Thursday, December 29, 2005

Comic Books to Go

It looks like I'll be buying comic books for the first time it 5 or 6 years? Good grief, that's a long hiatus. Hopefully being a bit more picky will help keep me under control. Whenever I try to get every last bat-book, I end up with a pile of comics at the dealer that I can't afford. Yes, I know that's a horrible thing; I'm confessing here. Of course, that's not going to happen now, what with Batman having about 40 or 50 related monthly series these days. I think I'll be better off picking and choosing and just getting a few I like here and there. I stopped by Mindgames here in Florence and Kim Lawson was extremely helpful. I also picked up a Crimson Mist Batman action figure (which I believe wraps up the Christmas presents I received [ha! wraps up! I didn't even do that on purpose]). The figure is just plain cool - based on the series of Elseworld comics (Red Rain, Bloodstorm, Crimson Mist) where Batman meets Dracula, gets bit and ends up as a vampire himself. The Elseworlds series are some of my favorite - I love the re-imagining of old characters and stories. Some highlights:
  • Kingdom Come (an alternate future and acclaimed 4-part mini series starring and guest-starring nearly all of the DC Universe),
  • Batman: Speeding Bullets (in which Kal-El is found by Thomas and Martha Wayne; not John and Martha Kent),
  • Catwoman Annual #1, 1994 (a fantasy world where Batman is a knight and Catwoman a shapeshifting, well, Cat-woman - this was my introduction to Elseworlds),
  • Detective Comics Annual #7, 1994 (Batman is the pirate, Leatherwing),
  • and the first Elseworlds story: Gotham by Gaslight (Batman meets Jack the Ripper in 19th Century Gotham).
The Batman action figure for Kingdom Come falls under Chester's Law. I didn't pick them up when they were $14.99, and now they're going for around $50 on eBay.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Christmas isn't over yet!

Get more stuff!! There's still time to buy!

Did you get lots of things, but there's still more stuff you don't have? Target's weekly ad exclaims:


Not thankful for the stuff you did get? WalMart's web page tells you to make sure to:

Get What YOU Want!

There's always room for for more stuff.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Christmas / Greed / Classic Rock

This Christmas, more than any other, has turned my thoughts toward those who might not have a Christmas as nice as I'm going to have. I wish I could say I was doing a lot this year because of that, but the truth is, even though I've done more than any previous Christmas, what I have done is far less than what I could do. I guess it's one of those things that I need to carry with me beyond Christmas, to be mindful of the needs of others; to do something about the needs of others, regardless of the time of year.

I've been thinking of this season about greed, consumerism, and the desire for more "stuff". Recently, I heard on the radio about a local organization (HEALS, Inc.) having a "shoe drive" (my term) for kids that didn't have proper shoes to wear to school. It disturbs me that there are kids in Huntsville that have to walk to school in the cold December rain in holey shoes, but I'm worried about what action figures I'm going to get for Christmas. And that's just scratching the surface.

From so many places I'm reminded of this season of giving and sacrifice; of so many people celebrating the birth of Jesus. I'm not going to get into the whole "Left-wing anti-Christmas conspiracy" thing, but I wonder how much of that that is hype. I find it ironic that I grew up in a Christian tradition that went to great lengths to remove Jesus from the whole holiday season (if that doesn't make sense, Mark Elrod does a good job of describing the phenomenon). I wonder if they are part of the conspiracy...

But now, I'm thankful of being reminded of Jesus and His sacrifice when I hear Kenny Rogers and Wynonna sing:

Mary...did you know...
When you kiss your little baby,
You've kissed the face of God.
(Mary, Did You Know)

Or Sarah McLachlan and the Barenaked Ladies:

Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Worship Him, God Most High.
(God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen)

For some reason, the more I think about it, the more it convicts me of how much I have and how much others don't.

Then tonight, I read about John Densmore (who was the drummer for The Doors) and his issues with "selling out" their music.

He has some interesting thoughts after Cadillac, last year, offered them $15 million for Break On Through to sell their SUVs:

All of it made me think about this book I want to write. It's about greed.

How do people get such crazy ideas? What did Paul say about the love of money?

A few years ago Densmore wrote a piece in The Nation regarding the same thing. Here he says things like:

We used to build our cities and towns around churches. Now banks are at the centers of our densely populated areas.

Does this say anything about what we worship?

He says a lot more, and this paragraph is to good to pass up:

Actually, it was John and Yoko who inspired me to start a 10 percent tithe, way back in the early '80s. In the Playboy interview, John mentioned that they were doing the old tradition, and it stuck in my mind. If everybody gave 10 percent, this world might recapture a bit of balance. According to my calculations, as one gets up into the multi category, you up the ante. Last year I nervously committed to 15 percent, and that old feeling rose again: the greed gene. When you get to multi-multi, you should give away half every year. Excuse me, Mr. Gates, but the concept of billionaire is obscene. I know you give a lot away, and it's easy for me to mouth off, but I do know something about it. During the Oliver Stone film on our band, the record royalties tripled, and as I wrote those 10 percent checks, my hand was shaking. Why? It only meant that I was making much more for myself. It was the hand of greed.

It's interesting reading this ex-drummer of The Doors echoing some of the thoughts I've been having. And the man tithes. I don't know where he tithes, and, actually, it's none of my business, but how many of us who are vocal about our Christianity can actually claim to do that? Why do I have the feeling that if all the Christians in Florence, Alabama gave 10%, poverty would be but a memory here?

Thanks to the Maverick Philosopher.

Quote of the Day: rich in helping extravagantly generous.
Paul, in his first letter to the young preacher, Timothy

Saturday, December 17, 2005

...and the Ugly

Why, oh why, do they have to make sequels?

Ok, so sometimes you get an Empire Strikes Back out of the mix, but most of the time it's Mannequin: On the Move or Look Who's Talking Too. Ok, maybe that's a bit strong in this time of franchises (Star Wars, Harry Potter, Spiderman, X-Men, too many more to mention), but you know what I'm talking about.

Was it really necessary to make a sequel to 1964's Rankin Bass special, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer? And to make it a full-length hour-and-a-half CGI straight-to-video production? This has got to be one of the worst capitalizations of a childhood dream I have ever seen. Made in 2001, it's called, of course, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer & the Island of Misfit Toys. I believe this to confuse people who were enamored with the original to mistakenly buy this new video. Maybe that's not true, but last year, when I was looking for the original for my daughter, I came across this DVD over and over, and nearly bought it, thinking it was one of the original specials. At the time, I remembered that Rudolph visited the Island of Misfit Toys, but couldn't quite remember all the details. And in this sequel, the Island isn't even the main setting. It figures in the story, but it's only visited once (I think; it was difficult to pay attention). On the package of the new DVD, many of the characters from the old one appear on the cover (with a few new, but with my aging memory, I wasn't quite sure).

