Tuesday, September 28, 2010

v2, d178: Ostrich Crossing

Why did the ostrich cross the road? 

Because it wanted to eat a car, clearly.

I dunno what exactly is going on here.  For all I know, those folks are still sitting there, in their car, as the two ostriches slowly work their way through the vehicle's exterior layer, through the metal framing of the car, until they're finally atop the terrified tourists. 

More likely, they got bored and left.

Speaking of leaving, it's time for another little bloggy break.  I know, I know, I already did that once.  And I lost some loyal readers during the lapse while I was finishing up both Alice and Foxes at the same time.  But the truth is, there's a LOT on my plate right now.  Again. At least mentally.  And I can't focus on important things like Random Nintendo Games of the Month when I'm dealing with...well, life.  Everything is demanding a lot right now; work, church, family, my own walk with God, and yes, even my writing.  So, I gots to get my house in order, both literally and metaphorically.  And I've got to get some rest.

Hopefully I'll be back soon.  May only be a week or so before things all settle down again.  You never can tell.  But I'll be back.  Because what self-respecting comic book ever quit before reaching at least 300 issues? ;-)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

v2, d177: Okay, now that just sucks...

Hey, remember all that stuff I wrote about Josh Harding a couple days ago?  Sticking out halfway through last year on a bum hip, what a great guy and teammate he is, how hard he's fought to come back ready for the new year?

Russo has the latest.

I feel so bummed for Harding.  He really is one of my favorite NHL players, even if he is only a backup goaltender.  And don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled for Anton (assuming he does, in fact, nail down the roster spot).  He's a good kid and a talented goalie with a super attitude and a heck of a strong "Aw, Shucks" factor.  Of course, pretty much every member of the 2009 Aeros playoff team's going to have a special place in my hockey-loving heart.  Man, that year was fun. 

Still, I can't think of  worse guy for this to have happened to.  Good luck, #37.  The entire staff of FOMW believes in you.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

v2, d176: "Marty's taking us to the zoooo tomorrow..."

Bit of an unusual day of work today.  Which, at my workplace, is definitely saying something! However, any day you get to go to the zoo for a few hours and hang out in an office with a couple of cats certainly seems to qualify as "an unusual day."  Unless, of course, you happen to work at the zoo in an office that has a couple of cats. 

Today was the zoo's Bear Awareness Day.  Now, I've already said on here that I think "ZooBoo" is an extraordinary event with an extraordinarily cheesy name, so in order to keep with that tradition I had christened today's excursion "BearAware."  However, since I was going in character (as Winnie-the-Pooh, of course) to promote our upcoming show, I threw out the name "ZooPooh" first thing this morning, and it was decided that either ZooPooh or BearAware were acceptable monikers for the day's festivities. 

I didn't bother telling anybody at the zoo this, though.  Do you think I should have?

Originally, I was scheduled to be there all day, from 10 till about 2, but because I've been super-concerned about Kim and the new baby the past couple of days our wonderfully kindhearted P.R. people agreed to let me go around lunchtime.  Which was a risky concession on their part, since we weren't sure exactly what our schedule was going to be until we got there, and I was the only talking bear on staff.  But my family and I definitely appreciate the kindness, and thus it is now immortalized on a small personal blog that about six people read on any given day. 

I only wish I could do more.

The vague notion we had going into the day was that we were going to have a table to distribute fliers and brochures (the zoo is good to us like that) and that at some point, Winnie-the-Pooh was going to come out and read a story to some kids.  And Ta-Daa the Acting Bug (known to some as Shazam the Big Blue Dog) was going to be there, too, because the zoo loves Ta-Daa.  The impression we had from that description was that the zoo was going to give us a book to read.  Probably about bears.  Hopefully even about Winnie-the-Pooh.  Oddly, none of us really even questioned whether or not they had planned to provide the book. Our contact talked to their contact, and our contact turned around and told our PR office manager, who relayed what he'd said to Marty, who told us, so we sure thought we had a pretty solid idea of what was going on...

Well, you know how that always goes ;-)

Needless to say, we brought no book, and they had no book, just a couple of performance times.  It was at this time that I was immensely glad that I had decided to go through and read Milne's Collected Tales of Winnie-The-Pooh immediately after being cast in the show.  While Hannah and I were chased from one Chilling Out Spot to another ("Oh, sorry, we're going to use this room for a meeting.  There's a room down the hall you could use for the next ten minutes or so...") I was running through the Hundred Acre Wood canon in my mind (while simultaneously making jokes about having Winnie-the-Pooh's good friend Kevin regale the children with ways to survive the Heffalump Apocalypse while TaDaa acted them out), trying to find short, simple stories that wouldn't involve a ton of action or characters.  As we were carted across the crowded zoo sidewalks (Hi baby Baylor!), I settled upon the story of Pooh and Piglet tracking the Heffalumps through the snow.  The kids stuck with me through the whole story, which is a major accomplishment when it's hot outside and there are lots of Things and Noises and Animals all around them.  (Another reason I chose one of the shortest stories I could recall)  Most of the parents seemed genuinely charmed.  Which is good, because they have the money that could potentially be spent on the tickets to the show. 

I never saw our PR table of literature, so I don't know how that end of things went.  I went out and told my story a couple of times, TaDaa got a bunch of hugs, and OH!  Between performances, they ended up stashing us back in the office at the rear of a building that housed a lot of bones, fossils, fur samples, and other creepy things.  The office was nice and comfy, though, and there were two cats who were born as wild cats at the zoo and were brought in, loved, and domesticated, so they were the official office cats.  They found lots of interesting things to sniff in my costume and the discarded TaDaa parts.  (One of them even snuck into the TaDaa body bag while we were performing.  THAT was a surprise to come back to!)  Got the chance to remember that I do, in fact, like cats.  Who knew???

So, a good morning at the zoo telling fun stories to antsy kids and charmed parents.  And an afternoon at home doing everything in my power to make life easier on my lovely but fatigued wife.  And a big ole' meatball sandwich from Jason's for dinner.  And some dang fine television courtesy of Alabama vs. Arkansas and Oklahoma vs. Cincinnati in college football. 

All in all, I'd call it a Very Good Day. 

Friday, September 24, 2010

v2d, 175: On Reading, Writing, Raining, Robbie, Reto-email, and Russo

I'm blogging during my lunch hour in the hopes that I'll have a little bit of energy this evening to devote to "real writing" again.  Lately, my lunch hours have been spent reading, which is also good.  Why can't I read and write at the same time?  One generally increases my appetite for the other.  Both pretty much consume what little free time I have these days, though, so I can't ever satisfy both appetites at once. 

It's thunderstorming outside.  I love thunderstorms. We don't get a lot of what I'd call "real" thunderstorms in Houston.  I guess growing up in Tornado Alley spoiled me a bit in that respect.  It's like living in Maine and then trying to eat lobster in Missouri.  Just not right.  Incidentally, not many people know where Tornado Alley is.  I once had a Strat hockey team that I named the Tornado Alley Titans.  The rest of the guys in the league pretty much thought I had made it up.  Of course, most of them were from Canada.  Not that Canadians are dumb (after all, I am one sorta), but there's no reason why they should be familiar with geographical nicknames on American locales. 

The guy who had a team in Hamilton, Ontario named his team the Hurricanes.  Alliteration win, common sense fail.  I'm pretty sure they don't get hurricanes in Hamilton. 

Then again, we rarely got Titans in Tornado Alley.  So there's that. 

Robbie has strep again, by the way.  Did I mention that yesterday?  Strep seems to be the only thing that three-year-olds are willing to share freely with their classmates.  I guess it's a step in the right direction.

Does everybody still have a hotmail (or better yet, a juno) account that they set up in high school with what is now an embarrassing handle which they now use as a generic "sign up" email list so all the junk mail will go there and not their "grown-up" email account, or is it just me?

Good write-up by Minnesota Wild beat-writer Mike Russo on former-Aero and current FOMW Favorite Player Josh Harding.  Story doesn't mention (or if it did, I missed it, which is possible) that the reason Harding was so stubborn about playing hurt last season was that starting goalie Nik Backstrom was already hurt and the team was in a playoff hunt. 

