Wednesday, September 26, 2007

And now, your Wednesday moment of insanity.

A triple-shot to last you for the next 6 days. See you next Tuesday!

Monday, September 24, 2007

The Return of the "PBB Cool Ten List" 2: And the Legend Continues...... (UPDATED)

10. 83-73. 3.5 games ahead of the Brewers, headed into the final week of the season. If the Cardinals can pull off a win tonight, that will bring the BrewCrew's elimination number down to 3. And as we all know, that's a magic number.
9. Speaking of magic number, mine for the week was 5.5. Go me.
8. Speaking of 3, my birthday's in 3 weeks. If you REALLY love me... well, i'm just saying. Size 58.
7. You may have noticed that I've already started supporting a candidate with a small button on the right. If not, go ahead and give it a press. But I want to draw you attention to the fact that while some candidates are satisfied with doing the typical t-shirt thing, Fred goes a more sporty route.
6. Speaking of football, I have to say that, in spite of my disappointment, I'm pretty proud of my Texans nearly upsetting the world-champion Colts despite several key injuries.
5. Yay for real TV! Tonight is the return of Heroes!!!!
4. Double-yay for the return of Smallville on Thursday!!! Clark vs. Bizarro, Part 2!!!!!
3. Last sports item: ARod? Seriously?!?!?
2. Last media item: I'm irritated this film isn't showing in Houston yet.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

And now, your Wednesday moment of insanity.

(And PBB Post #1300!)

"Don't Taze me, bro!" (UPDATED)

A little something from the current events file:

On Monday, Senator John Kerry was giving a speech at the University of Florida. After taking some questions from school officials, the forum was opened up to students for a short time. According to the accounts of some of the students in attendance, when it looked like that question time was about to end, a student cut in front of the people waiting in line ahead of him and rushed up to the microphone demanding to be heard, with campus security quickly closing in. Kerry said he would hear out the young man after he finished answering the previous question. When given the opportunity to speak, the young man went into a bit of a tirade making reference to Bush and Clinton and Lewinsky and the war, and then, well, here's the rest:

So here's what I see: I see a guy going to a forum, disrespecting all the people waiting in line with him, and railing against a sitting U. S. Senator. He's asked to leave, and is then escorted to the back of the room when he refuses. He pushes the security officers, pulls away, makes a nuisance of himself, and even when restrained continues to fight against the security instead of leaving quietly. Then, to subdue him and remove him from the building, he is tasered while handcuffed.

Honestly, I think he had it coming, and I don't feel sorry for him. Considering how much care the security folks took in corralling him so that he didn't harm anyone else, he got off light. I watched a film/documentary on the 1968 Democratic Convention protests, and if this kid tried this crap then, he would have gotten boots to the ribs and a nightstick to the back of the skull. I applaud the security people for using the taser as a last resort in this situation, since this person was still kicking and fighting while handcuffed and held down.

So did this kid learn his lesson? Have he and his cohorts figured out that he was being an idiot, and should have treated everyone involved with more respect? Ummmm, apparently not.

So what happened next? Here's the latest I've found. Looks like two of the officers are on "administrative leave" until the investigation is completed; the ACLU is condemning the use of the taser and said that it was the kid's right to ask rambling diatribes of visiting political speakers. There are marches and protests planned. There are allegations that the kid planned the stunt because he's seeking a career in media. There's a general feeling of "cops bad, angry protest kid good."

Here's the police report on the incident.

My final word: The kid's an idiot. You got something to say? Then say something. Screeching your political opinions and nutjob conspiracy theories, and trying to be louder and angrier than everyone else, is not discourse--it's diatribe. Profane slogans and insults aren't debate, you stupid kids. [h-t: Hot Air]

Related: Always eager to find the humor in things, Dennis Miller is selling limited edition "Don't Taze me, Bro!" t-shirts. Get 'em while they're relevant.

UPDATE: Here's another video, which includes the full question, as well as the activity of the security people from another perspective.

I'll concede that the question, while asinine, wasn't abusive. However, his reaction to being escorted out, the repeated shoving of the security people, and the continued resistance to being taken out or handcuffed still justified the tasering. He then almost seems surprised that refusing to leave and then physically shoving security people resulted in cuffs and tasers.

