Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Packer Quits

from The Vancouver Sun:

One of the world's most famous evangelical theologians quit the Anglican Church of Canada this week because he believes many of its bishops are "arguably heretical" for adhering to "poisonous liberalism."

James Packer, whom Time magazine recently named as one of the planet's 25 most influential evangelicals, said he hesitated before using the harsh terms to describe the Anglican bishops, but believed he must do so in the name of truth.

Vancouver-based Packer, who has sold more than four million copies of his many books, said he and 10 other B.C. Anglican clergy left the national denomination this week to operate under the authority of a South American Anglican archbishop because they felt they were being "starved out and worn down."
Still working off the kharmic debt owed by signing ECT, Packer shows he has fight in him.

Couldn't help but laugh at a priest in the area cited who disagreed with Packer's move:
"I think it's very unfair when any new insight that departs from an accepted position is labelled 'heretical'," said Rev. Kevin Dixon.
Just what does he think heresy is?

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Been wanting to say something about the Yankees' 2008 season (which in many ways seems as long as the 2006 season already), but didn't know how to boil it down to something that wouldn't be so long as to bore everyone to tears. Should've known that it'd be summed up perfectly by Peter Abraham after last night's game:

When you consider everything that has happened to the Yankees (injuries, sickness, suspensions, Joba’s dad, the schedule, rain, cold, etc.) it’s impressive that they’re 14-13 and a game out of first.
Mark Feinsand's summary of the season is worth the time, as well.

Hughes and Kennedy are making it difficult for me to not regret them not being traded...but I am enjoying watching them grow up this year (be even better if I wasn't limited to whatever few games ESPN, TBS and FOX throw my way...ohhhh, to be able to watch all the games...)

Meanwhile, on the homefront, Samwise keeps getting better and better--two doubles and a single last night (and those doubles would've been triples if he didn't make Jason Giambi look like an Olympic sprinter)

Had to Post This

Didn't really want to post another video right away, but after being pointed to this one by Alan Sepinwall today, how could I not?

Monday, April 28, 2008

Happy Monday

Am on day 2 of this strange headache that's giving me the chills, making me nauseous, and threatening to cleave my head in twain.

So not really up for coming up with much to to start the work week off on a laugh, as I'm wont to's a few fun videos.

Who needs the March of the Penguins when the BBC has found this?

Catherine Tate and David Tennant from 2007 Comic Relief. This two are interesting to watch together...think they have a future on screen together?

Craig Ferguson's 008 White House Correspondents Dinner performance was quite funny--GWB went out on a somewhat flat note, I thought--but Ferguson's worth the watch, here's part 1.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Dear Reader,

I noticed a couple of days ago that I'd missed the theme for NaBloPoMo (Letters), which caused me to lose absolutely no sleep whatsoever, but I figured I might as well take the opportunity.

First, thanks for reading. I'm pretty sure 97% of you have better things to do with your time than reading--clearly 99% of you think you have better things to do with your time than comment. I appreciate the inconsistency on the part of former. Wouldn't do this without you. Sort of. I'd probably say the same things, but my poor wife would have to listen to all of it by herself.

Secondly, thanks to all my Presbyterian and Reformed friends for keeping the positive feedback for Friday's post to IM and email. Wouldn't want to break up the theme in the comments thread there. To my Baptist friend and acquaintances in the comments thread there, I will respond--probably--just taking my time with it, am pretty sure I won't come anywhere near the length of what you've said so far tho.

I went hiking with Joe Spivy
He developed poison ivy
You remember Leonard Skinner
He got ptomaine poisoning last night after dinner.
...whoops, wrong letta. :)

Better get going now, be sure to say hello to everyone for me. Wish you were here.

'Til Niagra Falls,

Saturday, April 26, 2008

No Time for Love, Doctor Jones

Continued my indoctrination prepping the Offspring for May 22 tonight by watching Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Easily the grossest of the Indy pictures (and thus the most memorable to the kids, I bet). Also, it was easily the lamest--in many ways it's a forerunner to the quality that is The Phantom Menace.

The thought that struck me tonight as I watched it, though, was a little less snarky: Will Kingdom of the Crystal Skull do what The Last Crusade failed to do? Namely, will we find out what happened to Short Round? Obviously, his grandchild was nicknamed Data and lived in Astoria, OR. But what happened to our plucky little street thief in between?

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Reformed Label

I've taken a lot of heat from my Calvinistic Baptist friends for stopping using the word "Reformed" to describe them. (I should add, one of them has stopped using it themselves, I am on the very rare occasion persuasive).

I only bring this up, because today Dr. R. Scott Clark asked on his blog, "Who or What Defines 'Reformed?'" Same argument I've been making for quite awhile. Just wish I made it as well as he did.

This one's a keeper.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Things That Make You Go, "Hmmm"

No, not

an example of how another brother can trample
Paying people a compliment appears to activate the same reward center in the brain as paying them cash, Japanese researchers said on Wednesday.
This sounds like a fairly interesting study, and not really that counter-intuitive--which is always something that appreciate.

Sorta explains why bloggers (particularly those of us who don't get paid for it) are so desperate for comments, eh?

make me feel like a rich man...(not necessarily on this post) and fill up those comment sections, okay? And I promise not to sing Tevia's song.


The good people over at Wired recently ran an interesting piece called, "Get Smarter: 12 Hacks That Will Amp Up Your Brainpower."

Naturally, my favorite hack involved good ol' C8H10N4O2: "Caffeinate With Care: Small Shots Do a Brain Better Than Big Blasts." The authors describe the best way to battle adenosine with caffeine...several small portions.

To maximize alertness and minimize jitters, keep those receptors covered with frequent small doses — like a mug of low-caf tea or half a cup of joe — rather than a onetime blast. Test subjects reported that periodic small shots made them feel clearheaded and calm, both of which enhance mental performance.
Even better
add a lump of sugar or have a carbohydrate-rich snack at the same time for an extra cognitive kick. It seems that glucose and caffeine together do more to enhance cognition than either does alone.
So, put away the tall cans of Amped/Full Throttle/etc and grab a simple cup of coffee and a donut. Stick with the classics and ya can't go wrong, eh?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Things You Find Yourself Saying

To a nine year-old struggling with his vocabulary list:

Well, yes, I suppose you could say there is an evanescent quality to candy.
Leave some laying on the kitchen counter if you doubt.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

By any other name...

