Monday, December 28, 2009

Dances With Big Orange Dragon

Avatar Avatar Avatar.

First of, all I can think of when I see that name is a goofy cartoonish face given to me for my Yahoo Chat 5 years ago, the one I never use and always wish I hadn't created when it turns up from time to time on various Yahoo question/answer forums. Now that that's out of the way... no, wait. I'm on to something here.

That's just it. Cameron needs to hire some script writers. The film is riddled with banal/unimaginative mines everywhere! like, Unobtanium??? That's the name for the metal that is worth destroying the biggest tree in the universe??? It's the same problem I had with Titanic: crappy script. Let's say I want to write a musical... and I do. I am writing one now. But let's say that when the time comes to direct it, I decide to choreograph the thing myself. I may do an okay job according to the handbook of "How to stupidly Choreograph High school Christmas Showtime Choir Concerts" but according to Broadway standards, D+ at best.

I honestly think if Cameron were born 100 years earlier, he would have been the greatest silent film maker of all time. He is a visual virtuoso of the highest order. It was just. so. visually. stunning. HOWEVER, at times, I felt like I was looking at a giant Thomas Kinkade gallery while tripping on acid. (No, mom, I've never really tried acid. Though that fire-hot chili dad makes is pretty hallucination-inducing sometimes.)

So yes, visually, the film is almost what everyone is saying about it. I wasn't overwhelmed like I was as a young lad watching Han Solo navigate through that asteroid field and into the belly of the space worm, but I was definitely impressed, enthralled at times, even.

I won't own it because you really have to see it in the big IMAX to get the full effect. There are plenty of reviews out there for this film and everyone knows what they are doing when they go see it. They are seeing the real King Kong chained up. They are seeing the three legged man dance ballet. They are watching a film spectacle that is so spectacular in its achievements that you forget what achievements are there, like forgetting that the Navi are digitally rendered. What has been accomplished in that 3-D arena is truly magnificent. However, it is so real, that I wondered how much money might have been saved if they would have had elaborate costumes and digitally rendered the tail and so forth.

As a visual spectacle, the film is worth seeing. As a moving story... I've seen Pixar shorts that are 3 academy awards ahead of this one in originality. It is a HORRIBLE Dances with Wolves rip. Throw in a little Gorillas in the Mist, equip with the woman who played in that movie and you've got a tasty little 90's save-the-natives clichéd film stew.

The worst problem I had with the film is Cameron's anti-American propaganda. It was garish and downright stupid. Even the liberal New Yorkers snickered at Cameron's BLATANT whack at W's regime and our presence in the Middle East. No sly wink. No little reference that would make you "aha!" later... It was whack over the head with a cinematic stick. "AMERICA SUCKS AND I'M USING MY 300 ZILLION DOLLARS TO EXPRESS IT WITH MY BIGTIME TITANIC MOVIE POWERS. I'M THE KING OF THE EFFING WORLD." That nearly ruined the film for me, honestly.

But I quickly forgot about it and was absorbed once again into the VISUAL world.

Go see it. But prepared to feel like you just had mom's dressing that wasn't quite as good as every other year but still good but still wasn't as good as every other year... but still good. "Humph. There's always next year. Hey! Wanna go to Sherlock Holmes???"

Avatar, Grade: B

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Finished

Hello friends.

Wow, it has been a reaaaaaally long time here. It is really odd when you've done something for years and years and then you just stop and then go back to it. Like clipping your nose hair or toenails or something. One day you take off your socks and, "WOAH! Look at those suckers! Get out the bolt-cutters!"

So I finished my dissertation. I'm Dr. Ward. I handed it in. The University said yes. My committee said yes. My wife said, "HELL YES!"

It has been a long long long long haul here, friends. But I'm done. I've missed writing. Oddly, I haven't missed blogging. I've missed the interaction with my friends, but I've been terribly productive and that's a good thing.

But recent events have shaken me from my blumber. (blog+slumber). So, you might see a few entries splatter up here from time to time, but we'll see. Stay sharp. Stay liquid, but most of all, stay away from star golfers.

Yours,

Dr. Ward

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Goodbye 2.0

Okay, so I feel like my blog-resignation should be more purposed. Therefore, here's the dealio: I am not blogging again until I get my dissertation finished and signed. Just can't do it. Sooooo, every time you click over here looking for a new post (all 250,000 of you) and you don't see a new string of wisdom pearls, paragraphs of penultimate petunias, or thunders of thoughtful wisdom from on high... rattle off a quick prayer for me, would you? Dreams are better shared.

In short, I'm pulling a Oral Roberts... light. Consider it a blog fast, even though when and if I return (for real this time) things will be different and I may move to a new address or something like that.

Until my finished dissertation or my next farewell...

Monday, August 17, 2009

Three Reviews in Three Posts

I've seen three films since my last review and overall, I've been pretty pleased.

First off: Harry Potter and the Half Blooded Prince.

On the whole... not my favorite Potter film.

SPOILER ALERT:

I've always had a problem with this book. I hate the way Rowling kills Dumbledore. I hate hate hate hate it. Dumbledore basically arranges for his Kevorkian-style death. He dies a weak old man, disarmed by a dufus imbecile of a wizard and finally killed by Severus Snape because he wants to die and not get eaten and humiliated by the mean old werewolf.

That is not how a great wizard should die. Let me tell you how a great wizard should die: A great wizard dies plunging down an endless chasm stabbing a Balrog IN THE FACE with an Elven sword, and the sword is so amazing that it is called, "Glamdring, the Foe Hammer."

THAT IS HOW A WIZARD DIES.

Dumbledore should have gone down in a blaze of fire - yes weakened significantly - but fighting off a hundred death eaters, 3 dragons and 10 giants and doing it all to save the life of pansy-boy Harry. But nay. Rowling emasculated the greatest wizard in her tale (as she does every male character in her books - seriously, name one that isn't a wuss, or evil. The one that's not a wuss is a bachelor.) and then outed him later in a press conference. Notice that one witch who was taken out in an incredible duel with Voldemort and a few other powerful witches. Notice that the great duel of the last two books comes from Ron's mother and Bellatrix and the men basically blunder around.

Overall, the film slugged along and there wasn't NEAR enough Dumbeldore kicking butt. What we did get was pretty awesome, but there just wasn't enough magic in this film.

I liked it but I think it was my least favorite of the Potter films. They spent entirely too much time on all that love potion business.

Next Up: District 9.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Some thoughts on Bacon, Francis that is.

Amber and I made our way through an Exhibit of Francis Bacon at the Met Museum of Art this past Saturday.

I had a great time, but Bacon was a sick fellow. A very talented image poet, but ultimately, a sick chap. Of course, people have said the same things about me after hearing some of my "serious" compositions. It is no secret that I tend to gravitate to the macabre and I also happen to like scary movies. But there is a difference here. Bacon was an Atheist. I am not. And that really does make a difference. You can compose a macabre piece without nihilism.

I have long believed that sin is a kind of madness. It causes madness. I also believe that Judeo-Christian ethics have serve as the greatest moral compass that mankind has ever known. I also believe that man, though fractured, is capable of good things. This is because man was not totally ruined when he chose a path that was opposite to the will of his creator. This remnant of good is still a reflection of the goodness of our creator, as we were and are made in his Good image. I believe that man needed help to show him this path and he can chose again to take that path. That means, even at our absolute worst, we can still be compelled to do a good thing. Salvageable. Redeemable. Savable.

Good and Evil. There is a difference, we all know it exists, but we can't really explain it scientifically. Bacon tries to embrace a Darwin outlook and say: there is no good and evil, only animal. All Darwinian explanations break down at Stephen Hawkings. Hawkings should have been killed long ago as he is weak and drains the pack of resources. Therefore, I believe that every act of man to disprove the existence of God ends in a kind of pure nonsense. It never works out.

But like it or not, I also believe that Darwin was the most influential mind of our time. He is a great and magnificent peak in humanity's vast range of scientific minds. Sadly, his influence is responsible for more mass deaths than any man in the history of the world. Man is reduced to simply another in a line of animals, and what's good for the pack is good for the individual. This of course is contrary to the idea of Christian love. If we were to abide by Darwin's idea of a perfect world, the weak would die, the less intelligent would be killed, and unattractive would be exiled. Now, no matter how much my instinct says, "YES, YES!" at times - as far as stupid drivers go - this is a tyrannical mindset. And some would say that it is me at my most animalistic.

And what about those animals? Even the animals aren't totally mad.

