Friday, April 28, 2006

The Second Annual INTERnational "Embrace the Lame" Day!!! (UPDATED: "Hall of Lame" List!)


If you don't know what "ETL" is, you clearly haven't been paying attention. For a refresher, go here.

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT: The official greeting/sign-off of ETL day is "Lame on!" Use it liberally in conversation and written communication.

Okay then, down to business.

My 2006 "ETL" List:

1) My fandom of the stupid little show "Smallville" is ever-growing. At this point, I have five different SV-related websites bookmarked, I'm an active member of the fan forum on the most popular site, and I discuss the show regularly with about four people in the real world. In fact, recently I have been working (along with dozens of other ardent fans) to decipher encoded clues and spoilers that The Powers That Be have been providing to the online SV-fan community. It's a whole lot geekier than it sounds. Like...Dungeons and Dragons geeky. (Sorry, Trav.)

2) I make collages. No, seriously. Inspired by an old friend who is an actual artist and does this well, I took to cutting out interesting words and pictures from magazines and saving them. In fact, I won't throw away a magazine now without tearing it to pieces, collecting scraps I can use. When the mood strikes me, I'll get out the shoebox of clippings and the ol' gluestick and work on something. They usually have a theme. My favorite piece is a 3' x 5' poster (actually, on the back of a Belle and Sebastian advert poster from a record shop) about the meaning of "home." I'm actually pretty proud of that one.

3) How 'bout the most obvious one? I created a bogus holiday last year and invited some online friends to participate. This year, I built it up into this big mysterious thing, because I wanted to suck all my readers in, so that we can all have fun with it. Not only was the build-up to ETL lame, but the fact that I have gotten so wrapped up in an imaginary holiday is a little lame. But what the heck. I'm enjoying myself, right? Hope you are too.

3b) When discussing this blog, I can use the phrase "my readers" without a drop of irony.

4) I still have the wrapper from the Tootsie pop last week that had the star on it. It's on my desk at home.

5) My two favorite songs on the radio right now are "Hips Don't Lie" and "Pump It." Seriously.

6) When I was a teacher, I actually painted my face blue for the Homecoming Game. Which actually explains why parents and other teachers didn't take me seriously.

7) When I listen to music at home, I sometimes close my eyes and "perform" it. This is an off-shoot of my cover-band fantasy. But not only do I sing to the imaginary audience, I will actually dance a little. Of course, not only is it "The White Man Dance", it's "The Fat White Man Dance." Lame? Or frightening? Your call.

8) On Saturday mornings, I'll watch the Disney Channel shows that air on the ABC network, as I eat my not-on-diet Cap'n Crunch (original, no berries). "The Suite Life of Zach and Cody" bugs the crap out of me, but I can almost tolerate "That's So Raven." However, "Kim Possible," "The Emperor's New School," and "Phil of the Future" are entertaining programs worth watching.

9) "The Backyardigans" is an irresistably charming children's show. Even my 8-year-old sister laughs at me for thinking this.

10) I decided last month (seven months in advance!) that I'm dressing up as Johnny Cash for Halloween. Obviously, if I don't lose a lot of weight between now and then, I'll be going as "older" Johnny Cash.

11) I don't just talk to the TV as I watch my favorite sports teams play. When I'm "watching" a Cubs game via MLB Gameday (a stat site that updates the games pitch-by-pitch), I'll actually start talking to my computer. At work. Two days ago, I was standing behind my desk, hands held over my head, mumbling at the computer monitor, "Come on, Murton, we need at least a double. Come on, brother. Show me something. Come on, baby. Lemme see some offense." Thankfully, my door was closed.

12) I haven't learned how to play guitar, but when I'm in the car listening to music, I will "strum" my fingers against the outside of my right leg in time with the music. Which, in retrospect, may not look quite right to other drivers. Especially if I make a "rock guitarist" face. Hmm.

13) I'm looking forward to diving into 3 Calvin and Hobbes collections waiting patiently on my "to-be-read" shelf. And yes, I'm counting them toward my yearly reading list.

14) While I don't have an exact count, the number of books on my "to-be-read" shelf (shelves) are running in the 40-50 range right now. I have made a promise to myself not to buy another book until I read them. Half of them. Ten of them. At least the seven or eight that have spilled beyond the second shelf.

15) I never sing "Happy Birthday" normally. Ever. I'll do a lounge singer voice, or I'll cheer, or something else stupid. But I can't ever give it a "church voice" seriousness. Just seems wrong to me.

More Lameness to come, later today!

In the meantime, if you're taking part, comment below and let me know, and I'll link you in the "Hall of Lame"! And if your post spawns others, let me know, so I can link those too!

Hall of Lame!!!!

Amanda (APT)!
Chris the Goy!
Royals Mike!
Philthy! (who even whipped up a title graphic!)
CorsiCara! (our first European ETLamer!)
Angela! (our first Canadian ETLamer!)


Thursday, April 27, 2006

"I'm an okay guy, by the way."

It's one of those mornings where I have a lot of things swirling slowly through my head, and I have to carefully sift what should and shouldn't be said.

Though it defeats the purpose to mention it, I will not be blogging on my mild annoyance with the explosion of "love" across the blogroll. How everyone's accounts of meeting the person of their dreams is making me ill and somewhat jealous. How I don't blame any of you, not in the very least, and I wish you all manner of happiness, but I'm having a hard time rejoicing with those who rejoice when I have no similar circumstance to rejoice over, myself. As I said, it defeats the purpose to mention that I'm not blogging about this, but I thought it should be stated.

For some reason, I have the sudden desire to hear "It'll All Work Out" by Tom Petty. The tune fits my mood. Sadly, I don't have it with me. I'm humming it to myself.

