do i blog too much?

BK said today, "You're as bad with the blogging thing as I am with watching TV." Meaning that I spend as much time writing and reading blogs as he spends in front of the idiot box.

I had to think about it for a second or two before I responded with an eloquent, "Nuh uh!"

"It's true," he said. He then left the table and went downstairs to watch tv. See! It proves my point. I'm not blogging right now, but he is watching television.

Jannotti tag: what-ever



Read this.

Then read this.

H/T: Obscure Store

Jannotti tag: theology

who lives in a pineapple under the sea?

Collision Detection has a post about the Industrial Designers Society of America awards. Thompson is enamored with The Sink Sponge (above). This nifty item mounts to the bottom of the sink, facilitating easy cleaning of things like glassware. Cool, huh?

But I don't know. That sponge looks kind of effeminate. Don't you think?

Jannotti tag: technology


First of all, thanks to you who donated to my bail. I was indeed released.

Though not before they dressed me up in prison garb and took my picture behind bars. That picture will not be posted here, the goofiness factor is just way too high.

Below is a picture of my ride to the jailhouse....

inside view....

and outside view...

I shot the photo while standing with my back against the main entrance of Red Lobster and could only get about 60% of the limo in the frame. But you can see the back end of another limo in the background.

Inside there was a mock jail cell, sight of the photo shoot, and a very courteous and friendly staff; one of whom sat with me at a table and took my money. Well, actually almost all of it was other people's money. There was food, though it was Red Lobster food and honestly, not all that great. And cell phones. They had a large array of phones which a few people were using to solicit more donations. I listened in as a fellow prisoner in the next booth successfully garnered almost $1,000 in pledges (that was before I lef... er, was released and he was still on the phone then).

During a momentary break between phone calls (he did need to breathe), an MDA employee asked him where he worked. He said he worked at Sears, in the appliance department. She said, "I'm never going into your store. You'd talk me into buying everything on the floor!" And this was a woman who raises funds for a living!

All in all, it was a positive experience. The MDA people were very nice and seemed genuinely grateful for even my paltry contribution to their worthwhile efforts.

Jannotti tag: what-ever

can you say "kalrupy"

My friend Mike is in the Czech republic. He czechs in often with newsletters and via his blog which you should czech out. He always czechs his letters home to make sure they have lots of puns on the word Czech.

His use of puns remains unczeched and unabated, though he doesn't use them much in his blog; I czeched.

Jannotti tag: blogging

under arrest

They come to "arrest" me this afternoon. The nice woman from MDA who called me a few days ago mentioned a limo during our conversation. I hope it's a real limo and not one of those minivans that airport transportation vendors sometimes refer to as such. I haven't been in a limousine since my wedding day.

She also said something abut "jailhouse grub." I'm not a big fan of Red Lobster, which is where the "jail" is located, but the price is right.

Hope they don't keep me there, I didn't quite raise my bail. If I gain my release, as well as manage to squeeze off a couple of pictures, I might have a post about the lockup later today.

Well, I'm off. Gotta make a trip up the river.

Jannotti tag: what-ever


i wanna be like megan

Take the MIT Weblog Survey

okay, I did the survey.

Being a research guy myself, I was wondering if even the quote box you select at the end goes into their results coding. Thinking that it probably does, I selected the above.

Jannotti tag: blogging


the view from here

So, the other day I was searching the Fire Ant Gazette for posts about Eric's dog, Abbye. Every post that mentioned Abbye came up in the search and I clicked on one with an intriguing title. The post was Eric's salvo in a show me yours and I'll show you mine battle of the blogging spaces.

Both Eric's space and James Lileks' space looked kingly. And Denise's pics, which were included in an update, also revealed a spacious work area. The top picture, looking toward her shelves was positively inspiring. All those lovely books!

So, a year and three months later, wanting to show you all how the other half blogs, I have decided to post pictures of my space. Here is an over the shoulder view...

and here's a full frontal...

Impressed? I thought so.

Jannotti tag: blogging


smells good

Sunday is my night to make dinner.

