Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Monday, December 15, 2008
A few posts ago I mentioned a book I had just found about, The Saga of Beowulf. If you go to this blog http://authoradventures.blogspot.com/ and leave a comment before midnight New Years Eve you can win a copy of the book sent directly to you from the author. I usually refrain from plugging giveaways, but this is a first-time & self-published author who I really would like to see succeed.
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
His attorney, Sheldon Sorosky, said today, "He didn't do anything wrong. A lot of this is just politics." What a load of crap. Blagojevich has been under federal investigation for a huge list of crimes since 2002. Public officals usually aren't charged with any criminal activity until the are out of office, unless the wrongdoing is really bad. The only reason he was arrested today was because he was going to literally sell the U.S. Senate seat that Barack Obama resign from after being elected President. The Feds had seen enough and couldn't let that go on and the corruption run any deeper. The best thing to happen in Illinois in a long time is having Blagojevich arrested. Unfortunately, he won't resign and is so arrogant will probably try to use Illinois tax money to pay for all his personal lawyer fees.
I don't think there are any politics dirtier than in Chicago.
Monday, December 08, 2008
Friday, December 05, 2008
Yesterday I learned of a new novel that just came out a couple of months ago. It's entitled The Saga of Beowulf. The book combines all of the historical and mythological elements of Beowulf into a novel format. Check out http://www.fantasycastlebooks.com/ for more info. Anyone who likes Beowulf should give it look.
Monday, December 01, 2008
I never met Mr. Damour. But the story of his death this past weekend was one of the most tragic and sad things I've heard about recently. Trampled to death by a bunch of careless customers who wanted to spend money. It makes me sick even though it gives us a snapshot of just how screwed up our country has become.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Thanksgiving is next week. A few days after that is my birthday. I have a great deal to be thankful for. I have a job that, though it doesn’t pay very much, doesn’t leave me feeling miserable at the end of each day. I have a great family: parents, siblings, a few close cousins, etc. I’ve been able to see and experience some pretty amazing things in my life. I’ve dug for dinosaur bones, been the producer and co-host of an international award-winning radio program, and walked atop the white cliffs of
Yet, despite all of these blessings in my life, I find myself struggling to be content. Most of my friends from high school and college are now married and have families of their own. Most are earning incomes of thirty, forty, fifty, and some close to a hundred-thousand dollars a year. They have their own homes and drive around in vehicles that aren’t on the verge of breaking down and falling apart. Some have gone quite far in their chosen careers and are now in positions of power and prestige in their communities.
I try not to compare myself to any of that. But it’s extremely difficult sometimes. I was born poor. I’ve tried to rise above that while still truly living life to the fullest, but the fact is I’m still poor. I don’t own a home and though someday would like to, I know that it might be financially impossible for me to ever do that (besides I have wanderlust I constantly have to deal with). I drive a car that is seventeen years old; being poor and already in debt doesn’t allow for one to do buy new cars. As for matters of the heart, I’m pretty much a complete loser in that aspect and though I’m content being single, but I can’t deny that I’d really like to be married someday. As for careers, well, neither of the professions I chose to pursue thus far have turned out very well. I really want to make movies and write. I was supposed to go to film school several years ago, but gave that up to get a teaching certificate instead. I can make a great teacher, but that field hasn’t turned out very well and the politics of education in
Lately, I find myself thinking about Jesus’ parable of the talents (Matt. 25:13-30). In that parable a master gave one of his servants five talents, another two, and another one. He did this just before he left on a long journey that he might not come back from. But he came back and we he did he went to those three servants to see how well they did with what he gave them. The guy with five doubled his, the guy with two doubled his, but the guy with one buried his in the ground. The guy with five and two were rewarded but the guy with one was literally thrown to the wolves. I don’t think I’m like the guy who just had one and then hoarded it. I’ve never really imagined myself as the guy who was given five either. Instead, I’ve always felt I was more like the guy who was given two. He wasn’t given very much, but he doubled the investment by the time his master returned. The thing I keep thinking about is the servant who was only given two talents. He started out with only two while his friend was given five. The guy who was given five talents had a huge advantage over him. I know the master only gave them what they could handle, but that still doesn’t stop me from pondering what would have happened if the servant with two had started out with three talents instead of two.
As Thanksgiving approaches with my birthday soon after, I have to remind myself that I only have control over what has been given to me. Other people are not you. Even though I wrestle with tinges of jealousy when I see my bosses son’s new BMW or hear about another girl I was kind of attracted to now dating, engaged, or married to someone else or find out about a friend’s recent promotion, I won’t let those feelings of jealousy control me. I’ve lived, and not just existed, a pretty good life so far. I am blessed and God has been faithful. Despite not being where I would like to be or doing exactly what I want to, I know things are going to turn out. Life moves too fast for me to compare myself to others and I am what I am.
Friday, November 21, 2008
What a crock. First off, if you can only imagine what Heaven is like, then apparently you haven't read the Bible very well because there are some fairly vivid descriptions of certain things to be seen in Heaven. Besides that, if you can only imagine, then you haven't lived much of life, either. I'm not that old, yet, but there are times in my life during certain events and experiences that I know I've tasted a bit and been given a glimpse of Heaven here on Earth. Granted, sometimes it wasn't until after those moments had past that I realized the significance of what had happened. But still, it happened.
