Thursday, February 26, 2009

Worth a shot...

In honor of the first birthday of his blog, A Boomer in the Pew (along with Crossway), is giving away a Calfskin ESV. And all I have to do to enter is talk about how nice a calfskin covered Bible would be (if you've ever felt calfskin you know, if you haven't...well, go cop a feel somewhere) and throw up a link. Then I have to go tell the Boomer about it. So, I'm about 70% done now.

Might as well go enter yourself, assuming you like the ESV (or want to win it and give it to me).

Leverage - Season 1 & a hint of 2

Caught the Leverage finale ("The Second David Job") last night--dynamite. I thought "The First David Job" was a smidge better, but it didn't have to wrap so many things up as the finale did (the story as well as the season), so it had heavier lifting to do.

For those who didn't watch it--grab it on DVD or when TNT inevitably reruns it (likely in a marathon) before Season 2. It's a fun caper show, with a cast that'll really grow on you. The first season had some ups and downs in quality, but as the shows progressed and the characters/behind the scenes types figured things out it really gelled in a very satisfactory way.

Season 1 would've been far less uneven (IMHO) if it had aired in the intended order. Over at Kung Fu Monkey (where Leverage writer John Rogers blogs), they have the proper order listed and some comments about TNT's choices.

iFMagazine has an exclusive on Leverage Season 2 that every fan should see:

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Why , oh Why, Did I Rent This?

I feel like I just got kicked in the gut. No, that would feel better.

I just finished watching Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father, an unbelievably moving documentary/tribute to a young man.

In 2001, Dr. Andrew Bagby was murdered at the age of 28. Soon thereafter, the prime suspect (his ex-girlfriend) moves back to Canada and announces she's pregnant with his child. Childhood friend and filmmaker, Kurt Kuenne, begins compiling video interviews with Bagby's friends, coworkers, family, etc. to collect stories about him to give to his son so he can have an idea what a great guy he was. From the portions of the interviews that make the final film, Bagby seems like a great guy, well-loved by many.

But of course, it's not that simple (or the home movies wouldn't have made their way to any of the film festivals this won awards at). Shirley Turner, the expectant mother, is released on bail during the months and months of delays in her extradition hearings. As soon as that happens, Bagby's parents, David and Kate, move from California to Newfoundland so they can be involved in their grandson's life, and hopefully get some sort of custody. The movie then becomes both a tribute to his father, and the chronicling of his grandparent's efforts to protect the son from his mother.

Turner is incarcerated for a few months, during which the Bagby's move is briefly rewarded until Turner's incarceration is successfully appealed. Months and months of ups and downs go by and the film documents the grandparents attempts to care for and interact with Zachary and the increasingly unstable antics of Turner.

Kuenne doesn't try to be objective, he's clearly pulling for the parents of his friend and sees Turner as the enemy (as he should given the preponderance of the evidence). He makes his case obviously, thoroughly and successfully. No one can watch this film and think of David and Kate as anything but heroes and Turner as anything but vile (at best).

Some say Kuenne manipulates the audience, I don't think so--but he does tug at the emotions--the way a skillful rhetorician would. Towards the end he goes beyond tugging--he bludgeons, but that's not a criticism, he does it well, and it's well-deserved. Throughout the film we see genuine emotion--people loved Bagly, his parents and his son, and they had clearly strong feelings toward Turner as well. As the film ends, the genuine emotions are shown at their rawest--love, anguish, rage, despair. The tears flow freely at this point--from both those on screen and the audience (so I read...and, yeah, experienced). Kuenne's editing--as much as anything else--shows us his raw emotions as well as his interviewees'.

A couple reviewers I read said something important--yeah, it's a documentary; yeah, the events are well reported--but stay away from google, don't read up on it--let Kuenne tell the story. It will affect you in ways you can't see coming.