I'm not in a sad mood, really I'm not. Nor melancholy, though my tone may imply so. I'm feeling very... still. Very quiet. This seems to be my newest mood, something I didn't often experience before. Rather than sad, I become still and composed. I think more. I chew on words before sharing them. My breathing slows. I whisper.

I am changing. My personality is shifting. Some changes for the better, others perhaps not entirely. But I find myself different. I'm trying to get used to my new soul, in a sense, like a teenager forced to cope with an extra three inches of height. I feel a little clumsy in my head.

I watched a sad movie last night that masqueraded as a love story. But really, it was the story of three people who couldn't love fully. One was a rich older man who feared exposing his heart and soul, so he bought and sold affection, but never really loved. Another was a younger man who was an utter mess, but even after performing a miraculous transformation of sorts, we find that he did it for the girl, instead of for himself. The girl in question loved both men, but only because they filled in the empty parts of her heart. This may be an unfair characterization, but that's how I understood it. At the end, the young man and the girl were together and ostensibly happy, but I couldn't trust it. I knew it wouldn't last for them.

Incidentally, the music of the film was really mournful throughout. The composer knew the score.

Tonight, I'm going to dinner with some friends of mine. One of them is turning 31. I'm still only halfway through my 20's, but already I'm feeling uncomfortable about this. I have close friends in their 30's. In a few years, I'll be on the doorstep of the decade. And at this point, I have to ask myself, "What have I accomplished thusfar? What have I done that is of lasting value? What should I be doing right now?" Because just working and accumulating debt and paying off debt and blogging and watching TV and losing a little weight may be good things or may fill the days, but they don't last. Very little in this disposable world does. Our job is to find what has lasting value and grab a hold of it. (I know the answer, by the way. That doesn't mean I live like it, but I know the answer.)

"You are! You are going through one of those 'what does it all mean' things!" "Yes. I am. Very much so."

I'm still not melancholy, believe me when I say this. I'm contemplative. There's a difference. No self-pity here. Just pure, clean-burning introspection.

I've made the choices I've made. Done-bun can't be undone. Now what's left are the choices at hand and the paths to follow. Do with what's next, do nothing with what's past.

So, I will stop rambling, and get back to work. I'll dutifully complete the tasks at hand today, go to dinner tonight, and then go home and read a while before bed. And when I sleep, I will sleep soundly.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

"Someday we will find the Cities of Gold!"

Might as well start the lameness a little early.

Years and years ago, I remember watching a cartoon on Nickelodeon (you know, back when they had cool stuff). It's been almost twenty years since I've seen this cartoon, but I still remember the theme song--tune and most of the words. It's been driving me nuts trying to find any more information on it.

For a long time, I scoured Google for answers, but it came back with nothing.

Today, a friend referred me to Retrojunk, which is my new favorite site. (Warning: Do not visit the site unless you have at least two hours that you can waste soaking up the old-school-ness.) This site has old commercials, movies, fad/trend discussions, and even the "title-intro" footage from old TV shows.

Well, I found what I was looking for. Not only that, I found out why I never could find it.

See, the cartoon I remember was actually two, shown back to back. The first was "Spartakus and the Sun Beneath the Sea" (which I remember the animation style and character appearances clearly). The second was "The Mysterious Cities of Gold" (with the theme song).

So for all this time, I was searching for "Spartacus and the City of Gold" to no avail.

And finding out this information--not only that, but actually listening to that cartoon's theme song--has totally made my day.

Talk about kicking off the ETL celebration right!

So, go on, click the "Cities of Gold" link, listen to the song, and enjoy the 80's goodness with me. C'mon, you can do it. Embrace it. Let it wash over you.

Lame on!

"The Mystery is Revealed!" or, "Why ETL has nothing to do with eggplants or tall ladies."

Friday, April 28, is the second-annual "Embrace the Lame" Day!

What is "Embrace the Lame," you ask?

Well, basically what happened is that I caught myself trying to "front," as the kids say. There were things that I secretly enjoyed but never copped to, and would even make fun of in public, because they were/are seen as "lame" or uncool by my peers. Or so I thought.

Finally, I had enough with it and decided there needed to be a day to say, "I like this, and I don't care if no one else does, or if anyone else wants to make fun of me for it."

My original ETL post is here.

My second ETL post is here.

My official "Embrace the Lame" Day post is here.

My unofficial ETL soundtrack post is here.


So now, I'm issuing the challenge to you bloggers (and you internet savvy non-bloggers). Tomorrow, post about the upcoming ETL festivities. Tell your readers about what's going down. (Maybe drop me a link, hint hint.) Spread the word, in other words.

Then on Friday, post (here if you like, but preferably on your own page) your own "Embrace the Lame" list. Examples of mine are posted in my links above. After you post your list, comment on my ETL post on Friday to let me know, so I can link you.

Let's take these few days to spread the love of the "lame," and tell the world that it's okay to enjoy things that aren't hip.

Lame on!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

This is called "pulling a Seacrest"...

So you STILL don't know what ETL is? Even after all the hints?

Fine. Okay.

Are you ready? Because I'm going to explain what ETL stands for, and how to participate...


Monday, April 24, 2006

Okay, okay, here's the real list.

