Monday, October 31, 2005

Weekend Update (and Trick-or-Treat ramblings)

[begun @ 4:20]

Sorry, SNL fans (or Horatio Sanz-haters) this has nothing to do with that other Weekend Update.

This has to do with what I did this past weekend.

Friday--worked all day, was bored that night. I can't even remember anything that I did. Oh wait! I do remember something that I wanted to do, but it failed so I guess I blocked it out of my memory.

Friday afternoon I looked at one of Google's many subsidiary internet offshoots--Google Video (beta). I had seen it briefly mentioned in recent news articles, but it wasn't until last Friday afternoon that I perused the site a bit. It has an unremarkable design, as befits the Google schema, but the content was intriguing--many videos posted from (apparently) anyone, about anything. I didn't try and search for any particular topic and I didn't watch any of the videos--because well, internet + video + corporately-owned workstation = DON'T CONNECT TO RANDOM PORN! (My math skills served me in good stead.)
But, it did give me an inkling of an idea . . .
I have been wanting to find a way to post video clips to my own blog site for a long time, but didn't know how to make it happen. When I saw Google Video, I thought this would provide me the avenue I needed. You must realize, however, that I don't own an actual video camera--just a digital camera that can capture short video clips.
As it turns out, Google Video doesn't recognize the format that my camera's "video" function operates under. Maybe there is a way for me to get around that, but as of this writing I haven't devoted any time to discovering it.

And it was going to be so good! My inaugural clip was already recorded and set . . . a nice tribute to my air conditioner.

Saturday--spent the morning tackling a week's worth of laundry. I first sorted everything into appropriate piles (colors, whites, towels/sheets, delicates, dry cleaning). That took a while. Then I started washing this week's delicates while moving last week's delicates upstairs to be put away. Speaking of putting away, my next task was to actually PUT AWAY the other clothes that I folded last weekend and had just plopped down in the guest bedroom.
You know, I don't actually dislike laundry. The folding and sorting suits my anal retentive tendencies, but the putting away--coming last in the process as it does--hits me when my laundry-related enjoyment has ebbed away. As a result, the stacks of folded garments sit in stasis until I can't take it anymore.
The other reason that I had to get those clothes out of the guest room was because Tegan's parents were arriving from Georgia that afternoon. (More on that later)

After I put last week's laundry away, I decided to rearrange furniture in the kid's rooms. Up until now we have used Tegan's old childhood bureau/shelving top as two separate items in Ruth's room--changing table/bureau and bookcase/place to dump crap. As T and I had once discussed, I decided to move that unit into Ariel's room, reuniting it into its intended upright form. This considerately opened up Ruth's floorplan and left her with no place to put her books. But since Ariel's new furniture had the shelving top, we could move her books there and take Ariel's old bookcase and put it in Ruth's room.

We also moved the older and more beat up of Ariel's two bureaus and put it down in the basement. Originally we were going to pitch it altogether, but I reconsidered. It can be useful down there as a repository for random junk and might someday remind us to spend money on making the finished half-basement a more livable space.

Shifting all of these things around took up several of the morning hours and by the time I was done, it was time for lunch. While T. was getting the kids dressed (yeah, that's right, they spent the morning in pajamas) I started on lunch. When the sandwiches were grilled and the soup warmed, everyone sat down.

We convinced Ruth that Nana and Papa wouldn't arrive until she tried to take a nap. (Yes, I KNOW we made deliberately false statements regarding causality to our child, but she WON'T take naps anymore and we were desperate!) Once the kids were quiet, Tegan sat down to do some work and I left the house to do some errands.

When I returned, the grandparents had arrived and the rest of the day was spent doing many random things. I was desperately trying to fix all the little things that I normally ignore until company arrives--blown light bulbs, slowly-draining sinks, piles of folded laundry--because when T's parents come, they usually do all of those small household chores that we ignore, and what kind of visit is that? They say they don't mind, but it always makes me feel like I don't deserve to be a home-owner.