It should be remembered that this was originally intended as a home movie--not an independent flick that was denied Oscar props, the video quality, the cinematography--everything, is low quality. But this movie tells a story, and provokes a reaction in a way that the slickest productions can't. It's an experience I won't soon forget. I started this post right after I watched it, and I didn't have time to finish until now--8+ hrs later, and I'm still reeling from it.

Monday, February 23, 2009

In Praise of the Fifth Amendment

Entertaining and Educational (and a little scary)

Sean Chercover, gumshoe turned crime novelist recently posted a couple of great videos over at The Outfit about why you should never talk to the police.

In the first, Regent Law professor James Duane lays out the case for why you should never, under any circumstances, submit to police questioning without your lawyer present. Especially if you are innocent. Both funny and enlightening, and I promise this video is worth watching. In the second video, Officer George Bruch of the Virginia Beach PD gets "equal time" to offer his perspective. Bruch's talk is equally fascinating, and full of great stuff to use in your fiction.

If you've got 48 minutes to spare, watch these vids. If you don't have 48 minutes to spare, find them. Yes, the videos will spark brilliant ideas for your fiction. But more than that, they could someday save your freedom.

Here they are.
Video 1:

Video 2:

(I should add, that the other videos on that post are well worth the time)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Thought for the Lord's Day - #36

in honor of Juliette's baptism this morning:

In brief, a participation of the seal of the covenant is a spiritual blessing. This the seed of believers was once solemnly invested in by God himself This privilege he hath nowhere revoked, though he hath changed the outward sign; nor hath he granted unto our children any privilege or mercy in lieu of it now under the gospel, when all grace and privileges are enlarged to the utmost. His covenant promises concerning them, which are multiplied, were confirmed by Christ as a true messenger and minister; he gives the grace of baptism unto many of them, especially those that die in their infancy, owns children to belong unto his kingdom, esteems them disciples, appoints households to be baptized without exception. And who shall now rise up, and withhold water from them? … The end of [Christ’s] message and of his coming was, that those to whom he was sent might be ‘blessed with faithful Abraham,’ or that ‘the blessing of Abraham,’ promised in the covenant, ‘might come upon them’ (Gal. 3:9, 14). To deny this, overthrows the whole relation between the old testament and the new, the veracity of God in his promises, and all the properties of the covenant of grace … (II Sam. 23:5)
- John Owen

Thought for the Lord's Day - #35

Everything lacking in us is given to us by Christ; everything sinful in us is imputed to Christ; and all judgment merited by us is borne by Christ.
- Sinclair Ferguson,
summing up the theology of Calvin

Thursday, February 19, 2009

"I Need a Beach Front Condo"

some shots from a protest to the porkulus billlaw in Mesa, AZ.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


The Princess tried on her gi for me this morning:

sorry, the picture's a little dark and grainy.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Recommended Reads

I don't know if anyone actually reads any of these posts/articles when I do one of these posts, but I like to think some one does. And it makes me feel like I'm providing a small service to my readers--particularly on days like today when I can't really come up with much, my brain's too busy mulling over the implications to that huge info-dump that the writers of Battlestar subjected us to and thinking about Whedon's destined-to-be-short-lived Dollhouse.*

Anyway, some of the more thought-provoking reads of the three-day weekend:

  • from CNN, Bob Greene asks--and answers--a good question:
    But all the games, in all the seasons, in all the big-time sports leagues -- what is the real reason we keep on watching?

    You might think that we'd finally grow weary of caring, with headlines about Alex Rodriguez and Barry Bonds, with the sports pages often reading like the business pages (contract disputes and stadium bond-issue negotiations and salary arbitration), with police-blotter details sometimes pushing aside the box scores.

    Why do we watch?
  • from The Outfit, Country Music: Why the music we love to hate should get more respect from storytellers, columnist Graham Verdon posits:
    Country music is clearly the ugly stepchild in the family of popular music. But the truth is, for those working to achieve mastery in the craft of storytelling, country songwriters are close cousins.
  • Lastly, the good people over at Respect Jeter's Gangster, give the definitive (and chuckle-worthy) response to the burning question:Where Will Joba Find His Place?