So they get a couple of names to play the main characters (Richard Dreyfuss, Jamie Lee Curtis, Rick Moranis), but of course, they couldn't play any of the old characters, so they had to create new ones (like a Zsa Zsa Gabor-talking hippopotamus that can fly; no, really). They brought in actual voice talent for the old characters (names no one ever recognizes, like Kathleen Barr [Rudolph, Mrs. Clause], Scott McNeil [Hermey, Yukon Cornelius], Gary Chalk [Santa Clause, Bumble/Abominable Snowmonster]). The voice actors were the only impressive thing about the film. Many of the voices were good, but Rudolph and Hermey were dead on.

While my daughter sat through the whole thing, I could only half pay attention to keep my food down. Of course the first thing she wanted to do after seeing it was watch the first one again (she's 3, but she knows good entertainment).

Just to leave you with some feeling for the movie, I'll leave you with quote and one screen shot.

Quote (Narrator): Poor Bumble felt like a lost child at the mall.

The mall?!? I guess this is the the age we live in.

Screenshot: (Warning: Image may be disturbing to viewers who loved the true Rudolph).

I warned you! But had to look, didn't you?

Friday, December 16, 2005

The Good, the Bad...

I'm glad that the holidays bring out the best in some people so that it can take some edge off how they bring out the worst in other people. A couple of times we've been out shopping and happened to pick up a small present for my daughter when she was with us. Once was at Target; once was at Linens N Things (both stores in Florence, AL). Both times the cashier was very cognizant of what we were doing, helped us, and both times double-bagged the item so she would be less likely to see it in the bag and when we got home. It's those kinds of things that remind me there's good in people. They weren't saving the world, sure, but the point was people were trying to be helpful, and be mindful of others, not merely being selfish and inconsiderate (which is how I, in my limited thinking, often assume most people are).

Of course, there are exceptions. Recently my wife and I got new phones from Cingular. We did it on-line and over the phone, and couldn't be more impressed with how helpful everyone was. Of course, when we went to the store (the one in Florence, on Cox Creek Parkway), and tried to get some help there, it was a different story. They were very nice until it was obvious we weren't spending any money there - we just wanted to transfer the address books from our old phones to our new phones. And then, when we wanted to add to our phones the (free) package that allows you a pay-per-download internet connection, they become even less helpful. Basically, you can pay for a monthly package, or pay per KB downloaded. The first person that set set me up only did one of my two phones, then walked away. So, when the sales associate was finished transferring my addresses, I asked him to do the other phone, at which point he began to talk me out of it. I'm probably going to download maybe one or two ring tones and a wallpaper, so didn't see the need to spend the money on a monthly package. After I told him "no" the first time, he told me it would cost four times as much; at that, I told him I probably wouldn't be using it very much. Then he tried to show me the error of my ways with Logic by telling me:

That's like spending $5.99 per movie with pay-per-view when you can get unlimited movies by getting a movie channel for $15.99 a month.

Then I responded with:

But what if you only want to watch one movie a month?

I don't think he liked it when I turned his Logic back on him. I guess he wasn't going to make any money off the free package. But then, maybe I'm being judgmental. Maybe he was being rude for some other reason.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Comic Book Movies on Cable

I have to say, I was pretty impressed with Painkiller Jane which debuted Saturday night on the Sci Fi Channel. For something that premiered on cable, it was actually pretty good. If you missed it, it's supposed to be showing again Thursday night. Although it was obvious from the movie, the buzz is that they'll probably use it as a pilot for a series. If the series is as well made as the movie, I'll be watching it.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Corporations are wierd.

Came across a couple of odd things tonight.

First, I collect non-sports cards. What I buy mainly falls into the realms of movies and comics (I'm sure that comes as a surprise). Tonight, I bought a pack of Topps Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith Widevision Movie Cards.

These types of cards typically contain a special insert that appears only one in so many packs. For example, these packs could contain a) Motion Flix-Pix cards with the odds per pack of finding one 1 in 9; or b) Chrome Art Cards with the odds per pack of finding one 1 in 6. Sadly, this pack contained no insert. However, the package notes: No Purchase Necessary. The back notes that you can send away for a chance to get these cards with the same odds. I could send up to 8 entries, with each having this chance to win an insert. Unless I'm Canadian. This is where it gets wierd. The last 2 sentences say, and I quote:

Potential Canadian winners will be required to first correctly answer a mathematical skill-testing question. Include on a 3 x 5 card the answer to the following skill-test question: 5 + 4 x 2 - 8 = ?

What?!? I am completely at a loss here. So basically, if you're American and stupid, you can get a chance to get these special inserts, but if you're Canadian, you have to be smart to get a chance? I have no idea what that's about. I'll have to ask some of my Canadian friends to see if they have any idea.

Secondly, we had a small superglue debacle tonight. Whenever my wife uses superglue, I suggest that it might be better if I were the one to do the gluing. Last time she ended up with three of her fingers bonded together. Tonight nothing got stuck together, but she had quite a few fingertips covered with 3M Super Glue Gel. So, to help, I thought I would go on-line and search for remedies for superglue on skin. I came across this handy item on the offical superglue site:

If lips are accidentally stuck together, apply a generous amount of warm water and encourage maximum wetting and pressure from saliva from inside the mouth. Peel or roll (do not pull) lips apart. It is almost impossible to swallow the adhesive as a liquid. The adhesive solidifies upon contact with saliva (moisture) and could adhere to the inside of the mouth. Saliva will lift the adhesive in 1-2 days, avoid swallowing the adhesive after detachment.

I'm not even going to ask.

All I Want for Christmas...

It's the time of year for giving. And, yes: getting. I've been working hard over the past year on being more generous, but that doesn't make it any less fun to open presents. Today, I got my first Christmas present of 2005; it was from my brother. It was a (drumroll):


I hadn't actually seen one of these, yet (well, except on the internet). I can't wait to place him next to my Darth Tater in my office at work. (Note the laser masher.)

Stop, rebel fries!

Saturday, December 10, 2005

More Comic Book Films

My two favorite mediums are movies and comic books. Most of all, I love movies based on comic books. One of my favorite past-times is finding little-known comic book movies (superhero movies count, even if they're not based on comics). Whether it's the movie that's not well-known (The Return of Captain Invincible), or the comic (Mystery Men), or both (American Splendor), it's just something I enjoy doing. As you can tell, I also like to review them. (Sorry for the shameless self-promotion. Hey, that's alliterative! Hey, alliterative's a word!).

The Sci Fi Channel has been jumping on the bandwagon lately. In April, it premiered Man-Thing, based on the Marvel comic, which was coming out on DVD a month later. I was finally able to see it. I had it TiVo'd it back when it premiered, and finally tried to watch it a few weeks ago, but about 10 minutes into it, I realized it was very edited (very edited? I'm sure somewhere a copy editor is having convulsions). So this weekend I finally got the DVD from the rental store. It was edited for good reason - being a horror film, it's a pretty solid R and cable wouldn't have been able to show it uncut. It was better than I thought it might be for a straight-to-video. My review is at the above link.

