Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Top 10 Warning Signs that Your "eHarmony" Date Might Not Be "The One"

(A PBB "Cool Ten" Production.)

10. She tells you she's a member of The Foot Clan.
9. She cheers for the St. Louis Cardinals. (sorry, Jennie.)
8. Over dinner, she describes the time she nearly "broke up" with her cat.
7. She has fangs.
6. Her hobbies are mountain biking, old movies, and DTRs. (Baptist sub-culture joke.)
5. Her MySpace page's background music is "You Oughta Know" by Alanis Morrisette.
4. She thinks Jack Bauer is "a big softie."
3. Did I mention she's a Cards fan? Seriously...
2. She tells you that she agreed to go out with you because she's always had a soft spot for strays and underdogs.

And the Number One warning sign that your eHarmony date may not be "The One":

1. She's a blogger, so she'll probably post a detailed description of everything that's wrong with you by tomorrow morning.

Powder-milk Politics

This is interesting to me. Garrison Keillor, outspokenly liberal in politics and ideology, writes a post for Salon which, on the surface, may be construed to say he's opposed to gay parents. The fact is, his very dry sense of irony is in full effect, as he essetially says gay parenting will be like anything else in culture that we will get used to seeing as normal. He describes stereotypes for the sake of mocking them, and says that the biggest threat to the well-being of children is parents who are too self-centered to put the good of their children ahead of their own welfare. (WORD.)

The conservatives with no reading comprehension trumpet it as GK backing up their opposition to gay marriage/adoption.

The liberals with no reading comprehension suddenly turn on their poster boy and accuse him in no uncertain terms of bigotry, idiocy, senility, and the greatest evil of all, being a conservative. A few even invite Keillor to "choke and die." (Read the comments, it's scary.)

Keillor then tried to speak plainly and clear up the matter, and his follow-up was summarily written off by most of the folks who made up their mind to be furious.

Maybe you read the article differently than I did. Maybe I will never know how it feels to read it as someone who is gay or has gay loved ones, because i'm not and I don't (at least as far as I know). Whether or not my lack of experience negates my opinion or ability to reason (much as it appears to regarding the abortion issue, I'm told), I'd be inclined to disagree.

But I find it interesting that a lifetime of proper and outspoken liberalism can be erased, wholly negated, by the perception of one 700-word piece in an online magazine. That instead of using Occam's razor to decide that maybe the piece needs another look, so many have instantly written him off as being the vilest evil our society can label, worse in the public mind than any sexual predator, Neo-Nazi, or terrorist: a homophobe.

Is it because he didn't profusely celebrate the ultimate superiority and rightness of gay parenting with showers of rose petals and (eco-friendly) ticker tape, that he was thus maligned? That's how it appears. I don't know if that's a fair judgment, but that's what I've got. Is the public so sensitive to any mention of homosexuality that anything other than obesiance is met with criticism? When so many gay men and women make livings playing off the stereotypes that they so deplore being mentioned by anyone outside the club? (Sean Hayes to the stage, please.) Doesn't that smack of hypocrisy to anyone else?

And I'm not talking about anyone's use of the six-letter "f" word here. That word is vile and ignorant, and I consider it almost the same way I do the six-letter "n" word. (Though curiously, each group feels free to use it with each other, and slap it from the mouth of anyone else. Hmm.) There is no place for either word in this day and age. (Especially in the speech of an avowed Christian, Ms. Coulter.)

What I'm getting at is that homosexual "rights" (forgive the scare quotes) has become such a third-rail issue that people are afraid to discuss it directly and actually acknowledge that it, like hetero marriage and parenting, has problems and negatives that should be considered. To speak against any aspect of the established position will get you tagged with that dreaded "H" label, which in this society has become akin the pirates' Black Spot.

And what people are losing sight of--as I am at risk of doing myself, in this post--is that he didn't oppose anything other than selfish parenting. The rest of his article was wry overstatement. But what a hornets' nest it stirred up, and how they sting.