Sorry, "bro," guess you missed the page in your civil disobedience handbook that says you may actually face consequences for breaking the rules. Don't be surprised that the cuffs come out when you become loud and irrational, and refuse to comply with authorities. How was "Are you gonna arrest me now?" not a taunt? Guess what, Skippy. The answer was "yes." And then some.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Three quick movie-related comments.

1) I watched Alfred Hitchcock's "Shadow of a Doubt" last night. This is actually a "make-up" viewing for me, since this film was part of the curriculum for my "film" genre class in college, but I was never actually able to watch it (though I sadly had to endure "The Graduate"--not fair).

In brief, it's the story of a family who welcomes a visit from a beloved relative, the mother's youngest brother, played by the charming and equally menacing Joseph Cotton. The lead actress in the film is the lovely Teresa Wright (Lou Gehrig's wife in "Pride of the Yankees"), who plays the family's grown daughter, who was named after her adored uncle. The girl learns that her uncle may in fact be a serial killer on the loose, and the film becomes a cat-and-mouse game, which the girl and her uncle each trying to gauge what the other knows and what they're willing to do about it. The stakes keep getting raised, until both lives are threatened.

The film's pretty good; not nearly as tight as "Rear Window" or "The Birds," but still gripping. However, I found myself rather uncomfortable throughout the movie by just how "beloved" the uncle was, especially by his niece. Even if he weren't obviously guilty from the very beginning, it would still be creepy how "close" she seemed to dear Uncle Charlie. I wonder if this feeling is simply a product of the times I live in now as the viewer, or if even sixty years ago Hitchcock was tapping into an uncomfortable incestuous subtext. Something to consider. If you've seen the film, lemme know what you think.

2) The website "How It Should Have Ended" is awesome. Here's the latest, a complete revision of "Spiderman III":

3) If you haven't seen the film "Reign Over Me" with Adam Sandler and Don Cheadle, you really need to watch it (it's on video October 9th), and bring your hankies. High recommendation. However, if you haven't seen it, don't read the rest of the post.


I just found out something that deepens my appreciation of the film, and my respect for the writer and production designer. Throughout the film, Charlie (Adam Sandler) is obsessed with playing the video game "Shadow of the Colossus." He often gets lost in playing this game for hours, as does his friend Alan (Cheadle). But do you know what the game concept is? I just found this out.

As the game begins, the main character is carrying the lifeless body of a woman into a temple, and a voice tells him that she may be brought back to life, but only if he rids the land of the colossuses (colossi?) that have brought evil upon the kingdom. The hero's job is to go find and destroy each colossus, in the hope that by doing so, this woman (we don't know their relationship at first) may be brought back to life.

What a brilliant and poignant metaphor for Charlie himself. It's as if he thinks that by playing this game over and over, nonstop, he may somehow defeat the "colossus" in his own life and bring his wife and daughters back from the dead. Whenever he's confronted by something uncomfortable, he runs home and retreats into the world of the game. In a world that doesn't make sense, he finds comfort in the linear, clear world of the game where he is able to "do something about it."

I find that to be a tremendous plot point and story choice that casual fans with no familiarity with the game would miss completely while still enjoying the film. Bravo to the writer/director and production designer for adding that bit of depth.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Then and Now. (9.16.02--9.16.07)

Then: Recently graduated college.
Now: Pondering my first official college "reunion."

Then: Working at a job I wasn't qualified for and didn't particularly enjoy.
Now: Working at a job I'm eminently qualified for and always appreciate, if not enjoy.

Then: Dating someone I didn't appreciate enough (and embarrassingly called "fiancee," though we had barely begun talking about rings).
Now: Not dating, but nevertheless becoming more appreciative of women.

Then: Convinced I had written the first ten chapters of a bestselling book.
Now: Convinced I have a few good ideas that may become published novels one day, but only with a lot more hard work and refining.

Then: One hundred pounds overweight.
Now: Two hundred pounds overweight. *shrug* But working on turning back time.

Then: No internet programming skills.
Now: Practically no internet programming skills.

Then: Talked about work constantly on my blog.
Now: Talk about work just about never on my blog. I've learned the Dooce lesson. Gotta be careful.

