Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Fullness of Time: The Jews (prelude)

Now we come to it - the main reason I started this series.

Two years ago I picked up a book called Why the Jews Rejected Jesus. It is a well written book composed in the aftermath of Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ. Over the course of three days I read the entire thing in the Barnes and Noble coffee shop. It was an interesting read and I would recommend it to anyone. This is the quote that spurred on this series:

"...if Christians are right about Jesus, then many generations of Jews and other peoples have missed out on the very climax of history, the ministry and death of Jesus Christ. It happened, but we weren't paying attention."

I want to be very careful at this point, for I have some beliefs about the Jews and the book of Romans that quite possibly many of my evangelical brothers and sisters do not and will not share. (As always, I welcome discussion on this and sharpening.)

It's all about that verse, "All Israel will be saved." Yep. It is a tough one (for many) to say the least. I'm still not 100% on where I stand on the mysterious matter but here's what I'm pretty sure of: I think that the reality of Jesus as Messiah was hidden from most of Israel so that we, the Gentiles, could be grafted in. This puts the "Vessels of mercy/vessels of wrath" statement of Paul in its proper perspective, as Paul was addressing Israel being made a "vessel of wrath" for our sake. So, will all Israel be saved? I don't know. What about a murderous, unrepentant Jew? Again, judgment isn't mine to dole out, that's God's business. There have been volumes of apologetics written on (arguing about) the matter. On the protestant side we have the reaction - "Nope, gotta have faith. We are all in the same boat." Then you have the Catholic side: (from the Catechism)

"840 And when one considers the future, God's People of the Old Covenant and the new People of God tend towards similar goals: expectation of the coming (or the return) of the Messiah. But one awaits the return of the Messiah who died and rose from the dead and is recognized as Lord and Son of God; the other awaits the coming of a Messiah, whose features remain hidden till the end of time; and the latter waiting is accompanied by the drama of not knowing or of misunderstanding Christ Jesus."

I tend to lead towards the latter, as it essentially postulates that God knows the outcome and we do not. Above all things I am called to Love. And Love and friendship are the purest channels for which the Good News flows, in my mind.

And so here we are. The quote from "Why the Jews Rejected Jesus" poses an interesting question or two.

This doesn't mean that Jews now cannot believe in Jesus. It simply means that the reason for their turning away - since the coming of Christ - has been purposed, and the fullness of that purpose is pretty mysterious business.

I do believe that His coming was the climax of history. I do believe that all thought - religious and philosophical - at that time (those two weren't as nearly separated back then) was primed and ready for the coming of the Messiah, the revealing of God's Son, the Logos, the Word, the firstborn of all creation. And if you think that no Jewish philosopher could relate to God having a Son, or conceive of three persons, then you haven't met Philo. Let me be clear here: I'm not trying to state that the Jews believed in a tri-part God. I am saying that this notion was not very far from the thought at the time and that God came at the climax of our collective understanding - understanding without direct divine revelation that is, and that includes the Jews. And it would also make sense that a Jewish philosopher named Philo would come the closest to that revelation, or in some ways, "prepare the way."

(to be continued.)

Going to the Ballet

Tonight, we feast at a great restaurant called "Taboon." Then we go see Peter Tschzschvxovsky's Nutcracker at Lincoln center. I'm' pumped. However, I'm also a tad bit under the weather. But nothing like good food to bring me ever closer to glory despite all physical maladies.

My mother and father in law just left and they will be missed. Never have I met two more kind and generous people in all my living days. Seriously. The shelf that my computer sits upon was made with my father-in-law's hands measured with his keen eyes, even though our apartment -being a very old brownstone- is slightly slanted. I cannot imagine what the shelf would look like if it would have been left in the hands of the ever-impatient Seth Ward.

However, despite all of their goodness, they will forever be the nemesis of the spades-duo Seth and Amber. No matter how much we try, we cannot seem to conquer C&B at spades. They are the reigning spades Czars of the family and probably will be for all time. My father in law is a bit of a mathematical genius and when the first hand is played he can pretty much tell what everyone has in their hand and what they will play. To throw him off I have to play ridiculous plays and do things that only make sense at the quantum level. Of course, that only worked for about two rounds and then he adjusted the anomaly and resumed conquering. My mother-in-law is blazingly intuitive and psychic. She strikes as though she knows all of our TRUE bidding abilities, therefore, she is the ultimate enemy of anyone trying to go nil.

Time to put on the fancy clothes and go to chow-bliss. If I don't post in the next few days, Happy New Year!

(Last "Fullness of Time" installment coming. I just know you are all biting your nails in suspense.)

Monday, December 29, 2008

Cuteness

Hey Jude




I really like the second one. When I asked Amber to marry me she said she'd think about it. Then I showed her similar moves and she was mine forever.

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Curious Croaking of Benjamin Button

First off, what's with all the depressing Christmas movies this year? It seems like every big blockbuster this December is either about death or... death-ing someone. We've go Benjamin Button, a film loosely based upon the Fitzgerald short story, starring Brad Pitt and Kate Blanchett, and its all about getting older and croaking, or getting younger and croaking, or bothatonce. Then we've got Tom Cruise playing a German, (Suuuure) and it's all about a failed attempt at axing old Adolf. Also, just... can't... buy it... A Kraut-Cruise? Maverick? Stretching it. To top it off, in the theater next door, we've got Leo and Kate Winslet reuniting in a film that supposedly puts all the other Holiday depressing films to shame. As if they hadn't sufficiently depressed our socks off with that ending in the Titanic.

This just won't do. No sir. I want some magic, dangit, and I didn't get it this year. I want my Harry Potter movie and I want it now.

Which brings me to the movie about the geezer-baby. We saw The Curious Case of Benjamin Button last night and it was pretty decent. I haven't the energy for an extended review but let's just say that it was a film-love-child of Forest Gump and The Notebook. The film was told in flashbacks read from Benjamin's diary, recited by Benjamin's daughter, cozied up next to the deathbed of her mother - old Kate Blanchett - who is in the final wheezings of cancer. Yippee! Bust out the eggnog!

And here is my review: Long. The film was too long. It lingered too much on its own sentimentality and borderline-contrived symbolism, and though it had its touching moments, it eventually departed from the world of the real and left me sleepy and thinking about how everyone I know is going to get old and die someday. And who wants to think about that right around Christmas? Fa la la la laaaa la la la (fart-noise.) Plus Pitt's accent and voice-over kept reminding me of his accent and voice-over from Interview With a Vampire- ironically set in the same place, New Orleans.

I did like the first half, (a LONG first half, I might add) but at one point Benjamin makes a decision that just doesn't seem true to his character. Unlike the moment in Forest Gump where Jenny leaves Forest after sleeping with him, and the audience fully believes it's what Jenny would do, Benjamin leaves Kate and his newborn baby girl because Benjamin feels like his daughter should grow up with a normal dad and not one that will eventually look younger than his daughter. Okay... I get it, I suppose. But right then and there the filmmaker reminded me of just how ludicrous the whole premise of the film was and my suspended disbelief was thereafter in a state of flux. Benjamin eventually ends up a pristine looking baby in the arms of a very old Kate Blanchett and then he croaks. And then she croaks. And then Katrina rolls in and New Orleans croaks. The film should have been simply re-titled: "Croaking"

Even though I had some prob's with the film, I do think it is worth seeing. Pitt gives one of his best performances and Kate is amazing as usual. I don't mean to go too Nancy-negative here; there were some very fine things about the film: It was shot beautifully (though some of the muted tones muted too much of an already muted character) and all the acting was top-notch. Every actor in the film could easily be nominated for the biggie in the spring, and even though the subject matter lingered under a depressing cloud, there were some very funny moments that lightened the mood and gave the audience a much needed smile or two between the dabbing of tears. The film does have an interesting premise and it is really too interesting NOT to see, even if it is to see if the filmmaker can really pull it off. I think in the end, you are impressed that something so out-there didn't completely bite.

The score was fine, though I grew a little weary of the touching Gump-esque piano tinklings every time we re-entered the flashback from Kate's croak-bed.

