Wednesday, January 31, 2007


I've tried three or four times to blog this week. I've tried to talk about funny things I've heard or seen. I've tried to post something thoughtful and meaningful about observations of my life and others'. I've really wanted to produce some good content for you. (I've started the last four--five!--sentences with the word "I've.")

But something keeps getting in the way. I get in my own way. And it all gets jumbled before I can get it typed out. So I'm going to try a little something fun. I'm setting my iTunes to "shuffle" and will post short items on sundry subjects that the song and/or title alludes to, references, or somehow reminds me of. Maybe I can shake out the cobwebs that way, so that I'll be able to actually say something useful again.

So here we go.


[1) "Long Live Rock and Roll," Steel Dragon]

Kelly made me very happy this past week, by sending me two burned CDs that I have been interested in. One of them is Volume 2 of "The Legend of Johnny Cash" (worth the price of admission for his cover of Petty's "I Won't Back Down" alone). The other album was the first and clearly only release by the band "Rockstar Supernova." Yes, that's right; the band composed of used-up former rockers and a wannabe-punk frontman.

As I expected: Almost all of the decent tracks on the album (of which there are maybe 5) were already released on the show, save one, which means there were almost no surprises. The rest of the tracks--snoresville.

What I didn't expect: While more than half of the album is instantly forgettable, the decent tracks are actually pretty good. A few of them are even mixtape-worthy good. Maybe not "ultimate mixtape" fodder, but worth sticking in someone else's ear. A pleasant surprise.


[2) "You Never Give Me Your Money," The Beatles]

This week, I caught myself slipping back into the generous-but-frivolous phase, financially. I like picking up the check, buying presents. I show love that way. But I really need to reign that in for the time being. God has been providing for me so much lately, that I want to store up the goods from these "seven years of plenty," in case there's a "seven years of famine" around the corner. I want to be a good steward of the undeserved resources I've been handed.

So this year is the year of getting out of a good bit of my debt. Goal by the end of the year? No more credit card, no more car note. Only owing on my student loans.

(By the way, I can testify to a truth of Scripture: one of the only "resolutions" from 2006 that I kept was to tithe faithfully to my church. [This is not to brag, so don't get the wrong idea--hear me out.] God responded to my obedience by providing for my needs and then some. Something to the effect of "opening the windows of heaven" and all that. So, here's a tip for you who doubt: He can be trusted. He is a good and faithful God.)


[3) "Hotel Song," Regina Spektor]

I'm trying to decide on what I want to do as far as summer travel. There is an opportunity that may open up in July in Missouri, so I'm looking forward to seeing how that progresses. Otherwise, I think I may take a trip through the Southeast. Just me and my truck, plowing through the Gulf States. I may shoot all the way to the coast, and then loop back through Memphis and Nashvegas. That may be cool. I'm still deciding.

It will be a little weird, though. My family is vacationing west. Reliving the happily-remembered Grand Canyon vacation of my youth. And I'll likely be heading in the opposite direction at the same time. Which means I won't be able to have them fly in if I need help. It'll just be me and the sovereignty of God. That may be a good experience, now that I think of it.

That may sound weird to the more independent of you. But I'm very tightly-knit to my family. So it would be a little weird to be that untethered.


[3) "Nookie/Break Stuff," Richard Cheese]

Wow. Um, okay...

I have a bit of an anger problem. You may not know that about me, even those of you who know me personally. But I do. I fume. I growl. I mutter. I'm especially bad in traffic. While I don't actually flip people "the bird" (at least, not where they can see it), I do yell and wave my arms in a less-than-affable manner.

Last weekend, I was at a four-way stop. It was clearly my turn, and I started making a left. Though I was already halfway into the four-lane, boulevarded intersection, this idiot across from me suddenly barreled through. I honked and lifted up the back of my hands to him, in a "What are you, some kind of moron?" sort of motion. He responded in turn, face twisted and angry. I completed my turn and headed on, but I watched the rearview mirror just in case he turned around and wanted to discuss traffic flow patterns with me further.

Then the thought hit me. Did I look that way to him, too--so furious and dark-eyed? Is he checking his mirror for me now? I thought I saw kids in the car--will he take his frustration with me out on them? Will it affect or distract his driving?

Probably not. Possibly not. But I should have thought of that sooner.

Was my anger, my "right-of-way," worth feeling that way, or making someone else feel that way? No.

Mark Driscoll said once that what makes us frustrated sometimes reveals our idols. For example, when someone cuts us off on the road, and we get angry and lash out, it's because we feel they've somehow disrespected us, and we worship respect.

Makes me think. More importantly, it makes me want to be a little more humble at intersections.


[4) "Glass Onion," The Beatles]

I sometimes make an effort to try to soak up sensory experience. It's a big deal for me. I realized one day that God didn't have to make things as vivid and enjoyable as he did. The smell of fresh air. Tastes. Sounds. The feeling of breeze on skin. The smell of cold. There is so much to soak up every day, so much we take for granted, when everything good is a gift. We walk through the world receiving countless sensations that we pass over without stopping every once in a while to say, "This moment, this feeling, this experience is good."

Even the burning of my leg muscles after yesterday's overdone workout is good. The stiffness and soreness that has me hobbling around like a decrepit, old man. It's good. Because it means my legs function and feel. Muscles are being torn down and rebuilt. I did something good yesterday that will make be better through the pain.

I think that's something akin to ol' father Israel rejoicing as he leaned on his crutch. The soreness of his hip reminded him of something miraculous.


[5) "Interstate Love Song," Stone Temple Pilots]

I was talking with a friend on Sunday and she (a single woman just turned 30) asked me, "So, any girls in your life?" And oddly, I didn't know how to answer. Not because there has been any great change in status--don't get excited. But it made me stop and think if there were even the prospect of any girls in my life. And the answer is no. There's only one girl I can think of from the past few months that I even thought about asking out, but I didn't do it because she's not a believer. That's a big deal for me. So I thought it better to just be her friend, and maybe introduce the God subject eventually. (As it turned out, I lost touch with her completely.)

When it comes to one's single status, other people (usually marrieds) always use the stock answers like "stop looking and it'll happen" or "just focus on God." Which can be and is good advice, respectively. And I myself have talked about "working on me" and "trying to be the kind of guy a woman of quality would look for."

But if that's my focus, isn't that as selfish as not "working on me"? Can I become so "working-on-me"-focused, so convinced that there's so much of me that needs to change, that I've passed on any hope of relationship because I didn't feel worthy or ready? As if I expected to be close to perfect before I even begin a relationship with someone.