Sunday--the big day and the main reason Tegan's parents came. We drove to Indianapolis to see The Lord of the Rings Motion Picture Trilogy: The Exhibition installation at the Indiana State Museum. Tegan's parents are fresh from their LOTR-themed trip to New Zealand and didn't want to pass up this chance to see the movie's costumes, props, technology up close. (Truthfully, however, it was Tegan's mom that REALLY wanted to see it and she wanted ME to see it too.)
It was a very detailed showing of a lot of beautiful costumery, intricate props, and everything else that the Special Edition DVD tell you about. Unfortunately, no cameras were allowed in the exhibit, so I have very little actual imagery to share. The website linked above shows some pictures, but nothing can compare to the actual experience.

For instance, near the entrance is a long rectangular case that houses the funeral boat of Boromir as his body goes over the Falls of Rauros (FotR).

The boat is life-size, as is the insanely-lifelike Boromir figure in the boat. I truly expected the figure to move as I stood there examining it.

Besides all the stuff you might expect--costumes for all the major characters, demonstrations of computer-aided video capture animation and forced-perspective camera techniques--

there were display cases that showed very small props you could never see in the movie, such as many items stuffed in Saruman's library and eating utensils that the Uruk-Hai carried. (Did you know those beasts carried forks, knives, AND spoons? So civilized!)

The driving there and back again took up the entire day, so there isn't much else to report.

[7:00 pm]

We are now one hour into trick-or-treating tonight (now ACTUALLY on Halloween itself!). Tegan and I took the kitty-cat girls out while the grandparents manned the front door. Ruth was a bit freaked out and so Tegan took her home quickly while I kept on walking with Ariel. We circled up and down the street and said hello to many of our neighbors. (I just got visited by teenagers who barely even tried to dress up. I was never so brazen.)

Ariel had fun, but I think the desire to EAT the candy won out over the logic of trying to acquire MORE candy. But, that's okay. Maybe her teeth will survive the sugar onslaught. By the way . . . our rule for tonight is that they are allowed to eat three pieces that they collect, but that serves as their after-dinner dessert.

  • What else can I say about Halloween? Well, what costumes do I remember wearing as a kid . . . hmmm, the first one that stands out was Underdog. Did I wear that or did my sister MA? No, I think she was Raggedy Ann that year. Anyway, those were the old style costumes that had a flimsy outfit to put on your body and a plastic mask with eye holes, a small mouth hole, and an elastic cord holding it on your face. Those masks always made my face sweat!
  • Uh, what else was there? Come on, Burb! Think! I know that I never dressed up as the Headless Horseman--because of my longstanding fear of that cranially-deprived spectre. Odds are good that I tried to dress up as Luke Skywalker or possibly Yoda one year. Well, maybe not Yoda, but I know I had Yoda Underoos once upon a time.
  • I am sure I went as Superman at least once. I used to spend perfectly average Saturdays running around with a bathtowel safety-pinned around my neck, but I hope I made more of an effort on Halloween night.

Well, since I can't think of any more of my own costumes, maybe I could keep a list of costumes that I see from visitors:

1. teenager pajama/baby girl?
2. two random teenage boys in elaborate masks
3. a tween "Devilish Angel girl" (thanks Bill Clinton!)
4. a "hippie" (I used the quotation marks intentionally in that description.)
5. two teenage girls who were as dressed up as if they had come from a session decorating the gym for Homecoming, which is to say they had no costume AT ALL. But that didn't stop me from giving them handfuls of candy. I've GOTTA get rid of this stuff and the frequency of visitors is definitely slowing down. I would say we save it for next year, but we'll forget where we put it and only buy more as a result.
6. A cadre of five or six girls just came and went with various outfits that I couldn't all catalog without being accused of ogling them. They probably wouldn't understand my efforts to document my time spent on the porch. But one of them complemented my on my "nice laptop!" (Schwing!)
7. Little Orphan Annie (a classic that refused to die in the twenty-first century) accompanied by "Evil 84-year-old Lady." The face paint was indeed evil-seeming and wrinkly; the age specificity was commendable. The father that joined them ALSO complemented the laptop (no "schwing" whatsoever this time), allowing me to break out the joke I had just thought up: "No razor blades in THIS Apple." Hi-yoooooo!
8. Five boys came by all sporting various sports outfits--football, hockey, cycling, _____. Football Boy said that they have seen many people whiling away their time with laptops. Is this the first cyberspace Halloween--created by the critical mass of wireless connections and falling laptop prices? Can't I do ANYTHING original? sob!!
9. A brief lull and then a visit from Death (with purple accent colors . . . REALLY?), Strawberry Shortcake (a crass marketing gimmick that may become a classic over time as memories degrade), and Brutus Buckeye.
10. Two more girls--no parental supervision for these ten- to twelve-year-olds--one a pirate, the other an elf. And while I can make a tangential reference to popular movie stars ("Elf") let me note that while waiting for my next visitor, I see that Jennifer Garner is getting ready to produce a movie. Click here for details on Sabbatical. I guess I am intrigued? It sure sounds better than more about Elektra.
11. Four boys--a ninja, two more versions of Death, a vampire without his cape ("I kept stepping on it," he said.) Pseudo vampire asked if I was using a Dell (poor branding skills, I reckon). I corrected him and said it was an Apple. He asked if he could have an apple and I told him that "We [weren't] allowed to give out apples." I don't think he understood what I was talking about, which I guess means that kids are safer today than they used to be or the whole apple/razor blade thing was more urban legend than reality?
Incidentally, I am spending my time in between visits to try and beef up my Netflix queue. Just added some David Lynch as well as Richard Linkletter's "Waking Life."