Grade: As a film: B to B+ As a Christmas Day release: D+ to C---

Thursday, December 25, 2008

YO YO YO!

I had the hardest time resisting the purchase of this here black Santa. I just wanted to stand and stare at it for minutes upon minutes.

Honestly, I would like a whole ethnic collection of Santas. The Iranian Santa would be cool with his Sultan's sword and all... or a Jamaican Santa with dreadlocks, a black-hemp belt and a big bag of cannabis. How bout a TBN Santa with a big giant purple and blond wig and tons of eye-shadow. Yeah, that would be cool too. Or "Catholic Santa," all dressed up in a Bishop robe... wait, now we are talking about the historical, real-life Saint Nick and that's just boring.

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYBODY!

Hope you are all stocked up on ugly sweaters, pearly white underwear, and old-man dress socks!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Uggs

I've got some bad feet. Hopefully, someday my son will inherit his mother's feet and the line - three generations of Ward-men with bad feet - will be broken.

And cruddy feet aren't what you want in this here city. If my feet were animals in the cretaceous period and were subject to the survival of the fittest, they would easily be killed and eaten by some very medium sized herbivore feet, on accident.

So, not only do I have sub-Darwinian feet, I came to NYC totally unprepared for the cold and wet walks. However, the days of my feet being frozen and crippled fish are over. A pair of very warm Uggs are covering my dogs right now and good lord are they nice.

Come to find out, Uggs are pretty darn popular up here. Just yesterday, there was a line stretching out the Ugg store. I've heard of that kind of furor being associated with iphones, Cabbage Patch Dolls, and Carman concerts, but with boots?

Well, I beginning to see why. I'm here to tell you, they are some comfy mofos and a welcome womb for my war-wearied feet. Not the "slickest" looking boot in the world, but they sho is cozy. Me likey. Thanks Mom and Dad Evans!!!

Monday, December 22, 2008

What Christmas Means to Me

By: Seth Ward

Ten things that Christmas represents to me... or 5 or 6 or 11... basically, however many I can think of before we go eat here.

1. Christmas means sleeping a bunch because usually we've traveled the two days before.

2. Christmas means eating a bunch, especially the fruity candy canes off the tree when my mom and sister (the tree-decorating nazis) are not looking.

3. Christmas means opening presents and checking to see if anyone got better presents, including the kids.

4. Christmas means spending a great amount of time thinking of a prank gift to give to someone.

5. Christmas means eating mounds and mounds of chocolate. (I already emphasized eating, but it should be emphasized again.)

6. Christmas means watching "A Christmas Story" on repeat until I have a headache from falling asleep while watching it, and waking up to watch it some more.

7. Christmas means going to see a movie with the fam, maybe two movies in a row, eating pounds of popcorn, milkduds, all washed down with a holiday Coke. (I even splurge the extra quarter for the large on C.E.)

8. Christmas to me means playing video games with my nephews because it is the only time my wife will let me do that.

9. Christmas to me means everyone sitting around and telling funny stories until my face hurts from laughing so much. And somewhere in all that uncontrollable family laughter someone toots because of all the Chili my dad made and then we laugh some more.

10. Finally, and most importantly, Christmas to me means going to midnight Mass (or church) and feeling a little guilty for numbers 1,2,3,5, and splurging the extra quarter in no. 7, and because I haven't spent enough time pondering the wonder of the incarnation, and because sometimes the movie runs late and we are late.

Holiday Kitten Goodness

Grab some eggnog, sit by the fire with your computer and watch this little video of kittens frolicking on the floor. Take a sip of eggnog somewhere near the end and be happy about all things. (The real cuteness happens at the end - wait for it!)

Your welcome!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

More Ammo For Moms

Listen up, all you Barry Manilow Mosh-ers, all you Third Day head-thumpers... Your headbanging has just been served. It is no longer safe to bang your heads at these or any other concerts. Brain damage people, brain damage.

Dr. Andrew McIntosh, biomedical and injury expert at the University Of New South Wales, sternly declared this week: "We identified a definite risk of mild traumatic brain injury from headbanging. We would suggest a proper public health warning, as for smoking."

In other words,

This is headbanging:











This is your brain on headbanging:











Any questions?

Friday, December 19, 2008

First Snow

It snowed today and as of 9:00 p.m., it is a tad bit magical outside. It snowed about 4 or 5 inches and then warmed up just enough to melt the sidewalks and streets. Ahhh, all the lights reflecting off the wet streets, the glowing Christmas displays in shop windows, the moonlight shining through snowy trees... I half expected to see a bunch of reindeer and sleigh pass in front of the moon.

Time to get out the Bing on Vinyl.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Fullness of Time: Greece and the Birth of Liberty.

After Adam fell, the spiritual pendulum swung far and low into the dregs of idolatry. Whatever knowledge or ritual Adam passed down to his offspring about God eventually deteriorated into only a sinister, shadowy, distorted version of the truth. Adam surrendered his dominion over the world and his offspring to the devil and God allowed it. So God let the disease of sin run its course and the devil threw a party. Religion transformed into a devilish carnival throughout the world. In some cultures children were sacrificed to appease an angry idol while in others, beating hearts were torn from the warm chests of screaming men to placate the gods that brought rain to their crops. The atrocities are even worse but I’ll spare you stories about young boys raised for the purpose of being raped to death as a reward to the tribe’s returning hunting party. And all that was AFTER the flood.

Then, finally, at the bottom of the pendulum, amidst the filth, God appeared to the Abraham and a new nation was born. His true character was revealed again, His covenant established, and man’s redemption set in motion. But the road of the Jews was not one of blissful evangelism. It was a hard and harsh road filled with disobedience and discipline. Somehow, they handled it better than all of the rest of human kind would have. The law was preserved the line was unbroken. And that is why they were chosen.

But what about the rest of humanity? Eventually the pendulum swung out of the mire and excrement and as close as it could to knowing the God of the universe on its own, peaking about four-hundred years before the birth of Christ in the city of Athens.

What was so miraculous about the Greeks?

Well, it all began somewhere in the rough and rugged terrain of ancient Greece when man’s mind turned from dwelling on death, to dwelling on life and something new was born of this: Play.

The Greeks were the first people to really play and play they did. It sounds strange but it is true. The Egyptians didn’t truly play for the sake of play. If they did, there is nothing to notate or show evidence of it. There were a few Egyptian contests to be sure, but the contests served a purpose and the loser often lost his life, or his testicles. The stark contrast between Egyptian and Grecian play can be summed up with a quote from a Egyptian priest to great Athenian, “Solon, Solon, you Greeks are all children.”

All over Greece there were games, all sorts of games; athletic contests of every description: races – horse, boat, foot, torch-races; contests in music, where one side out-sung the other; in dancing – on greased skins to see who would fall on their butts; a game of balance of body; games where men leaped in and out of flying chariots… and the list goes on. And I mean ON. (Check it out sometime… stuff like “dancing flutists competition.” Waaaay cooler than American Idol in my opinion.) The greatest honor in Greece of course went to the Olympic victor. The Olympian victors were absolute heroes.

When Greece died, the spirit of their games died with them and lay dormant for hundreds of years. The brutal, bloody games of the Romans that replaced them had nothing to do with the Greek spirit of play. It was from the Roman idea of play that Christians were fed to lions and gladiators were bread to murder each other. This was not Greek. To be Greek was to rejoice in life. The joy of life is written in everything the Greeks left behind. Even in their great tragedies they show this. It is the depressed and numb-minded that cannot both greatly rejoice and greatly sorrow in life. The Greeks knew all too well the brevity of life and how little time we have to enjoy the wonders of the world and their tragedies reflected this. The old Greek definition of happiness goes something like this: “The exercise of vital powers in a life affording them scope.” It is a philosophy that is abounding with the joy of living.