So I feel compelled to start writing now, but I really not sure what I should be talking about, so it's free association time, I guess. Let's give the ol' noggin a shake and see what comes out.

I'm watching the Director's/Writer's Commentary to Juno right now--third viewing in five days--I'm still not sure when I'm going to send this back to Netflix. It's a decent commentary, not the best I've seen, but pretty good. Entertaining, if nothing else--they're both pretty clever. Not really sure why movie is clicking with me the way it is...something about the film's voice...sardonic, sweet, honest. Diablo Cody, in short, rocks. Jason Reitman's not too shabby himself--two solid comedies in a row, both very different in tone, look, and composition.

Diablo Cody is, obviously, not her real name. Awesome pen name. Assuming I ever get to the point of trying to sell a novel, I've got a pen name ready to go--had it since my sophomore year in college, but it's nowhere near as cool as hers--frankly, I'm jealous.

I don't know why I can't stand to see my first name in print, just don't like it at all (but it drives me crazy when 90% of people use something else in speech...isn't it ironic?). I remember in junior high reading a book off of my mother's office shelf* that had a forward by O. Hobart Mowrer, and thinking "What name could be so bad that this guy goes with "Hobart" instead?

Yeah, I spent a lot of time thinking about this. Go through 5th grade surrounded by 5th grade boys with a name that rhymes with a bodily function, and tell me you don't do the same thing.

* it occurs to me, my mother didn't have an office when I was in junior high. No idea where the book was then, it's in her office now. Not that it matters to anyone but me.

And the book, of course. Books always care where they're stored.

it occurs to me, I didn't attend junior high. I attended "middle school." What a ridiculous name...middle school.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Quick Chuckle to Start the Week

I'm frequently teased about my compulsive watching of DVD commentary tracks (yes, I'm looking at you, dear...and several others). But if I didn't watch all the commentary tracks of HIMYM Season 1, I'd have never heard about Sheldon (Alison Hannigan was reading a collection in one scene), which would've been a cryin' shame--it's one of my favorite webcomics/addictions.

Yesterday's strip was an excellent example of it's brilliance. And the way it channeled Frodo and Samwise is just plain freaky. To think, hearing your sons' voices come out of a duck.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Thought for the Lord's Day #22

But Christ Jesus has true excellency, and so great excellency, that when they come to see it they look no further, but the mind rests there. It sees a transcendent glory and an ineffable sweetness in him; it sees that till now it has been pursuing shadows, but that now it has found the substance; that before it had been seeking happiness in the stream, but that now it has found the ocean. The excellency of Christ is an object adequate to the natural cravings of the soul, and is sufficient to fill the capacity. It is an infinite excellency, such an one as the mind desires, in which it can find no bounds; and the more the mind is used to it, the more excellent it appears. Every new discovery makes this beauty appear more ravishing, and the mind sees no end; here is room enough for the mind to go deeper and deeper, and never come to the bottom. The soul is exceedingly ravished when it first looks on this beauty, and it is never weary of it. The mind never has any satiety, but Christ's excellency is always fresh and new, and tends as much to delight, after it has been seen a thousand or ten thousand years, as when it was seen the first moment.
- Jonathan Edwards

Saturday, April 19, 2008

A Kiss on the Brain

So much has been said about Juno already...what can I add? I could join the legions talking about the absolutely brilliant script by Diablo Cody. I could sing the praises of old-hands Jennifer Garner (this is so not the kind of movie she could be making), Allison Janney, J. K. Simmons; not to mention up-and-comers Ellen Page, Michael Cera, and Olivia Thirlby. I could rave about the soundtrack--best since Garden State (obviously, Once gets a pass here, as a musical, its soundtrack has to outclass all challengers)--particularly the last song.

But, I'm not going to do any of that. Instead, I'm going to simply say:

I Love Juno.

And I'm serious about it...this isn't some casual passing fancy, some crush, some high-school romanticizing of a flash of interest or hormones. This is the real thing. This is serious...I'm ready to commit. This is taking Juno as my teen pregnancy comedy to have and to hold, forsaking all others, 'til death us do part.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Shame on You, Rep. Simpson

From The Idaho Statesman:

Three members of Congress want the Justice Department to investigate whether college football’s Bowl Championship Series is an illegal enterprise.

Reps. Neil Abercrombie, D-Hawaii, Lynn Westmoreland, R-Ga., and Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, are introducing a resolution rejecting the oft-criticized bowl system as an illegal restriction on trade. The resolution would require Justice’s antitrust division to investigate whether the system violates federal law.

The measure also would put Congress on record as supporting a college football playoff.
This is just ridiculous. Our supposed conservative representative is attempting insert Congress into college football.

Thankfully this demonstrates there's nothing serious that the House should be concerning itself with...borders must be secure, tax code is just and simple, armed forces are standing around with nothing to do, civil liberties are intact and flourishing...

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Still trying to swallow that bitter pill...

Obama thinks small town folks are bitter? Well...even granting him his premise for the sake of argument (tho' only for that sake), they've got nothing on Star Wars fans.

Case in point, John C. Wright's SF to English dictionary. As funny as the Onion piece below, but harder to understand.

I will admit, I understood over 95% of the references there. And yes, I know that that says about me.

Reversing the Curse

Well, so much for that jersey's curse! (still, why Ortiz? Why not Manny? He's more lethal to the Yankees...or Schilling?) The Yankees have buried something of greater karmic weight than any silly shirt....Bernie Williams.

Citing a need for physical and spiritual cleansing after a Boston Red Sox fan entombed a David Ortiz jersey in the floor of the new facility, the New York Yankees buried former centerfielder Bernie Williams under 4,650 pounds of concrete Wednesday in the foundation of the new Yankee Stadium for good luck.