Here's a reminder of that amazing save the essentially ended #37's season last year: 

PS: I hate YouTube advertisements.  Happy National Punctuation Day everybody!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

v2, d174: "More than a bumblebee, more than an ant!"

Very busy. Very very very very very busy.  Nevertheless, thought it necessary to pass along this urgent news item from Sherri, in which we learn that now the British are now becoming aware of something we here at FOMW have known for months: We're doomed.

Really, though, I am incredibly busy now.  And so is my wife.  And so blogging is suffering.  Though you do get things like "Shark" when that happens, so it's not a total loss.  I would, however, like to use this opportunity to ask something of anybody who may be reading this.  (I know, that's lame: I give you nothing and then ask something in return.  Booo!) 

Please pray for us.  This isn't an "Everything is horrible and chaotic!  We need emergency prayers!" situation.  It's simply a, "There's a lot going on, and we'd appreciate the prayer support" sort of thing. 

Pray that Kim will get the rest she and the baby need.  It's been a very long week at her workplace and they've really been asking a lot of her lately.  Plus, I'll be out of the house a lot this weekend (again).  So pray for rest and stamina for her.

Also, please pray for stamina for me.  I'm in four different places most of the time right now, and I just need the energy and focus to make it through everything without totally crashing and burning. 

Also also, please pray for our church's Halloween carnival.  I'm in charge of that now, and there's a lot to be done in not-a-lot-of-time.  Plus, it's my first time doing it, so that's intimidating, too.

Finally, please pray for some nice deep breath moments.  At least one time a day where we can share some simple pleasure as a family.  A calm between the crazy. 

Thanks, everybody.  Things are going well over here.  These days are just very, very full.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

v2, d173: Linky-like

So, NHL training camp = four days long.  The rest is pre-season games until October 7.  So there ya go.  Four days of training.  You should be good for the year now.  Go have fun.  Don't get too hurt.


Sportsmanship: DeAngelo Hall doesn't haz it. So, immediately after getting torched for 497 yards, you call an opposing quarterback unimpressive and say that he was clearly rattled, and after personally giving up 114 yards and a touchdown to a team's number TWO receiver, you say the team's number ONE guy (better numbers, played hurt, kicked your guys' tails) really didn't impress you.  Yeah, okay. 


And, heading into week three, left tackle Duane Brown is suddenly suspended?  For unknowingly putting something illegal in his body?  I have a...well, you know


Unrelated (or is it???):  AGONY! (What?  Something for the ladies who hate it when I talk sports)


Finally, required viewing: It's 1978.  You're twelve years old.  You've just seen the movie JAWS.  What do you do?  Gather up your friends and make your OWN shark attack movie!  This is amazing.  It's ten minutes of a homemade shark and stock footage attacking junior high kids.  And who doesn't want to see that?

No, seriously.  I'm impressed.  Very creative, and very "who gives a darn if we don't know what we're doing?"  Here, I'll post it here so you don't even have to leave blogger.  Ladies and gentlemen, "Shark":

Monday, September 20, 2010

v2, d172: In Which I Dedicate a Post to Travis, and It's Not Even His Birthday

Normally, when people post links on my Facebook wall, it's either something that I've already seen or something otherwise unimpressive.

Today, however, Tarvis (the Mighty) gave me a Shark Attack Education link that was so chocked full of incredible information that I had to share and comment in my own little corner of the Internet. 

First: I assume these have to be the number of reported and recorded shark attacks from 1580/1670-2009.  Everybody knows that the Really Good Sharks don't leave enough behind for there to be anything to report.  Still, I was surprised by how few attacks there really are and how few fatalities have resulted over the past three hundred years.  For example: only three Texans have died of shark attacks.  (I wonder how many sharks have died in Texan attacks?)  In 340 years, only 100 people have been attacked by sharks in California (according to this site).  Which is a bit surprising, since the site also shows that the majority of people attacked in the year 1990 were surfers, and Cali has some pretty surf-heavy beaches.  (Perhaps something is keeping the California sharks at bay?)  Also: sharks are not huge fans of spicy food, as evidenced by the fact that there has only been ONE shark attack off the shores of Louisiana.  Florida is the only really shark-heavy state, as there have been SIX-HUNDRED TWENTY-NINE shark attacks in the Appendage State (once again, that have been reported).  That is five-hundred twenty-three more than the next-highest total. 

Lately, an overwhelming majority of shark attacks have come against surfers.  So don't surf in Florida, or you will likely be attacked.  (But, again, you will likely survive, as only thirteen people have been killed by sharks in Florida. That we know of)  Divers appear to be pretty much left alone.  If you really want to be safe in the water, however, the activity you want to partake of is "Other."  I don't know what else you do in the water besides swim, dive, or surf, and I don't want to know. 

The site also goes on to show you how sharks do and don't attack. Apparently, this does not happen (languuge warning).  Nor this.  So, shark attacks: Not as frequent or creative as you might like to think.

Finally, you have a list of things more likely to kill you than shark attacks.  I hope you go and check out this thing for yourself, because it really shows you who the real enemies are.  I always thought that vending machine at St. Luke's was too smart for its own good...

Thank you, Tarvis, for finding what may be the second most informative and second most entertaining thing on the entire 'Net. 

Saturday, September 18, 2010

v2, d171: Rain-soaked Saturday Mornings

Amazing how "thirty percent chance of isolated showers" becomes "monsoon looming over one of the most flood-prone areas of the state."  Equally amazing how quickly "beach party with our church friends" can become "most disappointing day in a three-year-old life." 

Disappointingly un-amazing is how quickly "bad morning on the road" wipes out gratitude for a mountain of blessings that are obviously staring you in the face. 

Therefore, it is with a penitent and grateful heart that I give thanks publicly for family, for safety on rain-soaked highways, for a warm, dry home to come back to, and for an hour digging in the sandbox and playing in the rocks before going in for an evening work shift. 

Very blessed.

Friday, September 17, 2010

v2, d170: This 'N That

Still feeling a bit ill. (Note: my sickness is more exhaustion than virus/bacteria) Went to the pastor's house for a staff cookout today.  Got there a little over an hour late because work ran late and then Kim was in no condition to cook after an afternoon of grocery shopping, so I stayed here long enough to unload the car and put away the dishes while cooking dinner for her and Robbie.  By the time I got to the cookout, they had eaten and not saved any.  Man law: you get to the table while the food is still there, or you forfeit your right to the food.  Anyway, when I got there, one of the first things the pastor said to me was "You sound awful."  I guess not resting has something to do with it.  I ought to sleep in tomorrow, but I promised the kid that I would play on the beach with him tomorrow, so dangit, we're playing on the beach tomorrow.

Sorry, college football, but a nap will probably be in order for the afternoon before working tomorrow night.

And Sunday afternoon (covering for a coworker who's covering for me tonight).

And for some reason, I'm back in on Worst Meeting of the Month meetings at work, which is Monday.  The following Saturday, I'm playing Pooh bear at the zoo for Bear Awareness Day.  Don't worry folks, rest is coming.  Er...someday...

The good thing about having sick-like symptoms is you don't have to feel bad when you call in sick to work because you really are sick!!

Anyway, in real news, NHL training camps opened today.  Finally.  Seems like so long ago that Patrick Kane scored the most anti-climactic overtime Cup-clinching goal in history.  Also very excited about Aeros season starting in three or so weeks.  (Here's hoping I can afford to make it to any Aeros games this season) It's pretty wide-open this year; my guess is either the Canucks or Penguins win it all.  But don't hold me to that, because I haven't done my pre-season-report research yet ;-)

Let's see, what else?

