Here are five books that are on my top shelf. I don't see a pattern - but you might.
1) I am America (And So Can You) by Stephen Colbert. It's a gut-busting satirical look at American culture. Just plain funny.
2) Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer. The author of Into the Wild and Into Thin Air takes a painfully detailed look at a case of murder involving Mormon fundamentalism.
2) Letters from a Nut by Ted L. Nancy (pseudonym). Have you ever wondered the appropriate way to exit a seating row at a sporting event? What should be shoved in the faces of fellow sport fans - your butt or your crotch? Have you ever wanted to pose those questions to the people in charge of sports stadiums? No? Well the humorist writing under the name Ted L Nancy has several absurd questions to ask and Letters from a Nut chronicles his correspondence with dozens of customer service personnel - from the Baseball Hall of Fame to fast food joints and popular hotel chains and their answers to his ridiculous questions.
4) Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis. This is the quintessential of modern thought in theological study. C. S. Lewis presents a case for Christianity based in logic, compassion, and morality. Sometimes tough to read as it was compiled from a series of radio lectures, this is a must read for anyone professing faith in Christ.
5) Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell. Velvet Elvis is to post modern life what Mere Christianity was to the World War II era. Rob Bell presents a basis for Christianity with his off-kilter writing style, buried in explanation of Jewish traditions and modern implications. Rob Bell is a love him or hate him personality, but his words are challenging and provocative. Be forewarned: this is not fluffy material.
The next day, he front paged my answer on HBO. All is well and the blog world keeps rolling. I thought that was the end of my snarky jabs at the lackluster Idaho State Legislative session. Recently, a friend of mine asked if I saw myself in the paper. No, I don't subscribe to the Spokesman Review so any appearance in the press would escape my observance. The only way I ever know that I'm in the newspaper is through secondhand recognition. It seems (So I've been told) Dave used my comment in one of his SR columns for all of the subscribing population of North Idaho to see.
In case you're like me and missed it, here's my answer to Dave's question:
10 best things to come from the 2010 Idaho State Legislature.
1. The capital building is still standing.
2. No one was caught toe-tapping in the men's room.
3. They did not leak uranium into the state's water supply.
4. No fist fights during the legislative session.
5. Members of the State Legislature did not form a Built to Spill cover band.
6. The Mountain Bluebird is still our state bird. Unfortunately the peregrine falcon is still on our state quarter.
7. Not a single member of legislature was arrested for homicide.
8. The BSU/UI rivalry is still intact.
9. No one proposed plans for Idaho to secede from the Union.
10. There's always next year!
To warm up, April is a good month for come celebratory practice. Here are five things I celebrated this month.
1. Our anniversary. Bekah and I have been married for seven years. This past year has probably been one of the craziest - yet blessed years for us and we celebrated it with dinner at Texas Roadhouse. If you've not yet eaten there - do it. You won't regret it (unless you're opposed to throwing peanut shells on the ground, generous serving sizes, and a line dancing wait staff).
2. Bekah's birthday. On the downside, she had a kidney biopsy the day before her birthday. On the upside, I did my best to make it a good day.
3. Chloe's birthday. She's three! With the eloquence of a kindergartner and the attitude of a junior high student. Brighter than the average, nauseatingly adorable, and sassy. God help us when she turns 13.
4. To Write Love on Her Arms Day. If you've not read TWLOHA's story - Link HERE - read it now. Go ahead, I'll wait. The Purpose of TWOLHA Day was to write "love" on your arm to help spread hope to those struggling with suicide, depression, and/or addiction. Sadly, a few days later, the cost of suicide reached into the life of a good friend. Just a reminder why we need groups like TWLOHA.
5. Earth Day. We took the kids to the Krock Center to watch Disney's Earth. Cute for the kids, all though the Planet Earth mini series it was culled from is far superior, Two fantastic moments: In the scene where the cheetah chases down the gazelle, Chloe asked me what's happening. I explained. "Why," she asked. "Because the cheetah is hungry." She didn't like that answer. "I don't want the cheetah to eat the gazelle," she said. When the cheetah caught the smaller animal and bit down into the savory flesh, Chloe pointed at the screen and shouted, "STOP THAT CHEETAH, NO-NO!" After the movie, on the way back to that car, the kids were excited for the promise of ice cream sandwiches that were sitting in our freezer. Christian wanted to pretend we were a family of sharks. "Then," he said, "when we get home, we can have ice cream seal sandwiches." I love my life.
Christian: Momma, can I play video games?
Bekah: No, baby, you're going to go to the store with Daddy.
Christian: Where are we going, Daddy?
Me: To the grocery store.
Christian: Can I play video games?
Me: No, we're going to go to the store.
Me: The grocery store.
On the way to the car...
Christian: Where are we going?
Me: To the store.
In the car...
Christian: Where are we going?