I haven't had a chance to watch it yet, but as coincidence would have it, I was scrolling through upcoming events on Sci Fi Channel and Cartoon Network last night, and found that Sci Fi was premiering Painkiller Jane today. From what I can tell, this is a comic book previously published by Event Comics (which I can't even find when Googled), but now seems to be with Dynamite Comics? Sounds complicated to me. I don't know anything about it, except what I've seen in the movie previews, but my curiosity is peaked. If you're interested in seeing it, it will also be on at 9 (Eastern?) Thursday night (Dec 15).

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Rankin Bass, Stop Motion, and Toy Collecting

Remember those old Rankin Bass specials when we were growing up? They were always my favorite, especially the stop motion specials: Santa Claus is Coming to Town, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, The Year Without a Santa Claus, Rudolph's Shiny New Year. We were recently watching the original Rudolph (where he goes to the Island of Misfit Toys), and there's a doll there that doesn't seem to fit in with the misfits (like the Charlie-in-the-box or the elephant with pink spots). We re-wound it a number of times, and couldn't figure out what was wrong with her. Well, apparently, we're not the only ones that had this question. This article sheds a little light on the subject.

I was recently listening to The Wall and was surprised at the parallels between that story and Rudolph. Both are about misfits that are rejected by society for being who they really are. Of course, Rudolph has a happier ending.

I'll definitely never make it as a prognosticator. This is the story of my life as a collector. I see lots of things that I want, but, of course can only buy a few. It always seems to end up that the things I do buy never are worth much, but the things I don't always seem to go up in value. Maybe it's just Murphy's Law. Maybe I should create a new one:

Chester's Law: The things that you don't collect will tend to increase in value, while the things you do collect tend to depreciate.

Anyway, case in point. A couple years ago, I had the chance to buy set of action figures from The Year Without a Santa Claus - you know, the one with the Heat Miser and the Snow Miser? Well, I didn't buy them when they came out, but now that I think they would make neat Christmas decorations, the Heat Miser and Snow Miser sets have tripled in value and and are going for $50-$60 on eBay. Of course, the Abominable Snowmonster that I did buy a few years ago is going for around $10. I guess I was never intended to make it as a toy investor.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

'Tis the Season for Plastic Surgery?

Ok, why does it seem like I've been hearing a lot more ads on the radio about cosmetic surgery. Is this really a popular Christmas present?

Overheard on one commercial:

Who better than your plastic surgeon to guide you through what modern medicine has to offer?

Hmmmm...who better?

Same day, different radio station, different doctors:

We think of ourselves as not only surgeons, but also artists.

I think you're going to have to find a different canvas, buddy...

What disturbing times we live in.

'Tis the Season for Processed Meats

This is my favorite time of the year. For lots of reasons. One of those reasons is processed meats. Beef jerky. Summer sausage. Hunters sausage. Pickled bologna. It's all good.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

God, Beauty, and Pink Floyd

Lately, what music has brought my mind to God more than any other?

Pink Floyd.

The other day, I was driving home from work, listening to the local classic rock station, and Breathe from Dark Side of the Moon came over the radio. The music brought a smile to my face. It calmed me during a stressful ride home. It made me think about the beauty God has created in this life. The awesome gift of music that He has given us. The amazing talent He granted to Waters, Gilmour, Wright, Mason, and others on the album.

A couple days later, I was listening to A Momentary Lapse of Reason. Lately, it seems like believers are taking more of an interest in the plight of people in the world around them. (I'd like to throw in a finally here, but I'm pretty much behind the curve, so that'd be the pot calling the kettle black.) It seems odd that we would need this turning point, considering the importance Jesus placed on helping those in need, but it seems like these times have seen many of us turning a blind eye to the helpless. And as the fifth track on the album began to play, I was reminded how it seems like everybody's doing it. Almost as if we have some sort of subliminal pusher: Come know you want to...just ignore that homeless guy...forget the fact that you're more affluent than most of the rest of the's not your fault...

The words just kind of echoed in my head.

On the turning away,
From the pale and downtrodden...

It seems Jesus and David Gilmour agree on this one.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

First Fridays in Florence

I love alliteration.

We enjoyed First Friday last night in downtown Florence. Businesses are open late, artists are selling their art outside, local musicians are playing. I have to say I'm disappointed that we waited until it was cold outside to check it out, but we still had some good conversations with some artists braving the cold visiting from Huntsville, and we once again enjoyed the Dark Chocolate Decadence coffee from Shaolin Computers. Nolen Cole Gallery was hoppin' with live music. In the future we'll have to make sure we make more time to just walk around and see what's going on.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Beautiful Petoskey

Spent the Thanksgiving holiday in Michigan.

First went to visit Krista's sister (Shara) and her family in Petoskey. They have five girls under the age of 8. Right now, one's enough for me. In twelve years, Pete (Shara's husband) will have 5 teenage girls (but I'm not going to tell him that). I thought it would be chaotic, but it wasn't. Pete and I spent hours talking theology. It was a great trip and we had a blast with the whole family.

A few photos:

The view from their backyard.

Waterfall in a nearby park.

A bridge in the same park.

Driving through Petoskey

Afterwards we drove further south and visited my family. A picture from a night in Flat Rock, MI:

Snowy Michigan night.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Thankful for Babysitters

I love watchdog organizations. Especially the ones that can help me be a good dad. I'm glad the Parents Television Council is there to tell me that The Ghost Whisperer is the #4 family friendly prime time show. It's creepy, sexy Jennifer Love Hewitt talks to dead people, and it contains only "minimal foul language [and] mild violence..." American Idol is just above it at #3. I guess that makes sense. Its message that you too can be successful; though talent alone won't get you anywhere - you've also got to have the right look is one that kids probably won't otherwise pick up in our culture that looks so far beyond the surface.

And now, W.A.T.C.H. (world against toys causing harm, inc) tells me that the Fantastic 4 Electronic Thing Hands is the 9th most dangerous toy for 2005. They are dangerous because the giant fists might be used to hit something. It's this kind of research that makes me appreciate how much less responsible I need to be with these analytical minds doing my job for me.

In a completely unrelated story, the Toy Industry Association had named the Electronic Hulk Hands the "Boy Toy of the Year" for 2003.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


How many stores are opening early on Thanksgiving so that people will start their holiday shopping not on the day after Thanksgiving, but the day of Thanksgiving? I guess the retailers will be giving thanks this year.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


It's the second time I've quoted him in about a week, but...

Quote of the Day
...there is no gift of telling everyone else what to do.
-Greg Newton, Travelers Blog

Friday, November 18, 2005

The Perfect Storm

I recently finished reading StormFront: The Good News of God. It's an exceptional book, describing the idea that the main point of what God has done isn't so that Christians everywhere could go to Heaven, but so that we could be workers in God's kingdom, meeting the needs of people on this earth and sharing Jesus rather than keeping Him to ourselves. (Although, that's a bit of oversimplification.) Considering it's subject matter, I think it could be a bit more accessible - it's more an academic essay than anything - but I think it's message supercedes the writing level, and if you can spend some time with it (it's definitely not an easy read), it's worth it. As most of us have, I've spent the primary part of my life thinking that Christianity is about me. I think I agree that it's about time we've begun to focus outward.