I'm thinking of writing a new fairy tale/short story.  But it might be a little...bizarre.  Also: possibly boring.  But short.  Keep an eye out on the Secret Blog.  Those who follow the Secret Blog.  So, like, Travis.  ;-)   

Oh, hey!  This was pretty funny!  Early this morning, it was reported that former Stanley-Cup winning coach (and should-be Hall-of-Famer) Pat Burns had died of cancer.  This surprised a lot of people.  Especially Pat Burns, who called a friend of his at TSN to ask him to tell the world that he "hadn't ******* died yet," despite the fact that many have had him "dead since last June."  Therefore, today's edition of the Montreal Gazette featured the headline "Pat Burns Has Not Died."  Awesome. 

Aww, they've changed it since.  Too bad...

Thursday, September 16, 2010

v2, d169: And Now, for a Cultural Experience

Sorry, kids, I plan to do some real writing tonite, which means This Old Blog gets some filler for today.  However, I've gone to great lengths to make sure that tonite's post is both educational AND entertaining.  I know that usually, when I say something will be educational, it means it's going to be stupid.  But this is actually kind of neat. 

So come along.  All expenses are paid.  You are an official guest of FOMW to enjoy an experience with the rich and lovely culture of Australia!

Next, time for a good cry over the nearly-mystical beauty of Ireland...

And finally, the beauty and majesty of...wait...wha...oh no, our Tour de Culture has been invaded by....THE CANADIANS!!!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

v2, d168: Shuffleblog

I've been doing such a good job of not drinking caffeine in the evenings.  Tonight, I planned to go to bed nice and early to finish off this nasty sickness.  Then, right around 7:30, Kim had suddenly had enough for the night and needed to lay down, so I decided I'd finish dinner and put Robbie to bed and all of that.  Well, I had already fallen asleep once on accident this evening, so I knew there was only one way to make it thorough the evening. 

Hello, Diet Dr. P.

I feel kinda like Bastien using his second-to-last-wish to bring Atreyu back to life.  I know it's not a great idea, but I really don't know that I had any other options.

Anyway, while I'm up, I might as well give you people what you want.

#1: Personal Judgment Day by Big Tent Revival

"Don't have to listen to a word I say, 
Don't have to bow your head and pray,
But you're only one step away
From your personal Judgment Day..."

For some reason, "Judgment Day" still makes me think Terminator 2.  Which is remarkable given that I've never seen any of the Terminator movies. 

I know, I know.  People are generally aghast when I say that.  And then they say something like, "We are TOTALLY going to watch those together!"  This has been going on for the last six years, and I'm pretty sure it's not accurate. 

By the way, I highly recommend HowItShouldHaveEnded.com's latest Terminator video.  "You mean, not only do I invent time travel, but in the future machines are going to use my technology to go back in history and kill just one man???" 

This was a short song.

#2: Town Meeting Song by Danny Elfman (from Nightmare Before Christmas)

"And the best, I must confess, I have saved for the last,
For the ruler of the Christmas Land 
Is a fearsome king with a deep mighty voice,
Least, that's what I've come to understand..."

This song is kind of an eerie choice, given the line I wrote just before starting the shuffle. 

I don't know if I've mentioned this on Shuffle before, but I wasn't really that big a fan of TNBC when it first came out.  I thought it was weird.  (It was.  I apparently was not weird enough.  Yet.)  It wasn't until I played through Kingdom Hearts for the first time that I started to get into it.  There's a Halloweentown world, for those who don't know, in the KH franchise, and the music in the background is the This is Halloween theme looping endlessly.  It's pretty delightful, and I had Sherri lend me her copy of the soundtrack.  The music is what got me hooked, and so I rented it and watched it with Kim.  Basically, I've been at least a passing fan ever since. 

You should look up "Haunted Mansion Nightmare Before Christmas" on Youtube sometime.  I'd link to it, but I'm on a time limit here.  They completely redo the inside of the Haunted Mansion ride every year from Halloween to Christmas.  It's pretty rad. 

#3: Worship Song by Pete Stewart

"You lift me up so high till my voice fills the sky,
High above the heavens.
You fill my soul with peace and deliver me,
And I will call upon your name." 

I was really excited when Pete Stewart announced he was going to do some solo stuff after Grammatrain broke up.  His solo album was pretty good, though not outstanding, and he didn't record again after that.  He did play Police Chief Devlin on the !Hero: The Rock Opera cast recording, but he unfortunately didn't tour with the show.  (Which was too bad.  The guy who did it on the tour wasn't nearly as creepy/good) 

By the way, I absolutely love the !Hero: The Rock Opera cast recording. 

It seemed like there was a point in time in the late 1990's when all of the best Christian rock bands were splitting.  The reason?  There was a rash of marriages, generally among the lead guitarists or bass players.  For some reason, having a wife makes you want to be a grown-up and not just drive around playing rock and roll shows all the time.  I guess I can see how that would happen.  Kory and John Cooper of Skillet just load their two kids in the tour bus and home-school them.  Er, bus-school them.  I seem to remember Kory played on tour well into her third trimester with their second child.  Think these children have any choice but to be rocker kids?  Yeah, doubt it. 

#4: Mr. Blue Sky by Electric Light Orchestra

"Mr. Blue, you did it right, but soon comes Mr. Night,
Creeping over, now his hand is on your shoulder.
Never mind, I'll remember you this, I'll remember you this way." 


Not going to lie, this is one of my three favorite "Get up in the morning" songs.  (It's sometimes hard for me to believe exactly how melancholy I used to be.  Also, the other two are "The Sun Also Rises" by Brave Saint Saturn and "Brand New Day" from Dr. Horrible's Sing-a-long Blog)  Seriously, it doesn't get much happier than this song.  You almost can't play it without bobbing your head from side to side.  It's a song that's literally all about the sun coming out and everybody being happy!  I mean how much does that rock??

If I ever get my little garage rock band together, we're totally covering this song.  No arguments.  I will fight anybody who wants to dissent. 

Incidentally, I have to make sure my little garage rock band consists entirely of people I can beat in a fight.

Other songs I want to cover: something Steve Taylor (a bit updated, of course; I've got an awesome hard-rock rendition of Bouquet in my head), Handbook for the Sellout, Don't Take the Girl (I have an awesome ska-core rendition of this one and I think it'd make people smile), Livin' on a Prayer (come on, EVERYBODY covers Livin' On a Prayer!), That Thing You Do! (best concert-opener ever), and It's The End of the World As We Know It. 

My band is going to be awesome. 

#5:On Distant Shores by Five Iron Frenzy

"On my knees I cried to you, bleeding myself dry,
But the price of life was more than I could ever buy.
If mercy falls upon the broken and the poor,
Dear Father, I will see You there on distant shores..."

If you've never heard this song, I can't really explain to you how beautiful it is. 

I got this CD my third week at The Huron Playhouse in 2003.  It was the farthest I'd been from home, the first summer Kim and I spent apart (since we'd been dating for more than a month, anyway), and while I was having a good time, it was really tough.  I wasn't fitting in, I wasn't making friends, and I was, on the whole, pretty lonely.  Then came this, the last FIF CD (not counting the live-recorded final show in Denver).  The timing was perfect. 

When I got it, I just had time to digest the whole thing between lunch and company meeting.  This is an emotional enough track that it can catch me from time to time seven years later.  At that time, at that point in my summer, with everything I was dealing with at the time, by the point in the CD where the last track bursts into an echo of Every New Day (the song that FIF played last at every show from 1997 on), I was pretty close to bawling.  It was so cathartic.  And I managed to get it all out of my system without anybody noticing, so I lost no face.  ;-) 

I'll say I felt a lot better after that day.  The CD proved a needed link to my home, my past, and my friends.  My myriad of quirks started to make sense to those around me, and a few of them decided that I was funny and a good person to have around.  Everything got so much easier after that. 

Another testament to God's impeccable timing, I suppose. 

Here's my heart, let it be forever Yours,
Only You can make every new day seem so new.

#6: Hero by Daily Planet

"I guess I played the game, 
I guess that I'm the one to blame.
I put my faith in man, tho he'll turn to dust.
I'll put my faith and all my trust in the One who made me..."

You know how most of the good bands seem to disappear after one album?  Yeah.  Daily Planet was one of those.  They had a fairly distinct sound.  I loved the way they put together guitars with strings and a bit of a gruffer style of vocal.  They were catchy and upbeat without being pop.  Lyrically, they were a bit rough, but who isn't on their first album?  I don't really know what happened to these guys, but they disappeared after their debut album, Hero.