But take a painting of Bacon: Man is reduced to a sack of meat and bloody teeth. Cool looking, but no beast or bird thinks so madly. Just the opposite. Only one or two monkeys in the pack will go crazy and eat a baby monkey. Only a rogue lioness will secretly kill other cubs in the night. These are exceptions. According to Bacon, we are all exceptions and a vision of the mutilated is at the core of our real thoughts. To be "animal" is to be savage. Well, excuse me, my wife's dog Cromwell is far from your kind of savage. That dog wouldn't bite a flea. And there is no beast or creature that willingly bathes in piss (because he likes his piss more than water,) fantasizes about bloody teeth emerging from slabs of mutilated meat, or revels in the homoerotic blood of man's animal desire. There are a few exceptions to this; they are called necrophiliacs.

There isn't space here to examine the atheism of Darwin and its contradictions, but no matter how badly Bacon wishes to cling to this idea in his art, I say here and now: No art can convince me of an absence of God. The very God-despair that a painting of Bacon is meant to inspire, brings me instead to a meta view his sanity and the knowledge that there is such a thing as sanity, or deterioration of it, beauty, and creation.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Justice is Served on the Buffet










Sweet, sweet, Old Country Buffet... I can still remember me and my dad, we are both sitting in his car. It was the day I got that first job serving as busboy beyond your scummy geriatric gates. And there sits my dad, behind the steering wheel, grinning ear to ear as I unwrap my new busboy apron. He looks a little mischievous in his smile. His hand reaches over the armrest to shake mine. "Good for you, son. Your first job. I'm proud of you." I remember that good feeling. That feeling of how easy it all seemed. "Just scrape a few dishes and get paid for it."

How young and stupid I was.


And do you remember that one manager, Mike? Yeah, you know the one. He's your first manager at your first job. You are just a lowly, pimply busboy and he's the big cool manager working on his third divorce. He's got one of those big German mustaches and he's always flipping his wavy, dyed-blondish hair. He claims to have a back problem so he can't lift any heavy trays or anything that resembles help. He always seems to find a worker to belittle when there is a pretty girl going through the buffet line. Yeah, you know the one. The one that's being super sappy nice to you one minute and you think that you are going to keep your job so you can pay for your car insurance so you can take out that pretty girl in your gym class but then the next minute he's berating you for missing a spot on a salt shaker in front of the whole staff and you feel like you just might be single for the rest of your life.

Most nights, as you fall asleep, you have visions of kicking him where his legs connect and spitting in his putrid blonde hair, but at the end of the fantasy, you are still alone, and dreading the next day. Your only comfort is that its not just you he seems to hate/like. He hates that guy in the dishroom too... It's the middle aged guy doing dishes that everyone calls "disher-dad." Disher-dad. Yeah, there was always disher-dad who got it the worst. Ah, sweet memories. I would have felt sorry for you, disher-dad, but you would give us busboys dirty looks and murmur profanity and kick the cup racks whenever we would bring in our full carts of dishes, as if we dirtied those dishes ourselves. I wonder whatever happened to disher-dad.

Ahhhh. Sweet, sweet bankruptcy. Good old Buffet. Good old, terrible, disgusting, nightmarish, I-wish-I-could-blot-out-that-16th-year-of-my-life Old Country Buffet.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Why I've Been Less Around

NT Wright on Blogging/Social Media from Bill Kinnon on Vimeo.

I've been trying to communicate this in different posts but N.T. sort of sums it up beautifully without being condescending or snarky.

The Brah Conundrum: A letter to my Best Brahs

Listen Brahs, there's been a lot of fussing about who is my number 1 Brah lately and well, I'm getting a little tired of to be honest. Totally tired of it. So here's the deal: All my Brahs mean something different to me, each and every one ya. I love that about you guys. You are all so different, even different in your color. I've got my Latino brah, dark brown and a serious danger to women up north, and my yellow brah, tons of fun and totally serves as a cheat-sheet for any math problem... etc. etc.

But some of you have been demanding that I declare my favorite and number 1 Brah... and I just can't do that. Honestly it works better if I divide you into subsets of number 1, as each of you are totally suited for different occasions.

So, you are all number 1, but...

Bob, you are my "A" Brah. I love to hang with you when I'm feeling heavy and need to get some things off my chest. You are totally a born psychologist.

Fred, you are my "B" Brah. I love just hanging and going to a killer action movie with you man. Just good clean fun all around.

James, you are my "C" Brah. You really are the master at having fun right up to the line of crazy. But let me remind you: I AM A MARRIED MAN. I don't like certain attention to be drawn to myself. You are a single guy and its just hard for you to get that sometimes. But I still love you Brah.

Ned, you are my "D" Brah. You are just ridiculously funny. You can't help but draw attention to yourself. You are just naturally over-endowed with too much personality. But you've got a real modest side to you as well and its that slightly embarrassed-about-your-personality side that is just so durn cool.

Joey, you are my "training" Brah. I can truly attribute all my physical fitness to your relentless training. But no matter how hard I try, I can't seem to get as ripped as you. How does someone that is only 5 feet 5 inches get so ripped? I think you should quit wearing those sole-inserts to be taller by the way. Be proud of your height brah.

And last but totally not least, Aaron, you are my "Sports" Brah. There isn't a sport that I can win playing you. Somehow you just keep things together no matter how wild the game gets or how hard the play is. Amazing.


So there it is, fellas. I hope that puts to rest the "Main-Brah" questions. You are all my Brahs. And each one of you is cherished and appreciated.

Your Brah,

Seth.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Monday Off

Monday is my day off. Well, not really. I teach a lesson or sometimes a few make up lessons on Monday, but compared to the other days of the week, it is my day off.

I have been a pretty sparse blogger in the past few months because the level of busy-ness has gone through the roof. I spend most Mondays answering emails and trying to get caught up.

Today, I FINALLY returned my friend Tan's camera. Every time I've tried to return it... well, it doesn't happen. The man has been nicely reminding me now for 4 months. If I were him, I'd be sending me a summons. Well today, I returned that sucker. And boy oh boy, does that feel good. It was becoming a little pile of black guilt. But no more. Sent that sucker. The end.

NYC has been pretty dreamy this summer. Barely above the 80 marker for the whole month of July. Of course now that I've said that, it will probably turn into a giant grill and cook us all in the next two days. I've refrained from bragging to my Oklahoma and Texas friends because the weather has been downright dangerously hot where they are. I think it was over 100 for two weeks straight in Houston. Old people dropping like flies.

Amber has been busy auditioning and Nannying and other than that, we've been having a hay old time.

Well, that's about it for today. Nothing more to report other than I am now living 99% sugar free. I've felt better and haven't been so moody, and I now rarely need naps. Plus I've lost weight.

Anywho, here is the last picture I took with Tan's great camera before it went back into the box. This is me, very tired, very oily, guilty, post-workout sweaty and three days overdue a beard trim. Also a little scary. Do I really look like this all the time? Sheesh. Seems a little intense and brooding. Maybe I should lighten up a bit.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Iphone 3.0 Review

Okay, someones got to say it. Just like some one had to say it about the 3rd Indy installment:

3.0 ... IT SUCKS.

I hate hate hate it.

Landscape Typing: I've used the landscape typing a grand total of 3 times. Mainly, because it takes 3 minutes for the friggin screen to adjust to landscape. I could have typed the ENTIRE alphabet by the time it adjusts. Besides, I'm so used to typing the other way now, the landscape seems like I'm using the blind man feature.

Search Feature: The search feature is a good idea (duh, its been standard on every piece of apple equipment for the past 8 years) but its location is totally annoying. Why in the world they decided to give it its own screen directly LEFT of the home screen is beyond me. It should be as simple as spotlight is on OSX. Instead it is irritatingly in the way. I've accidentally scrolled too far at least 100 times now and I haven't MEANT to use it once. I am happy about the search feature in the mail. Finally. But again - something that should have been included in the first go around. And the search feature is a simple entry box in the mail feature. Easy. Chellooooo???

Voice Recording: I've used it twice, both times just to say that I've used it. I suppose its good feature but nothing to write home about.

Cut/Copy/Paste: Yaaaaaaaawwwwwn. Something that should have been there in the first Iphone. Its sort of like finally getting a G.I. Joe for Christmas when you are 19. And here, again, it is IN THE WAY. I don't want to see that feature pop up on the screen EVERY SINGLE TIME I press the screen to select a letter. It should pop up after at least 2 seconds of holding the screen, not automatically. I guess they thought we'd be so excited about finally getting to cut and paste that we'd be doing it every time we touched the screen.