Perhaps instead of singing about only imagining, you should walk outside and actually do a bit of living, and not just existing, first.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
"I'm going to kill you dead in so many ways."
I think Uwe Boll can write better dialogue than that.
Monday, November 17, 2008
I recently finished reading a book that I really enjoyed. The book is entitled Jesus Made in America and is written by Stephen J. Nichols. It's a book that I think every Christian in the U.S. should read. Many of the Nichols' major points are things I have seen and felt, too, but he expresses them much better than I ever could. The book has eight chapters and is basically split in two distinct parts. The first four chapters focus on the history of Christianity in America and how Jesus has been viewed differently from the Puritans until now. The second half of the book (last 8 chapters) focuses on how Jesus has been used, abused, and debased in our culture, specifically through music, film and television, merchandise, and politics. I've selected a few passages that I found particularly relevant.
"Jesus, like most cultural heroes, is malleable....But there is something peculiar to the tendency to contemporize in American evangelicalism.....American evangelicals reflexively harbor suspicions of tradition. In fact, most tend toward being rabidly antitradition. Consequently, the past is overlooked as a significant source of direction. This leaves American evangelicals more vulnerable than most when it comes to cultural pressures and influences. In absence of tradition, we tend to make up a new one, one not tested by time and more or less constructed by individuals or by a limited community....This is the tendency of Americans in general to be not only amnesiacs of the past but to be amnesiacs who aren't necessarily looking to be cured." pp. 10-11 (emphasis mine)
On Contemporary Christian Music:
"All of these songs focus not on any act of God in history, not on the concrete events of Christ's life and death and resurrection. These songs all lack exactly what Jon Fischer lamented as a lamented as a great loss, linking Jesus' love not to anything done in history, but to the personal experiences of feeling Jesus near, of feeling him close during those hard times. Like a good boyfriend, Jesus shows up at the right moment, says the right thing and knows how to hug. Take out the name Jesus that occurs from time to time and these songs could be sung to a boyfriend....It becomes hard to not see triteness in much of the lyrics of CCM when so many artists speak so glibly and vaguley of the love of Christ, reducing it to romantic notions and mere personal experience. It also becomes hard not to see how this love sung by Christian artists is on par with the way love is handeled in the non-Christian songs adolescents also listen to....The longing to express a deep devotion to God is laudable. But caution enters in when that longing coms in a theological vacuum." pp.140-142
Importance of Nicaean and Chalceonian Creeds:
"American evangelicals have sterling proficiency in the realm of subjective and experiential. But not all of the answers to life's questions come from within or com from our own time. If American evangelicalism will ever land on that crucial life-giving Christology it will have to deal with the fifth-century council of Chalcedon as well as that fourth-century one at Nicaea....The Bible and these councils save us from our limited perspectives and our cultural static. In one sense, then, we can answer the question concerning how we construct or deposit of faith in the twenty-first century by telling ourselves that we don't have to start from scratch....These creeds and the biblical texts they are fashioned from provide the church with its perennial theology, which the church in any country in any century simply cannot afford to live without. From the vantage point of the past, we can cast a more critical eye on the present." pp.224-225.
"To start, it may be helpful to listen to Scripture first, then to tradition, then to experience rather than the more typical reversal of that order. Listening to tradition means not relying on our own resources to solve all of our own problems or answer all of our questions. It takes humility to look to the past. And it takes humility to submit to Scripture." p. 225.
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Monday, November 03, 2008
1. I dressed up like a penguin. I've been wanting to do that since I was three. It was also the first time I've dressed up for Halloween in about a decade.
2. I tried sushi for the first time in my life and enjoyed it. I look forward to trying it again in the future.
3. I was introduced to the the comedy duo "Flight of the Conchords" and loved them. They are hilarious.
4. I was introduced to the cable show GOOD EATS on the Food Network. It interests me very much. The host Alton Brown has lived a life and has a career that is similar to what I want to do
5. I ate a Chicago-style hot dog for the first time in my life.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
John McCain is supposed to have a feisty disposition; he's supposed to have a temper and when he gets angry and upset says some very colorful things. If this is true, and I have no reason to doubt that it is, where has McCain's disposition been the past eight months? I'm not that big of a fan of McCain, but it would sure have made things a lot more interesting if he was out running around the country spouting some of the things he's said on the Senate floor in the past. From listening to and watching him, I get the impression that he's pretending to be someone he thinks people want him to be instead of just being himself. We're coming up on the two-year mark of this election cycle and I'm kind of sick of it all, but it would have been much more entertaining to watch the past eight months if McCain would have just been McCain (anyone seen the SNL TV Funhouse from 8 years ago with McCain giving a speech supporting W.'s nomination?--hilarious?).
On the other side of the spectrum, should Barack Obama win the Presidential race, he will be the first person to have ever win a Presidential election running against a ghost (the ghost of George W. Bush).
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
Monday, October 06, 2008
Friday, October 03, 2008
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Dear friends and family,
I just wanted to let you know, I'm in another play. It's titled NEVER TOO LATE. I play one of the leads, Harry Lambert. The synopsis of the show is given below.