The grill is fired right now awaiting the pork chops which have been marinated in balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, fresh home grown rosemary and basil, and peppercorns (Penzey's four peppercorn blend).

The bread is homemade ciabatta loave-ettes. Paninis, we used to call them.

And also a salad with romain, radicchio, endive, cherry tomatoes, and cubanel peppers (not hot) topped with homemade croutons and some Pecorino shavings (I didn't make the bread but did make the spice blend that tops the toasted cubes).

Dinner's in 27 minutes if you can get here by then.

Update(8:00pm): I've been told I need to update this post. Apparently one of the cubanels had some heat to it. I taste tested all three of those things and didn't get so much as a tingle. My loved ones are soooo sensitive. And here's a picture...

Jannotti tag: cooking



Blogger launched photo uploading capabilities yesterday so I've decided to try it out.

Earlier, while still a bit groggy, I wrote about the poor bat. I mentioned our array of animals and thought you might like to see them all for yourself. You probably don't, but this is my blog so...

Fish, with reflection of a beautiful day in the tank.

At right, Tiny II. Don't ask what happened to
Tiny I.

Melody. This cat loves me, unfortuantely.

Fuzz. In self imposed exile after the infamous Bat Massacre.

And of course...

The inimitable Figalwicks. Bad back leg in the foreground. She's still gimpy but gettin' around pretty good nonetheless. The name? A youth group named her back in 1993 when we was a pup. We had a contest, and Figalwicks was the winning entry; we picked it because it sounded sort of Dickensian. And it was a lot better than some other entries such as Smudge, and Street Meat.


I knew you all would want to know this.

Woke up only a few minutes ago and came downstairs. We have an array of animals in our house (and, technically, more than one family living here but that's for another time). Two of said animals are cats. I've never liked cats though both of these seem to like me. Our nine year old cat, Fuzz, likes to go outside and kill things.

This morning I came downstairs to find my daughter Amy and Will's daughter Desiree kneeling in the living room. I thought maybe they were praying or something but they said, "Why is there a dead bat on the floor?"

There it was. Dead. Living room floor. The other cat, Melody, walked by carefully, giving the deceased winged rodent a wide berth and proving beyond doubt (at least to me) that Fuzz was the executioner. The bat has now been removed.

Now can I have my coffee?

UPDATE: For you linguists, I've corrected the spelling of berth, above. I have it on good authority that wide births are no fun at all.


almost forgot

With all the activity yesterday, it slipped my mind that I had only 7 days (now 6) before I am locked up for Jerry's Kids.

If you're of a mind to, click the link over at the right that says "Jim's MDA fundraiser page" (under the help raise my bail headline) to learn how you can help me out of 'jail.'

And heartfelt thanks to those of you who have done so already!



yeah, but do they have free wi-fi?

Clive Thompson at Collision Detection has an interesting post about the SETI (search for extra terrestrial intelligence) project, which just happens to dovetail nicely with my earlier post about film. See, the SETI project figures quite prominently in one film on my list, Contact.

I haven't read the paper Thompson links to; I'll get around to it. I think the idea of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe is arresting and intriguing and all that. And I'm all for the idea of listening to the universe to see what exactly is out there, intelligent or not. I even find myself agreeing, in a sense, with the idea that an ETI might itself be information.

There is one thing I would quibble with however: the title of the post. We're not alone and never have been.

get to know her.com

Julie Neidlinger's Lone Prairie blog is a regular read of mine, though I'm not sure she knows this. Well, I guess she does now. Anyway, this post is simply my way of putting her on ND Governor John Hoeven's permanent radar, per her request.

That is all.

Blessings, Julie.

top ten

UPDATE: Jimmy Patterson at Sticky Doorknobs has a post today, the first item of which is movie related. I laughed. I cried. Go read it, and stick around for the rest of the post.

Yesterday I wrote about my current disaffection with the movies. In commenting on that post, an Esteemed Lonestar Blogger asked me to list my top ten favorite movies.

I was once a movie freak. Once, reading a Roger Ebert review of a Wes Anderson film, I ran across the line... "If you see everything, you've seen his previous film Bottle Rocket." I had seen that movie. Twice. Those days are gone, so the list below includes almost no great movies that may have come out in the last two years or so.