According to team sources, the instant the 39-year-old Williams was completely submerged in the rapidly setting structural material, stopping his voice as his lungs and mouth filled with concrete, the sun broke through the clouds and shone on the yet-incomplete field. Yankees part-owner Hank Steinbrenner called the occurrence a sign indicating that the "Curse Of A Red Sox Fan's David Ortiz Jersey" had been reversed, and that God was once again on the Yankees' side.

"Any attempt to put a hex on the New York Yankees has been successfully averted," Steinbrenner told reporters while standing over the still-wet concrete slab beneath which, judging by the sluggish ripples and lopsided bubbles in the hardening agglomerate, Williams still struggled. "Not that this organization believes in curses. We're the Yankees. We believe the success of our team is based purely on our players and their on-field performance. And we act accordingly."

"However," Steinbrenner continued, "Bernie was on our last World Series team in 2000, so we figured burying him under our new home certainly couldn't hurt. Also, he was available, and his appearance fee was quite reasonable."


"By giving Bernie this chance, we have once again proven why we are the classiest organization in all of sports," [Yankees President Randy] Levine added. "Lesser teams would have overreacted to this whole curse thing and buried Derek Jeter."

From The Onion, naturally...very, very funny stuff. Why can't I be this funny?

H/T Peter Abraham.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Quick Updates - Updated

I started another post this morning at work, but couldn't focus enough to finish it, so I'll try that again tonight, but in the interest of keeping my at least one post a day rate going for April...

  • Almost a month ago, we bought a van (still dealing with the fallout from this convo). Last Tuesday, while taking TLomL to work, we were rear-ended. The damage wasn't horrible, but there was a lot of it (just for fun, I'd show you the pictures, buy my cell isn't sending them for some reason). Yesterday, they found some more damage while doing the repair work. The body shop guy guesses the repair work will be extensive enough to get this called a total loss. Should get the official word this afternoon...stressing over that, just a bit. Update 3:20 pm:I'm not too brave to admit it, I came close to begging on the phone this morning with the adjuster. I'm relieved to say that it appears he has a heart. He thinks he can justify the additional $1K in damages found yesterday because of what we paid a month ago--all I have to do is supply him some proof of that. Official ruling tomorrow. Those of you who are praying types, would appreciate some.
  • Samwise is having an excellent baseball season--his team is doing terrific, rolling over the first 6 opponents (tomorrow night they'll face a pretty good team tho...might actually keep the score close). But Samwise, who's been struggling a lot at the plate over the last couple of years is having a great year. Hitting pretty consistently, visibly improving almost every at-bat. We've got parents talking to us about how they've seen him improve (even overhearing some comments directed to other people about him). It's just a lot of fun to see.
  • The Princess's T-Ball experience this year looks like a joke. She seems to be having fun, which is all well and good, but she's learning nothing. Maybe even un-learning from last year. Her coach last year was just great, this year, we've got some guy who makes Fred Rogers look like a WWE regular, who basically gets almost organized chaos on the field. I'm trying not to hold it against him, but am failing.
  • Nothing major to report with either Frodo or Arnold--which is good.
Allrighty, quota met...see ya soon :)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Ides of April are Upon Us

which means it's time for me to post this quote again.

A man condemning the income tax because of the annoyance it gives him or the expense it puts him to is merely a dog baring its teeth, and he forfeits the privileges of civilized discourse. But it is permissible to criticize it on other and impersonal grounds. A government, like an individual, spends money for any or all of three reasons: because it needs to, because it wants to, or simply because it has it to spend. The last is much the shabbiest. It is arguable, if not manifest, that a substantial proportion of this great spring flood of billions pouring into the Treasury will in effect get spent for that last shabby reason.
--Nero Wolfe

Gonna Need Some Sort of Therapy Myself to Cope with the Loss

This one took me awhile to write/rewrite...not wholly satisfied, but I doubt I'll get it into the shape I wanted it to, here ya go

Back in the halcyon days when I believed I was going to have a career, one of the few I considered most seriously and often was being some sort of therapist. I majored in psych, with the intention of earning at least a Masters' in it. I still read books, articles, and whatnot related to the field in my leisure time, and have a soft spot for characters in movies, books, TV that are in the field (the thing that drew me to Dr. Lecter was his being a shrink, for example). So when I heard about HBO's new show about a therapist, I had to give it a shot.

HBO lately has not been known for playing it safe when it comes to TV series, this years' In Treatment, is just another example of that. Based on an Israeli TV show, In Treatment is an intense look at one therapist, Paul (Gabriel Byrne), as he interacts with 5 patients and his own therapist, Gina (Dianne Wiest). This was TV at its best--challenging concets, interesting--and real--characters, powerful acting.

In theory, each episode (there were just enough episodes off-formula to keep everything moving forward) was essentially one session--which was portrayed--and seemed--to be in real time, but the 50-minute hour was shown in 20-23 minutes (how they pulled that off every time, I'm still not sure). For eight weeks the series aired five nights a week, a different patient for each night, tracking Paul through the week as he saw each of the culminating in his own therapy session on Friday (the ninth week had only three episodes to air because of changes in the status of some patients). Not too many shows can handle that kind of schedule, but In Treatment not only handled it--it demanded it.

As in therapy, the little things in this show were important--and interesting, thankfully. The arching of an eyebrow, the silence between lines of dialogue, the way (or place) someone sits told as much as the words that came out of their mouth--maybe more. In Treatment didn't do so well as background noise, it required your attention to small details. Sure, you could get a decent idea what was going on only by listening, but you'd miss more than you'd catch.

Probably the best way to give you a taste of the show, is to follow its own format--a quick look at each days' patient.

Mondays: Laura--an anesthesiologist (played by Alias' Melissa George) who's been seeing Paul for a year or so...I don't believe we're ever told why she started therapy. By the time we're introduced to her, she's working on a serious case of transference, professing her love for Paul.