The story of NEVER TOO LATE follows middle-aged Harry who lives comfortably with his wife, Edith, and his 24-year-old solitaire-addicted daughter and her husband. Though rather sour and a bit mean, he is, in fact, content. When Harry finds out that Edith is pregnant again, he is anything but overjoyed. In addition to being startled by the unplanned pregnancy, his previously meek little wife begins to lay down the law. There is to be a nursery, a new bath and she is to start writing checks. Audiences will enjoy the Archie Bunker-like characters and hysterical story line.
Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Oct. 3,4,10, and 11 and 2:00 p.m. Oct. 5, 2008 at the Upper Elementary School Auditorium, 1800 Lindenthal Ave., Highland, IL 62249. I believe tickets are $9, $8 for seniors, and $7 for children. You can get more info at www.hardroad.org
I'm portraying a very different character than I've done before. If you can make it, I'd love to see some of you there!
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Sunday, September 14, 2008
I have a new director whom I admire: Danny Boyle. Boyle is best known for TRAINSPOTTING, a film I still need to see. I have seen 28 DAYS LATER and SUNSHINE, other pictures Boyle has directed, and was rather impressed. This afternoon I watched MILLIONS. Amazing! It's such a beautiful, touching, inspiring, uplifting, and imaginative film. MILLIONS is a great movie. I highly recommend it. I'd like to be a director like Danny Boy
Friday, September 12, 2008
On my blogs, I try to avoid writing about politics as much as possible. Politics is way, way too divisive. People pick a person, side, or issue and will say or do anything for what they have chosen without thinking one moment about what they are saying or doing. All the partisan bickering has divided this country so far down the middle that I don’t know if it will ever be possible to return to an era when most politicians were actually real statesmen concerned about the welfare of the country and its citizens instead of their own personal power. I know that politics has always been a game between those who were in it for the betterment of humankind and those who were in it just for their own ego and power trips. But, looking back through history it seems that there used to be, at least in the U.S., a time when there were more people in politics for the right reasons. Now it seems like the majority of the people in politics are power-hungry idiots.
Take for instance this recent statement made in Congress by Rep. Steve Cohen of Tennessee. “I submit to you, Mr. Speaker, that the parties have differences. But if you want change, you want the Democratic Party. Barack Obama was a community organizer like Jesus, who our minister prayed about. Pontius Pilate was a governor. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.”
There are two fallacies about that statement. The first is so obvious and ludicrous that I’m not even going to discuss it. You can figure it out on your own.
The second is a bit more subtle and it is the assertion that Jesus was a community organizer. Reading through the New Testament, I find it incredible that someone would describe Jesus as a “community organizer”, at least in the way most people view what a community is. It is true that Jesus was and is all about community, but it is a completely different type of community. The community Jesus was about was unearthly, not-of-this-world. It was a community that could only exist when each of its members were right with God, living in agape, and working together for a common purpose. But, when Jesus walked the Earth no one understood that. Instead of organization, wherever Jesus went there was chaos. Jesus said things that people didn’t like to hear, such as that if they truly wanted to be his disciple they would have to hate their family and even their own life. He promised people trials and tribulations. He drove away very profitable businesses out of the temple. He spent over three years of his life living as a homeless person and told a young, respectable, and wealthy citizen that the only way he could follow him was if he sold all of his possessions. True, people followed Jesus, but most did so out of curiosity. He had his disciples, but even his innermost circle and closest friends abandoned him during his trial. No one testified on his behalf and his most trusted friend denounced him three times and in doing so condemned him to die. On the day of his death no one was comforted. That really doesn’t seem much of a “community organizer” to me.
Monday, September 08, 2008
Monday, September 01, 2008
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Monday, July 28, 2008
"Hello, Benny," Mrs. Starrett said. Like Mrs. Douglas at school, she genuinely liked Ben. Grownups, especially those who sometimes needed to discipline children as part of their jobs, generally liked him, because he was polite, soft-spoken, thoughtful, sometimes even funny in a very quiet way. These were all the same reasons most kids thought he was a puke. "You tired of summer vacation yet?"
Ben smiled. This was a standard witticism with Mrs. Starrett. "Not yet," he said, "since summer vacation's only been going on"--he looked at his watch--"one hour and seventeen minutes. Give me another hour."
[...]He looked up after [reading] three chapters [of his book], and his eye was caught by a brand new display. The poster on top (the library was gung-ho for posters, all right) showed a happy mailman delivering a letter to a happy kid. LIBRARIES ARE FOR WRITING, TOO, the poster said. WHY NOT WRITE A FRIEND TODAY? THE SMILES ARE GUARANTEED!
Beneath the poster were slots filled with pre-stamped postcards, pre-stamped envelopes, and stationary with a drawing of the
Ben felt in his pocket. The remaining four cents of his bottle money was still there. He marked his place in Hot Rod and went back to the desk. "May I have one of those postcards, please?"