Were I the esteemed GK, I'd be tempted to reconsider my political affiliation after being thus villified by so many. Granted, it's but a drop in the electoral bucket, but such a vehement outpouring of abuse would certainly give one pause. However, what I expect is that Keillor will continue to shrug this latest storm off with his affable good nature, and continue to hold fast to his (arguably misguided [... just kidding]) beliefs.

One simply cannot live in fear of being disliked or labeled or villified for what they write or say (whether seriously or in jest). Not on Lake Woebegone. Not in America. Not anywhere.


This post will be a grab-bag of sorts. Think of it as a linky-love with bonus commentary.

1. In reference to the title, it made my day when one of my favorite (admittedly geeky) podcasts makes reference to something that's equally hilarious and geeky. [Fair warning: bad language in spots.] Not that it was a difficult leap to make, with Lois Lane's apparently recent investigative subject (I wish I were kidding).

2. In case you needed help telling the difference: How to tell if you're watching a bad Nicholas Cage movie. [Fair warning: more bad language.] The sad thing is, a few of the "bad" movies I recognized in the list are ones I really like. I don't know, I really tend to give Nick Cage a lot of leeway. But then again, you don't watch Nicholas Cage movies for high drama and Oscar-calibre acting. You watch them because it's friggin' Nick Cage, and motorcycles/airplanes/mysteries/Alcatraz...'s are cool.

3. I'm too lazy to sync up "Dark Side of the Moon" and "Wizard of Oz." Thankfully, Rolling Stone has the highlights.

4. Funny, because it's so close to the truth. The fact is, for some folks, if this were possible, they'd be all for it. I wish that second link were satire.

5. Mennonites are moving out of Missouri, because the state is now requiring photos on all drivers' licenses. [h-t: BHT] Having your picture taken is against the Mennonites' faith, but the MO state government is pushing this for the sake of security. I can appreciate the efforts of the state, but I kinda have to side with the Mennonites on this issue. Though, I love their response. They said, "We want to respect the law, but we must follow our faith." So instead of suing the state legislators, they simply move to where they can follow their faith without having to disobey state law. I think in some small way, this is a great example of "as far as it depends upon you, live at peace with everyone." Good for them.

6. This does not bode well for "Across the Universe," the Beatles-inspired musical I've posted about before. That's too bad. That's what you get for hiring the crazy directors, though.

7. I'm not going to address the question of the proposed military pull-out of Iraq. I'm not in the mood for discussions or arguments. However, I talked to a dear friend yesterday about whether or not Islamic terrorists only attack Americans and their allies because we started something with them. Here's a list of the major terrorist attacks from 1961 to 2003. Towards the end of the list, a theme develops. The attackers are predominantly Islamic radicals. But the targets aren't just on our side.

As I said, I'm not trying to make a specific argument or push an agenda. This is just some more data to inform our understanding of who's fighting whom, and the perceived causes. Flame on.

8. Really, this photo says it all. Of course, I'm not exactly sure what "it all" is.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Sound and Fury


Savior, can you hear me? Are you coming soon? How long?
This miry clay is covering my soil-stained shoes,
and there's nary a rock for me to stand on.
The muck fills my pockets as I sink back into myself.
How long, O LORD, will I sing this song?
And will I ever outrun the dogs of my own dark thoughts,
before they break my bones and eat my flesh?
I will wait for you, O LORD, for your salvation,
from my sin, from my dark eyes, from my double-heart.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

In Which Our Hero's Long-Established Prejudices Are Challenged By The Occasion of Listening to the Radio

So I was listening to a local "mix" station last night, and a song came on that hit me just right. It was slow, bluesy, and just the right amount of hopeful. I allowed myself to get wrapped up in it, and just floated in the middle of the song as if on a raft cruising down the most serene of rivers, when suddenly I was struck by horrified realization of a practically Sophoclean nature:

I know who sings this.

My entire (musical) value system is now thrown into a bit of a tailspin.

