Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 Graphic Novel Challenge

I completed the expert level of the Graphic Novels Challenge 2010 by reading more than 6 graphic novels. The books I read are listed below. I'm hoping I can incorporate an even wider variety of graphic novels and TPBs into my reading for 2011.

1. The Twilight Zone: Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up? Mark Kneece, et al
Star Trek: Countdown Mike Johnson & Tim Jones
The Twilight Zone: The Big Tall Wish Mark Kneece and Chris Lie
The Dark Tower: Treachery Robin Furth, Peter David, et al.
5. The Dark Tower: The Fall of Gilead Robin Furth, Peter David, et al.
Heroes: Volume Two Various
The Twilight Zone: The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street Mark Kneece, Rich Ellis, et al.
Star Trek: Spock-Reflections Scott & David Tipton, et al.
High Soft Lisp Gilbert Hernandez
10. Shrek Graphic Novel Various
The Wizard of Oz Graphic Novel Adpt. Michael Cavallaro
The Storm In the Barn Matt Phelan
The Dark Tower: Battle of Jericho Hill Robin Furth, Peter David, et al.
The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks Max Brooks
15. Purple Smurfs Peyo
Wonder Woman: Hiketeia Greg Rucka
Tenken Yumiko Shirai
Drinking At the Movies Julia Wertz
Atlas Black: Managing to Succeed Jeremy Short, Tayla Bauer, et al.
20.Benny and Penny in the Big No-No Geoffrey Hayes
The Sons of Liberty, Vol. 1 Alexander & Joseph Lagos
The Smurf King Peyo
23. The Odyssey, Graphic Novel Gareth Hinds

Media Consumed: November 2010

Books Read
When a Nation Forgets God Erwin Lutzer
*Drinking at the Movies Julia Wertz
+Ice Cream and Sadness Kris Wilson, et al
*Atlas Black: Managing to Succeed Jeremy Short, Tayla Bauer, et al.
+The Deranged Stalker's Journal of Pop Culture Shock Therapy Doug Bratton

* = denotes graphic novel or TPB
+ = denotes a collection of comic strips

November was a kind of slow month for me reading-wise. I only finished five books, two of which were graphic novels and two that were comic strip collections. When a Nation Forgets has a message that needs to be heard, though it's a book that many would be prejudiced against before even attempting to read. Atlas Black: Managing to Succeed is actually a business text book, but told in the form of graphic novel. I have never had a business class, but the info in the book reminded me of the basic info in other subjects I read and was taught in various introduction classes. You might not learn everything you need to start a business, but the book does an excellent job of presenting basic business and economic philosophies, theories, and practices.

The Deranged Stalker's Journal of Pop Culture Shock Therapy was the best book I read in November. "Pop Culture Shock Therapy" is a one-panel comic strip I recently have been introduced to. If you've ever seen Robot Chicken, "Pop Culture Shock Therapy" is like that show, but condensed into one panel. The book is written as though there was a psychopath who was obsessed with the author and after he was arrested, this journal of his musing and newspaper cutouts was found. It's a very interesting concept that's also told in an amusing way.

Movies Watched For the First Time
The Groove Tube
True Grit (1969)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pt. 1
Kung Fu Panda

Though dated, The Groove Tube was an interesting video to watch. Much of its humor would be lost on audiences of today, but it's a major parody on some staple tv items of the mid-1970s. I enjoyed Secretariat and found it inspiring. It's not as strong a film as Seabiscuit, but it's still a good movie. Skyline was a complete disappointment. Megamind was better than I expected to be and is a solid comedy.

John Wayne and Robert Duvall are the best things about the original True Grit. I had never seen the film until last month. I made it a point to see it because of the amazing previews I had seen about the new version by the Coen brothers.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pt. 1 is the best Harry Potter movie since Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. It's also a fairly decent movie on it's own right. A six-year old kid piqued my interest in seeing Kung Fu Panda. It was a good movie and not uninspired as I had previously thought. Lastly, Tangled is the 50th Animated Walt Disney movie and one that harkens back to the old Disney animated movies, but with a touch of modern sensibility.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Real New York Blizzard Blues

I'm sick of hearing New Yorkers whine about the snow sitting in front of their driveways right now. I hate winter. However, I live in the part of the Midwest where we get our share of winter weather. I complain about the winter weather, but I do what I can before and when the stuff comes: putting salt on the sidewalk and driveways, shoveling snow, covering the windshield or scraping ice if I forget the cover, taking extra time to travel places, etc. It's a pain, but it's a part of what comes with winter. If you live in New York you would be used to lots of snow in winter. From what I've been told, the people there have access to snow shovels and salt just like we do. You can complain about the weather, but you shouldn't expect the government to come around and clean the snow out of your driveway or off your walk.