Quote of the Day
The gospel sees our humanity not in terms of needs to be met, but in terms of capacities and gifts to be offered in God's gracious service. We are created not to consume but to know God, not merely to meet our own needs but to participate in God's life and mission.
-from StormFront: The Good News of God

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

I'm on fire!

Whenever I see a marquee like this one, I can't help but analyzing it by asking two questions:

1. What are they trying to say?

2. Who is the intended audience?

I've been wracking my brains with this one, and the best I can come up with is:

1. You better get to church or you know where you'll be going to next.

2. Guilt-ridden ex-churchgoers.

I really can't imagine someone who's never known Jesus driving by that sign, slamming on the brakes (doing a 180-degree turn in the middle of the road), turning into the parking lot and asking to be saved.

I can almost see (not really, but work with me here) someone having a lot of guilt about not going to church and this pushing them over the edge.

I'm not sure why I always think these signs are trying to say something about going to church (as opposed to searching for God or trying to know Jesus).

Either way, I don't think it's the way I'd try to reach people, but that's just me.

And yes, that is the same sign as I talked about in my previous post. Guess they've ignored my pleas. Or maybe they don't read my blog. (No, that can't be it.)

Quote of the Day
I'm glad someone is creating charts about being incarnational.
-Greg Newton, Travelers Blog

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Tip of the Day

I've recently been convicted that I need to change my tipping habits. I've been a server before - I know that servers make around 1/3 of the minimum wage that other people earn. I've always (to my wife's chagrine), had a commitment to high tipping. If service is neither laudable nor horrible, I usually leave 15%. Meaning, if they did the job poorly, but had a really good, helpful attitude; or if they were efficient, but had a bad attitude, I leave what I consider to be "the minimum". If service is excellent, I tip 18-20% or more, depending on the setting, the price of the bill, and a number of other random factors.

However, I've always thought (even with my experience waiting tables) that it is my duty both as an American citizen and a consumer to tip poorly if the service is deplorable. When I worked as a server, I felt that if I couldn't do my job well, I didn't deserve the tip. When I tip low for bad service, I have the ability to send a message that "yes, you sucked at this, and I'm making my opinion known." I understand that messages are not always received as the giver intends, but that's beside the point I'm trying to make.

The issue here is, I am first and foremost the citizen of another kingdom. As such, I need to be living by the rules of that kingdom. I need to remember who I'm representing, and what kind of message I need to be sending with my actions. I think if we look at the life of Jesus and the example He set, it's easy to see what kind of message we need to send.

I've rethought my position on tipping, and I think that I'll still be tipping high if I really like the service; but (again, to my wife's chagrine), I won't be tipping low if I don't.

double-u double-u double-u

I sometimes love the fact that if you are looking for something on the internet, you don't even have to use Google. Just type in just about anything you're looking for, but a "www" in front, and a "com" in the back, and voila! There it is. Not being able to find a word in Miriam-Webster's on-line Thesaurus, I typed in and found the word I needed in seconds.

If you have no idea what a company's or a movie's website is, you often don't have to know it's address; just sandwich it in between those 6 letters and there it is. It doesn't work all the time, though. Looking for the website for the movie Sideways, I tried and, before I finally had to use Google to find it at And I won't even go into the story about the woman I work with that found out the hard way (at work) that you need to type in the full name to get to the website for Dick's Sporting Goods ( But it tends to work more often than not...

Have I asked this before: Ain't the internet grand?

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Shaolin Computers

Last Saturday evening, we were in downtown Florence (Alabama), and we stopped in at Shaolin Computers. We met Chris and Angela Webb, who own the store, and enjoyed talking with them for a while. They let Julianna run around, looking at everything, while we downed a couple of Dark Chocolate Decadence coffees. They've got a beautiful store, and if you live in the area, you need to stop by just to take a look - the store looks like an art gallery with some amazing pieces (such as a water-cooled computer). It sounds like their biggest offerings will be custom computer design and networking, but they'll be providing a number of services; take a look at this excellent piece of writing in the Times Daily for a little more detail. We're looking forward to going back, if nothing else for the coffee and atmosphere.

To see some of the work they had to do to get the store set up, take a look at Chris's blog.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Weird Search of the Night

Hypothetical situation.

You are trying to find the Veggie Tales Silly Song, The Bunny Song (about eating a chocolate bunny).

You do a search on Yahoo! using the four words:

want don't bunny eat

The first thing you find on the list is my blog.

Ain't the internet grand?

(Actually, somebody recently did that search on Yahoo! and linked to my blog from it; I'm just assuming they were looking for that song...)

Fascinated by this revelation, I Googled lightsaber spoon to see if the Museum of Pop Culture came up. Alas, not until page 57. (Well, I get up to page 11 if I put it in quotes.) Well, at least if I do batman cereal, I'm on page 1.

Note: When you start to dream while you're awake, it's time to go to bed. Enough blogging about my blog. I'm boring myself.

Good Night.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Retractions II

  • Pictures seem to be working again.

Weapons of Medieval Destruction

caltrop ('kal-tr&p), noun. a device with four metal points so arranged that when any three are on the ground the fourth projects upward as a hazard to the hooves of horses or to pneumatic tires

I don't know what sadist engineered my daughter's butterfly hair clips, but these sharp, metal, half-inch-sized caltrops seem like they were designed with pain in mind rather than hair. I think I caught one of my action figures using one as a weapon.
* * *
There has been a little curiosity about my profile (very little, but I thought I'd share anyway). One of my fondest memories in college is of going down to the game room and playing Street Fighter II - I don't know why I tend to be drawn to the token large, hairy, monster in the games that I play. When the cool action figures came out a few years ago, I had to have my own Blanka.


  • I was able to get the batteries back we left at the checkout at Target. (I feel $2 richer!)
  • After my genius wife got on the phone with Dell, and figured out we had a bad power supply, she bought a new one off eBay, got it in the mail, installed it herself, and now we are up and running again.
  • We've had some nice 70-degree days, so I guess I can't complain that Alabama has no in-between weather.
  • But I still think nobody's going to haul anything in that Cadillac pick-up.

No Flash Photography.

My wife let my daughter pick what cereal she wanted when we went to the store today. I guess somebody decided Froot Loops weren't sweet enough. They came home with Marshmallow Froot Loops.

Pictures aren't uploading to blogger right now. I hope it's not my computer. I'll have to finish this tomorrow night...

Saturday, November 05, 2005

But it keeps me up at night.

Why is it that any time I go to a fast food restaurant and order a hamburger with ketchup, mustard, and extra pickles, the person making the burger is intent on supplying me with extra ketchup, extra mustard, and extra pickles?