I've been listening to a podcast sermon series by Mark Driscoll (yes, that's two mentions) on the book of Ruth (don't laugh, Chris). And something he said today got my attention. In talking about Boaz's response to Ruth's matrimonial overtures, he said that Boaz seems a bit surprised, and saw her attentions as a kindness because she didn't go after a younger guy. Basically, the idea that while he was interested in her, he might not have thought she'd be interested in him. Or, in Driscoll's words, "he may have thought she was out of his league."

I'm not a Boaz (not even close), but I have to ask myself, should I stop trying to be perfect and just work on being, you know, a better me? Maybe the answer is an obvious "yes." But the follow-through is so much trickier. It's easier to hide behind the "I need to fix myself" excuse than to risk having a relationship where I would have to actually reveal my many flaws.


Well, that was fun. Let's try it again sometime, shall we?

Monday, January 29, 2007

It's time to update the "On Notice" Board!

The following items/entities are hereby "on-notice":

Thursday, January 25, 2007

"Say how's the weather..."

The rain's finally clearing out for a few days, which is a relief, because I've been battling with a pretty ragged sore throat because of it. I'm one of those weather-allergy sufferers. But today's forecast is sunny and sixty. Nice.

Really, I just wish Houston would pick a season and stick with it. I like winter, we can keep it around some more, but I would like the climate to quit messing around and put some extra effort in so we could get a snow flurry or two. Either that or keep it like today. Clear skies and a bit of a cool breeze.


Got to watch the NHL All-Star game at Will and Kim's place last night. Very entertaining. Broadcast highlights included the high score, Marty Turco's real-time commentary, and Shakey the Epileptic Lion. No, I don't expect the rest of you to understand any of that. But I laugh to myself.


The online site for Christianity Today magazine has a nice "Singles" section I check out every week. Usually there's some really great content there. A few weeks ago, there was an article about "singleness' seven-year-itch" that had some really perceptive questions. I wrote the questions down, and will probably turn them into a post in the near future.

Then again, when I pulled it up today, the lead article headline was, "Rover Rocks: 8 singles share how their pets enrich their life." And so I banged my head on the keyboard.


I decided not to send in the "Biggest Loser" audition video. Not because I'm afraid or I don't want to try anymore. I think I just realized that staying put would be good for me at this point. It was important for me to go out there and give it a shot. Now I see that if I can stand out in the cold and wet for seven hours, I can go to the gym every day. I can do what it takes to make these changes.

So, I'm just going to do it on my own, and I'll keep posting on my super-non-secret diet blog about my progress.

I will need to pony up the cash for a trainer, though. I admit it; I'm a lazy bum.


I've been tempted lately to talk about some controversial issues, or politics, or something of that nature, just to provoke some conversation in the comments. I miss hearing from a lot of you, who've gone from frequent commenter to "lurker" status.

But I'm sorry to admit that, on many issues, I have not kept myself very informed as of late. Part of my whole "rejection of American political hijinks" trend. I will probably post something naive and easily repudiated about Bush and war and abortion and all sorts of hot-button things in the near-to-middlin' future. But I'm a little afraid to. I'm out of practice, and I fear I'm just not up to the rhetorical task.

If you miss my political rantings and ravings, check out the early 2003 archives for some pre-war blather, or the late 2004 archives for some pre-electoral blather.

Has it been that long? Ugh.

Well, back to work. Catch you cats on the flip.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Big black boots, long brown hair.

It's always interesting when a recurring character makes a cameo appearance in the story. It puts the protagonist on the spot, and makes him re-examine himself to see if he's grown personally in the interim.

NewGirl resurfaced on Saturday.

I went to shoot pool with some friends at a somewhat upscale establishment, at least as far as poolhalls go. Nice place. Clean. Relatively smoke-free, which we can thank good ventilation for.

Getting ready to rack up the first game, I hear my name, and see her bound over, looking just as lovely as ever. We talk excitedly. I'm thrilled to see her, the first time we've spoken since, I don't know, last summer maybe. We go through the typical catching-up banter. She expresses interest in attending an upcoming church event, which I strongly encourage. She confesses she's joined another church, which I applaud. (She has commitment issues.) Then, somehow, the conversation turns back to her group, and she says, "That one's mine--there, in the blue shirt."


Her new boyfriend. Tall. Slender, but muscular. Clean-cut. Nice-looking young man. Turns out he's in the military, and will be shipped out in a month. She says she tries not to think about that, and that she's still a bit in denial.

From there, the conversation peters out. She recommends a book, we talk a little about the Bible study I teach, and who is still attending that she remembers. But internally I completely disconnect. I try to play it off, to be just as friendly, but I think subconsciously my demeanor changed, and she noticed. So, we parted briefly, and retired to our groups.

Unfortunately, I had to go choose a cue. The closest rack was next to their table, so going to another rack would have been too obvious. I walked over, greeted some of her friends whom I had met before at a disappointing trip to the movies, and then was introduced to her new beau. His name is Dave, too! (Comment ironique!) Seems like a stand-up guy.

I returned to my table and tried valiently to focus on my game. I'm usually pretty lousy at pool, but playing distractedly, I was even worse. Occasionally, I'd allow myself to look over at their table. I see her pressed against him, dancing to Kelly Clarkson or whatever was playing over the juke. Or making out with him. Strenuously.

They left without saying goodbye.

And that was that. I may see her at the church event, though I wonder if she picked up on my unease somehow, and if that may make her reluctant to attend.

As a Bible study leader, I hope she attends, as I hope all of my friends and current/former classmates do.

As the guy who used to have feelings for her, and who feebly tried and failed to ask her out, I kind of hope I never see her again. She's beautiful, athletic, smart, loves my God, and loves baseball (although she *is* an Astros fan--blech!). She's The Package. And she's made it clear, indirectly but pretty clearly, that she's not interested. So yeah, I'm happy leaving her in the past.

Personal growth? I guess I haven't done enough of it.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Seven hours versus five minutes.

Subtitle: "I Really Wanna Be A Loser."

Yesterday, I got up much earlier than normal, showered and dressed, and drove the opposite direction from church (my usual Sunday destination), until I reached a gym. There I joined about 300 people in line ahead of me.

Yesterday morning, they were holding an open-call audition for "The Biggest Loser."

Being a participant (it feels weird calling it "contestant") on that show has been an idle dream of mine for a few years now. I've always thought that it would be an amazing experience, but I never really considered it a possibility. I always thought too much of my life would have to change, in order to make that happen. I was never willing to do what it took, make the sacrifices necessary, to do so.