Overall, I give 3.0 a big C------ and a barf bag in a pear tree. It is definitely the WORST piece of Apple software designed in YEARS. It has turned my little black monolith of joy into a black monolith of sloooOOOOoooowwwneeesssssss. I'm striking out 5 times as much in my baseball game because it mucks up the program. I have YET to score a perfect score in world cup Ping Pong since I upgraded, and that, ladies and gentlemen, is NOT cool.

I'm downgrading until they work these bugs out and put that dang search PAGE somewhere else.

Shaaaaaaaammmme on you, Apple. Steve is off for a few months buying out some poor slob's place in the liver transplant waiting list and you put this piece of Microsoft-esque CRAP out? I'm Ron Burgandy???

They should have called this software number 2.0 (Cue fart and flush sound bite.)

Been there.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Don't Eat Me.

I'm a little offended by this advertisement. It's a little disrespectful, not to mention unrealistic. If I don't take resveratrol then I am going to look like this? Better yet, its all just going to catch up with me and I'm going to age 100 years in a second and scare the crap out of everyone around me? That would be kind of awesome, come to think of it.

If I were this old lady I think I'd be suing someone for using my image as a warning label. Crap, the old woman looks like she is 200 years old. I imagine she's lived a long and full life. And shoot, she may have lived through a concentration camp. Who knows? And there's just no getting around it folks: WE ARE ALL GOING TO BE OLD. WE WILL ALL GET WRINKLES. WE WILL ALL GET BRITTLE. WE WILL ALL DIE SOMEDAY looking much older than we did at 30.

I'm not trying to build a case for sitting around on your butt and waiting to die, but I am saying this: Old age WILL catch up to you. There is NO escaping it. No botox or nose job or liposuction or new resveratrol pill will save you from the wrinkles or saggy ass. The question is, will you age with dignity and with a determination to stay as healthy and positive as you can? Or will you grow old scraping the dirt as age drags you to each year. Will you make your life miserable staring at the new wrinkles in the mirror and then everyone else's life miserable trying to live out some thing you were too chicken to do when you were young? (Not that doing that is bad; it's good! But you sure can make it easier on the people around you by not trying to do it swimming in narcissism.)

Nothing wrong with staying healthy. And there is nothing wrong with growing older. Those two things can coexist. But sooner or later, we all croak of the latter. And that's just all there is to it. Might as well enjoy the ride to the cliff the best we can. (See UP!)

I think some basic, cliche principles can help you grow old with joy and dignity:

(At least, this is what I've learned from really old and really healthy people.)

1. Love God
2. Eat healthy.
3. Drink some wine every day.
4. EXERCISE ONCE A DAY. Go for a brisk walk, at least.
5. Spend time talking to a friend or family, in person, every day.
6. Be passionate about something. God has made you creative. Make something. Write something. Play something. Whatever it is, do it as if there is no tomorrow.
7. Give freely. Give to others. Give to your church. Give wisely and joyfully. And if you can, give anonymously.
8. Read something. Read a poem, a proverb, the first chapter of a classic novel, a Far Side cartoon.
9. Turn off the tube and talk to each other. So many families never speak 20 words as the whole night is ruled by blinking boob-box.
10. Your turn. What are some of your suggestions? What are some things you are doing that you feel help you in leading a healthier, happier life?

Thursday, July 02, 2009

The News from My Couch

It's been raining a bunch up here. Oh great, one of thoooooose posts. Too bad. Its the weather or nothing.

I don't mind rain I suppose. I'd prefer it to the 1000 degrees cooking everyone else I know. But a little sunshine never hurt nobody. Except when you fall asleep in it... naked.

This will be our first 4th of July in NYC and I'm looking forward to it. This time last year I was dodging Mullet-deer, fighting off man-sized moths, and listening to the sweet sounds of decapitated copperheads while I played Merry Old Land of OZ.

Hopefully this year will be a little less prehistoric. Although, I wouldn't trade last summer's adventures for all the money under my couch cushion. I have been keeping up with Jenny Wiley's theater production this summer and it really looks and sounds incredible! Good people down there in that town. Probably the nicest people I've ever met.

Oh, this past week my dad retired from the pastorate after 40 years of pastoring churches. It has been a looooong and fun ride. What a guy.

Monday, June 29, 2009

2 Movies, 2 Lazy reviews.

I saw two movies in the last two weeks.

First off, let me say that having the Lincoln Center Movie theater one block down my street is both amazing and torturous. The grocery store is right across the street from the movie theater so every time I need some dadgum milk, I've got to deal with the yearning pangs of smelling popcorn and seeing all the new release posters. I would probably go to the movies every night if I could. And that would cost about 300 dollars a month. Ain't happening.

Anyways, I saw The Hangover, and the new Transformers flick.

The Hangover... hilarious. I'm not going to suggest this film for the faint-of-christian-heart, or for kids that are still living with their parents, or for the general female population. This is sort of a guy-flick. THIS NO DATE MOVIE. You have been warned. Don't misunderstand me; it isn't some gratuitous strip-club movie - you all know me better than that. Its just full of "guy" humor, but somehow, still a really, really good movie.

I probably laughed a big belly laugh every 10 minutes or so.

But that's not what I liked best about the film. I liked that it was just good old fashioned movie making: Good acting, character development, plot, and clever editing. It was just a well crafted film. Crude? Yes. Over-the-top crude? Hellck yes. Knee-slapping-yell-out-loud funny? Yes, yes and a large yes with butter. And that's all I'm going to say about it. Anything else would make my mother mad and cause you to judge me.

Then I saw the Transformers. This film is getting filleted by critics around the world. Ebert gave it ONE STAR. Now, come on. Ebert gave Garfield more stars than this film. Get off the high horse. IT'S A TRANSFORMERS FLICK. By default it isn't going to be believable.

All that said, I'm going to list my reactions as I experienced them in the theater for a little change up.



Opening credits: What happened to the John Williams Dreamworks music??? Transformer music made the kid fishing off the crescent moon look slightly evil.

Oh dear lord. Primitive man meets primitive transformers. That looks hilarious. It looks like a farce of 2001...

Modern day now.

Riiiiiight, she is going to be sitting on that motorcycle like that with her booty in the air, wearing basically blue-jean underwear, working at a motorcycle shop... and NO ONE is going to notice? Riiiiiight.

Jive talking transformers? One of them has a gold tooth. Wow... and they can't... read... the ancient transformer writing. Al Sharpton anyone? Oh man... how did they get away with that little bit of robotic racism?

Again with the color saturation.

This looks more like Armageddon than the last Transformers. Where's Bruce?

Please, can you just keep the camera moderately still for at least ONE of these r-he-he-heeeeally ridiculously boring and stupid conversations? I'm getting dizzy here with all this 180 degree camera action.

Enough with the adolescent freshman LDR angst. Get to the robotic butt-kicking.

Freshmen can't have cars? Is this school in the USSR?

A Chihuahuas humping a Pug will always be funny.

Wow. Loud. Ouch.

Wow, double-loud. Pretty fun though.

Okay, Optimus is a badass.

Okay... why our sun? It's not like our sun isn't the MOST common sun in the Universe or anything.

Wow... That transformer is metallically bearded. Makes sense.

This is truly dumb. Dumb... but still fun.

Jerry: Slow motion does not equal E-motion.

I have never seen such gratuitous slow motion in my LIFE.

deus ex machina anyone?

Awwwwwe, I love movies!

ALRIGHT. DIRECTORS ACROSS THE PLANET. QUIT PUNKING YOUR AUDIENCES WITH SUDDEN CLOSE UPS OF ZITTY MALE BUTTS. NASTY. THIS LITTLE PRANK HAS BEEN IN THE LAST THREE FILMS I'VE SEEN AND I AM WEARY OF IT. STOP. IT.

The Pyramids... It's ALLLLLLLWAAAAYS about the pyramids.

Suuuuure that's Orion's Belt. If I saw three objects that bright in the night sky, I'd be saying my prayers.

Okay... do they think that this is the friggin Lord of the Rings? We are pushing 2.5 hours here folks. Let's wrap this up.

Sweet mother of mercy... Angelic transformers back from the dead. I think I just choked on a whopper.

Finally over. Waiting so see if the credits are in slow-mo.

I think if Jerry would have cut out the slow mo, or just played the film in real time, the movie would have been perfectly timed.

Ahhhhh, summer movies.

All in all, that was fun. Good clean fun. A bit much on the slow-mo, but all around worth the 12 bucks.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

But Do You Have Town in Texas Named After You???

This is no photoshop folks. It's confession time. Yes, there was a time where so many people considered me awesome that I had to lead them into the Texas wilderness to set them straight.