I should further add that I do not like top ten lists. Actually, I don't like making them. I enjoy reading others' very much. This is probably some insecurity complex manifesting itself in my bloghavior. Anyway, without further ado...

Jim's Top Ten Movies

10. The Empire Strikes Back --unquestionably the best of all the Star Wars films. I love the scene in which Darth approaches Luke for the climactic fight, the one that ends with the show stopping plot revelation.

9. Once Upon A Time In The West. This movie makes the list for the first 13 minutes alone. The rest is just gravy, but mighty tasty gravy. Hooray for Henry Fonda playing against type. His Frank is one cool customer, man. Nasty too. The coming together and long collaboration of director Sergio Leone and composer Ennio Morricone should prove beyond doubt that there is a God and that he cares about creativity.

8. Heat. Pacino and Deniro share their only film scene together to date. And that's the low point of the movie. My favorite line is unprintable in this space, but Pacino speaks it to Hank Azaria about Ashley Judd's character. Watch the movie and hear it for yourself. Which reminds me, what an amazing cast: Bobby, Al, Hank, Ashley, Mykelti Williamson, Val Kilmer (who can act every so often), David Fincher and of course, Tone Loc. Directed by Micheal Mann who's made one or two other decent movies.

7. Contact. A case of the movie being infinitely better than the book which spawned it. Jodie Foster is a scientist who discovers something that forces her into an encounter with the nature of faith. David Fincher (who was a lowlife in Heat) faultlessly plays a blind astronomer in this movie though he himself is not. People like to criticize Robert Zemeckis as a lightweight and pompous pretender. I think he's a genius and almost included another of his films in this list. I love this movie.

6. Lord of the Rings Trilogy: Do I really need to explain? I'm putting the whole trilogy in this not as a cheat but because Jackson filmed them as a single story, which they are.

5. Field of Dreams. I'm a sap and proud of it. The next entry will serve as further proof.

4. It's A Wonderful Life. Go on, criticize this one. I dare you, you grinches.

3. Unforgiven. There's never been a better western. "Deserve's got nothing to do with it." Great characterization of mercy, though that's not at all what's occurring when this line is spoken. This movie is Eastwood's masterpiece even if Million Dollar Baby won last year.

2. Dances With Wolves. Another masterpiece. Costner should have stuck with directing only after this one. Oh well.

And in the top spot...

1. 2001: A Space Odyssey. Made in 1968 and (almost) all of the special effects still stand up. A mesmerizing movie thematically, philosophically, and theatrically. I honestly don't think there's any way to improve upon it.

If you're still reading...

This was an agonizing project. I had to leave out the Godfather films and I'm not sure if I made a mistake doing so. Also not present are some smaller films that remain sentimental favorites (like Wes Anderson's Rushmore, and Cameron Crowe's Say Anything--I think Lloyd Dobler is one of the all time great screen characters). Saving Private Ryan (which is an excellent film) is out because of "Earn this." How dumb. Cast Away is not here only because I didn't want to include two Zemeckis films. And of course, there's Sophia's Lost In Translation, which is a lovely movie. And so many others. Oh well, that's the nature of a top ten for a film lover: complicated.

Now, Eric, don't go asking me for a list of top ten books. That would be just too hard. Though you could offer your own 10 film choices. A search of your archives did not turn up such a list, although I'm sure Farenheit 9/11 would be real close to the top! ;>


movies and why I rarely go anymore

"...like so many other recent releases, the tale of the Caped Crusader failed to save the day, further cementing 2005 as the year of the missing moviegoer.

In an era when a pair of movie tickets can cost more than a DVD, and in a season when the films seem like sorry retreads of years past, consumers are leaving one of America's great pastimes."
The cost is the main thing for me. My trip to see the Sithhy movie two weeks ago nearly bankrupted me. Okay, not really. Still, I went to a matinee and paid $6.50 for a movie that took two hours of my life away and gave me very little in return. At current prices, it's just not worth the risk of (wasted) time, my most valuable asset.