The PBB Cool Ten (4/23-4/29)

10. 10-7. Took a pretty tough setback in the loss of D. Lee for the next two months. But Maddux is looking amazing, sporting the lowest ERA (0.99) in baseball.
9. Got to see my first ballgame at Minute Maid Park on Friday. Astros beat the Pirates. Good game.
8. The Sentinel was entertaining. Nothing great. Not as good as "24." But entertaining.
7. Last Thursday? Best Smallville episode all season. This coming Thursday? From all indications, not so much. But the latest scoop on the season finale is that Lex Luthor is about to receive some superhuman abilities of his own. Hell hath no fury like a Luthor super-charged. Good times.
6. I'll have On the Road finished by the end of the week, hopefully.
5. The Ragamuffin Gospel is a good book, so far.
4. Currently spinning my eight-dollar copy of Imogen's latest. Good stuff.
3. During my spring cleaningness this past weekend, I found some of the tests I gave my students during my brief stint teaching. Wow. I was really hard on you guys. SO, for any of you still reading here, I apologize. Hopefully, it did you good. If not, well, my bad.
2. My sister's birthday is today. She's almost an adult now. Scary.
1. The second-annual (HINT HINT) ETL celebration is only four days away!!!

The ETL Cool ETL (4/23-4/ETL)


Friday, April 21, 2006

"I take back everything I said..."

Remember how I gloated over the unfortunate (but oh-so-predictable) injury of Nomar Garciaparra, earlier this season?

Yeah. Wow. Really wanna take that back now.

Being a Jesus-follower, I don't believe in karma. But man oh man, could you make a case for it.

Many Cubs fans are thinking it's all over already. I'm willing to withhold judgment on that account.

Unless The Enemy (TM) sweeps us this weekend. In which case, yeah, it's pretty much over.

One Week.

Well that ETL train is a’ comin’
Comin’ right down the track
That ETL train is a’ comin’, baby, it's comin’
Comin’ right down the track
And when that ETL train leaves the station
I can tell you right now it’s never comin’ back.

[at least not for another year.]


Thursday, April 20, 2006

Thursday Linky-Dinky-Love

A random smattering of things that have caught my eye recently:
  • If you haven't checked out "The Voice" yet, do so. It's conceptually similar to I want to do with "Bible Redux," but with better writers, more proper (and structured) exegesis, and cooler design. It's making me second-guess my hopes of actually publishing the BR project, truth be told.
  • A&E is currently showing an actual-reality miniseries called "God or the Girl." This series looks at the decision of four guys in their mid-to-upper-20s about whether or not they feel called to the priesthood. From what I saw, this was a very honest, balanced show. I thought it was interesting. You may want to check it out this Sunday, when the show the entire five-part series on A&E, starting at noon CST. The first four parts air from 12-4 p.m., with the final installment premiering at 9 p.m. CST.
  • One relatively big-name blogger talks about why she stopped blogging, in this Slate article. For you aspiring writers out there (myself included), this brings up some good things to consider.
  • Knock, knock. (Who's there?) Free stuff from the internets.
  • Camerin Courtney writes another interesting article for Christian Singles Today; this time, it's a letter to her newest interest right before their first date. Interesting.
  • Here's a piece from CST about the importance to our faith of understanding Christ's atoning but gruesome death.
  • I found this to be interesting, and a little convicting. [h-t: imonk.]

Eight Trembling Lions?

Elementary Tots' Library?
Envision Tasting Liberty?
Emma Tells Lisa?
Every Taliban Lies?
Enough Terrible Laughter?
Egalitarian Triumvirate Legacy?
End Total Liquidations?

So many guesses... yet the truth remains shrouded in mystery.

ETL is coming... in 8 days.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

"One, Two, Three... *CRUNCH* Three."

My particular tastes have changed over the years, but a few things remain that I like now as much as I liked them then. One of these is the Tootsie Pop.

I like that they've kept the old-school design of the wrappers. That's awesome. In a culture that is slave to "the new," when companies retain symbols of the past, it makes me happy. I feel connected to the millions of children who have appreciated the confection before me.

Somebody put a bunch of leftover candy in the break room yesterday--including a handful of Tootsie Pops. Even though it is clearly not part of my diet, this morning I grabbed the raspberry one (always and only the raspberry one) and went back to my office.

My wrapper had a star on it.

Do any of you remember this? The myth of the "Indian" wrappers?

When I was growing up, I was informed by my associates and did readily believe that wrappers with an American Indian shooting an arrow at a star were either a) lucky, or b) could be redeemed for a free Tootsie Pop.

As it turns out, the cold, cruel winds of adulthood and the internets have disabused me of these ideas.

However, it's been more than two hours, and I can't bring myself to throw the wrapper away. It's right next to my keyboard.

I have a meeting in less than two hours. Something tells me that I will end up folding this wrapper into fourths and sticking it in the front pocket of my white shirt. I mean, who's to say that it isn't lucky? Isn't there a chance that, if nothing else, it will have the same effect as Dumbo's "magic" feather, and give me an extra psychological boost?

On a side note, I did actually try to count the number of licks it took me to get to the center. For some reason, I remember the number 286, but I'm not sure if that's right. I'm not sure exactly how many licks it would take.

The world may never know.

Countdown: Nine Days To Go!

Can you feel it? The excitement is growing.

Get ready for it.

ETL is coming.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Greatest. Hockey Game. Ever.

[This post was written about 12 hours after the game, while the emotions were fresh. The details may not all be factual, but this is a true account of my experience.]

I have to post this because it was too awesome not to share.

On Friday night, I was in attendance of the greatest hockey game that has ever been played in Houston.

My dad and I went to the Toyota Center, parked, and walked into the arena. The “Sonic Boom” dancers (yes, our team has spandex-clad dancers) were at the doors, handing out “rally towels” to the first however-many-thousand fans. It was Fan Appreciation night, apparently. As we proceeded inside, I joked to my dad, in my best ‘nerd voice,’ “That girl talked to me! Heehee!” My dad laughed, shaking his head. We make it to our seats. Section 113, Row 15, Seats 1 and 2, the section to the right side of the goal, in the Aeros’ attack zone. For you non-hockey people who are actually reading all of this, that’s the end of the rink that the home team will be attacking during the first and last period of the game.