Something about my beboxing (short for "beatboxing") abilities... its just too much for people to handle. Amber tries to get me to do it at parties and so forth, but all I have to do is say, "Remember Seth Ward," and she drops the subject. People look at us strangely after that discourse, but I quickly move on to my amazing but psychologically harmless underarm-toot-pitch-matching skills and they forget about the beboxing altogether.

Someday I'll tell you of the great pilgrimage of the thousands that followed me to that big chunck of nowhere that is now Seth Ward, Texas, but right now the memory is too near and drear.

Let's just say that it all started at a church potluck... there were various games being played there, and through a serious of strange words spoken by two different people... one said "Hit it!", and the other cheered on a child and said, "RUN!"... the combo being, "HIT IT, RUN!" And I started beboxing, uncontrollably. I can now control that impulse, but back then when someone said, "Hit it, Run," it triggered in me a trance-like state of pure beboxing hypnotic power.

People started break dancing that had never break danced before... one large child tried to do the "worm" and ended up doing push ups instead as the worm was not possible for his prodigious young build. He is now the captain of football team and very "cut" because of his ongoing passion for push ups. He is now a full Aggregate Scout. (One step above Eagle Scout.)

There, there. No further. Let's just say that having a town in Texas named after you is a curse, not a blessing. It took quite a bit of finagling to get the Wikipedia article the way it is.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

America, America, God Shed His Grace on Thee...

Sometimes I read the news in TOTAL awe. I shall bold the parts that are extra special. It just makes my skin aggregate.

NEW YORK – The nation's newest texting champion has a message for parents across the land — although they might not want to hear it.

"Let your kid text during dinner! Let your kid text during school! It pays off," 15-year-old Kate Moore said Tuesday after winning the LG U.S. National Texting Championship.

After all, she said: "Your kid could win money and publicity and a phone." For the Des Moines, Iowa, teenager, her 14,000 texts-per-month habit reaped its own rewards, landing her the competition prize of $50,000 just eight months after she got her first cell phone.

Moore, with a speedy and accurate performance, beat out 20 other finalists from around the country over two days of challenges such as texting blindfolded and texting while maneuvering through a moving obstacle course.

In the final showdown, she outtexted 14-year-old Morgan Dynda, of Savannah, Ga. Both girls had to text three lengthy phrases without making any mistakes on the required abbreviations, capitalization or punctuation. (Seth insert: I believe the phrase was, "like totally! :-) Like,,, did you see the way he just dissed me totals?!?!?! He trted me like I was total preggers with a fat baby!!?!?!? LOL.) Moore squeaked through by a few seconds on the tiebreaking text, getting the best two out of three. As she anxiously waited for confirmation of her win, tears streamed down her face.

The teen dismisses the idea that she focuses too much on virtual communications, saying that while she has sometimes had her phone taken away from her in school, she keeps good grades, performs in school plays and socializes with friends — in person — on the weekends.

In between, she finds time to send about 400 to 470 texts a day. Among her uses of the text messages? Studying for exams with friends, (BS!!!) which she says is better done by text because she can look back at the messages to review.

The finalists, all 22 or younger, were among 250,000 people who tried to get spots in the competition. Some won their spots at the Manhattan finals by being the fastest people to text responses to televised ads.

It's the third year for the texting competition, sponsored by LG Electronics Inc.'s mobile-phones division. But it's the first time that it was held at a flashy sound stage with an illuminated platform and surrounded by TV cameras. LG, based in Seoul, South Korea, is considering using the footage in a televised special of some kind.

Twenty-year-old Jackie Boyd, who came in fifth in the competition, said she usually prefers text messages to phone calls because they get through faster and they're more private — leaving her unworried about other people listening in.
"You can get more of what you really truly want to say" across with texting, said the Syracuse University psychology major. "Especially if it's an argument, you don't have to worry about saying the wrong thing.
"And if you don't want to respond, you can always say, 'Oh, I didn't get your text.'"

Monday, June 08, 2009

Smell them thar roses.

Every day I walk to work. I consider myself one of the luckiest guys on the planet that I get to walk through Central Park in order to get to work. However, lately, I've been so busy that I have forgotten to stop and just look.

There is this really amazing meadow in the middle of the southern part of the park called "Sheep's Meadow." The grass is as soft as you would dream grass should be... somewhere where grass doesn't have little sneaky sharp rocks or hidden hoards of fire ants and so forth.

You can walk freely in that meadow with nary a shoe or sock and the whole experience is almost a little bit odd. Odd and kind of thrilling. You forget how sensitive the bottom of your feet are and what emotions can come and go when those nerves are titillated by little vixen blades of grass. And even when I was a little country boy spending half my days fishing, I never walked ANYWHERE outside without shoes.


But today... I made myself stop and do something I always "think" I'd like to do but I never try. I walked into Sheep's Meadow (barefoot) and laid down on the grass under the tree without a blanket and watched the sun go down. I think I need to try that kind of thing more often. (If you are a fellow creature of habit, you KNOW how hard that really is.)

I put my shoes on for the picture. I promise you don't want to see my vampiric feet.

Friday, May 29, 2009

A Quick Addendum to that Last Blog

I suppose I should modify that last blog a bit. I sounded like I was criticizing all my blogging buddies. Honestly wasn't meant to do so.

I read, or I used to read a LOT of politically charged blogs and entertainment-smut/gossip blogs and tech product critique stuff. I haven't read a theological blog in a billion years. And if I am guilty of anything, it is that I haven't been to ANYONE'S blog over there on my friend list with the exception of a few people that I see regularly.

My loss, entirely. One reason being that I've never been a RSS feed person. When I was teaching at Rice I had college students emailing me quite a bit and now with choir and all the stuff that is going on at the church, I usually spend my mornings answering emails. I've already missed two important emails this week.

Blah blah. All that to say, apologies to any friend that was offended...

Pay no attention to the complainer behind the curtain.

I'll be Loud.

I'm John Conner and I do NOT smile. I do scream, quite a bit. I also enjoy screaming into CBs.

There was something about those first Terminator films that really made the films terribly likable and fun: The Govenator.

This film made me remember and miss the campy but HUGELY FUN screen presence of Der Arnold. This film didn't have that presence. Well, not until the end anyways. But even then it wasn't really Arnold, rather, some ridiculous CGI naked ken-doll version of Arnold.

One good thing about reviewing this movie: The plot won't take much summary time. Here goes...

The robots and humans are at war. John Conner (JC initials - okay, people. Enough with the Jesus Christ initial thing. Faulkner pulled it off but it is officially cliche.) is the leader of a rebellion of sorts... But I don't know, you never seem to know who is really in charge. Anyways, they discover that the robots are making hybrid human/machine terminators. The hybrid we get to know thinks he's human and he even has a human heart. Conner of course doesn't believe him. At the end, Conner's heart is damaged in the battle with the cheezy looking Arnold-CGI-Ken-Doll-Naked-Terminator and OF COURSE the hybrid donates his heart. Where's my hanky.

The whole scene is slathered with predictability and I suddenly felt like I was watching an old Stephen Segal action flick, except without the fun. What I used to love about all those old 80s action movies is the moment in which someone describes to the villian just how tough the Stephen Segal character was.

Villian: "Who is this guy?"

Plucky guy who used to know Segal's character way back when: "Well let me tell you... (bombs go off in the distance)... this guy's so bad he could yada yada."

We didn't get a moment like that, of course. What we did get was this: John Conner screaming into a CB "If you don't listen to me then we are dead. WE ARE ALL DEAD." Yawn.

I suppose the Matrix spoiled me to AI movies forever, even though the Terminator was the first great AI action flick. What was great about those first Terminator films was that we were visited by the future and were only given glimpses of the what was to come. Here we are thrust into a future, and unlike Zion in the Matrix, or the make-shift civilizations in Mad Max, humanity is lacking humanity. I was almost rooting for the robots. At least the robots were capable of lowering their voices.

Then came the robots stealing Humans or harvesting them or some reason. Why in the world they would want to harvest an old women is beyond me. More dramatic, I guess. Then there was the cut to the robot who was surveying the prisoners... the steal-skull-faced robot was WEARING A HEADBAND. ??? ??? ???

Again, what is with the color-jacking of current film makers? Does everyone just HATE the color green? I know its in the "future" and I know the planet's been nuked to smitherines by the robots and so forth, but would it kill the guys to at least slightly color the EVERGREENS???