Other mysteries of life pale in comparison to this conundrum.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Falling Back

It's nice to have a good night's sleep, get up early, make a pot of coffee... Of course, we'll still probably be scrambling to make it to church on time in two hours. But that one night doesn't seem to be a good trade off for going off of Daylight Savings Time and losing, it seems, that extra hour we have of light every night just when the days are getting that much shorter. There's nothing like getting to work when it's dark, and leaving when it's dark. I'll just have to be that much better at making sure I take some time out for lunch during the day.


Took my daughter to the new Wallace and Grommit movie yesterday. About two-thirds of the way through the film, when Julianna was saying, "This movie is taking a long time," I was starting to think that it wasn't as good as I thought it would be. But it completely redeemed itself with the final 15 minutes which was completely worthy of a Wallace and Grommit film. I'll have my stop-motion fix for awhile, especially if I get to see Corpse Bride this week.


Technology: You can't live with it, you can't live without it.

-Earlier this week, the power supply on our home computer went out. I hope that's what it was since we're buying a new one from eBay which should be here in the next few days. We can access the internet through other computers, but all our pictures are on there, our budget spreadsheet, everything important. I hope the hard drive's intact. I was just thinking a couple weeks ago that we needed to back it up but hadn't done anything about it. Maybe this is a good reminder.
-This morning the batteries were dead in the digital camera. I couldn't take a picture of the cool Batman sucker I picked up at Cracker Barrel yesterday. What's cool about it is not the sucker part, but the fact that there's a working Bat Symbol that you can shine out of the base. Unfortunately, I'll have to wait to put it into the Museum until I get a halfway decent set of AAs. The most frustrating thing is that I bought a few "Energizer Gold" batteries yesterday at Target and I think I left them at the checkout (there's $2 down the drain). Also, the set of brand new regular Energizer batteries we just bought didn't have enough juice to take a single picture. I hope our camera's not on the blink, too.
-Then this morning, MusicMatch Jukebox wouldn't play the Zoe CD I put in. Sure, Windows Media Player worked just fine, but I'd rather use MusicMatch than another Microsoft product.

The more we rely on technology, it seems, the more annoyances it causes when we don't have it. It's funny how our problems are all relative and seem so much bigger the more time passes from real disasters and we, once more, get bogged down in our own lives.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

A Variety of Moods

I can't stand it when people are incompetent. My wife constantly reminds me, "There's no incompetence in heaven." Sometimes that's a little comforting. I know that sounds judgmental and (a little) arrogant, but you know what I'm talking about - when someone around you does something so completely stupid because they're just not paying attention to what they're doing, or because they don't care, or...they're incompetent. This weekend, we were leaving the hospital the afternoon after my niece was born and we were driving out of the parking garage. It costs $1 to get out - there's a little machine just inside a gate that takes your dollar then lifts up the gate and lets you out. So I tried to put a dollar in, but it wouldn't work. No matter how I turned it or straightened it or crumpled it, the stupid machine wouldn't take my dollar. Then I heard the lady in the car behind me yell, "The gate's already up!" Oh. Oops. They must not leave the gate down during the day on the weekend. I think I hate it most when I'm incompetent.

I used the word serendipitously in an e-mail yesterday. It made me happy. (I looked it up later to make sure the word existed and I used it right.)

I was excited today when a friend at work gave me a small bag of antelope jerky. It saddened me to realize that I have no self-control when I ate the whole thing in about half an hour.

Why doesn't Alabama have any in-between weather? Last week the highs were near 90 degrees. This week the highs are around 60. A few days in the 70s would be nice.

Last week I saw a Cadillac pickup truck. Why do you buy a Cadillac pickup truck? Who's going to haul something in a Cadillac pickup truck? I just don't see the point. Today I saw a Cadillac station wagon. For some reason that just seemed inherently wrong.

Continuing with the theme that God gave us our gifts and talents to use for His glory, I was listening to the local Christian radio station - 88.1, WAY FM - and they were giving away a children's DVD. I normally don't try to be the "8th caller" or whatever, but I still had the phone number in my cell from last week when I tried to win tickets to a concert my wife and brother and sister-in-law talked about going to anyway, so I thought, I'll call for my 3-year-old daughter. When I heard the ringing, I got nervous and almost hung up (I knew I'd say something stupid if I got on the radio) - then I heard "you're the 8th caller!" So I said the obligatory stupid things and they took my name and I stopped by the radio station during lunch and picked up the Veggie Tales movie, Lord of the Beans. It was about using our gifts, not for ourselves, but for others. I think I'm beginning to get the picture.

Quote of the Day
Don't condemn others, and God won't condemn you. God will be as hard on you as you are on others! He will treat you exactly as you treat them.
-Jesus, in the famous Sermon on the Mount

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Who is in the details?

My niece was born this morning. She looks likes like her Daddy, but we're hoping she sheds that pretty fast. Ha. She really is a beautiful little girl, and we're thankful, along with her Mommy and Daddy that everything went well with little Ella.

It's easy (for me anyway) to see God in the big and obvious things. In the births, in that amazing worship service, in that sweet old lady that you know that would give anybody anything. Even in sunsets and starry skies. It's not always easy to remember to see God in the little things. In that dandelion that keeps creeping up in the yard; in that annoying man downtown who's always walking around asking for a handout; in that baby after she's 6 months old, keeping you up at night; in whatever work God has blessed your hands with to keep busy. Or in something as simple as the ability to write. Sometimes (rarely) when I sit in silence, I can realize that these things are gifts from God. That everything we have we owe to Him. That our talents and abilities are God-given, and in using them we can express His glory.

Sometimes God gives little hints to remind us of these things. That
blog about how creative pursuits can reflect our spirituality; that song that keeps playing (at the oddest times) over and over and over on the radio, asking "What's your story?"; that girl who talked about giving life to her thoughts, feelings, and experiences; that book that tells you that you have a story To Be Told.

It's amazing how good we've become at roping things off - putting each thing in our life in it's discrete little box where it doesn't have to affect anything else. I have my Home Life, my Work Life, my Social Life, my Church Life. It's amazing how we are so good at compartmentalizing the different parts of our existence (kind of like how this blog is starting to sound like a bunch of unrelated paragraphs). On my commute home, I stop my Work Life and start my Home Life. Sunday night, I stop my Church Life and start my Work Life. Friday night, I stop my Work Life and start my Social Life. When I read about how the followers of Jesus lived 2000 years ago, I start to believe they didn't live like this. Their passion filled every compartment of their life; it overflowed into everything they knew. I think we miss that today. I don't know if that's our American culture privatizing each little part of our lives, or our modern existence rationalizing a place for everything and everything in its place.

Basically, we forget that God is everywhere. We should see him in our Home Life, our Social Life, our Work Life, and yes, where we often fail to bring him - our Church life.

In this, God has helped me, little by little, to remember that He isn't a part of my life. He is what my life is about. This is one of the things this little bit of writing has done for me. Helped me to think about God more; helped me to be more cognizant of Him as I go through my daily activities.

So I have two things in the forefront of my mind to be thankful for today: what God has taught me through my writing, and for a new beautiful baby girl brought into the world.