Great seats, in other words. No corner-ice seats, but great nevertheless.

The anticipation builds. While one of our best scorers has been called up to our parent NHL franchise, we are excited to see the return of our amazing goaltender from the big league. Josh Harding. Good to see you back, dude.

Pre-game: We announce that Murphy is the Aeros' "Man of the Year," due in part to his commitment to charity work. We recognize three first-team all-stars (Westrum, Murphy, and Kirby Law). And we cheer for Patrick O’Sullivan, newly named AHL Rookie of the Year. See this, Omaha? That’s why we own you.

The game begins. The Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights score on their first shot on goal. Josh, maybe I’ll take back that previous sentiment for the time being.

The Aeros (from this point on, also known as “the good guys”) are playing sloppy. Embarrassing, really. Omaha is being a lot more aggressive, and we’re getting all turned around by that. We have guys losing sight of the puck as it dribbles between their skates. We have guys getting smacked around all over the place. On offense, we pass-pass-pass-pass and never take open shots, until finally we turnover the puck. We’re flat out getting out-played.

The first period ends, and we’re lucky to only be down 1-0.

First period intermission: a martial arts display, involving students from 8 or 9 to 20 or 25. Set to music. Two guys with bo staffs (“they’ve got skills!”) “duel” to the tune of “The Devil Came Down to Georgia,” including acting out the two parts. And that was actually a lot cooler than it sounded. Kids demonstrated all sorts of weapons and flying kicks. It was actually kind of cool.

Second Period: Finally we start to get something going, and score a goal to tie. 1-1. Rock on. Then, in the first of several “Keystone Cops” moments, while we’re on the power play (for you non-fans, that means one of their five guys is in the penalty box, so we have five players to their four for the next two minutes), they dump the puck into the Aeros’ zone. Two of our guys go back to play it, one on each side of the goal. When the come out right in front of the goal, they skate smack into each other and fall down. One of the Knights was right there and scooped it up, flipping it in for a short-handed goal past Harding. The Knights take a 2-1 lead.

Collective groans from the crowd.

Then, after they get all their guys back, and we lose a man for two minutes, something awesome happens. Joel Ward, aggressive on the forecheck, pokes the puck away from their point player, and suddenly it’s a mad dash. Joel Ward, in all alone, skating straight at the Omaha goaltender. Ward shoots. The goalie goes into full splits. Chest save. Rebound. Ward is about to collide with the goalie when he slides the rebound right between the netminder's legs. The puck squirts into the net as Ward gets knocked over by the goalie. Short-handed goal, TIE GAME! 2-2.

Then, the unthinkable. The Aeros make two stupid penalties and are outmanned 5-3 on the ice. The Knights capitalize with 2 “power-play” goals, and we go into the second intermission, down 4-2. My dad looks at me. Here we go again. The last time he and I came to an Aeros game, they got completely schooled by (who else) Omaha. And from the looks of things, it could be more of the same.

Second period intermission: If you’ve never seen the charity fundraiser/game “Chuck-a-Puck,” well, I’m sure your life is just as fulfilling. But it is something else. The fans who wish to participate pay 2 bucks per puck before the game, and receive an orange puck with a number on it. Then, at the proper time during the second intermission, the fans “chuck” their pucks onto the ice, aimed at a single upside-down hockey helmet. If a puck lands and stays in the helmet, that person wins $500.

Giving fans hundreds of hockey pucks is not always the best idea sometimes. One, some folks can’t figure out that if you’re in the very back of your section, or your sitting in the sections behind the goal with the 100-foot-tall netting, and you don’t have a strong arm, you will endanger the people in front of you. I’ve seen that happen. It ain’t pretty. Two, if the referees make a particularly egregious call in the periods beforehand, you could see angry fans chucking their pucks at the officials during the game. I’ve seen that happen, too. Twice. Funny, but still not pretty.

But during the actual chuck-a-puck game, it’s okay. Everyone is cleared off the ice, and as long as the puck doesn’t bounce in and then out of the rink, it’s all good.

I’ve never seen a puck actually make it and stay in the helmet.

Last night, two went in. And we all knew there was something special going on.

Third period: Faced with a 4-2 deficit against a red-hot Omaha team, there wasn’t much room for improvement. However, during the first half of the third and final frame, nothing much happened. In fact, the only thing that did happen was that “Sonic Boom” came down to our section and started handing out coupons for free buffalo wings from a local restaurant. Being on the end of the row, I received the stack of coupons (and a smile) from the dancer. I passed the stack to my dad. “That’s two, man.” He laughed. “It’s a good day for you, isn’t it?” “Heck yes.”

Ten minutes left in the game. It was time. I turned my Aeros ballcap inside out, rally-cap style. My dad shook his head at me. Then, a few minutes later, A GOAL! Four minutes after that, ANOTHER GOAL BY WARD! I’m jumping up and down, screaming at the top of my lungs. I nearly blacked out. I had to sit down.

The Aeros suddenly came to life. Hitting, passing, rebounding, they were playing like they had all season. I turned back to my dad. “It’s the rally cap!” He nodded. “Must be!”

4-4 tie, two minutes left, and the two teams play to a deadlock. That’s right, folks, we’re going to OVERTIME. Overtimes in this league are played as a 5:00 period of 4-on-4, instead of 5-on-5. This opens up the ice a bit, gives players more room to maneuver.

Lots of great scoring chances. Lots of amazing saves by Josh Harding. (By the way, I’m again glad to see you back, Josh.) And the horn sounds. Overtime ends. It’s time for the SHOOT-OUT.

If you don’t know what a shoot-out is, go watch a Mighty Ducks movie. Suffice to say, the most exciting thing in hockey.

The first two rounds: We couldn’t get our shots off, and Harding made one great save, and let another in. Omaha, 1-0.