Me: To the grocery store.
Christian: Are you going to bring me home?
Me: Nope. I'm going to leave you there.
Christian: But what if I get hungry?
Me: There's lots of food at the grocery store.
Christian: (Puzzled expression)
Christian: Can I eat at the grocery store?
Me: Do you really think I'd leave you at the grocery store?
Christian: Uh... No. Hehe. (pause) But what if I get hungry at the grocery store?
Between the nachos and the Texas hold ‘em tournament, the weekend was off to a good start. Granted, my poker winnings were not off to a good start. I had a few good hands: a flush, a full house, and I straight. In that last winning hand, I could have (should have?) bet smarter and milked a few more best out of the other players. But I bet too high and scared my opponents into folding. Surprisingly, my biggest take in a single hand came out of a pain of fives. But it was downhill from there. My last hand was a winner: a six through ten straight and I had it after the flop. I didn’t even need the turn or the river. This round was mine. One of the other guys was about to go bust and went all in. I had enough chips to match his bet, so I called. He also had a straight – a seven through jack straight. Dang. The blinds doubled after that round and I didn’t have enough chips to meet the minimum bet, so I was done. Third of eight players removed from the table. I didn’t make it past the first round.
There were nine guys in our cabin. I only knew two of them: my father-in-law and a guy I met through Homebuilders a couple years ago. Out of the nine, I was probably the last to fall asleep. There was one epic snorer. Graciously, he brought a supply of earplugs for everybody, but I can’t stand wearing them (and I can’t sleep with plugs in my ears). Besides, his snoring wasn’t that bad. I read for a while then tried some music to tune out the snoring. Unfortunately, the only songs I have on my iPOD is those from my workout playlist – not exactly the most relaxing music ever written. After MxPx’s Want Ad and Blindside’s We Are to Follow, I gave up and switched to ambient noise. I listened to the sound of rainfall and chirping birds. Last I looked at the time, it was 1:39 and I was still alert and unable to shut down my poor brain.
Started Saturday morning off an hour earlier than hoped for. Nothing a Rock Star, a shower, and a cup of coffee couldn’t cure. In the dining hall, while waiting for breakfast, someone smelled like cigar smoke. Couldn’t quite figure out who.
Spent some great time in worship, and Monty Hipp gave us a big challenge that will take my the rest of this week to finish. A few minutes to spare before lunch and it was raining. Raining? Really? I thought it was supposed to be sunny all weekend. The one item I forgot to pack was a hooded sweatshirt. Bad call on my part and I was starting to regret that lapse in packing judgment.
Lunch was yellow food day – chicken sandwiches corn and mac & cheese. I opted out of the cheesy pasted and got a salad instead (my wife and my mother would both be proud).
Due to the inclement weather, I skipped out on the ropes course. (the rain wasn’t really that bad – I just like the word ‘inclement.’) But I had a good talk with Pastor Mike trying to map out where my life is going. I can’t begin to explain how grateful I am to be a part of a church with such a great pastoral staff.
Poker was such a big hit the first night we ran another tournament Saturday night. I got off to a bad start, no good hands. Anything I had that was worth betting on was beat by the other guys at my table, but I managed to hang in there. Two players lost out going all in on the same hand. I folded that hand and that kept me in. I finally had a few good hands. And a couple lucky hands – I won a huge pot with nothing more than a king high. One more player dropped out and we were down to four. Then we consolidated tables. The four of us guys thought we were doing well, chips fairly evenly spread. We thought we had some good stacks. Key word “stacks.” Two of the three guys that joined our table sat down with cases of chips. Key word “cases.” They bought the pot in a few rounds, but with a bit o luck, I took a few good rounds. A couple more guys lost big and dropped out, one more table consolidation and I was still in the game. I was like the energizer bunny of Texas hold ‘em. I’d keep going and going and going. (at least that’s how pastor Rodney described me). I never led the chip count, but I’d hang in there because I knew when to hold ‘em and knew when to fold ‘em. And in the poker game that wouldn’t end, I landed at the final table (this time I had a case of chips). Down to five players (myself, Pastor Rodney, and three other guys) and huge blinds, the game’s pace picked up. Two more dropped out and we were down to three. I couldn’t get a decent hand and my chips were dwindling. The third player went all in, I folded and Rodney called. Up to this point, Pastor Rodney had been the chip leader. Him matching any player that went all in was not a problem. He took that round and nearly doubled his chip count. Final two players at the final table. Me and the pastor.
Now here’s my dilemma: you’re playing poker with your church’s associate pastor – the guy who handles marriage counseling and funerals… what do you do? I let him win. And by letting him win, I mean he beat me. And by beating me, I mean he cleaned me out.
