Sunday, August 30, 2009

All-time Favorite Realm Posts

Now that we’ve reached 400 posts, (Yay!) we’d like to take a little time to stop, smell the roses, and do something self-serving. The good news is that you get to help us realize this little narcissistic dream. (Yay again!).

We would like to put sidebar links to the all-time favorite Realm posts of all-time so that we can easily go back and as Tom Petty once put it, “revel in our abandon”.

Trouble is, (and I know this part is shocking) Rich and I can’t agree on which posts were the bestest of the best: the ones that were the most fun or the most meaningful, the most memorable or the cheesiest.

Pay attention now, because this is where your help will be very helpful. We want your opinions. We want you to choose.

Now I know you’re saying, “Wait a minute guys. Out of the 400 posts, I probably don’t have more than 263 of them memorized.” Well, that’s okey dokey, because we thought of that, and they don’t call us Potentates for nothin’.

We’ve picked a handful of candidates from the last 3 plus years and linked them below (in no particular order (unless alphabetical is particular)). Use this or the “Things We Tend to Bloviate About” topical index to jog back to the original post and refresh your memory. Then scroll down to the bottom of the page and vote using the handy-dandy poll tool. IT’S THAT EASY.

And if some of your favorites are missing, just come back up to the comments section of this post and enter your write-in vote. We’ll add it to the poll just as soon as we can pull ourselves away from the excellent post assembly line.

Thanks and here’s to another 400 posts as great as these !!

An Open Letter Full of Tough Love (Intervention Attempt #2)
Changing Your Major
Cliches of the World
Dear, Dear Me (Intervention Attempt #1)
Do I Stand Alone On the Garden
Dream On
Gaining a Little Perspective
Giants in History
Good Cheese/ Bad Cheese – The 70’s
Haiku, Haiku Very Much
Happily Ever After
Lately I’ve Been Moved
Legitimate Biblical Question #1
Life On Other Planets
More than you wanted to tell, but so what
Now as the Train Pulls Away
Poopy Doopy
Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head Blog Game
Red Checks
Redemption in Elizabethtown
Something or Nothing #3
Soul Mates for Dummies
The Psychology of The Sandlot
The Wisdom of Ben Wade
Top Ten Christmas Specials
What if I’m Paranoid and Right?
“What is That? A PEZ Dispenser?”

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Saturday, August 29, 2009

And Now a Word From Our Sponsor


Oops! Just remembered, we don't have a sponsor.

Not that we're boycotting posting or anything, but once Ken wrote up the Realm All-Time Favorite list, which took hours and hours to find and link all those posts - no kidding - we wanted to give folks time to read over their favorite posts of our last 400 or so and vote accordingly, especially for those who haven't been here from the beginning - which, really, is most. Only a handful of people have voted so far, and we were hoping to garner a few more votes, so please vote if you have not yet. When "newbies" come to The Realm, it will give people a decent list to check out to find out some of our better, more thoughtful, more commented on, etc. posts -- a cover of sorts by which to judge the book.

After a day or so, I'll move this post down and put the All-Time Favorite post on top once more. After these few days of voting, our normal posting shall resume, for better or worse. What's more, I might bump the Raindrops post up to cherry pick a few more comments. Some of Ken's more recent posts have unexpectedly gathered a bunch of comments, and I can't have those lame ducks overtaking the classic Raindrops post. I apologize to everyone for that, because I'm just as guilty as anyone for driving up the numbers on those posts. But the buck stops here. Yes, I'm that small.

Okay, carry on, all. If you've already voted and come here looking for more content, we apologize. You're welcome to discuss anything that's come up in the world or your world in the comments of this post. If there's anything at all, we'll talk!

Thanks again for voting, everyone that has and will! Also, I want to personally thank Ken and tell him right here, with nothing but love, THANKS FOR WORKING UP THE ALL-TIME LIST, Bud! You're awesome! Very much appreciated!

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Television With and Without Pity

The snarky Television Without Pity (TWoP) has put out it's Fall lists, so let's run through a few of these, shall we?

Because it's the most fun, let's hit the Worst New Shows first. Take a look at the link because I won't be listing but a few. Still, take a gander of a few of the gems on this list:

Melrose Place: I saw on MSN that Heather Locklear had signed on. She's not in the pic they have up, and I doubt she could save this one. Well, save it in my eyes, I mean. Somehow, 90210 the 2nd is still on TV.

The Vampire Diaries: I guess this is Twilight the TV show. Vampires are the rage right now, so maybe it has a chance. It'll have to take that chance sans Rich. I won't be watching.

Accidentally on Purpose: When I saw a preview of this show, I thought it was a Big Bang Theory knockoff. Unfortunately, reading about it, it sounds worse.

Eastwick: Didn't like the movie, Witches of Eastwick, so can't imagine watching or enjoying a second-rate version.

Mercy: What?! A show about a hospital? What an ingenious idea! Man, I wish I could be the one who thinks of these things. This is the reason I still work in Contracts.

Hank: Kelsey Grammar is back, apparently fired from his job and living with hillbillies in Virginia. Does that mean Washington DC?

Gotta think I'm with TWoP on these and the others it lists as the awfuls. Can't imagine watching any of them

Looking at brighter concepts, let's now skim through what TWoP considers the Best New Shows. Again, I won't be listing all of these, and you could certainly find a winner for yourself in the ones I don't mention (like, I'm not going to mention Glee).

Community: Does anyone remember Chevy Chase? I think they've got him teaching law here. The premise of this show gives it a chance, but I'm not sure how long it'll keep the attention.

The Good Wife: Probably not my type of show, but Julianna Margulies was very good in her run on ER, and Chris Noth seems to fit the smarmy, politician type to a tee. It has potential.

Cougar Town: Okay, I'm boycotting this one on title alone. Cougar Town? Cougar Town. Courteney Cox is in it. A divorced wife moving on. TWoP says it's funny and works. Okay.

FlashForward: Don't know anything about this one except the whole humna race suffers a blackout for two minutes, and everyone gets a glimpse of their future. Heard a preview on that.

V: COUNT ME IN!!! The '80s miniseries with the lizard aliens revamped, and Morena Baccarin (from the awesome Firefly) stars! Abso-BANNERMAN-lutley!!!

Like I said, take a look at some of the others. Maybe there's a new show you might find interesting enough to let it garner 30 minutes or an hour of your life each week.

And then TWoP discusses it's Best and Worst Returning Shows for if Fall 2009 TV Preview.

90210 - Worst: Melrose Place we've already discussed. Must we go on with this tripe?

One Tree Hill - Worst: Gone are Chad Michael Murray and Hilarie Burton. I thought those two were the reasons people watched this show.

Bones - Worst: TWoP really likes this show, but they're penalizing it for it's lame finale. Along with The Mentalist, these are my dad's favorite TV shows. Bones shouldn't be listed as a "Worst", but then, I don't think it's a "Best", either.

Fringe - Best: I've always been interested about this show but never found the time to watch. Has anyone ever seen it?

The Office - Best: After a bit of a lapse, last season was good, and this season has the potential to be better. Certainly one of the best sit-coms of the 2000s.

Parks and Recreation - Worst: This show is another that shouldn't be listed as a "Worst" but isn't anywhere close to a "Best".

Dollhouse - Best: Josh Whedon's association alone is probably enough to for me to say this is a watchable show; however, I've never seen it. Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

Curb Your Enthusiasm: - Best: It's back, and this time with some Seinfeld characters. Because it's on HBO, I don't get to see this one, but I did see some of the old shows, and some were really funny.