In Greece, individual liberty was born. No man was a slave in Greece. Somewhat common today, but NOT common then. The rich didn’t rule Greece or the priests, it was ruled by law and even the law was questioned and refined for the good of all. The Egyptian priest said, “Thus far and no further, we set the limits to thought.” The Greeks said, “All things are to be examined and called into question. There are no limits set to thought.” It is astounding that in Greece alone, the Priest played no role of real importance in governing the society. The Greek priests had their temples and sacrificial rites, but other than that, they were told to mind their own damn business. Men and gods fought the Trojan War with no intermediaries. The Greek never went to a priest for guidance. If he wanted to know something he went to Plato, not to the castrated priest.


The Greeks were the first intellectualists, the first philosophers.
Our word for school comes from the Greek word for leisure. To the Greek man who was afforded some R & R, what else would he do but spend his time “finding out” about things? To chill out was to learn. Today for leisure, our children eat tater tots and watch cartoons, right beside their parents.

The Greeks were the first to call their healers physicians. The Greeks used their minds in a way that engaged nature and learned from it, rather than looking for an outside source to intervene combined with a strange concocted potion of crap and piss. (Real remedy used by Egyptians.) The Greeks were the first scientists and all modern day science goes back to them. The Greeks dared to look into the face of superstition and set their minds to it. Sure Galileo can be commended for his “humanist” ventures, but his lonely and brave venture pales in comparison to what the Greeks accomplished. They were the master of none and were free to think in a way that is hardly rivaled today here in America. For instance, imagine the turnout to a play during WWII where Roosevelt was portrayed as a power-hungry goofball and Uncle Sam were portrayed as a stupid oaf. Exactly that happened when Greece was fighting for its life and pro- and anti- war alike showed up and loved it. To think free was to be free.

Socrates drinking his hemlock was the one exception in all of Greek history, but he was an old man by then and had spoke his mind his whole life and Athens had just gone through a bitter defeat, rapid change of government, and the people basically panicked as they always do for a patsy. But even then, a small majority only charged Socrates and Plato went on teaching in his name and honored for it. Socrates was the only man to suffer death for his views. Three others were exiled from the country and that’s it. That’s the whole list of people that were persecuted for their views compared to the gazillions who are killed, beaten, and tortured in the last five hundred years alone. Never before or since has a whole culture and country welcomed learning and liberty, as the Greeks, not even in the Renaissance, and no, not even America.

And it was just at this time,
when mankind was at his peak and most likely to understand and grasp what God would demonstrate, the Messiah came into the world through the virgin womb of a young Jewish girl surrounded by a dark and dank cave in the city of David.

Next up: The Jews.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Dear Federation Engineers

I was recently aboard the celebrated Starship Enterprise when we were attacked by an old clunky Klingon Bird of Prey. Luckily, we were able to locate a flaw in their Cloaking system and we destroyed their ship. It was slightly bad-ass. However, during the battle we sustained some serious damage and we had to crash land that baby on some planet while Picard was dilly-dallying, picarding his nose in something he called "The Nexus," fighting some villain named, ahem, "Sauron." Nice. I bet he met Gandalf and Gollum there too. Whatever. His story is suspect. Supposedly, while he was "talking to Captain Kirk" (uh huh...) in the "Nexus" we were doing all the work and getting the crap blown out of us. Personally, I think he knew the battle was coming and he wussed out. Again, whatever. We came, we saw, we kicked some Klingon ugly-butt.

Which brings me to the two points of this here letter.

1. Federation should seriously consider putting seat belts on the friggin bridge. People seem to take flight an awful lot when things get rough with the Klingons. I'm not sure if you've noticed, but a seat belt or two might have come in handy. Thanks a bunch for that oversight. I darn near flew from my chair into space on that second torpedo blast. The handsome angry man being launched in the left of the picture is me, thank you kindly. Yeah, yeah. It "looks" fun. It wasn't, I assure you. In fact, it was totally lame and it ticked me off.


2. Federation should seriously consider putting non-explosive logic boards in their console computers or logic boards or whatever. Chellloooo??? Starship to dilwad? Whoever thought it would be a good idea for the consoles to explode like a stick of dynamite when under attack should be tazered in the butt. Thanks to that little bit of engineering brilliance , I have no nose and now I'm wearing those stupid looking goggles that ship engineer wears so I can see. And do you see that nice shock of hair in the pic? Do you see it??? Picard used to envy that. Now, it's been singed clean off except for a little bit that grows in the back. I've got a bald mullet thanks to your stupidity. Data is hotter than me now.

Perturbed, burned, blind and unfairly mulleted,

Crew Memeber 3495.


Just FYI.

Did You Know...

When you see the moon on the horizon, and it seems much, much larger than normal, your mind is playing a trick on you. Your mind is making it look bigger. I wonder if that phenomenon can be applied to the appearance of one's nose in the mirror?

However, many scientists don't like the idea of the "mind" playing tricks on rational man, (when he's not smoking or drinking something) especially if he knows it is a trick but can't do anything about it. Therefore, the debate still goes on as to why the moon looks larger on the horizon...

Any of my scientist readers care to explain this further?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Hot of the Press...



I'm sorry, I have to say that this is funny. At first I was a little horrified. No, I'm just saying that. I laughed. I told you I have a wicked, twisted sense of humor sometimes. (I was a little ticked. Sort of like, "Hey, back off W, Jackass. We are the only people allowed to throw shoes at him.") The only reason that I think it is funny, I think... is because W sort of smirks at the man after the first chunk. He easily dodges the second one as he seems to have quickly assessed the Iraqi's aim. He told reporters shortly after his double-duck that he thought the shoe was a size 10. Hey, W's got reflex.

The reporter screamed, "here is a farewell kiss for you, you dog!" and then chunked his Florsheim wing-tip at W's kisser.

Ahhhh. Of all the things that has happened to Bush the past 8 years, of all the befuddled condickerments he has verbiated, this moment shall stand as the most memorable.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Crack

So, my Starbux drink of choice is a Grande Soy White Chocolate Mocha, with whip. I've been drinking this drink now for about 5 years and I think I might be ready to try something new. This is a big step for me. I'm a tad bit like Rain Man when it comes to my Starbux drink and if I don't get my drink every other day or so, I start walking around in circles, mumbling, dropping toothpicks and counting them.

So, as a part of my pre-new-years resolution, I am going to try a few new drinks out to see if I am missing out on anything.

So hit me. Favorite Starbux drink. Please include pertinent sweetening additions. I do like sweet drinks. Whatever the case, it must have caffeine. Without it, what is the purpose.

Make it Stop

Is anyone else besides me getting tired of Britney? The time has come to move on, world. Britney graduated from naughty catholic schoolgirl to a wasted, bald, panty-less tragedy and we put her there. And I thought that was the end. I had moved on with my life. I thought the parents (may they someday be lashed and beaten for the shameful prostitution of this girl) had intervened and Britney was on her way to becoming a human being. Obama had replaced all talk about Britney and we were moving into Miley territory. (Not much better but at least a change of face in the checkout line.)

But, but, but... WHAT? She's back? As if she were never gone and we never stopped caring about K-fed and his goal to finally steal the golden belt from Vanilla Ice as the "lamest white rapper in history-World Champion."

Please, for the love of good smutty magazines... Britney, can you please, take your sparkle nude-body suit and GO A-WAY, or at least stay out of the news??? (I did like Toxic. Cool song. A few more of those wouldn't hurt.) Otherwise, it is finally time to go the way of all sparkle nude body-suits. I can't take it anymore. It's bad enough that we are still hearing GranMadonna gyrating around and spewing her idiotic rhetoric after ALL THESE YEARS.

And just when I thought we were through with your absolutely WHITE TRASH saga, I turn around with an armful of bread and eggs to see K-FED'S nappy-ass grin juxtaposed next to some strung-out picture of you.

And Mr. Fed, Esq., do the procurers of US Weekly actually think that we still give two turd-launchers about your tremendously touching story, of how you knocked up the richest and most unstable woman ALIVE, and proceeded to sue her for ridiculous amounts of child-support money when she left your parasite-self to your McDonalds commercials??? Do you actually THINK that we CARE??? I mean, I could care less if your kids will grow up to know their mother... or if Britney actually DOES love you after all this... time... JUST LEAVE BRITNEY ALONE! (sniff.)