Sunday morning, I was up an hour ahead of my best intentions (again) and my body was hating me for playing poker until 1:30am. The final man-food meal of the day was some of the best sausage patties I’ve ever tasted. One more session with Monty and we were on our way home. Dad and I cranked up some Within Temptation, and I zoned out for the next hour and a half.
And to top off a good weekend, I came home to a wonderful surprise – Bekah worked hard in my absence and finished some interior painting that we started last summer, cleaned as if we were getting a visit from a health inspector, completed some reorganization, and hung up some new curtains. Looking at what she accomplished in such a short time, I’m thinking I should go camping more often.
I hope this weekend is neither a dudes only version of a woman’s bible study, nor a long string of feats of strength. (I prefer to reserve my feats of strength for Festivus.) I'm expecting something in between. That being said, here is what I'm looking forward to.
1) Texas Hold 'em tournament. Wait... Poker? At a church event? Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore. I curious how this will go. Should be fun.
2) Monty Hipp. He's a funny guy, always has some good stuff to say. (I wonder if he has any podcasts on iTunes... I should go look that up.)
3) Solitude. With my busy schedule and busy family, I don't get much solitude. And when I do, it's usually not the silent type. I'm taking the Stuff Christians Like book with me, and I should be able to carve out some time good reading time, or perhaps a nice quite stroll through nature.
4) Man-food. Man-food starts with the letter 'M' and so does the word 'meat.' I'm not sure if the campground is catering for us or if the church is supplying the food. Either way, I'm sure there will be lots of bacon involved. And grease. And it probably won't be healthy. (deep fried Caesar salad anyone?)
5) Peril. I might try out the ropes course. Key word: might. Depends on what type of peril is involved. If it's just a chance of injury, I'll risk it. If the ropes course traverses a pit of doom where a fall will surely end in death, I'll opt out and go for that nature walk.
Granted, the speaker in the video (Elizabeth Gilbert) is the author of a book I've never read and probably never will (nor will I watch the soon to be released movie version), she has a relevant message that is worth 20 minutes of your time. Or, if you don't have 20 minutes of extra time (or would prefer to multi-task), the visual element isn't as compelling as her words - push play and let if run in the background - listen while you work. And if you're the rare soul who does not have speakers connected to your computer, it is subtitled. You have no excuse - watch (or listen to) this video.*
* If you're reading this via notes in facebook, you'll need to click the "View Original Post" link at the bottom of the note.
Also, at the expense of my sister-in-law (the creative and talented writer), this is the funniest thing I've read in a while. Go read it. You won't regret it, I promise.
On the theme of the strong winds that have tussled our hair this past week, I give you five things I've seen fly past my office window this week.
1. Graupel: Or as I call it (and was subsequently mocked for by a coworker) lumpy snow
2. An ambulance. Granted, my office is only a couple blocks away from the hospital.
3. Trash. Origin unknown. Litter? Maybe. Tipped over garbage can? Quite possible.
4. Pine needles. Lots and lots of pine needles.
5. Trees. Not really, but the forested hills on the other side of the Spokane River look thinner today than it did earlier this week.
1. Guh pies!
This was fun. Coming home from work, I walked through the front door to the usual greeting of kids shouting “Daddy’s home!” The Tank had something extra special for me. Standing at the top of the stairs he held a toy up in his hands as if presenting a virgin offering to a volcano god and said, “Guh pies!”
“A surprise? For me?” I replied.
“Uh huh…” he nodded his head and ran off to play, toy still in his possession.
2. Gikah pak
c) Other path
The kids were watching Dora one Saturday morning (or Diego… I can’t tell the two shows apart) and the characters were wandering through a series of caves. Dora (or Diego) asked which of two paths should be followed.
After the question “This path?” the Tank answered “Gikah pak.”
Next question, “Or this path.”
The Tank answered (while jumping) “Yuh! Yuh! Yuh!”
3. I dingy
b) I did it
This was a common phrase that always made me laugh. After pulling his pants up, or brushing hair out of his face, or placing books back on the proper shelf, the Tank would look at us, beaming with pride, and say “I dingy.”
If anyone can turn a two syllable work into a five syllable word, it’s The Tank. When tucking him in at night, there are two things he needs: his bear (muh beh) and in bankaleckalick.
This is Bekah’s favorite. His beverages of choice: wadda, mlek, and juiced.
For The Tank, belay does not involve ropes and carabiners. It mostly consists of dumping buckets of toys into the narrow space between his bed and the wall, running around in circles while shouting something like a war chant, or climbing on/jumping off furniture.
7. Lukta may
c) Look, the mall
Driving along 95, I heard The Tank declare “Lukta may.” I looked in the rearview mirror and saw him pointing out the side window toward the Silver Lake Mall. (Yes, I know, calling the Silver Lake Mall a mall is disingenuous and an insult to malls across America. I might have to start referring to it as the Silver Lake May.)