The current New Yorkers are a bunch of wusses. *From the 18th Century until the early part of the 20th Century before automobiles were standard, the streets of New York City were crowded with more than 100,000 horses at any given time. Those horses produced about 2.5 million pounds of manure each day. During the long, icy winters the city commonly built up a mixture of snow and dung that raised the street level up to five feet. That's one of the major reasons the iconic brownstones feature lifted, second-story stoops. Five feet of frozen ice and poo. That would be something to whine about.

*This info is taken from the book Everybody Poops 410 Pounds a Year by D. Flanagan and David Dudley.

Suing McDonald's

This story is nearly two weeks old, but it deserves commenting on.

According to the Chicago Tribune, McDonald's is being sued by Monet Parham of Sacramento, California for giving toys in children's meals. According to Parham's lawyers, "Children 8 years old (sic) and younger do not have the cognitive skills and developmental maturity to understand the persuasive intent of marketing and advertising."

In response to that, I don't think many adults understand the "persuasive intent of marketing and advertising." You need look no further than the cult of Oprah.

However, there's more. Parham said she is bringing the case because of constant requests for Happy Meals and if she refuses, the usual "pouting ensues and a little bit of disagreement. This doesn't stop with one request. It's truly a litany of requests."

Excuse me?! Kids ask for things all the time and most of them will whine if they don't get their way. It's the job of the parent to teach them that they can't have everything they want and if they pout and argue, that's too bad. They'll try it again, but if you remain steadfast, they'll give up. It's only when you give in to their whining that the requests will ever become a litany of requests.

If I was a judge, I wouldn't even hear this case and would throw it out. It has no place other than to make a mockery of our system and tie the courts up. Ms. Parham's problem is that she's tired of being a parent and just can't say no. However, instead of admitting as much, she's suing McDonald's.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Books and Reading

"Every act of reading is resistance."--Daniel Pennac, p. 95, Better Than Life

"As a product of our hyperactive consumer society, books are treated about as well as a hormone-injected chicken, and are certainly respected less than a nuclear missile."
--Daniel Pennac, p. 168, Better Than Life

Friday, December 24, 2010

My Top 10 Facebook Statuses in 2010

I filled out a survey on Facebook recently. I usually try to avoid those things. However, I thought this one was worth it. It showed you what your top 10 Statuses were for Facebook in 2010 based upon comments & likes. Here is my list.

1. Skydiving and finding a little bit of treasure along the yellow brick road. It's been a good day.

2. Saw Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Don King, Ozzy Smith, and a bunch of Rams football players tonight at the Other Premiere of THE OTHER GUYS in St. Louis. Was less than 5 feet away from them. Got some really good photos and video. Don King unexpectedly showed up before any other celebrities arrived. I think it’s the most attention he’s had in months.

3. Is saddened that TOY STORY 3 will probably lose the box office race this weekend as that movie about a young woman’s choice between necrophilia and bestiality opens.

4. Enjoying passing out Halloween treats.

5. HARVEY tonight (Oct. 8) and tomorrow night (Oct. 9) at 7:30pm, 1800 Lindenthal Ave., Highland, IL. Come out and see a classic American comedy with heart and a star-turning performance by me as Elwood P. Dowd.

6. To Celebrate Valentine’s Day, Change your Profile Picture to a picture of you alone in some secluded location. If you want you can tell people how long you’ve been alone. Copy and Paste this to your profile.

7. On my way to the Emerald City.

8. Last night of VBS. 134 people were there last night. Night bad for a town of 600.

9. “This hasn’t been a good day for me. Maybe if I’m lucky tomorrow will be a better day.” –--Charlie Brown.

10. “Faith is embracing the uncertainties of life.”—Mark Batterson

Random Christmas Eve Thoughts 2010

I hate winter. I hate the cold and all that comes with it. However, Christmas Eve and Christmas are about the only days anymore that I actually like when it snows. It is often written of how snow seems to purify everything and coming on the day that celebrates the birth of Jesus it seems appropriate that there is snow.

