Thursday, January 31, 2008

An Edifying Time-Waster

Okay. We all do it. We all waste time doing things we shouldn't be doing. Whether it's playing solitaire or doing MySpace survey's or answering some questions on some silly Facebook quiz, we all flush our time down the toilet on meaningless activities that help us decompress or distract ourselves from reality for a spell.

Well now you will have a way to waste time AND justify it! A long-time friend named Michelle (Holla!) told me about a cool web site called FreeRice.com. It is a vocabulary quiz. For every word you define correctly, 20 grains of rice are donated through the U.N. to help fight world hunger. The revenue to purchase the rice is raised via ad revenue on each click-through when you play the quiz.

How ingenious!

So far, I'm at level 36. The highest level I got to was 40. Feel free to post about how much smarter you are than me when you surpass me.

Morality & The Shield, Part 2


There are things
I have done
There's a place
I have gone
There's a beast
And I let it run
Now it's running . . .
My way

Lyrics from "This Night" by Black Lab


This song was used in a promo for season six of "The Shield". Its lyrics are rich with the story that “The Shield” has portrayed from the very first episode – the idea of committing an unpardonable sin that defines you & haunts you for as long as you live.

The “original sin” of this television series occurred in the pilot episode. As I introduced to you in a recent entry, this show follows the adventures of an experimental anti-gang & -drug unit. In the first episode, the unit consists of four members. The captain of the police precinct knows that the unit is dirty, but can’t prove it. So he selects someone he can trust, officer Terry Crowley, to infiltrate the unit – a NARC among NARCs. Vic Mackey, the unit’s leader, learns of the captain’s plot, and his brilliant solution is to this problem is to blow the snitch away. And that’s just what he does.

Similar to a common interpretation of the unpardonable sin of the New Testament, disloyalty is the ultimate sin among cops. The pilot of “The Shield” received extreme negative reviews from real-life law enforcement officers because of what they considered the incredulity of a cop murdering a fellow officer. However, as it bears out, the entire series is an outgrowth of that “original sin.” It is true to reality in that the series fleshes out the consequences of turning on one’s own.

Vic Mackey
"I'm a BAAAAD man!"
When Mackey murders Crowley, there is one other member of the Strike Team who knows about it – Detective Shane Vendrell. Vendrell witnesses the deed, and helps cover Vic & his story. Vendrell can’t cope with what they did in the same, easy way that Mackey can, however. It haunts him, and drives him to get into trouble in later episodes. Ultimately, it comes to a point where Detective Vendrell becomes the “beast” that Mackey “let it run,” and in season 6 it starts “running (his) way.” Vendrell mimics Mackey’s deed of murdering a fellow cop for what appeared to be a justified reason. Mackey disagrees, and they become enemies.

I wonder about this idea of a horrible sin – something so abhorrent, so abominable. Something so scandalous, savage, and/or fierce that there is no going back. Something so wretched that it grows out of your control & creates a monster that turns on yourself.

Tom Hanks’ character voices his trepidation in committing such a transgression in The Green Mile. As an executioner at a state prison, Hanks’ character realizes that there is a man on his death row that is innocent of the crime he is being prosecuted for. And not only that, but this man possesses an incredible gift to heal. As the time approaches for this captive healer to go to the electric chair, Tom Hanks’ character wonders what he should do. “I've done some horrible things in my life, but this is the first time I've felt a real danger of hell,” he tells his wife. "On the day of judgment, when I stand before God, and he asks me why did I kill one of his true miracles, what do I say? That it was my job?"

There is an element of shame that I believe to be ungodly. Satan suggests to us that our particular brand of sin is so heinous that we are unworthy of God’s love & grace. However, I wonder about this idea of doing a deed that genuinely leads you down a path where there is no return.

In the Special Features on the DVD for Season 5 of “The Shield,” actor Walter Goggins (who plays Detective Shane Vendrell) talks about the trajectory of the Vic & Shane story-line – from helping one another cover up a horrible deed to becoming mortal enemies. He says, “Wherever it goes, there will be pain to deal with.” The final season will hopefully air on FX in 2008. I can’t wait to see what the writers do with the final installment. If the plot follows through toward a realistic end, I can only conceive of one possibility.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Chris Farley

Did you know that Chris Farley was supposed to be Shrek? That would have been a different movie. I think Farley would have made it equally as great as Mike Myers & co.