Round Three: Harding makes the big stop, and then Voloshenko finds the top of the net, knocking the goalie’s water bottle off and into the corner. 1-1 tie!

Round Four: No scores.

Round Five: No scores.

Every time Omaha goes to shoot at the opposite end, we’re rooted in our seats, not moving, not blinking. Every time the Aeros come to shoot in our end, we’re all on our feet. Every miss by Omaha elicits a rousing cheer. Every miss by the Aeros brings a groan and gasp.

Rounds Six and Seven: The goalies are looking incredible. No scores. Still tied 1-1.

Round Eight: Harding makes a HUGE stop against the Omaha skater.

Volshenko comes up to shoot, having scored the last shoot-out point. If he misses, we go on. If he scores, we go home happy.

Volshenko skates in, dekes. The Omaha goalie drops low. Volshenko lofts the puck, top-shelf, glove side.


I’ve got no voice. I’ve got no breath. Dad and I exit amid the pandemonium, to get to the car in time. We are quickly out and on our way home.

Greatest. Game. Ever.

Song of the Day

For some reason, this was really encouraging to hear this morning. So I thought I'd share.


You'd have a wonderful day
If you could see how lucky you are
Now don't get carried away with your heart
You're better where you are

You're not the only one
Who's failed to hang on to a moving star
Now don't be sorry, what's done now is done
And this is who you are

These days feel numbered and long
There's no one to speak of, there's no one at all
But you're not the reason that everyone's gone
That's not how they are

There is no system to change
No conditions are made, no permissions to start
Now don't go drawing lines in the sand
That's not who you are

Sometimes a high wall is just a wall
Sometimes it's only there to make sure you feel small
Or maybe there to save you
From the depths of a much deeper fall

The truth will not set you free
It's okay to believe that you're not good enough
God is not angry, not blind, deaf, or dumb
He knows how far you've come
He knows how far you've come
He knows how far you've come

["How Far You've Come" by the Wallflowers, from their utterly underappreciated album, "Rebel, Sweetheart"]


ETL is coming... in 10 days.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Grammatical Moratorium

I, the proprietor and creator of PBB, the greatest weblog in the history of mankind, hereby declare, based on my rights and authority as Supreme Guardian of the English Language, the following moratorium on the use of certain phrases, particularly in online writing:
  • "musings"--No one uses this word sincerely, except for 14-year-old girls who read Anne of Green Gables...and me, when I was 16. I was sensitive, shut up. But this word has been overblown and overtaxed. Enough with "musings." Acceptable alternatives include "thoughts," "ideas," "ramblings," "mutterings," and "vagueries." Actually, you get bonus points for using "vagueries."
  • "ilk" and "of your/their ilk"--Completely unacceptable. This word is used most often in self-righteous tirades. Let's be done with tirades and the "ilks" they spawn. Replacement suggestions: class, type, kind, flock, crewe, bunch, and gang.
If you have further suggestions of words and/or phrases to include, comment below. All entries must be approved by me, the SGotEL, before being added. Thank you.

PBB Cool Ten (4/16-4/22) [UPDATED]

10. 7-4. Second place in a very tight division. Took 2 of 3 from the Pirates after blowing 2 of 3 to the Reds. Good news--Kerry Wood may be ready to come back as a reliever.
10a. Best Onion article ever.
9. Funniest blog-related blog post ever. You newbies may not appreciate this as much as those of us who've been around for a little while. [h-t: sheila.]
8. I have an interview for a p/t job today. Hoping to pick up a little extra cash for my trip this summer.**
7. I gotta cut out these late nights. I stayed over at the folks' house too long last night. I was lured by promises of "Pride and Prejudice," which is a truly beautiful film. Stop laughing.
6. On Friday night, I heard radio talk host Glenn Beck do a dramatic reading about the Passion and Death of Jesus, set to the music of Pink Floyd (the middle part of "Dark Side of the Moon"). Amazingly, it was perfectly done. He used all the instrumentals and everything, timing it all out perfectly.
5. I'm reading On the Road finally. While I think Sal Paradise is pretty much a loser, I'm still sticking with the story. So that's good.
4. Singer-songwriter-rapper Mat Kearney is the featured artist on the AOL Streaming Music page. Good to see another believer get that kind of play. When you open the link up, it starts playing his album automatically. Worth a listen this morning.
3. You know what I love about Easter? Cadbury Cream Eggs. Don't get me wrong--Easter is first and foremost about Christ...but coming in at a very distant but honored second is Cadbury Cream Eggs.
3a. In the interest of promoting scientific discovery, here's a link to Trav's recent worthy endeavour.
2. I attended the most exciting sports event in my life (until June) on Friday. Full account to follow later today.***
2a. Playoff hockey is a beautiful thing. Hopefully I can hit a game this year.
1. Christ is risen! Hallelujah!

**Well, interview's over. Apparently, I have a good personality and would be a great fit, but I'm just not available enough. Which either means I'm not getting hired by their company...or the recruiter just broke up with me.

***And by "later today," of course I mean tomorrow, when I remember to bring the floppy disk with the post on it.

Friday, April 14, 2006

I promised a Redux, didn't I?

Ain't happening. I was given the green light to go home, and I'm taking it. So I'll leave you with a few (hopefully) pithy comments to take you through the weekend.


The whole course of human history shifted, while everyone in Jerusalem was making Passover plans. They didn't even see the miracle happening right in their midst. And it's still happening to us. We get so caught up in our lives that we miss the miracle of Christ, which is still happening and still powerful. Christ in us, the hope of glory. We are being renewed day by day, little by little, made holy, made like Christ. Our sins are forgiven, now and forever. Hallelujah, praise the Lamb.