"...the inescapable culprit may be second rate storytelling"

I've noticed a pronounced lack of movies that actually matter a whole heck of a lot (exception which proves the rule: LOTR trilogy). I have seen a few carefully chosen movies over the last couple of years, and those have not prompted much reflection. It may be because I'm changing, which is certainly true. But I also believe we are seeing a great deal of 'second rate storytelling,' even in widely heralded films such as "In America" which I found trite and manipulative (apologies to those of you who loved it. I understand why, but it left me cold).

You're absolutely right if you say, "Well, you could just choose not to go to the movies." Which is exactly what I'm doing. Apparently so are millions of other people. When the prices come down (or at least, when the average level of storytelling goes up) to the point where it's worth the trouble, I'll consider becoming a moviegoer again.

Pass of the $5 bucket of popcorn to: Obscure Store

Update: I took the quiz. I am Anakin.

i was happy...

...with my little Technorati box. Why'd they have to go and redesign the whole thing? Actually the redesign looks cool and pretty darn functional too, but what have I done to make that nearly empty box over to the right so stinkin' long? Ugh. This blogging thing is fun but there sure is a learning curve goin' on.

Another minor change to this humble blog... the reading list has been moved (for now) out of the sidebar to a page for current, and another for recent reads. A 'future reads' page is forthcoming. I'm just experimenting with stuff and probably making my life more difficult.

BTW, Happy Summer!

Update: In case your eyes haven't strayed over to the right, the future reads link is up. As if you cared.

Update of the update (3:55pm): Now the old school technorati box is back. Hmmm... wonder what's up?


okay, maybe not.

My fantasy job? Park Ranger. I just love the idea of roaming around the wide wilderness world of a National Park, basking in the glory of God's creation. And chasing the rare unauthorized camper out of a stolen site.

Sadly, my myth has been busted. Here's the story from NPR.

"Park rangers are 5 times more likely to be assaulted than US Border partrol officers, and 12 times more likely to be attacked than FBI agents."

There are half as many rangers now, and twice as many visitors as twenty years ago. "People come on vacation and leave on probation," says one Ranger, relating a common saying.

Geysers. Buffalo. Meth labs. Body dumps. "You don't get into anything that you can't handle yourself because there is no backup." It certainly is a fallen world.

I probably should have known better, having read Men For the Mountains, by Sid Marty; a classic, and highly recommended for strong storytelling and writing.

Guess I'll stick to wandering around the wilderness inside my head, taking words captive and throwing them into sermons. At least for now.


just because

I'm typing this post only because I promised myself I would post every day. I didn't write anything yesterday and this day is almost over.

It has been one crazy week, even busier than last week. As if that were possible.

Today was kinda neat though.

We (meaning a good portion of the congregation) held a surprise party for Lorene, an 80 year old member of our church. She was surprised and thrilled. About 85 people attended the party. There was lots of food of course, this was a church function. Lorene lost her husband 18 months ago and we thought we'd never see her in church again. We were quite wrong. She has done more (with little more than her presence and time) since Jim's passing than almost any single member of our church. It was quite special to be able to say the things to her in person that are usually not spoken until the funeral. And I was able to pull together a snazzy power point presentation of photos new and (very) old which ran in a continuous loop throughout the proceedings.

Shortly after we surprised Lorene, I ran off to another party. This one was a 50th anniversary party for two people who recently rejoined our church after some 15 years away. My dear friend Liz, who suffers from MS but is finding her life even as she loses some of her ability to function, helped put it together. What Roger and Kay, the guests of honor, did not know was that they would be renewing their wedding vows during the party (the reason I was invited). They certainly were surprised.

How lovely.

Now, the surprises have been sprung, the vows reaffirmed, the speakers are fixed. My sermon is written. I'm going to bed.


doin' what needs did

Here's an article from the Boston Globe about a woman, name of Needs, who was acquitted of assualt and other charges. She chased down some snowball weilding domestic terrorists and gave 'em what for. Then, she incapacitated a bystander whose car was blocked by her car.