* Yeah, that was a dare. Prove me wrong, FOX. Prove me wrong, America. Please.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Probably the Strangest Post I've Typed

Not because of content, mind you...just the way it feels to type it.

Back in '95 a day before Windows 95 was released, I bought a new-fangled MS Natural Keyboard. It set me back a pretty penny, as I recall--I want to say it was $80+, but I might have only been $50+. Still, a ridiculous price for a keyboard--if it wasn't for the ergonomic shape, etc.--and it was worth every penny, saved me a lot. That's been my desktop keyboard since then. For a short time in '99, when my desktop was out of commission, I even took it to work.

But it was showing it's age, far too many food/beverage stains, keys I could no longer read, that years-out-of-date cream color...besides, it was 13 years old for cryin' out loud! So a few months ago, I started looking around for a replacement. But I was picky--it's not like I needed a new one. And I'd paid so much for the last one, and a million other excuses that seem really silly, but I couldn't bring myself to replace it. I swear, I wasn't getting sentimental about a keyboard.

'Til this weekend, when TLomL bought me a new keyboard. It's ergonomically curved, but not a split keyboard. Very nice. But it's very different. This new guy has thinner, lighter keys--more laptop like; a space bar that's a little too lightweight (and loose)--for reasons I'm sure Freud could have a hay-day with, I pound spacebars, so this is something I notice. I'm not complaining, I've just observed a few differences a lot in the few hours it's been since I plugged it into my USB port. It even has the non-QWERTY keys to navigate websites, pull up programs, control my volume and whatnot. Welcome to the late-90's, eh?

Writing for many of us is a tactile experience--which is why some still use manual typewriters, or insist on a certain type of notepad and pen, or whatever. I've typed I don't know how many stories, papers, essays, articles, sermons, lessons, emails, blogposts, website codes, and 1 novel on that old one. Sure, I've had 2 laptops, and have used other people's computers--but the overwhelming bulk of my composing had been on the desktop. Particularly when I had to think a lot about what I was writing--the feel of the keys, the way I hold my hands and whatnot, helped get me into "that place" where the words would come.

This very minor transition (in one sense) is going take a lot of getting used to. Who knows what new habits I'll pick up with this thing (maybe stop abusing spacebars).

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Thought for the Lord's Day - #34

We see that our whole salvation and all its parts are comprehended in Christ. We should therefore take care not to derive the least portion of it from anywhere else. If we seek salvation, we are taught by the very name of Jesus that it is "of him". If we seek any other gifts of the Spirit, they will be found in his anointing. If we seek strength, it lies in his dominion; if purity, in his conception; if gentleness, it appears in his birth. For by his birth he was made like us in all respects that he might learn to feel our pain. If we seek redemption, it lies in his passion; if acquittal, in his condemnation; if remission of the curse, in his cross; if satisfaction, in his sacrifice; if purification, in his blood; if reconciliation, in his descent into hell; if mortification of the flesh, in his tomb; if newness of life, in his resurrection; if immortality, in the same; if inheritance of the Heavenly Kingdom, in his entrance into heaven; if protection, if security, if abundant supply of all blessings, in his Kingdom; if untroubled expectation of judgment, in the power given to him to judge. In short, since rich store of every kind of good abounds in him, let us drink our fill from this fountain, and from no other. Some men, not content with him alone, are borne hither and thither from one hope to another; even if they concern themselves chiefly with him, they nevertheless stray from the right way in turning some part of their thinking in another direction. Yet such distrust cannot creep in where men have once for all truly known the abundance of his blessings.
- John Calvin

Friday, February 13, 2009

One of My Best Days - Semi-Repost

I tried to come up with a new post in commemoration of the day, but honestly, couldn't come up with much else to say, so tagged on a new rambling intro, did a mild edit and here ya go.