Sheesh... I wonder if Kroger's has sold out of this week's issue... Maybe I SHOULD check up on those two... just to see if they are okay...

Someday soon, people (besides the ones who should) will stop caring about Britney Spears and K-Fed and then, then there shall be peace on earth, good will towards men.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Thirty So-ME-thing

I was having a good chat yesterday with my buddy Brody on ichat. Somehow the subject of fame and approval came up and he said, "yeah, I suppose they (people) just want to be liked, just like we do."

It is always a shocker when that little realization hits me. You know, you go through years and years of getting over that crap. You think you are all grown up and doing your thing, only to find that phrase knocking you in the gut like it did in Jr. High.

The want to be validated is dangerous business.

The desperate need to be liked, acknowledged and validated, or to "make our mark" is so easily substituted for the true and right yearning of our hearts: to love and to be loved and appreciated. The society in which we live doesn't help much. You are only "something" if you've played with your band on Conan O'Brien, or have had a big record deal, or a big Broadway show, or a big film break... And you'd think that only the non-famous struggle with this. Nay, it this little disease goes from the bottom to the middle, all the way to the top. World famous singers leave their careers as recording artists to be in films and fail miserably, followed by a giant leap into depression.

Recent studies have shown that if people today were given the choice of fame, health, intelligence, looks, good family and healthy marriage - they would choose fame, overwhelmingly. Not surprising. It is the original sin; we want to be god. We want worship, adoration, acknowledgement, and success that stomps the competition into the dirt. Like an addict yearns for that next hit, our ego yearns for the next and bigger recognition.

The odd thing is, that when your heart is right, and you are acknowledged, you are humbled rather than puffed up.

Wanting the world's approval is a weird, nasty thing. It makes you push your way to the front. I makes you brag on your charity. It makes parents say nasty things about other kids so that their kid will be first. It makes artists steal, lie and cheat. Basically, it brings out the absolute WORST in us, even in the most selfless acts. Like a drip of dye, the tiniest boast can taint the best and kindest acts of charity. That's why the Lord said to drop your gift at the door with no return address.

Then the time factor sets in and makes the whole situation worse. I'm about in my mid-thirties and some new and unique feelings have sprouted their ugly heads. In your twenties you feel like you've got all the time in the world. Shoot, you could even still be a pro-baseball player if you want! But you soon find that you can't just go out and run a mile and lose 11 pounds like you used to. Your body has started to keep its own council on personal growth. You look down in the shower to see hair accumulating in the drain and hair growing on every other part of your body that shouldn't be hairy. You check to see if you accidentally used Nair hair removal instead of conditioner on your head. Then, slowly but surely, your nose begins its slow offensive to take over your face.

I talk to a lot of guys these days and they struggle with this question: "What have I done? Why am I not great? I should be well-known by now." Especially here in NYC. (It is everywhere, its just that NYC - and I imagine Nashville and L.A.- inherently attracts the fame-thirsty.) I am NO stranger to these thoughts myself. It is an everyday battle. I am here to tell you, my friends, wherever you are, if you let this self-pity settle-in, these questions are not just bad, they are deadly. They can kill the heart of an artist/father/husband or artist/mother/wife faster than you can scratch your underwear rash.

The questions should be: "Why have I done for others with the gifts I've been given? Why am I not the great man/husband/father/mother/artist God has made me and commanded me to be? Am I doing my best in all that I do? Am I being obedient? I need God above all things, and I need to love and be loved."

I help lead worship now for the Redeemer Recovery Group for Redeemer Pres. and I'm finding that the need for control and the need to be acknowledged are probably the leading cause every kind of addiction there is today and probably the leading cause of broken-marriages as well. These thoughts turned inward to self-pity can empty every bit of God's life and joy for life out of you, leaving you with a vacuum - a vacuum that sucks all affirmations into its event horizon. And what do you find when you finally get the approval that you think you need? You find that you simply need more approval. And the people from whom you were seeking the approval seem to only want more out of you. Nothing is ever enough for those folks, nor is it enough for you.

There are many things that make us want that approval, and there isn't time or space to go into all of them, but let's just say that the power of our parent's words of affirmation or lack thereof is astounding. But even with the best and most encouraging parents (like mine!) we can easily find ourselves never satisfied and wanting more.


Jesus said that all the law could be summed up in two commandments: "Love the Lord God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength, and to Love your neighbor as yourself." Good grief, how easy it is to turn that into "Try to gain fame and notoriety with all your mind soul and strength" and "Love making your neighbor notice you as you love being noticed."

All that to say, "Seek first the Kingdom of God, and his righteousness..."

It isn't the solution that we want to hear because it means a total submission of self to something else altogether and infinitely more than us. It means hard work. When I'm at my worst, I hear that, and it just makes me mad. I want to take a whack at whoever is preaching that old tired sermon to me. But that is probably one of the signs that it is so very right. A submission of your will is the only way to experience real peace, joy, freedom and the abundant life the Good Lord has for us. When you do, your talents and gifts come alive in way that they never have. They become the blessing they were meant to be rather than the curses that we have made them.

And how does one do all that? I'm still learning.

;-) имейте славный день. (Have a Nice Day.)

MOSCOW -- How much would you pay for a ;-)?

"A Russian businessman has trademarked the emoticon - or combination of punctuation marks - used to convey a wink in text messages and e-mail.

Oleg Teterin, president of the mobile ad company Superfone, said Thursday he doesn't plan on tracking down individual users following the decision by the federal patent agency.

"I want to highlight that this is only directed at corporations, companies that are trying to make a profit without the permission of the trademark holder," he said in comments to NTV.

Companies will be sent legal warnings if they use the symbol without his permission, he said.

"Legal use will be possible after buying an annual license from us," he was quoted by Kommersant as saying. "It won't cost that much _ tens of thousands of dollars."

He also said since other similar emoticons _ :-) or ;) or :) _ resemble the one he has trademarked, use of those symbols could also fall under his ownership.

Other Russian Internet entrepreneurs reacted to the effort predictably _ >:( "




My aside: A few random things in no particular order that I'd like to trademark in the blogosphere and other places...

I think I want to trademark putting periods after. every. word. to. emphasize. my. point. I think I want to trademark using "its" when you should be using "it's." I could make a mint off my posts alone. Its horrible how many times I read that... See look! I just mad 5 cents! The potential...

I think I also want to trademark the third finger. My royalty check from New Yorkers alone would be enormous.

I think I want to copyright the chord that is in each cab and SUV honker.

As for Christian music, I want to trademark "grace like rain," and rhyming "love" with "above." Also, the phrase "paid my price," could bring in a serious monthly check.

Finally, I think I would trademark farting on packed subways. The fine for offenders there would be enormous, possibly jail time, depending on the stench-o-meter.

What would you trademark, copyright, or paten?

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Fullness of Time: Egypt - the Power of the Priests

At the time of the Lord's coming there were three religions of significance. Each religion was primed and ready and contributed to the rapid spread of the Gospel afterwards. The three dominant religions of the time were Egyptian, Greek and Judaism. (There were many, many others, but these are the three critical to the Gospel's unfurling.) Judaism was no where near as large or as the other two, but it was most certainly as strong and rich in tradition. The first I'll tackle will be the Egyptians. By the time of the Incarnation, Egypt was a Roman state, but the religion still held its people.

To understand Egyptian religion is to understand the importance of two things: The afterlife, and priests. Sounds pretty similar to us huh? Not really.

For the Egyptians, death was paramount in all their thinking, daily life and religion. All Egyptian art is centered around death and the fear of death. It's pretty cool to look at now, but it must have been a pretty miserable existence to live during that time. The amount of suffering that went in to building that civilization is unimaginable. It wasn't just the slaves who lived on a narrow margin of safety either. There is a famous epitaph of an Egyptian noble that boasts that he had never been beaten or whipped in front of the local magistrate. It was pretty common for everyone to be whacked or smacked, publicly in Egypt. If you made it through your short life (30-45) without being whipped, you were really something. Little value was placed upon the living. In such conditions, men, seeing little hope in the suffering of their present state, turned to the afterlife.