8. On do alay
b) I put shoe away
This one would have been a tricky one to translate if it had not been for The Tank’s demonstrative actions. After stating “On do alay,” he picked up his shoes and marched down the stairs to put his shoes where they belong.
Butt equals block. I’m not sure what The Tank calls his bum, but it’s not butt. He plays with and stacks butts. He makes towers out of butts. He throws butts. He puts butts away when cleaning his bedroom. And occasionally, Christian knocks his butts over – which prompts a teary lament of toddler proportions.
10. Any muh pan
c) I need my pants
While I would be impressed if anyone under the age of five knows of the genius Andy Kaufman, that is a knowledge not possessed by The Tank. After getting changing a diaper, The Tank pointed at his jeans and said, “Any muh pan.” I conceded.
11. I butt mighty
c) I brush my teeth
This is my personal favorite. Fresh diaper: check. Jammies on: check. Still need to brush his teeth and get him a drink of water. But after I finished buttoning the front of his pajamas, I said, “Go to bed.”
The Tank didn’t like that idea. “I butt mighty,” he said.
“What?” my reply.
“I butt mighty.” He ran off into the bathroom, pointed at the sink, and repeated a third time, “I butt mighty.”
“Yes, I’ll brush your teeth.”
At that, he smiled.
12. Teepee nom I king
Honestly, I have no idea what this one means. He was sitting in the living room, pointing down the hall, and said, “Teepee nom I king.”
“What?” I asked.
He repeated and I looked to where he was pointing, but I could not figure it out. He restated his demand over and over again. And after a dozen ‘teepee’ declarations, I gave up. I still have no clue what he wanted.
The day after I posted this quiz, The Tank offered a new vocab word: “Da Plane.” He was pointing at a balloon. And over the weekend, we had some hearty laughs at his expense. We would ask him how old he was and he’d give us his name. Then we’d ask for his name and he’d say “I’m thwee.” Didn’t matter what order or how many times the question was solicited, he’d (without fail) switch his name and age.
129. Before they give a fellow contestant feedback on a song, they say, “Please hear this in Christian love.” = +3 points
130. In an interview they mention they are “kissing dating goodbye” = +2 points
131. They mention that one of their hobbies is “social justice” = +2 points
To add up your score with over a 130 other ideas on this scorecard, visit stuffchristianslike.net.
In the meantime, I'm going to loaf around and digest my Texas Roadhouse dinner.
And in case you missed it, check back here tomorrow. I'm posting something infinitely cool before I go to work in the morning.
Unfortunately, I missed Most of Family Force 5's set, but from the last chunk I saw they were crazy phenomenal.
How was everybody else?
Never heard of Sidewalk Prophets, but I was impressed. They opened up with a stellar cover of Michael Jackson's man in the mirror, and opened the show admirably.
Remedy Drive was insane. Their vocalist is spastic and I'm surprised he never hurt himself. He did as much acrobatics (head stands on his keyboard, diving rolls and flips off of/over said keyboard, rocking on, standing on, falling from his wobbly stool) as he did singing. Great live band. If you get a chance to see them - go.
Fee is another band I'd never heard of, decent but not a highlight.
Bekah caught the tail end of Fee and all of Francesca Battistelli's set. She loved it. I personally think she sounds better live than on record, so I was much impressed.
David Crowder*Band was amazing. My brother would disagree with me, but DC*B is easily one of the best performances in modern Christian music. Davic Crowder talks really fast though. And with a Texan accent. But with a living drummer who looks like an extra from Planet of the Apes (ironically wearing a Planet of the Apes t-shirt), a robotic drummer, the Travelocity traveling gnome as a stage decoration, and an arsenal of awesome instruments (multiple guitars, a keytar, a guitar hero controller, banjos, and an explorer bodied mandolin) you can't go wrong. They also have an impressive catalogue of tunes to choose from. Unfortunately, their set was over quicker than expected.
DC*B got a short time frame because of the headlining act Mercy Me. I only got bits and pieces of their show, and their vocalist was losing his voice. Even with a sore throat, he still poured out ever ounce of effort imaginable. The vocal strain was barely noticeable (with the exception of the high notes in the emphasized bridge of I Could Only Imagine). Again, I only caught a few bits of their set, but they proved themselves as great musicians and entertainers. Although, they all came out in their Easter Sunday best. Can't be comfortable.
As a side note, the pictures above were taken during the Mercy Me portion of the concert. I'm surprised they're as good as they are considering all I had with me was my iPhone.
So I've been playing catch up the last couple weeks, and I have five new(ish) reviews. All available on DVD. These five reviews are now available for you to peruse and determine if you want to add anything to your Netflix queue (or perhaps take a movie off that list).
1. The Soloist
2. The Forbidden Kingdom
3. Horton Hears a Who!
5. Inglourious Basterds
Done and ready for more.