A couple of days ago, an old college friend mentioned his wife's birthday in his Facebook status. It made me remember--for the first time in years--the four of us going to dinner in celebration of her birthday, and there was some sort of movie night at my friend's apartment afterwards. Neither the movies or the crowd were really my thing, and TLomL was thinking the same thing (or was just going along with my quirks as she was so willing to do then [still a lot more indulgent regarding them than she could be, I should add]). So we politely excused ourselves and took a walk around campus before I drove her home. I can't tell you what it was then, but something happened that night that made me know I was going to propose soon. She was the right woman for me ("At that moment I knew, I knew the way you know about a good melon.")

Later that night my former roomate, then neighbor, future best man and I were talking, and I basically was looking for him to talk me out of it--this was a frequent strategy of mine, it usually worked. If he couldn't talk me out of something, I was on the right track. He didn't even bother to try. After I'd laid out my case, he just laughed and said, "It's about time you decided this, I've known for weeks she was perfect for you."

So much for that idea. Fast-forward three days:

Remember that scene in City Slickers where Mitch, Phil, and Ed are riding along talking about their Best Days? You ever played that? Had a lot of insomnia lately, and have been doing that while staring at the ceiling. Come up with a list of nominees, not sure which is #1. This is the 13th Anniversary of a strong contender for the title.

I've given abbreviated versions of the tale before (here and here). But a little more detail tonight, because I've been thinking about it a lot and have some time to kill. That afternoon I'd been in the dorm computer lab typing out a draft letter to the father of the girl I was courting, asking for her hand. Unbeknownst to me, she came up behind me to surprise me--and surprise me she did! I hadn't been in the workplace much with computers, so my Alt-Tab skills were non-existent, and it took me roughly an eon to get Word minimized. We chatted briefly and the whole time I was thinking, "How much did she read? Of course she read the whole thing. So much for surprise. What is she thinking? What do I do now?" Later she told me she hadn't seen a thing, but in the end, I'm glad I didn't know that ('tho at the time it would've been golden to know).

That train of thought didn't leave me for a couple of hours, I finally give up. Toss out my timeline, borrow a phone card from someone, and after a call to information, have one of the scariest phone conversations of my life with her father. Having secured his approval, I headed up to her place. I remember being very nervous, which sorta goes without saying, I guess. I was pretty confident I'd get a yes, but it was the act of asking that made me worry the most. That, and what it all meant--the weight of the future. But what I would get out of the act--the hand, the love of the woman of my dreams, made it worth it. And the future? Eh, I'd go into it with one of my best friends with me (it wouldn't take long before I dropped the "one of" modifier).

She was sitting on a couch against the wall facing the TV, I was sitting a few feet away on the loveseat-type thing that was the "L" leg off of the other. Wasn't exactly the typical-Hollywood on bended knee type situation, but I figured it was now or never, and set to mustering up confidence, wit, nerves, and everything else. Jeopardy was over, and I asked her if she was doing anything for the next 60-70 years, 'cuz if not, I was hoping she'd marry me. She thankfully said yes, and I honestly don't think I'd known what joy was before that moment.

And then we kissed for the first time. And she played me what I always think of as our song, Alanis' "Head Over Feet"--still think of that moment every time I hear that song. And the rest of the evening was taken up with my all-time favorite activity. Spending time together.

There ya go, one of my Best Days.

Again, that was 13 years ago. Making 47-57 years left. I should've asked for more, 'cuz that's nowhere near enough time to spend with her. The thirteen years since haven't been a bed of roses for sure, been far more lean and bad times then I'd ever wanted. But I've been in the best company possible.

Thanks for saying yes, dear.

Stumbled on to this old scan the other day. This is actually the following Saturday, but it's as close to the day as I have. Not the most flattering pic of me--I'd shaved that day, because she was curious what I looked like sans beard. Think it took 5 seconds for her to tell me to grow it back :) If it weren't for Steinbrenner-esque standards at the McDonald's I worked at, this would've been the last time I'd ever shaved it.

