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,


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.