A woman who testified for the defense expressed regret that when she herself was snowballed, she hadn't the stones to act. Quoth the article: "The woman told the jury she wished she had done what Needs did," a statement with at least two layers of meaning.

Favorite line from the article: "A lesser charge of carrying a firearm -- pepper spray -- without proper registration was dropped."

Throw of the snowball to (not at) Jim Romenesko's Obscure Store and Reading Room


it'll never stop gene or hal

Update (7:43pm): Xeni Jardin reported on NPR today about Babble. Here's her report (w/audio link). You can hear Babble at work. She says a mobile version is planned.

Here's an interesting gadget. It's called Babble and it comes from Herman Miller and that companies Sonare subisidiary.

It works, Sonare claims, by playing back random bits of your actual speech thereby preventing others from following your actual conversation.

Fascinating. Of course, I automaticlly bulletin for this week do this blew out the speakers myself without Starbucks, mmm any help from technological devices.

At only $395 dollars (when it comes to market in July) it's a lot cheaper than cloning yourself four or five times.

What I found most interesting was a blurb on Sonare's website which says, in part...

...sound is typically treated as a problem that should be eliminated, Sonare considers it to be a design element...

Applying design principles to ambient sound. Very interesting.

And the prize (personal congratulations from me, without random bits of conversation thrown in) goes to whoever can explain the title of this post.

Jannotti tag: technology

the countdown begins

15 days 'til I go to 'jail.'

Help bail me out here.

More info in this post.



I've been doing music in one form or another for 25 years, since I was 15. I've blown two speakers in that entire time. That's right. Two. It was back in high school and my band, DayDreamer (yes, that was really the name) set up in the parking lot of this ice cream parlor to play a Memorial Day concert. We used home stereo speakers attached to a cheap amplifier that was once used to pump muzak into elevators. It overpowered the speakers (which were borrowed, BTW) in about 2.68 seconds. I learned then to always have adequate power handling in my speakers and those were the last I ever blew up. Until tonight.

At rehearsal tonight I managed to blow both tweeters in the main speakers we use for our contemporary worship service when I had a massive signal spike from, get this, MY ACOUSTIC GUITAR PICKUP!!! I still don't know how it happened, but I saw the bright red lights on the meters and that could only mean one thing. Those lights would have looked downright pretty if they hadn't indicated that I now had two $400 paperweights sitting on the stage.

Like I have time to deal with this right now! I was almost as busy as another blogger I know, and that was before this happened.


it is finished... well, not quite

Finished The Confusion just now and am sad. As with many a second installment, it leaves one with loose ends and seemingly intractable dilemmas to gasp over. This is, of course, good for sales of the third and final book. The Baroque Cycle is well worth the slog so far. The ending of this one will certainly haunt me for some time. But I don't want to say any more since these are books worthy of your time. You should experience them for yourself.

After 815 pages and over a month(!) of effort, I need a break. Something lighter now, I think. We'll see.


coulda shoulda woulda

Just caught up with this story today. I listened wistfully.

I love Google. I use it many times a day, you probably do too. It was once a help to me in an hour of desparate need! More recently, I was looking for pictures of strawberries the so I hopped over to Google's image search and typed in the word. I don't know how many hundred pictures came up, way more than I could look at.

Last year, in the days before Google's stock went public, which is supposed to be a "quiet period," Playboy magazine announced it would publish an interview with the Google founders and this helped delay the IPO. But those two guys were all over the place that week, not just in Playboy. A day or so before the Playboy fiasco broke, I heard them in a joyfully geeky interview on NPR's Fresh Air. Of course, that story was a rerun from October '03. But Google was anything but quiet during the quiet period. And this was just one of the many unconventional aspects of their public offering. In the days followed the announcement of the delay, people were lining up to spread doom and gloom about Google. Hah! The stock is sitting at over three times its initial price today. The big question is whether to cash in or try to eeck out another day of capital gains.

I knew it would soar! As I listened to the news reports of impending disaster, I kept telling the radio that it would take off.

So... why didn't I buy a few shares? That's the real question. Doh!


busy with worship

That title might seem oxymoronic, or maybe it's just me.

