Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Tony Stark

Billionaire industrialist Tony Stark is secretly...and later, not so secretly...Iron Man. I didn't want you to go to the movies Friday and be all confused.

Yesterday I put together the dates and assignments for our upcoming series on Leviticus. As usual, the person who assembles the rotation picks last. Thus, I ended up with the honor of preaching on sexual holiness. I wonder if my mother might not enjoy worshiping somewhere else that day. I'll be sure to give her a heads-up well ahead of time.
For some reason I feel compelled to tell you that my cat has decided lately to wake me up by walking on my face. Does anybody want a cat?

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Iron Man

It's Iron Man Week.

Trust me on this...I think they've got this one right.

Friday, April 25, 2008


I figure I owe Greg for all those math posts. But up until now, I've had nothing to say on the subject of guitars. Having just finished Eric Clapton's autobiography, I would like to share the following.

Clapton's first guitar was a horrible German Hoyer. His first electric guitar was a double-cutaway semi-acoustic Kay, a knockoff of the Gibson ES-335. After his success with the Yardbirds, he was able to actually buy one of those Gibson's, a cherry-red model.

Eventually, Clapton fell into the same groove that apparently assaults many guitarists. He would stare longingly at a certain instrument in a store window for days on end. Finally he would buy it, learn it, and then move on to long after something new. After amassing hundreds of guitars, mostly Martins, Fenders, and Gibsons, Clapton auctioned off one hundred of them to help fund his Crossroads Centre for alcohol and drug rehabilitation. He sold a 1958 Gibson Explorer, a 1974 "Rodeo Man" Martin, a 1954 Sunburst Stratocaster, and his 1956 Fender "Tobacco Sunburst" which he had named Brownie and on which he played "Layla." The latter went for $450,000.

In a later auction, Clapton sold his cherry-red Gibson for $847,500. He also sold Blackie, a guitar so famous it has its own website. Blackie was assembled from the best parts of three different Fenders that he found in a guitar shop for $100 each. Blackie was the guitar most associated with Clapton and it was on a number of album covers. It was auctioned for $959,500.

I don't really understand any of what I just wrote. But I'm a huge Clapton fan and I like Greg a lot too. So I figured I owed him this one.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Somebody Please Help Me

I'm so new to the whole "American Idol" thing that when somebody starts talking about "AI," I still think they are referring to Artificial Intelligence. And then Ryan Seacrest's face fills up my widescreen and I find that I am still thinking about artificial intelligence.

I'm still thrown by the Michael Johns Incident. I thought he was loaded with talent...not the best vocalist, but very popular singers get by with far fewer chops. I also detected a notable swoon in the studio audience (and my living room) when he came on stage. So I felt he was getting the popular vote as well as the talent vote. But "Dream On" was a bad choice and he had to go.

Last night there wasn't a doubt in my mind that Brooke and Jason would occupy those sad, metal stools. Jason's version of "Memories" was awkward and painful and Brooke, bless her heart, had to start over for the second time this season. And even then, her vocals were tense and strained. Syesha showed a real gift for musical theater. I could honestly see her headlining with Audra McDonald. Carley gave one of her best performances, finally erasing the wrinkle in the middle of her brow and having a good time. The Davids were the Davids.

So naturally Syesha and Carley got the lowest number of votes and Carley ended up going home. I truly need somebody to explain this all to me.

People will go see "Saw" in droves but not "Charlie Wilson's War?" "According to Jim" runs for 23 seasons and "Firefly" gets 14 episodes?? Terrell Owens??? Rap music???? Paris HILTON?????

I just don't get it. And don't even get me started on the Pennsylvania Primaries.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Ac-Cen-Tu-Ate the Positive

You know that old saying, "If you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all?"

There are certain days, certain seasons of life, when it's easier to find the silver lining than others. Sometimes all I'm able to see are the bad traffic, the disrespect, the kid who treats you like something stuck on the bottom of her shoe.

So in honor of that old saying, I now present today's post:

Monday, April 21, 2008


So, Lisa and I were watching Battlestar Galactica last night...

...yeah, that's right, my wife watches Battlestar Galactica with me. She's cool. She liked "V" too, okay?

So, ANYWAY, we're watching BSG and we get to the scene where Calley follows the Chief to his secret meeting in compartment...wait for it...1701D.