As a result, there were no great works of philosophy coming out of Egypt at the time. Why would they turn to their reasoning if it gave them no relief from the pain of their present? The mind and spirit of the Egyptian was enslaved.

In Egypt, the domain of the reasoning belonged to the priests alone. Today, popular movies depict the Pharaohs as the most powerful men in Egypt. But it was the priests who held the real power, and their power was tremendous. Kings were subject to it. And as you might guess, the priests guarded that power jealously. To the Egyptian priests, the notion of a people thinking for themselves was nothing less than catastrophic. For to be ignorant was to be afraid, and the only way to ever really rule or control man was through fear. There was only one Pharaoh who ever challenged their authority. His name was Akhenaton. Astoundingly, Akhenaton tried to turn Egypt into a monotheistic religion. But after he died, the priests took possession of his successor and wiped his name from the monuments.

So even though the Egyptian religion has been popularized in our film culture by fun summer movies, it was no joke to the everyday Egyptian. To live in Egypt was to live in a virtual misery and fear. The afterlife was the only hope you had, and the afterlife was carefully guarded by the Priests, who just happened to be the ones at the top causing all the suffering.

In short, life in Egypt sucked. No sense in romanticizing it. It sucked. Bigtime. Period. (Compared to the way we think and live today.) Unless of course, you were a priest. It is no wonder Christianity spread like a wind across its conquered remains. The wikipedia's only explanation for Christianity's rapid spread is to say the Christ resembled one of their gods and that Christ himself was a mythical person. I was astounded to read this in the Wikipedia. Christ as a mythical person is a theory that no noted historian takes seriously. It is nothing short of conspiracy theory. But somehow, it seems to be the author's only explanation:

"Egyptian mythology put up surprisingly little resistance to the spread of Christianity, sometimes explained by claiming that Jesus was originally a syncretism based predominantly on Horus, with Isis and her worship becoming Mary and veneration (see Jesus as myth)."

Nice try. I have a different take on why Christianity spread.

Next up: The Greeks.

I'm So Irritated That I Missed This

Did anybody catch this? It was cloudy. Suck.

Monday, December 08, 2008

My Line

It was bound to happen. Eat your heart out Joey. You and your little girly Joey Jeans. This blog is dedicated to all those punks on my 7th grade football team that gave me wedgies because my mom had magic-markered my name on my underwear (bigger than life) to distinguish mine from my dad's. Yeah, who's laughing now? HAHAHAHHAHAHA!

(Thanks to the Hammering Hebrew and Super Churchlady for sending this picture along to me and finally bringing closure to a painful chapter of my youth.)

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Breath of Somethin'

This morning I walked into the glorious St. Thomas Cathedral and made my way to one of the empty pews to the right of the Sanctuary. (The ones on the right are short and only sit 3!) I dropped my sock hat, my scarf and my gloves, closed my eyes and opened my ears and heart to the beautiful boys choir chorale sound filling the temple.

"Ahhh, this is nice." I cleared my mind and prepared for prayer.

Enter coughing couple.

They sat noisily down beside me and began working the Sunday program over with the gentle touch of Sasquatch and his bride, accompanied by their whispers that were as subtle as two large gas leaks. I suppose their ears were stopped-up and they couldn't hear the amazing amplitude at which their bulletin-crinkling and whispering was cranking. Then came the coughs.

Now, I'm all for people coming to church, as I grew up in a house where some part of your body had to be bloody to miss church.

However, when you grow up, I don't think the Good Lord minds your staying home if you can't take a half a breath without coughing up huge amounts of snot or if you have to fan your sweaty brow with the bulletin in 30 degree weather, therefore fanning your plague-vapors into the direct path of my breathing apparatus. Because, my friends, I do so love the smell of sick breath. I love it so much.

But see, that's just my plight. I seem to have been born with something of a magnet for the sick, smelly and uber talky. I have yet to take a train or a subway in NYC without much of my personal space being unwillingly forfeit, not to mention forfeiting acceptable breathing conditions.

I know, I know. God loves us all, every smelly one. And I'm probably a big jerk for not being so welcoming but... a bath never hurt nobody, nor does staying home from church when all you are going to do is sneeze, cough, and complain in loud septic whispers. To make matters worse, the tremendously irritating lady emitting the bubonic fumes couldn't see the pastor unless she leaned slightly my way.

So there we sat: Me glued to the side of the pew and Lord and Lady iron-lung leaning over me, whilst she fanned her foul breath into the care of my immune system. I finally had to put my program directly to my face to block the assault of her breath.

I prayed half the service that I wouldn't be drinking after her when we took communion. When the usher motioned for our row I bolted to the altar and eyed over my shoulder to make sure I had beaten Lady GaVirus to the cup.

How's that for a worshipful attitude?

Sunday Game: Which Caption is the Correct Caption?

1. "Man Tired of Carrying Around His Extra Brain, Finally Seeks Amputation!"

2. "Man Discovers Reason for Deafness in Left Ear. Vows to Never Use Q-tips Again."

3. "Man Wakes up From Ten Year Coma and Extracts World's Largest Hunk of Petrified Belly Button Lint!"

4. "Man Suspicious of Tyson's Turkey Hormone Injections After He Receives His Thanksgiving Turkey Order"

5. "Man Passes World's Largest Kidney Stone. Says He Never Wants to Hear a Woman Gripe About Childbirth EVER AGAIN."

6. "Man Hopes to Set Worlds Record for Largest Potato. Plans to Sell to Hasbro for the 'Elephant Man Potato Head' line."

Another Music "Nerdy" Post

This one goes out to you composers reading. (All one of you. Thank you Stephen.)




To these composer's credit... If it weren't for these melodious, dulcet, euphonious, mellifluous moments in music composition, we would have no soundtrack for : Jaws, Close Encounters, Star Wars, Psycho, The Matrix, There Will Be Blood... pretty much any score that uses atonality.

Just for fun, if you are interested in how music tonality ended up where it is today, here is the shortest "history of music tonality" you'll ever read: Chant, Josquin, Palestrina, Bach, Haydn, Beethoven, Chopin, Berlioz, Wagner, Schoenberg, Debussy, Stravinsky, Bartok Penderecki, Philip Glass, Steven Reich, The Beatles, The end.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Okay... Coldplay Plagiarism, part 2

So check it out...

Someone took the idea we talked about here in my last blog and ran with it...

Now, when the story broke, my blog was one of the only ones that showed up besides the original article on google. The people JUST constructed this little experiment. PLAGIARISM I TELL YOU!!!!

This is pretty cool.

Did Coldplay Plagiarize?

By Greg Kot | Tribune critic
December 6, 2008
A day after hauling in seven Grammy nominations, the members of Coldplay should've been celebrating. Instead they were served with a copyright infringement lawsuit Thursday that claims they ripped off guitarist Joe Satriani to write one of their biggest hits, "Viva La Vida."

The song, nominated Wednesday for song and record of the year by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, incorporates "substantial original portions" of Satriani's 2004 instrumental "If I Could Fly," according to the lawsuit filed in Los Angeles federal court.



(My aside.)
When I was a kid, Joe Satriani was one of my guitar HEROS. I wore OUT his album "Surfing with the Alien." I'm also a big Coldplay fan. A friend of mine here in the city has helped mix (or assisted the main mixer) on the last couple of their records. I'm trying to get him to let me in on one of their sessions (to be a fly on the wall) but I doubt that will be happening.

Anyways, here are the two tunes. You don't really need to listen to all of them to get why Satriani is a little miffed about the similarities. Me thinks Satriani just might have a case. But I don't know. What do you guys think? Here are the two tunes - listen for yourself and let me know what you think!

Coldplay, "Viva La Vida" (I LOVE this tune, btw.)



Satriani, "If I Could Fly" (The plagiarism starts at 50 seconds into the tune, or at least that would be my guess... Sounds similar to Coldplay's verse. Oh come on, who am I kidding. It's practically identical.)


(Big post on the music business and theft coming!)

