Thursday, January 29, 2004

What a Bloghead

Don't you hate it when you borrow a movie from one of your best friends,
only to find you didn't really like it,
only to post a blog article - with details and larger observations about world events based on the movie's content - about how you didn't like it,
only to try to sneak the movie back into your friend's personal video library without him seeing it,
only to suspect he saw you do it,
only to realize he's one of three-and-a-half people on the planet who even occasionally reads the drivel you post when you're not in a place like the Hampton Inn of Marble Falls which doesn't have functional internet access,
only to have your wife discover you'd posted your thoughts on said movie on your blog,
only to have her say, "Didn't you hear them say that's one of their favorite movies?",
only to be really embarrassed and wonder how you could get back to being barrassed,
only to realize you are, indeed, a doofus,
only to then discover you've forgotten a lunch date with the same person you've dissed and that he's waiting at a local Chinese restaurant while you post this post-post post,
only to then realize your friend doesn't really get offended by such actions and quite possibly would've done the same thing to you?

I hate that, too.

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

As the Marble Falls

To the legion of boone box devotees, the four of you need worry no more. I'm back after a three-day jaunt to Marble Falls, Texas (and is there any other way to roll into Marble Falls than on a jaunt?) where the information superhighway is currently under construction.

Good to be back among the writing.

Sunday, January 25, 2004

One Bad Movie

One morning during my sophomore year at Abilene Christian University, my roommate, Joel, was frantically searching for his car keys amid the rubble that was our dorm room floor. (Think Baghdad 2003...except not as environmentally friendly.) In his anger, Joel erupted, "One good day! That's all I want! One good day!"

Actually, that plot and title, "One Good Day," would've been worth more celluloid than the movie I saw last night on video, "One Fine Day." This was not a box office smash when it was released, and now I know why. I think what David Spade once said about a particular flick in his Hollywood smackdown segment on Saturday Night Live applies to this film: "I wanted to see it, but I was sick that day."

The filmmakers concocted a seemingly foolproof plan: put two of the most beautiful people in Hollywood, George Clooney and Michelle Pfeiffer, on the same screen and people will plop down $12.50 (plus expenses) to gawk at them for 109 minutes. These two are certainly gawk-worthy; unfortunately, the movie, itself, was more gook than gawk. The plot - two divorcees juggle career-defining moments while dragging their respective six-year-olds around New York City - was predictable; the acting average, at best. ("They'll be too busy gawking," think the producers, "to notice the acting.")

I can't decide if I was more offput by how crudely the "grown-ups" spoke around the kids, the children's blatant disobedience of the parents (why should they obey when there are no repercussions if they don't?), or the fact that I've still never played one of Michelle Pfeiffer's love interests.

If I sound like a prude, that's only because I am. I movies that perpetuate the erosion of parental authority. The entertainment industry's saturation into the fabric of our families is almost complete, to the point that life is imitating art way more than the other way around these days.

I'm going to stop now before I spontaneously morph into Cal Thomas. I wonder if he's ever played opposite Michelle Pfeiffer?

Saturday, January 24, 2004

Righteous Dignation

The English language - and I may be the first to recognize this - is chock full of oddities. Take "chock," for example. I'm 34 and can't honestly say I've ever used that word without it being immediately followed by "full." Somehow "full" isn't, well, fully sufficient to describe just how odd the language is. Companies are desperate to convince their products aren't just full, they're chock full of nuts, white chocolate chips, MSG, etc. Makes me hungry just thinking about it.

Then there are the words with the mandatory prefix. For example, the weather is often "inclement" but never "clement," which in turn may affect the "indigent" of our community but likely not the "digent." This phenomenon is much easier to "explain" than to simply "plain." And while this may be an "exaggeration," I "defy" you to show me an "aggeration." (I would also "fy" you to do the same thing if I knew how.) I've certainly been indignant - see any of the Raiders' 12 defeats in 2003...okay, 13 if you count the Super Bowl, though I quit counting in that game when Tampa Bay's score eclipsed the game-time temperature in San Diego - but I can never recall being "dignant."

Speaking of indignation, I've been working on a theory - again, I'm pioneering new thought here - that our degree of outrage over a particular sin is usually in inverse proportion to how mightily we're tempted by it. It even affects the adjectives we use. Those who wrestle with homosexuality are castigated as
"flaming" but not so other struggling sinners. ("That flaming glutton ate all of my chock-full-o'-chocolate-chip cookies!") God's people lined up to banish the sitcom "Ellen" because of her "coming out" episode. (They were in line, by the way, behind those who wanted to banish it for two other reasons: 1) it was billed as a comedy, and 2) it wasn't funny.) But few queued to protest "Seinfeld," a show built around four characters' regular and sometimes epic attempts at violating each of the seven ly sins. Instead we helped make those four people rich by watching that show religiously - make that sacriligiously - and, in so doing, deluded all but the titular star into thinking they could parlay that popularity into other small screen success. Shame on us.

This happens outside Hollywood, too. Someone very dear to me is presently in the throes of a series of sins that is summarily control-alt-deleting every vestige of goodness and God-ness in this person's life. Kids, extended family, friends, God...all have proven expendable as this otherwise rational individual can't quit doing the very thing that's created the quagmire. As I was documenting this lamentation in my daily diary, I flipped through last year's journal looking for something else but finding instead a rather lurid account of my own battle with an embarrassing iniquity. (Does any sin leave you merely barrassed?)For that period of a few hours and days, I was humanly incapable of resisting that temptation...and I didn't resist it. Fortunately or unfortunately, as the case may be, this sin was private. No one picketed my property, demanding I stop.