Well, I think it is about time for me to pack it in. The designated Trick-or-Treat time was from 6 to 8 and it is almost 8 pm. Plus, I am getting a bit chilly. I got through one-and-a-half bowls of candy, so that is pretty good. And I should cyber-pologize to Tegan for suggesting that the candy she bought wasn't good. It wasn't all chocolate, as I would have bought, but it wasn't crappy either. There were Tootsie Rolls of various flavors, there were Smarties (not my favorites, but not bad), there were Dum Dums. So, all in all, not bad.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


I tried to wait . . . I really did, but I thought this was cool and just had to put it in this afternoon.

My blog is worth $2,822.70.
How much is your blog worth?

Average Burb?

I've often (in my darker, more depressing days) thought of myself as average, not remarkable . . . just plain boring.

Now, I know that this is NOT true. I am fabulous, amazing, unique.

But still, we all possess elements of sameness--eating at McDonalds, driving Chevys, etc.

How average are you?

I can't claim to know how much candy I eat per month, but I do believe in God and go to church more than once a month (above average!).

I do drink the milk in the bowl. I recycle every week. I have AT LEAST nine friends (heck, the 4Square table at lunch can comfortably hold twelve . . . so, Booyah!).

Lately I haven't been going to bed before midnight and I of course want to be famous . . . why else would I be writing this stuff in a blog?

Tenuous connections . . . at your fingertips

Do you want to see me make a rather loose connection between the film-making styles of Quentin Tarantino and the classic American poetry of William Carlos Williams?


Next week . . . I bend myself in textual knots to prove that Family Circus is equal to Pride and Prejudice.

Don't miss it!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Family first

If I had sat down and written this post EXACTLY as it first hit me in the head this evening, it might sound more dire than this one does. As is always the case with me, the exact phrases are slipping out of my brain as I try to remember them now.

As it is, some might say I am making a mountain out of normal behavior (and maybe I am, but no more apologizing).

Lately at daycare we have been getting reports of Ruth throwing tantrums and (at least to us) appearing to be difficult to handle. This is not something that I like hearing, of course. I don't want anyone to suggest that my kids aren't perfect or that they are maladjusted in some way--because that reflects poorly on my child and on my ability as a parent.

But Ruth is only two after all. It is common for two-year-olds to throw tantrums. I just don't remember Ariel being quite this bad. They aren't the same kid, naturally, and I often say truthfully AND facetiously that Ruth is more of a "bruiser" and more aggressive than Ariel.

But, I can't simply take these reports and dismiss them. It is my responsibility to try and deal with these actions.

My anxiety at the news about Ruth is twofold: 1) I worry that our recent family dynamic has contributed to her behavior and 2) she is learning from me.

First one first.

Tegan has been working very hard for many months now and as a result she has been spending less time with the kids. I don't want the kids to be overly reliant on parents to provide them activities--sometimes kids should play by themselves--but work should not overwhelm the responsibility of parenting. (And, I know that Tegan agrees with me on this, so don't think I am badmouthing her in my blog.)