Then: Didn't go to Sunday School.
Now: Have been teaching for over 2 years.

Then: Lived in a makeshift spare room in my parent's house.
Now: Live in an apartment downtown, next to a commuter rail line.

Then: Shook my fist at the Curse of the Goat.
Now: Shaking my fist at Steve Bartman...and the Curse of the Goat.

Then: "Hey, I wonder if this new football team in town will be any good this year?"
Now: "Hey, I wonder if this football team will be any good this year?"

Then: Didn't think I'd be blogging very long.
Now: Can't believe it's been five years.


[Happy fifth anniversary, blog. You started off as "Anything to Disrupt the Tedium," but life has been much more exciting than we expected. If anything, you were "A Way to Document the Turmoil" for a while there. I've often neglected you, occasionally overwhelmed you, but never once abandoned you. I don't know if I'll keep plugging away at the keyboard for five more years, but as far as the foreseeable future, you and me, babe, we're goin' places.]

Thank you, PBB readers. I keep saying it, but I don't think you believe me. You are the reason I do this. I know many of you don't stop by as often as you'd like, but I appreciate it all the same. Thank you for your continued patronage, and on behalf of the entire PBB staff, I'm pleased to say that we will continue to serve your work-distraction needs for years to come.

Be sure to sample our fine array of treats at the snack bar as you exit, and thanks again.


"Five years?!? Holy crap, has it been that long?"

It's Monday! Here's some random stuff!

1) For those of you interested, my Loser blog is back up and running. (And oddly enough, so am I.)

2) Am I the only one who's totally psyched that good TV returns NEXT WEEK?????? It will be Legen-- wait for it...


3) Why is no one talking about this story from last Wednesday? I think it', kind of a big deal. Am I wrong? [FWIW, I'm pretty convinced Putin is an evil *badword*.]

4) "3:10 to Yuma" was freaking awesome. Mini-review to follow. No seriously. I mean it. Okay, stop laughing...

5) With apologies to my poor deluded friends who still cheer for The Enemy (TM): all I gotta say is, Soak it up, friends, cuz it feels so good.

6) Speaking of sports teams: the Texans are 2-0? What?!? We'll see if they can keep the magic alive with the reigning champs stroll into town next week.

7) One last sports note: this makes me feel bad for the Washington Nationals.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Thursday Video View

Sorry gang, work busy-ness prevents real posting. I've got a few honest-to-goodness text posts in the mental pipeline, but I need to be productive today. Thus, PBB is proud to present its latest installment of "Songs and Videos I Think are Neat."

Two Song Covers I'm Digging:

Movies I Can't Wait to See:

And finally, "West Side Story" as a zombie film:

Talk to you tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Go ahead. Take a moment.

I waited. I flipped back and forth among the three major networks this morning, and waited. There was a ten-second blurb here or there, but that was it. More important things to discuss, I guess, like Jodie Foster's new movie, and Roger Federer, and mortgage rates.

I'm told that the news channels are covering the memorial, but how many average folks watch the news channels anymore? They watch the entertainment networks. The alphabet soup networks. And on those channels, it was all shiny, happy people.

Six years later, and it's all shiny, happy people.

I narrowly avoided getting into an argument with a coworker this morning about who and why and for what reason and Saddam and Afghanistan and "finishing the job" here but not there. My boss intervened and said it wasn't the time or place, and the young lady and I grinned at each other and said "sorry." That's how it works, America. Stepping back from the political rage and realizing that all it's doing is keeping us from our work. And then smiling and saying "sorry." That's how you build a free and unified people.

I'm upset that people want to move past this day like it doesn't exist, like it never existed. It did. I shouldn't have to say that. But I do. Because apparently people are starting to forget.

There are still folks who think it was an "inside job" and that Bush is the AntiChrist or Hitler and that he and his minions will cause another attack to "justify staying in power."

(For the record, if he tried to extend his presidency beyond his Constitutionally-allowed second term, I'd be one of the first at the barricades, okay? You don't screw with that. I just can't fathom that he'd ever do that.)