I don't know... I feel like this review is so disjunct and odd -just like the film. It was just a bunch of chuncks and clunks all slammed together with a lot of screaming stuff like "WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE" and explosions. There was a cool robot who had fast big motorcycles for knees. That scene was cool. I liked the big Godzilla robot.

I hate to say this... but I found the oil driller planting a nuke on an asteroid much much more fun. Dumb, stupid, un-scientific fun.

I will say that the CGI was well done. But who gives a hoot if the story is a loud bore? And event though it was great, there was nothing new offered, unlike the other terminator films which were all cutting edge in their own ways.

I give it C---- I would give it a D or an F if it weren't for that bootlegged cussing outburst that we got to hear and then later as a techno song.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Hello Friends!

Been busy. And I'm a little under the weather. I know I know. Why start your post with that tired old excuse? To be honest, it is better than nothing and the surest way for me to at least post SOMETHING.

A concert pianist friend of mine is coming to play this Sunday for church and I've been trying to whip u an arrangement or two for piano and pipe organ that will break the stained glass windows and blow a few hearing aids.

The weather has been quite euro here in the city and I am liking it: green, cool, lush and pretty.

I've been wanting to write more but between the church and students and fighting off the spring allergy/flu, the time has not allowed. I've been flat-out down for the count since monday.

I've been away from the blog world and haven't had a chance to really read anyone else's blog in quite some time. I have to say... it has been a little refreshing. I suppose partly refreshing because I've been working. But also refreshing because I didn't realize how negative reading a bunch of blogs can make you. I think that the majority of blogs are discourses on things that annoy the blogger, that includes me and my blog too. Sometimes, the things really do need to be said. But overall, negativity, even in small doses, can be a deadly deadly thing. The only problem is that really positive things aren't all that fun to read. I WISH that I cared about hearing about the daily progress of my mom's flower gardens, and I do to an extent... but I'm just not attracted to that kind of reading.

Darned if you do and darned if you don't. I'm not sure that colloquialism works for this scenario, but it felt right to say it.

Oh well... at least I typed a few paragraphs about SOMETHING.

Anyways, here is a post from my Jewish friend, Jenny (a PhD student in Talmudic studies and my guitar student) on the discussion from the "The Eternal Now of Grace" post. I thought it was incredibly interesting:

"A word about Jews getting carried away with "works". You are referring to the Pharisees, as depicted in the Gospels (we have very little knowledge of them outside the Gospels and Josephus, who doesn't talk much about this issue). It would seem that the rabbis, who succeeded the Pharisees as guardians and interpreters of the law among the Jewish people after the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in 70 CE, shared Jesus' concern with an overly rigid or strictly works-centered notion of the law. The rabbis and the early Christians each dealt with the same problem in their own way. Jesus and Paul, followed by the early Church Fathers, stressed less (or no) importance to the practical observance of the law, while the rabbis developed a system of more flexible and practicable law, and concomitantly developed an array of more "spiritual" ideas and practices to buttress the law.

If I may, an example. Deuteronomy 6 says to speak of "these words" (namely, "You shall love the Lord your God...") "when you lie down and when you rise up". The rabbinic response was something like "OK, that's too vague; let's concretize it. Recite these verses ("You shall love the Lord your God...") twice a day - once in the morning and once at night. Of course, if you're sick or incapacitated, or, say, too nervous to concentrate because you've just gotten married and you're about to have sex for the first time [this specific issue, among others, appears in the Mishnah, a rabbinic code of the 3rd century CE], then don't worry about it." The Christian response was something like, "The point of the instruction to "speak of these words... when you lie down and rise up" is to have them on your mind and in your conversation all day long; so do that. Live your life in a way that reflects that commitment and focus." Both the rabbinic and Christian responses have great merit, and each found followers who felt that one or the other response resonated more for them.

Balancing actions and feelings has been on the minds of Jews and Christians, it would seem, for a few millennia. I agree, Seth, that we should just chill about the contrast or competition between the two and see them as complementary and conjoined - even if there are a variety of ways of navigating them. Every love relationship is different; just as every relationship to God - be it Christians and Jesus through the New Testament, or Jews and Yahweh through the Hebrew Bible - is different, and works out its needs, kinks, and manifestations differently."

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Eternal Now of Grace

I've never understood the big tadoo about faith vs. works. Why are these things "vs" each other?

A mature(ing) Christian should strive to be unaware of each as separate compartments. Each act is obedience in love.

Its like loving your wife. I know I do and act like I do all at once. But I'm not thinking about either, at all. I'm thinking about her. And when I do, I'm as close to being in the eternal now of Grace that I'll ever be.

Sometimes one is more effort than the other, (I'm sure that's true more for Amber than me) but because I'm in love, (Not puppy dog stuff here, but cultivated husbands-love-and serve-your-wife stuff) most of the time, I don't have much of a choice. I love her, and that's all there is to it.

I think us greek-thinking Christians have been too darn hard on our selves for too long.

I'm a "musician." I play "music" by trade. I play in a church. But sometimes I don't. Which glorifies God? Both. But sometimes, some think that one does more than others. Why? Because of our DESPERATE need to compartmentalize. Both are obedience and both please God and myself.

Did you know that there are some tribes in Africa who don't know what "music" is? They make it all day long, but when asked about their music, they look completely perplexed. There is no word for it to compartmentalize it. It is simply a part of their communication and the joy of living. It is as natural to them as bubbling is to a brook.

But us western children of Aristotle? We've got music stores divided into THOUSANDS of musical genres.

The same thing goes for faith and works. We've got THOUSANDS of denominations, each one with a different rule book on how to better experience God by either more works or more Grace. But overall, the real separating factors between us are our different views on works vs. Grace.

Christians aren't the only ones who got all caught up in works. See, the Jews really took the works thing and made into something distorted. They got so stern about all the laws that NO ONE could POSSIBLY do them all. This is what pissed them off so bad about Jesus. He was living the law again in a way that was senergetic, a way that was both natural and supernatural to man. Sabbath made for Man, not man for the Sabbath.

So along came the early Christians and they took the "don't worry about works" thing too far and James, the brother of the Lord, came along and set things straight. You cannot separate works from acts of mercy and Grace flowing through you or visa versa. It is like separating air from the function of a lung.

But we just can't get over it, still. We love to have bible study after bible study, knocking the idea of works into the ground. Then we go lock ourselves up in a prayer closet and "get things right" so that we can FINALLY do something for our neighbor and not out of pride.

"Wait... If I help that homeless person am I doing to gain God's favor? Or did I do it because I have God's favor???"

I think that God gets quite annoyed with these questions. "Just feed the starving soul, you spoiled little idiot."

Most times, I don't think there's much time to figure all that crap out. And we've surely wasted too much time pointing fingers and sitting high in our ivory prayer towers "getting our hearts right" before we love our neighbor. When many times, the best way to experience God's grace is to do something for someone else when you are feeling very selfish.

I say that we stop altogether thinking about works vs grace and thinking about about them as extension of one another. In doing so, we start spending time with each other, and loving each other through kindness.

It is amazing how meaningless this debate is when someone you love is suffering. There is no debate. You love them and care for them. A synergetic moment. A darn-near hypostatic moment, when spirit and flesh work as they are meant to work: together all at once, sharing in the same nature, not distinctly different and in opposition, but as one.

I love the word synergetic. It means, "The interaction of two or more agents or forces so that their combined effect is greater than the sum of their individual."

Someday, we may be so lucky as to be perplexed by any question that would separate and compartmentalize Grace, faith and acts of love done in the physical now.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Beatles and Cutlass Ciera

I am forever a Beatles fan. I never ever ever ever get tired of hearing their music. Never. EVER.

One of the greatest things my dad ever did for me was introduce me to St. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band at the musically tender and impressionable age of 9. It was right about that time that we moved from Oklahoma to Indiana. It was also about that time that my dad got a new Cutlass Ciera SE equip with the COOLEST tape player and lots of console lights. I never forget seeing all the lights in that car at night for the first time. It was like a space ship. I remember it had this built in calculator on the console. Amazing.

But what was more amazing is that the Beatles were being re-released on cassette tape and my dad, being a HUGE Beatles fan, bought every tape he could get his hands on. Every time we got in the car, the Beatles flooded my ears and psyche. The combination of the 9 hour trips to Oklahoma, all those lights, the starry Indiana nights and A Day in the Life... a spell was cast. (Paul Simon's Graceland was another spell casting CD.)

The Beatles were my first musical obsession. I searched high and low for every Beatles recording I could get my hands on. Then came the Beatles records. I lifted the Tapes from my Dad's car and WORE them out. Literally. Eventually only one side of the stereo split worked. The came the CD player and the CDs. Still love the records best.