(File Under: Overstatement, Comedic)

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

PBB Programming Announcement!!! (UPDATED)

This afternoon at 3 p.m. CST, David Shook (CCS alum, and a personal friend) will be on Wisconsin Public Radio, as the secondary guest on a program discussing the graphic novel as literature.

Shook was part of the creative writing class I taught way back when, though I doubt I taught him much of anything. A natural talent, and an all-around swell guy. Do me a personal favor, and listen to the program.

UPDATE: Well, in case you missed it, David was great. ("Oh, I remember way back when, when he was just a wily junior sneaking Jack in the Box eggrolls into my class. Ah, the memories...") Keep checking this page, where I assume they'll post the mp3 of the show in the near future. It was a great discussion, and worth your forty minutes if you're a fan of literature, comics, communication theory, or film. Or if you're a fan of PBB, and want to check out what I recommend. That works, too.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Tell Me 'Bout It.

[opening music: "Arms of My Baby," Joss Stone]

1. Getting better. I may not have mentioned it, but I was sick for most of the weekend. Headcold. Allergy-aided. But right now, I'm only dealing with a little bit of head congestion and ear stuffiness. So that's a blessing.

2. Sunday afternoon, I went back home instead of spending the day with my parents and sisters. (They understood; being sick all weekend, my apartment was stuffy, germy, and in need of some cleaning. I was feeling a bit more chipper, so I told them I needed to tackle that task.) On the way home, I decided I was craving Italian food. I ended up going to Olive Garden, and ordering the soup/salad/breadstick combo. Tasty. I topped it off with some tiramisu.

I walked back to the truck feeling pleasantly full and a little sluggish. The sky was overcast but a steady breeze was blowing. I had been reading some Bonhoeffer over lunch. And all in all, I was feeling very contented. When I got in the car, I spent a few minutes thanking God for such a lovely afternoon.

You know, I'm far from where I feel I should be on my spiritual journey, and there are things in my life that I have yet to overcome and move past. But I have been blessed with an acute awareness of how incredible the experience of "life" is, and it makes me constantly thankful to the Giver of all good gifts. He didn't have to make everything so wonderful; that was a bonus for us. Color didn't have to be so vivid; flavor didn't have to be so strong and stimulating; music didn't have to be so beautiful. But He did this for us, to reveal His deep and abounding generosity, and I'm afraid we so often take it for granted.

3. I want to write again. I haven't felt the desire in a while. It's a little strange, but welcome. Now, to put this newfound impetus to good use.

4. I'm going to limit my weeknight TV viewing for the next 3 weeks to 24, Lost, and Smallville. Everything else gets videotaped until some free Saturday in April. While this isn't a terrible sacrifice, it will be an adjustment for me, since I often just watch whatever happens to be on. I'm an incorrigible channel-surfer, even with only the eight locals. So yeah, this should open up a little bit of time for writing and working out.

5. Yeah, I'm hitting the gym today for the first time in toodanglong. Of course, since I decided I'd do this today, I've gotten nothing but more and more work dumped on my plate, ensuring a late night. However, if I can motivate myself enough to get to it, I should be out of here no more than an hour later than normal. So, I'm cutting it off here.

READER QUESTION: What is your favorite thing to experience with your senses**? It can be a taste, smell, sound, sight, or feeling. Drop it in the comment box. Be descriptive.

**I was this close to asking for your favorite "sensual experience," but that would open up a whole 'nother kind of thread.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Steve Gutenberg's Printing Press and the Magna Carton.

One's an invention, the other is a political document. A creation, but not an invention. In case you were keeping score. (Kidding.)

Some quick hits for ya.

[opening music: "Samson," Regina Spektor]

1) Saw "The Host" last night. (This makes the second foreign film I've seen in a row at the theater. I feel so cosmopolitan!) Fantastic monster movie. Possibly one of the best monster movies I've ever seen. It has some bad language (subtitled, but still bad), but other than that, I'd highly recommend it to anyone--UNLESS...