In the U.S. we celebrate Christmas in reverse. Our culture and the society in which we live suggests that Christmas begins weeks (our months) before Christmas Day and then after Christmas Day is over, Christmas is over. The thing is, Christmas Day is supposed to be the beginning of the celebration. You know that song "The 12 Days of Christmas"? The 12 Days of Christmas actually don't begin until the day after Christmas and go until January 6th. I know it's counterculture, but I try to celebrate that way. I find the idea of Christmas as the beginning of a celebration so much more appealing than the way we do it in our post-modern society.

The year isn't over, yet, so I'm trying to refrain from reflecting too much upon a year that still has over a week left in it (the world can quite literally change in a week). However, as I prepare for my annual reflections, I can say that this past year has been a very difficult one, yet laced with some incredible opportunities. As Christmas draws near, I look ahead and am filled once again with hope.

Hope is a wonderful thing. It's one of the most wonderful things in all of life. There's a reason Dante said that above the entrance of Hell it says "Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter Here."

Merry Christmas, everyone! And thank you, Jesus for being born.

If Facebook Had Existed During Jesus' Birth

Feces Facts

1. Everybody poops about 410 pounds a year.

2. The average American uses 24 rolls of toilet paper a year; altogether Americans use a total of of 7.2 billion rolls of toilet paper each year.

3. If you're poop is blue you've either eaten too much of a particular food coloring or you have a rare illness.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Don't Forget the Real Reason for Christmas

Children's Book Review: THE HALLOWEEN KID

As THE HALLOWEEN KID says, Halloween is a time for dressing up and getting sweet eats. However, sometimes there’s trouble and when there is, that’s when the Halloween Kid appears. The Kid wears a cowboy hat and mask, carries a lasso, and rides a magical stick horse. He’s wrestled pumpkin-sucking vampires, captured leaf-pile ghosts, and trapped the Giant Miami Werewolf. Halloween goes on without any problem for years until the Goodie Goblins show up. Pranks are played, candy is stolen, and pumpkins are smashed. Some people stop handing out candy and others keep their youngsters inside. There’s even talk in the village of canceling Halloween altogether. But then, the Halloween Kid appears and tracks the Goodie Goblins to their secret cave. He plans to round them up, but ends up getting captured himself. It’s up to his trusty steed and the children of the village to rescue the kid, chase off the goblins, and make sure Halloween isn’t canceled.

The overall story of THE HALLOWEEN KID is enjoyable and it has a good message about standing up and doing the right thing even when you’re afraid. However, what I liked most about the book is the writing style and the illustrations. The book is written and illustrated by the same person, which is somewhat unusually in children’s books. My parents grew up watching Westerns on tv and at the movies and as a result, I grew up watching many of those shows through tapes and on cable. There is a particular style to a Western and ones from that era or even more distinct. THE HALLOWEEN KID perfectly captures the distinct mood, style, and tone of the old-time Westerns. Not only that, but all of the illustrations are drawn in mostly shades of orange and black with a hint of brown and a few tints of yellow. Overall, it makes for a very memorable and enjoyable Halloween children’s book. So, sit back, relax and travel back to those days of yesteryear with THE HALLOWEEN KID.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

IBM's Watson Vs. Two Jeopardy! Champions

In the past couple of days it was announced that JEOPARDY!'s top winners, Brad Rutter& Ken Jennings, would be facing the IBM supercomputer named Watston in a series of matches to be played during the week of Valentine's Day 2011. You can read the official JEOPARDY! press release here. I'm hoping that both Rutter and Jennings kick butt.

If you're interested, you can test your own skills against Watson by playing a JEOPARDY!-type game against the computer here.

Jeff Bridges' SNL Promos

Jeff Bridges is hosting Saturday Night Live this Saturday, December 18, 2010. Like most of the guest hosts for the show, there's a series of short promos that are airing on tv this week. Below are the three Jeff made. The best of the three is the last one where Jeff introduces Joel and Ethan Coen. It made me laugh.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Charlie Brown and Me

I have been a fan of “Peanuts” most my life. I’ve been a reader of newspapers since I was in the fourth grade. When I first started reading newspapers there were two sections I always read: the front page section and the comics section. I now read all of the comics in the comics section, even those I don’t like very much, because I love the art form of the comic strip. I’ve had some favorites over the years, but my favorite strip of all time is “Peanuts”. I’ve been reading those since I started reading newspapers and was quite familiar with Charlie Brown and the gang long before through the tv specials and cartoon series. As life went on, I came to understand that Charlie Brown and I are very much alike. We are kindred spirits and I think he will always be the fictional pop cultural icon that I am most similar to.