Then, about two weeks ago, I found out that representatives of the show were coming here, to my town, to find contestants for the show. I knew I needed to try. It just seemed too perfect. My friends and coworkers cheered me on. My family encouraged me to give it a shot. So I took my hastily-taken photograph and my application, and stood in line.

It was a strange experience, standing in that line. First, it's odd to see so many overweight people in one place. One of the hallmarks of being obese is feeling singled out and ostracized. So there was a strange sense of community in the idea of 500 fat people all together at once.

On the other hand, when I walked up, I was instantly "sized up" (bad pun) by the people already in line. I could almost hear them calculating what I weighed and if they could "take me" as a contestant. Truth be told, I caught myself doing this very thing. The abstract camraderie of the moment was swallowed up in the understanding that we were all contestants competing for one, maybe two, slots on the program. Unlike the show itself, where your biggest competition is yourself, in this very first "round" of the game, we were up against each other. I wished I had brought friends or supporters, like some of the people in line. It felt a little lonely at first, before I started talking to the group of people in front of me.

Our little group became fast friends, though I can't remember but two of their names. We'd hold each others' place if someone needed to make a bathroom run. We encouraged each other. It was nice. However, we couldn't lose sight of the competitive undercurrent.

Some observations about the crowd:
1) I felt a little emboldened (wrong as it may be) by the fact that several of the largest people were pretty scary-looking. Not only fat, but just outright fugly. While "TBL" is a reality weight-loss show, the contestants aren't incredibly unattractive. They're "TV fat." I'd like to think I lean more toward the "TV fat guy" than the "scary cautionary tale" fat guy. Or the "half of my teeth missing" guy. Or the "half-balding stringy mullet" guy. I think my chances were a little better than them. That may be wrong to admit, and I don't deny their inherent value as people, but they ain't pretty. By a long stretch.
2) If you are in line to try out for a reality show about proper diet and exercise, because you ostensibly want to improve your health and life, does it make sense to a) smoke like a chimney while in line; b) once you get a bracelet guarenteeing an audition, go across the parking lot to Wendy's and get a big bag of fast food and a Frosty, to eat while in line at 10 in the morning? (On the other hand, after missing lunch to be in line at the audition, I got home and had a combination lunch-dinner that consisted of about 3/4 of a large pizza. And some breadsticks. So I'm a paragon of hypocrisy. But still, I didn't do it while standing in line.)
3) Dear mother of apparently-helpless 20-year-old girl who may or may not have some kind of medical condition I missed hearing about: It's okay the first time to offer the people around you a chance to say hello over the phone to your daughter who's sitting in the car in the adjacent parking lot. But NOT every time you call her, every twenty minutes, for seven hours. No one, but NO ONE, cares that much about someone else's kid, no matter how sick they are.

Okay, maybe it's the bitterness talking. But really.

So, from 7:15 to after 1:30, we wait and wait and wait. [Note: I accidentally typed "weight" the first time. heh.] Finally we are ushered in. We sit in groups of ten with the recruiter-type-girl. We introduce ourselves individually--name, age, hometown, how much weight we want to lose. Then she asks us a quick discussion question about why we want to participate in the show.

You know me. I like to talk. But I don't often like to interrupt, especially with strangers.

This only goes to show that, sometimes, politeness is fo' sucka's.

This nice young woman with whom I spoke while in line commandeered the conversation. Not maliciously, nor intentionally, I think. She just had lots to say. A few people piped up, often speaking over one another. I waited for an opening. Waited. Waited, and then I opened my mouth to speak, but--


And that was that. I nodded and smiled a lot, and said lots of affirming words like "Yeah" and "I agree." And in the end, that and my introduction were the whole of "the audition." Seven hours. Five minutes. Done.

The girl said they'd call people for callbacks over the next day and a half. By Wednesday, if we haven't heard back from them, we aren't getting pulled from the "Houston" group. She assured us we can certainly send in a video audition for this season, too, because they're picking people from videos as well as the open calls.

And that was that. I went home, ordered a pizza, watched football and a movie, and stared at my phone, trying to will it to ring.

No luck yet.

On Wednesday, I guess I'll decide if I want to put out the effort to make the video, if I want to get my hopes up again; or if I want to just accept the fact that if I'm gonna be a "loser," I'm gonna have to do it all on my lonesome.

I'm trying not to be bummed out, but I think I'm suffering from "American-Idol"-rejectitis. Thankfully, I was self-controlled enough to not tell anyone to "go back to England" or that they didn't know what they were talking about.

But seriously, I wish they'd call. Any second now.

Any second now.

[cross-posted at Dave's super secret diet blog.]

Friday, January 19, 2007

It's time to raise the curtain, it's time to light the lights!

Ladies and Gentlmen, welcome to...

The 2006 PBB "Slackie" Awards!!!

And here's your host, Dave!

I'm a pirate, ARRRRGH!!!

Well, ladies and gents, it's a pleasure to be here. Instead of boring you with lame jokes, I thought I'd go ahead and get on with the Awards. If you really want to hear my lame jokes, you can take a peek at my blog, "Perfect Blue Buildings"! [/blatant blog plug]

And now, on with the show!!!

In the category of Best Film of 2007, the nominees are:
The Departed
Stranger than Fiction
The Prestige
Superman Returns
Snakes on a Plane
V for Vendetta
Lady in the Water

And the Slackie goes to... Superman Returns! (By virtue of winning a coin toss; it tied with X-men III.) Congratulations, Kal-El, Last Son of Krypton.

For the category of Best Album of 2007, the nominees are:
"Continuum," John Mayer
"Testify," POD
"Shine On," Jet
"The Crane Wife," The Decemberists
"Cut and Move," Day of Fire
"Saturday Night Wrist," Deftones
"Comatose," Skillet

And the Slackie goes to... wait, what's this? I'm being handed a note... Ladies and gentlemen, the tie between POD and The Decemberists is being nullified by the first "Special Judges' Prize" of the evening. Wow, it's a bit early for it, but it's not my call, I guess.

By virtue of the Special Judges' Prize, the Slackie goes to "Comatose," by Skillet. How about that. You never know what's gonna happen here at the Slackies.

And now, let's take a moment to pay some bills. We'll be back after a word from our sponsors!

[fade out]

Tonight's broadcast is brought to you with limited commercial interruption, by the following fine sponsors: Taco Cabana! Coke! Head-On! and Your Momma! (...Hey, wait a minute, who wrote that there?!? Someone's getting fired!!!!)