1a) ...You bring small children in the theater. This has to be one of my biggest pet peeves. This child of no more than four starts crying at the climax of the movie, and this idiot father SLOWLY walks him down the stairs to the exit, so he can see the end of the movie. I really wanted to smack this dude around a little. The kids obviously freaked out, but the guy's first concern was finding out how the movie ends. (Nevermind the fact that by the end of the movie it was ALMOST ONE IN THE MORNING and the kid shouldn't have been out that late.)

I'm gonna say a word now to you parents, admittedly as someone without your experience: STOP BRINGING YOUR KIDS TO R-RATED MOVIES. Just. Stop. I don't care what your excuses are. The kids don't need to be there. Pay the twenty bucks to get a sitter, or wait until video. But it is cruel and shoddy parenting to subject your children to a HORROR movie that involves a MONSTER and CHILDREN IN PERIL, because you're too selfish to put the wellbeing of your child ahead of your own movie-watching desires. When I have kids, I'm going to live by this principle. You have to put the good of your kids first, and your kids don't need to be traumatized, so you can have an enjoyable time at the cinema. The worst I've ever seen was a woman leading a group of FIVE kids under 8 or 9 out of the theater showing "A Time to Kill," which was about child rape! What the crap are you smoking, lady?

Like I said, I don't have any kids yet, so I don't have the same perspective. But I really think it's disgusting when parents put their own needs ahead of their kids in that way. (Flame away.)

1b) By the way, the other foreign film I spied recently was "Pan's Labyrinth." Awesome. Brutal. NOT kid-friendly. But worth seeing.

2) I've been kicking myself for a few months now about missing out on the Counting Crows show here in Houston last fall (apparently, it was one of the "most amazing" shows on the tour). So I'm trying to see my favorite bands more, if I can help it.

Well, Ben Folds will be in town again this summer. BUT the problem is he's the opening act. Who's he opening for? Friggin John Mayer.

I believe you know how I feel about better bands opening for Mayer. So, as much as it pains me, I won't be seeing Ben, unless I can get cheap tickets.

3) Want some political stuff? Here you go: This site (which seems to have a particular ideological bent, but whatever) has the voting (and quoting) records for American politicians. So cut past all the BS rhetoric and see how your presidential pick has been voting.

3a) I don't want to get ahead of myself here, but if Fred Thompson decides to run for president, expect an official PBB endorsement soon thereafter.

3b) If you're unfamiliar with Thompson, here's a good primer.

3c) Just kidding. Here's the real link.

4) Trying to remember that one Calvin and Hobbes comic strip on that certain topic? Have no fear! Here's a nifty site that will search the comics by text!

5) Somewhat political, somewhat comic strip: Here's a link to the white-paper "The Betrayal of Captain America," written in 2003 by Michael Medved and Michael Lackner on what they call "anti-American themes" in Marvel comics in the past few years. With all the Captain America press lately, this surfaced too. Presented here without further commentary, beyond this: while Medved has been known to get a little alarmist (his action points at the end, especially), he also brings up some interesting points about the ideological slant of the ideas and messages being shown. Something to think about, no matter what kind of creative media you prefer.

6) One last comic book thingy: Jake Gyllenhal is being tapped to portray Captain Marvel in an upcoming film. SHAZAM!

7) I won't talk about global warming. I won't talk about global warming. I won't talk about global warming... Okay, fine.

As a side note (because i'm not touching the actual topic), this suggestion of censorship scares me as much as climate change does. So does this. Debunk the second, if you will, but the first link is straight from the, ahem, climatologist's mouth.

And someone should tell the Martians to not burn their fossil fuels. Maybe Al Gore's next film should be "An InterPLANETARY Truth." (Okay, to be fair: counterpoint.)

7b) Did anyone else just start singing "Intergalactic, planetary, planetary, inter-galactic!" in their head? Or was it just me?

8) "Smallville" News: Lex Luthor Marries Lana Lang Tonight! Fan reaction at the news is...mixed. ("As if millions of fans were crying out in terror, and were suddenly silenced."**) Meanwhile, I think this sums up my feelings pretty well.