The Big Bang Theory - Best: We can all just say we like this one. It's been mentioned before here at The Realm.

Castle - Best: Nate Fillion (that's right, Firefly, once again) does the heavy lifting on this one. I watched my first Castle the other night, and I enjoyed it.

Heroes - Worst: Year One of Heroes - great. Year Everything Else - real, real bad. Convoluted. Too bad. I had such hopes.

House - Best: Hugh Laurie is simply magnificent. But then, if you don't see it now, is there a show that's in syndication more than House? It's the new Law and Order of re-runs.

How I Met Your Mother - Best: I've heard this show is funny. Never seen it.

Grey's Anatomy - Worst: I love TWoP for saying stuff like this. Thank you.

The Mentalist - Best: Not my favorite - my dad's favorite. Take that for what it's worth.

Smallville - Worst: Sometimes, the best shows hold on too long.

Desperate Housewives - Worst: Again, thank you, TWoP.

So many I didn't list, but hopefully you get something out of what I did. Check out TWoP here and there. Some of their recaps are hilarious, if you're into that sort of reading. It's not for everyone; certainly not for kids.

Lastly, before I go, is there anything good you're watching right now? I've watched a couple episodes of Warehouse 13, and the jury's still out for me. Also, Royal Pains season finale is Thursday, and that show has been fun, although it ranks # 3 on USA for me after Psych and Burn Notice. [Late Addition: I've also watched Merlin a couple times on Sunday nights, and that's been kind of fun to explain to my kids.]

Tell me what you think is good, bad, and completely unwatchable.

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Monday, August 24, 2009

The Greenhouse Effect

Why does The Realm of Possibility look like it just got peed on by a deranged leprechaun?


[Please, please, please don't tell me this nightmare is spinning off from Ken's multi-colored iris post. See what kind of nonsense happens when people start encouraging him by commenting carte blanche on some of his lamer posts. Let this be a lesson to anyone and everyone who starts feeling the pity.
This happens! Let's nip it in the bud before it gets out of hand. Puh-leeeeaze!!!]

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Not That I'm Upset Or Anything...

...but I just heard coming into work today on the Mike & Mike Radio Show on ESPN Radio that both Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic picked the Miami Dolphins to finish the NFL Season with a miserable 7-9 record. I'm no genius, but that insinuates that my Dolphins won't be making the playoffs. To pour salt in the same wound, the guest host on the show, Eric Kuselias, only picked the Fins one game better at 8-8. Thaaaa-aaaaaat doesn't make the playoffs, either.

No R-E-S-P-E-C-T. No respect.

I know. I know. I shouldn't care. This means nothing.

Ken?! Can we have a sidebar label for Buzzard of the Week that we update every Monday? This week, it's Mike & Mike. Also, and totally unrelated, we might want to have a lifetime Buzzard of the Millenium -- that would be Nick Saban, the whining traitor, followed distantly by Osama bin Laden and then a bunch of politicians.


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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God

For Christians that read this blog, I want to ask what may sound like a basic question, but I think it goes deeper than that. More than that, I wanted to ask -- if you're willing to share -- how you specifically go about it in your life.

In Matthew 6 (sermon on the mount), Jesus is talking about worry, more precisely, not worrying about your life, what you're going to eat, drink, or wear. He ends this part of the discussion by telling his audience not to worry about tomorrow; live this day. In the middle of all that, Jesus drops this famous bomb in verse 33:

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (KJV)

The question is: what does it mean to you to seek God (or the Kingdom of God) first, and how do you practically go about that in your personal life?

Here's a thing. I'd like, if we can, for our answers to be understandable to anyone reading. So let's say one hypothetical answer a person might give for seeking God first is: dependence on Him in everything (or total surrender to God's Will). That's what it says in my NIV Study Bible Rolleye Smileys. Well, even as a Christian, I sometimes don't understand that terminology or how one might go about that. For example, do I depend on God in finding a job? I'm enough of a nay-sayer, I suppose, to ask, if one claims he/she is totally dependent on God, why go to an interview? Just talk to God, believe in Him, and wait for the company's phone call because He'll let that job drop in your lap. But, of course, that's not the way God or the world works. So, again, let's discuss the question in practical terms as much as we care to knock it around. I do think it's an important question, and it's likely more confusing than a Christian might think from the outside looking in.

Hope that makes sense, because I don't want to scare folks off from answering the question. Thanks, guys!

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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Lite Fare for Saturday Mid-Morning Brunch

  • Excited about today. Ken, one of his friends, and I are seeing District 9 at the 4:10 matinee. Also, I'm angling for Ken to write the review here at The Realm as he told me he doesn't know much about the movie at all going into watching, so he's a blank slate. On this one, I'm more of the fan-boy.

  • Anyone played that game Ballies online? That's an addictive little game. I just found it last week. Right now my record's 1,372,000, which, I believe means, I'm a moron but not yet a geek. I probably shouldn't ask, but any other games I ought to know about out there?

  • My son's been reading some Amazing Spider-Man (ASM) comics. At what point did the heads of comic book companies everywhere decide that comics were no longer for children, and they needed to have "A" (Adult) ratings? I really think, especially with time-honored heroes like Spidey, writers could pen stories satisfying for both, without the "adult situations" that give it the label. And I'm not talking about the POW, BAM, OOOOFFF cartoon violence here. I don't mind that they do it with off-shoot Spidey comics, but the long-continuing run of ASM, that one I wish they'd have left sacred, meaning kid-friendly, at least for the most part.

  • Speaking of adult situations, I wrote some of my bills out this morning. Aside from getting root canals, colonoscopies, or taxes, bill-writing is probably the least fun part of "adult-life" for me.

  • My parents leave tomorrow to go back to Texas and close on their house. I'm not a big news watcher, but my mom is, and when she was watching last night, it seemed there were two big stories. One, some dude that had been on a reality show killed a model named Jasmine Fiore. Apparently, that was breaking news, and the guy was on the loose, maybe up near Canada somewhere. Is there a scoop on that? Then, and mom looked at me like I was crazy when I didn't know about this one, some chick had smothered her child, I guess, and was going through a trial. I may be wrong, and I don't mean to sound callous or demean the persons involved in these specific cases, but aren't there trials going on all over the country with similar sad stories? How do the ones that become sensationalized get that way? Well, mom will leave tomorrow, and I'll never find out the end of these stories unless someone on the blog or someone at work tells me. Keep me informed guys. Or, you can do what you want, is what I mean to say.

  • I did want to ask this, off the subject of anything. With newspapers being a dying lifeform, what's going to happen with all the funnies? Will they die a slow death as well, or can the artists that render them make a living online or with graphic books? In fact, even more specifically, I wanted to know if anyone had any favorite cartoons in the papers these days. I don't get a paper anymore, plus I live in Huntsville, so we got, if I remember correctly, re-runs of Peanuts and Hagar the Horrible, some Funky Winkerbean, For Better or For Worst, the Family Circus, a few others.

  • Okay, Dolphins second preseason game tonight. Usain Bolt smashed another world record - how fast is this guy? I know, very fast. Heather Locklear's re-joing Melrose Place - huh? The stock market's up to 9,500+. I'm going out to mow the grass. Also, I had sugar smacks this morning. Whew. Glad I mentioned all that. Now, I feel like a blogger! Anyone with any miscellany that you know is going on or if you have any in your life, this is the place to let us know. Have a great Saturday and weekend!