The fact that she is working more means that I am watching the kids more than she and this deals (in part) with the second concern.

You see Tegan and I (being of different personalities) react to the kids differently. She reacts to setbacks, backtalking, disagreement calmer than I--not that she never yells or overreacts, but she holds it together longer than I. I, unfortunately, tend to expect a lot from the kids and probably demand more from them than they are sometimes able to give. But, I have high standards that I want them to uphold. I don't want them to act like brats and I don't want them to expect more than they should.

Long story short (and sorry about the rambling nature of this), I think that Ruth is reacting to setbacks in "tantrumy" ways because I react that way--raised voice, anger, etc.

So, as I was driving the kids home tonight I tried to explain to them that I was going to try and be better about the way I get angry at them and I hope they will be able to work on their tantrums, whining, etc.

You probably don't care about any of this, but I felt like I wanted to get it out there. It is sort of my public pledge that I will work on this.

Anyway, there it is.

Friday, October 21, 2005

With apologies to Spec (but he's got nothing to worry about)

(click on post title to understand my title)

I sit down on the folding chair. At least it's one of the "fancy" ones with padding. I remember some that my church used to have back home (they probably still have them come to think of it) that were nothing but metal. Maybe they chose uncomfortable chairs so that you would have to sit upright and pay attention. Not that these "fancy" chairs are La-Z-Boys or anything.

Snap out of it! You're here for a reason, not to wool-gather about hometown churches.

As I shake my head to clear it, I notice that others are coming into the auditorium and slowly choosing their own chairs. No one is taking great pains to look each other in the eye (who can blame them?) and at most we just glance at one another long enough to catch a glimpse into each other's eyes to acknowledge existence. Then we quickly look away again. So you've got lots of people with constantly shifting eyes.

Just then the moderator speaks up. "Everyone; I'm glad you are here today. This is an important step to making your recovery a reality. Admitting that we all have a problem is difficult and it can be embarrassing, but we need to take control of our lives and our failings. Not until then can we truly be free. But, you didn't come here to hear me pontificate, did you. Who wants to go first?"

Years of training (or would you say conditioning?) made me almost stand up first. It must have been my earlier thoughts about church that made my muscles involuntarily force myself to a standing position. All those times that mom and dad would encourage me to take the lead on something (You can be an altar boy. You do such a good job up there; you look very dignified. And then, in later years You should be the trainer for the other altar boys. After all, you've been doing it for so long and you are very good at it. It's your responsibility.)

Yeah . . . responsibility almost made me stand up first. But some eager beaver stood up lickity-split. It's like he wanted to get up there and get it out. (Did he think he'd be able to leave when he had spoken his peace? Sorry fella, but you're just gonna have to sit there and hear us all say the same thing. Hope you like your "fancy" chair.)

So, The Eager Beav starts yammering away and I tried to give him my full attention. At first it was easy. Hearing his horror stories about his "problem" (you could hear him put the word in quotation marks as he said it) had a sick fascination at first, but after a while you realized that he's only saying what you have already experienced in your own damaged life. My mind started to wander.

I drank some of the cheap coffee and wished I had put sugar in it. The powdered cream wasn't taking the bitterness out of the extremely cheap coffee that they served at these things. Oh well. The Beav was wrapping it up while I swirled my coffee around in my styrofoam cup. And then, there was silence. He was done.

Who would go next? No one charged to the front and an uncomfortable silence began to float above us. The moderator seemed content to let the silence linger. Was he trying to goad us?

Finally, I bit. I shifted forward obviously to signal to anyone else watching that I was claiming the right to speak. Luckily, I didn't see anyone else picking that moment to rise as well. Nothing is more emasculating than choosing to take center stage and then having to be polite and cede the floor to someone else.

And besides, I was screwing up my courage. "This was My Turn," I thought to myself. "Get it out in the open. Take Charge of Your Life."

So, I stood.

"Hi," I said, not quite loud enough. "This is my first time here (TOO loud), um, and well, I have a problem."

A few murmurs of encouragement, a few nods of the head from the men around me.

"I am a blogger," I say. (They are not, of course, surprised by this.) "I've been online for a bit over a year now and I really love it, but my problem has just gotten more out of control as I get more into the blogging lifestyle."

No more murmurs. They are gonna let me take it from here.