9) I thought I was going to deliver up some personal stuff too, but this post really turned itself into a linky-love post, didn't it. Hmmm. I'm not feeling well. Scratchy throat. Sneezy. General crud, due to weather and spring.

10) Today's my mom's birthday. That's neat. I got her a 2-Gig memory card for her new digital camera--BUT DON'T TELL HER, IT'S A SECRET!

11) Of the 9 or 10 "Firefly" episodes I've seen, "Out of Gas" is my favorite thusfar. (Don't worry, Trev, "Jaynestown" is a close second.)

11a) Have I mentioned how much I love Netflix?

11b) No, I don't "have a problem." Much.

12) I'm thirsty. Later.

**That's right, kids--twice the geekery, for only half the price.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Postponed-Appointment TV

Ugh. Just when I'm gearing up for another fine week of TV viewing, I find out that many of my shows are in reruns or, worse, are pre-empted for stupid things. Fifteen hours of "Deal or No Deal"? March Madness? American friggin Idol?!?

Maybe I watch too much TV. This is probably true. I mean, I keep up with... only 9 or 10 programs, all told. And a solid half of them are on short hiatus this week, have already ended their season (I miss "The Class" already), or are showing re-runs in order to not lose new viewers to friggin Idol.

Fortunately, thanks to Netflix, I have six or seven episodes of "Firefly" waiting for me at home, to fill those unspent TV hours that would have otherwise been wasted.

I don't have a problem. I can quit anytime. Really.

Okay, no "maybe." I do watch too much TV. You know what? I hereby resolve to watch less TV.

Starting in June... after the seasons end...

C'mon, don't look at me that way--I just have to know what happens to Ted Moseby / Peter Petrelli / Jack Bauer / The Donnelly Brothers / Rory-Logan and Lorelai-Luke / House's addiction / The Losties and the Others / Clark Kent, Our Saint of Perpetual Pining.

READER QUIZ QUESTION: Time to fess up to your "appointment TV" program(s) of choice. What shows do you make sure to watch every week?

I just need to know I'm not the only one.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Thoughtful spot.

I've been blogging and reading blogs for years. I've recommended countless blogs to you readers for just as long. I've gone through phases with this blogger or that blogger as my "absolute favorites" (remember Bill Barol? me neither), and invariably they have all fallen to the wayside of my esteem and/or attention at one point or another.

But I was reminded again today that James Lileks is still the best columnist/blogger/writer on the big, wide internets. Lileks doesn't often dip into the political stuff (though he can, and well). But even his accounts of daily life are so aptly detailed; such descriptions in clumsier hands would be deadly dull. He just uses language so well.

Basically, if blogging could ever one day evolve into a pure art form and an example of the best and brightest of culture (as literature once did), then Lileks would be seen as one of its early masters. Maybe not one of the first, but surely one of the best.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Mid-week Linky Love

To offset the heaviness of political commentary, here are a big pile o' links for your mid-week distraction--I mean, edification.
  • AOL Music has the best-of collections for both Notorious B.I.G. and Duncan Sheik. If you're into that.
  • I know all you Sweathogs out there are looking forward to this DVD release. And if not, well, up your nose with a rubber hose.
  • I stumbled across this fascinating site recently. Part of what caught my interest was that it includes pictures and commentary about the now-deceased-and-dismantled Six Flags Astroworld. The lengthy picture/commentary series on European theme parks is hilarious but a little crude, so weigh it accordingly. But the site is great for reminiscing about childhood memories at the nearest amusement park.
  • New Insanely Addictive Flash Game Alert: Virus 2. It's awesome, but a total time-zapper.
  • This movie looks like it could be the next Moulin Rouge. Depending on what you thought of the first one, that could be a good or bad thing. But I'm really looking forward to seeing this trippy film. [h-t: Manders]
  • Interesting column from a UK newspaper about Bush the scapegoat, and who'll be left to blame after 2008. [h-t: protein wisdom]
  • Myles writes well. Here's a short post about "Lenten lungs."
  • NewsFlash! It's a sad day for comic book fans. Let us all pause and mourn the passing of an iconic superhero. [h-t: pop candy]
  • For those of you big on self-reflection (as I am): find out your perfect hometown and your real age. [h-t: kins]
  • Speaking of Kinsey, I want each of you to zip over to her page and leave her a word of encouragement. She's in the process of quitting smoking.
  • You musical hipsters will enjoy this: another Top 40 songs list, but with mp3 audio.
Have a good Wednesday.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Getting down in the mud.

