Saturday, April 27, 2013

BEDA 21: Hands. Writing. Work


My fingers are dry, rough, and peeling. But they didn't get this way because I swing a hammer all day or clean up fence rows. I didn't construct a swing set in the backyard this weekend or rebuild the engine in the van.

My best guess? Friday afternoon I spent a few hours collating text book tearsheets, sorting and stacking 11 x 17 pages of paper, pulling off paper tags, moving bunches, shuffling the paper from here to there on my desk, to a copier to make some scanned PDF files, then back to my desk to do it again.

Believe it or not, rubbing the page edges on my finger tips must have abraded the sin more dramatically than you might otherwise assume. So, maybe office work is more manly than is otherwise supposed?

(Nah, I don't really believe that either.)


I've also been catching up on my Fresh Air podcasts the last few days and thoroughly enjoyed her interview with David Sedaris on Thursday. I really enjoy Sedaris' writing. I bought the audio book of his previous volume, and like to hear Sedaris' distinct voice reading the stories that he wrote. His new collection--Lets Talk About Diabetes with Owls--is partially based on some of his private journals that he has been keeping since the 1970s.

Thinking about the daily commitment to observation, note-taking, writing, and collecting for that many years is impressive. And it certainly has paid off for Sedaris. Listening to him talk about writing, though, is frustrating. I imagine what that life might be like . . . left to your own devices and thoughts, writing every day, making a living off of that writing, being successful. It sounds great, but the work is much harder than you might suppose. It involves unspoken talent and skill that doesn't just come from finding the time to write all the time.

And to add insult to injury, in a separate book review, Terri Gross introduced the author by saying that "he entered into his public writing rather late . . ." (at the age of 44!). That immediately made me depressed. I may never be more than a sometimes blogger, I guess.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

BEDA 20: Fun with Acronyms (via MentalFloss)

It's much easier to do this daily blogging thing if you completely and totally lean on the hard work and slick production values of others. So, in that spirit, please enjoy this MentalFloss video that has lots of fun information about acronyms and initialisms. (Though . . . I'm still a bit stunned that John didn't provide TARDIS as an example. I guess it's too obvious?)

Though, I would love it if you provide in comments any acronyms or initialisms that YOU expected to see and didn't.


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

BEDA 19: Man of Steel Trailers x 2 . . . UPDATED

The new Superman movie is coming out in June. And even though I didn't hate the Bryan Singer offering Superman Returns, there is no denying that Man of Steel looks pretty impressive.

The newest trailer was released just recently, in case you haven't seen it.

(via Warner Bros. YouTube channel)

You may have seen that. But you might not have seen a reimagining of the same trailer using only images from Superman: The Animated Series.

(via YouTuber Jawiin)


April 25 @ 8:14 pm
While perusing the internet tonight, I found a completely different version of the Superman origin story.

Kal-El of the Wild (via The Good Stuff--which is a good new channel on YouTube,created by the excellent Wheezy Waiter.)

Monday, April 22, 2013

BEDA 18: Spoiler Alert

What do you want me to write about today?

I didn't really do much, looking back on the day as it was. I went to work as I normally do and I read emails, I tried to advance forward on the current project while successfully ignoring tasks on two others. I followed orders and frustrated others. I got frustrated myself. (I suppose I should be more of an active agent in things rather than serving as other people's mouthpiece--but that would probably require that a.) I was emotionally engaged in some of the things that I have to do and b.) I wasn't slipping more and more into a doldrum-ic state (who's about THAT for coining a phrase? anyone?)

(And isn't THAT entire last sentence a sorry admission of things?)

I left work early so that I could take Sarah to her orthodontist appointment. And then I spent the rest of the late afternoon with her and Hannah, fixing dinner, playing a bit with the kids in the backyard and then counting the hours until Lynda and I can relax a bit on our own before falling asleep and doing it all again tomorrow.

So . . . what do you want me to write about today?

If you clever, you can see what I don't write about between the lines of the poor words and phrases that I can squeeze out. And sometimes there is nothing interesting hiding there at all. Sometimes I am just sitting and typing and letting my fingers transcribe the jumble of words that are forming in my head with very little in the way of filter and only pausing to fix a typo resulting from my fumbling fingers. And the I pause to let my fingers and my arms rest and I'm left with the question rattling around in my brain.