"At first, I was just reading up and finding out stuff. Seeing what I could do here and there, just playing, really. But now . . . well, now I can't stop myself. I'm always opening up my template, you know? I'm constantly fiddling with my html code . . . moving this chunk of code here, trying to widen the sidebar width over there. I . . . I think I spend more time looking at the template than I do writing new posts!"

"Why do I care whether my badges are all the same and grouped together? Why do different elements have to be separated by underlines? And why am I constantly trolling other blogs, looking for a good idea? At first it was just a small thumbnail picture of a book that I'm reading, but it started escalating. That didn't do it for me anymore. Now I'm desperately trying to find the perfect way to display my Netflix queue. And don't even get me started on my title banner."

"It's getting so bad that I have to slam my laptop shut when my wife comes into the room. I'm getting so I stay up late so she won't see me."

"I need help!"

And then I sat down. The deed was done. I could go back to my cold coffee and try to get a handle on my problem.

Take it easy, Burb, I say to myself reassuringly. Remember what the lady said when you fell down the steps at the stadium: "It's simple, son. First the left foot, then the right foot. One in front of the other."

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Mickey Mouse and other cartoon stuff (UPDATED on Tuesday night)

Quick, when I mention Mickey Mouse, what do you think of?

. . .

Red hot pants? Big clunky black shoes? No shirt to speak of? Sorcerers Apprentice, maybe?

Betcha never thought of him being depressed and attempting to commit suicide, did ya? But, funny . . . like John Cusack (Lane Meyer) in "Better Off Dead!"

Yeah, it's a bit odd, to say the least.

I knew that people were taking the Depression hard and all, but this is a bit severe!

(Thanks to for the link . . . but not for slacking off on other stuff--you know what too!)

[Evening Update!!]

This website is craptacular and probably cromulent as well. Even the Cheese Eating Surrender Monkeys would approve.

Monday, October 17, 2005

A theory . . .

So today I was doing a mindless task at work . . . the kind of mindless task that tends to make whatever mind you have wander from thought to thought.

Here is something that came to me. If you take the lyrics to R.E.M.'s "Can't Get There from Here" and study the lyrics, will they provide any insight into the overarching plot development of the hit ABC series LOST? (This feels like it ought to be the bad science fair project of some slacker fourteen year old, doesn't it?)

So here we go. Lyrics found on random lyrics-getting website. My thoughts in brackets.

When the world is a monster
Bad to swallow you whole
[So obvious I don't have to explain, do I?]
Kick the clay that holds the teeth in
Throw your trolls out the door
[sounds like something either the Others or savage "Tailies" would do . . . probably to Sawyer]
If you're needing inspiration
Philomath is where I go by dawn
Lawyer Jeff he knows the lowdown
He's mighty bad to visit home
[So, J.J. Abrams and company have the complete story arc scripted out and it is under lock-and-key in Philomath, GA, entrusted to some ABC legal eagle named Jeff. That's what I'm getting here. Can you smell what the Burb is cooking?]

I've been there I know the way
(Can't get there from here) repeat x 2
I've been there I know the way
[Trying to throw us off with reassuring words, completely ignoring the fact that Voodoo Island is practically uncharted. Nice try J.J. . . . we ain't biting!]

When your hands are feeling empty
Stick head jumpin off the ground, 'round
Tris is sure to shirr the deers out
Brother Ray can sing my song
[All of this odd stuff is either how Charlie talks during a heroin trip . . . or it's a clue to the relative quality of Driveshaft lyrics.]
I've been there I know the way
(Can't get there from here) repeat x 2
I've been there I know the way

Hands down, Calechee bound
[Maybe it means oxygen masks down; Calechee is probably a Australian slang term for ground, i.e. bound for the ground or crash.]
Landlocked kiss the ground
[This HAS to refer to Locke--someone named "Locke" that was locked to the ground (in a wheel chair) but now loves Voodoo Island for restoring his ability to walk.]
Dirt of seven continents going round and round
[You'd go round and round too if your plane was about to crash. Plus, when Sayid got lost in the jungle, the camera swung around and around.]
Go on ahead Mr. Citywide hypnotized, suit and tied
[This must be a reference to Jack, who originally wore a suit on the plane. He tried to reassure, or "hypnotize," Rose into feeling calm. If you don't like that one, then it refers to the federal marshall that was "tied" to Kate via the handcuffs. Plus, Kate and Shannon are always trying to "hypnotize" the men with their breasts and womanly wiles.]
Gentlemen, testify
[Isn't that right Jack/Sawyer/ZombieBoone/Sayid . . . don't they use their breasts to "hypnotize" you?]