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Sullivan's Travels

I watched a good old movie last night with Amber: Sullivan's Travels. It is about a wealthy Hollywood director in the 40's who is tired of making funny movies and wants to make "serious" movies, or movies that more reflect the hardships of the time. He wants to make "Oh Brother Where Art Thou." (How funny that someday that movie would be made and it would be a comedy.) However, he has never experienced a hard day in his life and decides to become a hobo. To his amazement, in his travels he discovers that even though people experience tough times, it doesn't mean they want to wallow in films that reflect their tough times.

I agree.

Recently, filmmakers have lost touch with this idea. They can't seem to wait to get their greedy hands on recent disasters or painful events. As soon as something horrible happens, they are licking their chops to exploit it. "W," though a decent movie, was made too soon. He's not even out of office for crying out loud. Soon after 9/11 we were swarmed with films about the event. Again, too soon. And they are still making them, or movies about terrorists, or some remake or retake of the Manchurian Candidate.

As for me, I could really use a good comedy. However, it seems that the art of comedy in film has gone bye bye. I can't remember the last time I saw a good, wholesome, (or halfway wholesome) funny film. I can't even remember the last smutty funny film. Yeah, there have been all the stupid slapstick films, which are fine I suppose, but where are the great comedies? The last great comic film I saw was Napoleon Dynamite. And although I do love that film dearly, it is sad that that film seems to be the last good original cinematic comedic offering we've had.

People need to laugh. People need to dream. That's why people make films and go to films. Besides the Harry Potter films, what film has given us a little faerie dust so we can fly away to Never Land, or to a galaxy far far away? Even Superhero movies are all going gross and vulgar thanks to Frank Miller. The last Batman movie, though excellently crafted, was just sorta depressing. I liked it when I saw it but I really don't have the urge to see it again. If it weren't for Ironman, I would be giving up on superhero movies altogether.

Even tried-and-true action genres are limping... I recently saw the latest installment of James Bond and I couldn't even muster the energy for a review. Well, here it is: It was a Bourne movie. For about five minutes, halfway through the movie, it was a Bond movie. Other than that it was a cacophony of endless close ups and tremendously noisy car chases. Not even a lick of heartless romance. And "Quantum Solace"? What kind of Bond title is that? What the heck does that even mean? Grade: C.

So because of the recent good film drought, Amber and I have decided to catch up on all the great films that we've wanted to see but haven't seen. Sullivan's Travels was our first and it did not disappoint. People don't make films like that anymore and that's just sad. Films are turning into big giant music videos with saturated colors with nary a still shot that lasts more than 3 seconds. Everything has to just move around, CONSTANTLY. God forbid they give an actor 10 seconds to manufacture a feeling, a sly look, a subtle change signifying an Epiphany, like say, when Cary Grant discovers that this rich old aunts have been poisoning the old geezers. What a great moment! Or what about those Catherine Hepburn eye gestures? Or what about that moment in A Love Affair to Remember when Cary sees the painting and realizes that he's been a poop-head? (Yes, I admit I love that flick.)

I'm sorry to cast such a downer on my favorite artistic genre, but film making these days seems to have creatively stagnated. Of course, this could be just me. You guys seen anything worth a darn lately? Any films that don't want to make you slice your wrists in nihilistic depression, or any films without some sort of political AGENDA? Filmmakers and actors need to quit thinking they are so darn important and get back to the business of making people dream, think, cry (good crying) and laughing. Tell us a dadgum story, for cryin' out loud.

You guys got any classic film suggestions? How bout favorite film moments? Acting performances?

Who Knew?



Who knew that Russia's new mandatory national diet of beans and bell peppers would change the world? Never underestimate the power and influence of natural gas.

Wacca.

Wacca.

Wacca.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Huh???? Number 1??? Tyler???

YAHOO! MOVIE TALK
Who Was Overlooked in the '100 Greatest Movie Character' List?
by Jonathan Crow   
December 2, 2008

Any time anyone compiles a "Best of" list they are practically begging for an argument. And British movie magazine Empire has thrown down the gauntlet by releasing its list of the 100 greatest movie characters of all time. Here are their choices for the top 25:

25. Yoda (Empire Strikes Back)
24. Ash (Evil Dead)
23. Harry Callahan (Dirty Harry)
22. Red (The Shawshank Redemption)
21. Michael Corleone (The Godfather series)
20. Forrest Gump (Forrest Gump)
19. Jules Winnfield (Pulp Fiction)
18. Travis Bickle (Taxi Driver)
17. Hans Gruber (Die Hard)
16. Neo (The Matrix trilogy)
15. Ferris Bueller (Ferris Bueller's Day Off)
14. The Terminator (The Terminator series)
13. Gollum (The Lord of the Rings trilogy)
12. John McClane (Die Hard series)
11. James Bond (007 series)
10. Vito Corleone (The Godfather I & II)
9. Ellen Ripley (Alien quadrology)
8. Captain Jack Sparrow (Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy)
7. The Dude (The Big Lebowski)
6. Indiana Jones (Indiana Jones series)
5. Hannibal Lecter (Silence of the Lambs)
4. Han Solo (Star Wars trilogy)
3. The Joker (The Dark Knight)
2. Darth Vader (Star Wars series)
1. Tyler Durden (Fight Club)


My critique of this list: By Seth Ward

WHAT!!!!!!?????? Tyler Durden????? Number ONE???? OVER DARTH FRIGGIN VADER??????

NOT ----A ----- CHANCE.

Okay, he was a good character. Okay, it was a pretty cutting edge movie. Okay Brad Pitt is cool. Good actor. B+, at best. Enviable abs. But... OVER VITO CORLEONE? Are we talking about the same guy who starred in that film-abomination/dramatic-comedy, Legends of the Fall????

I don't even have the words for this lunacy. I could see putting him in AFTER or somewhere in the 50's, or maybe even in the 80's after Rooster in True Grit, or Clint Eastwood in Pale Rider, or Bob in What About Bob, or E.T., or Vincent or Jules in Pulp Fiction, or Harry Potter or George Bailey in It's a Wonderful Life... or Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor... or John in Die Hard ...

But numero UNO??? I had to look up some smiling pics of Brad in that movie to see if he had bad teeth or something for the Brit's to make that blunder.

What do you guys think? Worthy of the number 1 slot??? I'm almost slightly sick over this one.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Fullness of Time

From the Message: Ephesians 1:10 " He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth."

I was never able to grasp the wonder of the incarnation until I was able to step back and view this verse in a new light. The incarnation was no arbitrary throw of the dice. God chose just the right the time to make things right. God let sin run its course, as a disease or a revolution must run its course, so that man would be certain that what he wanted to be- a god - would end in his ruin. To redeem him immediately might have left a "perhaps" to trouble mankind's peace. So we tried this notion of being a god thoroughly and failed miserably, beyond a shadow of a doubt. And when, somewhere in the super-consciousness of man, man realized that all attempts of being god were futile, God appeared to the Jews.

And just as God appeared to Abraham at the right moment, Christ came at the right moment. It changed the world forever. Not only was man no longer an enemy of God, Christ showed us that fishermen, tent-makers, slave, lame, deaf, blind, prostitutes and lepers were equally loved and valued by Him, not just the rich or elite. The Jews were teaching Love your neighbor as your self for a hundred years or so before, but it was the Lord Himself that gave wind to that notion and the world has never been the same.

So what I want to do this season of Advent is something I've wanted to do for a while. Survey the recorded ancient religions, philosophies, and cultures up to the arrival of the Lord. God becoming man is both simultaneously the most ludicrous and most believable idea that mankind has ever heard. No other religion teaches it. No other religious leader claims to have been God Himself while showing no signs of lunacy or evil. We believe that it was not invented, but rather it is inventing us. Just as any truth that has been veiled and then is revealed changes your course of action. The truth re-invents you. It sets you free, as Jesus taught us, and showed us.

I truly believe that all men who hear the nativity story want to believe the incarnation is true because if there is a God, he finally makes sense. Man can no longer ignore, fear, or despise a cold, uncaring God who watches us from afar, who knows nothing of our weakness and shows no compassion.