I haven't been commemorating Holy Week. Like those folks in Jerusalem roughly 2000 years ago, I've just been going about my business. Fretting about bills and worrying about picking up another job. I've been rushing around taking care of this and that, talking to this person and that person. Living life, and working the daily grind. All the time, I remembered in the back of my mind, "oh yeah, Holy Week." But I never did anything to recognize or celebrate that. I was too busy.

And tonight, instead of celebrating the death of my Savior, I'll be going to a hockey game with my dad. Not exactly the most solemn choice of activity for Good Friday. But then again, even if I was planning stained glass and candles all week, I still haven't made this Friday any holier. Since I got up this morning, I've been angry, I've sworn, I've lusted, I've been lazy, I've gossiped, and I've lied. I'm a mess today. And though these sins are forgiven, and though I've confessed them, I'm still a mess.

But that's exactly why Christ came. He didn't come for the holy, but for the profane. He came for the messes. He spent his time, touching and healing and loving and valuing messed-up, sinful people like me. The religious establishment wigged out when He did this. But He knew that this was His mission. To heal the sick, whether physically, emotionally, or spiritually. To find the lost. To lift up the cast-down. To give life to the dying. To cover the shamed. To restore the prodigal children back to their Father.

This is the miracle of Easter. God is with us. And now, through the work of Christ in our hearts and lives, we can be with Him.

Look, I don't know where you are in your spiritual journey. If you're confused or stuck in a rut or don't know where to turn, let me give you a guidepost. Spirituality is cool and all, but it's not salvation. You can be spiritual, you can say the right words, but unless you have actually willfully given your life to Christ, and made Him your Savior and Master, you've missed it. Jesus didn't die to give us good vibes. He died to cover our sins, but we must choose to accept that covering. With accepting that covering comes the choice to make Him our Lord, and to do what He says to do.

When we do this, when we make this choice, when we confess with our mouths that Jesus is Lord and believe in our hearts that God raised Him from the dead, we are saved. We are in God's family, and no one can take us out of His mighty hand. Then the change begins. Then things start happening. We may stray, we may screw up, we may even turn our backs on Him for a time, but we are always His, and He always welcomes us back.

This is what Easter is. God saying, "I want to make you my son, my daughter. I want to give you life. If you will give yourself to me and put your trust in my Son, you can be free. You can be made whole."

There's the choice. Embrace this truth, or reject it. Either/or. No middle ground, no half-commitments. Yes or no.

Don't be so busy that you miss this.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

one half of a conversation.

hello i wish to register a
complaint. hello miss?
oh. sorry, i have a cold. i wish
to make a complaint about
this parrot what i purchased
not half an hour ago from this very
i'll tell you what's wrong with it,
my lad--it's dead, that's what's
wrong with it. now matey, i know
a dead parrot when i see one and
i'm looking at one right now. the
plumage don't enter into it--he's
stone dead. all right then, if he's resting
i'll wake him up.
mr. polly parrot,
i've got a lovely fresh fish for you..."
he didn't move, that was you hitting the cage!
you did! you did!
"Hello Polly!
Testing! Testing! Testing! This is your
nine o'clock alarm call!"
Now that's what i call a dead parrot.
Stunned? Now look, mate, I've definitely
had enough of this. That parrot is
definitely deceased and when i purchased it
not half an hour ago you assured me that its
total lack of movement was due to it being
tired and shagged out following a prolonged squawk.
Pining for the Fjords?
What kind of talk is that?
Look, why did he fall flat on his back the moment
I got him home? I took the liberty of
examining that parrot when i got home and I
discovered the only reason it had been sitting
on its perch in the first place was that
it had been nailed there.
Voom? Mate, this parrot
wouldn't "voom" if you put four million volts
through it. He's bleeding demised! He's not pining,
he's passed on! This parrot is no more, he has ceased
to be, he's expired, and gone to meet his maker.
he's a stiff, bereft of life, he rests in peace, if you hadn't
nailed him to the perch, he'd be pushing up the daisies.
His metabolic processes are now history. He's kicked the
bucket, he's shuffled off this mortal coil, he's run down
the curtain and joined the bleeding choir invisible.
This is an ex-parrot.
Replace it? I see, I see, I get
the picture. A slug?
Pray, does the slug talk? Then, it's
hardly a bloody replacement, is it?
Back to your place? Thought you'd never ask.

[copied from Monty Python, who i hope doesn't sue me for copyright infringement.]

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Punching the clock.

Just checking in. Think of this as the blog equivalent of Leslie Nielsen sticking his head in the cockpit door and saying, "I just want to tell you both good luck. We're all counting on you."

Nothing to post about, so I probably won't be very vocal for the next day or so. Maybe, since we're "reviving old PBB regular features" and all, I may break out some Brown Bag Poetry tomorrow. Who knows.

Nevertheless, in honor of Holy Week* (which I have been shamefully lax in commemorating), expect a new Bible Redux on Friday. I'm still writing them, as I said. I haven't been posting them mainly for copyright concerns, since I'm serious about compiling and publishing these. But I'll make an exception this Friday.

Lastly and in closing, I want to extend a formal "shout-out" as the kids say, to the new readers in the Land of Lincoln. So, Philthy, Superfun, all you righteous kids, welcome and greetings. If you haven't already, feel free to make yourself comfortable.


*I found a really great Holy Week observance on Myles' blog, in the form of letters. Good stuff. Interesting. Something I should have thought of. Check it out.