Incidentally, this song became one of my unofficial theme songs for The Hero Squad vs. The Princess Snatchers.  Just seemed to fit perfectly. 

I'm trying to wrack my brain to think of I can find an example of this sort of idol-worship-gone-wrong in my own childhood.  Hm...nothing is coming to mind.  I will let you know if I think of anything in the next week or so.  I am reminded of an episode of Growing Pains where Ben gets to meet his favorite rapper and the guy is a jerk to him, so he comes home and tears down all his posters until Renown Hockey Fan Alan Thicke tells him that it's okay to still like the guy's music.

Another life lesson learned.  Thanks yet again, Growing Pains. 

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

v2, d167: In Which I Come to the Conclusion that I Don't Really Need More TV

Thanks to Tarvis, here's a glimpse of what my blog looks like in graph form!  I know you've always been curious.


I recently (and by recently I think I mean "months ago") went to go hang out with the guys for an evening.  These evenings generally consist of some combination of fast food, comic book discussions, video game discussions, actual video games, actual comic books, small talk, talk about women, explode-y movies, theology, and other.  I brought along a library book as a bit of a sight gag and said, "See, look guys!  Now you can talk about Dr. Who and not have to worry about me being bored!"  (The previous week, due to a severe lack of sleep, I actually dozed off at some point during the Dr. Who discussion, much to my embarrassment)  I'm fairly sure the joke had the opposite effect, unfortunately, and I probably offended both. However, they still hang out with me, and I'm usually broke, so I know it's not just for the money, so I imagine we're good.

Nevertheless!  My point is that it's been YEARS since I've been "into" a TV show that a large contingent of my friends were also into.  For a while, a few of us shared Heroes, and on occasion I can riff with somebody about Chuck (which is more my wife's show than mine), but in general, I'm totally missing out on everything.  In fact, if you look on any of those "My Interests" sections of most social network type website, I either leave "Favorite TV Shows" blank or else put something like "NHL Hockey, NFL football, other sports, sometimes Survivor."  (Usually not Survivor lately)  I just don't get into TV shows like I used to. 

And you know what?  I just today realized that I'm okay with that.  I completely missed out on LOST.  I'm aware that it may be the most brilliant thing that has ever come to the airwaves in prime time.  I only caught Battlestar Galactica when Kevin was watching the BSG marathon in our hotel room in Indiana.  And I really do believe it was probably the coolest cable series of the past ten years.  I also realize it makes me a bad geek for not getting into it.  I also missed 24.  And Pushing Daisies.  And I probably won't get into V.  Or just about anything else anybody has told me that I would get addicted to in the past five years. 

And....IT'S OKAY!!!

You can't understand what a relief this revelation has been to me!  To be honest, I've always felt a little bad for not taking up every recommendation I've had.  And, yes, there have been times when I've felt left out because I can't hold up in a particular conversation.  (This was especially bad my first year at work, where literally every conversation on a Wednesday or Thursday was LOST-related)  But the truth is, when I lay down at the end of the night, I'm still satisfied!  There's not a LOST-sized hole in my existence.  The fact that I don't know what all the So You Think You Can Dance hullabaloo is about really doesn't phase me too much when all is said and done.  I'm living a fulfilling life...without regular television programming! 

You could argue that the only reason I don't miss it is because I don't realize what I'm missing out on.  Well, that may be true, but the fact remains that I don't miss it! 

Part of this is because I have books now.  And I'd generally rather read that watch.  Or, I have some PS2 games I still like to go back to when I want to veg out.  I've got dishes or laundry to try to keep on top of and (now) 1.5 jobs to do.  Plus, there's family and (when the Good Lord allows it) friends, who are WAY more interesting than epic television dramas. 

I'm a busy guy!!!

Television has long been recognized as the greatest propaganda machine on the market today.  (Internet is close, but people will click away from something on the computer that they'll sit and watch for thirty to sixty seconds on the Tube)  Commercials are always telling us we need something we don't need.  Then, shows and movies basically became longer versions of commercials.  But the biggest thing TV has sold me over the years has been...TV!  I should watch that thing, because it is there.  I should watch it more, because it is interesting, and if I am not into it than I am not cool.

Well, HA, television!  I totally figured you out!!

Okay, now I am NOT saying TV is bad, or that people who watch a lot of TV are drones, or anything like that.  It's not, and they're not.  However, I'm not much of a TV guy.  I haven't been for awhile.  It's just not somewhere I want to spend a lot of my time.  I'd rather do other stuff, yo.  So please don't feel like I'm slighting you if I don't take you up on that recommendation.  You're right, I probably would love it.  But I'm also perfectly happy without it. 

And if I fall asleep during your conversation about something I'm not into, it's not because you're boring.  It's because I'm tired.  I'll have an infant in the house soon, so you may have to get used to it.  I apologize ahead of time. 

(Oh, and for those who were concerned, I'm feeling a bit better today and am going to take my last Ambien tonight, so hopefully I'll be good to go for another ridiculously full day tomorrow)

Monday, September 13, 2010

v2, d166: Warning: System Unstable

Technically, today should have been my day off due to the extra-long Monday workday.  But I came in to work, because there was plenty I needed to do that I knew I wouldn't be able to get done the entire rest of the week.  And I had a good, productive, steady day at work.  Sometimes, the empty Monday building makes it easier to get things accomplished.  I'm good with what I was able to take care of today. 

Unfortunately, I'm paying for it.  My body is on the brink of crashing unless I get some major rest in, pronto.  This isn't a terribly unusual thing; over the past few years, I've averaged just over one "crash" like this per year.  It comes from not sleeping and lots of working, which I've been doing.  So I'm going to pull the plug and call in sick tomorrow, because I've been here enough times to know that pushing myself for one more day is probably going to lead to a total system failure.  And I've got multiple rehearsals from Wednesday through Friday and a church beach party on Saturday. 

Get your rest, kids.  Or sooner or later, your body will make you take a day off!


By the way, what a great weekend of football games!  I at least partially watched just about any game that happened to be on when I was home all weekend long.  Currently watching the Chiefs/Chargers nightcap to the season opener of MNF. It generally surprises people, but I really do love football. 

So keep that in mind when you read this.  Ryan Lambert is a very funny hockey blogger who is pretty much known for being snarky and incendiary, so if there's a way to get others riled up while making his point, he probably will.  Obviously, I don't completely agree with Lambert's conclusion...but he does make some pretty strong arguments, nonetheless.

Also, because I know most of you won't read all of that, or if you do probably won't click on the links therein, here's a really interesting report that outlines exactly how much of what is shown during NFL telecasts.  For example, in 60 minutes of clock time, there's an average of 11-13 minutes of actual football being played.  Surprisingly interesting behind-the-scenes look at what all goes in to the production of a live NFL telecast. 

Saturday, September 11, 2010

v2, d165: Full Day

Man.  When I woke up today, I knew I had a busy day ahead of me.  I didn't realize at the time that, from the moment I rolled out of my bed, I was going to be doing something until midnight.  First thing on the schedule was the Young Audiences preview.  It occurred to me recently that I don't actually have to go to this every year.  In fact, I really didn't have to go this year.  I could have written the script to have the four actors in the shows narrate it themselves and make them load their own darn van. ;-)  But I love this annual event, and I love our touring unit, and I love the folks at YAH, so I gave up my Saturday morning yet again to help out and be available for any questions.  It was a lot of fun this year, as I got a chance to speak at length with some YA folks and some folks from other arts organizations, and I think our performance went well and seemed to be getting some positive feedback from those who gathered to watch.  Plus, got to catch some hip hop dancers demonstrating some capoeira.  The whole thing did take a little longer than I expected it to, however.  In fact, when I got home, the first thing my son Robbie said was, "You took a long time, Daddy!"  By that point, there was just enough time for one dance with my boy before he went for a rest.  Then I had a light snack, and I took a nap, too.  Not for luxury's sake, but because it was necessary for the rest of the day. 