I pause the picture and point at the screen, thinking it was a cool nod to all us Trek-lovers that they would use the registry of our beloved Starship Enterprise (at least, the TNG version) and this was obviously a reference to BSG creator Ronald Moore's time working on ST:TNG.

Lisa just stared at me. And, after I had explained all that to her, she sadly shook her head and asked if we could keep watching the episode.

Sometimes, I think she thinks I'm kind of a dork.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Watching Baseball

When I was growing up, there was a Game of the Week. The title was literal. If you wanted to watch a game, then you'd better clear your Saturday afternoon schedule. You couldn't record it and watch it later. You had to get your snacks during commercials. And you had to accept whichever two teams the network decided to feature, usually the Dodgers and Mets. Man, I hated the Dodgers and Mets.

Curt Gowdy, Joe Garragiola, and Tony Kubek (et. al.) did a good, not great, job of calling the game. They were the only choices so, as far as we knew, they were the very best. At the very least they were (usually) impartial. And at the very most, they weren't Tim McCarver or Joe Morgan. Every so often, I got to hear Vin Scully and I would wonder why he wasn't the commentator or, y'know, President.

There were no Superstations, no ESPN, no regional broadcasts, no MLB.TV. It was The Game. Of The Week.

With the baseball package, I can now watch any game I want. With my beloved DVR, I can watch it whenever I want. A buddy of mine even has a deal where he can choose between the home and away broadcast and put 8 games at a time up on the widescreen. We've come a long way, baby.

But technology and specialization are, of course, not always a good thing. Or, to paraphrase Ian Malcolm from Jurassic Park, "Just because we can do something, doesn't necessarily mean that we should."

Today's broadcasts are slick. Too slick. They come with graphics and sound effects and there's always a guy roaming through the stands interviewing people who are celebrating birthdays or anniversarys or who just caught a foul ball. The broadcasters are all homers and every line (when they choose to actually talk about the game) begins with "we" or "they." The producers assume that we are all very bored with actually watching the game and so they reduce it to 1/3 of our screen and use the other 2/3 to show us other games, or Ben Affleck, or (God help us) yet another interview with Bud Selig.

Recently I watched a game between the Angels and the Rangers where the two talking heads spent more than 5 innings telling golf stories. They solicited golf stories from viewers and announced proudly that they were receiving e-mails from far off lands! ("This one's from Dubai! Where's Dubai?" "I think it's in the desert. Do they golf on sand??" "Ahhhh ha ha ha. Good one, Tom!" ...and I'm yelling at my TV that if they are going to talk about golf instead of baseball, it would be great if they at least knew something about GOLF!!!)

During two of those innings, the Angels were playing excellent baseball. The pitcher was working fast, changing speeds, throwing strikes and the defenders behind him were all on their toes, making great plays. At the end of both innings, the talking heads (I couldn't make this up) actually complained about the pace of the game, irate that they weren't getting enough time to finish their stories. "So, I'm hitting my approach on a long dogleg left and...there's a deep fly to the wall, Hunter leaps and makes the grab................sigh...........well, Tom, I guess I'll have to get to the rest of that story after the break. When we come back it'll be Kotchman, Kendrick, and Napoli...ooooooohhhhhhh, and I'll share with you this e-mail that just came in from Zurich!"

Gee, hey, I wonder why people don't understand baseball.

I still hate the Dodgers, but I still tune in from time to time to watch Vin Scully. The man deserves his own personal Hall of Fame. A Dodgers fixture for over 40 years, Scully still calls a great game. He does his homework. He teaches. He somehow remains (usually) impartial. And if you tune in during the 5th, he'll usually tell a story. It will be of days gone by, it will be about baseball, and it will either bring a smile to your face, or a tear to your eye. Then he'll smile and say, "Now let's get back to this one."

Sure, I'm old and nostalgic and pining for days gone by. But we didn't used to worry about catch phrases, home run calls, and trying to make the game interesting. We used to just be interested. And if the game was a blowout (see, we used to care more about close games than stats, about competition than power displays), well, then we'd check the paper for box scores, find a good book, or, most likely, turn the game on the TV off...and go outside to play one of our own.

(Non-baseball-related-addendum: Yesterday I found out that Barack Obama is 3 years older then me. My slide into senility continues unabated.)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Kids. What're Ya Gonna Do?

So this kid walks into my class this morning wearing a Green Lantern t-shirt, and yet he has no idea who Hal Jordan is. Or Alan Scott. Or John Stewart, or Guy Gardner, or Kyle Rayner!