Tuesdays: Alex Blair Underwood blew me away with his performance as this Navy pilot who claims he comes to Paul to help him deal with a mission in Iraq that didn't go off as it should've. It doesn't take too long to see that his difficulty with the outcome of the mission is just the tip of the iceberg, this hardship is really letting/forcing Alex to deal with many questions he has about his own identity and family. I don't remember enjoying Underwood this much since his early days on LA Law. Possibly the only thing better than Underwood's portrayal, was when Glynn Turman appeared in two episodes as his father--you could see the same mannerisms, the way of speaking...unless you knew better, you really would think they were related. Great job all around on this one.

Wednesdays: Sophie quite possibly, this patient was the highlight of the series. Sophie's an Olympic hopeful acrobat, played by Mia Wasikowska who I've never seen in anything, nor heard of anything she's done. Which is a crying shame, because she's fantastic. Sophie was hit by a car while riding her bike and needs to have her emotional state checked before she can return to training. Paul was never better as a therapist than when dealing with Sophie (at least among the patients featured)

Thursdays: Jake and Amy From the blogs/message boards I read, Jake and Amy were the least liked of all the sessions. I never understood that. Josh Charles and Embeth Davidtz were so compelling as a married couple seeking some help working through some issues. I'm not suggesting for a second that the Mrs and I were anything like them, but I could relate to both of them better than any other character--particularly Jake. Their progress was a clear case of therapy going well, but the affect on the patient not looking anything like success.

Fridays: Gina Things in Paul's life and practice aren't going the way they should--I don't think it's giving too much away that Paul at some point realizes he's having some sort of mid-life crisis. So he contacts an old collegue/mentor and enters into therapy himself at the end of the first week. I frequently wavered in my opinion of Wiest's Gina--but in the end, I had to respect her a lot more than I thought I would. The sessions with her were so revealing--Paul played the same kind of games with her that his patients would with him--leaving out details, spinning others, etc.--but the audience would know Paul was doing so, while only suspecting that of Paul's patients.

One significant part of Paul's life that's not going too well is his marriage. His wife, Kate, is briefly seen before and after some sessions and shares a few with Paul at Gina's. I don't recall ever seeing Michelle Forbes playing anything other than a SciFi military character--Ensign Ro, Admiral Cain--and was pleasantly surprised watching her in a civilian role. I could see her pain, her anger--sometimes feel it just by watching her. I honestly didn't think she had it in her.

Obviously, the lynch pin to the endeavor was Byrne, someone I've appreciated since the first time I saw Miller's Crossing back in middle school. He carried each episode, it was really his story, his treatment being explored. Too frequently, his dealings with his patients were cringe-worthy, because Paul was not the all-knowing fount of wisdom that therapists are frequently portrayed as in TV and film. Not a bit. Paul was fallible, sometimes unreliable, sloppy, and careless--in short, human. And not for a second a therapist I'd trust with me or my family :)

43 episodes in 2 months is quite the demand to make of an audience, no matter the quality of the program--as the low ratings show--and several times during the initial weeks I considered abandoning the series. I'm very glad I didn't. In Treatment was the kind of show that proves TV doesn't necessarily turn brains to mush (although it does that too frequently). Now that it's over, I'm not really sure what I'm going to do. Think less about what I'm watching, that's for sure. Obsess a bit less, too (which is a good thing, I realize).

Last I checked, the first 15 episodes were available for free on iTunes and at Amazon (although they're edited a bit). Try them while you still can, and when HBO puts out the DVDs, they're definitely worth the time and effort.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Really only posting this to keep up my quota

Watched The Water Horse, this weekend with the family, which garnered very mixed reviews. TLomL called it "cute" and "a fun little movie." The rest of us couldn't disagree more. Whyfore the difference? The rest of us read the book last year before it opened in theaters, (one of our nigh unto unbreakable House Rules is "read the book first") and the experience coupled with the trailers we'd been enjoying switched it from the "Get thee to a Multiplex" list to "Eh, maybe on video." And we almost didn't do that, but in the end, Frodo's desire to compare the two and the Princess' curiosity overcame Sam's apathy.

I fully realize that you sometimes have to alter, tweak, or change elements of a book to get the thing into a movie. Sometimes I wonder why choices are made, but I can understand it. But this wasn't on the level of leaving Hermione's founding S.P.E.W. out of the flick, or something on that level. This was a wholesale re-write.

Dick King-Smith's perfectly charming kid's book is about two kids Kirstie and Angus living in Scotland in the 1930's with their mother and her father (their father is a merchant marine gone for months at a time). They go to the shore frequently to look for firewood, kelp (to put on their grandfather's garden), and miscellany. One day, Angus and Kirstie find a giant "mermaid's purse", which our protagonist, Kirstie, decides to sneak home because she's so curious about it. That mermaid's purse turns out to be an egg sack for the Water Horse. The rest of the book is about the family's struggle to feed and care for the beastie while keeping him secret. He's moved from body of water to body of water 'til he ends up in Loch Ness, where a certain picture is taken of him in 1934. Along the way, silly Angus grows up a bit, grandfather (named 'Grumble' because of his personality) cheers up, Kirstie becomes more mature.

In the movie, we're still in Scotland, but it's in the middle of WWII, and Angus is the focus...he's drawn to the water, yet terrified of it (for reasons to be semi-explained later). One day at the beach where he's supposed to be playing, he finds this strange rock, which he takes home--which is a large estate, his mother is the Head Housekeeper there. The rock turns out to be an egg, from which hatches the Water Horse. The next day, a regiment (or so) of soldiers arrives to be housed at the estate while they guard the nearby Loch from German Subs. Angus recruits the help of Kirstie and the new handyman with the mysterious past (taking the job of Angus' father) to help him keep the creature a secret. Which brings them into confrontation with the soldiers, helps Angus deal with the loss of his father and his fear of water.

Which would've been a fine little flick, if it didn't claim to be based on the book. Trust the source. You thought the novel was good enough to buy the rights to...don't mess with it. Why is this so hard for people to understand?