There are folks who think that the War on Terror is just a "bumper sticker." People who say the Administration is playing up fears in order to stay in power. (Even news networks imply this; keep an eye out for CNN's "What color is fear? CNN--Get Facts. Not Fear." commercials.) People who don't think the threat is real anymore, at least not as much as it was. I beg to differ.

Look, I know you're busy. You've got a job, or school, or family stuff going on. You've got things to do. We're a very busy people.

But take a minute. Remember that day. Remember how you felt. Remember how we responded.

Ask yourself if you still think that it was all a bad dream, or a one-time event, or an inside job, or the fault of an evil president who should have done more.

Or maybe, just maybe, consider that it was the act of a band of evil mass-murderers, whose ideological bent is for the destruction of all those who disagree with their twisted theology. Consider that it was an act of vile darkness that has since been perpetrated in different forms, in different situations, to different countries.

And then ask yourself what our response should be, now, six years later.

Do we blame? Do we argue? Do we score political points? Or do we get to work?

[Links I'm reading today: Rob at Say Anything, a bunch of stuff at Wizbang, Malkin, Lileks, among others.]

Monday, September 10, 2007


At this very moment... I want to go find a quiet place and start writing. I want to write a piece of contemporary fiction, right now. The kind of fiction with self-serious titles that allude to foreign art or are in another language or are some oblique phrase that can only be connected to the book's subject through elaborate etymological yoga. The kind of novels that have those matte paper covers with the obtusely "artistic" photos that refuse to reveal the exact nature of the object being photographed. I want to write that. Like, now. I don't know if I can really convey to you the sudden urgency with which this feeling has just struck me. I don't have the slightest idea what I would be writing, but I want to do so. Now. Right now. Darn that New York Books website. (Side-note: I wonder if I go to Barnes and Noble from time to time simply to recover a glancing feeling of being "literary," without needing to do all the gruntwork. There's probably a post somewhere in that.)

This morning... I ate a buttery miniature croissant half-filled with cheesy scrambled egg, and I thought of those tasty little breakfasts I've eaten in airports (those times when I was on the company's dime and could afford to splurge on my meal). Though, each point of the croissant had that peculiar over-done staleness of the kind of baked good one would actually be served on an airplane. I don't know how else to describe it.

This video... suddenly makes me want to sit on a porchswing, in the bright grey overcastness of January, wearing a dark and warm-wearing sweater, as the biting wind whips through my somewhat lengthier hair. I would sit, rocking back and forth, my arm around the woman I love who would be nuzzling into my shoulder to hide her face from the cold of the world. And somehow, the whole scene in my mind feels so breathtaking and melancholy at the same time, as if just before that moment, we had received some great disappointment that left us numb, and the only response we could muster was simply to sit and rock back and forth and endure the cold. (Side-note: I can't watch or listen to that video only once. I usually have to play it four or five times, trying desperately to warm my hands with its elusive emotional warmth. It's been a little while since I've felt anything as intensely as the singer seems to.)

Friday, September 07, 2007

Junk Drawer Blog 2.0

More odds and ends:

  • I saw the very scary and entertaining "1408" last weekend. If it's showing at a dollar theater near you, I'd highly recommend seeing it in the theater; otherwise, make sure you rent it when it hits video. It's based on a Stephen King short story and stars the always awesome John Cusack. Here's a neat interview Cusack gave The Guardian recently about his "brand" and how he sees himself in the movie system, as well as the only ten movies he's made that he thinks are any good. Interesting read for fans.
  • Have you ever wondered what it looks like when goth kids descend on the Magic Kingdom? Wonder no more, gentle reader. Wonder no more. Just make sure to check out the ghoullery--I mean, gallery. (Yeah, that was a really bad pun; no, I'm not sorry.)
  • Joe Carter's "Thirty-Three Things" posts--ever the source of nifty links--proffered these sites recently: the one-stop-shop for legally downloading 100 full-version computer games (granted, I only recognize three, but that's still cool); 24 tips for becoming an early riser; and 12 interesting (if not disturbing) uses for Coca-Cola, other than a refreshing beverage.
  • By the way, if you're not reading Joe's blog "Evangelical Outpost," quit being a goof and get on it. He's a great blogger. Give him some love. Check the link to the right, there.
  • One of the things that would probably make me too scared to write crime fiction is the off-chance that I'd be wrongly implicated in a murder or something, based on what I wrote. The other side of that bizarre coin is a writer who commits the crime and then gives it the fictional treatment. Um, is it just me, or is this guy an idiot? "Gee, I've just committed this heinous assault and murder, and I've covered up the crime--but, you know, it would make SUCH a great novel..."
  • Usually, when you run across lists of "You know you're in _____ if ______" regional jokes, they're usually pretty idiotic and stereotypical. On the other hand, every once in a while you find one that sounds ridiculous and yet is verifiably 99% true. Kins has kindly pointed me to just such a list. Only one of these is somewhat exaggerated, and it's the grocery store one. (In the same vein, here's a Texas list, but it's quite a bit sillier.)
  • You may remember that I recently did some thinking about the importance of sports in my life, and how my priorities should be lined up. Looks like I'm not the only one. Here's a "Boundless" article by Dr. Peter Enns from a few years back, on that very subject. Worth taking a look, even if you're not a big sports fan. (As for me? Here's what I've started doing since first picking up that question. I've worked on not letting baseball scores and standings consume my thoughts, as Dr. Enns talks about. I also made the decision to devote Sundays to God, so that means passing on watching ballgames on those days. I'm still trying to find the best way to balance the mere thing I love with my ultimate devotion to the Giver of All Good Gifts.)
  • You've probably heard already that the world-renowned tenor Luciano Pavarotti has died of pancreatic cancer. Here's my favorite tribute so far to the great singer, written by another pretty great singer. And here's some video to go along with that tribute:

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Reading the Good Book like a good book.

Changing gears here: something for you folks who are into Jesus.

I read the Harry Potter series last month, as you may know, and towards the end of the month, I realized that in my excitement over the novels, my personal Bible reading had kind of fallen to the wayside (easy to do, when you fall asleep reading a couple hundred HP pages a night).

So I decided, for the month of September, to read nothing but the Bible. It's not as horrible or boring as one might wrongly assume. Granted, you do run into the occasional list of "begats," but with a readable modern translation, that's not a big deal. Also, it's cool to trace family names.

Here's my problem: When I did any kind of "devotional" Bible reading in the past, I usually began with prayer, basically devoting the time to God and trying to make myself attentive to what the Spirit of God says through the text. Clearing my head and really focusing in on gleaning inspiration from the text.

However, it's hard to do that, when I'm grabbing a page or two here and there on the train ride home. In fact, in those times, I find myself just reading it "for fun," and not to seek any kind of spiritual understanding.

So my question is: Would you feel it's "wrong" to just read the Bible "for fun"? That is, to read it without really expecting anything out of it? To read it as if it were a novel (meaning, just enjoying the story)?

That's what's weirding me out. I figure, any reading of the Bible is good. Yet, if I'm not approaching the text quasi-ceremonially, as the actual "Word of God," does it do me any good? This is not to say I doubt or dispute the veracity or inspiration. What I'm saying is, does reading the Bible outside of a special "I'm reading the Holy Word of God" time in any way diminish the impact of the text, or somehow disrespect what the text is and is intended to be? If I just read it on the train as someone else reads the newspaper or a biography of Churchill, do my actions "lower" the holy writ (not in its own standing certainly, but perhaps subconsciously for me)?

I don't know. This just started bugging me. I'm in the first Chronicles, and I was reading about David's mighty men, and just digging the way the text describes them ("faces like lions" and whatnot). Then I'd stop and say, "But this is the Bible, shouldn't I be reading it more... spiritually or something?" So in this instance, I almost feel like I've traded off the deep and meaningful spiritual appreciation of the text for a more common literary appreciation.

I mean, whatever happens, the Word is paramount. I continue to believe it is the inspired, inerrant, unchanging Word of God, true and good and impactful. I understand that it was written with literary devices employed in some parts, and I read it with an eye to that (so I'm not a blind full-literalist), but I think those places are self-evident, and overall I do not doubt the truth of the totality, for the Bible gives me no reason to. (That's right, folks, I'm an actual dyed-in-the-wool 7-day creationist. Why the heck not? God's big. He can do cool stuff.)