Dorothy: Fairy Tale Witch Hunter

Monday, December 13, 2010

Star Wars in Oz

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Craig Ferguson and Doctor Who

Who's the real king of late night? Craig Ferguson.

For No Reason At All

Sarah: I need you, Hoggle.
Hoggle: You do?
Sarah: [nods] I don't know why, but every now and again in my life - for no reason at all - I need you. All of you.
Hoggle: You do? Well... WHY DIDN'T YOU SAY SO?

--from the movie LABYRINTH

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

What I'm Reading Right Now

Here are some of the books I'm reading right now (Wednesday, December 8, 2010):

Hallelujah Chorus Flash Mob in Canadian Mall Food Court

This video brings a smile to my face. Everyone there seems to joyful and happy.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Where's the Line to Jesus Music Video

Monday, December 06, 2010

My Life: Passion 2010

I've been meaning to post this for awhile, but I just kept forgetting about it.


Skeletor in Oz

Charlie Brown and Pistachios

I love Charlie Brown-I'm very much like a living Charlie Brown in many ways. I also like pistachio nuts. Therefore, I was tickled when I saw this commercial the other day.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

THE BEAVER trailer

This movie could be a complete flop, but I still want to see it. I've watched more bizarre films in the past than this.

Friday, December 03, 2010

A "DeFlocked" Thanksgiving Homage to Charlie Brown

This comic ran in newspapers on Thanksgiving Day. I love it when the comics pay a small tribute to "Peanuts" and Charlie Brown.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

What Dorothy Should Have Said

What Dorothy should have said:

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Media Consumed: October 2010

Books Read
*Stephen King's The Dark Tower: Battle of Jericho Hill by Peter David, et al
*The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks by Max Brooks
+50,000,000 Pearls Fans Can't Be Wrong Stephan Pastis
My Friends Call Me Monster (Goosebumps HorrorLand #7) by R.L. Stine
+When Pigs Fly by Stephan Pastis
+You're Making That Face Again by Jerry Scott & Jim Borgman
*Purple Smurfs by Peyo
*Wonder Woman: The Hiketeia by Greg Rucka
Power of Plentiful Wisdom by Julia Shpak
Revenge of the Living Dummy (Goosebumps HorrorLand #1) by R.L. Stine
*Tenken by Yumiko Shirai
Marx Toys Sampler by Michelle L. Smith
The Second Glass of Absinthe by Michelle Black
Catalog #439: Burlesque Paraphernalia by DeMoulin Bros., intro Charles Schneider

* = denotes a graphic novel
+ = denotes a collection of comic strips

I read a lot of graphic novels and comic strip collection in October. "Pearls Before Swine" is, in my opinion, the best comic strip in publication today and I read two collections of "Pearls". I enjoyed the concluding saga of the prequel of Dark Tower comics, The Battle of Jericho Hill. It's not often that a story that you know ends in death, tragedy, and chaos can actually move you with the grim determination of the heroes and the flicker of hope at the end. Beyond that, my only other recommendation is Catalog #439. It's a reprint of an old catalog from the DeMoulin Brothers Company and it will be unlike anything else you ever read.

Movies Viewed for the First Time
The Social Network
The Wicksboro Incident
CSA: The Confederate States of America
Paranormal Activity 2
One Wish Too Many

Frozen was an interesting little suspense movie; you wouldn't think that a movie about three people stuck on a ski lift during a blizzard could be so engaging.

The Social Network is getting all kinds of Oscar buzz. It will win some awards and it is a good movie, but it's not a great movie. It is not the Citizen Kane of this generation. That movie was groundbreaking on so many levels. The Social Network is a rehash of a similar story, but with no originality of its own.

Extract is a movie by Mike Judge that has gotten a lot of negative criticism, but I enjoyed it. I found it to be a grown-up version of Office Space.

Airplane! is a movie I should have seen all the way through years ago, but I didn't. I'm glad I finally got around to seeing the whole thing, especially with the recent passing of Leslie Neilsen.

Lastly, Paranormal Activity 2 is a waste of celluoid. It's not scary at all, but I will grant I think it was better than the first movie.