None of this means, of course, that we shouldn't hold our loved ones accountable or call sin a sin. It's more of a realization that my own failure rarely repulses me as sharply as the shortcomings of others. I can't decide if that's more noxious or obnoxious.

Friday, January 23, 2004

Sounding Bored

It never ceases to amaze me how much more interested I am in what I write than others are. What is that all about?

Thursday, January 22, 2004

How the Cookie (and Dad) Crumbled

I have an idea to pitch to best-selling co-authors Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye: "Left Behind: The First Grade Prophecies." The story centers on a seven-year-old boy. We'll call him "Andrew Boone." (Ever notice how the really good novels always have characters with cool-sounding names?)

Anyway, the plot follows this brilliant but rather absent-minded youngster as he goes to school each day, a school we'll call, say, "Wylie Elementary." The prophecy comes from Andrew's mother, "Amy," who's almost a caricature of the perfect woman: strong, beautiful, and way more talented and disciplined than Andrew's father, who'll be called, for lack of something inspirational, "Grant." Amy's daily prophecy revolves around which item Andrew will "leave behind" when Grant takes him to school. Here's where the plot twists: sometimes Andrew will "leave" the important item at home, occasionally stepping over said item to walk out the door; while other times, he'll "leave behind" something on the backseat of Grant's car.

The Tribulation Period is that split-second Andrew realizes what he's done and asks his teacher, "Ms. Jensen" (tee hee hee, this is too good) if he can call home to have the item brought up to school, only to realize Mom "prophesied" his forgetfulness and probably won't be in a mood to cover for him.

I thought about having a Thousand Year Rain, but the story is set in a dusty, west Texas town called "Abilene" where it never so much as sprinkles.

The best part is how easily it would mesh with the original "Left Behind" series, which scares the living daylights out of unwitting readers with its end times imagery. Most seven-year-olds, though, would rather fight off Revelation's dragons and horses and beasts - oh, my! - than incur the wrath of a mother scorned.

Just to show you how art imitates life: yesterday, my son, also named "Andrew" (the quotation marks aren't on the birth certificate), was reminded by his mother, Amy, to make sure he didn't leave the cookies she'd baked for his teacher, Ms. Jensen, in the backseat of Daddy's car, which is precisely what he did when I dropped him off less than five minutes later. Immediately upon entering his class, he experienced a toll house epiphany and asked Ms. Jensen if he could call home. Mom wasn't especially forgiving and suggested he call Dad, which he did, leaving a message on my phone explaining the cookie conundrum.

My first reaction - before wondering if I should teach him a lesson on the importance of keeping track of his things - my visceral, instinctive response was to figure out how quickly I could take him his cookies. I'm not saying bailing him out was the right thing to do. In fact, it may've been good to have an innocuous incident like that to teach him a lesson with no real harm done. I just found it interesting that my initial thought, despite my frustration at his forgetfulness, was to give him what he wanted.

Luckily, God doesn't have to wonder what's best for us. He knows when we need to learn our lessons and when we need our cookies. And while He demands and expects obedience, oh, thank heaven for 7:11, specifically Matthew 7:11, which reads: "If you...know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!"

Andrew didn't have a good reason why he'd left his cookies or why I should go out of my way to bring them back to school, nor did he idly promise to remember better next time. He merely asked if I would do it...and I did. And when I walked into his classroom to deliver the goods, I wasn't thinking about teaching him a lesson or how his absent-mindedness puts others out; no, I was thinking about how excited he'd be when he saw me walk in with those cookies.

I only wish I was as pure in my love for and dependence on my Heavenly Father as my son is with me.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

I had mixed feelings about the President's SOU address last night. Lucky for me, the fourth estate was there en masse to tell me how he did. With all the acumen and credibility of figure skating judges, the political pundits explained how he either (depending on which side of the aisle or network said "head" called home): a) displayed his formidable strength of character or b) vapidly mouthed benign, untenable options for issues he doesn't really care about anyway.

Glad that's cleared up. And did anyone else see and hear Indiana Senator Evan Bayh (pronounced "buy," as in "buy a vowel," which he should consider) in the post-SOU miasma and wish HE was running for President? I honestly think he could declare his candidacy today and win the Iowa caucus retroactively.

The missus, by the Bayh, had the line of the week Monday night during "Caucus Coverage" and a two-for-one, at that. (Editor's note: my significantly better half is one of the rarest of souls who can truly boast of being politically independent; in the last two elections, she actually voted donkey one year and elephant the other...and, no, I won't tell you which one was which.) Where was I...oh, yes. Watching John Kerry's gangly fist pumps after his shocking (especially to him) victory in the Hawkeye state, she quipped, "Hey, Senator, why the long face?" Clearly unstoppable at that point, she offered this campaign slogan - free of charge! - to Kerry, who's married to the heiress to the Heinz fortune: "Send me to the White House, America, and it's ketchup for everyone!"

Have I ever told you what it's like to go to bed every night with a woman who can consistently fire winning one-liners AND passionately debate the DH? It's good to be me.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Telling people they hit a golf ball like a 14-year-old girl just doesn't mean what it used to.