He's gotta be one of the top 3 funniest comedians of my lifetime. Anyway, I also found this ESPN commercial of Chris Farley that I totally don't remember.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Postmodernism

I just started a sermon series on Colossians. Leaning heavily on Milton Jones' book, "Christ: No More, No Less." He does a good job of dealing with a complex subject in a simple way. It's easy to be complicated; to be simple takes effort.

Anyways, I preached a sermon on Sunday that was all about Postmodernism. I've placed the sermon on-line along with the fill-in-the-blanks guide to help the listeners follow along. I tried to be simple but not simplistic, comprehensive but not exhaustive. I probably won't be holding any seminars on postmodernism in the near future, but I felt like I did a pretty good job with it. And I got a lot of positive feedback from "the folks," which tells me that I didn't get too heady or liberal for them. ;-)

If you're looking for a sermon or Bible study primer on how to engage culture & answer questions about how our world thinks, help yourself. Click on the image of page 1 below to go to the PDF document...

Postmodernism

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Favorite Tide Clips

Two Amazing plays, and one amazing ending to a game.

First, George Teague strips the ball from a Miami Hurricanes player who is streaking for a score. Ultimately, this is the greatest non-play of all-time, because Alabama ended up being off-sides.

"Teague's Got THE BALL!"


Tyrone Prothro was amazing...



And, now, the game. When this clip picks up, Alabama is trailing by a touchdown, 26-33. Very late in the game, and the Tide is having to punt it away.


Friday, January 25, 2008

REVIEW: Shrek the Third

Shrek the ThirdJust Watched:
Shrek the Third

My Rating:
3 Stars


As a memorable video game character once quipped: "Zee Magic? She is gone!" The Shrek franchise began with a fantastic piece of work. I think that it all went wrong when the decision-makers decided to make a franchise out of one blockbuster effort. This is one more example of the classic case where movie executives forced the writers & creators to pump out two more movies, when all those writes & creators ever really wanted to do was the first film. And when that happens, it shows in the quality of the final two movies of the trilogy (e.g. The Matrix).

Overall, Shrek the Third was underwhelming. The plot was about as ordinary and unexciting as an episode of Law & Order. The writing didn't come close to recapturing the zany humor of the first film. And they tried. There are a couple scenes with some spark. But ultimately, the film falls short.

Shrek and Donkey
"We're Doing a THIRD film?"
My main complaint, however, is the volume of characters. There are too many! Remember in the first film when there are a handful of characters that we get to know & begin to laugh at? There are too many central characters in this film to whom they had to give "face time". Ultimately, it is subtraction by addition.

One thing I'll give them: the picture is PHEnomenal. Especially in HD. Even though the other elements of the film stunk, I couldn't take my eyes off the screen. I was mesmerized by the power of High Definition.

"The Third" sticks with it's series-long theme of being a the anti-fairy tale. In this episode, instead of waiting to be rescued, the princesses come to the rescue. Prince Charming is the sinister antagonist instead of being the courageous hero. The Ogre, instead of being the evil and frightening monster, is the whimsical and like-able hero. And, in the end, "fighting for the cause" is the WRONG thing to do. While there is some charm in such an upside-down story, the fact that it comes out of Hollywood in our current national milieu disturbs me somewhat. It's as if they are planting subliminal messages like, "Hey kids, the 'good guys' in Washington are really bad, the 'bad guys' that they vilify are really good, and never, ever fight for the right thing." Ultimately, it feels like the creators of the film delivered a liberal message in an under-handed & manipulative way. And, to me, that's slimy.

Still, it was fun to see the cast of Shrek in one more film. And it wasn't ALL bad. Kids will no doubt love it. The film-makers just couldn't recapture the magic of the original. 3 stars, out of five.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Ten Thousand Days

The thought just occurred to me that, when I was in middle school & high school, I never would have dreamed that I would write essays for FUN. Remember when you first learned how to write an essay? An essay is five paragraphs long, and a paragraph consists of five whole sentences. How TEDIOUS!! I was a Math/Science guy, and I couldn't stand English Lit & Comp. The idea that I now write essays for personal leisure would probably freak the teenage me out.


Yesterday, a friend of mine from high school named Jennifer turned 10,000 days old. I have a countdown clock on my MySpace to the 10,000th day of my existence outside my mother's womb. Jennifer saw that, calculated her own birthday, and her's was yesterday. My ten thousandth day will be in mid-March.