But man...look at her.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Stepsister Scheme by Jim C. Hines

There are really only so many reactions a father can have when, thanks to his young daughter, his home and life are invaded by the Disney Princesses. Through DVDs, toys, costumes, books, clothing these characters can thoroughly infiltrate a family's collective consciousness. A dad can run to such things as home improvement projects, sports, denial, or attempts to turn their daughter into a Tom-boy; but once these girls take the beachhead of your home, they don't give an inch of it back for years.

Jim C. Hines took a different tack--the author of the satirical Jig the Goblin fantasy series started writing. The result "is a cross between the old (pre-Disney) fairy tales and Charlie's Angels."

The book opens with one of Cinderella's (Danielle) stepsisters trying to assassinate the new princess a few months after the whole glass slipper incident. Danielle, some of her animal friends and another princess in disguise put a stop to that, but discover that Danielle's husband has been kidnapped. Thankfully, the Queen is the head of a covert operations team (or the fairy tale equivalent thereof) made up of princesses who rarely qualify as damsels in distress.

The book works pretty well as a light, fun fantasy adventure. When you throw in Hines' reworking of the original fairy tales--well, that's icing on the cake (thick, rich and creamy icing). Happily ever after isn't everything we tend to think it is.

"Are all the tales like this?" Danielle asked. "Did Jack Giantslayer fall into despair and poverty? Was Red Riding Hood murdered by wolves seeking revenge for the death of their kin?"

Talia snorted. "No, Red survived. But that kind of thing changes a woman."

"Changes her how?"

"The Lady of the Red Hood is one of the most feared assassins this side of Akenkar."
Looking forward to the next two installments of this series.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Not your Typical Baseball Cards

Jane Heller, Yankee She-Fan extraordinaire, had a great column in the New York Times this weekend--funny, displaying Yankeephilia I cannot yet touch, and offers nothing but hope for the fans.

With only two weeks to go until spring training, I was not about to wait for the conventional prognosticators to weigh in. I wanted answers. Fast. So I had a tarot card reading with Patricia Diorio, a spiritual coach who has a television show in California.

"I’m not a fortune teller," she said when I called for an appointment. She also admitted that she did not follow baseball and had never heard of Derek Jeter. "But I will tell you, based on the cards you pick, what I expect to occur."

Go ahead. Laugh. Dismiss tarot cards as a mere superstition. But I am a baseball fan. Superstition is my middle name. I have my lucky "Property of New York Yankees" T-shirt that is ripped and faded and belongs in the trash. I have my lucky black Yankees cap that my friend Judith bought for me, the one with the rhinestone-studded NY. I even have my lucky turkey burgers that my husband throws on the grill for dinner whenever I’m panicking during a game, which is always. Who am I to rule out anything?

Another Week Started

another weekend full of blogging I neglected to do.

This weekend was also Daddy-Daughter Date Night at the local rec center, which we didn't attend due to a few too many sick people at home. So, now I have to come up with something to do with her in 2 weeks to make up for that. Sadly, I have no idea what we can do...looking through newspapers, websites, etc...can find nothing for a dad and his Princess to do (found a couple of activities for the others, tho).

Still plugging through Torre's book--it's an easy, enjoyable read, and I feel like I could knock it off in one sitting--but I can't get myself to read more than 1/2-1 chapter at a time. Not sure why. Anyway, so far even with the players that have been shown in a critical light, there's a balanced, complimentary tone. No balance so far with the Saints: Cone, Rivera, Jeter, and O'Neil. Heck, so far even Boss Steinbrenner's looking pretty good.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Thought for the Lord's Day - #33

On the other hand, many who glory in the cross of Christ and do not withdraw from that same way, though ignorant of those points which are so subtlely debated, because not one little one perishes for whom He died, attain to that same eternity, truth, charity, that is, to a fixed, sure, and complete happiness where all things are clear to those who remain faithful, who see, and who love.
- Augustine
Letters, 169.
Addressed to Evodius (end of 415 AD)

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Random Music Thoughts

I was going to call this Notes on Music or something, but that's just too cute....