"Certainly, Ben." As always, Mrs. Starrett was charmed by his grave politeness and a little saddened by his size. Her mother would have said that the boy was digging his grave with a knife and fork. She gave him the card and watched him go back to his seat. It was a table that could seat six, but Ben was the only one there. She had never seen Ben with any of the other boys. It was too bad, because she believed Ben Hanscom had treasures buried inside. He would yield them up to a kind and patient prospector...if one ever came along.
This is me.
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Overall, I am a fairly optimistic person. I try to see the best in people and in circumstances. In general, I take people at their word unless they give me reason not to. I’m a joyful person (I was once nicknamed Mr. Joy). I am an extroverted-introvert and therefore despite my seeming reserve and shyness, love experiencing new things, going to new places, meeting new people, and making new friends. I truly believe that hope is one of the best things in the world and that love, usually in agape form, can conquer all. As an example, my favorite film of all the Star Wars films, much to the chagrin of other fans, is Return of the Jedi. That movie flows with messages about grace, mercy, redemption, the importance of not giving up, and ultimately good triumphing over evil. I have a worldview that reflects those values.
At the same time, I’ve lived through enough pain, sorrow, and sadness to know that the happy ending of Return of the Jedi (and most chick-flicks that so many of my female friends are fond of), isn’t what usually happens in life. Those endings reflect something within us all that tells us, “This is how the world SHOULD be.” We want the world to be like that. We want people to end up falling in love with the people they are supposed to and living happily ever after. We want adventure and romance. We know that there will be conflict, but we want things to work out in the end. Unfortunately, that’s not how the world usually IS. I’ve experienced enough and seen enough in my life to know that in the world in which I live bad things sometimes happen to very good people, nice guys often end up finishing last, and the good guy doesn’t always win.
I want to always be a hopeful, joyful, and happy person. Like most people (including Jesus just before his crucifixion) I’d prefer to avoid pain. I want to make others happy and see them smile. It troubles my heart every time I see someone suffering. I’ve yearned to be able to heal people in their sickness and like John Coffee in The Green Mile and take the sickness and suffering of others and bring in within myself. I’ve tried to keep a positive outlook on things, but despite my best intentions, I’ve digested a lot of the sorrow, suffering, and sadness I’ve seen and felt. I don’t think that’s a bad thing, necessarily. However, I do know it is a problem when I feed upon that darkness.
The darkness makes you strong, but it also turns your outlook of life into one of bitterness and apathy. Take my writing or conversations I had with friends a few years ago. I wrote some really powerful writing a few years ago and around the same time, some of my friends were telling me I should go into stand-up comedy. There’s nothing wrong with that either. The problem for me was that I was feeding on the darkness. I was drinking from it, which was emotionally and spiritually unhealthy, and much of what I wrote was very sad and much of what I said was extremely bitter and vitriolic. There was some truth to those thoughts, but just a nugget. That nugget of truth didn’t really mean much because it was cloaked with superficiality and wasn’t tempered with the joy and vitality that also surrounded me. It just wasn’t me.
That brings me to the crux of the matter which is the issue that I see as the defining issue of my life: temperance. Most people who hear that word think it has something to do with not drinking alcohol. That’s because some very well-meaning, though narrow-minded people took the word to define their crusade to ban alcohol. That’s unfortunate because temperance has so much more to do with living life than how much or how little alcohol a person drinks. I know that words change over time and sometimes lose their original meanings. Yet, words like people are redeemable and if nothing else, let it be known that I intend to redeem temperance to its original meaning.
Anyway, temperance means balance. Plain and simple. When something is tempered, metal for example, it is brought to as close to perfection as it possibly can. Living a temperate life means living a balanced life, and therefore living as close to perfection as one can.
I will never be perfect in this world. No matter how hard I strive and in all honesty, I don’t want to be perfect. I have just as many flaws and faults as anyone. I have been broken and battered. My heart has been crushed. People I’ve loved have died. I’ve seen other people I love suffer unnecessarily and there hasn’t been a thing I’ve been able to do. I’ve also hurt people, sometimes unintentionally, but sometimes intentionally. I can be selfish. I am proud and sometimes greedy. After all, I am human. But, I can and do strive to live the temperate life. I am in the world, but not of it. The great challenge of our lives is in attempting to reach temperance, to live in balance. Go too far one way and you become rigid, dogmatic, self-righteous, and pessimistic. Fall to the other extreme and everything is care-free and happy until the trials and tribulations of life start which then turns you bitter, jaded, callous, cynical, and pessimistic (both extremes lead to pessimism). I want to live in the middle. I want to enjoy each moment of life given to me, but not be crushed when the challenges of life set in. I want to live the temperate life.
So, go live life. Do the things you enjoy doing. Do the things you are called to do. Do things that make you and others around you happy. Be joyful and when the trials and tribulations come (for come they will), try not to fall too far from the middle. As Dr. Seuss wrote, "Step with care and great tact and remember that Life's a Great Balancing Act. Just never forget to be dexterous and deft."
Friday, July 11, 2008
7:30 pm July 25, July 26, August 1, August 2
2:00 pm July 27 & August 3
All performances are held at the Highland Upper Elementary Auditorium located at 1800 Lindenthal in Highland, IL 62249. www.hardroad.org
Also, next Thursday (July 17), we will be appearing on "Show Me St. Louis" at 3:00 pm on Channel 5.