Why am I concerned with this? Well, one of my favorite music artists is Christian folk singer Bebo Norman. Bebo's lyrics speak to my soul. Whenever I go through seasons of distress, I frequently find myself turning to Bebo to help soothe my soul. Bebo's first album was named "Ten Thousand Days." That name appears to come from a lyric of the song that is the name-sake for this blog:

"Where the Angels Sleep Lyrics"

Artist: Bebo Norman

I don't know why I always run
Is it fear of the fall or fear of the touch
And I don't know where the angels sleep

And I don't know how to really love
I've never stood still long enough
And I don't know where the angels sleep

But I am alive and standing strong
I'm no farther forward, just farther along
I hold on to my pride and dig in deep
It's pulling me down, and I am no closer to release
And I don't know where the angels sleep

I don't know how to see you now
The friend from before is different somehow
And I don't know where the angels sleep

And I don't know when I'll love again
But I don't trust myself to just let you in
And I don't know where the angels sleep

It's taken ten thousand days
To get stuck in my ways
And it offers no grace
I cannot stand this place
With love in my face
I walk away slowly

I don't know where the angels sleep
No, I don't know where the angels sleep

I love this song. It intermingles big life questions with more insignificant, child-like ones. "I don't know how to do this... and I don't know where the angels sleep for that matter!!" In the midst of realizing that there are questions we won't find answers to, there is a calm that settles in as you let go of the relentless pursuit of answers and settle in to rest in God's sovereignty.

I get the impression that Bebo wrote this song when he was about my age. He was single, too. So, when I listen to songs from that album, I feel an existential connection with one of my favorite music artists.

So, only 1 Month, 16 Days, 14 Hours, and 1 Minute until I turn Ten Thousand Days old. I'll let you know when it happens. (G)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

I'm Dreaming of Nick Saban

On Sunday night & early Monday morning, I dreamed of Nick Saban. I thought you all might enjoy laughing at me. The following are posts from an internet forum on BamaOnLine.

Enjoy :)


My name is feetwasher, and I have a man-crush on Nick Saban. Last night, he was in my dreams.

Nick Saban
He's So Dreamy (G)
I dreamed that I went over to his house with a buddy of mine. I was in awe of his place as soon as I walked in the door. We went through several rooms before we were shown by his wife into his den. He was reclining there while watching tape of a recent Iron Bowl game. We started a little shop talk, and it wasn't long before I said something that got him riled up (I don't know what it was). I tried to stand my ground with him intellectually. Finally, at an impasse, he realized that there was only one way for us to settle this. So we went to another room, he turned on the Xbox 360, and handed me a controller.

Strangely, neither of us chose Alabama as the team we would play with. One of us was Jax St., and the other was San Jose St. On the first play from scrimmage, I ran that QB handoff/keeper-option out of the 4-wide spread formation. It went 65 yards or so for a touchdown. All of a sudden the dream went into another direction... I don't remember anything else about the game.

The other thing I remember about the dream was that there was this pesky black bear that kept coming & terrorizing us at the house. We began spending some time in the back yard, and I had a scoped rifle. Every once in a while, that bear would begin to creep toward the house & I would take some shots at him. Never really delivering a death blow, he would retreat for a while. This continued off & on...

Alright, that's what I remember. I'm on your couch. What say you about me?


(Posted by: bamaman18)

You like Saban and the direction of the program under his leadership. But... you are concerned, subconsciously, that Saban might leave Alabama, and what this will do to your faith in the program if that happens. The Bear represents the NCAA and your ongoing concern that we will be slapped with sanctions again, and this time it could be worse. As bad as you want them to go away, they never seem to totally leave.

I'll send you my invoice...........

Posted on 1/21 10:12 AM | IP: Logged


(Posted by: 86bamagrad)

There will be seven years of bumper crops, followed by seven years of famine...wait, that was a different dream.

Posted on 1/21 10:21 AM | IP: Logged


(Posted by: ME)

bamaman18, I posted this partly out of jest & partly out of genuine interest. I just did a Yahoo! search on bears in dreams, but the information provided there did little to help me understand what that portion of my dream means. I'm curious about what that could be. Perhaps it is representative of something external related to the Alabama football program -- the NCAA, the mainstream media, or Bear Bryant. Or perhaps it could be represntative of something internal -- personal anxiety, fear, or even a season of healing (e.g. I'm fighting to keep a terrorizing force at bay in my personal life...). Don't suppose I want to get too personal on a public internet forum. Anyway, any insight you have to share would be welcomed.