Quote of the Day the LORD your God with all your heart, soul, and strength. Memorize his laws and tell them to your children over and over again. Talk about them all the time, whether you're at home or walking along the road or going to bed at night, or getting up in the morning. Write down copies and tie them to your wrists and foreheads to help you obey them. Write these laws on the door frames of your homes and on your town gates.
-Moses, relating the words of God to His people

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Hi. My name is Jim...

...and I'm a merchandising junkie.

I don't know what it is...I'm not a sucker for advertising. But slap that Bat Symbol on a pile of dirt, and I'm there. Not so much any'll be amazed at how bringing a child into this world curtails the purchasing of unnecessary material goods. But, I'm still a sucker for tie-ins. Particularly if they're bat-related. You've already seen the cereal. Now here's my soup. And, to be honest, I was a little (just a little) bit disappointed when I found out my 3-year-old got to eat it.

I thought this was one of the coolest send-aways I've seen in a while (from Crispix, with two UPC symbols and $6.99). It's an R2-D2 dome that doubles as a cereal bowl. The mini lego AT-AT is in the foreground for comparison. The diameter of the bowl is nearly 9 inches. Now that's what I call a cereal bowl. You can't really see it, but when you push down on the bowl, a red light flashes in the base while it makes R2-D2 sounds. That's just plain cool.

And of course, I can't get enough at the store, so what did I carve in my pumpkin this year? I'm so ashamed...(ok, maybe I'm not).

Old School. No kit. No pattern.
Just a pencil and the knife from the silverware drawer.

Sunday, October 16, 2005


A couple months ago, I told my wife I was going to single-handedly bring back memory verses. You know, kind of how Brian Setzer single-handedly brought back swing music? Remember when we were kids and had to memorize a verse from the Bible each week for Sunday School? Yeah, I barely remember it, too, but I'm wondering why it's not done any more. It was before I was supposed to teach our Sunday morning class that I had this wonderful revelation. Well, I have failed to single-handedly bring back memorization of parts of the Bible for two reasons. One, I'm not the only one pondering this line of thought. And two, I failed to mention it during any of the four weeks that I taught class in the month of September.

I think there's a lot of value to memorization, and I'm sad to see it's decline over the last 20 years (at least from what I have seen in my experience). I think, spiritually, anyway, it's more a means to an end than an end in itself. I remember scripture memorization in college (Freed-Hardeman University). I didn't see the point then (and, in a way, still don't - is it such a great idea to cram 20 verses of I Kings in your head on a Thursday morning just so you can write it down 10 minutes later on a piece of paper, get an “A” and forget it by Thursday afternoon?).

Obviously, there's a higher purpose. I think the real power of memorization is when we can hide the Word in our hearts permanently. If we can hold on to that scripture, not just memorize it for a day, week or month, but truly hide it away in our hearts, it’s there; we can access it any time for prayer, for meditation, for evangelism. Knowing Psalm 23 can give you comfort. Bringing to mind Phillipians 4:13 can give us strength when we need it most. I've already "re-memorized" the 23rd Psalm, and I've decided that I also need to memorize Psalm 51. These are daily habits that can have great power in our lives. And apparently, I'm not the only one who thinks so. In an odd string of degrees of separation, tonight I was reading Edward Fudge's graceEmail Family Notes (dated September 23) in which he quoted Greg Newton. Following the link to Greg Newton's blog (Travelers), I connected to another blog from Greg's - Frank Bellizi's. In Frank's last blog, on October 12 (and on the 10th), Frank had written a little bit about memorization, and linked to a rather interesting article titled In Defense of Memorization. Which brought me back to some thoughts I had written down sometime toward the end of August.

It always fascinates me how God works. Take a look at that's spectrum is a bit broader than mine, but it's interesting reading nonetheless.

Quote of the Day
Then I saw all the work of God, that a man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun. For though a man labors to discover it, yet he will not find it; moreover, though a wise man attempts to know it, he will not be able to find it.
-The Preacher (from Ecclesiastes)

Coming Out of the Fog

I was pretty excited to be laid up all weekend - I think I had the flu. What I thought was a cold on Friday turned into a cold with fever on Saturday. I don't know if the self-diagnosis holds, but that's my story...

Some things I got to do while (mostly) laying around:

  • Well, before I realized I was really sick, I went to the pumpkin patch with the family. Oops; hope I didn't get anyone sick.
  • Missed going to the UNA homecoming game Saturday night. I'm not big on sports, but I've never been to a live college football game, so I thought it'd be fun. Maybe next time.
  • Slept.
  • Finally watched a couple of episodes of Numbers, but, even though I'm a math geek, wasn't overly impressed.
  • Got halfway through the new Harry Potter book.
  • Watched the Shaq blockbuster Steel. Wrote my first comic book movie review since watching Sin City. (OK, by the time I got around to writing the review, I was sitting up and feeling better).
  • Looked forward, with fondness, to going to work Monday morning. (Maybe that's a stretch.)

Not a very exciting weekend, but I am definitely praising God for helping me to pick up with my writing. I think it's what is going to help me keep my sanity.

Quote of the day
You're not going're going sane in a crazy world!
-The Tick, The Tick vs. The Idea Men

Thursday, October 13, 2005

That Literally Begs the Question: Is Literacy Dead?

When people use words or phrases incorrectly, it’s like nails on a chalkboard to me. I practically feel the hairs rising on the back of my neck. I don’t have that much of an issue with grammar – I think I’ve grown out of that. Do you use ain’t? Do you put the preposition at the end of the sentence? Do you use who when you should be using whom? These things don’t bother me…heck, I can’t keep that last one straight most of the time. Recently, though, I’ve noticed a few trends when we communicate with each other. And they really bother me. Why? I don’t know, but I think it’s because we’re trying to communicate! How are we supposed to communicate with each other, when people don’t know what they’re talking about?

For example, lately, I've been hearing people use the term "begging the question" in reference to suggesting or raising a question: The fact that so many people use poor grammar begs the question: are our schools doing their job? I began to get this weird nagging in the back of my mind that became a little louder each time I heard the phrase used that way. An uncomfortable feeling, telling me, “no…that’s not right.”

So I looked it up, and remembered from my college Logic classes – that’s not what “begging the question” means. Begging the question is a logical fallacy (a flaw in a logical argument). Like ad hominem (“attack the man” – where you respond to an argument, not by attacking the argument, but the person making it – see many political debates), or hasty generalization (where you make assumptions on an entire population based on a small group; a lot of prejudice and racism comes from this one). Begging the question is when you assume the conclusion in your premise. (Stay with me on this, it’s important.) For example, if I were to say, “You shouldn’t judge people by the way they talk because you’re not supposed to do that,” then in my premise (you’re not supposed to judge people), I am assuming my conclusion to be true (you shouldn’t judge people). In other words, you shouldn’t judge people, because you shouldn’t judge people. Whew. I just had to get that out. [Note: if you are a logic geek like me and want further reading, you could probably just google “beg the question”, but here are some interesting links anyway: World Wide Words and The Mavens’ Word of the Day (both treatments of the same topic, but more in depth).]