[fade in]

Welcome back to the 2006 Slackie Awards. Let's get back to business!

In the category of Best Book of 2006, the nominees are:
"Lisey's Story," Stephen King
"Star Wars Darth Bane: Path of Destruction," Drew Karpyshyn
"Marley and Me," John Grogan
Anything by Rachel Ray

And the Slackie goes to... "Star Wars Darth Bane: Path of Destruction," Drew Karpyshyn. (Beat Rachel Ray in a coin toss!) I could have sworn the judges would have used a pass for Stephen King. Well, there you go. Unpredictable outcomes this year.

Okay, for the category of Returning TV Show of the Year, the nominees are:
The Office
Battlestar Galactica
How I Met Your Mother

And the Slackie goes to... uh-oh, looks like we have another "Special Judges' Prize"!

While the vote totals were overwhelmingly in favor of "The Office," the Slackie for Returning TV show goes to... Smallville! What a Surprise!

In the category of Best New TV Show of 2006, the nominees are:
The Nine
The Class
Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip
Ugly Betty

And the Slackie goes to... Heroes. And accepting the award for the show is one of the characters, Hiro Nakamura.

Hiro: *fists pumped in the air* ["I did it! I mean, WE did it!"]

I didn't understand a bit of that. Good thing he comes with subtitles, am i right? Haha. Okay, bad joke. Moving on...

In the category of Worst Movie of 2006, the nominees are:
Ice Age II
An Inconvenient Truth
Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause
Jesus Camp
Little Man

And the Slackie goes to... Little Man. Thankfully, Marlon Wayans is not here to receive his award.

In the category of Underrated Artistic Achievement, the nominees are:
Trevor's Stick-figure Drawing Gallery
The "mullet-hat"
Guitar Hero II (PS2 video game)
PBB Cool Ten

And the Slackie goes to... Trevor's Stick Figure Gallery!!! Congratulations Trev!

In the category of Overrated Artistic "Achievement," the nominees are:
"Modern Times," Bob Dylan (music)
The Alley Theater's production of Peter Schaffer's "Black Comedy" (stage)
PBB Cool Ten
"Your Best Life Now," Joel Osteen (book)

And the Slackie goes to... "Your Best Life Now," Joel Osteen. I won't comment further.

In the category of Serious News Event of the Year, the nominees are:
Democratic Party's takeover of Congress
The announcement of Star Wars Celebration IV
The execution of Saddam Hussein

And the Slackie goes to... The execution of Saddam Hussein.

In the category of Ludicrous News Event of the Year, the nominees are:
Celebrity babies in general
Anything Madonna-related
Britney and Kevin Break Up!
Whatever Angelina Jolie is doing, 24 hours a day
Laura Bush's "secret" cancer treatment

And the Slackie goes to... Britney and Kevin break up! It beat out Angelina by a single vote.

In the category of Sports Story of the Year, the nominees are:
St. Louis Cardinals--2006 World Series Champs (ugh)
Italy wins the World Cup
Ryan Howard, baseball MVP, hits 59 home runs
Shameless spending by Major League Baseball clubs
The impending dominance of the Chicago Cubs

And the Slackie goes to... the World Cup. Go figure.

Let's pause now and take another brief commercial break!

[fade out]

Coming Soon to Theaters: "Little Man II: Little WOman"! Now there's double the hijinks as a diminuitive female criminal tries to steal a page from Marlon Wayans tiny, little, baby-sized playbook! Two times the trouble, still only half the size! It's Little Man II, coming this summer from Fox!

[fade in]

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome back to the Slackies broadcast.

I was just informed by the producers that we're running short of time, so we will dispense with the witty banter and recitation of the nominees from here on out. Sorry for the inconvenience.

The Slackie for Biggest Screw-up by a Government/Politican (a.k.a. The "D'Oh!" Award) goes to... Mark Foley.

The Slackie for Most Over-Exposed Lingering Celebrity (a.k.a. The Paris Hilton Prize) goes to... Kevin Federline! In a stunning coin-toss upset over two-time champ, Paris Hilton!

The Slackie for Most Over-Exposed New Celebrity (a.k.a. The "Your 15 Minutes are Up" Award) goes to... Katie Blair, Miss Teen USA and occassional barhopper.

The Slackie for Blog of the Year goes to... Perfect Blue Buildings! You like me! You really like me! *tear*

The Slackie for Buffoon of the Year goes to... Tom Cruise!

The Slackie for Soap/Bodywash of the Year goes to... Zest!

The Slackie for Birthday Cake Flavor of the Year goes to... Chocolate!

The Slackie for Non-adult Beverage of the Year goes to... Starbucks Peppermint Mocha! Yummy!

The Slackie for Best Future "Slackie" Award Category goes to... "Best Guilty Pleasure!" Well, see you next year, then, BGP!

The Slackie for Fictional Character of the Year (Male) goes to... Gregory House, M. D., from "House"! Didn't see that one coming, but wow, good pick.

The Slackie for Fictional Character of the Year (Female) goes to... Claire Bennett from "Heroes"!

The Slackie for YouTube Video of the Year goes to... wait, what's this? It's our FINAL "Special Judges' Prize" of the Year. While the SNL short got the popular vote (barely), the judges are going with the runner-up this year.
Thus, the Slackie goes to... Weird Al Yankovic, "White and Nerdy"!

And now, our last category of the evening...

The Slackie for Cheese of the Year goes to...


Our closest vote of the night. A three-way tie between provolone, cheddar, and "Miracle on 34th Street." After a very complex and technical process (which I won't go into here so the math nerds don't skewer my methods), the winner is...

"Miracle on 34th Street! "


Well, ladies and gentlemen, it's been a great year here at the Slackies, and I just want to thank a few people. Dave, for the idea and the execution. The U.S. Treasury, for providing the tie-breaking device. The internets, for making all of this possible. And you, the voters and readers, for humoring me and participating.

Thanks everyone, and we'll see you again in 2007

[final fade out]

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Whatever words I say, I will always love you.

I'm feeling better. In case you were curious.

It's not that my existential pseudo-crisis appeared and then resolved itself in the space of a day; such things never occur. It's merely that every once in a while, I have a hard time coping with my own overactive mind. On those days, I blog an effluence of self-pity and self-contempt (one I immediately regret but am too narcissistic to remove usually), and then go home and listen to Counting Crows for a few hours until I right myself again.

May not be healthy, but that's my process.

So, at any rate, now you know part (always part, never all) of what's knocking around in my noggin, and what's quietly knawing at my heart.