Just when I thought my love for the Beatles had moved into the golden years of fandom... LOVE appeared.

I didn't think much of it when I first heard about it, as I wasn't all that crazy about the studio rough releases back in the late 90s. The real albums, after all, were miracles. I had given up on any new kind of significant Beatles discovery.

It was my friend Josh Moore that sat my butt down, against my will, and forced me to listen to LOVE. See the thing about this record is that it was produced by George Martin, (considered by everyone to be the fifth Beatle) the Beatles original producer and George Martin's son.

LOVE is possibly the most unique of all Beatles records. In my opinion it deserves its place as the final great offering of Beatles music. When I listen to the tracks I am once again hypnotized. The odd thing being: There are no new sounds, only old sounds juxtaposed by the very producer who helped conceive the sounds in the first place. Some of the songs I've grown to love more than the originals. Hey Jude, for instance. While My Guitar is HEARTBREAKINGLY beautiful. It is George playing acoustic and singing solo with new string arrangements by the man who wrote the strings for Eleanor Rigby.

So, I've given up trying to leave the Beatles behind.

Sure the music is and always will be great, but still... all those blasted space lights in an old 85 Cutlass SE.

King Of Kong

It's been a while since I've seen a good documentary or one that doesn't depress my socks off.

King of Kong is just great.

In a nutshell:

There is this whole subculture of mega-nerds out there that only play vintage atari games. There is a whole society that keeps track of high scores. There are heros and legends in this little subculture just as there are in any sporting event.

The heros in the video game world are just as you would expect them to be.

These are real life Napoleon and Kip Dynamites.

I haven't the energy for a full on review, but I will say that during the first 30 minutes of this documentary I thought I had found the Holy Grail of documentaries.

However, nothing yet has toppled the greatness of When Were Kings. And nothing ever will.

King of Kong is filled with little twists and turns and just brimming with hilariously odd characters and obsessions that keep you glued. It is also a heart felt documentary and mostly chronicles the journey of an out of work engineer and his attempt at toppling the world record for Donkey Kong. Normal OCD man with wife and kids meets the Empire of the single middle aged men with acne and mullets.

Worth every penny.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Blog Is Dead

And Twitter killed it.

Honestly, Twitter and Facebook killed it. Or maybe something else is killing it.

My friend C-hammer stated in a recent comment that, "I think we're all consumers of so much information that blogs start to seem long and wordy. They take a little effort and involvement. Because I have a reader with lots of blogs in it, I can never seem to catch up on all of them."

I concur, and so does Technorati. In a recent release of data they stated that "200 million blogs have been created, but only 7.4 million have published a post in the past 4 months." 4 MONTHS. Hmmmm. And what has grown like gangbusters in the past 4 months? Grim.

However, its not all twitter's fault. Most blogs were never popular because of the first-class writing, they were popular because of their voyeuristic nature. We are a voyeuristic culture. We like to know what's going on across the rosebushes, behind the curtains, through the thin walls. We want to see and hear and live through other people's eyes. We are an unhappy culture. We are a culture that wishes we were all doing something different. We are never satisfied and therefore we are constantly looking for some new sweet that will satisfy our sweet tooth. We love to live vicariously through other people. I do, you do, we all do. (However, the good Lord is weeding that out in me in the past two years... well that's another blog for another... wait... NEVERMIND.)

I often wondered how long it would take for blogging to die out. It is dying out much quicker than people think. And the blogs that are surviving are the ones that provide the most information in the shortest amount of time.

Twitter is truly amazing because it doesn't give people enough time to get bored. Even thought the twitts or tweets or whatever are usually EXTREMELY boring, with every little blurb we clap our hands and bark as if we've been given a new treat.

As for me, I am glad that I was a part of this great blogging era. I'd like to say a personal thanks to my friend Joey for introducing me to the blog and then to Shaun Groves for showing me the potential of blogging. It has made me a better writer and it has also earned me many new and undeserved friends. The commenting on my blog has been some of the best and most interesting writing I've witnessed on the Internet and I do miss that. However, I feel that those days are over.

Blogging is another trinket on the long dangling, noisy, splendid, spectacular necklace around the neck of our pop culture. In many ways, I think that it was one of the healthiest of the trinkets. People started writing again and when people write, they exercise their imagination and their intelligence, or at least the ability to communicate more clearly and learn new things.

Now see, I've rambled on a good 300 twitts. And all I needed to keep your attention was a mere 5 twatts per hour. Sorry couldn't resist.

No, I'm not signing off. I have adjustment disorder so small change is hard for me. As a matter of fact, in a few years, I'll probably be the lone ragged man wandering in the endless fields of abandoned blogs, posting a thought or two or posting things that resemble paragraphs and complete sentences.

I might enter the twitter world someday, but who knows. By the time I do, people will have become so clever at it, that it will resemble an interesting art form but it will also have become passé. But people don't want steak at a movie; they want popcorn. And if it doesn't "pop" anymore, pop culture doesn't want it boring their sensory buds.

The people I really feel sorry for are those at places like the Rabbit Room where there is quite a lot of good writing going on by several good writers and creative artists. Just when I think they've caught their stride, the masses no longer have the attention span to read things longer than a paragraph. And when I say paragraph, I mean Hemingway paragraph: A sentence, if you are lucky.

Nor do they want to hear about anything that doesn't involve your minute by minute whereabouts or if you decided to wipe the boogie on the couch or the floor. However, they do have the benefit of several hundred fans, as most are performing artists, so maybe they'll become one of the last few bastions of good and surviving blogs. I hope so.

But make no mistake, if Blog is not dead, than it is surely dying. Fast.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Father and Son chat.

My Dad came to visit me in NYC while Amber goes to spend time with her mom for mother's day.

Dad: Hey, you got any coffee? Caffeinated?

Me: Umm, no we are out. I'll take you to Starbucks in the morn... ing...

My Dad pauses brushing his teeth for bed... at 9:30

Me: What time are you getting up?

He pauses and smirks.

Dad: "I'll sleep in till O-seven hundred hours just for you." *Spit*

Me: Oh good lord. I guess that's 7:00 a.m.?

Dad: Affirmative.

He laughs.

Dad: That's right. I'm getting your butt up at 7:00. I ain't kiddn' ya. And that's late for me. I mean, half the day is gone by 7:00.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Oh my gaw oh my gaw oh my gaw!!!!

President Obama totally ate a cheeseburger!!! (So did Biden, but who gives a hoot about that old dum-dum. I'm pretty sure that by now Obama thinks Biden is as worthless as a boar hog teat on an elbow.)

And not just any old gourmet-lean-sirloin-white-house-made cheese-turkey-burger... But a greezy-arsed pile of heart attack on a sugar-filled starchy bun at Ray's! No ketchup though.

Hey, nobody's perfect. Maybe it is some kind of Muslim thing against tomatoes. HA!

Ray sure got a sweet bit of promotion for his burger shack. Ray, look out. Next campaign you might replace Joe the plumber for Ray the gut buster. You really should look into getting fries, really. Tater... puffs? They'z called tater tots where I lube up the arteries. (Btw, Big Daddy's in Waco Texas USED to have the most AMAZING tater tots and burgers. It was sad sad day for the country when that place closed, as well as a sad day for the plus-sized elastic waist jean outlet in Waco.)

In other news...

Everything is almost in place to do the Beethoven Choral Fantasy on the 30th at CPC. I'm pretty pumped about it. I'll know tonight for sure if the Choir can make it.

It is green and lush here in the city. It's been cool and raining pretty steady for a few days. I'm certainly enjoying it.

I've officially joined a gym and I am loving it. It's time, friends. It's time. However, I did waltz into the women's locker room AGAIN yesterday. Praise the lord I didn't see any cougar thongs. See, the durn hallway to the lady's locker room is located just opposite to the hallway that leads to elevators. And once I make a wrong turn, it takes prayer and shock therapy to get me to take the right turn the next time... or the time after that, and after, and after. As a rule, I avoid any and all locker rooms.

I've been spotting quite a few celeb's lately. One thing I've noticed, they do look a good bit older in person. Kelly Ripa looks 3 times as skinny as she does on the tube. Barry Manilow is also abnormally skinny and much taller than I expected. Very tanned, and very botox'd. Regis looks like he should be on one of those Smuckers jars that Willard features during the Today Show.

I suppose the television adds 20 pounds and subtracts 20 years, (-200 in Regis' case.) Too bad it kills your brain cells, and causes ADD and ADHD.

What was I talking about? ... ... ... ?

Oh well, back to it. Man, I've missed blogging!