I came to my current church two years ago with part of my charge being the creation and launch of a new modern worship service. It had been promised by a few previous pastors, but never delivered (or so I'm told). It took about six months, which if you've ever tried to do anything like that before, especially in a 165 year old church, is an ambitious time frame. We were able to start with a full band: me on guitar, two other vocalists (one of which is my wife), keyboards, bass, and drums. We've since lost our bassist.

Two months ago, someone invited the band to play at the local Rotary's annual carnival. That happened on Tuesday. Around the same time as that invitation, we were also asked to play at our church's Strawberry Festival. That happened last night.

I wondered about playing our openly Christ-centered contemporary music at the Rotary deal, but it turned out okay. After they hooked up the power they promised would be close to the stage but was really 75 feet away. Providentially, we brought our own extension cord since the one they handed us was ungrounded. We plugged in and... nothing. The circuit breaker was turned off, and located behind a locked door for which the key could not be found.

Eventually a slow moving elderly gentleman made his way over, unlocked the door and t...h...r...e...w t...h...e b...r...e...a...k...e...r. We set up the instruments and speakers on the "low boy" trailer they provided. It was a trailer, but it was more like one of those small things you see towed around at moto-cross events or behind the guys from Lawn Doctor than an actual low-boy. The five of us were tightly packed, and the floor of the thing was an iron grate, which meant the supports on the drum hardware could slip right through.

We had fun though. Some regulars from our service showed up and a few carnival goers came over to listen. At one point some teens in full goth gear headed our way, openly intrigued. Upon hearing the words we were singing they turned around and ran (well, okay, it was more like really fast walking) away.

Last night's gig at the church had a decidedly different flavor. We had a captive audience: a hundred or so people trying to eat their hamburgers, hot dogs, and ice cream with strawberries on top (it was the Strawberry Festival, you know). We were warmly received, probably because I kept the volume down and elected not to do some of our more edgy stuff. Some of the crowd (average age: approx. 57.5) actually stopped eating their dinners to applaud for a few of our songs. My wife said the blue hair crowd she sat with during our break gave us rave reviews and asked if we were slated to play another set.

No rest for the weary. This morning I had to rearrange that same room so we could use it for tomorrow's modern service. One of the church pillars came in while I was there. She said, "You all should play concerts around at other churches! That was great! I think you'd go over very well."

Not too bad for a bunch of amateurs. But I could use a rest after hauling our equipment around three times in one week.

BTW: Any bass players out there who wouldn't mind moving to Pottstown to play music for a dying church?


number me sudoku

More puzzles for you. Here's a story from NPR's program Day to Day about the Japanese number game Sudoku, which is sort of like a magic square (magic squares play a critical role in the Steve Martin novel, The Pleasure of My Company; a highly recommended read). Here is the article by commentator Seth Stevenson

I've never played Sudoku before, but it's challenging to type the word. I may give it a try, you know how I am about numbers. If you don't see posts from me for a few days, you'll know why.

it says, 'drink your ovaltine'

...or maybe gives the location of all those lost socks.

The title recalls moment of profound disappointment, and contact with cynical reality, in A Christmas Story (a beautiful movie).

What brings that quote to mind is this story on Kryptos, a sculpture/puzzle in a courtyard at the CIA. Three portions have been decoded, solutions are here; only one segment remains and the race is on. It may be up to you!

Dan Brown is said to be including Kryptos in his next novel (oooh! big deal).

More accessible puzzles will be referenced in the next post.


as long as you don't make a lot of noise

So, there's this library at Wayne State "where it's easy to log on and get off."

Okay. My question is, why? In a library?

Tip of the... I don't even want to say, to: Obscure Store and Reading Room (the comments on the Obscure Store post are very interesting).

throwaway movies (not quite like the one I saw monday)

Check this. From the Wal-Mart of the pharmacy world, CVS.

Disposable digital movies for only $29.99. Like many things in life, they get ya on the back end. Here's a story on the camera in the Washington Post.

Wake me up when there's one of these that you can keep.



Here's a link to a story I caught on NPR today. The audio will be available there later in the day. The story is about Alicia Parlette who suffers from a rare form of cancer.