So, basically, if you and yours haven't read the book--it's a cute movie to watch with the kids. Otherwise...find something else.

By the way, I have to wonder...just what history books do the people at Walden Media read? Apparently, aside from one/both parents being separated from their kids, WWII's a pretty magical time (maybe just in the UK). The Pevensies are whisked away to Narnia, the MacMorrow kids get a magical pet...

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Thought for the Lord's Day #21

God has not in vain taken upon Him the name of a Father; He fills it up to the full. It is a name of indulgence, a name of hope, a name of provision, a name of protection. It argues the mitigation of punishment; a little is enough from a father, therefore, in all temptations, it should teach us by prayer to fly under the wings of our heavenly Father and to expect from Him all that a father should do for his child, as provision, protection, indulgence, yea, and seasonable corrections also (which are as necessary for us as our daily bread), and when we die we may expect our inheritance, because He is our Father. But yet we must understand also that the name of a father is a word of relation, something also He expects from us. We must also reverence Him as a Father, which consists in fear and love. He is a great God and therefore we ought to fear Him. He is also merciful, yea has bowels of mercy, and therefore we ought to love Him. If we tremble at Him we know not that He is loving, and if we be over-bold we forget that He is a great God; therefore we should go boldly to Him with reverence and godly fear.
- Richard Sibbes

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Families Beat Paper, Rock Beats Families

Each day at work, the clients start off with reading a "daily meditation" together and reflecting what it means to them personally. Frankly, I'm glad I don't have to put up with it too often, as it starts after my shift. A new book was purchased this year for this purpose, and we're increasingly convinced that TPTB didn't review this one too closely before handing over the cash.

This is a sample from one entry a few weeks back that made some of us roll our eyes:

Families are like scissors. They are joined in the middle but often spread wide apart, moving away from each other. When we're not feeling close to other family members--when it's hard even to like them--it seems as though we'll never come together again.

But pity the scrap of paper that comes between our scissor blades! The scissors work together again and clicks the trouble clean.
Yes, that's right..families are like scissors..."joined in the middle." Who writes this stuff?

I should note, if someone read me stuff like that every day, I'd give up whatever addiction I was dealing with to protect my ears from that or worse--so maybe it's working.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Stop It!

Apparently, Dr. Suess is sending messages from The Great Beyond...

Stop Making Movies About My Books

On the fourteenth of March, in towns nationwide,
In every cinema, multiplex, on every barnside,
Gleamed another adapting of one of my books,
CGI-ed and digitized by another sly crook.

Horton, my favorite—look how he's been treated!
Stuffed with tinsels and tassels and promptly excreted!
The puns! And the filler! The script fees you must save!
While I tumble and grum-humble around in my grave.

Read the rest here at the Onion (language warning, which I really need to give after that last post)

Well, I'm Officially Disqualified Now...

No Father-of-the-Year Awards for me.

True Story.

Just finished watching a youtube video of a comedy bit enacted with Legos, and since this particular video featured Star Wars Legos, it grabbed the attention of the Offspring. Sadly, the clip ended up featuring a certain expletive a couple times before it was over. Didn't want to draw undo attention to it so I just played on and we all enjoyed the bit. So much so, that the Offspring wanted to watch it again.

"Uh," I stammered, "I don't think so. Pretty sure we've had more than our daily allotment of the 'F-word.'"

Samwise shoots me a confused look, "The 'F-word'?"

For crying out loud, this isn't the convo I'd intended on...I just wanted to watch a silly Lego video. "Yeah, we've talked about this before. You know, the 'F-word'..." I get a blank stare in return. "Oh, come on! Okay, like in the video, 'This isn't the who the [bleep] are you game.'"

"Oh! [Bleep]?"


"[Bleep] [bleep]" he was getting on a roll, and clearly enjoying it.

"Allright, you're done with that word. Next time you get to say it is when you're over 18 and living on your own."

"But I can still say it in my head, though, right?"

This is the point where if it were functioning properly, my brain would simply stop my heart and I wouldn't have to deal with this anymore. Sadly, the neurons kept firing, blood kept pumping and whatnot, so we got to have a nice little conversation on appropriate words. Not a complete one, mind you, because I'd have to teach him an entire vocabulary he just doesn't posses just to get the job done properly. And yeah, I know the day is coming when he'll need to have a better grasp of it than he does now.

Hmmm, it occurs to me, when that day comes, I should have Uncle Bluewoad pitch sure there's nothing like a lesson on the development of the English language to suck the fun out of cussing...

My tongue can't multitask

Just finished giving a spelling test (while grading a grammar test) with one child demanding I start his spelling test and another semi-patiently waiting expectantly to me to dictate a literature passage to him.

As Butters recently said, "Ow! That hurt my brains! Ow!"

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Big City, Bad Blood by Sean Chercover

Somewhere, maybe it was a Robert Crais discussion list, I saw the debut novel of Sean Chercover mentioned in the same breath as Michael Koryta, so I instantly got it put on hold for me at the library. Kortya's debut (and two follow-ups) was one of the best reads I had last year and I relished the idea of having a similar experience with another first novel.

I almost did, but not quite.

Don't get me wrong--Big City, Bad Blood rocked. A really good--maybe great--first novel. I just didn't connect with Ray Dudgeon and his friends and clients the way I did with Lincoln Perry and his crew.

Big City is the story of a movie location manager stumbling into an Organized Crime operation--one that seems pretty minor at the beginning, but doesn't stay that way for long. He comes to former journalist, now P.I. Dudgeon for protection. After some slow establishing chapters, the action picks up and doesn't slow down until the end. I don't think Chercover missed a beat or hit one false note--it's a great read, leaving me checking his website for details on his next book.