(Posted by: TheHit86)

[...]
I think you have special "man feelings" about Saban but you still think no man is your intellectual superior. However, you cannot in good conscience claim to be more intelligent than your "man crush" so you basically come out of the dream calling it a draw.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

REVIEW: 3:10 to Yuma

3:10 to Yuma
Just Watched:
3:10 to Yuma

My Rating:
5 Stars


The very best Western-style movies are didactic. That is, in the process of telling a gripping story in a desert setting where injustice reigns, Westerns impart a moral precept of some kind. Whether it is teaching a profound lesson about life or revealing some important truth about human nature, the very best Westerns instruct as much as they entertain.

Tombstone framed Wyatt Earp's life (especially the episodes at the OK Corral & on his Vendetta Ride) in Biblical terms of a reckoning. Earp was likened unto "the rider on a pale horse" of Revelation 6:8, which is quoted throughout key moments of the film. Unforgiven took us on a journey with a reformed cold-blooded killer named William Munny. He is pushed. And pushed. And pushed. And when Munny reaches a breaking point, we get to discover how much evil a decent man will suffer before rekindling his former violent ways to suppress an insufferable evil.

3:10 to Yuma continues this tradition of great contemporary Hollywood Westerns. The character development is sensational. Christian Bale plays a down-on-his-luck rancher who has hit rock bottom: he is crippled, he's dirt poor, he's about to lose his land, his boys don't look up to him, and his wife doesn't respect him. How could a man in such dire straits regain his dignity? Russell Crowe plays a renowned Western bandit & gang leader who is on top of the mountain in terms of success at his profession. And, as such, he is a bit of a "bored king." Could even a shred of redeeming goodness be found in the heart of such a rotten, villainous figure? These questions, and more, are asked & answered along the captivating journey that is this film.

The acting is superb. Bale & Crowe are two of the finest actors in Hollywood right now, and this film will grow in stature as it is remembered as having been filmed in the prime of their careers. Bale has the privilege of delivering the most memorable lines of the film, and he delivers them perfectly. He was not nominated for a Golden Globe, and I will be highly disappointed if he is not announced as a nominee for an Academy Award when those Oscar nominations are released Tuesday morning. Russell Crowe simply has the greatest range of any Hollywood actor alive today. And the supporting cast comes through as well. I especially enjoyed the acting of Dallas Roberts. He carries a forceful presence on screen, and I hope to see more of him in future films.

Christian Bale in 3:10 to Yuma
Christian Bale delivers
Finally, truly great films deliver memorable lines that stick with you. Tom Hanks' line about facing God at Judgment Day in The Green Mile comes to mind. Kevin Costner's character asking his father if he wanted to "have a catch" in Field of Dreams. In The Shawshank Redemption, it's Andy Durfresne telling Red, "It's a simple matter, really: Get busy livin', or get busy dyin'." Even the much parodied "You had me at 'Hello'" line from Jerry Maguire. As I alluded earlier, Christian Bale's character gets to deliver a line like that toward the end of the film to his son. It's a line that speaks volumes about the courage and virtue of a man. And, as a man, it causes me to call into question if I am made of the same kind of stuff that made that man great in that moment. When all the superficial reasons for doing the right thing are stripped away, would you still make the right choice? Even when it didn't have to be done? Even when you have a laundry list of reasons not to -- including saving your own neck? Especially when "nobody else would?"

All the way around, this movie gets it right. Regular readers of my reviews are aware that I don't hand these out lightly. But I am giving this movie 5 stars, out of five. Buy it. Watch it. Re-watch it. Cherish it. Because Hollywood doesn't make movies like this very often.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Thinking of Dr. King

Happy MLK Day.

I found the final speech that Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered the night before he was assassinated. I'm posting the YouTube clip of the last minute or so of that speech. Two things strike me about this clip. First, what an excellent speaker in the African-American tradition of preaching Dr. King was. He was clearly a master of rhetoric. And, second, how remarkably prophetic he was. He carried the name of another prophet (Protestant trail-blazer Martin Luther), he did the work of a prophet, and his final words appear so prophetic in view of the events of the next day & the story of the death of Moses at the end of Deuteronomy.


