Friday, January 30, 2009

Red Sun Bathroom Light

I was home sick yesterday, so my Thursday thankful is delayed to today.

I am thankful that I have a home to be sick at.

My condo has a few interesting features, but the one I am most struck by: in the bathroom, we have a red lamp that is supposed to generate heat.

It mostly generates red light, but it is kind of retro cool. And if you don’t turn on the regular light, it makes the whole room look weird, all the colors going funky.

Wanna get freaked out? Look at a pepto-bismol bottle under a red light. The label sort of fades out, as the inner glop glows. Freaky.

Sometimes in the comics the villain would shine the light of a red sun onto Superman, thus robbing him of his powers.

I know it works, ‘cuz yesterday I was wearing my Superman t-shirt, and under the light of my red sunlight bathroom heater, the Super insignia turned green.

Which is the color of kryptonite.

Between that and the dayglo of the Pepto, I pretty much lost all of my powers too.

Just my thoughts,


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Ask Cory

For a little sneak peak behind the curtains of Hollywood (including what Harvey Weinstein is really like), check out Cory's blog as he takes on frequently asked questions.

The meat isn't in the typical questions ("Why were Red and Woodsman recast in Hoodwinked 2") but in the answering avoiding the superficial, brush-offs (such as the real reason Cory isn't directing H2).

Take a peek inside.

Just my thoughts,


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Life as Normal

Janet shares some belated thoughts on the inauguration, and I belatedly share them with you.

I wanted to share this entry not for its in depth analysis, but for its simplicity.

Just my thoughts,


Monday, January 26, 2009

Animal Style, Hold the Muppet

Ever been to a restaurant so elite, that the prices aren’t listed on the menu?

Well, I can do you one better. How about a restaurant so elite, that the food isn’t listed on the menu?

Okay, this isn’t exactly that extreme, but we have a hoity-toity little restaurant on the West Coast called “In–n-Out Burgers.

It has a four item food menu: Hamburger, Cheeseburger, Double, and Fries.

That’s it.

At least for the uninformed, non-elitist non-connoisseur.

There is a secret menu, so one in the know can order a 4 x 4.

Or a Flying Dutchman.

Or my favorite: Animal Style (hold the tomato).

The secret menu has been leaked onto the web (including this older story at Badmouth where the special items have been tested – thank you David for the link), so the club may not be so exclusive.

But we all still look down on our noses at you “no price on the menu” wannabees, in full knowledge that you probably can’t get your foie gras as a “protein style.”

Just my thoughts,


Friday, January 23, 2009

Thanksgiving Stuffing Part Two

Continued from yesterday:

Which brings me to the important error in the philosophy:

“… and G-d will bless you with boat loads of money.”

Live a life focused on the right things, and G-d will bless you – yes! But be very careful about defining exactly how you will be blessed.

Being blessed with good things and being given money are two very different things.

And hold on to your comments – I am not saying that money is a bad thing. And I am not saying enjoying wealth is a bad thing.

I’m all for having more than enough, and I’m all for enjoying it.

The Bible never says that money is the root of all evil. But it does warn against the love of money.

(“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” – 1 Timothy 6:10)

And the prosperity Gospel is dependent on the love of money – for the giver and the minister propagating it.

It is the longing to have money that motivates the “and he will bless your gift with wealth.”

Not the love of blessing, not the love of God’s goodness – but the love of money.

Look, I know that G-d may choose money as the instrument of blessing for you. But I pray for your sake that money isn’t your main source of blessing.

Let me put it this way: chocolate is good. Enjoying chocolate is good.

Now suppose you get a cut on your leg – gashed it while hopping a rusty fence, taking a short cut through life. So you get on the right path, but you’ve got this injury, so you ask G-d to help out.

And he does, by pouring chocolate syrup into your wound.

A good thing, right? Why not!?! Are you saying that chocolate is bad!?!

Okay, so maybe we can agree that chocolate, while being good, isn’t the right blessing for all things. In fact, chocolate (I can’t believe I’m saying this) isn’t among the major ways G-d blesses.

And money is not among the major ways that G-d blesses.

In fact, G-d will often bless us by denying us money. Any Richard Cory fans – either Robinson or Garfunkle versions?

Here’s the point to this long-winded piece: G-d does not want us to be obsessed with or focused on money.

He doesn’t want us to be looking at him and thinking “sugar daddy.”

He doesn’t want us to think, “rats, I worshipped him and all he gave me was this stupid love relationship, spiritual calm, family healing, joy in my work and my daily bread. What a cheapskate.”

Jesus says this in the sermon on the mount.