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Friday, August 21, 2009

Oh the Humanities!

High connoisseurs of all things artistic that we are here at The Realm of Possibility, I present the quiz you'll find below my bloviating. Prior to the couth that I now parade, back in the days of yore, I recall disputing with my 12th grade Humanities teacher, Ms. Flannagan, that people couldn't tell the difference between what passes for modern art and something a child might create. The following exam takes my assertion one step farther, and includes not only a preschool child but also an animal, that being an elephant from the Calgary zoo. Now that I've become more refined in my middle years, I have some time ago recanted my former position and stand squarely in the ranks championed by my former Humanities mentor. In an effort to prove the stance to which we hold fast, let me take no more time other than to, first, present the players - they shall be your choices for the pictures below.

Jean Miotte is a semi-famous contemporary artist who resides in New York, NY. Her work is displayed in many private galleries, and a few public galleries, including the famous Guggenheim Museum. She expresses herself with gestural brushstrokes and thick color pools, inspired by her inner conflicts.

Jackson Pollock was an influential American artist and a major force in the abstract expressionism movement. By the mid to late 1940's he developed a painting method which made him famous: dripping paint on large flat canvasses to create expressions of "unconscious imagery". Jackson Pollock died in Long Island, New York, in a car accident.

Kamala the elephant resides in the Calgary Zoo in Alberta, Canada. Kamala expresses her mood through a form of "finger (or, should we say, trunk) painting", using custom made brushes onto an easel mounted canvas. Some of her paintings have sold for over 2,000 dollars!

Ian Ford is a preschooler from the United States. He likes to eat paste (just kidding).

Please choose from the "artists" above which one you think rendered each of the seven following paintings:

Picture A:

Picture B:

Picture C:

Picture D:
Picture E:

Picture F: Picture G:

Now, I feel fully confident that our Realm denizens will each score 100% on this fine artistic examination, however, I'll just voice that we are on the honor system here, so please aim to make the choices your own and not to look at what commenters previous to you have committed themselves to so far as their decisions.

[Note: the above contest is a straight rip from the animation and web design company's site, The answers to the quiz above are on this page here. Again, go to the site, if you wish, but please don't look at the answers until after you've posted the answers under our comments section. Thanks! Enjoy!]

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Don't Forget the Fovea


Discussion surrounding this question became quite heated around here recently.

Q: What are the three primary colors?

a) red, green, and blue

b) red, yellow, and blue

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Lost Musical Treasures in My Closet # 1: Todd Snider - Songs for the Daily Planet

Every once in a while, you go digging through your old CDs and find one you've been dying to hear, but you just hadn't thought about it for awhile. Here's an oldie but a goodie. I'm pretty sure it was Todd Snider's first CD, and it's called Songs for the Daily Planet. It's a little alt-country, a little blues, a little folk, a little of a lot, and rootsy more than anything. Not everything is dynamite on any Snider CD in my opinion, but the gems are priceless. Todd's witty, intelligent, self-deprecating, wry, and sensitive, and his music is all his own. If I have to toss out some comparisons, maybe Jimmy Buffett, John Prine, Robert Earl Keen, John Hiatt... but only when these guys are at their best.

Heading down to the Destin beaches back in '95, I was listening to a modern rock radio station, and the song, Alright Guy played. It had been a long time since I had heard anything like this tune, and it was immediate, irreverent, and laugh out loud funny. Although the material in the song is dated, the music stands the test of time. Here's a link to a YouTube video of Alright Guy. That was my introduction to Todd Snider, and impulse buyer that I was in those days, I had to go get the CD. Am I glad I did. It's gotten a ton of play over the years, and it's one I force-feed upon unsuspecting friends when they least expect it!

I'll hit the highlights of the CD:

It starts out with My Generation, Part 2, a cool, little satirical number poking at today's society. Obviously, it harkens back to The Who's My Generation, but Snider's tune is totally its own. Similar to Alright Guy, the lyrical content dates it, but for this one, that's precisely the point. The song is a stellar intoduction into some of what you're going to get with Songs for the Daily Planet. Here's a lyrical sample:

We were raised up in the hallowed halls
Of half a million shopping malls
And there ain't any price that we're too proud to pay
We'll buy anything from Diet Sprite
To one thousand points of light
Hey, I admit we're not that bright
But I'm proud anyway

Here's to hair gel
Hanging out at the health spa
Using condom sense
Watching Arsenio Hall
Here's to drum machines
Stone-washed jeans
Credit cards, fax machines
Big bow-headed chicks and frat guys
Wearing forty dollar tie-dyed t-shirts
And big, bold paisley ties
Here's to living off dad as long as we can
And blending into the crowd
Oh, my generation
My generation
My generation
God, I hope I die before I get old

The fourth, fifth, and sixth songs are an incredible trio. This Land Is Our Land leads off the trifecta, and here's a live rendition of the tune on YouTube. The end of it breaks into CCR's It Ain't Me. It's pretty good, but because I'm touting the CD itself, you should also hear the studio versions of all these ditties. Here's one more live version and it's more straightforward. This Land Is Our Land rails against the extravagances and wastes of America and Americans today, reminding the listener that Native Americans were here before Western Europeans and were the better stewards of the land. The aforementioned Alright Guy follows. This tongue-in-cheek crack at the point of view character in the song is so perfect, you sing or hum along with a smile on your face the whole way. The last song of the three, I Spoke as a Child, is absolutely wonderful. The lyrics speak with a wisdom that comes only after the the tempests of life wring out the soul. Here's what I mean:

I'd like to find that old time feelin',
Somewhere in between what I've become,
Somewhere down the line it must have seemed appealing,
So I suppose that it must work for some,
But I wanna go back to going crazy,
Believing every word that I was told,
You know sometimes growing up I think I'm getting wiser
And then other times I think I'm getting old.

When I was a child I spoke as a child,
But all I heard was how I should get ahead.
Now growing up it ain't anything but all this indecision
With these debts and doubts and worries hangin' over my head.
When I was a child I spoke as a child,
I wish I could remember what I said.
When I was a child I spoke as a child,
God I wish I could remember what I said.

For me, the high point of the CD is the song, A Lot More. It won't be everybody's, but that's okay. It's mine. Although probably not written to be so, it's anthemic to me and a song I can plant my heart's flag in and want to claim for my own. Sorry to do this to you, but it's worth it on this one to lay down all the words to the song:

Some guys are looking for diamonds,
some guys just wanna pay their bills,
some guys are climbing up mountains,
while others are digging for thrills.
Some guys just wanna win trophies,
some guys just wanna get girls,
and some guys swear they won't stop working
till they own everything in the world.

Well, good luck at the end of that rainbow
if you think thats what your here for,
but make no mistake about it, baby,
I want a whole lot more.
I want a whole lot more.
A whole lot more.

Sometimes I see people out here,
playing every single one of their cards
for bigger this or better that,
or greener grass 'round the pools in their yard.
They work and they slave
just so they can save up a whole lot to leave behind.
Yeah, some guys are just so certain success
is the key to their piece of mind.

Well, good luck at the end of that rainbow
if you think thats what you're here for,
but make no mistake about it, baby,
I want a whole lot more.
I want a whole lot more.

I want a whole lot more than treasures
that I can store down here on earth.
Price 'em any way that you want to,
hey buddy, I know what they're worth.
Yeah, some guys want attention,
some guys want girls,
and some dig kickin' down doors.
Some guys will want everything in this whole wide world;
I want a whole lot more.
I want a whole lot more.