Well, the nap took a little longer than I expected, too, so when I woke up I literally had just enough time to change and then head out for another booking, this one at the Innovative Missions Opportunities banquet.  It was at the Hilton Americas downtown, which is pretty posh, but nothing really went right for awhile.  First, the parking garage was full, so we had to valet, but we also had to unload, so they weren't entirely sure what to do with us.  Then we got everything upstairs and had trouble finding our group.  We actually wandered right through them once before coming to a dead end and finding a hotel employee to ask for directions.  We got loaded in all right (and it's a good thing we brought our lights, because they didn't really have any for the stage.  You're welcome, IMO ;-) ) Then, our mics didn't mesh with their mixer board, and so we had to try to figure out how to do a three-actor show with only two lapel mics.  We got creative and figured it out, but by that point we were thirty minutes past when we planned to be eating dinner and they were about to let the guests in.  No problem, we just go downstairs to the cafe where they made us reservations a little late.  But the cafe says they don't have our reservation, so I have to go back upstairs to track down our contact, who has to call the cafe supervisor, who has to come down and talk to the hostess.  We were finally seated, and I hope nobody got into trouble for it. 

The food was amazing.  But by this point, I was afraid we might not finish and change before it was time for the performance.  Only because you really never know with this sort of thing.  And because, you know, everything else was going wrong. ;-)  We ended up having plenty of time, however, and ended up running in to a friend of ours who heads Less Than the Least Prison Ministries as he was on his way to the lavatory.  Patty met several friends of hers, we ran into a family that often books us at their house, and I saw a guy I haven't seen since we went to college together as he was in town visiting family before going to study in London.  And I got a free book somehow.  Oh, and we did the show.  It went well, too.  But again, took longer than I expected, and I got home at 11. 

My first thought was that I was finally going to have a chance to catch some college football.  (Football has become the quintessential "in-the-background" or "watching-to-zone-out" game for me, by the way.  Maybe I'll blog on that someday)  And I know I'll be up for a while yet, because there's a lot of laundry/dishes that I need to get done. 

And then, I remember exactly what today is.  Or rather, what it was nine years ago.  Oh, I'd been conscious of it all day, for sure, and there had been plenty of reminders throughout all my activities.  Flags flown at half mast, for example.  There was also a fireman's banquet a few floors up from where we were performing, so there was a huge American flag hanging from two fire engines outside the hotel.  That was a sobering scene.  But without a chance to sit down and process, I hadn't really reckoned with the ninth anniversary of 9/11 for myself yet.

Then, as I thought about it, I realized that yes, I had.  Remembrance was running underneath everything I did today, from the first half-flown flag to the "where were you nine years ago" status updates and tweets from countless friends at 11:00 p.m.  But the only way I could ever really combat the terror of terrorism is to do all that I can to make a world worth living in in spite of it. 

Empower, enable, and encourage the next generation of thinkers, dreamers, and workers.  Dance with your children.  Love your family.  Rest when you need to.  Celebrate the truth.  Encourage the church.  Help others to laugh.  Rejoice whenever the situation merits it.  Remember those times when darkness carried the day.  Embrace goodness in the face of hatred. Work on your house, work on your family.  Live a life you'll love, and love your life.  And live in the faith that, though the darkness has its day, its day will surely come to an end. 

This is how I can "fight back."  This is how I remembered 9/11, nine years later. 

Friday, September 10, 2010

v2, d164: 1,000 Words: Trampoline Mishap

Okay, it's been awhile, so if you need a refresher on the concept, re-read this

For my initial test subject, I looked up the term "trampoline mishap."  Here is the selected picture:

My initial reaction was, "Oh, this looks like fun!"  My secondary reaction was, "Wait, what exactly is this?"  It appears to be some sort of basketball-type game, only one person can play at a time while everyone stands around and cheers.  Or chants.  Or maybe the person in the middle is trying to escape, and they're mocking him. Because there doesn't appear to be a way in or out of this trampoline-in-a-cage other than "over the side."  And the landing outside doesn't look all that soft.  Now, I'm sure it's nothing dangerous like that, but it is worth noting that the netting (chain link fence?) obscures the boy in the middle's face, so it's hard to tell if he's having the time of his life or trying to escape with his life.  He could be either laughing or crying.  I mean really.  What fun could a group of people possibly have with a basketball trampoline game where only one person plays at a time?  If this was a bigger trampoline and there were goals on either side, I could see a highly dangerous game of one-on-one in progress.  But one guy bouncing with one ball?  And when he shoots it, I guess the game's over, because it's outside the playing field. 

So, conclusion #1: Whatever's happening here, it doesn't make any sense. 

Unless, of course, the object of the game is to avoid the ball that's in the cage with you.  That could actually be pretty fun, and you could take turns.  (Assuming, of course, there is a way in, which there doesn't appear to be)  Still doesn't explain the basketball goal. "Avoid the Ball for as Long as Possible" does sound like a game I would have invented when I was a bit younger.  Of course, if the picture really is some sort of trap, the ball could be the instrument of torture or whatever, and everyone gathered 'round the cage are actually cheering for the ball and not the boy. 

Aha!  And then the basketball goal could just be a decoy!  Makes perfect sense!

Now, I will admit that I'm not a huge fan of cage-fighting.  (That's fighting in a cage, not fighting against a cage)  MMA is, generally speaking, a little too brutal and unstructured for my tastes.  This picture, however, presents a way to possibly make the sport even dangerous.  I am talking, of course, about Trampoline Cage Fighting.  You either have to knock your opponent over the top of the netting or...um...yeah, I just can't think of a good way for that to end.  Most MMA bouts end when the ref senses one fighter can no longer or is no longer fighting back.  Or when one fighter taps out.  Two men (or women, I suppose) plus a ref on a trampoline, I'm afraid it'd be hard for the ref to determine when a guy is done.  And the winner would probably get just as jacked up as the loser.  So would the ref, now that I think about it. 

Conclusion #2: Trampoline Cage Fighting is a terrible idea.

Conclusion #3: Bouncy Fencing, on the other hand, would be brilliant.

Another observation: the males in this culture all wear pants, while the females all wear shorts.  And nobody wears shoes.  Not sure what this might mean, but it's oddly consistent.  (I can't quite tell about the figure in the back left.  I think it's a male, but the netting makes it hard to tell, and I'm pretty sure he's in shorts, but the shadows make it tough to know for certain.  It's possible he's an outlier to the pattern.  Which could be why he was forced all the way to the back of the picture) 

Maybe the trampoline surrounded by netting/fencing is sort of like a play pen for ten-year-olds.  I'd imagine it'd be equally useful for youth groups and college kids. 

Oh hey!  The little girl on the left has a ball!  I wonder if she's going to toss it into the fray in case the boy in the orange shirt defeats the green ball or the green ball simply isn't doing its job (whatever the heck that is).  Or maybe she's next in line. 

So, whatever's happening, the people watching are definitely into it.  They don't appear to belong to the same family due to the variations in hair and skin colors.  A green basketball goal may or may not play a part in the activity.  The person in the middle is either the star or a victim, and he may or may not have a way out that does not involve hurtling himself into near-certain traction.  His situation could either get more dangerous or more fun with the addition of a yellow ball.  And, because the image came up on the first page of a "trampoline mishap" search, I'm afraid we have to assume the worst in each of these points.

This picture is worth 818 words.  Not too bad!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

v2, d163: Top 7 "Unknown" Five Iron Frenzy songs

My all-time favorite band is/was Five Iron Frenzy.  Most of you know that.  Maybe I'll have a post up someday about exactly why that is.  Or maybe several posts.  Dunno.  They've been broken up for almost seven full years now, and I can still get psyched listening to pretty much any of their albums.  FIF didn't have a huge fan base, but it was (really, still is) a hard-core fan base.  You get some hard-core Five Iron fans talking Five Iron, and it's like we just saw a show last weekend.  It's crazy.