Still resisting the urge to twitter. Feels like blogging is dying a slow tweeting death. People are posting their twitters more and more. A little annoying, honestly. Kinda bugs the twit out of me. It is like opening up a novel to find a cooking pop out book instead. Or walking into room and seeing your mom and dad making out. Or walking into the ladie's dressing room instead of the elevator.

I wonder if Obama and Biden will make a trip to a local gas station to use the public crapper sometime soon. I'm sure the folks on the Today show and MSNBC would say that Obama's methane doesn't stink. I'm sure Biden would forget to flush.

All that to say, the presidential trip to the burger joint is a little cliche, me thinks. Almost as cliche as the tough-guy TV/film hero walking away unflinchingly from a mushroom cloud essplosion just in time, in slow motion. In real life that explosion would singe the hair and clothes right off their backside.

I miss Bill and his jogging detours into Micky-D's. Now THAT, was believable. Wouldn't want to see him eat in slow motion though. Shoot, I might even do that today.

Good ole Bill.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Shamwow workout

I've started working out again. Yes, its true. I've decided that I refuse to be a hairy, middle-aged outtashape man, and I refuse to die of a heart attack in my forties. The heart attacks that run in my family are as common as five o'clock shadows.

So, I'm using up all the free passes I can until I can snag a few more students to pay for my fitness club membership. It will be a lifestyle change. Yesterday, I worked out for the first time in a long time and it was awesome. I'm going again tomorrow. Only one problem: I've only got one pair of gym shorts and no washer and dryer.

Sooooo... a few days ago I fell victim to that blasted shamwow infomercial character and bought a shamwow at the bed bath and beyond.

It has sat in my closet, unopened, until tonight when I decided to give it a test on drying out my shorts. After I washed and rung out my shorts I laid them on a brand new sheet of BRIGHT orange shamwow and rolled them up, just like the commercial. I unrolled the shorts, expecting a miracle. The only thing that was missing from the scene was the Price is Right tuba/trombone loser music. What a gyp. What a sham. ShamWow my butt. Worse, what an idiot. Even worse, the stupid ugly-assed thing smells like the microwave after you cooked your cheeze-filled hot dog too long. Now my shorts no longer smell like sweaty man parts, but they smell like fatty cheeze hot dogs. AWESOME.

But still... a hot dog filled with cheese wouldn't be too bad right about now.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Geeking Out

I got a text from a friend a few days ago telling me that he heard Garrison Keillor on a Prarie home Companion mentioning that Central Pres was the church where none other than Charles Ives was music director and where Ives composed and premiered a bunch of his most played works. The organ is actually dedicated to him.

Charles Ives is one America's most famous composers. If you go to music school, you learn ALL about Mr. Ives. I geeked out so hard that I immediately emailed my professor.

So this past sunday, I improvised a postlude on the very same organ where THE Charles Ives sat and freaked out half his congregation with hymns played in two keys at once.

Pretty awesome.


Told you it was nerdy moment.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Rick, Rick, Rick

Poor Rick. Everywhere the man turns lately, he's getting the shift kicked out of him. He ticked off all the gays in the country by comparing them to chester molesters and then turned around and ticked of the Dobsonites by saying that he "never reaaaaally gave a crap about Gays getting married" and that he misspoke about Gays being the same as chester molesters.

Now he's basically saying that he doesn't want to talk about Gays anymore and wants to focus on AIDS and poverty. If I could paraphrase his last statement, it was something like this: "Yes, no... I mean... I think I don't care about Gay marriage... God loves us and has a purpose for marriage for molesters... I mean, queeeeerrrwEATHER we are having ain't it? No really, what I really like to do is... Well, I'd like to teach the world to sing: A perfect harmony. I'd like to buy the world a coke and keep it company. SING WITH ME NOW!"

I think Warren basically has that good old "I want everyone to like me syndrome." Can't judge a man for that.

I also think, in general, pastors should stay away from journalists and the t.v. That goes for you too, Joel-meister. No more Larry King interviews for you.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Busy busy

How in the hellck did things get so busy, AGAIN? As many of you know I started working as a music director at Central Pres. here in Manhattan. I haven't talked too much about it because honestly, I've been pretty much working my keister right off, which I've loved. And Lord knows the keister could use some of that working-off-business after that loooong winter. Luckily the Church is straight across Central Park so I get a good walk or two in every day. The scenery ain't too shabby either!

Tomorrow night Amber and I will be singing and leading with a couple other guys in a "contemporary" worship at our church. I really don't know what the heck that word "contemporary" means. I suppose it means worship that sounds like Coldplay. I think it should be changed to "whisper-worship or four-on-the-floor worship... on repeat." Whatever the case, its all music to me and it should be fun. It is sort of an interesting juxtaposition to be doing this music in a Gothic Cathedral. Some of the songs I haven't heard. Fun stuff.

I do have some big plans for this year. They may turn into little plans, but for now, they are still big. I hope to throw on an opera or two, and possibly do the Beethoven Choral Fantasy with our Choir, orchestra and this frigging unbelievable concert pianist friend of mine.

Also on the list is to start bringing CCM people in to sing. I think I'll start with trying for Shane and Shane or Beth Dillon first. I think the intimate setting would suit them kindly, plus a violinist friend of mine toured with Jeremy Camp and Bethany Dillon and he had the nicest things to say about those people. And I'm all about the good people. Plus I think that Shane Bernard and Beth Dillon have amazing voices.

I have to say that I do feel a little sorry for my choir. Every week I am throwing them a new challenge. And I change things constantly and they have to learn a LOT of stuff in short amount of time. However, they are just awesome. Incredible. For Easter they wanted to do the Hallelujah Chorus and I was too chicken to give it a go but most had it by memory and so for a surprise we did it for the postlude and it ROCKED.

Have I mentioned that I am now a confirmed fan of the PIPE ORGAN??? (No, I will never wear the slippers. Not happening. Not a chance.) Let me tell you something: There is not a more volcanic sound than the sound of a pipe organ in a Gothic cathedral under the fiery fingers and BUMBLING feet of Seth Ward. Maybe it is more fun for the player than for the listeners, but that baby can crank the db's! Last week I scared the crap out of the choir, and myself. I had punched the "pedal to great" button accidentally, which means all the pedal's foghorns go to the keyboard. So.... after we finished the apostles creed I busted into the Gloria Patri and it sounded like the a very close range rodeo horn... everywhere at once. The choir literally jumped. I almost let a cuss word fly myself.

On a serious note, sometimes I am playing in that church and I wonder what in the world I ever did to deserve to get to play in such a place and worship with such great people. I hope that I can continue to serve them in ways that only God will shine.

I get to play for the Harlem Boy's choir this week. (Now known as the New Amsterdam Choir.)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Provide Caption



For instance:

"Hey Frankie, watch this! I can make mine cup carbonated!"

"And then the tiger awoke giggling and declared it the best dream he ever had."

Friday, April 10, 2009

E.T.'s Ark

Knowing is a movie that John Calvin might have enjoyed. However, I'm not sure if Calvin would have been a Nick Cage fan. As for me, I like him. My first film memory of Nicholas Cage is H.I. in Raising Arizona - one of my favorite movies. I usually like Cage in most of his movies, even the crappy, crappy ones. He has an innate quirky humor that carries his "I'm not supposed to be saving everyone's life" bravura, and it helps us believe that he could actually pull off landing that Con Air jet in downtown Vegas or Manhattan or wherever it was to deliver that oily bunny to his daughter.

Knowing, Cage's most recent and best film in years, is a difficult movie to explain but I'll give it a go in layman's terms. (layman=lazy)

Knowing begins back in the 1950s with an elementary school classroom burying a time capsule. The time capsule looks pretty amazing for any school to own. It looked like some cryogenic thingy that should be on the set of Jurassic Park VI, but whatever, its the movies.

So the kids are all supposed to bury a picture of what they think the future will look like. I'm very surprised that a school would think that their school would last that long. Especially an elementary school. Very few elementary schools last that long. Because of city growth and ever-changing zoning laws, elementary schools can change every 10-20 years, depending on the city and economic climate. Plus school buildings aren't built for longevity. But again, its the movies.

Every kid draws a cute little picture of the future with the usual stuff: spaceships, rockets, bombs. Everyone except the weird little girl that can't stop writing numbers. The teacher stops her before she is able to write the last few numbers, which I think is pretty lame. First off, if I had a little girl in my class that looked like she had wandered off the latest Night of the Living Dead set -all pale and weird and quiet- and this little girl was writing a billion numbers for her cryogenic assignment, I would have given her 10 extra seconds to finish off the last 10 numbers. But again, its the movies.