Now, the clean-up commences:
--Much as I hate to admit it, I stand by what I said about our activities being distractions from devoting ourselves to what lasts for eternity. On the other hand, when I got home last night, I stood in my living room with a guitar-shaped video game controller around my neck, and "played" the stadium anthem "Freebird" to an adoring electronic crowd, with fair-to-good results. (I still need practice.) But the ability to finish the song without completely falling apart; hearing the "cheers" as the song ended; and setting the high score, all made me happy. Meaningless, unimportant, and unreal it may be, but fifteen minutes spent playing my mindless little game brightened my mood. Maybe an artificial lifting of the spirits; but lift them it did. So there may be some value in the temporary after all. The key must be to maintain balance and proper proportion. Ain't that a daisy.
--While what I wrote is/was how I felt last week, I will hasten to add that I don't want to stop teaching the Bible study. It feeds me, more than it feeds them. I need it in my life to help keep me accountable. So as long as God allows it, I'll stay at my post.
--And in the end, my constant worry remains: that I'll reach the end of my life and realize I wasted too much time doing things that may have made me happy in the short term, but don't last. I want to leave something behind, to enrich the lives of the people around me and to inspire and influence the people who come after me. Legacy, I guess you'd call that. And legacies aren't born from movie marathons or all-time-high Playstation scores.

So here's to spending our precious and oft-wasted hours in the right way: occasionally engaging in the silly trifles that God, in His generosity, allows us to enjoy, while still putting the bulk of our energies and resources into things that matter, things that last.

(And, as a brilliant juxtaposition to that final thought--Coming Tomorrow: the much-promised-and-delayed Slackie (TM) results!)

Overachieving Insult of the Day!

"Ignominious stumblebum."

Pass it on!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Blog Confessional (don't bother)

There are times as I go through my day that the thought occurs to me, "This is my life. This is me living my life." As if I sort of lean back and see that I'm looking through the eyes of a mask at the action going on around me, at the movie that is playing out before me. I mentally "switch cameras" and see myself from the outside, walking down the sidewalk, shoulders slumped against the cold, holding my coffee cup in front of me like a talisman warding off evil. And then I remind myself that it's not a movie, that it is my reality, and at that moment I fall back into the patterns of thinking about other random stuff. I stop noticing my own existence, and go on with my day.

Every once in a while, things take on a sudden sense of unreality for me. I can't explain it well enough, but it just seems that once in a while, the edges blur, the costume hangs crookedly, and things feel "off" for a few seconds.

Okay, I'll dispense with the "Matrix"-like preamble and get to my point (hopefully).

So much of my life is spent doing stuff that doesn't matter. I think that's true for everyone. Much--most--of what people do, aside from a very select few, doesn't matter. It doesn't last. It's like we revel in distraction. I think this is because we all, each of us, know what really matters, and we just can't handle it. To paraphrase those British sages: it's all too much for us to take.

Approaching the idea from a Christian perspective: As a believer, I affirm the existence of the Triune God, the Lordship of Christ, the work of the Holy Spirit through the ministry of the Church, the eventual resurrection of the dead, and the end of time that will usher in the dawn of eternity. I believe these things are real and true. But the implications of these beliefs should drastically impact my life in ways that they aren't now doing.

A belief in eternity should set the events of this life in dramatic contrast. If I really believe that the permanent destination of each person's ever-living soul depends on their actions and affirmations in this lifetime, it would and should behoove me to spend every moment of every day making the case to all of humanity for reconciliation with God. It should become my all-consuming passion, my untiring obsession. If I really thought it mattered, it would supercede everything else in my mind and become the focus of my waking life.

But it doesn't. I work. I play video games. I watch baseball and football. I read fiction. I rent movies. I spend time with my family. I do fun things. Very little of my life is devoted toward the thing I claim to be truer and longer-lasting than the rest.

While much of the reason for this can be attributed to weakness, laziness, or fear, I think part of the reason I fill my life with distracting trifles is that carrying the notion of eternity around too long becomes almost too much to bear. Same thing with being burdened by the suffering of the world, and the sorrowful people in it. Geez, just thinking too much about the plight of the homeless in my fair city. The more I dwell on it, the more I try to care, the darker and heavier my heart becomes.

I am not a sin-eater. I am not the world's one saviour.

And it's a good thing, too, because I'd be lousy at it.

I think this just makes me marvel all the more at the work of Christ. He came, fully comprehending and carrying the weight of eternity, lived on this earth, and lived full of compassion as he reached out to heal and help the wearied, troubled people around him. Then he carried the weight of the world's darkness upon himself, and suffered and died and buried it in his tomb before rising again triumphant over it. He had to have been as much fully God as fully man, because man alone couldn't have done that.

I can't do it. I can't live every day full of compassion. It's too much. I can't bear it. I'm selfish and weak and fearful.

So I distract myself, quite a bit actually. I fill my time with other things, so that I don't spend all day thinking of all the torments and trials of the people around me, nor of the heaven or hell that awaits each person.


I don't know what I'm trying to say here. I don't even know if I have a point.

I want to be like Christ, constantly giving, full of compassion and driven to minister to others. I want to spend my life doing things that are real and that have weight. Things that last. I'm not doing that--not enough, anyway.

One of my friends from church sat down to dinner with me last week, and he told me over and over again how much it's meant to him to have me as a Bible study leader at church. That what I've been teaching has impacted his life in a big way.

But I couldn't even feel encouragement from that kind word. All I felt as he said that was discomfort and shame.

I wanted to say to him, "I'm not doing anything. If you are gaining any benefit from it, it's God's work in you, not mine. I'm nothing. I don't care enough, and I don't love enough. I didn't even want to meet with you today, but I'm here because I feel I'm supposed to be here. I am so self-involved. I contemplated quitting the teaching thing last week, not because God's direction in my life has changed but because I just didn't want to expend the effort any more. My heart and my life have become so shallow and inward-focused that I don't deserve any thanks. If I said something in class that meant something to you, it was at worst a divine accident, and at best a mercy of God. Every week, I approach teaching feeling more and more unworthy and empty, and instead of pursuing God and His kingdom and His righteousness, I pursue entertainments and distractions that steal my time and my focus. I'm entrenched in so much sin and useless striving that I can barely find my way out again. You come to me because you think I'm some spiritual leader or because I'll know the right words to say. I know nothing. I'm God's idiot-child, who benefits from his overwhelming mercy. I have nothing to give you. I'm sorry I haven't cared for you enough, or loved you enough, or concerned myself with what's going on in your life. I've been afraid. Afraid of opening up, afraid of reaching out, afraid that if I try to be your friend and brother, I would have to really invest myself and open myself up and be vulnerable and honest with you. I can't even be honest with myself sometimes. And if I started reaching out to people and being honest, I'm afraid I'd be revealed for the fraud that I am. And that terrifies me."