If your world is a monster
Bad to swallow you whole
Philomath they know the lowdown
Throw your trolls out the door
[Shut up, Charlie! Go come down from your drugs somewhere else!]
I've been there I know the way
(Can't get there from here) repeat x 2
I've been there I know the way

Thank you, Ray.
[Hey Hurley . . . thanks for the peanut butter!]

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Lowdown on Lulu's party

Lulu threw a Fall Party extravaganza at her place yesterday.

For photos that I took of the event, you can go here and see some nice pictures. (Choose the photoset on the left side titled "Fall Party."

I had a great time and so did the girls. We left Tegan at home and went apple picking at a local orchard for about an hour with Lulu, Stevie, some of Lulu's friends and kids. Jack T. and Cordelia and VG and Raisinette also got some apples as well.

Once we got back to Lulu's place, we made some caramel apples and waited around for the football game to end and for the 100 or so more people to show up. They did and they all brought great food with them. It was a very beautiful day, with a slight autumn chill in the air and a stiff Ohio breeze to mess up your hair. Everyone sat around on the porch or wandered here and there eating, talking, drinking, and most of all relaxing.

Probably the best thing for me was when Tegan decided to show up. She got some work done at home without the kids to distract her and so felt like she had earned a break. It was too nice of a day for anyone to be inside too long and certainly too nice to be spending your inside time working at a computer.

As the sun went down we gathered around a nice fire and warmed ourselves up. Some guitar playing occurred, as well as some singing. (You can listen to the singing with the audio post below.)

Thanks Lulu for providing a great time!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

My global adventure

Yesterday afternoon I was waiting for Tegan to finish up work and so I vented my anger at Steve Jobs in the post that you can see below. After writing that, I looked down at my hit counter at the bottom of my page and discovered that my numbers had jumped about 200 or so overnight.

Mystified, I dug deeper into my hit counter statistics and discovered that my daily hits had indeed leapt from an average of 30 or so the over 300 in a single day!

Had I somehow hit on the holy grail. Had I “made it” in the blogging world?

I wasn't sure what I might have done that made it happen and then I remembered . . . the post I wrote on Tuesday night that linked to the Newsweek article on Mormons.

But was mentioning Mormons all that was necessary? Are the LDS that powerful?

At first I thought it was a mistake. But after some more investigating, I convinced myself that it was legitimate and that somehow, I jumped onto the wave of something at exactly the right moment. And, as you can see from the results from today, I'm back down to my customary numbers.

But I did pick up some (probably temporary) readers outside of the United States for the first time--Brazil, Australia, Mexico, and Canada.

Now, if I can only get them to come back again . . . hmmmm.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Dear Steve Jobs . . .

. . . I HATE you!

No, I take that back.

I love you.

No, I hate you.

Love . . . hate . . . love . . . hate . . . love?

Why must he do this to us all the time? Any Apple lover will tell you that deciding to purchase ANY Apple product is a torturous decision because we ALL know that your new state-of-the-art Look At That Thing toy is gonna be old news in approximately 6 months.

Case in point?

Today's announcement of the newest iPod (now featuring Video . . . and even Thinner!) is a dagger through the heart of anyone who bought an iPod in the last six months or so.

And its not like I didn't know this was gonna happen, you know? (Not that I knew the ViDEOPod was coming, but that I knew mine would be obsolete within a year.)

That's just the way it is now, and I can't keep up. Hell, none of us can keep up. If you try it will drive you insane and make you mad and turn you into a greedy, materialistic jerk that no one wants to be friends with.

So, what do you do? Hold tight to the things that really matter:

family, children, friends (with more obsolete tech than you so you can feel superior), health, good books, challenging television, nice blog ideas, good weather, reliable cars, reliable housing, adequate food and clothing.

These are the things that are NECESSARY. Everything else is just sweet, sweet eye-candy.