So they bury it. Flash forward 50 years. Enter Nick Cage, a MIT astrophysicist who teaches a class on chaos vs. predeterminism. A pretty cool class if it actually existed. We find out quickly that he lost his wife years ago and Nick has come to believe that life is a series of meaningless events, all given an extra bolt of kinetic angst by the fact that he is also... wait for it... A PREACHER'S SON. Big Surprise.

So Nick's son, a good little actor, is of course the one who gets the little zombie-girls cryogenic note from the past and he is suddenly hearing voices and is showing urges to write down a bunch of numbers himself. Of course the movie wouldn't be scary if it didn't have a weird looking albino man always lurking in the distance or showing up to give the little boy apocalyptic visions or little black stones for some reason.

But before the visions and numbers and whisper-voices start for the son, Nick takes the note one night during a drinking binge and discovers that the numbers are a series of events that have predicted every major disaster in the past 50 years, including the death of his wife, and also the events of next 10 days or so which also happens to be the end of the world.

So, Nick discovers that the show is fixed. The world's days are numbered, and there is NOTHING he can do about it. But that doesn't stop him from trying. Nick quickly locates the daughter of the weirdo little girl from the 50s and tries to find out what he can. The woman has a little girl and like Nick's son, she is hearing whispers as well. This of course leads them all to some scary place in the woods where sits an old abandoned trailer. And yes, like all sane parents, they leave the kids alone in the scary woods inside the truck for the Albino men to kidnap. And that's as far as I'll go.

Look to the title and use your imagination, or go see the flick, to imagine the ending.

What I liked about the movie:

First off, I loved the notion that man does not control the future. He doesn't. Maybe a little here or there, but for the most part, the sun will either rise, or it will burn out. Not a thing we can do about it. Someday an asteroid WILL smash into the earth and there will most likely be NOTHING anyone can do about it. There isn't an oil-digger on the planet that could land on the durn thing and plant a nuke in its belly to save us. The sky is a big, big place and by the time we see the earth-killer, there won't be NEARLY enough time to do anything about it. But we don't like that kind of talk. Lately, a team of scientists have been urging Obama to send a bunch of pollutants into the atmosphere to slow global warming. Not going to happen. Neither can we control the Earth's magnetosphere. Scientists have been waring of the approaching solstice and the potential plasma storm that cold pretty much cook us all, but the gov. would like to think that they can manufacture a volcano to stop the sun instead.

Remember when I said that I wished that the film Armageddon had ended with the asteroid hitting earth and the credits rolling to the backdrop of a red and fiery earth? Well...

So, I liked this movie for that purpose. It was also filled with a bunch of cool action sequences and cliffhanging suspense. Yadda yadda. All that stuff, though vital to the life and believability of the film, isn't as important as the philosophical question the film poses. And because all the action and the special effects and suspense served as a platform for the question, it was a success.

What I didn't like:

Color. I wish directors would stop jacking around with film saturation. The whole film was sorta ugly. Is anyone going to get tired of this technique??? What is so wrong with the color scheme the good Lord gave us? Why does everything have to have a shade of green? You'd think the sun was a the big lime in the sky. I've only seen on movie where I liked it (and I think that I would have liked it had it been done naturally as well) was O Brother Where Art Thou?

New York destruction: Before I lived here, I didn't mind this so much. But the scene with the subway crashing and scraping squishing every soul on the platform just made me squirm, and not in a good way. Every soul in the theater wanted to say, "Come on, dude. Pick on London, or Paris. Subways are scary enough and this is all our worst nightmare. Thanks for giving us a glimpse. Preciate it."

Aliens. Why does it always have to be aliens? Now, I will say that this film blurs the lines between alien and angel quite well, but I would have just preferred the spiritual route. After all, if our days are predetermined, they ain't predetermined by the Borg or the Klingons. That's pretty much a job for the the Almighty.

Other than these criticisms, I enjoyed it. It was depressing, and didn't catch me at the best time. Especially considering all the stuff happening in the world and that Times Square Church pastor predicting fire engulfing our cities and 2012 approaching and all, and that recent article about the sun shooting us with a plasma storm when our magnetosphere is at a weird angle in 2012... the year the Mayans predicted to be the end of the world.

That's about all the energy I have for this review. I'd recommend it, but only if you are feeling especially over-optimistic about the future of our world.

As a final note, I'd like to add this: I do wish that these big hollywood stars would stop with the hair plugs. Just go the Bruce Willis route. And that goes for you too, Tom Hanks.

Grade: B+

Thursday, April 09, 2009

U.S.A. new meaning...

Under Socialist Administration

Look out Cuba! Pretty soon you'll be the free ones and well be smuggling our cigars your way!

I do look forward to the day when 57-60% of our paycheck goes to crappy health care and new government funded buildings and businesses that look like cement blocks. Ah... if only we could skip forward to that bright and shiny day when that stray chicken is running down the middle of main street... I mean, can't you just wait until all our businesses are run by the same AMAZING standards set by the wunder-pack that is our Congress? I know I can't.

And let's get rid of all the finger-pointing. We are ALL to blame for where we are. Every person as guilty as the next. However, the party at the helm has done a GREAT job leading everyone to believe that the evil "CONSEEEERVATIVE Capitalists" are the ones to blame for the mess we are in. Nope. News-flash: It's sin, folks. Capitalist or Socialist, man will sin. If we hand out checks, people will refuse to get jobs and lie about their number of kids and their disabilities. I've seen it. I've lived in town where 90% sit on their butts all day and gripe about the size of their government check.

Maybe it is time that every American read Animal Farm again. A strange thing that that book could be a prophetic treatise about the future of American rather than the past of the U.S.S.R.

I watch in wonder at how "capitalism" is turned into a dirty little word. But people, every car you drive, every movie you watch, every restaurant where you feast, every television you buy, every book that you read... these all came from the machine and fires of capitalism. Are people really that stupid to be so easily duped? Yes. Yes they/we are. Look what happened to the Germans. The Nazis threw up a few propaganda videos associating Jews with rats, among other things and with in a few years every Jew in the third Reich was wearing an arm patch.

Truth is, Capitalism isn't evil. Neither is socialism. The great thing about our country is that we are a hybrid, where capitalism and socialism support the American dream: If you want something, if you dream of something, here is the place where it can happen. But you have to MAKE it happen, if God so allows it. This has been uniquely American. And this is dying. It is hard not to see it croak when you live in the heart of Capitalism. It really is, my friends. Ain't lying. Half of Wall Street is now owned by Uncle Obama.

All the while, surviving businessmen and entrepreneurs are being vilified by... well, you know.

And yet, I still hold out hope that he will succeed and give our country back to the people once we get on our feet. But right now, Obama controls the banks. Obama controls ALL the money in this here nation. It is an absolute first in the history of our country. That is too much power for any man. Unfortunately, I suppose... a necessary evil. I just hope it is a short lived necessary evil.

Interesting times we are living in people. Interesting times.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Movie Set Fun

I got to go onto the new Sarah Jessica and Hugh Grant movie set last night and watch a scene being filmed. VERY cool. I soaked up every minute of the process. It is amazing how many hours lights and shields and cranes and cameras and people and other odd and expensive looking things that must be put into place just so that two actors can stand in the rain for 5 seconds, peep into a window and sneak off into the distance. Incredible. They even had two double actors give it a go first. A good idea. I'd HATE to do that scene twice.

I felt sorry for Sarah Jessica Parker. Normally I wouldn't feel sorry for someone making 25k per day, but I did last night. And Hugh looked pretty miserable as well. As far as acting goes, it definitely took some of all the glitz and glam out of the whole movie star business. Because, my friends, the weather last night twas COLD. Those two had to jump around in non-winter clothing in uncommon 35 degrees wind while gallons of cold, fake rain was pumped upon their heads.

I clicked a bunch more pictures but Sarah requested those of us with cameras not take pictures of her soaking wet and miserable. Understandable. (She requested very nicely, and thanked our inconsiderate selves, btw. Very nice lady.) So, I won't post them. Here is a blurry one with their backs turned. I don't think they'd be upset about this one.

It was dark and unfortunately the iPhone doesn't take the best dark photos, and the best pictures of them are ones where they are SOAKING wet and hypothermic, but the pictures above gives you the look of the scene. They peek into a window, the UPS truck drives off and then Hugh and Sarah run like wild people our direction almost running into us on the sidelines. I'm pretty sure that what the were saying by the time they reached us wasn't in the script.

Looks like a fun movie!