Bringin' Da Funny

I read and watch a lot of things considered comedic, humorous, funny, etc. but it's not often that I'll find something that his worth more than a handful of laughs--recently, I've stumbled onto a few things that are laugh out loud funny from beginning to end. Been meaning to talk about them for awhile, might as well get to it now, 3 books and 3 movies that I still laugh at weeks after finishing


  • The Rabbit Factory by Marshall Karp - This is the first installment of what I hope is many in the adventures of two LA Homicide Detectives, Mike Lomax and Terry Biggs. The detective story is solid--a serial killer(killers?) is attacking people associated with a Disney-like company (complete with theme park), leading the detectives through both the messy world of the animation industry and its even messier history. At the same time, Lomax is dealing with the recent death of his wife and some other family issues. BUT the story is told with flair, heart and a lot of laughs. This isn't one of those books where the serious or violent aspects of the events are played for laughs. It's like Harry Bosch having a great day ('tho I don't know if Harry could handle such an eventuality). Better yet, it's like those 'comic relief' episodes of The Closer where Detectives Flynn and Provenza get themselves in the middle of some silly situation (like "To Protect & To Serve" or "Saving Face")--the murder stuff is serious, but everything around it is hilarious. It was touching, it was hysterically funny, with a dead-on mystery. Probably the best book I've read this year.

  • Bloodthirsty by Marshall Karp Naturally, after The Rabbit Factory I rushed out to get the next Lomax and Biggs case. Thankfully, it was almost as good as the first. The humor still crackled, the insider's view of Hollywood again felt genuine, the crimes...well, they were more violent, more gruesome. Sadly, I could see the solution to the mystery a few miles away, but that didn't detract from my enjoyment watching the heroes get there themselves. Honestly, I can't really see the events of the first book happening in the real world--but this one? I'm surprised we don't hear about that kind of thing every day. A solid sequel that leaves you wanting more, I can't wait for the next thing Karp brings out.

  • I Love You, Beth Cooper by Larry Doyle Take the ultimate Teen Movie in the vein of Better Off Dead, Say Anything, or Can't Buy Me Love, make it funnier yet more heartfelt, and then commit it to print rather than film, and you've got this novel. Denis Cooverman, alpha-geek, uses his valedictorian speech at graduation to announce to the world--including Beth Cooper--his love for the titular character, the requisite gorgeous, rich, blonde cheerleader. There are a few problems with this...1. Beth is barely aware Denis exists; 2. Beth has a boyfriend with a nasty jealous streak; 3. Boyfriend is an Army soldier--with Special Forces training--on leave. Hilarity ensues. The novel is a chronicle of the day that follows graduation, that one last night of revelry. Well, revelry, violence, and young love. I wasn't reading it long before Samwise started saying, "you're about to start laughing" when I'd pick up the book (he was right).

  • Shaun of the Dead I finally gave into all the buzz I've heard over this and was delighted. This zombie flick had my coworker and I in stitches. Simon Pegg was fantastic as a beta male trying to win back his girlfriend (Studio 60's Lucy Davis) while trying to save her, his friends and mother (Penelope Wilton, Doctor Who's Harriet Jones) while the undead are conquering England. Sure, it's a story we've all seen a million times, but this time it was special. :)

  • Hot Fuzz Simon Pegg does it again--and better! His character is 180 degrees different from Shaun, Type A over-achiever all the way, but just as funny--scratch that, even more laugh-inducing. This time out, Pegg's London's top cop (think Billy Rosewood in Beverly Hills Cop II), transferred to a small town. The culture-clash is a great setup and somehow doesn't become battle of the cliches. This was simply a perfect comedy. Again, my coworker and I were on the floor, and were afraid we were going to wake the clients.

  • Death at a FuneralA dutiful son and his wife conduct a dignified funeral for his father, hosting many relatives (including other son, the celebrity author just flown in from the States), friends, and coworkers. And the laughs start coming. Typical comedic fare, right? This is an ensemble comedy, I only recognized two of the actors--Alan Tudyk (Wash!) and Peter Dinklage. It starts off pretty slow...set-up/punchline, set-up/punchline, and so on, slowly building up steam and then ka-pow! it takes off and you barely get a chance to catch your breath between punchlines. I can't really say more without giving away some of the plot, just trust'll laugh a lot. This time at work, we didn't care if we woke anyone up--we just had to laugh--we had tears in our eyes. I watched this two times back-to-back and was in stitches both times. Can't say enough about this one.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

"Their Best Game Ever"

A minor family emergency gave me an unexpected and unwelcome night-off last night, which took away my prime-blogging hours, no time to get anything real posted today--but am sticking with my at least one post a day for April target...

via HotAir, another Improv Everywhere video--if this one doesn't make you smile, there's something wrong with you. Frankly, I needed it--one van in the shop for transmission work, another van (which we haven't even made our first payment on!) in the shop for some body work thanks to some possibly un-insured dope with a slippery brake pedal...well, let's just say it does not make for a happy Hobster (or any other member of the clan).

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

No Matter How Small...

Well, once again, I went against my better judgment a few days back to see a kid's movie that I fully expected to be disappointed in, and was proven wrong. Although, this time my reluctance wasn't without merit--Defense Exhibit A, Defense Exhibit B. I knew, I just knew that this would be another example of the filmmakers getting the Seuss-portion right--and then all 60 or so minutes worth of filler would be dreadful.

But, I'll admit it, the non-Seuss stuff was seamlessly integrated with the original. The whole thing worked in a way that rivals the best of Pixar's works.

The animation was perfect--you know, you just know if he was alive and working today this is the kind of thing Seuss'd be producing. The characters--major and minor were fun, interesting, clever. The character voices were great--was very impressed with Will Arnett's work--making me regret his being replaced as KITT. The story was intact, especially the moral--a person's a person, no matter how small. (or big, or blue, or Whovillian, or whatever).

The way that the kangaroo provoked the mob mentality was brilliant. "It's for the children. It's for the children." How many ridiculous, criminal, and out right bad movements/ideas/policies have been rammed down our throats from all ends of the political spectrum by that mantra? If only real people were able cajoled out of following that Pied Piper of a slogan the way they were in the movie.