And what’s up with people using the word literally wrong? I received an e-mail today that talked about thousands of people that are “literally spread across the Huntsville area map.” I couldn’t get out of my head this giant map, a huge butter knife and…well, I’ll just stop there. A couple of years ago, I was sitting in a software class, and the instructor told us (as we were nearing the end of the day), “We’re literally sliding into home plate.” I’m glad I didn’t get any dirt on my khakis. It’s bad enough that people are using phrases to mean something they never did, but to use a word when they mean it’s opposite? It’s apparent that in both cases, they wanted to emphasize the figurative language, but couldn’t they have just used the word “really?” Maybe that’s just the new definition of literally…

*This blog blogged with MS Word.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

What's in God's wallet?

I passed by a church this morning in Muscle Shoals - the one on the corner of 6th St. and Wilson Dam Rd. (I don't remember what it's called) and I see this sign on their marquee:


I thought about that for awhile, and it really started to bother me. What kind of message is that? A message of conditional love?


I know they didn't mean that, but who is the sign for? Do people really think about what they are putting up when they try to find something cute to put on their church marquee? Do they really consider that they are sharing a message with everyone who doesn't know Jesus?

If you put the cute sayings on your church marquee, please, please, consider your audience.

Quote of the Day
God isn't late with his promise as some measure lateness. He is restraining himself on account of you, holding back the End because he doesn't want anyone lost. He's giving everyone space and time to change.
-Peter, in his first letter (that we have recorded)
What does that have to do with the price of gas in America?
A tale of two gas stations.

So, right after Katrina hit, and people further south in Alabama were worried about their lives and homes, up here in northern AL, we were worried about important stuff like gas prices. (Funny where we put our priorities.) Anyway, right about the time gas prices went up about $1 overnight, I was searching for a gas station whose prices hadn't gone up yet (I drive an hour and a half one way to work, so I go through a tank in about three days). I found this little place on the edge of Town Creek, AL that still had gas for $2.47, which was pretty exciting because I hadn't seen a place for less than $2.70 all morning. So I got in the shortest line behind an elderly gentleman in a white pickup truck and waited .

And waited.

And waited.

While it took everyone else about 3 or 4 minutes to pump, pay, and drive off, it must have taken him at least 10. So, hoping that the price would hold, and nervous like I had 4 cups of coffee (I just get tense sometimes), I finally got to the pump when he pulled away. The price was still $2.47. I put the nozzle in my tank and let out the breath I was holding when it still didn't change. I squeezed the nozzle, and...nothing.

Of course, when I went in to ask why it wouldn't work, I received the answer I knew was coming. I would have to wait - she was increasing the prices. I almost left on priniciple, but I needed gas so I paid my $2.74 without a smile, and left, vowing to never go back. I wasn't rude, but I wasn't very nice, so if I had it to do over again - I'd pray real hard.

But today I was given a better story. Running on fumes, I pulled into a gas station in Decatur, ready to pay my $2.75 (pretty good - $.12 less than the place I almost stopped at in Muscle Shoals a few miles back). But this woman comes running out, and I'm thinking, "Now what? I'm not going to be able to use my debit card and I don't have any cash." Yeah, I'm a positive thinker. She ran out and asked me to wait a few minutes because they're in the middle of dropping the gas prices. So I waited a few minutes, paid my $2.69 a gallon at the pump, went inside and thanked her and went on my merry way.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Breakfast with The Batman

My wife is awesome. We stopped by the store on the way home from church the other night and I told her to get me some cereal. My reply to her "what kind?" was "surprise me." So, she came out of the store with this...Nothing like Batman-shaped chocolate crunchies for breakfast. It's not as sweet as I imagined (not as sweet as, say, Cocoa Puffs or Cocoa Pebbles), but it's pretty good.

When we were in Franklin, TN Friday (going to the ZOE conference), we stopped by Target (of course, because we don't have one of those in Florence). Anyway, I saw some band-aids on sale. These weren't just any band-aids, however, these were Band-Aid Brand Adhesive Bandages in an 85th Anniversary Collector's Edition Collectible Tin. They had four tins...I was tempted to get the coolest one with the blue on it, but there was only one and it had a slight dent. It was then that I had the epiphany - Who cares?! They're band-aids! Does anyone really need a band-aid collectible tin? Ah...swept up in the tide of consumerism.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

It takes all kinds...

What an emotionally exhausting weekend. I've just come from ZOE Conference in Nashville (follow the link if you want to read about it - it's a worship conference whose theme this year was being "missional" - spending more time reaching out to the world, loving, sharing Jesus). So emotionally exhausting, in fact, that I spent the last 45 minutes of the trip home in a bad mood after an innocuous comment from my wife. What I first thought was my wife being insensitive, I later realized was me being overly sensitive.

I sometimes get frustrated with the lot God has given me personality-wise, but then I realize he has given us all gifts that we are to use for Him. (Through a Sunday night Bible study in the book of Ecclesiastes, God is letting me know just how logical it is for me to be trying to figure out what He does right and wrong.) I'm overly sensitive when it comes to criticism, particularly when it comes from someone as close to me as my spouse. But, I also tend to be sensitive to people's feelings, which, I guess, can help me reach out to others.
One of the most important lessons I learned this weekend was at Otter Creek Church this morning. Tim Woodruff, minister at Otter Creek, was talking about the importance of having elders who were safe and comfortable and elders who had a vision and would step out and take risks. The body of Jesus needs everyone, and God has given us different gifts and talents and personalities for a reason. Sometimes I forget that and am quick to judge personalities that don't mesh with mine, or personalities that don't always seem (to me) to fit into God's plan (such as being hypersensitive to the comments of others). Then God reminds me that there may be other times these personalities fit into His will (such as being sensitive to what people might be feeling).

Once again, the breadth of offerings at the conference this year was quite wide - different things will appeal to different people with different gifts, talents, and interests. The most amazing thing, I think, though, was that they all touched me somehow. To be honest, that's quite unusual for me; normally, I understand that different people will relate to different things and different speakers; and there usually are a few that (while rolling my eyes) I realize will probably relate to someone (else). Almost to my chagrine, there was nothing like that this year. From the worship and praise, to Mike Cope's speaking, to Jeff Walling's creative presentation of Matthew's account of the life of Jesus, to the dramatization of the women in the genealogy of Jesus, to the experimental mission lab I took part in (that story for a later day). Every different thing, intended to touch different people in different ways, all reached out to me creating this spiritual high that I think I crashed from on the way home this afternoon, thinking about going back to life, and work, and everything else...

Quote of the Day
We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.
-Paul, in his letter to the church in Rome

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Batman and eBay

I've been eyeing this cool Batman gumball machine for a number of years now, but since I first thought about getting one, the WB Studio Stores went out of business and the prices skyrocketed. It looks like prices have finally levelled out to about where they were back then (though I recently found one of these at a web-store for about $80). So, I finally broke down and picked this one up on eBay for under $30 with shipping (see the pic from the auction to the left). It's pretty sturdy - the globe is glass and the base is metal. I can't wait to find some Batman gumballs to put in it...