So I'd like to talk about what led up to that moment, and why the incarnation isn't ludicrous, but the most believable thing, if you believe there is a God.

It is not a blind leap of faith, but a step of faith that makes sense. As much sense as anything if you first believe that God made everything and still holds it together, which is a bigger step in my opinion.

So, it's a big task but it'll be good for me and might interested those of you interested in world religions and of making sense of it all.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Fullness of Time...

So we are entering into the Advent season here, friends, and last year I started (but did not finish) a series called "The Fullness of Time." Not to terribly original of a title, however, it is a subject that greatly interests me, and I should probably do a theological blog here soon lest I turn totally heathen. I just haven't been in the mood lately. Maybe that's because I'm really not going through a strong period of doubt. I find that I am most interested in theology when I'm experiencing some serious doubt. But that's just me...

However abbreviated some of the history in this series may be, I'm going for the third, babies.

I'll re-post the first two on the first of the first two weeks of December and post the third on the first of the third week before Christmas Eve. Whoo! That was a fun sentence!

Last year I had fully intended on finishing but the project turned out to be GI- ENORMOUS in scope. It really is too big for a blog and it was too much for a man that had so many irons in the fire at the time I could have.... ironed... a thousand Ironman... things.

I mean, my little short stories are pushing it. Btw, I am a horrendous hypocrite when it comes to long blogs. I usually gripe if I see a blog longer than a page-scroll and then I turn around and write a bazillion words about a walk in the park, or something about poopin, or my disdain for boner-pill commercials during ball games. (viagra moniker courtesy of Cach.)

Anywho... For you theology/history/Jesus lovers, and for those of you skeptical of Christianity, (Yeah Aaron McD., and John Forkner, I'm talking to you,) I think you'll enjoy it.

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Leftover-Turkey-and-Dressing's Road to Salvation.

I was five years old and strapped tightly in between two unbuckled men. Both men smelled like work. Not that smelly, b.o. kind of work, but the kind of work that smells like fall, earth, coffee and tractors.

We were just getting ready for an evening of thanksgiving leftovers (a night that had grown to be just as treasured as Thanksgiving itself) when my dad remembered that he needed to put a couple extra bales of hay out for a few of the milking cows on our farm which was located a few miles away from my grandparent’s house. My grandpa volunteered to go with him. They quickly asked if I wanted to go and though the smell of the reheated stuffing, turkey and mashed potatoes were making my stomach roar, I nodded enthusiastically.

I loved riding in that truck with my dad and grandpa. It clunked and bounced indestructibly through even the biggest holes in the road or field. Its engine roared and rattled everything in the car when shifting between first and third gears, and if you had coffee sitting in the cup-holder between the shifting of first and second gear, it was going to be spilled.

We had just soared over my favorite hill on the way back to my grandpa’s house and my stomach was still wheeling from the joy of that thrill, when my Grandfather and my Dad stopped talking. My dad downshifted and my grandfather’s hand stopped me from lunging forward as the truck slowed to a stationary idle in the middle of the gravel road at the bottom of the hill. I stretched my neck to see why we had stopped. I thought a stray cow or a deer might be the culprit since that sort of thing happened a lot where we lived. I couldn’t see anything at first and my dad didn’t honk like he usually did. The truck idled unevenly and my dad shifted to neutral and pressed the parking brake.

“Oh, what is this?” My dad said, annoyed.
“Awe, they’ll get out of the road in a second,” my grandpa Wayne responded and spit a stream of tobacco into a Styrofoam cup.
“I don’t know, Wayne. Maybe I better do something. That one old boy’s got a crowbar and he looks like he’s about to..."
“Hooo!” grandpa said and winced as if he himself had been hit.
“Yeah, he whacked him pretty good,” my dad sighed. "I'll be back in a second."
“Patrick…” said my Grandfather, preparing to warn my dad.

But before my grandpa could say, “be careful” it was too late; my dad was out of the truck and slamming the door behind him. I squirmed out of the seatbelt and peeked as far as I could over the dashboard.

My dad casually walked towards the two men in the middle of the road. Both men were bearded and looked about the same age as my Dad (in his thirties). One was small and skinny and was crawling on the ground while the bigger one was hitting him with a crowbar as he crawled.

Then came my Dad. I asked my Grandpa who they were and what my dad was going to do but my Grandpa simply spit again into his cup and said nothing. His eyes were glued to my dad as he approached the two men.

The headlights shone on the scene with a harsh and unapologetic light and I was suddenly scared for my dad. My dad started to talk to the man with the crowbar and the man yelled something at my dad and pointed towards our truck. I couldn’t hear anything else because the truck was idling so loud. While my dad continued to motion for the men to just let us pass, the man with the crowbar saw the other man on the ground trying to crawl away, and the man with the crowbar kicked the crawling man and reared his crowbar back for another whack.

My dad intervened. His hand caught the crowbar before it struck the crawling man and the larger man yanked it back. Then the big man took several wild swipes at my dad with the crowbar. I was surprised at how quick my dad was. It seemed like something he had done before.

“Well, sheeit,” my grandpa said and put his spit-cup on the dashboard. Just when my Grandfather put his other hand on the door handle to get out, my dad caught the swinging crowbar again, and for a few seconds it was a crowbar-tug-of war. Finally my dad gave a good yank and and the man lunged forward, spreading his legs as he struggled. Without pause, my dad kicked the man in the groin with his dirty, steel-toed work-boot. The man wailed, released his grip on the crowbar and crouched slowly to the ground.

My dad shook his head and threw the crowbar as hard as he could into the dark field that stretched to the left of us. Then, as if it was another chore on the farm, my dad grabbed the crouching man by the coat collar and the back of his jeans. He hoisted the man like a big sack of potatoes, drug him (somewhat gently) to the curb, and softly lobbed him out of the dirt road and into the shallow, grassy ditch, where the other man had crawled while my dad fought his assailant.

The beaten man took a last kick at my dad as he walked away from the grassy ditch, and my dad turned and pointed towards the house where the two men had probably started their fight. People where coming from the house and my dad motioned the approaching people to where the two men lay.

My dad opened the truck door and sat down in the driver’s seat.

My grandpa grabbed his spit-cup and shook his head in amazement.
“Well I’ll be durned, Patrick. Lord help the man who comes between you and your dinner,” he laughed and spit.

My Dad grinned and winked at my Grandpa and me. He revved the engine a few times, crammed the gear shifter into first gear, said, “Let’s eat,” and let off the clutch.

The next day, with a bible in his hand, my dad went and saw the two men. Within the hour, my dad knelt with the two men in the front yard, not 30 feet from where they had all been fighting over a crowbar the night before.

Both burly men were saved. The two burly brothers hugged and wept. Their anger gone, their souls saved. All thanks to God's saving grace woking through a leftover Thanksgiving dinner and an ex-marine-turned-Baptist-minister's hunger for it.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Poem For Ya

This is one of my favorite Cummings poems. I set this to music in an E. E. Cummings art song set a few years ago on my doctoral recital.


i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday;this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings:and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any--lifted from the no
of allnothing--human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Growing On Me...

"CHICAGO – President-elect Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, said their young daughters will still have to do chores in the White House and won't get out of doing homework just because they're the president's children. In an interview with Barbara Walters, the Obamas said Sasha, 7, and Malia, 10, will have lives as normal as possible. That means helping out around the house.
"That was the first thing I said to some of the staff when I did my visit," Michelle Obama said. "I said, 'You know, we're going to have to set up some boundaries,' because they're going to need to be able to make their beds, and clean up."

Right on.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends!


"You say, 'If I had a little more, I should be very satisfied.' You make a mistake. If you are not content with what you have, you would not be satisfied if it were doubled." -Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Parade

We are going to the Macy's Thanksgiving parade this year, dadgummit. Last year, we were both so tired that - get this - we turned on the TV and watched the parade from our apartment... sitting on a couch that was not ONE block from where the parade was marching. Granted, we had just been unlawfully evicted and we were as tired and ticked as we could be, but still, not happening this year. No sir. I shall not be a couch potato humbug this year. Just call me Mr. Festive. Or Sexy Beast. Whichever one, all the same to me.