But I didn't say that. I just nodded, and sipped my root beer.


Am I being too hard on myself? Maybe. It's a Wednesday. That's always a good day for it.

Maybe I just need to get this out of my system.

What it boils down to is: I keep butting up against my own worldliness. There's a throwback term for ya: worldliness. But I've become so focused on the things that are even now passing away, because I'm afraid of the things that last. I'm afraid of being found lacking by He who judges justly. Of having the whole of my deeds consumed in fire like so much wood, hay, and stubble, and finding only a small handful of precious stones buried under truckloads of ash.

And the worst part of it all is that deep down, I don't know if I really want to change or if I just want to be told that I'm just fine as I am. I'm the textbook definition of a double-minded man.

If you're so inclined, I'd appreciate your prayers. However, just in case all I want is affirmation, I'm closing the comments on this one. Just think it to yourself, and then let it pass. Thanks.

Things I'm Attributing to the Cold*

  • The pain/pressure on the side of my right eyeball.
  • My incredibly heavy workload this week.
  • The slowness with which the Slackie (TM) results are arriving.
  • The complete musical ineptness of the "rock" band Nickelback.
  • Hoar frost. (Not that I've seen any lately. I just don't get to use the term often enough.)

*yes, it's a bit cold here. Those of you in such frigid climes as Madison or Sioux Falls may laugh disdainfully, but we backward coastal Texans aren't as used to this. It's a bit unusual. And people are freaking out for some reason. I think I may be the only person in my office who showed up.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


Apply directly to the forehead.
  • "Um, Sarge? We're gonna need a bigger humvee."
  • Libertarian political indoctrination? Maybe, but at least it's kinda fun. Here are some games that challenge the mind and develop a better understanding of socioeconomic principles. Think of this as a Paleo-con video arcade.
  • For my word-geeks: Enjoy.
  • For my lit-geeks: List! [h-t: Kins]
  • New Modest Mouse song? If you insist. [h-t: Pop Candy]
  • Simpsons as anime characters? Sure. [h-t: PC]
  • If I'm really going to have to pick sides, I'm going with John, because Jeremy seems like an arrogant jerk. Not because of this--just in general. Jeremy, "you must...chill!"
  • I don't remember Elora, but I love that she wrote an article about the incredible Dr. Carolyn Cole and her philosophy of art saving lives. I love Dr. Cole.
  • Dave Barry loves the show "24." Since Season 6 kicks off THIS SUNDAY, I think it'd be wise to keep Barry's page bookmarked as a show companion. Or just for some chuckles. I hear he's a funny guy.
  • Speaking of televisions shows starting up again in the next few days: HOO-AH!
  • Best Site I've Seen In A While: Book of Ratings. Hilarious. Definitely worth your time. [h-t: Kins]

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


The Slackie! Award Ballot has been up and available since last Friday, and if you want your voice to actually count this time, I'd suggest getting on the ball and voting. The polls close at 8 a.m. next Monday (January 15). That gives you six days to get your votes in, or campaign for your candidates.

Like I told people in November, if you don't vote, you forfeit the right to complain when your candidates don't get picked.

C'mon people, make it worth my while, here.

Monday, January 08, 2007

"All my friends say that of course it's gonna get better, gonna get better..."

To do:

1) ::EDIT::
2) ::EDIT::
3) ::EDIT::
4)Pray more. Repeat.
5) Resist the urge to blog unnecessarily--especially when mopey.
6) Thank God for His goodness, and His patience with you and your lame Robert-Smith-like attitude.

7) Go home.

Friday, January 05, 2007

The 2006 PBB "Slackie" (TM) Awards!!!

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome again to the third-annual PBB Slackie (TM) awards!

This year, the contest rules have been updated and improved, and I think most of you will better appreciate the new set-up.

In the past, you (the readers) have suggested nominees and have voted on your favorites, but the winner has always been decided by our panel of judges--namely, me. Your cries and complaints at the injustice of this set-up have landed on deaf ears--until now.

Here's how the new system is going to work:
  • Your votes will count. If at least five people vote in any given category, the majority/plurality of their votes will count toward the winner. (Less than five votes, and it's my pick, so don't blame me for low turnout.)
  • One vote per person per category, please. If you give me multiple, I will only count the first. Just like "Jeopardy."
  • The only exception is what I'm going to call the special "Judge's Choice" award. I will be allowed up to 3 overrides to be used when I think a vote is lopsided and a more worthy choice does not receive the award as it should. If I use the "Judge's Choice" option, I'll also list the popular favorite.
  • All ties will be decided by a fair and balanced coin toss.
  • Nominations do not automatically count as votes. If you want your opinion heard, vote again.
  • And due to our burgeoning readership in the state, this contest is no longer "void in Wyoming." Welcome aboard, Cowboy State!

Everybody ready? Here we go:

The Departed
Stranger than Fiction
The Prestige
Superman Returns
Snakes on a Plane
V for Vendetta
Lady in the Water

"Continuum," John Mayer
"Testify," POD
"Shine On," Jet
"The Crane Wife," The Decemberists
"Cut and Move," Day of Fire
"Saturday Night Wrist," Deftones
"Comatose," Skillet

"Lisey's Story," Stephen King
"Star Wars Darth Bane: Path of Destruction," Drew Karpyshyn
"Marley and Me," John Grogan
Anything by Rachel Ray

The Office
Battlestar Galactica
How I Met Your Mother

The Nine
The Class
Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip
Ugly Betty

Ice Age II
An Inconvenient Truth
Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause
Jesus Camp
Little Man

Trevor's Stick-figure Drawing Gallery
The "mullet-hat"
Guitar Hero II (PS2 video game)
PBB Cool Ten

"Modern Times," Bob Dylan (music)
The Alley Theater's production of Peter Schaffer's "Black Comedy" (stage)
PBB Cool Ten
"Your Best Life Now," Joel Osteen (book)

Democratic Party's takeover of Congress
The announcement of Star Wars Celebration IV (don't look at me, I just report it)
The execution of Saddam Hussein

Celebrity babies in general
Anything Madonna-related
Britney and Kevin Break Up!
Whatever Angelina Jolie is doing, 24 hours a day
Laura Bush's "secret" cancer treatment

St. Louis Cardinals--2006 World Series Champs (ugh)
Italy wins the World Cup
Ryan Howard, baseball MVP, hits 59 home runs
Shameless spending by Major League Baseball clubs
The impending dominance of the Chicago Cubs ("This year, baby!")

