Thursday, March 11, 2010

My first appearance on Public Radio...

I'm probably the only one who remembers this conversation, but years ago I was talking to Andy Buch and the Baumgartner boys about our mutual love of public radio. And yes, I do think that NPR is solid news reporting. And balanced. Really. In fact, I think I'll teach a Sunday School lesson about it next week...

Anyway, we made a bet to see who could be the first to get an editorial on some Public Radio show. I don't remember what the winner would get, but probably the utter amazement of his peers about the sheer awesomeness of the feat would be enough.

Around that time (2006) I was in Chicago for a tradeshow and took a walk through Millennium Park and was interviewed about the iPod for a show called Hello Beautiful that played Sundays on WBEZ. A link of the show is below. There's a great editorial around 7:00 about how depressing iPods are. Then, at 10:30 is a clip about when I first got my iPod. So it's not an editorial, but it's the first step towards fulfilling a dream...

Hello Beautiful! - Act Two

Another unimaginative post...

I'm sure that many (if not all) of you have seen these, but since I have given up trying to post only when I have something new to say (which obviously doesn't happen anymore) I think these are worth seeing again. This band, OK Go, was a band from Chicago that created a video that went viral on YouTube (and eventually won a Grammy). It's for their song "Here It Goes Again":

They just released another video with a huge Rube Goldberg machine for their song "This Too Shall Pass".

Another video for the same song is also worth a watch (although not quite as amazing). Here's the link.

I can't embed this one because their ex-label didn't like people doing what I'm going here (hence the "ex" part of the title). I guess it makes sense. Let's stop what made this band famous. Good strategy BMI!

Oh, and I love this Feist video too...

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Dedicated to Kory...

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Worth breaking the silence for...

Thursday, February 14, 2008

I hope these weren't my fault...

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Bigotry in the Master Bathroom…

It all started so innocently. I'd been able to avoid the evil of the razor for two weeks and had a nice natural beard going. I decided I was going "clean myself up" for Sunday, but figured it a waste to rashly de-hair my face. I decided to try something I'd never considered before. So I did. No sooner had I emerged from the bathroom than I came face to face with a stark, shocking reality… My wife is a Mustache Bigot.

I've rarely seen such disgust etched on my lovely wife's face (who, by the way, would look amazing in any style, dress, hairstyle, etc.). At least not when directed at me. And to my face. I rallied myself. Surely this is a simple misunderstanding. Surely I can explain what it is that she was glaring at, and once I explain this new and wonderful thing to her she'd understand, and even embrace my new look. No. No amount logic and explanation could dispel the horror she was now harboring towards my facial hair.

So I took my case to the kids. And to my growing dismay, they TOO showed themselves to be mustache bigots! Obviously, I had failed to properly educate my family in this delicate matter of tolerance and diversity. And so, with a heavy heart, I returned to the bathroom and after a few more strokes returned to the good graces of my entire family.

But I was not able to shake the sorrow from my soul. The next day in church, I pondered the cause and history of such bigotry. I began by making a simple list of mustachioed men who in my opinion should give cause to honor a hairy upper lip.

Mark Twain
G.K. Chesterton
The Edge
Dr. Watson
Tom Selleck (and Higgins)
Teddy Roosevelt
Sean Connery
John Cleese
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Charlie Chapman
Groucho Marx
Bill B.
Ned Flanders
Stevie Wonder
Morgan Freeman
Uncle Pennybags
Sammy Davis, Jr.
The Godfather (from a guy's perspective)
Chuck Norris
Richard Pryor
Johnny Depp (OK, a "goatee" here, but still...)
Yosemite Sam
David Crosby
Doc Holiday
Alex Trebek (he'll always have a mustache in my memory)
Sam Elliot
Cary Elwes
Kris Kristopherson
Don Francisco
Clark Gable
Carl Weathers
Wade Boggs
Hulk Hogan
Shipwreck/Bazooka/Sgt. Slaughter/Footloose/Gung Ho/Mutt
Brandon Flowers, lead singer of the Killers
Eric Clapton

I then proceeded to create a list of men that could have caused the abhorrence that I was briefly apart to.