There's a whole lot more.

Subsequent to A Lot More is the tragic You Think You Know Somebody about two friends, one of who is abused by his father unbeknownst to the other until they grow up and the cycle repeats itself, but in a sorrowful ending. Really, really good song. I really like Suzanne Vega's Luka and how it illustrated child abuse, but this one is just as good at the very least.

Somebody's Coming is a rocker that heartens the downtrodden that Somebody is coming back for His children. While it might bother a few folks that in one song, Snider is singing about smoking dope, quitting school, or getting drunk off his arse, then in another, he's proclaiming Christ's return, well, let me just say, that's what you're going to get with Todd Snider. And I love it.

The final song, Joe's Blues, transitions into the ghost track, Talkin' Seattle Grunge Blues. Hilarious and sardonically cutting at the music scene in the 90s, here's a YouTube video of the song. When the CD first came out, this track was the one about which I heard the most buzz. Over time, as the grunge wave went its course, the song may not have the impact it once did. However, I dare you to listen to it without cracking a grin. Can't be done.

Songs for the Daily Planet is laced throughout with fantastic songwriting and is part of what's best in the Alt-Country music genre. If you've never heard it, I'm heartily recommending it. Take a listen! On every Snider CD, there're always jewels to be found. Songs for the Daily Planet is a crown full of them.

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Just wanted to know if anyone had anything to say about this fella?

You know, things like:

  • What a team player
  • The future Hall of Famer should go out on his terms
  • The Vikings are getting a gem
  • "I'd love to hear John Madden's (man-love) comments about him"
  • Minnesota's the Super Bowl favorite because of him
  • Bret Farve is selfless

Things like that.

[Ed. Note: A nice little FoxSports link here from Mark Kriegel. Alex Marvez piles on here. More Vikes trashing from Peter King at CNNSI here. At ESPN, Jeffri Chadiha with more of the same here. Even the legendary Fran Tarkenton spews a little venom in this report here.]

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Favorite Spots #1 - Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California

We know that the Realm of Possibility is one of your favorite spots in the Cyberworld (thank goodness), but what about the sometimes interesting geographical world. What are your favorite spots there?

The denizens of the Realm are a widely-dispersed, well-traveled bunch. And we'd like to know about the places that hold a special place in your hearts and memories.

And that's where this post series comes in. As we move around the U.S. and beyond, clue us in to your favorite spots. It could be an attraction, a restaurant, a small town, or a certain rock where you can watch a sunset.

Give us the names of your spots, tell us why they're a favorite, and be as specific as you can about where they are. That way if one of us is planning a vacation, a day trip, or just happen to be in the area, we can check them out, too.

Feel free to have as many favorites as you want!!

Today we go to Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, and California. With these widely varied locales, there are bound to be some fascinating spots.

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Today Is the Greatest...

...Day I've Ever Known.

Because today, I'm not going to have a single thought. Last night, after analyzing all the hows and whys and whichevers of what makes a good blog post, I've decided that today I'm not going to think at all... instead, I'm going to write to the lowest common denominator. I'm writing a post about Dancing With the Network Stars.

("what's that Mom?" "just Dancing with the Stars?" "no, I'm sure I have it right." "mom, please, can I have some peace here in your basement?")

Sorry, er, that was the plumb... er, repair man. Leaky drain pipe. Now, what was I saying. Oh, yeah, the Dancing Stars.

The show that forced my Miami Dolphins to trade Jason Taylor (pictured above to the right), a certain Dolphin Ring-of-Famer and borderline guy for the NFL Hall of Fame. Jason Taylor came in second, or so I hear, on the show, which, as is well-chronicled here in The Realm, is the first place loser! Notwithstanding the 1-15 season we endured two years ago, we Miami Dolphin fans don't accept losing. So, yes, we shipped him off to the Washington Redskins. At least we received a pair of draft choices for him from the 'Skins. And with those draft choices, I think we got Tom Delay and a bag of nickels. I don't have high hopes for DeLay, here. But if he doesn't pull out a first, we'll be trading him this year... probably for a couple of old-time James Bonds if we can manage, Roger Moore or Tim Dalton. If we can't get that, maybe an old Jacques Cousteau? Peter Sellers or David Niven...

("what's is it now, Mother?" "what? Niven and Sellers passed away some time ago?" "no, I'm sure that's not right." "seriously, Mom, I'm in the middle of something crucial here, and plus, I don't want people knowing that I'm, you know, here... thank you")

Okay, maybe we'll just get some actor who played in the movie, Murder by Death.

Anyway, getting back on track, Dances with Stars -- let's take a look at the players, dancers, I mean, and I think it's pretty evident that we can go ahead and say who's going to win the whole kit-and-kaboodle, shindiggin' jamboree.

Let's start with the aforementioned Tom DeLay. I think we all know by now that Democrats are just cooler than Republicans. The secret is, for the men, they wear boxers, not briefs. Far more comfortable for dancing. Not that I know, but I just think it's self-evident. As for the Republicans, who is the last Republican that could dance? Orrin Hatch? I don't think so. DeLay is out.

Kelly Osbourne. I just don't see it in the cards. It's genetics. Now, if we were having a Bite the Head Off a Bat with the Stars, I'm thinking she'd have a leg up. Dancing? Not so much.

Who in the name of all that is Hollywood is Mark Dacascos? Can the network afford for the Chairman of the Iron Chef to win? In other words, are you watching the show all the way through if Mark Dacascos is the favorite?

("Mom, please." "Mark Dacascos is a good-looking hunk? does anyone in the 21st century use the word hunk, ma?" "no, I'm sure they don't" "okay, okay, I'll say it if you leave me alone.")

Um, this guy Dacascos, I think he's got a shot.
I saw Macy Gray dance when she was singing in Spider-Man, right before the Green Goblin flew in stealing her limelight. The look she had on her face at that point tells me all I need to know. She'll be okay, but she certainly won't have enough.

Chuck Liddell. Wimp.

Isn't Melissa Joan Hart the chick that does the interviews with Joan Rivers on the red carpet? I might have that mixed up. However, if those two are friends, I'm thinking a lot of plastic surgery. And I just can't help but think that doesn't translate into good dancing. Think about Stiffler's mother in The Cinderella Story movie, where she was always getting botox. You think she could dance? Well, then, how could Melissa Joan?

And then there's Louie Vito, the snowboarder. You know what? I think he can probably dance. But the guy's 5'5" - at least I saw that somewhere, probably wikipedia, so I've got it backed up. Is America, a land rife with heightism, ready for a guy that short to win it's premiere dancing competition? Would Herve Villech... um, Tattoo from Fantasy Island have won a subjective dancing contest? Methinks not.

How about Natalie Coughlin? She's cute, a swimmer, so you know she's down for the training involved for all the dance routines. She reminds me of Kathy Ireland, who would certainly be someone people would want to see in a contest like this.

("sigh. Mom, what?" "Kathy Ireland's in Dancing with Stars this year?" "no, they wouldn't. are you sure?" "thanks for letting me know, mommie")

Natalie's out.

Back in the '70s, when the Jackson 5 and The Osmonds were competing like they were on a dance contest show, Donnie Osmond could dance. Let's face it, he's a little bit rock 'n roll. Sitting around the $25,000 Pyramid, however, is no way to keep in dance shape. Twenty years later, could he possibly be better? No.

Speaking of let's face it. Joanna Kruppa is in the final three right now. For any guy that's watching the show -- I hate to say we're that shallow, but, and I can't emphasize this enough, we are -- she's a draw. Like they say in the NCAAs, the real BIG DANCE, she'll be a tough out.