There aren't a lot of FIF songs I don't like.  When they come up on an iPod shuffle, I never skip them.  However, as is the case with any band that puts out more than four or five albums, you've got the songs that "everybody" always associates with them and then the songs that nobody really talks about.  Now, it's hard to qualify the statement "Nobody talks about this" with a niche fan base anyway, but conversations with both hardcore fans and those who liked the band in passing AND a quick glance around the Five Iron community reveals that there are a lot of clear favorites.  There are lots of screennames that are a variation on One Girl Army, for instance, and everybody who saw them play live can tell you what the last three songs on the playlist were.  (Note to FIF fans: that third link could get a touch emotional for you.  You've been warned) 

And then, there are songs that are still great but, for one reason or another, never reached Oh, Canada! or Handbook for the Sellout or A Flowery Song status.

So, it was hard for me to whittle this down to seven.  Some really awesome, relatively obscure songs didn't make it.  But 7 is the gimmick, and so 7 we have.


#7: Giants from All The Hype that Money Can Buy

"Who's behind that curtain anyway, who pulls the levers and tells the lies?
Giants roam the land today, gaining dominance with every stride..."

ATHTMCB was a weird album.  It felt like the band completely switched styles on almost every single track.  It was this totally eclectic, often quirky collection of tunes that, ultimately, produced very few Fan Favorites.  (Phantom Mullet, World Without End, and A New Hope are the only ones you hear much about anymore)  They jumped from pseudo-salsa to '80s faux-metal to a slower Caribbean flair to a hip-hop spoof to a Tom Jones cover to a worshipful circus-y sounding tune. 

And then there was Giants.  It's hard to classify Giants, but with its dramatic pseudo-frightening orchestration, its character-driven melody, and its overall theatrical presentation, it sounds almost like something that wouldn't sound too out of place in an off-Broadway musical.  I remember listening to this song once on a bus driving across a dead Kansas prairie at daybreak in the winter and getting legitimately creeped out.  (Why hello, creepy little girl reading poetry!) 

Now, with all its oddity, it's not hard to figure out why Giants was never a mega-hit.  (Also, apparently punk-rockers don't rally around a song that uses fantastical imagery to illustrate the evils of Corporate Darwinism)  However, the very elements that made the song relatively inaccessible to much of FIF's loyal legions are also probably the ones that gave it a definite cult status in my own heart and mind.

(As for the picture on the video...as I said, All The Hype was a bizarre album)

#6: Juggernaut from Five Iron Frenzy 2: Electric Boogaloo

"Freedom lifts me like a song, where the weak shall be made strong.
I may sink before I swim, but I'm not giving in to you..." 

FIF 2 was also a relatively unpopular album.  It's actually one of my favorites.  To me, it felt like the closest the band did to a pure rock album.  Which, again, is why the hardcore rudeboys hated it.  "You can't skank to it!" was a common complaint. 

Juggernaut was not one of the best tracks on the album, musically speaking, but it had a lot of character.  It sings of struggling, suffering, and patiently enduring in the hope of one day overcoming.  There's never a "Yay!  Jesus delivered me again!" moment of triumph; rather, the song keeps coming back with "I may sink before I swim, but I'm not giving in," and "Freedom like a song, the weak shall be made strong."  It's hope in a victory that has not yet been achieved, and a lot of times songs like that tend to come off as major downers.  Juggernaut is different, though.  I always found it really encouraging when I was face in the dirt.  And for that reason, it's on tonight's Top 7.

(Another note on Electric Boogaloo: best album artwork, from front to back, of any FIF record.  I think Dennis' wife did the photos, and they're amazing)

#5: Second Season from Our Newest Album Ever!

"I wonder if these minutes were my last,
If I should choose to feast or start to fast.
Will I pray or will I thirst, hope for good or something worse?
What emotions will I feel, will I run or will I kneel?"

This was years before I Can Only Imagine ever hit the airwaves, by the way ;-)

This song is so obscure, nobody's uploaded a youtube video of it! :-( 

Second Season, in a lot of ways, doesn't feel like a FIF song.  Reese isn't singing, Dennis is.  There's no snarky wit.  The horns are really subdued.  I can see why most FIF fans don't remember it.  But it's such a nice, mellowing sort of song!  It's one of those that you just sorta end up feeling nice after.  It's not mind-blowing, it's not even majorly mood-altering, but it is a very pleasant three minutes and a nice, easy reminder that, regardless of what's falling apart in this world, everything will be perfect in the world to come. 

#4: Litmus from Our Newest Album Ever!

"They ripped you off, they entertained, 
They never tried to ease your pain.
You thought you knew where God belonged,
But songs were sung and the band played on..."

Like Second Season, Litmus was buried on an album full of many of FIF's most popular songs ever.  Handbook for the Sellout, Where is Micah?, Superpowers, Blue Comb '78, Oh, Canada!, and Every New Day ALL came from this 1997 release.  In fact, Our Newest Album Ever! is probably the album that made FIF "big."  So naturally, some great songs were going to fall by the wayside, and this was one of them. 

It was also a bit harder-hitting than most of the album.  Also, not a ton of folks know what litmus paper is.

I mean, other than that, I really can't figure out why more people don't love this song.

#3: Fahrenheit from All the Hype that Money Can Buy!

"I was in eighth grade, I said he was a queer.
I thought he had it coming. He died of AIDS that year.
My liberty, like Christ's death meant nothing to me..."

Here's another song I can't find on youtube.  Sad day.

This is a really honest song about a pretty tough topic, and that mans it'll never have the mass appeal of "Gotta rock the screen with co-sine graphing on my calculator!"  The story behind the song: as a kid, FIF frontman Reese Roper's favorite record was Queen's Flash Gordon soundtrack.  He loved Queen.  Then, in junior high, he learned that Freddy Mercury was gay, and suddenly he hated Queen.  He joined in all the queer-talk as he and his buddies would bash the band.  Later that year, Freddy Mercury died of AIDS, and Roper later became broken-hearted at how callously he'd mocked a dying man who needed Christ.  "Predisposed to bigotry; the regular run-of-the-mill American story. Stench of greasepaint on our faces, pass the mask to our next of kin, instead of wiser idioms like 'Love the sinner, hate the sin.'"  

Any time a songwriter gets that personal, it usually makes some listeners at least a little uncomfortable.  And it was a controversial topic to begin with.  Plus, it was on that one quirky album.  But it's a great song, if a sad one, and it makes a valid and challenging point about grace. 

Incidentally, one thing I always loved about FIF was that they were a band that forced me to face some ideas I wasn't totally comfortable with in my own faith, and I'll forever be grateful to them for it.  This was one of the songs that did that. 

#2: Car from Five Iron Frenzy 2: Electric Boogaloo

"Imagine you held so tight your best friend,
Left him to fly, and never could reach him.
Standing on the shore where two waves meet,
Are you just beyond the other side of music?"

Another song with no vid.  Sorry.  Also not a ton to say about this song, other than it's another song that brings a hopeful feel to a terribly sad situation.  The song was written in remembrance of saxophonist Leanor Ortega (who really never shook the "Jeff the Girl" tag from the band's early years and is also no longer an Ortega)'s brother, who died in a car wreck.  Obviously, it's a moving song that promises to look ahead in honor of those who are left behind.   "Now he will be used in our Father's army," Leanor writes of her brother, "Not as one who kills, but one who always heals.  Can I take his burden? Who am I to follow?  We are blessed, we endure.  I am blessed, I will endure."  Fantastic stuff.

#1: The Greatest Story Ever Told from All the Hype that Money Can Buy!
"Welcome to the longest mile, more costly things we'll never hold,
Wonderful is our journey, the greatest story ever told..."

Why yes, it is a little odd that the only video I can find of this song has Veggie Tales characters.  But what are you going to do? 

Apparently I really consider ATHTMCB to be a really underrated album.  I don't know that that's the case, but I think a lot of the songs are better than people give them credit for.  Here we are, at number one on my list, and I can't really think of all that much to say about this song.  It's a tough one to dance to, the melody is kind of weird, but I love it.  It's about...well, it's about life.  Life as a journey.  A journey worth taking.  A story worth telling.  And while the writer in me wasn't even a writer back then, I think that's a beautiful picture.