Shockingly, there's a little controversy around the film, first was the the way Carol Burnett's kangaroo states with aplomb, "that's why we Pouch School." I found (find, actually) that line hilarious. There are a few tight-shoed homeschool bloggers who are up in arms over this line, but most of those I've talked to/read actually have a sense of humor about it--some have even embraced it. (if I was more energetic, I'd go see how many homeschool bloggers have complained about the depiction of homeschooler Mama Boucher in the Adam Sandler classic)

The second comes from the Pro-Life movement's embrace of the line "A person's a person, no matter how small" (despite the widow Geisel's objections). This led to quite the tacky protest interrupting the Hollywood premier. How stupid. Great way to create ill-will for the movement.

Thankfully, that nonsense doesn't interfere with the movie (unless you happen to be reading blogs while watching it or were at the premier)--which was a real pleasure to watch, through and through.

The Doctor Is In...

Just caught the season premier of Doctor Who--loved it! Tennant scores again as the Doctor, and I didn't hate Donna this time out. Thankfully, her initial contact with the Time Lord had a positive impact on her and she's likable now. Still, I miss Martha (esp. after SciFi showed "Smith and Jones" last week), not as much as Rose, mind you. Can't wait to see the two of them again...

Best moment: when the Doctor realizes he's talking to himself while starting to explain the alien technology. Hard to feel bad for someone who can say, "I'm the Doctor. I'm a Time Lord. I'm from the planet Gallifrey of the constellation Kasterborous. I'm 903 years old, and I'm the man who is going to save your lives and the six billion people on the planet below. Do you have a problem with that?" But Tennant makes you do just that.

Maybe this ep was a little long on the comedy, short on the thrills. But hey, I'll take the good Doctor in any way they give it to me. I trust they'll get the balance right in the weeks to come.

For girlfriday's sake, I won't talk about the jaw-dropping bit. Can't wait to hear what she has to say about it...

Upcoming Events

Be sure to mark your calendars:

Ides of April - just in case you forgot--Tax Day. [sigh].
April 23 - Tax Freedom Day. Early this year. But don't worry, Obama and/or Clinton have plans to move this to later in the year.
May 3 (a.k.a. Day After Iron Man's premier) - Free Comic Book Day
May 8 - No Socks Day (name pretty much says it all)
May 9 - Lost Sock Memorial Day, not really sure what it is with May and Socks...
May 16 - National Sea Monkey Day. Frodo will be celebrating this one for sure...
May 24 - International Talk Like Bob Dylan Day
May 25 - Towel Day

Hope you appreciate this bit of public service, now back to obsessively focusing on myself.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Meet the Family

Ack! I can't believe I forgot to watch/record the first Walken-hosted SNL in five years. He has got to be one of the all-time greatest hosts. Thankfully, NBC's put a good chunk of the episode on, including this bit of impression-y goodness: Meet the Family.


Calvin and Hobbes doesn't corner the market on comic strip government school critiques, go Frazz!

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Thought for the Lord's Day #20

The Tamed Lion

1 A Lion, though by nature wild,
The art of man can tame;
He stands before his keeper, mild,
And gentle as a lamb.

2 He watches, with submissive eye,
The hand that gives him food,
As if he meant to testify
A sense of gratitude.

3 But man himself, who thus subdues
The fiercest beast of prey,
A nature more unfeeling shows,
And far more fierce than they.

4 Though by the Lord preserv'd and fed,
He proves rebellious still;
And while he eats his Maker's bread,
Resists his holy will.

5 Alike in vain, of grace that saves,
Or threat'ning law, he hears;
The savage scorns, blasphemes, and raves,
But neither loves nor fears.

6 O Saviour! how thy wondrous pow'r
By angels is proclaim'd,
When in thine own appointed hour,
They see this lion tam'd.

7 The love thy bleeding cross displays,
The hardest heart subdues;
Here furious lions while they gaze,
Their rage and fierceness lose.

8 Yet we are but renew'd in part,
The lion still remains;
Lord, drive him wholly from my heart,
Or keep him fast in chains.
- John Newton

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Demons can charm you with a smile, for a while

So I watched Sweeney Todd the other night, and it was about what you'd expect for a Tim Burton musical: dark, cool sets, twisted, lots of strange hair, and Johnny Depp. While I don't know that I'd recommend it to anyone based on the content, it's one of the better musicals I've seen on film (right up there with Grease 2).

Everything I know about Sondheim, I learned from Mandy Patinkin CDs, so I wasn't too sure what to expect from this story outside the trailers. It was a decent story as far as revenge flicks about wronged barbers go (so glad I've given up the whole shaving thing...would have a hard time using the ol' Mach 3 for awhile), the use of the word macabre to describe this hardly seems fair to such a fun word to say. There are some truly great moments--mostly due to the music. The songs were great--it's like the Broadway success that Sondheim's had was deserved or something (yeah, I'm talking about you, Lloyd Webber).

Who knew these people could sing? The always reliable villian, Alan Rickman, Johnny Depp, and the proto-Goth Chick Helena Bonham Carter all made their singing debuts here. Who knew Sacha Baron Cohen could do something worth watching? What is with Timothy Spall showing up everywhere now?

I thought this was some of Burton's more creative uses of color--and was tempted to hang on to the DVD for a few more days to study it, but in the end I decided I'd find a decent discussion on-line or in the comments of this post.

I didn't have to see his face to reflexively shout "Giles!" during a certain actors' uncredited appearance. Anyone else do that? (my bad coffee-making coworker did, so I'm not the biggest geek I know).

Really can't think of anything else to say about this flick at the moment, so off to eat a couple of meat pies...

P.S. So TLomL doesn't hyperventilate, I should probably say that the Grease 2 thing was a joke. "Grease 2? What will people think? You know people don't always know when you're joking..."

Friday, April 04, 2008

Ah-hey ma ma ma

Been awhile since I did a Music Video Friday Post, and I can't seem to get enough of this cover of Dream Academy's "Life in a Northern Town" by Sugarland, Little Big Town and Jake Owen (who better to sing of life in 1960's England than circa-2007 American Country Music artists?).