On one of my birthdays years ago at my office, all the girls at work put up pictures of all the NSYNC, Brittany Spears, Backstreet Boys, 99 Degrees, all those acts all around my office with a boom box pounding out some manufactured manure from one of those acts, because they knew how much I hated them. I remember there was a picture of Aaron Carter. He must have been in the embryonic stage then. But there he was on my wall. On general principle, he's a goner.

Entourage is all the rage. And I've never seen a show. I really wouldn't know Debi Mazar from Little Debbie. And I'm sure I like Little Debbie's food better. While I shouldn't count out a person just because I don't know who they are, in this case, I don't know what else to do. Sorry, Debi. Good luck with Entourage.

("I'm almost out, Mom, can it wait?" "no, Mom, Entourage is not one of those filthy shows on Cinemax. It's on HBO." "no, I'm sure it's fine for kids. Kevin Dillon is in it. Remember him from that movie Heaven Help Us. He was hilarious as Rooney. Yeah, Andrew McCarthy was in it, too. That was a great movie for kids, right?" "ouch! ouch! Mom get outta here.")

The token NFL castoff for the show this year is Michael Irvin. Haven't we been here before with Emmitt Smith? Now, I'm not saying Michael can't dance. He was in South Florida, for crying out loud, and they dance there in Coconut Grove and South Beach. And I'm sure in some of the Dallas clubs, Michael was shakin' it. But I can't get past this one thing. Unless Michael Irvin shaves off that cheesy mustache, he has no hope. Image is everything in this one. Michael is a no-go.

Ashley Hamilton is the son George Hamilton, who as we know was Zorro the Gay Blade as well as Count Vladimir Dracula in Love at First Bite, where, he liked the night life, he liked to boogie, on the disco heiiiii-iiiiiiiights, oh yeah. Also, he was Evel Knievel in Evel Knievel back in '71. Using the same logic as we did with Kelly Osbourne, Ashley's got a chance.

Also with a good chance is Mya, since Mya is a dancer and R&B Singer. If life were fair, she should and would win. Life's not fair. She won't. It'll be an upset, but she won't.

Kathy Ireland. Supermodel. Supermother. Model-turned-mogul: furniture queen and clothing empress. Superactre... uh, just actress. Author. And World Champion of Battle of the Network Stars. I mean, Dancing with the Stars. She's your winner. Write it down.

("Mom, I've told you for the last time?" "what? no, I don't know any Chuck Lidde... Chuck! oh hey, Chuck! love your work..." "no, no way. I would never. Never call you a wimp. Ever." "no! Mom! I didn't say that." "no, Chuck, I'm begging. Please! Ooowwww! Aiiieeee! Arrrrrrrgggggggh!" CRAAAAASSSSH!!!)

[Service announcement from blogger: We apologize for technical difficulties here at this blog site, but The Realm of Possibility has been closed until further notice until Rich comes out of his coma.]

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Monday, August 17, 2009


The blockbuster cast for the upcoming season of Dancing with the Stars has been announced.

Line-up with pictures included.

That is all.

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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Favorite Kid's Fiction

Boggles the mind that we've never asked this question to The Realm at large. I suppose, for those with blogger profiles, I could go around and check out a person's favorite books, but that seems like stealing when I can just ask. Not to mention (although here I am in the middle of mentioning), all of an indvidual's favorite books holds a larger scope than the question I want to ask. Plus, we have a few Anony-miis out there who read our blog, and I wouldn't be able to find out their favs. And I'd like a list of as many who would be willing to provide.

So, the question is: what are your favorite kid's fiction books? More precisely, I'm talking novels here. For this question, I'm deleting picture books, so, in essence, Green Eggs and Ham, The Giving Tree, Goodnight Moon, Are You My Mother?, Make Way for Ducklings, they're all out. That's (what are your favorite picture books?) certainly a question for another day but not this one. The question I'm asking encompasses Young Adult fiction at the top end and probably Middle Reader books at the low end of the age range.

Feel free to embellish as to why your personal favorites are so. Moreover, only you limit the number of books you consider your all-time favorites. Also, I'd love to know, for those of you who have pre-teens or teenagers, any books through the years that your children have loved.

Lastly, we'll not hold it against anyone if the children's masterpiece, Dorkman, doesn't appear somewhere on your list of books that you deem most magnificent. No Big-Brother-like lurking Realm administrator is going to ban any of our well-respected commenters for not including the outstanding contemporary piece of American literature that Dorkman precisely is. We just aren't that small-minded.

On second thought, we may well be. You'd better include it, just in case.

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I came into the world asking this question, or so I've been told. Those who know me well are probably not surprised.

I told Rich just the other day that I enjoy discussing comedy with a comedian friend, Jason Steinhauser, partly because I like to analyze the mechanics of comedy with him.

For me, it isn't enough to recognize that something is funny, appreciate it for the humor, and move on. I need to know "why" it was funny.

Rich and I have many similar discussions about writing. Why one book was better than another, or why something we're writing should be done a certain way. I can't be satisfied with the answer that something is purely subjective or random. And sometimes, if I can't find a rational answer after careful analysis, I sniff a conspiracy.

Some out there have labeled me philosophical, or rhetorical, or rebellious... or weird. They don't see the value in asking "why". It just is. Accept it and move on. Be practical. They don't seem to understand that I can't.

But a few years ago, I found a kindred spirit: another "why" guy, and I instantly liked him. His name is Malcolm Gladwell.

He describes himself, thusly:

I'm a writer for the New Yorker magazine, and the author of two books, "The Tipping Point: How Little Things Make a Big Difference" and "Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking." I was born in England, and raised in southwestern Ontario in Canada. Now I live in New York City. My great claim to fame is that I'm from the town where they invented the BlackBerry. My family also believes (with some justification) that we are distantly related to Colin Powell. I invite you to look closely at the photograph above and draw your own conclusions.
Now in my opinion, Malcolm understates himself, but I get it. He most likely only sees himself as a regular guy who happens to wonder why things are the way there are. But he's done so much more than that. And the Fortune 500 guys who've hired him since he wrote his first book, "The Tipping Point" agree.

The theory is that if we know why something happens repeatedly -- if we've found the pattern -- why can't we stop it from happening or make it happen. And that's where the brilliance and the goldmine come in.

"Why" for the sake of "why" is one thing. But figuring out why in order to capitalize or to make a difference is another altogether.

Now, I'm a fiction writer and a fiction reader primarily. But in the non-fiction world, aside from spiritual writings, I'd put Malcolm's works at the top of the list of books to absolutely find and read if you haven't already.

"Why?" you might ask. Because they will change the way you see the world and your place in it.

[Ed. note: Since Blink, Malcolm has published, Outliers: The Story of Success, and also writes a blog with more of his insights.]

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Friday, August 14, 2009

Gaining a Little Perspective

The great philosopher, Huey Lewis, has given us quite a few nuggets over the years. However, these lyrics from the 1996 album Time Flies... gave me pause recently:

Even though we might be having a few doubts
Let's take the time and try to work things out
The little things we fuss and fight about
Ain't gonna matter 100 years from now

I guess the ultimate objective is to only do, talk, and think about things that have eternal significance, but let's be a little more practical. Forget eternity and forget 100 years for a minute.

Use your own definition for what you think it means to "matter", then stop before you move a muscle, dwell on a feeling, or open your mouth and consider whether that action, thought, or comment will be something that still matters 5 years or even 1 year from now.