Dali (no dictator, but strange…)

Saddam Hussein

The Godfather (from a girl's perspective)

Burt Reynolds

Craven the Hunter

Uncle Rico

"Ravishing" Rick Rude


Ron Jeremy

Dr. Mindbender

Freddy Mercury (and this one's a toss up)

On the "Positive" side we have Presidents and Prime Ministers; geniuses; iconic authors, actors, musicians, and artists; Nobel Prize winners; beloved cartoon characters; and the entire spectrum of manliness (Sean Connery to Chuck Norris).

On the "Negative" side we have a few dictators; a pseudo-journalist; a crazed psychologist; and a porn star (OK, THE porn star). Even after I double spaced the "Negatives" list, the "Positives" clearly win out!

And so I ask you, is it right to let a few bigoted men (and poor actors) ruin what is so obviously a wonderful and beautiful thing? Should we also let Hitler bias us against German beer? Or Stalin Italian food? Or Geraldo news reporting? I think not! Rise up enlightened ones! Rise up and challenge the biases that are holding good people hostage to limited facial hair options! Rise up and tear down the images of "dirty old men" and raise up the banner of respectability and honor! For without evidence, we have been duped into a belief that shouldn't exist. Resist and we shall overcome!

Humbly Yours,

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

I Can’t Escape…

I picked up this book from our library's "New Fiction" rack because I like the cover. Then I read that it was about an ordinary guy who suddenly finds himself with a "super power". Only it's not that super, and he has no idea what to do with it. I figured this is how any power I would develop would hit me, so I decided to pick it up.

I'm often amazed how I "randomly" pick up books, movies, CD's that are overtly spiritual even when (maybe even especially when) I'm not trying. And lately (read, the last few years), I'm not often trying…

This book was a good case in point. The characters are awkward (awkward's the new funny in case you haven't noticed, i.e. The Office, Ugly Betty, Arrested Development, any Judd Apthow work – which I am not endorsing). The plot's somewhat interesting (if not completely stilted). And the main character starts every day with 12 shots of espresso. So it was interesting. But what kept me reading was James belief that maybe God was behind this new "skill" and maybe there was a point to it.

SPOILER ALERT! I'm going to take the risk that you're not going to read the book (and even if you do, this won't really ruin anything since it's not that plot driven) and let you read the last few pages of the book…

From Leaper by Geoffrey Wood

"I came here to see you, James."

"You should have called. I'd have put on some coffee."

"Careful with yourself. This moment matters."

"Oh, okay," I say and laugh. My dream guide, he's not laughing.

The cathedral is so quiet. Creepy quiet. The old guy just smiles at me, sits and smiles, picks a little fluff off his sweater. My head is pounding, not with pain, but silence. In the pause I think I can hear the candles flickering. And something about it, this moment, this pause, his smile, something makes me want to slow down, stop fighting. Dream or no dream, I want to hear the quiet flicker of candles.

"You come here to see me? Then answer this."

"If I can," he says.

"Tell me. Tonight, the past three days, this whole thing – is this reality or madness?"

He stares at me, unsure. Not like he's unsure of his answer, but of whether or not I will believe his answer, no matter what. Finally he says, "Without God, reality is madness. Reason will tell you so. You either madly trust in God, or you trust in a world gone mad without Him."

"Is there a third option?"

"Time to go," he says.

"Wait! Does God really do this? Does God get involved, really make people do the impossible?"

"He always has."

"But does he still?"

"Don't rob God of being with you, James."

"But I can't…," I start, but then say, "I'm afraid."

"That's why you can't see it. That's what happens sometimes. And when it does, trust becomes the only road home, back to love."

I have no answer.

He pats my shoulder again like he did that day at Mass.

"That's why I'm here, James. I came here to help you see – and to show you a few things. Come on." The old guy reaches into his pocket. He pulls out a shiny silver pocket watch. "My grandfather gave me this, last time I saw him. Get up. It's your time to see."