Honorable mentions: Third World Think Tank from Upbeats and Beatdowns; You Gotta Get Up from Happy Christmas (a Rich Mullins cover that, to this day, Roper regrets having done), Four Fifty-One, Hurricanes, and All the Hype from All the Hype that Money Can Buy!, and Far, Far Away and Plan B from Electric Boogaloo.  Look them up for yourselves.  Enrich your lives.  Go forth and rock out, my friends. 

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

v2, d162: More Changes

A while back, I mentioned that "big changes" were on the way for me.  The first was the New Baby.  The second has finally come 'round, as I'm starting my new part-time job at the church as our head of children's ministry.  Now, clearly, we have a pretty small church, since Head of Children's Ministry is a Part-Time Job.  Nevertheless, everybody at church is Really Quite Excited about my coming on board.  I'm Quite Excited, too.  However, I'm also just a little bit Intimidated (seems to be a Theme around here lately, doesn't it?) at the task that lies ahead. 

We haven't had a Children's Minister for the past few years.  I've talked to everybody involved about finding ways to make this job work around my current Work Schedule, so I don't believe that's going to be an Issue moving forward.  We're at an exciting time in our church's life, as we're about to start on a big new Building Project that will improve our Sunday School rooms for all ages, and we're hoping to use that momentum to kick some life into our children's department.  Now, I know that Great Moments are born from Great Opportunities, but I can't help but feel like I'm at least a little out of my league here. 

I'm sure it's just Insecurity speaking, or Inexperience, but I really want to do a Good Thing here for God, for the church, and for these Kids.  (First I have to learn all of their First Names) 

In all seriousness (and proper capitalization), I would appreciate any and all prayers. This what I do is not necessarily a huge thing, but it is a significant thing.  May God bring Himself glory through the labors of my hands.  (As He will, and as He always does)

v2, d161: On Commenting

Apparently, leaving comments is becoming either A) laborious or B) impossible for several readers.  I decided to go into my blog settings to see if there was anything I could do to make it a bit more accessible for the masses.

Turns out, there's not.  So that's a bummer.

Who is responsible for this inconvenient, petty treachery?  Who would hate me enough to make life difficult for my loyal friends and readers?  Who so direly wants to keep me from receiving the encouragement you are so willing to bestow???

I don't know.  I'm looking into it.  But I have got some theories.

Monday, September 6, 2010

v2, d160: Sight-Gag

We seem to have established a beditme routine that works pretty well.  We have dinner, put away toys, take a bath (most nights), have family "cuddle time" in our bed, brush Robbie's teeth, get a drink of water, tell a story (Hairy Bear and Scary Bear stories are currently the favorite), lay on the floor together for a few minutes, turn on the theme from Forrest Gump, close the door most of the way, and leave Robbie to fall asleep.

It's so much better than lying next to him for over an hour until he finally went to sleep.

Lately, routines-within-routines have sprung up.  For example, during cuddle time, Robbie usually wants to talk to the baby (he seems to believe the baby will be able to hear him better if he speaks directly into Kim's belly button) and he usually wants to spend time with all three of us laughing simultaneously.  He will generally cue us in that it's time for this exercise by asking, "Will you laugh with me?" or "I want us all to laugh together."  And then we'll laugh, and he'll stop and ask what we're laughing about.

And so it goes.

Tonight, Robbie asked if we could all laugh together.  Kim asked if he would tell us a funny joke.  He paused for a moment and then started laughing.  "I told my funny joke!" he exclaimed.  "I didn't hear it," I replied.  "Robbie, a funny joke has to have words," Kim explained.  (Note: his usual funny joke is: "GEIGER!  GEIGER GEIGER!")  Robbie laughed and shook his head so wildly he almost knocked himself over.  "No a joke does not have to have words!" he said.  "Are you going to do a sight-gag?" I asked him.  He stopped laughing and sat still.  "Yes!" he said.  Then he paused for a moment, and you could tell his mind was working.  At last, the threw both arms up in the air, tossed his head back, and shouted "SIGHT GAG!!" 

Thursday, September 2, 2010

v2, d159: A Blog of Very Little Brain

I'ma take a risk and be honest here.  But you all look like good people.  I think I can trust you.

I just found out yesterday that I've been cast in our upcoming kids' show of Winnie the Pooh.  Now, I figured I had a pretty good chance at being cast; when the number of people auditioning is only slightly larger than the number of available parts, you're starting off in good shape.  I just didn't expect to be, you know, Pooh.  The guy in the title.  The really iconic character that everybody already knows and loves.  If you're ever doing a Winnie the Pooh play, your audience will forgive you for a lot of things as long as 1) You don't screw up Tigger, and 2) You don't screw up Pooh.  Well, this script doesn't have Tigger.  (Fun fact: Tigger doesn't show up until Milne's 2nd Pooh book.  Didn't know that!)  So, whether it's actually there or not, I'm feeling a little added pressure to do a bang-up job in this show.

Now, don't misunderstand me on the following two counts:  First, I'm not bummed at all that I've been cast in this role.  I love the character and I like the script, and of course theatre for young audiences is my greatest artistic passion.  Plus it's been over a year since I've performed in one of our kids shows.  Also, the cast is solid, and I think it'll be a great show.  I'm totally looking forward to everything about it.  Second, my desire to "do a bang-up job" is no different from any other show I've done.  If you know me very well at all, you know my desire is always to put forth excellence, especially in front of children's audiences.  The difference here, however, is that I know it's not going to be an easy process.  See, I'm not usually cast in roles that are going to require a lot of extra legwork.  I'm generally cast in shows that I will do because they will come easily to me.  As an actor, I haven't had to put in much outside-of-rehearsal work on just about any character I've ever played.  Again, that's not because I'm so awesome, it's because directors usually don't put me in places where I'll have to stretch to pull it off. 

Well kids, there'll be a lot of stretching going on this time around.  (Or is it "stoutness exercises?") 

And I'm excited about that.  I don't doubt that I'll pull this off; I do recognize, however, that it isn't a given that it'll happen.  I'm almost as excited about the work and the challenge as I am about the show itself. I really love the character Winnie the Pooh.  Before I started preparing for the audition, all I really knew about him was as follows:

A) He likes honey.
B) He makes you play many obnoxious mini-games in the Kingdom Hearts series.  
C) He shut down the Country Bear Jamboree.
What a jerk!

Seriously, though, after poring through the script a couple times and currently reading Milne's original books, I've really come to love the character.  I always thought of him as dumb, but he's clearly not dumb.  He just thinks very slowly.  And out loud.  And he reasons very much as a child might.  In fact, in reading Milne's manuscript it's so easy to see the love he poured into each page for his son.  It's really touching!  Each of these characters is treated with such incredible tenderness.  I'm a Daddy who makes up stories for his son every night, so I guess I feel some of what Milne is doing when he's writing. 

Hopefully that gives me something to work with in the show, aye?

Anyway, I'll appreciate prayers and support over the next month-plus as I try to find a way to do justice to this iconic, beloved character.  It's been awhile since I've wanted to "be an actor," but for once I'm really stoked for and humbled by the opportunity.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

v2, d158: Survey time

True story: I had planned to finally get to my 1,000 Words feature today, but then last night somebody bugged me about it, so now I have to put it off a few more days or people will start thinking they can get whatever they want out of this blog with a little complaining ;-)

So instead, we get an unoriginal survey.  It's just like our myspace days, everybody!  Fortunately, back in our myspace days most of you said my surveys were far more entertaining than my actual blogs, so maybe this won't be so bad after all.  (H/t to Brittany for the survey)

What is your salad dressing of choice?
One: this is a lame first question for a survey.
Two: I generally eat my salads naked. 

What is your favorite sit-down restaurant?
There are stand-up restaurants?
I generally like places with fun family atmospheres that aren't overly annoying, because most of the time I go out it's for lunch and with my family.  I'm also a big "theme" guy because I grew up wanting to design amusement parks.  I guess just about any Hibachi grill is probably my favorite sit-down restaurant. 