Those of you who are attuned to the (U.S.) political scene have probably heard about the latest Ann Coulter outrage. For those who haven't: At a meeting of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), a nexus-point for conservative thinkers, bloggers, and candidates, conservative bomb-thrower Ann Coulter was given an opportunity to do her usual routine. During her speech, she made a comment about how she would talk about John Edwards but using the word f****t would land her in rehab.

Now, this type of comment doesn't surprise me from Coulter. I find her sometimes funny but often incredibly crass, and as a result, I don't read a lot of her writing. (This doesn't mean I don't support her right to print what she wants. Rah-rah, First Amendment, and all that.) And when I hear a comment like this one, I just shake my head. This isn't political discourse. This is childish namecalling. It's low-class.

What did surprise me, to some small degree, was the support she received on the right side of the internets. Not from many (if any) of the big names, but a lot of the little fishies in their big ponds were applauding. One of my favorite semi-political bloggers, Rob at Say Anything (Content Warning for language, for all links in this post), rightly denounced her comments as doing more harm than good to the conservative agenda, and his typically loyal commenters started attacking him like a school of piranhas for daring to disagree with the hard-right darling. Others, like Jay Tea at Wizbang, have taken a more cautiously balanced approach to the latest Coulter debacle, but even he is being taken to task by commenters who demand more support.

Other key conservative bloggers, like Michelle Malkin, have denounced the comments as well. (Of course, Malkin's comments may not hold water with some of you, but I'd firmly argue that, at her worst, she's not even in the same league as Coulter.)

What bothers me, and motivated this belabored post, was the justifications given for Coulter's slur by the right-leaning internets' "little fish." (And for the record, I think of myself as the shrimpiest of little fish in this great big blogorama.) They said that she was "telling the truth" and "taking it to the dirty Kommiekrats." They defended her as being "no worse than the wingnut Lefties" who say the same sorts of things about Republicans. At one point, Rob tried to argue for taking the high ground in political debate, and the response was that "when you're fighting pigs, sometimes you have to get down in the mud."

This is why I don't talk a whole lot of politics--because this is what it takes now. The high ground has been abandoned by people who think you have to "fight ire with ire," so to speak. One commenter said that the "William F. Buckley" route stopped being effective because conservatives are shouted down by some uncouth and disrespectful liberal types. So, such people now believe that the only way to get their say is to play just as dirty as some of the folks on the Left do. They believe this approach is justified.

I wholeheartedly disagree. Maybe I'm becoming just as "sissified" as some bloggers think others are who were offended by Coulter's comment, but I refuse to engage in low-road rhetoric. It's easy to slip into. But I'm working on getting past the immaturity of "You're GAY!" insults. That's how ignorant children argue. If you want to sit at the adults' table, you should learn to conduct yourself better.

And I expect that those of you who come from a different political perspective than I do will keep me honest if I start to slip into knee-jerk "Lib's are teh suck" mode in the next year and a half. Not to say that I won't address political issues, because I probably will, and aggressively. But I do promise you that I will do so with respect and sober judgment. And if I start relying on childish slaps, I'll trust you to challenge me.

But more often than not, I'll probably just shrug off political discussion altogether and talk about TV or something. It's more enjoyable than getting down in the muck.

[Here's a fantastic post by Dean Barnett that addresses the issue better than I did.]

Friday, March 02, 2007

For a lonely soul, you're having such a nice time.

1) It's been a week, boys and girls. It's been a tough week. But here we are, on the other side. Friday night. Do a dance.