To further Dr. King's comparison, these words from Deuteronomy 34 also appear to have dual application:

10Since then, no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses [...] 12For no one has ever shown the mighty power or performed the awesome deeds that Moses did in the sight of all Israel."

Sunday, January 20, 2008

What Authentic Contrition Looks Like

I've spent bandwidth here in the past discussing the public phenomenon of denying misdeeds & public figures who refuse to take responsibility for their actions (as evidenced here, here, and here). I've spent even more bandwidth recently discussing the public melodrama between Roger Clemens & his former trainer Brian McNamee regarding Clemens' alleged use of steroids. So I felt the need to share this.

Former Major League Pitcher Dan Naulty participated with Former Senator George Mitchell's investigation & was named in the Senator's Report on pages 232-233 (or 280-281 of "print pages" of the PDF document). I find Naulty to be an admirable person for having truly come clean about his past. I commend to you this interview that aired Sunday morning on ESPN's Outside the Lines.

I present you with former Major League pitcher, Dan Naulty:



One element that is so disturbing in the midst of these events resulting from the Mitchell Report is the lack of sincerity & authentic contrition in terms of players "coming clean" about these allegations. According to Naulty, at the time he was being interviewed, George Mitchell told him that he was the ONLY current or former player who had been fully open and honest about his history with performance enhancing drugs. What does that say about the sport, and its participants, who I follow & root for so passionately? That is REVOLTING. Revolting. It is little wonder that baseball has little to do with Naulty's life these days, at least as evidenced by the decor in his home.

I am pleased that Naulty does this public purging of his past in the name of Christ. According to an article he wrote in the New York Daily News:

The 37-year-old Naulty now lives in Colorado with his family and is pursuing a Ph.D in Biblical studies after earning two M.A. degrees at Trinity College and Theological Seminary (Ind.) and Iliff School of Theology (Colo.). He hopes to teach at a university or seminary and publish his story in book form.

If you want to listen to more of Dan Naulty's story, you can listen to a lengthy interview right here.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Coming down the Pike...

I post this partly out of concern & partly for humor. I am flabbergasted at the implications for ministry in the future...


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Morality & The Shield

This is the first in what I hope will be at least a three-part series on the subject of morality & ethics that includes meditations from one of my favorite television dramas, "The Shield." I promised this was coming about 10 months ago, and now I'm finally getting around to it. This is a subject that I often think about, as evidenced by having written about this subject before. And I'd love to encourage dialogue in the form of comments here or on your own blogs.


It occurs to me that one of Satan's greatest psychological weapons, among his considerable arsenal, is twisting humanity's sense of what is good and evil. No one is immune. From among those whom we would consider the greatest sinners to those among whom we would consider the greatest saints & do-gooders, Satan works to twist our sense of righteousness. Given my own & my readership's ideology, I'm most interested in how Satan seeks to twist a Christian's understanding of morality.

Some time ago, I came across this illustration from a sermon.

Writer & speaker Joni Erickson Tada was paralyzed from the neck down in a diving accident. In her book "Secret Strength", Joni wrote about facing temptation.

"I was in my late 20’s, single, and with every prospect of remaining so. Sometimes lust or a bit of fantasizing would seem so inviting and so easy to justify. After all, hadn’t I already given up more than most Christians just by being disabled? Didn’t my wheelchair entitle me to a little slack now and then?"

Joni went on the ask her readers:

"When God allows you to suffer, do you have tendency to use your trials as an excuse for sinning? Or do you feel that since you’ve given God a little extra lately by taking abuse, that He owes you a "day off?"

Hard times can often lead to temptation... In our suffering the evil one is quick to come to our aid and offer one of his solutions; pursuing pleasure to numb the pain, copping an attitude, becoming bitter, getting even, feeding anger...

Vic Mackey
Vic Mackey IS the law
She's spot on.

One of my favorite television dramas is FX's The Shield. The main character is Detective Vic Mackey, the checkered leader of an experimental anti-gang & drug unit called "The Strike Team." Mackey is good at what he does. He gets results. But he's also in on the take, and Vic rationalizes this practice in a number of ways (e.g. busting down rival drug dealers in certain territories while taking a "tenant's fee" from the drug dealer that he feels he can regulate, so as to keep drugs from completely flooding the streets). Another one of the ways he rationalizes this is how good he is at what he does. In an episode from a recent season, Vic finally pours out his heart concerning why he skimmed off the top, AND why he came clean. He says this:

"It was easy, alright. NO fuss, no victims. I was clearing twice as many cases as anyone here [...] The city was getting their money's worth, trust me.