How much might your life and your relationships improve if you eliminated a couple of negative behaviors, feelings, or words that might still have legs a year from now?

How much impact could you have if you spent just a little more time, money, or brain cells on something that will still matter a year from now?

God created and gave us time, and the enemy loves to pervert it by convincing us to live in the past, worry about the future, or lose perspective on the present.

I pray we won't.

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The Curious Case of Josh Hamilton (…not to mention: Straw)

We’ve seen this story before, haven’t we? An athlete with ten tons of historical baggage -- drugs, boozing, women, etc. -- sobers up, “finds Christ”, toes the line for a season, and then falls off the wagon. And society looks on and says… well, people say a lot of things, but one of the bottom lines they come to… “Another phony.”

Josh Hamilton starred as a young baseball player in North Carolina, and when I say “starred” that’s an understatement, meaning the bluest of blue chips. The Tampa Bay Devil Rays deemed him worthy of the first overall pick in the 1999 Major League Baseball Draft. First overall. He started very well in the Minors until 2001, when he was involved in a car accident prior to the season. Additionally, his partying escapades began to include drug use that year, and his career started to twist and turn. By 2003, after joining and leaving the team several times, he ended up taking most and the rest of the season off for “personal reasons”. His early rehabs for drugs and alcoholism failed, and Hamilton was suspended repeatedly, and though he tried, he didn’t play baseball in 2004 or 2005 and only played a handful of minor league games in 2006. During that time until the fall of 2005, Hamilton suffered through addiction and health problems, while taking multiple rehab stints. Also, Hamilton married Katie Chadwick in 2004, and although they went through an estrangement period during one of his relapses, they reunited in 2005 when he “got clean”. One other event happened in that period: Hamilton claimed Christ. Since then, he’s been very public about his faith. In June of 2006, the Chicago Cubs took Josh Hamilton in the Rule 5 Draft and immediately traded him to the Cincinnati Reds for $100,000.00. Despite some medical issues, some involved with his alcohol and drug abuse and some normal baseball injuries, Hamilton’s career turned around in Cincinnati, and he had a very good year. After a trade where he moved to the Texas Rangers, Josh Hamilton became an All-Star in 2008, and his fabulous year had his life appearing to be turned around for good. Unfortunately, Hamilton struggled starting his 2009 season, and to complicate matters more, a sports blog,, posted photos of a carousing Hamilton shirtless in a bar, cavorting with women not his wife (not trying to glorify the Deadspin website here, but I think it's fair to show - choose with caution before going to the link). Witnesses claimed he had been drinking, asking for cocaine, and overheard him saying he would be going to a strip club later in the evening. All of which brings us fairly current.

What to make of this? I’ve been on Reds websites and other sports sites and seen what folks have and are saying about Josh Hamilton. Most people that aren’t Christians either see the “God-thing” as something that didn’t take or that the “faith-thing” was just the crutch he needed to get back into baseball and get his life on track.

Well, the first person the whole Josh Hamilton ordeal reminded me of was Darryl Strawberry (Straw). Straw had been a part of the ’86 Mets championship team, and he was considered one of the better players in baseball as his career progressed. Year after year, though, he gathered similar baggage to Hamilton. Drugs, arrests, women, etc. In 1991, he went to the Dodgers, and for a while, he fell under the wing of Brett Butler, a noted Christian player, and Darryl Strawberry that year said he believed on Christ that year and claimed to be a Christian. However, Straw fell off the wagon very shortly afterward, and his struggles with a lot of the same problems he experienced before claiming to be a Christian for the rest of his playing career and for a time after are pretty well chronicled. To most of the world, Christianity was a passing fancy with Darryl Strawberry.

While I can’t claim to know the hearts of either of these men, I’ll just say write what I believe. Along the way, God happened in the lives of both of these men. Christ happened. For whatever reason, the Father gave these men into the Hand of His Son.

Anyone seen what’s been happening in the life of Darryl Strawberry lately? He’s got a new book out, Straw. Over the past few years, Straw’s been in the community, reaching out to others, especially in the autism realm, and guess what… he’s continuing to talk about his faith in Christ and his spiritual journey. Not that there haven’t been a few past demons revisit along the way, and Straw's got a series of problems due to choices he's made in his life that will probably be with him until he dies. But you know what? I really think Jesus has a hold on his life, and that Darryl’s God is wild and scandalous enough to save a dirty, rotten sinner like Darryl Strawberry. Neither has Josh Hamilton recanted his faith. While some of his support group started out questioning the photos, Hamilton fessed up quickly about his relapse, and he said that his wife and members of his support group knew immediately after. You know what else? In my opinion, Jesus is right there with him. Josh’s God is busy saving a dirty, rotten sinner like Josh Hamilton.

What do I expect? Really, truthfully, and while I very much hope it doesn’t, I have a feeling that Josh is going to fall again. And again after that. Addiction is seldom an easy burden to unload. Added to addiction, and like anyone else, there is other Sin, and sins, in these guys’ lives with which they have to deal. Sin is serious. The Almighty, who knew no sin, made Himself a human being, became it, and died for it. And was Resurrected. If sin was little or of no consequence, why the one time, all-history changing event that is the Cross? No, sin is serious, deadly, and death-ly. God’s love and God’s grace, however, are more serious. By far. Or else a dirty, rotten sinner like me has no hope. None. Whatsoever.

I have my fingers crossed for the lives of Josh Hamilton and Darryl Strawberry because they’re in the public eye, and mistakes that they make are being sought by some for various reasons, become visible to all, and compound the public misconception of the Gospel of Christ. More than that, though, I have faith in a God that loves, with all his being, those two men and desires to save them. And me. And you.

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Armond Joy's Got Nuts, Mounds Don't

Unbelievable. No, I take it back. Utterly predictable. Last Saturday, I blogged on the upcoming District 9. At that point, Rotten Tomatoes had ten reviews of the movie, all positive. Currently, the day before release, thirty-three critics have reviewed the flick, all positive... save one. Armond White. I almost hesitate to do this, but here's his review at the New York Press. The comments here, like the comments under his review at Rotten Tomatoes, are priceless.

Now, I haven't seen District 9 yet, and the majority of reviews come out tomorrow, so there's still time for the Certifiably Fresh rating of 97% to falter a ways. However, the Peter Jackson-produced, Neill Blomkamp-directed feature is almost sure to be reviewed well overall. And a good rule of thumb I've learned to go by is: if Armond White likes it, beware, if he hates it, go there!