However, I've never been much of a parade man. I get bored mighty easy and parades have never been my tingling bliss. I am convinced that I will like this parade. If I am ever going to like a parade, this will be the tester, for sure. Tomorrow, while Amber is knee deep in her final rehearsals for Oliver, I will be accompanying my good friends to watch the balloons get blown-up (inflated, not destroyed grenade-style, unfortunately) over by the Museum of Natural History.

I do like balloons. Not so much this kind, more like this kind, or this kind.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Dreams

I always feel a little uncomfortable talking about this subject because it can get kinda "hocus pocus" and people think I've got tarot cards in my back pocket when I do. But, what the heck.

Since I was a kid... for as long as I can remember, I've been able to do a pretty good job interpreting dreams. Dreams can yield some pretty amazing stuff. Your subconscious is an awesomely powerful thing and your dreams can really do a number on you if you are prone to worry or anxiety. When I was a kid and up into the teenager years, I was plagued with horrible dreams. I know now (from a recent and thorough psych evaluation,) that I have general anxiety disorder, among other things. In a nutshell, I am prone to catastrophic thoughts.

And since I was a lad, I have always had horrible fears and phobias. Most of the fears were about people that I love dying or that I was going to die - suffering the most recent disease that I learned about. I still have a problem watching shows like House or Grey's Anatomy because of all the emotional catastrophic things that happen to people. (Not to mention wiping the Velveeta off the screen after Grey's.) My hands start to sweat somewhere in the first five minutes of the episode and it usually takes a couple of hours to get over the show. Weird, huh?

Anyways, when people tell me their dreams or post their dreams, I usually know immediately or close to immediately what the dream means. I'm not sure if it is a gift or whatever, I'm not sure I even like it. But the fact remains, I'm usually pretty accurate. The thing is, most people know what their dreams mean anyways, but they have built a subconscious or conscious wall so as not to see what the dreams are trying to say. That's why the dream expresses your fear or whatever in such a weird way. They usually use symbols or some other random thing you saw or heard during the day to express the emotions. Essentially, the mind is using code to express what you won't say. Pretty natural as most times people do not really want to whine about their feelings.

The whole subject of dreams is pretty interesting to me as many disturbing dreams have common motifs. Running around in the buck and trying to find clothes is the most common. What surprises me is how much bunk their is posted on the subject. It is as if these "experts" have never read a sentence of Jung or Freud, though to Freud everything is always about momma and sex. Jungian psychology is the most prevalent school of thought in most psychology circles these days. The oddest thing about the whole thing to me is that when I have strange dreams, I really have a hard time interpreting them.

I had a composition professor once who was subbing adjunct for a professor who was on sabbatical. This subbing professor was also a very successful and licensed psychologist. Our professor/grad-assistant sessions usually turned into some kind of therapy session and in that particular semester, (the semester I was studying for my comps, teaching a huge load of private students, teaching two ear training classes at Rice, making a record and working 30 hours a week at the church) some things were made known to me about myself that I hadn't been able to see. Fear, mostly. Stuff I was afraid of and what I was doing to cover the fear. The COOLEST thing was that he showed me most of this stuff through interpreting a whole series of odd dreams.

Dreams are strange and powerful things because you really aren't in control of them. However, I believe that you can even pray about your dreams and ask the Good Lord to reveal stuff to you or even to help you make decisions for the future. You can also pray, and should pray, for protection in your dreams as they can bring things to the forefront that should not be, or that aren't really there, but take the form of "the real" because of some fear you have.

That's all I'll say about the subject at this point. What do you guys think? Any strange dreams lately? Think there is anything to the whole dream-subconscious thing?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

I don't know about you guys, but...

If I saw something like this, I'd probably start saying a few quick prayers. Other than that, one of the coolest things I've seen all year. I did see the space shuttle come in one time over Waco. That was pretty awesome. As I drove up to the music school at Baylor everyone was outside of their cars pointing up. Rule of thumb: When everyone is outside of their cars pointing at the sky, stop your car immediately and get out and look.

One of those Pointless Journal Posts...

It’s beginning to look a lot like ... Thanksgiiiiving...

Brisk cool air. Christmas lights turned on and ablaze, lining the busy streets. People out in their new winter fashions: Black, black and more black. I bought some of those cool little clamp earmuffs tonight from a neighborhood street vendor for 5 bucks. I'm not sure if I like them.

Well, let's see... I've just been toiling away here on my dissertation. Busy-work stuff at this point. Are the clarinets too high? Have I given the oboes a chance to breath? Are the dynamics in the right place? Do those two instruments really sound good together? Can the flutes be heard in that register? The trombones will spend 4 hours practicing that one measure. Is there a better way to write that for them without them cursing my name? The string bass is going to get awfully bored sitting there that long playing nothing and counting measures, picking his nose, and butt... maybe even time for his belly-button. Violins can't play that double stop. (Two notes at once.) Fix it. Fix it. Fix it.

That sort of stuff.

I've also started working my children's story. Fun stuff. I took a short nap today and dreamed I was carrying my baby son around in one of those baby holder-front-pack things. I woke up screaming and drenched in sweat. Nah, honestly I woke up with the warm and fuzzies. Uh oh. I suppose it's getting about that time... Amber, you and your mom's prayers are working. How bout you guys pray that I find a vast fortune in one of my boots while you are at it.

Subject change: Amber and our neighbor Verlie have been planning Thanksgiving supper for the past week. It is going to be YUM. Amber is at tech rehearsals for Oliver and will be gone till after midnight for the next week or so. Every day this fall I've been taking a walk in central park. I missed most of the fall last year. I was either sick or in Houston finishing school. And I'll be dadgumed if this year I don't say goodbye to every leaf before it hits the ground in the park. Right now I'm taking a break from the dissertation drinking a caramel apple spice from the Starbucks down the street and watching a bit of a Harry Potter movie.

So, that's me lately, folks. What are you guys doing for Thanksgiving? Do you have some Thanksgiving must's? Things if you didn't have you would feel like crying big salty tears, crossing your arms and wanting to be held? Mine is a thanksgiving holiday movie and bloads of leftovers.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Airport Author I Ain't, and Other Bad Alliterations

(Two weeks ago... or somewhere around that time.)

For some reason, I've never been able to read (or write much - we'll see how it goes here) in an airport. I'm too easily distracted. When I write, most times, I put on studio headphones to drown-out all sounds... Just in writing these last three sentences, I was hopelessly distracted no less than 6 times.

There is a man sitting across from me talking on his phone, yet because of the position of the charger plug, it looks like he is talking on it upside down. Distracting. There is an older couple with a thick northern accent talking about Obama and hoping that he will do a good job. They voted for him. Another man to the left of me is sitting in a position that, from my peripheral, looks like he is constantly staring at me.

So how's that for a high school writing project? "Describe your surroundings."

Ned Horner (the best man at my wedding) and I shared a freshman-year creative writing class at MSU, formerly SMSU. We were give just such an assignment and when called upon to read his "Describe 5 minutes of your day," Ned proceeded to stand and read about his experience "using the can" in someone else's home and how there was a large mirror where he could see his reflection.

A little excerpt, word for word, I shoot you not. It will forever be burned into my brain. (Turn away if you have a weak stomach...)

"As I got up to look at my load before I flushed, I noticed a large mirror in front of me. As I studied my farmer's-tanned naked thigh, I thought, 'Dang, I'm good lookin'! Then, I flushed. The end."

"Proustian Ned, just exquisitely crafted" the teacher responded, dryly. She then sarcastically asked the class if they had any criticism. It was an uncomfortable moment because the class was full of cheerleaders and sorority girls. So, being the good friend, I spoke up. "I personally like the alliteration, 'looked at my load.'"

No laughs. She asked me to read mine next as a punishment...

Okay, gotta stop typing. A man has just planted his large frame smack dab beside me, and has already claimed the armrest, even though there are thirteen other empty chairs on this row. I hope he is reading this.

P.S., No that is not a picture of me. I can't sit Indian style for more than two minutes. Plus I'm not that old. I do have that hat.