Famous People Born on November 30th

Famous people born on November 30th:

Sir Phillip Sidney-1554
Jonathan Swift-1667
Sir Phillip Sidney-
Mark Twain-1835
Winston Churchill-1874
Robert Guillaume-1927
Dick Clark-1929
David Mamet-1947
Mandy Patinkin-1952
Billy Idol-1955
Ben Stiller-1965
Tom Varner-1976 (not the famous French Horn player)
Clay Aiken-1978
Elisha Cuthbert-1982
Kaley Cuoco-1985

Monday, November 29, 2010

Farewell, Leslie Nielsen

Actor Leslie Nielsen passed away today (Sunday, November 28, 2010). Nielsen was born Feb. 11, 1926 in Regina, Saskatchewan. I was first introduced to Nielsen when my Dad rented a VHS copy of Disney's SWAMP FOX and showed it to me. He was a great dramatic actor, but he was surely a great comic actor, too. Wouldn't you agree, Shirley?

The 3 Most Disturbing Words on TV

Mike Cosper wrote a very interesting essay about a week ago about the kind of messages that tv sends and how certain tv shows (not the ones you probably think) can subtly affect one's beliefs and values. Cosper writes:

"Good art tells the truth, and sometimes the truth is ugly. Sometimes people who suffer don’t receive a reward. Sometimes the truth involves sinful people doing sinful things, and in telling a story (even a redemptive story) it’s necessary to talk about that darkness. Sometimes what appears to be good for the heart and the family is actually an idol in disguise. At all points in the spectrum, individual tolerance for media should be constrained by a Scripture-soaked and gospel-informed conscience and by the input and feedback of our community in the church."

Read the whole essay here.

Thanks to Justin Taylor for pointing this essay out.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Training to Work for the TSA

--Jerry Holbert, Boston Herald, Thursday, November 18, 2010
Publish Post

Indiana Jones and "Where's Waldo"

Here's a "Pop Culture Shock Therapy" comic that answers the question of, "Where's Waldo?"

What I'm Reading Now

Here are the books that I'm reading right now (Sunday, November 28, 2010):

Friendship Quote

"No one can see the seeds of friendship but they grow into something beautiful."
--Winnie the Pooh

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Disney's 50 Animated Movies

Tangled is the 50th feature-length theatrically released animated film from Walt Disney Studios. Listed below is a list of all 50 films and the year they were released. At the bottom is a little viral video from Disney showing a clip from each of the movies. I know that the Walt Disney company hasn't exactly turned into the company that Walt wanted it to be, but the studio still creates some great animated movies.

1. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
2. Pinocchio (1940)
3. Fantasia (1940)
4. Dumbo (1941)
5. Bambi (1942)
6. Saludos Amigos (1942)
7. The Three Caballeros (1944)
8. Make Mine Music (1946)
9. Fun and Fancy Free (1947)
10. Melody Time (1948)
11. The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949)
12. Cinderella (1950)
13. Alice in Wonderland (1951)
14. Peter Pan (1953)
15. Lady and the Tramp (1955)
16. Sleeping Beauty (1959)
17. One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961)
18. The Sword in the Stone (1963)
19. The Jungle Book (1967)
20. The Aristocats (1970)
21. Robin Hood (1973)
22. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977)
23. The Rescuers (1977)
24. The Fox and the Hound (1981)
25. The Black Cauldron (1985)
26. The Great Mouse Detective (1986)
27. Oliver & Company (1988)
28. The Little Mermaid (1989)
29. The Rescuers Down Under (1990)
30. Beauty and the Beast (1991)
31. Aladdin (1992)
32. The Lion King (1994)
33. Pocahontas (1995)
34. The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)
35. Hercules (1997)
36. Mulan (1998)
37. Tarzan (1999)
38. Fantasia 2000 (1999)
39. Dinosaur (2000)
40. The Emperor's New Groove (2000)
41. Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001)
42. Lilo & Stitch (2002)
43. Treasure Planet (2002)
44. Brother Bear (2003)
45. Home on the Range (2004)
46. Chicken Little (2005)
47. Meet the Robinsons (2007)
48. Bolt (2008)
49. The Princess and the Frog (2009)
50. Tangled (2010)

George Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation

In honor of the holiday, here's a message from the first President of the U.S.A., George Washington:

General Thanksgiving

By the PRESIDENT of the United States Of America

WHEREAS it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favour; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me "to recommend to the people of the United States a DAY OF PUBLICK THANKSGIVING and PRAYER, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:"

NOW THEREFORE, I do recommend and assign THURSDAY, the TWENTY-SIXTH DAY of NOVEMBER next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed;-- for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish Constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted;-- for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge;-- and, in general, for all the great and various favours which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also, that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions;-- to enable us all, whether in publick or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us); and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

GIVEN under my hand, at the city of New-York, the third day of October, in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-nine.