Mark "AIM Me, hotstuff" Foley
John "Troops R Stoopid" Kerry
Merlin Feistner, Republican candidate for County Commissioner in South Dakota, who lost to his two-months-deceased Democratic opponent

THE "Paris Hilton" PRIZE FOR MOST OVER-EXPOSED LINGERING CELEBRITY(formerly called the "You're Still Here?!?" Award):
Terrell Owens, loudmouth Dallas Cowboys wide receiver
Paris Hilton (can she three-peat?)
Britney Spears (read the category, folks.)
Kevin Federline (rapper, 'rassler, overall loser)
Garfield (the cat, I guess)

Katie Blair, the sometimes-inebriated Miss Teen USA
Rob and Amber from "Survivor"
Lukas Rossi of "Rockstar Supernova" (for you haters)

The Daily Puppy
The Smoking Gun
Perfect Blue Buildings
Kelly's Blog (rawks yer face off)
Pop Candy

Zidane and his World-Cup head-butt
John Kerry
Pat Robertson (it's practically a lifetime achievement award)
Tom Cruise
Dr. Phil

Ivory, unscented
Old Spice Hair and Body Wash
Snake Peel body scrub
Irish Spring Sport

Pineapple upside-down
Chocolate Swirl
Red Velvet
German Chocolate

Vault (seriously, Mike?)
Starbucks Peppermint Mocha
Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte
Iced Tea
Diet Pepsi

Best Espresso Drink
Best Guilty Pleasure
Best "Star Wars" Action Figure
Best Rawkin' Blog
Best Video Game of the Year

House, M.D. (TV--"House")
Hiro Nakamura (TV--"Heroes")
Harold Crick (Film--"Stranger than Fiction")
The Iron Lung (Stage--The "Hero Squad" Series)
Nicholai OshKoshB'Goshnikov (Stage--The "Hero Squad" Series)
Kal-El/Clark Kent/Superman (Film/TV/Comics)

Kate Austen (TV--"Lost")
Juliet (TV--"Lost")
Number 6 (TV--"Battlestar Galactica")
Claire Bennett (TV--"Heroes")
Jeremy's mother (Fiction--the unfinished "typewriter" story on PBB)
Story (Film--"Lady in the Water")

Stevie Wonder on "Sesame Street"
The multi-part saga of "LonelyGirl15"
The live-action stage production of "Super Mario Bros."
The SNL short, "**** in a Box"
"White and Nerdy," Weird Al Yankovic
"Must Love Jaws"

"Miracle on 34th Street"

Note: All voting is still for entertainment value only, but still has bearing on actual contest results. Contest winners are decided based on the majority/plurality of reader votes, except in the case of: 1) vote totals less than 5; or 2) "Judge's Prize" vote overrides. The voting will be overseen by the PBB panel of expert judges, and all results will be verified by the accounting firm of Fine, Howard, and Fine.

All ties will be decided scientifically (a coin toss). Unlike previous years, the method of picking a number between one and ten will not be used, since most of the nominees are works of art and/or inantimate objects, and cannot pick numbers or communicate their choices.

Winners will be notified within three years via Pony Express.

The management and staff of PBB/ATDTT, Inc. waive all responsibility of any injuries, arguments, or hurt feelings that may result from this contest or the ensuing voting in the comment box. Don't say we didn't warn you. You must be at least 5 years old in order to vote in all categories. Wyoming voters are now eligible. Contest is still void in New Hampshire, since it's weird enough to practically be considered part of Canada. Suck on rejection, hosers. Maybe next year, eh?

ADDENDUM: That last comment was not in any way meant to insult or demean Canadians. Though your foreign ways are strange and frightening to us here in the civilized world, we are grateful to you for such cultural gifts as Mike Myers, Douglas Coupland, milk-in-a-bag, and "The Red Green Show." Thank you, northern neighbors.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

More about the Reading List.

A few of you asked to see my To-Be-Read Shelf. Well, here you go. A few pictures for the curious.

Here is Shelf 1:

And here's Shelf 2:

The first book on the list is Douglas Coupland's "All Families are Psychotic." As you may know, I'm a big fan of Coupland, and was eager to pick this one up off of the bargain rack and Barnes and Noble for six bucks.

As I opened it the other day, imagine my surprise when I saw this:

Yes, that's right, kids.
An autographed first U.S. edition. For six bucks.
It's gonna be a good year.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The PBB 2006 Reading List

You've seen this before, if you've been reading long enough (or know how to use archives). These are books completed in 2006, listed by date of completion, title, author, and length. Please keep in mind that I usually have a few books going at the same time, so don't interpret the gaps between each title as the time it took me to read it. FYI.

At the end of the list, I'll do a little analysis and recommending for the geeky among you. Okay, us.


Jan. 5--Cash, by Johnny Cash (433)
Jan. 11--The Great Divorce, by C. S. Lewis (128)
Jan. 16--Disciplines of a Godly Man--Kent Hughes (229)
Jan. 19--Eleanor Rigby, by Douglas Coupland (249)
Jan. 29--Twentysomething, by Margaret Feinburg (188)
Jan. 31--Movie Megacheese, by Mike Nelson (288)
Feb. 11--Too Busy Not to Pray, by Bill Hybels (180)
Feb. 13--Marriable, by Hayley and Michael Dimarco (185)
Feb. 16--Insomnia, by Stephen King (787)
Mar. 10--The Essential Groucho, by Stefan Kanfer (252)
April 1--Mao II, by Don Delillo (241)
April 4--The Heavenly Man, by Brother Yun (347)
April 10--Through Painted Deserts, by Don Miller (256)
April 16--Every Young Man's Battle, by Steve Arterburn and Fred Stoeker (227)
April 27--On the Road, by Jack Kerouac (310)
May 2--Financial Peace Revisited, by Dave Ramsey (283)
May 5--Ella Minnow Pea, by Mark Dunn (208)
May 10--Hey Nostradamus!, by Douglas Coupland (244)
May 15--The Ragamuffin Gospel, by Brendan Manning (227)
May 27--Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen (383)
June 5--House, by Frank Peretti and Ted Dekker (372)
June 7--Stop Dating the Church, by Josh Harris (139)
July 4--The Stand, by Stephen King (1141)
July 16--Quarterlife Crisis, by Alexandra Robbins and Abby Wilner (202)
July 31--Conquering Your Quarterlife Crisis, by Alexandra Robbins (226)
Aug. 2--The Dante Club, by Matthew Pearl (378)
Aug. 11--Inferno, by Dante Aligheri (300)
Aug. 17--Theology, by Mark Tabb (284)
Aug. 30--Will in the World, by Stephen Greenblatt (407)
Sept. 21--The Idiot, by F. Dostoevesky (578)
Oct. 5--Dreamcatcher, by Stephen King (882)
Oct. 11--A Long Way Down, by Nick Hornby (333)
Oct. 12--Twelve, by Nick McDonnell (244)
Oct. 26--Werewolves in Their Youth, by Michael Chabon (212)
Oct. 29--Driving Blind, by Ray Bradbury (261)
Oct. 29--Visioneering, by Andy Stanley (271)
Nov. 3--Night Shift, by Stephen King (326)
Nov. 5--How People Grow, by Drs. Cloud and Townshend (360)
Nov. 8--Confessions of a Reformission Rev, by Mark Driscoll (207)
Nov. 14--Killing Time, by Caleb Carr (335)
Nov. 30--The Spirit of America, by William Bennett (430)
Dec. 9--It's Superman!, by Tom De Haven (417)
Dec. 10--Simpsons Comics Unleashed!, by Matt Groenig (160)
Dec. 18--No Perfect People Allowed, by John Burke (317)
Dec. 23--Cell, by Stephen King (449)
Dec. 29--Crisis on Infinite Earths, by Marv Wolfman and George Perez (365)