What do you want me to write about today?

The inspiration for the title above was in the chance that I might be inspired to write something about last night's Game of Thrones episode or last night's Mad Men episode. But I don't have much energy (or any notes) to try and lay out all of the events that occurred. And besides--as the title suggests--you might not have seen them yet--or at all. And if you had, you've most likely turned to other professional recappers to lay out all of the themes and call backs* and subtext. I very likely could never approach that level of detail and thematic consistency, what with my not taking notes and all.

So . . . what do I write about today?

I'm officially out of ideas for now. My fingers are still and my mind is done spinning.

*Be honest. Raise your hand if you knew that when Don eavesdropped on Peggy's ketchup pitch, he (and you) recognized that the phrasing she used ("switch the conversation") was stolen directly from her master's mouth?**

**Also, be honest again . . . did you realize until this moment that I intentionally used the phrase master's mouth to simultaneously refer to Peggy's apprenticeship with Don and to hint to the famous RCA Victor ad campaign?

Sunday, April 21, 2013

BEDA 17: Sharon Woods

We took the kids on a ramble in the Sharon Woods metro park this afternoon after church.

They devised a scavenger hunt of things to find. We split into teams and spent a while in the trails.

There are lots of old, impressive looking trees in the backwoods trails of the metro parks. Too bad this old boy wasn't able to leaf out anymore. But he's still standing.

Then we came home and I mowed the back yard, bought some mulch, did the grocery shopping, and now I'm home and we're about to have dinner.

My legs are tired and I am tired.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

BEDA 16: Honest Trailers, Harry Potter edition

Sarah showed me this Honest Trailer today on the YouTubes.
If you haven't heard of Honest Trailers, well, you'll get the idea once you see the trailer.

(There is a slight bit of suggestive language--but only just a little. If that sort of thing offends you, you've been warned. But it really isn't that bad.)

Friday, April 19, 2013

BEDA 15: Hearts and Minds

We all know that there has been lots of terrible news this week. Some of it seems intentionally terrible (the Boston Marathon bombings and last night's/today's suspect mayhem) and some of it (the West, Texas fertilizer plant) seemed--at least to me--at first terrible and then just accidental and terribly regrettable.

Weeks like this remind us that the world is dangerous, unpredictable, full of anger, and frightening. But we are also buoyed by the heroic actions of helpers, volunteers, people who love life and want to resist evil and anger and sadness. We celebrate the helpers and the survivors and try to keep going forward to a positive place.


But when the public statements begin to wane and the daily grind of making choices return to the fore, the dirty business of devising solutions must begin. And I fear how those days will go because I am weary of the posturing and empty statements that cover asses but achieve nothing. Many nights when I get ready to go to bed, I have spent the previous ten minutes ranting to Lynda about how politicians are a.) unwilling to make choices, even if those choices might be unfavorable or b.) are absolutely convinced that they choices they choose NOT to make are done so to forestall the potential of (as yet) unforeseen consequences. I get angry that we don't have legislators willing to lead, but are instead willing to delay.

And, in the end, even if laws are passed . . . problems do not go away.

These are the thoughts that I had last night as I was going to sleep:

a.) the modern civil rights movement "began" around 1954 with the Brown v. Board of Education decision that outlawed school segregation. But segregation didn't disappear overnight. Continued fights about implementation and completing were still going in the 1970s.

b.) significant mass public protests regarding civil rights were kick-started with the successful Montgomery bus boycott of 1954-1955. Immediate changes began occurring in Montgomery that year. And yet, interstate bus segregation was still begin fought by the Freedom Riders in the mid 1960s.

c.) Martin Luther King, Jr. and so many other leaders and activists were publicly speaking and protesting for civil rights starting in the late 1950s. And yet major, significant national legislation didn't occur until 1965. And the Voting Rights Act wasn't passed until two years after that--following its own series of targeted marches, protests, and much negotiation.

All of this doesn't even acknowledge that much of this was (technically) legally unnecessary if only people had been willing to acknowledge the finality of the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments which were passed a century in the past.