Let's take a look, granted it's selective (and I'm trying to pick major motion pictures here, for the most part, rather than indies), at some of his reviewing record:

District 9
Critical Consensus: Fresh Armond White: Rotten

G.I. Joe: The Rise of the Cobra
Critical Consensus: Rotten Armond White: Fresh

Julie & Julia
Critical Consensus: Fresh Armond White: Rotten

Funny People
Critical Consensus: Fresh Armond White: Rotten

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Critical Consensus: Fresh Armond White: Rotten

Public Enemies
Critical Consensus: Fresh Armond White: Rotten

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Critical Consensus: Rotten Armond White: Fresh

The Hangover
Critical Consensus: Fresh Armond White: Rotten

Land of the Lost
Critical Consensus: Rotten Armond White: Fresh

Critical Consensus: Fresh Armond White: Rotten

Terminator: Salvation
Critical Consensus: Rotten Armond White: Fresh

Star Trek
Critical Consensus: Fresh Armond White: Rotten

State of Play
Critical Consensus: Fresh Armond White: Rotten

Monsters Vs. Aliens
Critical Consensus: Fresh Armond White: Rotten

I Love You, Man
Critical Consensus: Fresh Armond White: Rotten

Have I gotten the point across yet? I could go on, but what good would that do? Seriously, you have to try to be contrary to go against the mass critical response this many times. I'm not saying I wouldn't agree with him on a movie or maybe two on this list, but c'mon!?! Are you kidding me? Up? Maybe it wasn't the best of the Pixar movies, but it was good, funny, and clever. Who wouldn't give that a thumbs up? There hasn't been a bad Harry Potter movie. People may not go out of choice, and some were better than others. But every Potter movie has been a good movie. Go look for yourselves. Bedtime Stories, Benjamin Button, Confessions of a Shopaholic, Gomorrah, The Wrestler, Gran Torino, Transporter 3, Milk, Slumdog Millionaire, A Christmas Tale, Swing Vote, Hellboy II, The Dark Knight, The Incredible Hulk, The Wedding Director, War, Inc., What Happens in Vegas... he goes against the tide of critical review in every single one of these movies. Some of these movies were so good, who could think they were bad. Ever? In a million years?

Armond White.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009


If you like to eat, you might want to check out This is Why You're Fat.

If you have a squeamish stomach, keep walking.

BTW, my favorites are:

The Spamsicle

The Royal Flush

Deep Fried Captain Fluff, and

Dorm Food Casserole

Bon Appetit! Aha, ha.

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Football Shoutout

Twenty-three (twenty-five for Auburn University) days until college football starts and thirty days until the start of the National Football League, which means if you're a fan of either one or both, the tingles up and down your spine have probably already begun. I graduated from Auburn in '89, so obviously, I'm a fan since I started back in 1985. Additionally, and more importantly to me, I've been a Miami Dolphin fan since conception. And there's been some major league living and dying with both of my teams. Since all my family are Dolphins' fans, I'll just let you imagine the time spent on talking/phoning/e-mailing all things Dolphins year after year and many days of that year. I won't say just how much, lest one think I've slipped into idolatry.

But I digress... like Opening Day in Major League Baseball, the dawn of each new season brings high hopes -- at least until that first loss, at which time disillusionment sets in -- for every team out there, because you.just.never.know. On top of that, this is The Realm of Possibility, where we'll entertain all things possible! In light of that, I want to give anyone out there the chance to give a shout out to their personal teams, and if you want to, let us know what you think their chances are this year.

Let's hear it for your teams!

[Additonal sidenote: the magnificent pictures rendered on this post depict the Pro Bowler Ronnie Brown, both in his collegiate and professional career, thundering over any opposition that stands in his way, as he is apt to do.]


[P.S. - CRITICALLY IMPORTANT NOTE: If you happen to be a New England Patriot, New York J-E-T-S, or Buffalo Bill fan or a supporter of the University of Alabama, LSU, Universities of Tennessee, Florida, and Georgia football programs, then...

...nothing to see here. Please move along quietly, if you can.]

[Ed. Note: Will add team helmets to the bottom of this post for all comments supporting a team... sigh, even Alabama fans]

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Monday, August 10, 2009

Gospel in 10

Came across this post from the Mockingbird blog while I was perusing down at The Boars Head. It's an exercise in summarizing what you believe, if you believe on Christ:

Can you summarize the gospel in 10 words or less?

When Ken and I first started seriously writing together with one of our goals being publication, we learned pretty quickly that we'd need to be able to summarize our works -- whether an essay, a short story, or a novel -- in one sentence, for a variety of reasons (query letters, interested editors/agents thru correspondence or at conferences, description for prospective readers, etc.). Although I'd not thought about it in these terms, I should be able to utilize this practice with my faith in Christ as well. Here's my attempt:

God came, lived, was crucified and resurrected for sinners.

Obviously, as the author of the original post stated, any 10 words or less explanation would have to be more fully detailed to define (as best we can) the nature of Salvation and sin, the whys and hows of God's love, etc. Nonetheless, I think this is a fantastic exercise.

In the comments of a non-related post (Saturday is for Answering Questions) and site, Michael Spencer, the Internet Monk, answered a similar question. He was asked:

What is your understanding of the gospel? In five sentences…

His answer, which just so happened to be 10 words:

God created.
Man sins.
Jesus saves.
We believe.
God reigns.

Beautiful. I think I like his better than mine.

Anyone else want to give it a try?

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Sunday, August 09, 2009

Dawn Treader Not Treading Water Anymore

After several delays and a switch from Disney to Fox distribution, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader has finally begun filming in Australia in the last few days. Walden's movie version of the next installment in C.S. Lewis' Narnia series has encountered some choppy waters but is slated for theaters December 10, 2010.

I love movies, books, AND C.S. Lewis! So, of course, I'm excited. If you love Narnia too, check out It contains several on-set pictures and continuing updates of casting news, script rumors, etc for the new movie.

Among other things, what we know so far is:

Michael Apted replaces Andrew Adamson as the Director

Caspian, Edmund, and Lucy will return as they should

Trumpkin and Dr. Cornelius will not return (It was rumored that they would return even though they aren't featured in the book)

Casting for Eustace, Lord Drinian and the missing Narnian Lords is being completed

Construction on the Dawn Treader itself is being completed and looks cool (see below)

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Saturday, August 08, 2009

Non-Humans Banned from Reading This Post!

Anyone else looking forward to District 9 coming out next Friday? A little bit about the plot and marketing campaign is contained at Wikipedia. The film's major selling point for me is that Peter Jackson, the director of the super LOTR epic trilogy, the executive producer and writer of the coming The Hobbit and The Hobbit 2, executive producer of the upcoming Halo movie, and writer/director of the latest King Kong, is producing it. District 9 is based on a short film, Alive in Joburg, and it will be directed by Neill Blomkamp, who wrote and directed the short.

Early returns at Rotten Tomatoes look good with 10 out of 10 positive reviews, but I say that with all caution. Last week, prior to G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra being released, that film also had a very positive 9 out of 10 fresh rating. After being released, it's now 38% fresh, in other words, rotten. On the imbd Official Review Thread, it's even more heartening, with 28 positive reviews, 1 mixed, and 0 negative.

I've enjoyed the trailers I've seen on TV, and the premise is very appealing to me. Being one of the last summer movies... well, that's a little disturbing. I don't think there are a lot of recognizable actors/actresses on this one, but that doesn't bother me. Regardless of the reviews, I plan on seeing this one -- not G.I. Joe, though. District 9 seems to have a little more to it, especially using South Africa, with it's Aparteid history, as the site where the aliens have been quarantined.

Got my fingers crossed. Anyone else have thoughts on this one?

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Thursday, August 06, 2009

Don't You Forget About Me

I'm late on this, but John Hughes died.

The Breakfast Club
Sixteen Candles
Weird Science
Some Kind of Wonderful (wrote)
Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Home Alone (scripted)
Uncle Buck
Beethoven (wrote)
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
Christmas Vacation (co-wrote)
Pretty in Pink (wrote)
She's Having a Baby
The Great Outdoors (wrote)
Curly Sue
Mr. Mom (wrote)

True difference-maker. Which American (and it goes further than America) in my generation wasn't affected by at least one of these movies?


Ed. note: A tribute

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Hey! I Wasn't Done with News of the Weird Yet!