And now, the breakdown.

Total Books Finished: 46--18 more than last year. Of course, the shortness of the books may have helped.

Total Pages of completed books (not accounting for carry-overs on either end): 15,241--almost 6,000 more than last year. Wow.
Average Pages per day: 41.76. Yeah, I'm a geek.

Average Pages per book: 331
Average Pages per book, without counting Stephen King novels: 284

Most Read Author: King, with 5
Number of King books read in 2005: 0
Number of King books read in 2004: 9
Seems I run hot and cold on Steve. He's still a favorite, though.

Most Surprising Statistic: 43.47%--the percentage of my 2006 reading fairly considered non-fiction (and that's not counting the fence-sitters).
Percentage of non-fiction read in 2004: 14.29%
I'm becoming a bit more balanced in my reading diet, I think. To be fair, almost all of this year's non-fiction was religious in nature. I need to introduce more histories and biographies into the mix.

Most Disappointing Read: Well, the Hybels book didn't do anything for me. Possibly "Marriable," though sadly, I never took the effort to rant fully about why I hated it. I can't remember much of it, but I think the main issue was that it was so incredibly shallow in its approach. It was all surface stuff, and that bugged me.

Another pick would be Ray Bradbury's "Driving Blind." I grew up loving Ray Bradbury, and this took some of the shine off of my esteem for him. I don't know if he's gotten worse, or I just could never see it until now, but the stories just weren't any good at all.

Most Unexpectedly Enjoyable Read(s): Several. "Ella Minnow Pea" and "The Dante Club" were great lit-geek reading. "The Stand" became my favorite King novel ever. And "It's Superman!" fed my ever-growing love for all things Super.

Top Five Recommendations from the 2006 PBB Reading List:

Honorable Mentions: "The Heavenly Man;" "Will in the World;" "Cash;" "It's Superman!"

5) The one-two punch of Matthew Pearl's "The Dante Club" and Dante's "Inferno": I had never read Dante's "Inferno" all the way through, myself (thank you, Western Civ class and Norton Anthology!). But Pearl's thrilling murder-mystery novel sparked my interest in the classic literary work. As soon as I finished the novel, I zipped through the masterpiece it was woven around. Great reading for lovers of literature.

4) "Ella Minnow Pea," Mark Dunn: This epistolary novel is a word-geek's dream-come-true: a funny and engaging novel about words. Specifically, the letters that make up our words. We may think we can live without the ostracized "z" or the nonubiquitous "q," but when our "b's" and "m's" are threatened, what would we do? This is light and fun reading that is well worth the short time to finish. Jump, quick brown fox, jump!

3) "The Idiot" by Fyodor Dostoevsky. I loved "The Brothers Karamazov" last year, and "The Idiot" proves that it was not a fluke. What a beautiful, tragic novel. Prince Myshkin is a man who, though afflicted with epilespy, is not crazy or mentally-handicapped, yet he is treated as such by everyone around him. Rather, he is the most pure, trusting, honest, good-hearted person in a deceitful, hateful, destructive society. In such a society, how can a good man survive? As the author demonstrates, not well, and not for long. To paraphrase Melville: Ah, Myshkin! Ah, humanity!

2) "Pride and Prejudice," Jane Austen: Yes, the recent film (and its star) were lovely, but the book is so much better. The pacing of the story is completely different and the characterization (as you would expect) are decidedly fuller. This is brilliant social satire, as well as a moving love story. For the first several chapters, I asked myself, "Why would anyone want to be with Mr. Darcy?" By the end of it, part of me wanted to be Mr. Darcy.

1) "The Stand," by Stephen King: I know, I know, big surprise. Well, I decided that instead of giving you some other book that I enjoyed less, I'd go with my gut. "The Stand" is an incredible, sprawling tale that had me from Page 1 and didn't let me go for the next 1140. Amazing book by my favorite author. Most of you probably won't read it. That's fine; the other books listed are all really good and worthy of your attentions. But this one was my favorite. While it may not be my favorite book of all time, it definitely gets "Top-Shelf" status.

As for 2007:

As you know, I have a "to-be-read" shelf, which has quickly grown to be larger than two shelves. So here's my goal for 2007: I'm going to read all the books on those first two shelves, in the order they are sitting on the shelf, left to right. I may add books to the list, but I cannot remove or shuffle any as they now stand. Obviously, you won't know if I do or not, but you'll have to take my word for it. Come to think of it, you have to take my word for everything in this post, so this last bit shouldn't be too difficult.

Coming up in January: "All Families are Psychotic" by Coupland, and P. D. James' "Children of Men."

No, really, content coming...

[currently listening to: Chris Cornell, "When I'm Down," from his under-appreciated solo album, "Euphoria Morning"]

Sorry, I'm just busy, first day back in aught-seven.

I'm planning on staying late this evening, in part to post for your entertainment and enlightenment. That's how I roll. Especially now that I'm done with the part-time gig (hallelujah).

Coming this evening: Reading list, new-year ruminations, song list.

Coming on the morrow: Slackie '06 ballot. Maybe. It's my "meeting day," though, so this may be bumped.