He tells us not to worry about money – not because were going to get a lot of it, so don’t worry; but rather because money just plain isn’t important enough to be the pushing out the truly worthwhile things.

So I am grateful for stuff. Not because G-d giving me the resources to have stuff is central, but for the very fact that it is merely a bonus to the many blessings he has already showered on me.

Just my thoughts,


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Thanksgiving Stuffing

(In continuing my Thursday Thankfuls, I would like to point out that friend Janet lists 50 things she is thankful for every month. Wowza.)

Today I am thankful for stuff.

Cath and I recently gave away a lot of our stuff in preparation for our move.

What struck me most in that process is that we could afford to give away so much stuff. We have been over-stuffed with stuff, to the point that we didn’t need all that stuff anymore.

Which is a deeply felt reminder of how good G-d is to us, especially in such hard economic times. (Any of y’all watching SECRET MILLIONAIRE?)

The real key to looking at stuff is to know that the blessing of stuff is a side blessing, and not a central blessing.

I’ve been thinking about that since Phil Cooke (The Change Revolution) used the proposed demise of the Prosperity Gospel reign as a conversation starter.

For those of you who aren’t aware, the Prosperity Gospel is the teaching that runs the world of televangelism. The notion goes like this: if you give to G-d, G-d will turn around and bless you with boat loads of money.

There are a lot of scriptures backing up at least the essence of this teaching: G-d does make it clear that he will bless his children.

But I find any preacher or church that focuses on the Prosperity angle to be insidious, primarily for two deviations from Christ-like-ness that they incorporate.

First, every ministry that focuses on Prosperity will tell you that “giving to G-d” means (and only means) giving to that ministry or minister.

Flip the channels and you can easily find a preacher saying, “Send me your checks, and I will pray over them, and G-d will send you wealth.”

You will never find a Prosperity Gospel preacher saying, “Send World Vision or the American Red Cross your checks, and I will pray for you, and G-d will send you wealth.”

In other words, the prosperity Gospel is a fundraising tool with a specific, single function: making money.

Now there are all kinds of justifications for this: ministries need money, the ministry does all kinds of good things, etc.

Fine. Just stop using the word “Gospel,” because it really isn’t good news.

Which brings me to the important error in the philosophy…

To be continued.

Just my thoughts,


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Stoned Wisdom

Cath noticed that our new neighbor has one of those polished stones with deep thoughts etched into them at their front door.

She got closer to read the goodly advice:

"Nothing is carved in stone."

That's right.


Just my thoughts,


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Chewbacca and the Ground Muppets

Too much to respond to; too much to do in life.

So I'm just going to steal today.

Omar put me on to this video: Star Wars from the perspective of someone who never saw Star Wars.

Good stuff.

Just my tired thoughts,


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Super Thanks

At my lot’s cafeteria, there is a tradition every Thursday: they have a special on a turkey dinner, typically with stuffing, mashed potatoes, veggies and cranberry sauce.

Yes, it is Thanksgiving every Thursday on my lot.

I like that tradition; it brings comfort, all that comfort food.

So I thought I would try that for my blog – every Thursday (or so) it will be Thanksgiving. Let’s see if I can come up with things to be thankful for 52 weeks in a row.

I’m going to start with a thousand words. Here is my godson, up up and awaying in his Superman pj’s.

I know which side of the godfamily he takes after.

Thank you Lord for Eliott – bless him as he grows to be the super man you intend him to be.

Just my thoughts,


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Truth and Function

A little more on yesterday’s post on the question of art, fact and truth.

I attended a lecture at Cal Tech led by one of their history professors. (I don’t recall his name – was it Professor Rosenstone? Alas, my notes are packed away. Ignore this lapse of mine, and just be awed that I dropped the name Cal Tech.)

His discussion was on movies – specifically movies based on historical events. As one whose career was in the fact side of the equation, one expected that he would be a stickler for facts in entertainment.

He wasn’t. He did warn of the dangers in supplanting history with entertainment, but he also encouraged artistic license, expressly for the benefit of history.

His argument centered on function: the function of the history book, to record fact; and the function of art, to record essence. Only when both are available – the historical record and the art works – do we have a complete picture of a moment in history.

Let me be clear – he wasn’t advocating twisting facts to the loss of truth; that would be lying. But he was in favor of using artistic license to get at a truth that goes beyond mere knowledge.

I think I get that.

History can only record facts; yet human experience, life itself, can not be contained by facts. So we need more than a list of facts to establish a full reality.

A list of my measurable attributes – height, weight, test scores, census data – would only give you an inkling of who I am.