Don't have enough to say about any of these for a real post, so just a few scattered thoughts about music I'm playing far too much lately (especially for The Offspring's tastes).

  • Joe Pug is the son that Dylan never had (which would make more sense if Dylan didn't have four sons). His Hymn 101, in particular, is one of those songs that justifies the existence of American pop music more.
  • Fiction Family marketed their debut album perfectly, even if it reeks of bait 'n switch. Jon Foreman of Switchfoot and Sean Watkins of Nickel Creek gave away copies of their first single, "When She's Near" for a few weeks before the album's release. It was a nice, catchy pop song that served as a great advertisement for a CD that was full of good, but not at all catchy songs. Most of the time I listen to it, it's out of a desire to justify the purchase, not because I want to hear it.
  • That is not at all the case with Marian Call's Got to Fly. This tribute to Battlestar Galactica, Firefly/Serenity and Geek-hood in general is something even the non-geek can appreciate. Her brand of "funky indie alt-folk", great vocals and lyrics is the perfect music to read by. It's impossible not to feel like you're in a coffee bar somewhere while listening to her. The fact that you get songs like "It's Good to Have Jayne on Your Side" or references to Yo-Saf-Bridge is just icing on the cake.
  • I caught a couple of episodes of Can You Duet? last year, and while I never got invested enough to tune in regularly, it was easy to tell early on that Joey + Rory were the most talented duo in the batch, and yet didn't have a shot at winning (see Elliott Yamin). Months later, I haven't heard a peep from the winners, but I can't stop playing Joey + Rory's The Life of a Song.
  • And after watching Scrubs this week, I have to include this little webisode featuring Kate Micucci (of Garfunkel and Oates)--eyes like that belong on an anime heroine, not a ukulele player. Good stuff.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Attack of the Spoilers

So, the instant I heard that Joe Torre had a book coming out about his time with the Yankees, I ordered it (even if he technically wrote nothing). Now I'm wondering if I wasted my money. The book comes out today, and it's already been making news thanks to a copy that a couple of NY journalists got their hands on a week or so early.

The leaked portion of the book couldn't be more than a few paragraphs, and yet hours of TV/radio time, gallons of ink, GB of internet traffic has been devoted to it. Now that the book is out, and we'll get more than an isolated comment about A-Rod or a description of Cashman's treatment of Torre toward the end. I can't imagine that we'll see less reporting.

Now, I'll try to avoid as much of that as I can, but it won't be enough. If I'm not careful, I'll end up reading/hearing the whole book before my copy arrives on Thursday, and I really won't have time to dig in to it until Saturday.

I understand our media culture is all about getting the story out before anyone else. But when it comes getting the details of a book--memoir or best-selling novel (how many leaks about the ending of Deathly Hallows were there?)--movie, TV series finale, etc. what's the rush? Can't we wait for the intended audience to get a crack at it before rushing to print? What's the benefit to spilling the details/ending/spoilers?

Internet fan sites and whatnot have the decency to warn readers about spoilers, so we can avoid them. Can't legitimate news groups (or reasonable facsimiles thereof) do the same?

just a little griping, I guess.

Monday, February 02, 2009

It Can't be Monday already!

Thursday and Friday I could tell I was coming down with a cold, and thankfully wouldn't miss/be tempted to miss work because of the impending weekend. But, didn't realize how sick I apparently was. I was maybe awake 6 of the 24 hours following my shift ending (no more than 2 consecutively), and slept most of Sunday away, too.

Not that I'd planned on doing a lot over the weekend--that's what they're for, after all. But, spent far too much time looking at the back of my eyelids. Not enough time doing the fun stuff.

And now it's Monday again, and back to the battle.