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
#1 Pulp Fiction
#31 Brokeback Mountain
#36 Spider-Man 2
Pulp Fiction is a great movie. However, it's not the best film to come out in the past twenty-five years. Titanic as #3? Really? I'm sorry, that movie doesn't even belong in the top 100 movies of the past twenty-five years. It may have made more money world-wide than any one single film so far, but it really isn't that great of a movie. Same thing with Brokeback Mountain; the only thing people will ever remember about that movie is that it's about a couple of gay cowboys. As for Spider-Man 2, I think Spider-Man is a much better superhero flick than its first sequel.
#20 Beverly Hills, 90210
The television selection was much better for this list. I only have one complaint. I hate to admit it, but I watch most of the first season of Beverly Hills, 90210. Sorry, but it's definitely not one of the best 100 television shows of the past twenty-five years. It just isn't.
# 96 The Da Vinci Code
Once again, the book list is fairly good. However, there is one blatant book I have to disagree with. The Da Vinci Code? You have to be joking. This hodge-podge of a who-dunnit thriller may make for page-turning reading, but if it wasn't for the controversy the author purposely started, there wouldn't be anything to remember about the book. As a teacher of English, I can say with authority that it isn't written very well. The book will be forgotten in another ten years or less. I'm also disappointed that only one of Stephen King's books made the list (On Writing #21). King is not only a popular author, but his story-telling and writing skills are superb. He's already been added as a part of the official English canon in many schools and his works will continue to be published centuries after his death.
#1 Angels in America
Really? That's the best play you can think of that has been performed on American stages in the past twenty-five years? Even though I have an interest in theatre, there are lots of shows I haven't seen, but I will say that I've seen and read several that are better theatre than this seven-hour grueling marathon of a show.
Monday, July 07, 2008
Don't get me wrong. I know obesity is a problem in our country. We've become used to a sedentary lifestyle of sitting in front of televisions and computer screens for lengthy amounts of time with very little activity. I'm just as guilty as everyone else. However, prescribing pills to eight-year old kids and giving cholesterol tests to two-year old toddlers is NOT going to even slow down the widening girth of Americans. The only thing it will do is net the pharmaceutical companies and medical professionals (aka doctors) a lot more money and cause medical insurance rates to rise even more. This is morbidly ironic because the American Academy of Pediatrics is supposed to be an organization devoted to helping protect children and keep them healthy. Well, that's obviously not true now that they have sold out to the drug companies.
Instead of giving your eight-year old a pill, here are a few better, more healthy alternatives. Go outside. Take a walk. Stand out in the rain. Go puddle-jumping. Sit in the grass. Visit the park. Go to the zoo. Mow a yard (I started mowing yards when I was nine). Don't be afraid to sneeze a little. Don't be afraid of getting a little headache. Don't be afraid of a few healthy germs. Try not to even be afraid of getting hurt. Pain may not be pleasurable, but pain is a part of living. But whatever you do, for Pete's sake, don't take another pill or start giving more of them to your children, no matter what your doctor might recommend. Pills should be an exception, not the rule of thumb.
Saturday, July 05, 2008
While walking along one of the piers that stretched out into the lake, I noticed an unusual sight. There were two women who were fishing. One of the women was dressed in African clothing and had a mid-Eastern accent. She apparently knew the other woman because they were involved in a seemingly meaningful conversation. Anyway, I noticed that as the African woman pulled her fishing line out of the water there was no fish hook tied to the end. Instead there was a toe nail clipper tied to the end of the line. I had to control myself to keep from laughing until I got further down the pier.
Something else I noticed while spending the morning and early afternoon in the park was a group of homeless men sitting together at a picnic table. There were about five or six of them sitting together around a table. They arrived shortly after I got there and were still there when I left mid-afternoon. I was later informed that they are there almost every day. I'm not sure why, but the Roundtable of Homeless caused me to chuckle, too.
Monday, June 30, 2008
On a completely different note, my Celtics won the recent NBA Championship. I've been a fan of the Celtics since I was a kid and became amazed by the skills of Larry Bird, a white guy who could play really good basketball. I stuck with the team and rooted for them even in junior high when everyone else became a fan of the the Bulls. For over 15 years I've had to put up with all kinds of put downs and lame jokes during basketball season. Well, the Celts are back, baby! Take that, Chicago.
Saturday, June 21, 2008
My Grandma responded, "L-- I'm over 80."
To which my Great Aunt replied, "Well, 80 is a walk in the park. Just wait until you're 90."
My other Great Aunt and I laughed for a good thirty seconds or so.
I had meant to post this several weeks ago, but I haven't had access to the Internet for about three weeks. A week after the above incident took place, my Great Aunt "L" was taken to the hospital. She had a major brain aneurism and was given two weeks to live. It's now been almost three weeks since that happened and other than loss of part of her sight, she is miraculously almost back to her normal self.