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Personal Demons

I have a problem with anger. I don't really have a temper, but I am easily frustrated and annoyed. As a matter of fact, at one point at work, I was often known to start conversations with, "You know what pisses me off?"

I'm fairly sure this isn't showing people what Jesus is like.

I think that having this kind of attitude is the opposite of being merciful. If my first response to incompetence or smugness or rudeness or anything else I don't like is anger, then showing mercy is the last thing on my mind. Quick to anger, quick to judge.

One thing I'm fascinated with is how relevant the teachings of Jesus are today. He said "Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy." I think he's not just talking about our final reward...I think he's talking about this life, too. His teachings are applicable to our lives because they are practical. I screw up enough; make enough mistakes in this life - I have huge need for mercy every day - from my family, from employers, from people I run into. How much less likely will I find people who will extend mercy to me if I'm not willing to do the same?

Jesus goes on to say, "You're blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That's when you discover who you really are, and your place in God's family." (I love how The Message says it here). Being quick to anger isn't a trait that lends well to being around people. I'm thankful that God is releasing me from this; sometimes it just isn't as fast as I'd like...and if I had today to do over again, I think I would have responded differently...

Quote of the Day
What I don't understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise.
-Paul, in his letter to the Christians in Rome

Monday, July 25, 2005

Voices in my Head.

Well, no...I'm not truly hearing voices in my head, but I have been trying to keep myself open to God's communication. I believe that there are opportunities out there for writing. More specifically technical writing. More importantly, I think God is letting me know that there are opportunities out there for technical writing.


Different. To me, anyway. Not something I have much experience with, but then I think that one of the great crimes of our rationlistic, humanistic society is putting God in a box.

Quote of the Day
We're all mad here.
-The Cheshire-Cat

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Wrestling with Sin (City)

Ah, the summer (or year) of comic book movies! Elektra in January. Constantine and Son of the Mask in February, Sin City in April, Batman Begins in June. Fantastic Four in July. V for Vendetta in November. Man-Thing somewhere in there, straight to video.

Throw in MirrorMask by comics favorite Neil Gaiman, Dr. Strange and Preacher that are both scheduled to be out sometime this year, and the superhero film Shark Boy and Lava Girl, and you've got quite a year for movies and comics. Something for everyone here. Elektra, Fantastic Four, Dr. Strange, and Man-Thing are all popular Marvel titles. Batman Begins is DC, but Constantine, V for Vendetta, and Preacher are all released under the DC: Vertigo Title.

But something's been troubling me since that first fateful day of April - opening day for Sin City, when I walked out of it contemplating life, Christianity, and spirituality. Sin City is excellent film noir. A finely crafted movie, with an interesting story, and probably the best comic influence in the film medium to-date (bringing the "feel" of the comic into the film - more impressive in my mind than American Splendor). But what to think of the movie from a moral sense? Something troubled me deep down - some feeling somewhere in my consciousness, my sub-conscious, or my conscience, I'm not sure. But it got me to thinking - is this the kind of movie that I tell people I saw? Is it the kind of movie I can glorify God with? Certainly, there is a subtle Good triumphing over Evil feeling to whole thing, but being film noir, it is quite subtle, and more hopeless than hopeful.

My writing's been spotty ever since, and my reviews and commitment to comic films has been lukewarm to say the least (I haven't written a review since Constantine). In an attempt to follow the flow of logic to its source, I asked, what could I articulate about the movie that bothered me? Well, answering that question has caused me no end of grief (maybe that's a strong word) since I tried to hash this thing out. There's some sex and nudity in the film, but the most obvious thing is the violence (and I've always had trouble with the "violence: good / sex: really bad" double standard). Anyway, there's a lot of violence in Sin City. Everyone in the movie solves their problems with violence - so I boiled my biggest issue down to: "glorification of violence". And that's where the trouble starts. You see, what comic book isn't about that? That's how Batman solves all his problems. So basically, the biggest problem I have with Sin City, I also have with The Batman on Saturday morning. I know a lot of people would think it's pretty stupid to compare Sin City to Batman cartoons...but I see a connection there.

So now I'm just in this movie limbo - I think I'm done with analyzing it; that get's me nowhere. If I give up Sin City, do I give up The Batman? If I give up all popular media do I give up being relateable? Maybe God has the answers if I just ask him...

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

I know everything!

We all think we know everything. Not in an intellectual sense, but in the sense that we think we have a good grasp of reality based on our limited experience. We think we know and understand life and reality based on what we have experienced. Didn't Aristotle say, Nothing exists in the mind that was not first in the senses?

In a sense, we are the sum of our experiences, so it makes sense that it is difficult to imagine a life beyond this one or even experiences beyond our own.

I'm not attempting to limit our imagination here. My only point is that we operate on the fact that our experiences have given us an accurate portrait of reality; but how could that be an accurate portrait if there is so much we haven't experienced?

This is even illustrated by modern phrases: "Getting perspective," "Seeing the big picture", "Not seeing the forest for the trees."

I was just thinking about how limited our view of life, and reality, and eternity is, and how easy it is to put so much focus and emphasis on this one little point in time when our life is but:

...a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.
-James, in his letter to the scattered Christians

If I seem to be waxing a bit too philosophical, blame it on Thomas a Kempis (The Imitation of Christ) and C.S. Lewis (The Screwtape Letters).

Sunday, May 15, 2005

If you don't forward this e-mail, you don't love Jesus...

I don't know what possesses people to continuously forward these e-mails. Well, that's not completely honest. I think their intentions are good. (I think) they want to spread the Message of Jesus.

But spreading the Message this way seems about as smart as sending invites to all your friends in the mail to get them involved with Amway.

On top of that, forwarding e-mails whose veracity you haven't checked (no, this painting is not going to be on a postage stamp), or that accuse me of not loving Jesus (if I don't forward it), seems to be a disturbingly poor way to spread any kind of good message.

With much restraint, I held myself from replying to the e-mail (which was on an e-mail group for our local church), pretending the following story (which I found on was true:

A woman came home to find her husband in the kitchen, shaking frantically with what looked like a wire running from his waist towards the electric kettle. Intending to jolt him away from the deadly current she whacked him with a handy plank of wood by the back door, breaking his arm in two places. Until that moment he had been happily listening to his walkman.

I don't know why, but I think that story is hilarious...particularly imagining that someone would think it might be true.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Fayetteville, TN

Well, Krista needed to get away, so we planned a small trip, going to Huntsville overnight, then to Fayetteville, TN yesterday. Yes, we went to Sir's (how can you go to Fayetteville and not?). We also went to Goodwill, where I picked up a bunch of shirts for a superhero quilt a good friend of mine is making for me.

We had lunch downtown at Honey's Restaurant. Good food and amazing prices. Try it if you're in town...