Monday, April 10, 2006

PBB Cool Ten (4/9-4/15)

10. 4-1. Using a great Maddux performance and two home-run-fueled come-from-behind victories, the Cubbies swept The Enemy (TM). I don't know about you folks, but I think we may have a team this year. With or without the Injury Twins.
9. Edwin McCain is covering two Bill Mallonee/Vigilantes of Love songs ("Babylon" and "Welcome to Struggleville") on his newest album, due out in two weeks. Bill will be opening for Edwin on part of his tour. Hear the new album here.
8. Some blog posts are just great pieces of observational writing. Here's one by Ann Althouse.
7. If you haven't heard the new Red Hot Chili Peppers song, go here. Remember, it's the Chili Peppers, so take the obvious moral precautions.
6. Tax Day is Saturday. Better get on that, if you haven't yet. (I have...mostly.)
5. I'm going to an Aeros game on Friday night. Pretty psyched. If I get there early enough, I get a "rally towel." Rockin.
4. None of my business, but good for you, Stace. That's awesome.
3. Redux is coming along pretty well. I have 9 or 10 pieces now. I'm not giving up on that project.
2. Got an email from someone who was friend enough to tell me the truth. I appreciated that. So, thanks, kiddo.
1. Christ is risen. Hallelujah.

Friday, April 07, 2006

"Verse of the Day"...better make that, "the Decade"

"If you have played the fool and exalted yourself, or if you have planned evil, clap your hand over your mouth!" (Proverbs 30:32)

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Think of this as a "PBB sampler plate"

[Lots of little mini-posts, all pulled together for your mass-consumption. Dig in.]


I felt the need to post something arty and inspired. Sadly, I don't have anything like that, except a first-draft of another "Redux" that needs a lot of work before it's ready for online consumption. So I'm just going to free-write a little. Hope you don't mind.

--I've noticed that when I write poetry, the number "17" keeps popping up, and I have no idea why.

--I re-read the now-infamous "Application for Future Mrs. Teacherdave" post, and aside from the point about things this fictional person wasn't allowed to enjoy, I stand by all of it. So sue me. I'm gonna be picky. If I have had to wait this long (oh, i'm sorry, "have gotten to wait this long"), I may as well be a little picky about my prospects. [By the way, save your angry comments because I don't mean a bit of this--not in any real way, anyway.]

--I lost another pound and a half. I'm up to 47. Ten percent of my body weight lost in 3 months. (That's right, do the math--I really was that big. Well, for all practical purposes, I still am that big. Just not as much "that.") I'm somewhat proud of this. However, I've lost less than 10 pounds in the last month. I'm slowing down quickly. Something's gotta change. I need to stop being lazy, in other words. Because i'm still not working out at all.

--You know the whole "sappy romantic" thing is getting bad when you ask your folks if you can borrow some movies (from their midsized library, i mean, holy cow), and you walk away with the following: "Return to Me," "The Wedding Singer," "13 Going on 30," and "Just Like Heaven." All I'm missing is "Shall We Dance?" (which it pains me to admit that I liked). I'd like to blame my grabbing the middle two on the fact that I saw bits of them on TV the other night, but there's no excuse for the others. Hi, my name is Dave, and I watch "chick flicks" on a regular basis. ...They're all good films, by the way. Very enjoyable.

--Tonight's the monthly event I've been calling "Pancake Tuesday." I've tried to avoid using the name too often (for Google concerns, mainly), but basically it's a time for my Sunday School class and I to get together off-site and hang out. We usually go to Denny's because I decided we should (food's better/cheaper than IHOP). And if I'm the only one who ever shows up, I should get to make that decision.

But yes. No one has shown up to the last four, so I changed it from a weekly thing to a monthly thing. I'm hoping that will make it a little more important to someone. I don't know. I'm getting really frustrated with the complete lack of participation on the part of the Sunday School class. I'm this-close to not planning any events for May, just to see what happens, and if anyone complains. What's funny is I'm getting the random email and card from people saying that they appreciate my efforts and how I "minister" to them. Do ya, kids? Then show up to class on time, or show up to events ANY time, and make me feel better that way.

I'm getting incredibly frustrated with this situation. What's sad is, a friend of mine suggested I should start looking at churches near where I live now, downtown. Maybe some of the bigger churches with more available single ladies, hint hint. I entertained this thought for a moment or two, then immediately banished it. If I ever went to another church in order to pick up women, that would be the day my faith is dead. Seriously. May I be covered in perpetual shame if that ever happens. I responded to this friend that the downside of finding another church home is that I wouldn't be able to teach for a long time, because they wouldn't let a new member take over leadership (for good reason!). And I really feel called to teach Sunday School right now.

But sometimes, callings suck.

--Speaking of Google fears, I found out that a coworker of mine had googled and found my blog pretty easily. She read "all the time... non-stop" for about a month, then felt so guilty that she confessed it to me this week, and swore never to read again. I told her it was fine--she was going "Woody-Allen"-neurotic over it--but it still freaked me out that she found me so easily.

--I've decided that that the "Daffy-Duck-versus-the-animator" cartoon (and its Bugs Bunny counterpart) were the inception of an understanding of "meta-narrative" in the American consciousness. Discuss.

--I've also decided I'm full of crap, and like making up intellectual-sounding theories because my self-confidence is especially small, and hiding behind a veil of over-inflated intellectuality keeps me from being revealed for the boring schmo I am. Discuss separately.

--I've further decided that I use exaggerated self-deprecation in a desparate attempt to gain sympathy and fish for compliments among the soft-hearted in my readership, and that doing so gets as boring as the "melancholy act" we discussed recently. Consider and reply.

--I've finally decided that running gags and self-referential humor are only funny up to a point, and then become tiresome and rather annoying. No comments required.

--I try too hard. Yes, yes i do.