Saturday, May 24, 2008
This past Thursday was the last day of attendance for the students at the high school. It was an exam day and most of the students had turned in permission slips that allowed them to leave school after they finished with their last exam. Five minutes before the bell was to ring for the end of the day the intercom comes on. A train was stuck on the tracks near the school. The only way I know of going home was by crossing those tracks. "We've been told that the train will probably be on the track and blocking the crossing for two hours." I burst out laughing for two solid minutes. It was either that or cry.
Sunday, May 18, 2008
I took an informal survey with some of my students. Out of about 110 students, only 8-9 have ever seen an Indiana Jones movie. I find that rather depressing.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
When there's nowhere else to run
Is there room for one more son
One more son
If you can hold on
If you can hold on, hold on
I wanna stand up, I wanna let go
You know, you know - no you don't, you don't
I wanna shine on in the hearts of men
I want a meaning from the back of my broken hand
Another head aches, another heart breaks
I am so much older than I can take
And my affection, well it comes and goes
I need direction to perfection, no no no no
Help me out
Yeah, you know you got to help me out
Yeah, oh don't you put me on the back burner
You know you got to help me out
And when there's nowhere else to run
Is there room for one more son
These changes ain't changing me
The cold-hearted boy I used to be
Yeah, you know you got to help me out
Yeah, oh don't you put me on the back burner
You know you got to help me out
You're gonna bring yourself down
Yeah, you're gonna bring yourself down
Yeah, you're gonna bring yourself down
I got soul, but I'm not a soldier
I got soul, but I'm not a soldier
Yeah, you know you got to help me out
Yeah, oh don't you put me on the back burner
You know you got to help me out
You're gonna bring yourself down
You're gonna bring yourself down
Yeah, oh don't you put me on the back burner
Yeah, you're gonna bring yourself down
Over and out, last call for sin
While everyone's lost, the battle is won
With all these things that I've done
All these things that I've done
If you can hold on
If you can hold on
Monday, April 28, 2008
CHALK is a fake documentary that follows the school year of three teachers, with varying years of experience, and a first-year assistant principal at
CHALK is unlike any other film I have seen before about teaching. Most teaching movies revolve around one or a group of inspiring teachers who are shown changing the lives of their students, involves some hugely dramatic conflict, and wraps up nicely at the end with the teacher being acknowledged for the huge impact they have had upon their students. CHALK is not like that. The back of the DVD case describes being a “doc comedy style of THE OFFICE” but at a high school. That’s a fairly accurate description of style of the movie. However, it’s not very descriptive about what CHALK is really like. I’ve had some experience teaching in a high school and in my opinion the film, though fictional, gives a fairly decent overview of what teaching is really like: the few highs, the miserable lows, and the huge amount of frustration and inadequacy of each day. There’s a mixture of excitement and drama, comedy, lots of frustration, and just the right about of boredom and tedium. The film probably won’t inspire anyone to enter the profession, but it does provide a nice glimpse into the life of a high school teacher.
There are some discrepancies in the movie and between real teaching. For example, the classes seen in the movie are much too small than the typical high school classroom and there is no mention about testing and the impact that has and is having on changing the typical day in a high school. Still, the movie does a better job than any other teaching film about what teaching is really like. Mike Akel and Chris Mass are the “writers” of the film and Akel’s also is the director, and Mass is one of the stars as Mr. Stroope. Both of these men were former teachers themselves and I believe their experiences are what grounds the movie (mostly) in reality. The film was made for around $10,000 and much of the script was improvised around an outline provided by Akel and
It should be noted that though all of the acting in the film is exceptional, there are some standout performances. The first is that of the students. The students in the movie are real life students, many who had either Mr. Akel’s or Mr. Mass as their teacher, and gave up most of their summer to not be paid so they could be in the movie. Their actions and dialogue are real and add to the grounded feeling of the film; they are just being themselves which is what much of the greatest acting ever performed really is. The other standout performance in the film is that of Troy Schemmer who performs Mr. Lowrey. Schemmer does an excellent job of capturing all the quirks and idiosyncrasies of a nervous, first-year teacher who is just trying to make a difference in the world and share a passion of his for those younger than he. Lowrey is the heart and soul of the movie and the story, though seemingly not intentionally, revolves around him. For example, the film opens with the statement that “50% of all teachers quit within the first three years,” and it ends with an ambiguous scene of Mr. Lowrey packing his things away for the summer, leaving the audience to guess for themselves if he returns or leaves and joins the ranks of the statistics.
CHALK is an “A” film that everyone should see at least once. Teachers will love it because it is so real and filmmakers should watch it because it illustrates that a huge budget isn’t necessary to make a great movie as long as there is a solid story and script.
Sunday, April 27, 2008
Monday, April 07, 2008
In other news, let's hear it for my Celtics! They cinched homecourt advantage for the run of the playoffs today. I've been a Celtic fan most of my life (since I was about five). For the past fifteen to twenty years I've had to put up with name-calling and put-downs galore for standing by my team. I had to put up with all those years of people joining the Bulls bandwagon. But now, the boys are back in town. Take that, Chicago. Go, Celts!