Kids these days.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Muddled Thoughts From A Muddled Brain

Last night somebody brought up American Idol and I realized I'm still mad about the whole Michael Johns incident. This show and I may not be a good match.

There's something incredibly wonderful about the time of year when you can wake up every day knowing that baseball will be played later.

Two days ago the temperature hit 93 degrees. Today is windy and cold. My body can't take much more of this. I wonder how many 6/7 year-olds will be at practice tonight.

Next week I will give the California Standardized Test for, like, the 21st or 22nd time. Yesterday I watched the instructional video on how to give the California Standardized Test for, like, the 21st or 22nd time.

How do I preach about the peace-bringing constancy of God during worship ("Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.") and then teach about His fearsome, punitive nature during class("So in my anger I gave you a king, and in my wrath I took him away")?

Why is Juan tardy

Friday, April 11, 2008

Ryan Seacrest is a Big Meanie

Ryan, you big faux-hawk wearing mean person, that was just nasty. Michael Johns seems like a good guy and he gave some of the best performances of the season. The way you teased him before giving him the ol' heave-ho was totally uncalled for. I just switched to the Simon side of your little feud. What is your talent anyway? Hosting??

I can't believe I'm watching American Idol. I really can't believe I'm watching it and getting emotionally invested.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Juggling Act

When I go a long time without posting, it means one of two things. Either nothing is happening, or everything is happening at once. This is an "everything is happening at once" time of life. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

This week I...
  • ...did all the regular stuff: job stuff, daddy stuff, etc....
  • ...had Open House (woo hoo)...
  • ...supervised the varsity softball game (I have three students who are starters. It's always fun to see your kids play ball)...
  • ...started coaching James' baseball team (with my co-coach, Avery, who is going to be great help marshalling these wonderful little souls. Quick quiz: If you're six, which is more important? Fielding a groundball and throwing it to first to beat the runner? Or chasing all the other kids to the ball, falling down, and then getting up to throw it randomly and as hard as possible? Yeah, you know the answer to that one.)...
  • ...took a treadmill test (there were some hinkey results on my EKG during my last physical but everything is cool)...
  • ...did a lot of "church stuff" (ordering Bibles, prepping for the next sermon series, studying for my class which starts Sunday, and for a Bible study, and for my next sermon)...

...and it's only Thursday morning!

That's all really good stuff, and while I don't feel overextended (yet), I am certainly approaching my max. The next two months are going to fly by.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

2nd Post of the Day

Try to keep up, would you?

I'm new to American Idol, but last night featured my favorite moment thus far. After singing "Jesus and Gravity," Dolly Parton shared a little repartee with Ryan Seacrest. After Dolly said, "Well, Ryan, I've got Jesus and you've got Simon," Ryan replied (wisely, I think): "Yeah, I think I got the short end of the stick, there."

Fell off the couch laughing.

In other news, my preseason picks have largely been verified the New Jersey Institute of Technology. Hey, it ain't MIT, but any brainiac who picks the Angels to win is okay in my book.


Not that he's a moron, but my favorite name of any current baseball player belongs to the NY Mets outfielder, Angel Pagan.

It's not pronounced like it looks, but it smacks quite Luciferian, don't you think?

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Deeper Thoughts

Every other day, I write a new Deep Thought (by Jack Handey) on the white board in my classroom. Today it says:

"When you die, if you get a choice between going to regular heaven and pie heaven, choose pie heaven. It might be a trick, but if it's not, ummmm boy."

Jack Handey, by the way, wrote the funniest thing I had read in quite some time that I referenced in a previous post. I love that brand of offbeat, non sequitur humor. Even more, I love watching my students come in and read them, often with extremely puzzled expressions. Many of them finish the year thinking that I am writing my own serious thoughts on the board to share with the world. Some of them wonder what they mean. Some of them think I'm clearly insane. A few of them laugh.

I actually can be a deep thinker sometimes. I mean, I have my moments. But I probably have more moments when I'm watching baseball or reading about Spider-man or crying from laughter after watching somebody bonk their head on "America's Funniest Home Videos." There is a time for everything, after all. A time to ponder eschatology and a time to trade funny faces with a seven-year-old. A time to examine Greek word origins and a time to slide on wood floors.

I believe that we can draw closer to God through deep study and intense, thoughtful dialogue. I also believe that He created the duck-billed platypus for a reason.

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