"But I quit ... because I still wanted to be a cop! Because I can do better."

Fighting for right means not participating in wrong on the side from time to time.

I've experienced this temptation myself. With a group of ministers yesterday in our weekly accountability & encouragement meeting, a couple other ministers gave voice to that temptation. One stated, "I spend all day going & doing for everyone else. When I come home, I want to veg on the couch while my wife serves ME."

It's a form of pride. Effectively, what we're saying to God in those moments is this:

Hey, God, enough already! Alright? I've filled my quota for the day. Get someone else to do your bidding for a while; I've given you plenty. And don't give me that tired, old "Jesus gave it all" line. Six hours one Friday... BULLL-logna. I'd like to see Jesus do what I do.

In those moments, we don't have in mind that Jesus became poor so that we could become rich, that He did for us what we could not do for ourselves, and that everything we have is because of Him. We just want what we want.

There is no viable rationalization for plain, old selfishness. That "old man" (Rom. 6:6) wants to creep back in, get back a foot-hold, and rebel against a soul surrendered to God's will. No amount of do-gooding earns anyone a free ticket to sin. When we begin to think that we can reward ourself by making a wrong decision, we're treading into enemy territory.

Predictions Re-Visited

Almost ten months ago, I gave you my predictions on the 2007 MLB regular season. I also gave some pretty good other "random" predictions. Let's revisit those, shall we, so that I can have an opportunity to pat myself on the back...


"Barry Bonds hits 30+ homeruns and thus breaks Hank Aaron's all-time record of 755."

CLOSE. Barry smacked 28 homeruns, which was indeed enough to make him the new All-Time Homerun Record Holder. He was also indicted.



"Bobby Cox hangs 'em up as Atlanta Braves manager at the end of this season when the new cheap ownership allows John Smoltz & Andruw Jones to walk. Smoltz signs with the Detroit Tigers & Andruw signs with the Boston Red Sox."

WAY off. Bobby's still going strong. Smoltz re-upped with the Braves. Andruw did walk, but not to the Sox. He's a Dodger now.

It was viable. Just didn't happen.



"Bobby's successor will be Joe Torre. Joe returns to Atlanta where he has formerly played & managed. He's not tired of baseball; just tired of the unreal Yankee expectations. He's attracted to Atlanta by his history with the franchise, the first-class front office headed by John Schuerholz, and the opportunity to teach young ballplayers. Another first-round failure in the playoffs marks Joe's final season in pinstripes."

Eh... so-so prediction. Torre did spend his last season in New York but not in baseball -- he, too, goes to the Dodgers.

Schuerholz gave up his GM duties. After having won so many division titles in a row & now having not even made the wild card two years in a row, something was going to have to change. Turned out it was John instead of Bobby.



"This is NOT A-Rod's final season in pinstripes."

Nailed it! Whenever you have a mole-hill, just remember that the media will be right there to make a mountain out of it for you.



"Torre's successor in the Bronx will be the overwhelmingly popular Joe Girardi."

Now we're rollin'! But should I really take credit for this? We all saw this coming a mile away, didn't we?



"Roger Clemens announces that he is returning to the Yankees around Memorial Day. Sometime around the middle of September, he will pull up with some kind of nagging injury and announce his retirement from Major League Baseball FOR GOOD. No one believes him, but 2008 comes and goes & Clemens fattens up and it becomes apparent that his retirement actually is for real. Three years following the retirement, some crafty investigative reporter will release a blockbuster, best-selling tell-all book that reveals an organized MLB cover-up of Clemens' 2007 positive test for steroids. This reporter chronicles how MLB didn't want another black eye & convinced Clemens to finally retire and avoid public embarassment. Forget the controversy over Mark McGwire; "The Rocket" becomes the new poster child for steroids in baseball as America finally wakes up to realize how more pitchers than hitters are users."

Wow.

Clemens busted? Check. Injured late in the season? Check. New poster child for roid rage? Check, with the picture being him throwing the broken shard of a bat at Mike Piazza in the 2000 World Series.

Blockbuster, tell-all by crafty investigative reporter? I'd imagine that Dan Shaugnessy or Mark Fainaru-Wada is working on it already...

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Pimpin' Ain't Easy

Time for me to push more of my stuff on you guys.