Start telling stories about me, and we begin to get a fuller picture.

Tell the stories well enough, and you will know me better than just by your intellect.

One may think they understand how small pox was treated in the 1780’s by reading a medical description of the procedure.

But I guarantee, look into Laura Linney’s eyes as she portrays Abigail Adams watching her daughter be sliced by a knife, the pox virus smeared into the wound… Now one begins to really understand what the process meant.

I recall when Taproot Theatre performed TERRA NOVA, the true story of Robert Scott’s tragic bid to discover the South Pole. At intermission during one performance, several patrons complained that we were running the air conditioning too high.

The a/c wasn’t on.

To study Scott’s Antarctic journey is one thing; to feel the biting cold is even more.

Just my thoughts,


My Mom Thinks All Her Kids Can Walk On Water...

Apparently not all of them can.

Just my thoughts,


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Truth and Fact-ion

I joined a discussion over at Christ and Pop Culture; where the author of the blog, David Dunham, was made to wonder about historical accuracy in art by a recent gift of the HBO series JOHN ADAMS.

He mentioned two points that I addressed (you may wish to read the original blog), the first referring to a scene where John Adams upbraids an artist for taking artistic license in his painting of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. David wonders why the filmmakers would include such a scene, when they themselves took artistic license.

The second point is a question David raises, which I include in the body of my response.

So here is what I had to say:


I would suppose that the makers of the film included that scene precisely to point out the liberties they themselves have taken; a wink to the audience that while portraying history, we should keep in mind that it is a portrayal.

As to your question of “Is it appropriate for us to alter the truth, to change history, to manipulate facts in order to communicate things in a more attractive and memorable way?” I would take issue with the limitations you place on art, the assumption that if facts are manipulated, the only reason would be for attractiveness.

Certainly, many writers or filmmakers take an easy route for such reasons; but the more serious artist might have another reason: to deepen the truth. (Just to be clear about how dangerous I am, let me say: facts and truth are not the same thing.)

In the example of the painting in JOHN ADAMS – the artist could have shown the facts of the setting with 56 separate paintings, and that certainly would have been true. But the artist wanted to show another reality: the unity required by the Continental Congress to pull off this feat.

It was an extraordinary thing – to get all of congress to agree unanimously on such an enormous issue. Unthinkable! Yet somehow it was achieved.

Thus the artist was able to capture a deeper truth with a factual inaccuracy.

At the same time, and this is critical to your discussion, the artist wasn’t attempting to replace the facts. The painting is a DVD extra, a supplement to add to our understanding.

So the Three Kings in art aren’t meant to say there were only three magi, and that they had these specific names, and they were exactly yeah tall – but rather to speak, in artistic terms, to the three aspects of the named gifts. The moment the artist seeks to change a fact in order to replace it, the artist is in error.

But allow me to dig in one step further with this thesis: any and all representations of historical events are by nature not factual.
I will grant you Luke as Gospel Truth; but every painting, staging, song, dance or retelling that followed are interpretations that include “inaccuracies.” Even reading the gospel account out loud creates inaccuracy – the mere emphasis on certain words and lilt of voice create interpretation.

Let’s face it: it is historically inaccurate to cast a man that looks like Paul Giamatti to portray a man that looked like (because he was) John Adams. And when we cling too closely to attempting to be factual, we often become less and less truthful.

I am not in any way saying that facts don’t matter; or that lying is allowed. The artist, like the Christian, is obligated to hold onto truth.

So instead, let us ask: Did Giamatti capture the essence of Adams? Was the true heart of the man given us on screen? Can we add this supplement, this television mini-series, to our history and come up with a more complete view of the man and his times?

More relevant, perhaps, then asking if John Adams really looked like Giamatti.

As Christians, we should safeguard the facts, absolutely. But we shouldn’t limit truth to just the facts.

Just my thoughts,


Monday, January 12, 2009

Always Start With a Joke

To ease back into writing, I’m just going to steal a joke from Chris:

And Jesus said unto them, “And who do you say that I am?”

They replied, “You are the eschatological manifestation of the ground of being, the ontological foundation of our very selfhood revealed.”

And Jesus replied, “What?”

Hee hee…

For some pix on our adventure in Hawaii, check out Sarah’s blog.

And I’ll start talking myself soon, now that the ice has been broken.

Just my thoughts,


Monday, January 05, 2009

A Gaffney Adventure

Sorry for the lack of blog posts.
We started our new year by escaping to Oahu to visit Sean's brother Luke and family.
When we get back we'll fill you in on our condo purchase and Cath's new business venture.
So much to share.
Happy 2009!