"See what?"

"You need to see moments without you in them, just as they are." He turns a bit, dangles the pocket watch by its long chain so it spins in the candlelight.

"It's a beauty," he says, eyes reflecting the light like his watch. "You've been changed, James. You've been given a gift."

"I don't want this gift."

"The gift's not for you. It's for others. Everything we're given is for others. God has already changed you, and you can't do anything about that now."

"But what if I don't want to be changed?"

"Well, that's why I was sent, to show you the ropes. Show you a few moments, and you'll be back. You can make your choice then. It'll take no time at all."

I understand what I'm supposed to do now. I'm going.

At first, God's gift was annoying, an interruption. When the interruption became surprising, then God was simply terrifying. But God was alive. Like Chapman kicking his legs, kidnapped and scared, somewhere deep down, I longed to tell God not to leave, to come surprise me and to do it again. God was, at least, interesting.

Then suddenly, tonight, not only was God terrifying and interesting, but it occurred to me that God might also be up to good. Not that I owed God good, but that God himself might be up to good – that God might be truly, quietly, surprisingly, tirelessly good.

God is beautiful. Why not trust myself headlong into that?

The moon sparkling on the dark river below – that is beautiful.

Even this reflection off my watch is as beautiful and blinding as talking to a stranger.

God help me.

I must be going…

I must be…

I must…

There are all kinds of great questions crammed into these last paragraphs, but my main question is much more "personal": How is it that I so regularly "stumble" unto such ponderings? Is it that I'm hardwired to subconsciously pick up on this stuff? Maybe. Or maybe God's fingerprints really are everywhere in His creation. Maybe there really are some universal questions that we all (sometime or another) ask and want to know – even if we're pretty sure the answers will scare us.

I don't know, but either my psychic meanderings are getting more consistent, or our culture is leaning more towards the spiritual again. But that is another topic altogether…

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Philosophy, Morality, and Captain America, Part II

(For the first part of this gripping tale, see PM&CA, Part I.)

In college, I came to love Borders. It was across the street from Barnes & Noble's, and I quickly came to realize that Borders was the store for me (but that's another post). I would head there after – and often between classes – and get my coffee, sit in the Literature section, and do my studies.

When I moved back to Fort Wayne and joined the "real world", I kept up the habit of visiting and studying at Borders (although the frequency has thinned out significantly). About a year or two ago, I entered our newly remodeled Borders to find that (listen for the angelic, "Aaaaaaawwwwwww!") Borders had decided to take up the oft neglected practice of selling comics. The selection consisted of 67% Marvel, 18% DC, 9% Archie and Gang, and 6% "Other" publishers. The purchaser was obviously trained in the X arts which showed in the vast number of X-Men titles that were present. There was also a large selection of Spiderman and, in the DC realm, various Justice League periodicals.

I instantly resumed my interest in the tales of my childhood. Several things had changed. First, I identified several "pencil artists" that were doing incredible work. Amazing stuff. Also, I realized that the depth of several of the story lines had much more depth than most of the ones I had read during my younger days. Behind the standard "save the world from diabolical aliens, miscreants, and spiritual deviants", were deep, thought-provoking thoughts about power, loss, loneliness, pride, loyalty, death, spirituality, anger, revenge, and life. I was just shy of amazed. (I have since found out that several companies have begun to hire novelists to write the storylines.)

As I began to catch up on the lives of Wolverine, Night Crawler, Spiderman, Marvel Girl, Iron Man, Professor X, and Captain America, I for the first time started to be more interested in the Logan, Kurt, Peter, Jean, Tony, Charles, and Steve behind the spandex and masks. I started to be more interested in why each chose the path they did. What motivated them to fight, resign, protect, fear. In short, I realized that I had something to learn from these people. Although there was much I didn't agree with, I realized that I was intrigued with what I could learn from these fictional action heros. What shaped the worlds they occupied and did it relate to the "real world" where I found myself…