I based my Sunday morning sermon a few days ago on that article that I linked for you folks last week: "10 Ways to Tell You're Slipping". This is a time of year where people & churches are lulled into a kind of spiritual slump. The most depressing day of the year will soon be upon us -- I think that this year it will be January 21st. That "award" is arbitrary, but there IS something to it. This is a sermon that speaks to the folks where they are. It's one of those that, when I preached it, I could tell it was being received the way it needed to be received.

If you find yourself in the middle of the week in need of a lesson primer, help yourself.

A Theology of Preaching

When I decided to spend my life pursuing preaching ministry, I became very curious about the enterprise. When Harding University added the preaching degree, I added it as a 2nd major along with my standard Bible major in the College of Bible & Religion. I searched out & read books that were dubbed seminal on the subject of preaching. I studied many of the different well-known preaching methods & forms. And still, despite my pursuit, what I found lacking was the amount of material written about the idea of what exactly we're doing when we're preaching. Not how someone thinks I should do it, or multiple ways to do it. Or how some other guy did it. But what preaching accomplishes & should intend to accomplish at each preaching moment as well as throughout a lifetime of preaching ministry.

My pursuit led me to write a research paper on the Theology of Preaching. I dug it up last night & made it into a PDF document that you guys can access. Geocities, the host for this document, does have a bandwidth limit. I have no idea what that limit is. So if for some wild reason the document is inaccessible, give it an hour & come back later to download it.

It's one of the things I spent time doing in academia that meant something to me. The Turabian may be shoddy. Some of the points stand to be expanded upon & fleshed out more fully. But I'm pretty proud of it, and it still helps inform & guide what I do to this day. If you've at all struggled with the issue(s) of what is we are exactly attempting to do when we preach, I commend to you my paper. Hope it helps.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Puzzling Phrase in the Story of the Tower of Babel

I came across this passage in Genesis 11 a couple weeks ago & sort of curled my eyebrows:

1 Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. 2 As men moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there.

3 They said to each other, "Come, let's make bricks and bake them thoroughly." They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. 4Then they said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth."

5 But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower that the men were building. 6The LORD said, "If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. 7Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other."

So what do the rest of you theologians do with that line?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

REVIEW: Justice? Or Just Us?

The Kingdom
Just Watched:
The Kingdom

My Rating:
3½ Stars

Screen Writer Matthew Michael Carnahan is beginning to make a name for himself in Hollywood for his Islamo-Political Thriller Screenplays. And this will always have been his breakthrough work. His 2nd, "Lions for Lambs," was released just over two months ago.

The plot of this movie follows a team of FBI investigators who seek to find the assassins behind the shooting & bombing of Americans in a western compound in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The story is fiction, but according to Wikipedia, "it is inspired by bombings at the Riyadh compound on May 12, 2003 and the Khobar housing complex on June 26, 1996 in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia." I don't quite remember the '03 incident, but I clearly remember the '96 incident which happened soon after the Oklahoma City bombing. And the pictures in the film are quite reminiscent of that specific event.

I found the film very entertaining, and I as well found the ideological journey quite compelling. The carnage & victimization of innocent Americans immediately draws you in. And without revealing too much, there's a moment where your sympathy turns intensely personal. You begin to want justice just as much as the characters in the film want it. Along the way, the film educates the audience about some of the complexities involved in achieving such justice in this foreign land. And by the end of the film, you are left to wonder if justice for such deeds is even possible.

Khobar Towers
There's nothing funny about this. If you watch this film get ready to meet this disaster face to face.
The acting wasn't anything to write home about particularly. The bright spot was Jamie Foxx, who is beginning to rival Denzel as a dominating African-American screen presence. The writers and producers of this film wrote Jen Garner's role to be rather simplistic. In essence, she represents the heart & empathy of humanity in a war-torn setting. Frankly, she's basically the one who has permission to cry. Chris Cooper is the ornery old technician with just enough soul to make you like him. And Jason Bateman is the token smart aleck designed to (1) inject comic relief into the film when we need it and (2) to ratchet up the tension whenever we see him begin to get serious. Jeremy Piven plays his now type-cast fast-talking schmoozer. And Tim McGraw attempts to apparently reprise his white trash role from "Friday Night Lights" (it's really just kind of a bizarre & confusing cameo that utterly distracts from the subject that was at hand at that point in the film). So, basically, other than Foxx, either the acting itself stunk or the writers didn't really care to spend time developing the characters. And to me, characters are the engine that drive the film: it's all about placing REAL humanity in critical situations. These characters weren't real; they were clearly fabricated. Significant docking of points for that in my book.