2) I've been here at the office until at least 8 p.m. for 4 out of the past 5 workdays. I'm tired of these late hours. Why so long? Because I've been stuck in first-gear here at work, all week long. And I just feel like I'm grinding my gears at this point. A coworker said it sounded like burn-out. I don't know. It may be. I may need to hit the road.

3) Today, I had some issues with an email sent by one of the doctors, in which my work performance was slandered a little bit. It took a supreme act of diplomacy to not open up a can of "whoop-um" (as they call it at CCCS) in my reply, but I tried to be clear and firm. I'm afraid that my best efforts, even supervisor-approved, will be thrown back in my face next Monday. Oh well, at least I'll be looking forward to leaving to go get a tooth pulled that afternoon.

4) Yeah, I've got a bad molar. It had a cavity, which I ignored (to my detriment). The tooth cracked on Wednesday. It doesn't hurt yet, which is good in the meantime, but means it was pretty well dead up to that point. Pretty gross. So now I have antibiotics and painkillers at the ready for Monday's fiasco. (Insanely-sensitive gag reflex + extraction of last bottom molar = double-plus-unfun.)

I learn things the hard way. Even when it comes to being vigilant about dental hygiene.

5) At the dentist, I learned that my blood pressure was not as bad as I thought it would be. It's not great by any stretch, but I'm a tad relieved. It's fixable without meds, I think. Good news.

6) My plans for the next 36 hours are some combination of the following: watching movies, doing laundry, cleaning my house, sleeping, afternoon-napping, Bible study lesson final-prep (i.e. writing it all down), 2-3 Playstation baseball games, 1 valiant attempt at the "Hard" setting on "Guitar Hero," hanging out with Will Sr. (if possible), and ignoring the calls of all but two people, if I can help it.

7) I wanna be loved.

8) I'm still struck by crippling self-consciousness whenever an attractive girl crosses my path. I'm struck dumb, I feel awkward. I can't just go up and introduce myself. I fear that she'll be repulsed by yet another cheesy guy hitting on her. For me, being "repulsive" is almost worse than being "rejected." I don't like making people feel uncomfortable. I'm not assertive enough to not care.

I saw her walk up and stand in line at the restaurant with her friend. I actually invited them to go ahead of us while we waited on our party, but I had to tell the friend, not her--I couldn't speak to her. She was lovely. Semi-professionally dressed, for what could be a job as restaurant hostess or executive assistant. She had a nice smile. She spoke to her friend, laughed. I tried not to glance at her too often. My lunchmate said, "You ought to just go right up and kiss her, man." I shook my head. I couldn't do that. I'd think about it for a moment, but there's no way I could. I'm not that guy. I don't think I really want to be. But I at least want to be the guy who goes up and introduces myself. Who asks if I can join them for lunch. Who makes small talk. I've lost the art of making small talk with beautiful women. (I say "lost" as if I ever had it.) And when she sat at the other end of the dining area, I wrote it off in my head as hopeless. And when she left, I wrote it off as yet another coulda-woulda-shoulda.

9) While sitting in the dentist's chair, "waiting for the man to come around" (so to speak), I watched the flat-screen TV a few feet in front of me. (My dentist is very posh, and has all the nicest toys, including flat-screen monitors to entertain the patrons in his absence.) It was tuned to the country video network (GAC, not CMT--as if!), and I found it funny that I didn't mind. Five years ago, I would have begged for other options, but I'm slowly starting to at least appreciate some of the good things about country music. I'm not a fan yet; but I like some stuff.

So they started the broadcast of female country stars; apparently March is "women's history month." So the first video is Reba McIntyre's "Somebody." Followed by a commercial for eHarmony. Followed by Shania Twain's "Forever and for Always."

I wonder if Somebody's trying to tell me something.

10) Incidentally, I also saw the video of Loretta Lynn and Jack White singing "Portland, Oregon," which was pretty rockin. If I had YouTube access, I'd embed it here. Sadly, you'll just have to find it yourself. Good stuff, though.

11) Oops. Went past ten. Oh well. Have a good weekend, kids.