The law is important, symbolic, and entirely NECESSARY. I am not diminishing the vital use of laws. But laws are only a necessary step to final success. People must accept the law and learn to live by it and see through it and feel the equality of those words within their hearts. We MUST have laws, because that is how a society is governed and that is how a government speaks to its people and tells them what is necessary and minimally required for cooperative living. But we know that laws are not the final solution to the problem.

Time, education, reality, acceptance, love, and forgiveness are the mechanisms that make laws breathe and that make society real and lasting and secure.

We want our social problems solved immediately because we think we can control everything through science and technology and effort and commitment. But true, meaningful change comes slowly. It must be earned, understood, internalized, and most of all accepted.

This is not what we want to hear during times of crisis and disagreement. But I believe it is true. And that slow change must come by hard, consistent, thoughtful, committed, careful work. The people who want that change must actually do something and stand for it and speak of it in effective ways that make the rightness of it clear. It cannot be shouted. It must be spoken. It cannot be demanded. It must be lovingly requested. And it cannot be gifted. It must be worked for and won . . . won because those who oppose it are persuaded that it is right and just and necessary and GOOD.

This takes time.

It is time well spent.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

BEDA 14: Martins Films

Yesterday afternoon, while I was baring my soul, the girls were out back making a movie. They asked if they could download the iMovies app for the iPad and Grace said she would pay for it out of her allowance. So I said yes. And the three of them went out there and made The Princess of Pink. (The story idea was Hannah's but I think Sarah and Grace handled most of the scene creation.)

They were so pleased with that effort that they quickly came inside and started a new movie, while I gave Hannah a bath.

Here, for your viewing pleasure, is The 10-Year Old Spy.

(This blogging every day thing is pretty easy if my kid's handle the content creation.)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

BEDA 13: A Confession

Lynda is mowing the grass in the front yard and the girls are in the backyard making a movie of some sort with the iPad. So now seems as good a time as any to confession something to you.

Will you keep it a secret? For some reason, I am ashamed to say it out loud . . .

(I want to learn to play the ukulele.)

. . .


What do you think? Are you ashamed to know me now? Do you think its a ridiculous thing for a 41-year-old man to aspire to? Are ukulele's best left to Don Ho, Tiny Tim, and twee hipsters-in-training? (Can you see where my preconceptions are?)

But here out my reasoning--such as it is.

  1. They are inexpensive. I'm sure you can get handcrafted models made of driftwood in Honolulu that are inlaid with coconut wood and they are quite pricey. But for a beginner such as myself, you can probably buy a standard uke and a case for around $70, right? Didn't I see that as a price in the Uptown music store a few months ago?
  2. They are portable. Speaking of that case . . . they are small, light, certainly easier to manage than my good ole French horn or Lynda's dusty old guitar. And if we go traveling, it won't take up any of the premium packing space in the van full of five people's gear and such.
  3. They are easy to learn? I mean, right? Sort of? Maybe? I've never actually tried to learn . . . but they have one less string than a guitar, two-thirds less string than my brother's banjo, and if they are so popular with the callow youth, they can't be THAT hard to pick up, can they? (I mean, most of today's kids won't do ANYTHING that causes them to break out in a sweat, so I'm probably right on this one.)
  4. I can finally join the Martin Family Jamboree band. Whenever we get together these days, Andy either plays the banjo, the guitar, the fiddle, or whatever he whittled this week. Erick almost always has his guitar. And the rest of us can sing along if we remember the words to Uncle Pen. But if I could also bring along a ukulele and contribute some dynamic chords, then I'd be the family hero! Nobody would ever mistake me for Daniel again!
So, there. I've unburdened myself and now I feel compelled to live up to my public pronouncement. If, the next time you see me, I've not strumming along to Tiny Bubbles or something, feel free to punch me in the neck.


Monday, April 15, 2013

BEDA 12: A Day Without Ideas

I don't have any good ideas for today.

(Click the picture for a larger version to get a better look at details.)

So, I'm posting a picture that Sarah drew about a week ago.


Sunday, April 14, 2013

BEDA 11: Tiger & Don

Okay, so my Blogging Every Day in April effort is not quite EDA enough . . . but I'm not upset. And while I am in between Game of Thrones and Mad Men, I thought I would drop a quick hit blog post about something.