Following some of the "Related Video" links, it looks like if this whole Country Music thing doesn't work out for Sugarland, they've got a future as an 80's cover band. See also: "Where The Streets Have No Name", "Pour Some Sugar on Me".

Meanwhile, am thinking of starting a charity organization: The Buy Jennifer Nettles a Sandwich Foundation.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Learning from that Kid and His (Imaginary?) Friend

I've been reading lately about comic strips helping kids become better readers (if for no other reason, they'll invest more effort into understanding unfamiliar words/phrases/ideas so they can get the joke), so last week I plunked down a few bucks for a Calvin and Hobbes collection. It's truly the rare moment over the last five days when that book has not been open in someone's hands (except for school or dining time...pretty much).

Of course, the downside to this is that Samwise is taking Calvin as a role-model.

So getting a link to this article in the mail this week was quite well-timed, "Everything I Ever Needed to Know About Public School...I Learned in Calvin & Hobbes Comic Books" by B.R. Merrick. Now, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't sign on to everything Mr. Merrick says about Calvin, Hobbes or Public School--but as I read over it again, I can't think of a single thing he gets wrong.

Particularly worth your time is "list, in order of importance from worse to worst, the life lessons I, and all the other non-fictional Calvins out there, learned from former-factory/now-corporate government schools."

Sadly, not so sure those strips are that funny anymore.

A quick grumble

Steve Taylor's first film, Second Chance was almost a paint-by-numbers Evangelical movie, but it was good enough to be enjoyable--and I was eager to see more.

But to follow it up with Donald Miller's Blue Like Jazz? Ugh.

First time since my initial exposure to Steve that I'm not eagerly anticipating, nay, am dreading, his next project.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Talkin' Baseball

Not only was Monday Opening Day for MLB, it was the start of another season of Little League for the Offspring. Frodo's elected to not play this Spring--which is both sad and understandable (and hey...makes things a lot easier on his parents--we'd have had 3 kids in 3 different leagues and would've had to clone one of us to cover everything).

Samwise has his first game of the year tonight, the Princess has hers tomorrow (immediately following Sam's second game). Arnold desperately wants to play this year, and is counting down the days 'til next season. I'm very impressed with Sam's coach--not sure what kind of results he'll get out of the kid, but am sure he'll get good stuff out of the team as a whole (and vice versa). Not as impressed with Princess' coach--seems to put a great emphasis on quantity of practice over quality.

On the professional side, looks like Torre's getting off to a good start in LA. Beckett and Schilling started the season on the DL. The Girardi-era Yanks got off to a decent start in their opener--the Melk-man doing most of the splashy stuff, but the pitching was as good as it needed to be. Like Patrick over at Yanksblog said, "You're not going to beat the Yankees very often when the only pitchers you see are Chien-Ming Wang, Joba Chamberlain and Mariano Rivera."

Someone asked me why I'm so obsessed with baseball when it's so "boring" compared to say football or basketball. Here's a snippet from Chabon's Summerland to give part of the explanation:

"I hate it that they even count errors," Ethan said..."What kind of game is that? No other sport do they do that, Dad. There's no other sport where they put the errors on the freaking scoreboard for everybody to look at. They don't even have errors in other sports. They have fouls. They have penalties. Those are things that players could get on purpose, you know. But in baseball they keep track of how many accidents you have."

"Ethan," Mr. Feld said, shaking his head in sorrow.... "Errors . . . Well, they are a part of life, Ethan," he tried to explain. "Fouls and penalties, generally speaking, are not. That's why baseball is more like life than other games.

Am I the Only One Who Does This?

Driving into work tonight, "Bohemian Rhapsody" comes on the radio, which is a rare enough event to warrant me staying on the channel without looking around to see what else was playing.

Somewhere between "spit in my eye" and "leave me to die" I realize that I'm doing the whole lip-synch, air band thing right out of Wayne's World--minus the DeLuise kid in the back and with greater accuracy than Dana Carvey.

Torn between being embarassed despite the fact that I was alone in the van and knowing I was alone in the van so I didn't need to care, I admit I faltered a bit there. But figured hey, the song was almost over, so I might as well finish.

Anyway the wind blows, anyone else do this?

Templatey Goodness and the like

Those of you who checked this space Tuesday evening may have noticed the presence of a couple of names rather than my avatar and e-bumper sticker over to your right. That's because I added TLomL as an author to this here blog, and it threw my template into a tizzy.

Now, she was an author here before...well, as far as the permissions and whatnot were concerned, she was an author, she just never contributed anything. Which was okay, because she started her own blog. She closed that one down awhile ago, and hasn't really wanted to get back to trying to keep up a blog of her own--which is a shame, but, hopefully, hopefully, she'll throw something in here from time to time.

I should mention that it took me an hour (in retrospect, it should've taken 5 minutes) to fix the template after adding her as an author. I would like to think, if nothing else, she'd feel obligated to post a few things because of the trouble I went to just to add her. You'd agree, readers, wouldn't you? Leave a comment, pour on the guilt encouragement.

Before I started dealing with the template, I installed the new Microsoft video software MLB is using so I could watch some highlights of last night's Yankee game. I'm not sure why/how, but after doing so, I lost about 25% of my Firefox window to a large toolbar that doesn't seem to include any content. I've uninstalled that software, restarted the computer, played with my Firefox theme...and nothing. Still have this large ugly grayish-brown rectangle at the bottom of my screen. Which really has nothing to do with anything but is just my way of saying that I"m apparently spending my down-time at work tonight on cosmetic troubleshooting. Not really what I had in mind, but what're ya gonna do, eh?

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Dialogue Snippet of the Moment

Ben: I mean, they're like our cool, fun uncles.
Sock: Benji, have you ever had a cool, fun uncle?
Ben: Uncle Hector.
Sock: Uncles are creepy by definition, okay? Have you not been watching your SVU?

Quote of the Moment

I guess one of the drawbacks to doing nothing with your life is that you're never quite sure when you've accomplished it.
- Jonathan Tropper
Plan B