Here's her story at the San Francisco chronicle, where she always wanted to be, and now is, a writer.

Blessings to you, Alicia.

what's wrong with this picture

Okay... just so you know: I fall decidedly on the pro-life side of the everlasting, nauseating debate. So there.

But whatever 'side' you happen to be on, do you agree that there is something wrong with this? Somehow, we've gotten all twisted up.

Tip of the sun visor to: my wife, for pointing out the story.


revenge of the... badger

I saw the movie today. And as a review, I will say that I'm simply tempted to rearrange two letters of one word in the title to express my feelings.

The real story is the MasterCard ad that preceded the movie. You've probably seen it before. A dog named Badger is lost in (was it Yosemite?) a National Park with lots of large trees. He is unwittingly left behind after he jumps out of his family's trailer to relieve himself and the family pulls out. Thus begins the 30 second, lone animal version of the Incredible Journey. "Diamond Studded collar in Las Vegas, $80." "Drink of bottled water in the Death Valley, $1.25" or something like that. Badger returning home, priceless.

I could predict every moment of the commercial, just like during the feature presentation. I knew the final shot of the commercial would feature a family portrait with the newly returned badger. Why was I choking up at the end? Why was my voice breaking as I mumbled, "such shameless manipulation."

I can assure you that Badger's story marked the high point of my emotional involvement with what was on the screen this afternoon.


there's nothing there

Hey! It was hot here in the East today. Got all the way up to 90 with corresponding humidity.

I put the air conditioners in their windows today (which reminds me, I still need to take care of the bedroom unit). We took the kids over to Rita's Water Ice after dinner. For those of you in the Western united states, where there are no Rita's, don't worry, you're not missing much. Imagine a Jones' soda shaken until there is no carbonation left and served right at the freezing point, so it's fruit-slush in a cup. If you like that, you'd love Rita's. They also have frozen custard, which I had. There were five of us and the trip cost me $12.60. Not as much as my citation breakfast from a few weeks back, but still painful.

Today I had all these good intentions. I was going to scan almost a full week of Obscure Store stories and NPR programming in hope of finding something to comment on. There was my plan to extend my coffee and writing narrative based on a comment I received in the last post. In Christianity Today, I found another interesting article by Andy Crouch (whose stuff usually doesn't resonate with me. Wonder if it's him changing or me?).

But... nah. I'm just chillin' (literally, with the AC air flow blowing right on me) in the living room. Guess I'll see if I can get through a few more pages of The Confusion. It is a great book, some are calling this trilogy a masterpiece, but whew; takes for-EVER.


Here's a quote from The Gospel According to America. I'd be interested in your thoughts.

Harold Bloom has suggested that "knowing" Jesus, believing yourself to have a one-on-one relationship with him, (unmediated by tradition; "in the garden alone"; impossible to explain to anyone who doesn't know him like you do) is a recently developed form of gnosticism that is probably the real, most often practiced, American religion.


my other brother darryl

Darryl Dash writes a blog called Dying Church (which is on my blogroll) and co-writes another, called DashHouse, with his wife.

Today on DashHouse he posted this list of Bonhoeffer's, adapted to the world of blogging. I found it amusing, convicting, and quite tasty. Hope you like it too.

I don't know if Darryl was prompted to post that list becuase of a troll who just wouldn't (won't) quit on one of his previous posts. (I'm not providing a link to that but you'll find it if you scroll down the main DashHouse page).

Zalm at From the Salmon picked up a troll on one of his posts too, a post I mentioned twice yesterday. In my opinion, both Zalm and Darryl are very gracious to let the troll comments remain on their sites. I think I might have removed them and posted my own fiery rationale in their place. But maybe that's because I'm Italian.

Or maybe that I'm simply a human being in need of mercy, sort of like you.

Bill and Ted said it: Be excellent to each other.


did you go there yet?

If you haven't taken my advice from this morning, you'd better get your bottom over to From the Salmon. Things are getting interesting as the author of the article Zalm blogged about, Jeff Sharlet himself has chimed in on the discussion.