Here at WWYG?! I am no stranger to weird theories. I've been spinning them for years--damn the consequence. So, I was all in a few years ago when my oldest brother worked on convincing me about a theory he had heard (for one summary of the idea, see this Bill Simmon's mailbag link and the note from Josh Peterson in Omaha) linking interesting parallels between the real-life fall of noted golfer Tiger Woods and the fictional fall of noted ad-man and serial-philanderer Don Draper. If you search the two men, you can probably find some good summaries of the two men's parallel fall from "grace" a while back--Tiger's public fallout with his wife, the holiday mishap and driveway accident, the eventual reveal of sex addiction and whatever. Along with that was Don's break up with Betty, the singledom, all culminating with eating pancakes and whiskey while his daughter watches.

So, at the start of this season of Mad Men, we were noting the upswing in Tiger's golf rankings, his favorite status at this week's Masters golf tournament, and the return of Mad Men from a loooong hiatus. Would Don's life follow a similar upward trend this season?

Well, after seeing the two-hour premiere of Mad Men last weekend and seeing Tiger's travails at Augusta this weekend, I'm here to suggest that the parallels are still there--and they aren't good.

Don can't see the suicide metaphors right in front of his face during his missed ad pitch to the hotel chain. He's got so much of the Hawaiian surf pounding in his ears he  can't understand what is going wrong with his life. But he knows that his fake life of Dick Whitman is slowly unraveling for all the world to discover.

And Tiger? He also found trouble this weekend, also amongst water, as he made his own falsification with his errant ball drop and the incorrect scorecard. Sure, the golfing powers-that-be let his continue his Saturday and Sunday efforts, but nothing came of them. And nobody at Sterling Cooper Draper Price is going to be firing Don/Dick anytime soon either (unless they can lure Peggy Olsen back into the fold to take Don's place?). So Don, like Tiger, will continue to go through some of the motions. But how much longer can they hold themselves together before it all crashes down on them with finality?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

BEDA 10: Room 237: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and See the Hidden Messages

Credit: . . . and Stanley Kubrick and Warner Bros. films, of course

The first time I watched The Shining, my family was visiting my 2nd brother Andy's college apartment in Florida. I was, I think 15 years old? As I watched the film, in the dark apartment, in the evening, I was completely creeped out by the imagery of the film. The way the camera was always following Danny as he Big Wheel'd his way down empty hallways, turning corners to confront I never knew what. The creepy twin girls, the flowing blood from the elevators, the flashes of previous atrocities committed by previous residents of the Overlook Hotel, Jack Torrence's descent into madness. I'm not surprising anyone when I say that the movie is just straight up creepy.

And, so I watched most of the film with a couch pillow in front of my face. Or I determinedly focused my eyes on the bottom third of the screen, watching feet and carpet patterns and snow drifts and whatever I could to avoid seeing faces and emotions and whatever.

I have since read Steven King's book and I even sat through the TV miniseries that starred that dude from Wings.

So, I thought I would tonight watch Room 237, a film in which Kubrick obsessives try to convince you that Kubrick's film The Shining is not about the horrors of demonic madness or simple insanity or writers block or the inadvisability of living in the Rockies during the winter.

No, this movie is about 
a.) the destruction of the Native Americans or
b.) the Nazi Holocaust or
c.) how Kubrick helped fake the moon landing footage and then used this film to admit his complicity or
d.) less sensationally insane theories that just want you to realize that there are many, many layers of meaning here.

It's interesting and infuriating at the same time. Because while I admire the ingenuity of the theorists, I just want to yell at them that sometimes a continuity error is just a continuity error.

My favorite theory was the one in which the dude rigged up a way to overlay two simultaneous runnings of The Shining--the first starting at the beginning and running to the end, the other starting at the end and running to the beginning. He claims that THIS is the way that Kubrick meant to show the film . .  or at least this unlocks some of the secret storytelling connections about how Kubrick constructed the story. It does show some interesting moments where  overlapping moments of the film(s) have symbolically intriguing moments. But to a normal person, this is probably just the inevitable result of a movie only having three characters, who are bound to overlap in resonant ways during the film. The brain is just going to see a pattern.

My next favorite theory was, again, not one that tried to unlock some secret Kubrick message, but one that acknowledged how bizarre the hotel was and how the physical layout of the hallways as shown in scenes demonstrated this. Now, I don't know how accurate this theory actually was, but I did love the maps.