--Seriously now: I reread Ephesians the other day. Something jumped out at me like never before. In chapter 5, verse 8, Paul writes, "For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light..." I may be making a big deal about a translational issue (I haven't checked other versions), but this is the way I heard it. You weren't "in" darkness or "in" light. You were darkness, but now you are light. It's not a difference of circumstances, there. When we come to Christ, when we accept his sacrifice and take on his righteousness, our very nature changes. So when we sin, we are acting like someone else, not ourselves. We are not living out of our new nature, which is obedient to Christ, but we're acting like our old nature. This does not negate the responsibility we have for our own actions; not at all. But it changes our understanding of who we are. We are saints. We are redeemed. We are light. We won't become these things "one day." By the power of Christ's redemptive work, we are these things right now. And we should live within the reality of these truths.

It's like a butterfly crawling around on its belly like a caterpillar. You think, "Stupid butterfly! You've got wings, for pete's sake!" But the butterfly says, "I can't help it, it's what I've always done. I'm just a caterpillar, given new abilities." No. You're a butterfly. You were a caterpillar, but you're not one anymore.

So says Christ to us. You are not sinners. You are saints who sin. Your nature has been replaced. You are my new creations.

Quit crawling on your bellies and fly.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Okay, okay, I get the point.

I don't know if it's this way for you, but there are times when I think God goes out of His holy way to hammer home a point to me, usually when I'm being especially hard-headed. This weekend was one such time.

I spent most of the weekend with the family. On Saturday, I was going to lunch with mom and sister. Conversation drifted. Finally, somehow I end up on how I'm not completely satisfied with my job right now. Typical Dave-whine. Not the dream job, but I know I shouldn't complain, blah blah blah.

And my sweet mother just lets me having with both barrels. She told me to basically suck it up. I'm not going to like my job all the time, and I should just accept that. She says that she hates her job sometimes, but she seeks out happiness in the small things, and it gets her through. She told me that my "melancholy act" is getting old, and that I basically need to buck the hell up. But she didn't use "hell." Not this time. She's been known to use it in the past. Among other things. My mother is fun.

So I was pretty much scolded and silenced. I pouted for a little while and then thought that she may have a point.

Then yesterday, while at my Financial Peace class, the speaker on the video (Dave Ramsey) started saying something that was really familiar and convicting at the same time. I could transcribe it from the CD (if I had remembered to bring it) but instead I will paraphrase and comment.

He said that this whole "happiness" thing starts on the schoolyard. You're in kindergarden, and you think, "I'll be happy in first grade, when I learn how to read." Then in first grade, there's these things called sixth graders, and you think "I'll be happy when I'm in sixth grade and I'm not getting picked on." Then in sixth grade, you learn about high schoolers, and you think, "I'll be happy when I'm in high school, and I don't get picked on." Then when you start high school, someone says they just got their driver's license, and you think, "I'll be happy when I can drive, and have that freedom." Then you get your drivers license, and someone's brother or sister comes back home and says, "Wow, college is so awesome. No one hassles you as much, and you're your own boss." Then you think, "Man, I'll be happy in college, when the parents don't hassle me, and I can set my own hours, and I can do what I want." Then you get to college ("where you have the net worth of half a bottle of No Doz," Ramsey quips), and you're suffering through all-nighters and research papers, and you think, "I'll be happy when I graduated and get out into the real world."

[Here's where it gets especially familiar.] Then you get that first job, and it's great for a while, but you end up getting fired. Then you think, "Man, I'll be happy once I get some security."

Then he went on to talk about having kids, then the kids leaving and having grandkids, and how this happiness keeps eluding our grasp. (He could have thrown in that extra step after the job thing of, "Man, I'll be happy once I get married" to pull the grand slam.)

Then he said, "See, happiness is that schoolyard bully drawing lines in the sand, daring you to cross. When you do, he draws another one, and then another. When you put your happiness in stuff or in situations, it's always gonna be out of your reach."

Oof. Wow. Yeah.

Okay, Father, I get the point. Choose happy. Don't wait for "happy" to happen.

I remember, growing up, all the churchy folk would say, "Happiness depends on what happens. Joy is what you choose to have despite your circumstances." And that's true. But even though I get their logic (and attempted wordplay), I think you choose happiness, also.

Another Ramsey quote was that the immature mind confuses happiness with fun. (Guilty.) Immature adults expect their jobs to always be fun, and are put out when the jobs turn into (gasp) jobs. But mature minds choose happy even when the job is not fun. Partly because the un-fun job helps provide the fun later.

It's all about delayed gratification. Self-control. Being a grown-up instead of a whiny baby-boy.

So yeah. Loud and clear, God.

Now, if you all will excuse me, I'm going to get back to work...and be happy about it.

The Righteous Return of the Cool Ten!!! (UPDATED)

I know you've missed it, I've missed it too. But today, April 3, 2006, there's a new spring in my step, and a new song in my heart. I knew that it had to be this day that the PBB Cool Ten (TM) returns to the internets.

So here it is, folks. What you've been waiting for--

THE PBB COOL TEN (4/2-4/8)!!!!

10. Know what today is? OPENING DAY, BRITCHES!
9. Carlos Zambrano is pitching in 4 hours!
8. Derrek Lee will be bringing the big swing!
7. Todd Walker will be playing second base instead of Neifi!
6. Aramis Ramirez is gonna have a great year!
5. Jaques Jones and Juan Pierre are gonna bring a boost to the offense!
4. Matt Murton is starting! Way to go, kid!
3. Two quick games against Cincy, and then we're bringing the hurt to The Enemy (TM) in Chicago's home opener on Friday!
2. I'm gonna be screaming from the bleachers of the Friendly Confines in about 10 weeks!!!
1. Both pairs of Sox have won the World Series in the last two years! GUESS WHOSE TURN IT IS!!!

UPDATE: In case you weren't paying attention, Cincinnati, the word is "OWNED." Or if you prefer, "PWNED."