What food could you eat every day for two weeks and not get sick of?
If nutrition were no object?  Spaghetti-o's.  (This has been tested and proven true)

What are your pizza toppings of choice?
Ham, mushroom, and black olive together.  Also like bacon, pineapple, and beef. 

How many televisions are in your house?
One.  It took a couple of months, but I did toss the one that didn't work. 

What color cell phone do you have?

Are you right-handed or left-handed?
Left.  Though I throw right-handed.
Also, when I fight, I usually find myself wanting to lead with my right randomly mid-fight, despite the fact that I'm clearly more comfortable and effective leading with my left. 
  Have you ever had anything removed from your body?
I lost a lot of teeth when I was young.  Also, a mole and a cyst.  (The cyst was really, really gross)

What is the last heavy item you lifted?
By myself?  A couch.  With friends?  A platform with casters. 

Have you ever been knocked unconscious?
No.  I faked it once or twice.  It wasn't at all funny.  Oh, and once I almost passed out while giving blood because my donation time fell over my entire lunch hour and I hadn't eaten anything in six or seven hours. 

If it were possible, would you want to know the day you were going to die?
I don't think so.  Unless, like, it was a preventable death, like "Don't go to the comic book store on that day to buy a comic book, because if you do it'll fall on you."  Then I'd probably like to know so I could call the comic shop in advance and tell them to check their foundation.  (Also: I probably wouldn't bother with the comic book.  It's just not worth dying over)

If you could change your name, what would you change it to?
Hm...how's Dirk Goodwriter sound?

Would you drink an entire bottle of hot sauce for $1000?
I'd definitely give it my best shot.  What are the rules?  How fast do I have to drink it?  Can I take it little bit at a time over a span of a month and get the cash spread out over a decade? 

How many pairs of flip flops do you own?
Technically, none maybe?

Last time you had a run-in with the cops?
I got pulled over for going 40 in a 30 when I was late for work once.  The officer asked what I did for a living, I told him I was an actor/director/writer for a theater company and that my focus this year was on peer pressure and drug awareness for elementary school kids.  He later told me that "We all need a warning from time to time, so that's all you're getting today.  Remember, drugs aren't the only things that kill kids.  Fast drivers can kill kids, too."  Well said, officer.  Well said.

Last person you talked to?

Last person you hugged?

Fav Season?
Hockey season

Fav Holiday?

Fav Day of the week?
I don't think I have one anymore.  In college, it was Thursday, because Thursday meant it was one day away from Friday.  Strange, but true.

Fav Month?
...October?  Sure, October.  The weather down here gets awesome and not hot anymore, hockey season starts, it's Kim's birthday and my parents' anniversary, our children's theater season gets into full swing, there's the Halloween carnival at church...October's pretty rad. 

Missing someone?
I always find I'm missing people I'm not currently around.  I rejoice for the day we're not separated any more!

What are you listening to?
iTunes shuffle.  Now playing: My World View by Audio Adrenaline

Um...nothing.  I'm typing. 

Worrying about?
Worrying about plenty, but not stressing about any of it :-)

First place you went this morning?
The kitchen. 

What's the last movie you saw?
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.  It's actually hilarious. 

Do you smile often?
I don't know.  I'm told I often look upset or even angry, and I'm usually pretty happy. 

Do you always answer your phone?
No.  I'm getting better about learning that I don't have to drop what I'm doing and pick it up every time it rings.  Ditto with text messages.  Some things can wait.

Its four in the morning and you get a text message, who is it?
Normally I'd say Travis, but he's generally asleep at that time, so probably Mr. Redd.

If you could change your eye color what would it be?
The question says "If you could" and not "If you had to," so I think I'll stand pat because I think my wife likes my eyes. 

What flavor do you add to your drink at Sonic?
I always get slushes at Sonic.  I usually get a lemon-berry.  Mm, strawberries...

Do you own a digital camera?
Yes, but we've lost the cable to connect it to the computer, which is why my facebook has had no new pics from me for the past year.

Have you ever had a pet fish?
Ha!  Yes.  We used to have a whole bunch of guppies.  Then one day there was a plague, and we lost like seventeen of them in thirty-six hours.  Didn't wipe out the colony, though.  We eventually gave them away to a family from our church.  A good family, too.  I wonder what became of those fine people!

What's on your wish list for your birthday?
Borders/amazon/iTunes gift cards, cash.

Can you do push ups?

Can you do a chin up?
I actually did one or two a couple weeks ago just to see if I still could. 

Does the future make you more nervous or excited?
Why can't it be both?  :-)

Do you have any saved texts?
I'm not sure why I'd intentionally save most of the texts I get.  Most of them are "K"

Ever been in a car wreck?
A few minor fender-benders; nothing big.

Do you have an accent?
I think just about everybody has an accent to some degree or another.  I'm not sure what you'd classify mine as, but I'm sure you could classify it as something.

What was the last song that made you cry?
Um...wow, I have no clue.  Like, really, can't even guess.  Sorry.

When was the last time you cried?
Last Wednesday.  Bad, bad day.  Don't need to talk about it, thanks!

Plans tonight?

Have you ever felt like you hit rock bottom?

Name 3 things you bought yesterday?
Seriously?  Um...I bought some air for my tires...I bought a candy bar for fifty cents at work...sorry, can't come up with a third, tho the day before I got some lemonade for Kim.

Have you ever been given roses?
I think maybe for a show at some point in my career, probably high school.  But no specifics, sorry.

Current dislike right now?
The Economy. 

Met someone who changed your life?
I can't fathom anybody who could honestly answer this question with a 'No'...

How did you bring in the new year?
Depends on who you talk to...MWUAHAHAHAHAAA...

What song represents you?
Crash and the Boys once dedicated a song to me in a concert, but I can't remember what it was called...

Name three people who might complete this?

Would you go back in time if you were given the chance?
Do I get to choose when and where to?  Can the people in the past see/hear me?  Could my actions cause rifts in the space-time-continuum, or does the STC pretty much not want to deal with the ramifications, choosing instead to just let discrepancies slide?  Not enough information.

Have you ever dated someone longer than a year?

Will you be in a relationship 4 months from now?
Man I hope so.

Does anyone love you?
Man I hope so.

Would you be a pirate?
Yeah...I'm pretty modern piracy is not as glamorous as you might think...

What songs do you sing in the shower?
I usually hum, not sing.  Often Dr. Horrible or Riddle of the Rainbow. 

Ever had someone sing to you?
Yes.  I remember my mom used to sing to me every night when I went to bed.  I don't remember when/why we stopped that, but I apparently got too old at some point.

Have you held hands with anyone today?
Yes.  My family. 

What kind of music did you listen to in elementary school?
DC Talk, Carman, Michael W. Smith, aaaaaaand PDQ Bach. 

Do you believe in staying close with your ex's?
I fortunately only have one ex, and while we're not "close" we're definitely friends. 

Are most of the friends in your life new or old?
Neither; most are "facebook friends"

Do you like pulpy orange juice?
You know what?  I really, really do.  It's not easy to find, and my wife doesn't like it, so I never really get it, but I love the stuff.

What is something your friends make fun of you for?
Can't pinpoint one specific thing...Hey, friends, what do you make fun of me for?

Have you ever ridden on an elephant?
You know, I don't think so, but I'm fairly certain the option was out there one time.  I've ridden a camel.  I think. 

What are you saving your money up for right now?
I'm saving money right now?  (Kidding...paying off credit card, preparing for new baby)

When is the last time you ate peanut butter and jelly?
Far too long ago.  Dang.  I want peanut butter and jelly...
Wait!  I remember!  Guild event after the closing performance of Alice Now!
I kinda miss Alice Now!  Man, I loved that cast.

What song(s) do you want played at your funeral?
Every New Day.  The Jaws Theme.  Hold Me Jesus.  Mr. Blue Sky.  Be True To Your School.  Theme from Jurassic Park.  96,000.  Wake Me Up On Time.  And the final track from the Spelling Bee cast recording.

What were you doing 12 AM last night?
Heh.  Blogging.