's almost not unbearably hot. Looking forward to that.
4. New digital cameras that will enable more pictures shared with blog readers. You betcha.
3. The new Skillet album. Their best one ever. Seriously.
2. Birthday dinners with family. It's a good time.
1. God will lift up your head.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Insecurity on display. (UPDATED)

The birthday thread. A day early, since I won't be online tomorrow.


Update: A musical interlude-- "What a drag it is getting old..."

Well, Mick and Keith should know...

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

"But you work in a hospital!"

I didn't think I was able to shock my coworkers, but I did, somehow.

This shocking admission had nothing to do with past history or any news of dating or moving or quitting. (By the way, there is no news on any of those fronts. Just in case you were wondering.)

I was able to elicit gasps and dropped jaws because of one simple statement: I don't believe in evolution.

You're all stunned, I know.

Normally, our little lunch group discusses the latest office gossip, or what was on TV the night before. Sometimes, the married people would complain about their spouses. In rare instances, they would turn their steely eyes to me, and critique my appearance, clothes, lack of social life, and so on. (Really, it's not that bad; I can thank them for the best-looking dress-up outfit in my closet.)

For some reason, yesterday, the subject turned to religion and stayed there. To give you a little background, the group consisted of myself (evangelical Christian, Baptist persuasion, and a Bible study leader), Coworker B (another professing Christian of the Baptist variety), Coworker C (a mildly participating Methodist who would freely admit he doesn't take it seriously), and Coworker D (a quasi-agnostic who was raised in a small sectarian church and quickly abandoned organized faith).

The conversation hit a lot of points that I don't remember now, but one point was when the agnostic expressed incredulity that anyone could believe the Bible to be the literal Word of God. Things like the six-day Creation just didn't make sense, she insisted. Her argument was that putting the Bible in the hands of men ensured that it is not now what God supposedly wrote then. Too many translations, too many mistakes.

Now, I've had a few discussions with this person before, one in particular when she was verbose and tipsy on a business trip. We covered her entire theological position at that point. Whew. So this didn't shock me, and I didn't throw tables over and drive her out with whip and righteous indignation. What I instead countered with is that I believe that the Book is the Word of God, and that, when faithfully translated from the original manuscripts, it is the version of the Word that we are meant to have.

(This is my basic approach to inerrancy: the Bible is the perfect and immutable Word of God, and is the Final Authority for life. It can be trusted and taken literally, with an understanding of basic literary principles, like hyperbole, metaphor, and provenance. Any questions about authenticity or mistranslation for me boil down to this--if it's been faithfully translated as best as is possible, it's the Book we're meant to have in this era, and we should give it all the authority that the early church gave the original manuscripts.)

The Methodist (C), at this point, agreed with her (D) and said that while he believed in God, he thought that God used evolution to create the world. I told him that I know some Christians do believe in that, what they call "theistic evolution." He then went on to say that he had to believe in a "First Cause" (though he didn't put it so succintly).

At this point, the other Baptist (B) said, "I don't believe in evolution."

Stunned silence from the other two.

I added, "I don't either."

More shocked looks. Actual dropped jaws.

(C) sputtered to her, " work in a hospital!"

(D) turned to me, "How can you not believe in evolution?"

I shrugged, "I don't. I believe in microevolution--changes within a species. But full blown evolution? Nope."

(C) turned to me. "Didn't you take any anthropology classes in college?"

I laughed. And the conversation continued, but that was pretty much the gist of it. I didn't launch into a reasoned defense, Lee-Stroebel-style. The two just shook their heads at us, and the conversation moved on. There was a jab later when geographical distance was somehow brought up, and (D) said to (B), "You do believe the world is round, right?" To which (B) replied with a well-argued, "Shut up."

The more I thought about this, the more it puzzled me. Granted, we'd never all sat down and cleared up our approaches to the origin of species. But they know I'm a Christian, and a pretty conservative one theologically, so I didn't think this would surprise them.

Is it so strange to not believe in evolution? (And I know I'm preaching to the choir here, but still.)

The thing about theistic evolution, like C espouses, is that I think it takes away man's special status as God's image-bearer. I brought this up to C, who started talking about how man is evolving into God's image. That evolution's final result was man (or some enhanced version of man) with the mental capabilities to truly bear God's image. At this point, I saw we were talking two different languages. His view of man progressing toward a bright future, versus mine of mankind growing darker and darker until the return of Christ ends the slide and restores order.