Yesterday, I "wrote" this post from Yahoo's News of the Weird as a one shot, but the were a few other notable stories from both News of the Weird and Yahoo Odd News that I thought I'd bring to your attention for, paradoxically enough, jaw-dropping-ness and discussion, simultaneously.

First, how about this one:

The Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Prayer order in La Crosse, Wis., is now in its 131st consecutive year of around-the-clock prayer, in shifts, at its Adoration Chapel. The Sisters' ritual is based on an 1865 promise by the order's superior that if God graced their ministries with success, they would build a chapel and pray non-stop. [Journal Sentinel (Milwaukee), 5-6-09]

I have to say, I think that's pretty remarkable. Let's put this achievement another way. If we just use 130 years, the Franciscan Sisters have been praying straight for 1,139,580 hours (including the extra days for Leap Years). If I make it five minutes in prayer to my Lord without distracted thoughts -- and that rarely happens -- I consider that an achievement.


Here's another write-up, this one about Scientology leaders that "screw up", whatever that means:

LEAD STORY: Former Scientology officials describe a violent training program that's not quite Marine boot camp but nothing like a cloistered monastery.

Scientology trains its leaders a good deal more aggressively than other religions do, judging by the revelations by four former church officials to the St. Petersburg Times in June. In an exercise concocted by founder L. Ron Hubbard, leaders who screw up are taken out to sea and forced off a gangplank with the admonition, "We commit your sins and errors to the deep and trust you will rise a better Thetan (immortal spiritual being)." The rituals can also take place in a cold swimming pool, with the transgressors in business suits. Also, to test leaders' commitment, the head Scientologist, with a boombox, conducts games of musical chairs to reward the last man sitting (using the music of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody": "Is this the real life? / Is this just fantasy? / Caught in a landslide / No escape from reality"). [St. Petersburg Times, 6-23-09]

I'm not a Scientologist, and really, I don't have much to say about how religions discipline their leadership. It just seemed strange enough to have made the paper, and I wondered if other people knew about rituals like this. Is the paper correct?


In the least competent criminals section, I caught this one that I thought was funny:

WCBS-TV (New York City) reported (illustrated with the store's surveillance video) the unsuccessful robbery of Mohammed Sohail's deli in Shirley, N.Y., in June, in which Sohail surprised the perp with a shotgun. Suddenly, as Sohail recounted, the robber dropped to his knees, crying and begging. When the robber spontaneously even offered to convert to Islam on the spot, Sohail tossed $40 at him and sent him on his way. [WCBS-TV (New York City), 6-4-09]

I'd rather just give an infidel like you $40 than have you convert to my religion. Take it and go.


Lastly, file this one in the I didn't know it was this easy category. Here's a snippet from the linked article:

Russian soccer fans have been told to drink whisky on their trip to Wales for next month's World Cup qualifier to ward off the H1N1 swine flu virus, the head of the country's supporter association (VOB) said Monday.

"We urge our fans to drink a lot of Welsh whisky as a form of disinfection," VOB head Alexander Shprygin told Reuters.

"That should cure all symptoms of the disease."

If Welsh whiskey cures the swine flu, let's theorize on what other miracles upon which it might be used? One wonders what horrors a shot of Jack or a teaspoon of some Jim Beam might remedy. Bad personalities, hopefully, but more than that? Perhaps not liver disease, but to think that the cures for athlete's foot, warts, cold sores, and heart disease could all be found at the bottom of a whiskey bottle or at the local still... We never knew.

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Your Worst Inhibitions Tend to PSYCH You Out in the End

One day and counting! TOMORROW 10:00 p.m., 9:00 CST, Psych, Season 4, begins. I'll make these short and sweet -- my Top 10 reasons Psych is my favorite TV show:

10) Great episode names: Granted this isn't a real reason to watch the show, but if you have the DVDs and see the episode names, sort of like Seinfeld, you can relate to them by name because they stick out --

Tuesday the 17th
Black and Tan: A Crime of Fashion
Gus Walks into a Bank
There's Something about Mira
Shawn (and Gus) of the Dead
Spellingg Bee
Scary Sherry: Bianca's Toast

Because of this familiarity, they touch a little closer to home when you're laughing about them with friends.

9) Corbin Bernsen works as Shawn's dad. The obsessive cop who trained his son to be hyper-observant and let Shawn live with all his misconceptions of his parents' divorce so not to soil his thoughts of his mother - this has led to a rocky yet touching relationship between the pair that grows as the serial comedy goes along. A great side story.

8) Rewatchability of the episodes. I've got all three seasons on DVD, and there's no episode I wouldn't watch and laugh at a second, third, and fourth time.

7) The scenes where Shawn and Gus run away chicken. About two or three times each season, something happens that scares the pants off of our two heroes, and they just take off running. Those scenes are so laugh out loud funny, I almost wish there were more. But that would spoil it and make them predictable. It's great how it is.

6) Maggie Lawson as Juliet O'Hara - She wasn't in the pilot episode, but bringing her on was a stroke of genius. She's cute, perky, just believable enough in a cop role, and perfect for Shawn's love interest.

5) And since I've brought up Jules, the new twist that brought Rachael Leigh Cook in as Shawn's old flame, Abigail - the one that got away in high school - has made for a really good love triangle. I hope the show continues this for a little while. The sub-plot of Shawn and Jules attraction has been well played, and this little addition makes a nice turn. We'll see how it goes, but I'm looking forward to it.

4) The show doesn't take itself too seriously. This is pretty much true of all the USA shows, and that's probably a reason I like nearly every show. Monk's my least favorite, but it started in the right vein of not trying to be a hard-boiled cop show. Some of the characters are caricatures (like Lassie in Psych), but eventually they show human sides. Burn Notice and Royal Pains also do a very good job of this, and they're even more serious shows. I think In Plain Sight is the one that takes itself the most seriously, and it doesn't totally, but because of that, I think it suffers. Psych doesn't at all. It's not supposed to be reality, but you can suspend your belief because it works well enough as a dramedy and the fringe benefits are fantastic.

3) My kids love it. Now, not everything in every episode is kid-friendly, and sometimes I have to pause the DVD episodes and fast forward because of some innuendoes or a little too much kissing or spending the night. However, most episodes are pretty family-friendly, at least for a watcher like me.

2) All the 80s and pop culture references. The show is so loaded with them, it's hard to pick any out without just overflowing. The new commercial where the lady asks Shawn if he believes in Karma is a perfect example. Shawn's witty reply: "Of course, I do. I'm a Karma Chameleon." And Gus chips in with, "We come and go." I think my favorite might have been in Tuesday the 17th, which was an excellent spoof on the horror movies in the Friday the 13th genre, where Shawn, who was jealous of Gus' relationship as a kid with Joey Cunningham and now they're grown, states, "My least favorite tag team of all team." And Clive, a camp counselor, retorts, "Really, with the Iron Shiek and Nikolai Volkov on the table." (Those were pro wrestler villians, if you didn't know.) Not missing a beat, Shawn remarks, "You came up with that reference? Wow!" It's chalk full of these sorts of references, and they.are.hilarious.

1) The relationship, repoire, and banter between Shawn and Gus. I haven't seen better chemistry between two actors in any show... ever. They are hilarious together, touching sometimes, meaningful at others, you know they love each other as friends, and they work together on their cases so well. These are the roles James Roday and Dule' Hill will be remembered for forever. And that's gonna be a GREAT legacy for the two of them.

Psych is awesome!!! I love it! Watch it tomorrow! Is there anything else I can say?

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