The Book means a lot to me. So the last thing I want to do is diminish it, either to myself or others. That's why this whole "proper reading" thing is even coming up for me, even if it is a tempest in a teapot. I'm probably worrying over nothing, but I can't be too careful. I don't want to take the book that, by its reading, brought nations to repentance with days of mourning and prayer, and treat it like it's mere entertainment. The Bible is not mere anything.

What do you think?

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Will Friday at 7:00 work for you?

[A real post from Dave? Imagine that.]

I think it behooves us to give thought to the plight of the single adult male. Sure, there is the obvious benefit of not being responsible for childbirth (and all of the biological processes that it entails and requires), but there are many difficulties and trials inherent in being male.

One particularly grievious task is the responsibility of asking.

We are traditionally expected to take initiative, to create momentum, to get the ball rolling. We are tasked by God and society to take the lead in a romantic relationship. We are relied upon to produce the ring, and to ask the all-important question: Do you think you can put up with me consistently for the next 30-40 years?

My friends, do not pass lightly over such a calling. It can be a highly dangerous and psychically damaging thing, if all does not go well. Just ask this guy. Granted, one should not approach a proposal of marriage without some solid assurances of the answer.

But isn't that the essence of being a man? To charge headlong into the fray, choosing the door that opens on our fate, not knowing whether we get the lady or the tiger (or, in that guy's case, the tiger-lady)?

Even asking a woman to dinner is an activity fraught with peril. I remember one particular time, a while back. There was a girl with whom I had a good working relationship, and we seemed to get on well. She had many admirable qualities, and I was interesting in getting to know her better, so I decided to ask her to dinner.

Now, this is not a simple thing, if you tend to analyze and overthink things as I do. If you think too much about the asking, you get nervous. You start wondering what could go wrong. You ponder the potential awkwardness of all future interactions if she says no. Will she feel pity? Contempt? And then, on the other hand, what if she says yes? How high will her expectations be? What if you find that, during dinner, she's an interminable bore? What if she thinks so of you? How can you function on anything other than a politely distant level from that point on? The possibilities are disastrous.

(It's worse yet to ask out strangers. At least with friends and acquaintances you have an opportunity to reveal to them your sparkling personality, your rapier wit, your kind and gentle manner. With strangers, it's all about first impressions, which means you have to look fabulous enough to even be given a fighting chance. And a male model with a chiseled chin, I am not.)

So, like all young men, I had to cast "thinking" to the wind, and spur on impetuously toward the precipice. One afternoon after running into this girl, I half-blurted out, "So, would you like to get together for dinner on Friday?" She said, "Yes, that'd be good."

Joy! Relief! I allow myself the luxury of a smile and an exhaled breath.

There was a pause, and she added, "Yeah, I've been wanting to talk about that project you're working on."

That, as they say, was that. Game over. I didn't realize it at the time, but later it became clear. The young lady did not see the question, "Would you like to get together for dinner?" as anything romantic or intentional. She merely saw it as an opportunity for two co-workers to chat about work over tacos, and clearly that's all it would ever become. In the end, excuses were made, and dinner wasn't shared.

In the time that's elapsed since then, I have even second-guessed whether she misunderstood me at all. In some way, it could have been a non-confrontational brush-off. Which sticks in my proverbial craw, really. Because honest and forthright offers should be met in turn. Anyway.

This is the risk we men run: we have to put ourselves on the line, at the mercy of women who have (historically) proven quite cruel at times. We men, admittedly less skilled in the verbal and relational arts, must extend a clear and yet unintimidating proposal of dinner, or companionship, or marriage, all the while taking off the armor, putting down the shield, and exposing our bare chests to the mortal blow.

Sure, I may be overstating the case. Perhaps I'm making a fuss about nothing. And I'm not meaning to diminish the pressures and difficulties single women face in finding a mate. Much. But, it takes some degree of courage to face that lovely face and wait for it to speak words of joy or disappointment. To put your pride aside and give this other person, who contains confounding mysteries imperceptible and unfathomable to mere men, the ability to accept or reject not only your offer, but your very self?

Men throughout the ages have gladly fought bloody armies, climbed perilous mountains, run into burning buildings, all without hesitation--but asking for the favor of a woman? Scary, man.