(Besides, in a few more years, I can offload my clunker iPod on Ariel and get the latest . . .)

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Modern religion

Through a slightly odd bit of circumstances, I found two separate things in the media today about religion and modernity.

The first was a Slate photo essay on modern church architecture. I am not a huge fan of mega-churches. I find them too watered-down in their spirituality. Too consciously created to appeal to the masses and to avoid challenging their lifestyle or challenging their ability to grapple with the real matters of faith and life (just give me a simple message and lots of songs, thanks). But, I do admire their grandiose, modern architecture--even if it feels more like you should be watching "The Producers" instead of hearing a sermon.

The other thing that I found when I came home from work today was a Newsweek cover story on Mormons. I found the article to be very careful in its treatment of a religion that has a very controversial past. I certainly am no expert on the belief system of the LDS, though I know Mormons and have talked to and been in discussions about their beliefs. I don't think the article went very far into explaining exactly what that faith entails, which I found disappointing.

For more on modern architecture, look no further than this other Newsweek story on San Francisco's de Young Museum. The magazine's website provides a photo gallery of the building design, but you can't get a direct URL to the pop-up window. So, use this link and then go the the section halfway don't the page entitled "Resources for our Print Users." You will see the link under the name "Take a Virtual Tour of San Francisco's de Young Museum." (It's right below the nice article on the band Franz Ferdinand.)

It really burns me that Tegan and I were walking through that park two months ago and I had no clue this brand new modernist building was there. (I don't think it was yet open to the public, but I could have at least gotten a good view of it.) Just disappointing to have missed out like that.

You might not know this about me, but I dig modernist architecture. I would really love trying to live in a really modernist kind of house--you know the kind that is all weird angles, lots of glass walls, very spare furnishings. Tegan cordially allows me these fantasies, but I don't think I could ever convince her to live in such a place.

Oh well, maybe I can build my own. It might even look this cool.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Fighting back the ennui

So, what's my problem? Why don't I have the blogging juice?

I wish I knew, because it is clearly a sign of my mental and moral bankruptcy that I can't think of anything worth talking about. Or maybe I've been spending my time on less than interesting pursuits? Whatever it is, I am sure it reflects badly on me, because, well, that's just the way it's supposed to be right?

No! Must fight back the sense of worthlessness! Must reach for the good.

So, why don't I provide some information about random photos?

Okay, here we go:

This is what happens when sanitation workers have too much time on their hands. Should I consume more to generate more garbage and therefore eat up their spare time? Nah. But I admit that it was the most interesting sight I have experienced with trashcans in a while. And look at Ruth. She is certainly perplexed and must be wondering how to deal with this odd monolith. Sorry, baby but the secrets of evolutionary success are not to be found here. (And yes, the workers did this up and down the street.)

On a recent trip to the zoo, Ariel enjoyed feeding the lorikeets in the Australia exhibit. Ruth was a bit freaked out, as she often is with animals, but it was wholesome family fun for everyone.

Ariel has shown some desire to play with our camera. This is probably one of her most artistic shots. She doesn't know that it's art and maybe I am imposing my own opinion here, but I like it.

Over the weekend I helped Tegan by cleaning out her spring/summer pocketbook and transferring stuff into her fall/winter pocket book. Here is photographic evidence of the junk that women (my wife at least) shleps around with her. You can see, clockwise from left corner: 1) various pieces of trash--several pieces, 2) pieces of paper that are not trash either because they have notes written on them or are official-looking papers that I don't want to get in trouble by throwing them away, 3) medicines and cosmetics that include a. anti-inflammation medicine for T.'s wrist b. chapstick c. lipstick d. hotel bottle of lotion and e. hotel shampoo, 4) kindergarten brochure and hairbrush, 5) one (and only one) stocking, 6) wallet, 7) straw from Wendy's, 8) seven ink pens--none of which can ever be found when you need a pen, and 9) two nametags--one corporate tag for some company conference (cracked) and one from church.

Rock balancing a hoax?

Doesn't this seem like an internet hoax?

I don't care if there is video.

I just can't believe it's true . . . and yet I drive you all there to increase site traffic.


Last night Tegan commented/chided(?) me for not posting in the last week.