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
It used to be that if someone wanted to keep educated with current events, a person would read THE NEW YORK TIMES. That paper used to be the paradigm of all the news that was “fit to print.” Unfortunately, THE N.Y. TIMES isn’t the paper that it used to be, has lost its objectivity, and has largely become a paper filled with little more than left-leaning political banter. Thank goodness for the NEW YORK POST! Started in 1801 by Alexander Hamilton the paper has gone through numerous shifts in ownership, but still exists not only as a newspaper, but also as one of the most amusing, interesting, and sensational papers in the country. I know that there are some that find the direction the Post has taken in recent years to be negative, but personally I find it refreshing compared to some of the more bland and completely uninformative writing in many large market newspapers.
HEADLESS BODY IN TOPLESS BAR is a collection of famous and infamous headlines taken directly from the Post. The book is divided into seven chapters: general news, politics, interior headlines, celebrities, sports, mafia, and international news. There is a preface to the book from the Copy Desk of Robert Walsh. There’s also an introduction that provides a short history of the newspaper and ends in a lambasting of former owner Abe Hirschfeld, who nearly drove the paper into the ground. Some of the Post’s headlines became newsworthy in and of themselves, such as the
I enjoyed reading through the book. My only complaint is that the NEW YORK POST is a newspaper over 200 years-old, but all of the covers are from 30-35 years, with most from the past 5-10 years.
Overall, HEADLESS BODY IN TOPLESS BAR is an entertaining book that fans of the POST and newsjunkies in particular will probably find amusing.
Saturday, February 23, 2008
Inherit the Wind: A Hollywood History of the Scopes Trial by David N. Menton
*Superman the Man of Steel: Unforgiven Priest by MD Bright & Curt Shoultz
101 "Answers" for New Teachers and Their Mentors by Annette L. Breaux
Skeleton Crew by Stephen King
Movies Viewed for the First Time
Danielson: A Family Movie
The Bucket List
There Will Be Blood
*a graphic novel/extended comic book
I was only able to read through four books in January. The only one worth mentioning is Skeleton Crew. It's an older collection of Stephen King short stories and a few poems. King is a great American author. Most people know him as being a scary man who write scary stories. He write scary stories and Skeleton Crew has several of those. However, King can write just about any genre (except romance and chick-lit). It never surprises me how few people know that Stephen King is the guy responsible for the stories that became the movies Stand By Me, The Shawshank Redemption, and The Green Mile. Skeleton Crew has several excellent stories. However, if for no other reason check it out for "The Mist" and "Monkey's Paw".
As for movies, I didn't watch a lot of new films in January, but I enjoyed all six of the pictures. Fido was a movie that came out last summer that I wasn't able to see because I was at camp and it was only on limited release. Danielson is an excellent documentary that explores the difficulty of being a Christian and being an Artist; it also features the meteoric rise of one Sufjan Stevens. I really enjoyed Cloverfield. I know there are a lot of people that didn't and hate the ending, and even though I thought it was a bit of a cop-out, I still liked it and enjoyed the approach to telling the story. There Will Be Blood should win the Oscar for Best Picture (the Best Director should go to the Coen's for No Country for Old Men, but in my opinion There Will Be Blood is the better movie of the two). Sweeney Todd was alright, but I was a bit disappointed by the rather unclimatic ending.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
It’s tempting to submit to the darkness. I know. I’ve been there. Some things have recently just happened to me in my life that should have pushed me completely over the edge into the life of a complete cynic. But, something happened.
A long-held silence was broken and hope has been restored. Hope is such a wonderful thing. It’s one of the best things in the world.
I hadn’t completely lost hope in my life, but I had lost most hope. Things were so dark and confusing.
My life is still in chaos. My path is even more unclear than it was just a few days ago. There are things pressing in on me from every side. Yet, at least for the moment, none of that is bothering me. I have hope. The silence was not for naught. I believe that the impossible can happen again. Trials and tribulations will come. The world is a crazy place and life is full of injustices. Yet, love and hope remain. Do you, do you believe? I do.
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
Friday, January 25, 2008
I currently live in
I want to like Barack Obama. I really do. Many of the speeches he has given to the larger general public are moving. I've felt some of the same things that my friends who support Obama do. Yet, there's just something about Obama that doesn't set right with me. I can't pinpoint it exactly. However, ever since I was forced to learn about who Obama was a few years ago when he first became one of my Senators, there was something about him that made me feel uneasy. Barack Obama reminds me a little too much of Willie Stark from All the King's Men.
For example, there’s been a lot of rumors that Obama is some kind of Manchurian Candidate of radical Muslim extremists. I don’t buy that particular conspiracy theory. In an attempt to lay these rumors to rest (and reach out to Christians), Obama gave an interview to Christianity Today magazine. In the interview Obama reiterates that he is a Christian. He also touches upon his views of abortion.
“Ultimately, women are in the best position to make a decision at the end of the day about these issues. With significant constraints. For example, I think we can legitimately say — the state can legitimately say — that we are prohibiting late-term abortions as long as there's an exception for the mother's health. Those provisions that I voted against typically didn't have those exceptions, which raises profound questions where you might have a mother at great risk. Those are issues that I don't think the government can unilaterally make a decision about. I think they need to be made in consultation with doctors, they have to be prayed upon, or people have to be consulting their conscience on it. I think we have to keep that decision-making with the person themselves.”