Read Sharlet's comments and Zalm's response (which posted while I typed this) by following the link

a quote

I gave upon Honeymoon With My Brother just a few minutes ago. I wish author Franz Wisner had worked a lot harder on improving his writing before offering up a whole book of it. Struggling through his sentences convinved me that I probably need to do the same with my own 185 page manuscript--but not before I submit that proposal (which, incidentally, I should be working on right now).

After skipping the rest of the honeymoon, I opened the book in the on-deck circle, The Gospel According to America and almost immediately found something to share with you:

To be neighborly is to practice a better politics than the politics of narrowly defined self-interest. The love-thy-neighbor stuff is a different way of being in the world and speaking to one another than is currently being practiced by the leadership of either major political party.
Here's hoping for a nice honeymoon with this book.

what he said

Okay, everybody head over to From the Salmon's latest and next to latest posts. Stop wasting your time on this blog and read his. He's on a roll about this.

Once you're finished over there, you can come back here and I'll likely have something trivial and time-wasting posted so you can wind down.


watch this

If there's one thing that the last twenty one years of living have taught me it's this: Jesus can seriously mess up your life.

I'm preaching again this week and this is the Gospel passage I'm using. How many times have I read this section of scripture before? Yet something new struck me today. The passage begins with this phrase..."As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man..." Making it sound every bit as though Jesus isn't thinking in advance about what he's about to do.

Maybe this is a bit fanciful, but it does fit with my experience of the way Jesus has put the moves on me. I imagine something like this... Jesus is walking along with some people sort of loosely seeming to following him and not knowing what to expect because you never can tell with this fellow. Jesus, well aware of those around him (the passage doesn't tell us that he's walking with other disciples--maybe, maybe not) spies Matthew (or Levi) the evil tax collector. "Hmmm..." Jesus says to himself. Then, quickly and subtly turning aside to the others, he whispers, "Watch this!" before turning to Levi Matthews (ancient ancester of Dave) and saying, "Follow me."

Some of those close by Jesus can feel the belly laughter making its way up to their voice boxes. Before they can even snort, Levi gets up (!!) nearly overturning the table in the process. Coins scatter on the ground. Jesus turns back to the others, smiling. Did he just wink?

Was Matthew's calling a 'crime' of opportunity? Was mine? It feels like it sometimes. The disciples said, later on that they had all left everything to follow Jesus. I can only imagine the varieties of 'everything' they left. I know what I left and it was significant enough that there are days when I wonder...

Anyway, if you see Jesus coming you'd better be careful, cause like I said, he will seriously mess up your life.

okay, where were we?

Ah, yes. The meme from From the Salmon. "If I could be a..."

Perhaps I should update you on the dog situation first, just in case you are a dog lover, as I am. She tore a ligament, which is bad but not fatal. It requires surgery that we can't afford so our beloved Fig is probably going to be limping through her golden years. The vet said many people opt to forego the surgery, that we're not bad owners if we don't do it, and that the affected leg will partially heal. She also said that there is increased risk of it occurring to the other leg now, so be careful. In the end, it wasn't quite as bad as I thought.

Okay, on with the meme... Zalm was very helpful in researching this meme and placing the full range of possibilities in his post. If you'd like to see the whole thing you can link here and click on "view the full list."

I've picked these few...

If I could be a priest... then I wouldn't be married to a famous political figure.

If I could be a world famous blogger... then I wouldn't be answering this meme.

If I could be an inn-keeper... I'd still make them sleep in the stable. I just love the romance of the whole stable thing, even though it probably didn't really happen that way. And then there's the whole predestination thing.

If I could be a chauffer for Michael W. Smith... then I could maybe convince him to become a real songwriter. (Sorry folks, I've never been into His Smittyness).

If I could be a librarian... I would read my friggin' life away and die happy!!!

That's five and I'm outta here. I was going to tag Eric and Cowtown Pattie (she's from Fort Worth and writes real good) but Eric already did this one and he tagged CP! I can't win. So I'm tagging any blogger out there within the sound of my, er... voice who reads this and wants to write something. Maybe Megan?

Thanks Zalm, for tagging me. 'Preciate it.