As for the whole Genesis account issue, the fact is, I know of no good reason not to believe the Book on this. So what if the earth appears to be millions of years old? Doesn't it seem like a pulled punch if you give credit to a Supreme Being kicking off the Big Bang but then saying He's not good enough to create a finished product ex nihilo? I mean, I know the theories that other Christians espouse, the "gap" theory, the "day-age" theory, but that just seems like intellectual gymnastics trying to satisfy the demands of "science." My attitude is that science has never been an exact science, so to speak. We put so much faith in it because it makes us look smart. But there are some things we just can't know, some things we will never figure out.

I suppose this approach could be considered by some to be anti-intellectual, and I can see their point. But I think of myself, not so much as "anti-intellectual" (I will never tell you to not use your God-given mind), but rather as "trying-not-to-drive-myself-crazy-about-big-questions-I-can't-handle." I have enough humility to say that I can't figure some things out, and that's okay.

I don't know where exactly I was going with this post. Maybe it's my frustration that there seem to be only two permissible settings in faith, as decided by the culture: you can either be an educated, nuanced, private, non-offensive, non-assertive, passive, "spiritual" person; or you can be an assertive, in-your-face-with-a-can-of-mace, wild-eyed, anti-intellectual, stubborn, uneducated, simple, literalist, bullhorn-wielding "fundie."

I know, that's a vast overstatement, but that's how it feels. Those are the only two types of Christians that most folks outside the faith seem to acknowledge.

And I think my coworkers were shocked because I wasn't as cut-and-dried in the first position as they thought. Not believing in evolution is only the first step. The next thing you know, I'll be spouting some nonsense about Jesus being the only way to God, right?

Yes, as a matter of fact, I will, and often. That's just how I roll.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Because I clearly couldn't keep this "all-serious blogging" thing up very long.

Anyone excited about any TV shows this fall? Anything that surprised you in terms of really good/bad quality programming? Any new "must-see" shows? Chat about it in the comments.

[Disclaimer: I am going to do a little more TV blogging again, but it won't become as pervasive as this summer's much-maligned "RS:SN" series of posts. Just the occasional observation/reaction post.]

If you can't think of anything to say, I'll take your reaction to any of the following:

New Shows I'm Currently Digging:
Studio 60
The Class

Returning Shows I'm Digging:
How I Met Your Mother

Returning Shows I'm on the Verge of Abandoning to Watch "House" Instead:
Gilmore Girls

Monday, October 09, 2006

Inviting Mockery and Derision.

I have nothing substantial to post right now--or rather, not much time to post something substantial, assuming I have anything to say. Substantially. Nevermind.

So instead I'll post the tracklist of a really random mix CD that I made in April 2005 from the songs on my compy at the time, which I "found" this morning.

Submitted for your snarky commentary:

1) "All Along the Watchtower (live)," Dave Matthews Band
2) "Don't Change Your Plans," Ben Folds Five
3) "Air," Ben Folds Five
4) "But Anyway (live)," Blues Traveller
5) "Ballad of a Thin Man," Bob Dylan
6) "Things Have Changed," Bob Dylan
7) "The World I Know," Collective Soul
8) "Who Wants to Live Forever," Queen
9) "Heroes," The Wallflowers
10) "How," Lisa Loeb
11) "Southside," Moby and Gwen Stefani
12) "Open All Night (live)," Counting Crows
13) "Man of Constant Sorrow," The Soggy Bottom Boys
14) "Sleepwalker," The Wallflowers
15) "The Freshman," The Verve Pipe

Friday, October 06, 2006

So far, so good...

Okay, while the hammer has fallen on many of my daily web visits, Blogger is still in the clear, as are most blogs, as far as I can tell. Here's hoping the Man doesn't catch wise.


WEEKEND ASSIGNMENT: Things could use a little sprucing up around here, and one of the things that could be updated is the website's tagline.

Currently, it's the quote from T. S. Eliot: "...Time for you and time for me, And time yet for a hundred indecisions, And for a hundred visions and revisions, Before the taking of a toast and tea." --Eliot, "Prufrock"

Can you think of a better one? More clever, more fitting of the page?

This is your assignment over the weekend. What do you, the readers, think should be PBB's slogan?

I can't guarentee that I'll pick one, or even that I'll change it at all. I'm just open to suggestions.