This is a great example of what a wonderful speaker Obama is. I am personally against abortion and believe that in most cases it is wrong, yet I can understand the rare case when a choice has to be made between saving a mother’s life and the life of her unborn child. It would seem that from his interview with Christianity Today that it is because of small nuanced possibilities like these that he seems to be “pro-abortion”.
Yet, on the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision this past week, Obama released the following statement: "Throughout my career, I've been a consistent and strong supporter of reproductive justice, and have consistently had a 100% pro-choice rating with Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America….But we also know that Roe v. Wade is about more than a woman's right to choose; it's about equality. It's about whether our daughters are going to have the same opportunities as our sons. And so to truly honor that decision, we need to update the social contract so that women can free themselves, and their children, from violent relationships; so that a mom can stay home with a sick child without getting a pink slip; so that she can go to work knowing that there's affordable, quality childcare for her children; and so that the American dream is within reach for every family in this country. This anniversary reminds us that it's not enough to protect the gains of the past – we have to build a future that's filled with hope and possibility for all Americans." This is only part of the official statement. I suggest you read the entire thing and read it carefully.
Though the statements that Obama made in Christianity Today don’t completely contradict his official Roe V. Wad anniversary statement, it is clear from the official statement that Obama believes that abortion isn’t something that should happen rarely, but is an inherent and inalienable right and something women should have upon demand, regardless of the circumstances.
The way these statements are worded illustrate part of the reason I don’t trust Obama. That’s not to say he’s not a likeable person or that he’s not a Christian. I think I would probably enjoy sitting down and having dinner with Barack Obama. However, I do think it should serve as a warning to those who have joined the Obama campaign because he’s “the man for change”. Change can be a good thing, but change just for the sake of change rarely is. Charismatic people can get others to go along with them just because of their personality and if a charismatic person, such as Obama, has learned the power of language, they can get people to do and believe just about whatever they want.
Monday, January 21, 2008
*Superman: Speeding Bullets By: J.M. DeMatteis & Eduardo Barreto
*The Feral Man of Steel By: Darren Vincenzo, Frank Fosco, Stan Woch
*The Gunslinger Born By: Peter David, Robin Furth, Jae Lee, & Richard Isanove
SparkNotes: Lord of the Flies
Angela and the Baby Jesus By: Frank McCourt
*The Trial of Colonel Sweeto By: Nicholas Gurewitch
I am Legend By: Richard Matheson
*Heroes: Volume One By: Various
**Romeo & Juliet By: William Shakespeare
Manga Romeo & Juliet By: Sonia Leong
*Denotes a graphic novel or book of comic strips.
**Denotes a work read before.
Movies Seen for the First Time
I am Legend
National Treasure: Book of Secrets
Lethal Weapon 2
Lethal Weapon 3
Bridge to Terabithia
From the books I read last month, I'll only discuss two here: The Trial of Colonel Sweeto and I am Legend. The Trial of Colonel Sweeto is a collection of comic strips entitled "The Perry Bible Fellowship". Be forewarned, "The Perry Bible Fellowship" is crude, bizarre, irreverant, and wickedly funny. I am Legend is the book that has now spawned three movies (Last Man on Earth, Omega Man, I am Legend). I suggest that even if you haven't seen any of the movies but you enjoy psychological horror stories that you read I am Legend.
As for movies, we have Enchanted: one name Amy Adams. She's the type of woman I'd like to marry. Daywatch, it's the sequel to Nightwatch: it's not as good a story as Nightwatch but has some even more impressive visuals. Until last month, I had only seen Lethal Weapon 4. On Christmas Eve my brother and I sat down and watched all 4 of the films back-to-back. I can't believe I hadn't seen those movies before. They are probably the best buddy action flicks ever made.
Saturday, January 19, 2008
I've gotten most of my tax returns. I've been teaching full time since the middle of October. Looking over the W-2s I have and keeping in mind the one or two I haven't received yet, I've figured out that last year I still didn't earn enough money to be earning above the poverty range. I realize that's relative because anyone in the U.S. is rich compared to most places in the world. But, I don't live in other places of the world.
I've been trying to do a little writing. It hasn't been much, but I am starting to brush up a short story I started last year.
I've still decided that I just want to do something creative for the rest of my life: write, act, make movies. I don't know how that's going to work out because I have a lot of debts I have to take care of, but in my heart-of-hearts I don't think I'll ever be happy in this life until I'm working at something creative.
I've been talking to God a lot. I still can't hear his voice. I've tried to look at this as a blessing. That maybe my Heavenly father has decided I'm mature enough to figure things out without constant prompting. I think about the story of Jonathan (in the Bible--I Samuel 14) and how he won a battle and conquered the Philistines without waiting for the ephod so that God could tell him what to do. I want to be like that. But, I am afraid. I've gotten used to listening to God. The only time in my life God was silent was ten years ago. It was one of the worst times of my life. God had to teach about love and the only way he could do that was to be silent. That silence lasted for six weeks. This silence has lasted for almost five months.
I'm making some efforts to change direction, but my efforts seem so meager. But maybe these meager efforts is all that I have to do. Even if it's not, I'd rather be doing something different, no matter how meager, rather than sitting around and doing nothing at all.