Yeah, I'm sorry, but I really haven't had anything of use to say. And when I've had moments like "I should dash off a quick post on how good LOST was." or "I can't stand to watch the Braves lose AGAIN . . . and in such a horrific manner."

Well, nobody wants to read that: 1) you all watch LOST and don't need me regurgitating stuff that I find written originally by someone else anyway and 2) Braves lose? Who cares and what's new anyway?

So, I've got nothing, really.


I'll try harder to be a bit more enthusiastic and original this week.

Monday, October 03, 2005


thirteen is one of "those" movies--one that is based in real characters and real life and can therefore be seen as topical. Whether it is, in fact, real is a matter of opinion. And what your opinion is, in today's culture, says a lot about who you are and what you think about this or that or the other thing.

Maybe thirteen is this generation's Rebel Without a Cause? Today's Reefer Madness? I'm no film historian, so who am I to speak with any sort of convincing clarity on that.

Here is what I do know. When this movie came out, I heard a lot about it. I paid some attention to the media coverage, in part because it sounded like a decently-made movie that might be interesting to watch. But also, you see, I have two young daughters. And, as the media coverage went, if this movie accurately depicts the common lifestyle of today's thirteen-year-old girl, then, well . . . I shudder to think (says the media talking head to me the paranoid father) what will girls of the future be doing, saying, thinking, choosing? Hmmm?

So, I approached this movie with some caution. I have faith in my ability to talk to my girls, and I am aware that they won't be teenagers for quite some time, but you know, someday they are going to be making up their own minds about things and short of locking them in closets or basements, I can't keep an eye on them all the time. I can only hope that I will arm them with facts and an understanding that actions lead to consequences.

Maybe I am more worried that the consequences of any improper actions will fall upon me more than them (in the hypothetical future scenario where they make a Horrible Mistake of Some Sort)? At what point do I (if ever) tell them that they have made their bed and they have to lie in it? That's the sort of question that a Supreme Court nominee would defer from answering and so I guess I'll have to make up my mind on a case-by-case basis. Creating universal litmus tests for human/filial emotion is a losing battle.

Back to the movie . . .

Holly Hunter plays the divorced mother of a teenage daughter and son. She is sort of struggling to make money as a hairdresser out of her home. (I say sort of because they aren't living on the poverty line here and aren't suffering for food. I hope that reality is deliberate, as it underscores the fact that the mom, challenges or not, isn't facing completely insurmountable odds. This, then, makes her inability to see what is happening with her daughter all the more distressing.

The daughter, Tracy, is entering middle school and is becoming aware that Hello Kitty is no longer the marker of what is cool or desirable (though you will discover that she doesn't have zero baggage either). The mom wants to be her friend more than her mom, which is kind of understandable in a divorced situation, but then again, not a good idea at all. While you might want the kids on your side and probably don't want to fight that battle along with every other battle, to abdicate responsibility as the parent is, in my opinion, not a wise choice.

Case in point? Tracy comes home late, after breaking curfew and after her first experience with marijuana. What does the mom do? Not much really. She shakes her head (to her current boyfriend who is probably staying the night) and swigs some more wine.

Thing spiral more and more out of control. Tracy and her bad-intentioned Muse "Evie" clearly revel in trying to one-up each other and assert dominance, but they still react like children when the "right" boy shows approval towards them. So, they have the weird duality of trying to act like adults that don't give a shit about anything and little girls that are desperate for approval.

The escalation of drug use by the girls is just casually demonstrated. They smoke marijuana at the park, then thirty minutes later it looks like Tracy is smoking crack (or maybe it's a different type of bong?) and in the last hour they are just nonchalantly snorting coke in Tracy's bedroom. And after all of this, the mom is stunned to see that Tracy has a belly button ring and a pierced tongue? The mom is so screwed up herself that she doesn't even see what has been going on for months.

I guess the overall message is that you can't put your job or your own temporary pleasure ahead of your kid's well-being? Because if you turn your back on them, they'll be growing up a hell of a lot faster than you want them to or that they are ready for. Oh, and California parents are much more interested in their own stuff than they should be?

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Finding Omnimedia

I finished watching Finding Neverland tonight.

It's not quite a review, but more a series of rambling thoughts about the movie and some other stuff.

In essense, it's the sort of stuff you've come to expect.