--G. Washington

Friday, November 19, 2010

Green Lantern Trailer #1

Here's the first official trailer for the GREEN LANTERN movie coming out next summer (2011). Green Lantern is one of my favorite comic book heroes. There are things with the movie and character they probably won't get right, but I won't deny that the movie looks impressive. I saw the trailer for the first time in a movie theater tonight and a large portion of the audience actually started clapping at the end of the trailer. Warner Bros. and DC have a lot riding on this movie. We'll see if it turns out to be the tent pole that saves both companies.

Christianity and Pop Culture

I came across an interesting article today, written by Ted Turnau, about being a Christian and engagement with pop culture.

Here’s an outline of the main points:
  • Whatever else popular culture is, it is not trivial, because it is an expression of faith and worship.
  • Not all popular culture is equally meaningful.
  • Not every piece of popular culture is appropriate for engagement.
  • Popular culture works by creating imaginative landscapes for us to inhabit.
  • When thinking about a piece of popular culture it pays to know the tricks of the trade.
  • Every piece of popular culture is a complicated mixture of grace and idolatry.
  • Think carefully about how to undermine the idol and how the gospel applies to the piece of popular culture you’re sharing with friends.
  • Look for occasions where you can experience popular culture together with Christian and non-Christian friends and family.
You can read the whole article here. Thanks to Justin Taylor for pointing the article out.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Eustace Clarence Scrubb

"There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it....Eustace Clarence liked animals, especially beetles, if they were dead and pinned on a card. He liked books if they were books of information and had pictures of grain elevators or of fat foreign children doing exercises in model schools."
--C.S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Monday, November 15, 2010

Unable to Fail in School or Socialism in Education

As reported by The Washington Post, students at West Potomac High School in Alexandria, VA will no longer be able to receive an "F" and fail their class. Instead, they will receive an "I" and have an opportunity to receive a "regular" letter grade before the end of the year. According to the article, "the change in educational philosophy is intended to encourage students to continue working toward mastery of material rather than accepting a failing grade and moving on."

As many of the teachers at the school have pointed out, the new policy just provides an out for students not to do the work when they are supposed to. One English teacher reported that during the first quarter half of the students in her classes received an "I". I know from personal experience in teaching at high schools that unless a student commits a crime, it's next to impossible to remove them from school. I also know that if a teacher is doing their job, students actually have to work to fail. I had some students who failed a class, but they really worked at it--they never turned in any homework, they tried to sleep in class, they didn't study for tests, they didn't participate.

According to the Assistant Superintendent at the district, Peter Noonan, "If we really want students to know and do the work, why would we give them an F and move on?"

Why would you give a student an F and then move on? Well, because that's how life is Mr. Noonan. You usually don't get an opportunity to go back and fix the mistakes you do in life. This is just another example of a policy and philosophy that has no meaning in the real world. It's also another way to punish students who actually do the work when they are supposed to. It all sounds a bit socialist, perhaps even communist to me.


"Faith is embracing the uncertainties of life."
--pp. 89, In a Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day, Mark Batterson

Charlie Brown Vs. Franken Berry

Here's a great comic from a new comic strip I've discovered, "Pop Culture Shock Therapy". They are all funny and most are slightly twisted.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

New Graphic Cigarette Labels

This past Wednesday (Nov. 10, 2010) the F.D.A. released a series of 36 proposed images to appear on U.S. cigarette packages beginning on Oct. 22, 2012. According to the Washington Post by June of 2011, 9 of the images will be selected as the "winning images." About 20% of adults in the United States are smokers. Part of the goal of these new graphic warning labels is to drop that rate to 12% by the year 2020.

Even though the pictures on cigarette labels might turn some people off, particularly among some adults, I think that such a move here in the United States might backfire, especially among teenagers. There's going to be a whole new market out there where people are going to be trading these graphic cigarette packages like trading cards: 1 out 9, collect them all.

Personally, I'm not sure why the government keeps doing things like this. They pretend they want to get rid of "smoking," but in reality they really, really want to keep it around because tobacco is a huge cash crop for the federal treasury.

Anyway, for your viewing enjoyment, I've collected all 36 of the illustrations. Some of them don't have the written statements on them, but those are kind of superfluous when you've got pictures of dead people on morgue slabs.