If you like conspiracies and you like Kubrick, give this movie a try.

BEDA 9: Nerds Like Us

Milestones achieved today:

1. I put on shorts when I got home; the girls were outside playing. Thanks goodness that Spring may have finally arrived.

2. Hannah can now self-propel herself on the swings. This makes it possible for her to play in the backyard independent of us. (A good thing, in case you weren't sure.)

3. I completed two minor room decor updates in the house--both super nerdy in nature.

A.) I bought a frame so that I could give Grace a wall-worthy version of a recent Entertainment Weekly cover.

Since Sarah recently got furniture upgrades in her room; and since the old furniture was passed down to Hannah's room, I thought that Grace deserved a small piece of something new. And since she started watching Doctor Who before Sarah, I thought she would like it.

B.) I also framed the John Green poster that I had purchased back before Christmas. So while I was at the store for the other frame, why not get another one as well?

But once home, where to hang it? I thought that it would most likely end up in the basement--and when Lynda asked where I thought we could hang it, that is what I said. But she (to her enormous credit) said, "No. I mean half of the people in this house are nerdfighters, so don't hang it in the basement." Isn't she awesome?

So, it is hanging in the TV room, on an opposite wall from the Tree of Gondor quilt.

We are so nerdy!

Monday, April 08, 2013

BEDA 8: Videos and other entertainments

I recorded a video to serve as today's BEDA post. And I see that the problem with using the YouTube Capture program is that I set my other digital spaces to "speak" about the video--rendering this version of it (the intended traffic point) to become uninteresting. (Depending on when the video uploads or when you choose to read this post, you may have already seen the video about the iPhone app.)

That's the problem with multiple digital voices--which one is the main point? Is there a rationale for maintaining a central "depot" that all the other places serve, or should they all independently maintains a distinct voice? And is that effective or does it just water down whatever impact you are trying to achieve? I don't know yet what is the best way for me to present things? Or if it even matters.

So, to prevent this post from being entirely redundant, here is a picture of Sarah working on a Doctor Who spec script that she and Grace started talking about over the weekend.

Future writer at work.

 That's right everybody. My oldest daughters are now trying to write a script for television. Once they are done--and after I read through it--if I honestly feel it is warranted, I'll mail it to the BBC. Why not?

Saturday, April 06, 2013

BEDA 6: Weekend Edition

Much of this day has been spent doing office work. Lynda has been nice enough to help me out, so I feel good about the amount of things prepared. I hope I can relax a bit during the night without spending all of it doing more work.

The weather is still cold, but at least the sun makes things look nicer. But I'm starting to think about the need for cleaning up flower beds and mulching. It's not my favorite things to do, but it is nice when the yard is neat and inviting.

(Got to take a break to read bedtime books to Hannah.)

And that is as much as I wrote yesterday. Forgot to post it.

The weather today continues to be sunny and resembles Spring. (At last!) thanks to Lynda's help, I might be able to get outside and have some fun today.

Friday, April 05, 2013

BEDA 5: Placeholder

I won't lie. This post is here to fulfill the daily obligation. I don't have a very good idea about what to say tonight. It's been a stress-filled week and I'd just like to take the night off. However, we have lots of kids over playing and watching movies and having a good time.

I would like to hide out upstairs with a glass of wine and a movie to watch. But I've also got plenty if work to accomplish this weekend. I should probably do some of it tonight.

Here's a picture of my basement vantage point.

And I guess that'll be all for now. Happy Friday night to you all.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

BEDA 4: That Witchcraft That You Do . . .


Back when things were smoother and I wasn't a mewler all the time, a defining bit of my public persona was the persistent wearing of the sweater vest.

So, let's try to conjure up some magic today, shall we?

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

BEDA 2: Red Shirt

Given the events of this work day, is it any surprise that I foolishly wore this under my dress shirt?

Stupidly tempted the fates . . .

Monday, April 01, 2013

Blogging Every Day in April?

Is this an April Fools joke from me to you? Or am I setting an unreasonable goal for myself?

I don't know.

But maybe this is just the start of some fun this month? (As long as I don't have too much work-at-home pressure to deal with this month. And that IS a concern this week.)

As always--I welcome any suggestions you may have for writing topics.