As for the rest of the production of this film... I can't put my finger on it, but this movie just had a feel of having dumbed down complex issues for an American palate. In the middle of a political & investigative thriller, an action movie breaks out. It's a little bit shoot-'em-up western, a little bit counter-terrorist hostage rescue, and a little bit "Clear And Present Danger" Ambush Scene rip off. The action wasn't woven into the storyline with total seamlessness. In other words, I felt reminded that I was watching a Hollywood creation.

On to themes. For me, one of the major testaments of the film is the heroism of the local nationals who serve their country and live to fight for the cause of freedom & justice for all in the face of unspeakable tyrannical hate. I'm awe of their level of determination. They deserve the highest honors that our world affords. They are true heroes.

And as for the major theme, there is a common line spoken by two different actors at the very end of the film that is intended to speak volumes. Can't tell you what it is, but it goes back to that whole idea of justice. Is there justice? That is, in this life? Or is "justice" really revenge woven into a fairy tale that's spun in order to pacify the masses? That question the central focus of the film, and it's delivered quite well. I wasn't offended as if it was an underhanded attempt to take a slap at the right-wingers in Washington. Although I could understand why some conservatives might receive it that way. If you ask me, though, I would probably find such a reaction to be hyper-sensitive to partisan politics.

All in all, an enjoyable experience. But I'd say Carnahan has a way's to go before he fancies himself as Tom Clancy. 3½ Stars.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Dirty Little Secrets

On Thursday, while summarizing the latest on the public media feud between Clemens & McNamee, I wrote:

All the skeletons are coming out of the closet with this one, folks. The 2008 Presidential Election has nothing on these guys!

So, today, news outlets are reporting that information McNamee reported to federal law enforcement officials has been leaked. Specifically, McNamee told investigators that Clemens had an abscess on his buttocks while injecting Clemens with 'roids in 1998. From the ESPN article:

While any injection can lead to an abscess, an anti-doping expert said steroid injections are more likely to trigger abscesses, according to the Times.

It's circumstantial evidence at best. It is one more piece of evidence, but it really doesn't do anything substantial to further McNamee's public claims against Clemens. This release was a shot across the bow. Clemens hurt McNamee with the taped phone call & released info about his alleged rape of a woman in Florida. McNamee is just trying to show that he's got the goods to return the favor. From an article in the NY Daily News:

"Brian knows a lot about Roger's moral character and knows a lot about his extracurricular activities," said Earl Ward, McNamee's lawyer. "There's a lot that he could say to damage Roger's reputation, but we plan on taking the high road.

[...]

Attempts to smear McNamee could backfire, said Ward. McNamee worked with and knew Clemens over a significant stretch of time, the attorney said, and McNamee knows a great deal about Clemens' character as well, issues that can arise in a defamation suit.

"Brian knows a lot about Roger's moral character and if some of this stuff were to come out, Roger Clemens would look very, very, very bad," Ward said. "What does it all mean, in terms of our legal strategy? I think it's something that we'll look at in any defamation suit."

"High Road?" Yeah right.

Every little secret. Every embarrassing detail. Every speck of dirt under every fingernail will see the light of day before this feud is settled.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Twins Separated at Birth Wed & Divorce

From an article on MSNBC:

LONDON - Twins who were separated at birth got married without realizing they were brother and sister, a lawmaker said, urging more information be provided on birth certificates for adopted children.

A court annulled the British couple's union after they discovered their true relationship, Lord David Alton said.

[...]

"It involved the normal birth of twins who were separated at birth and adopted by separate parents.

"They were never told that they were twins," Alton said. "They met later in life and felt an inevitable attraction, and the judge had to deal with the consequences of the marriage that they entered into and all the issues of their separation."

How tragic! How do you even begin to deal with all the different feelings & emotions that would arise with such a revelation?

What would PRO-cousin-kissing reporter John Stossel say about this?? Courtesy of The Colbert Report:


Conversation with a Hog Fan: A Study in Fanhood

The following is a set of E-mails with a good friend of mine from college who is a big Hog fan. Here goes…


----------------- Original Message -----------------
From: III (that’s ME)
Date: Dec 12, 2007 1:45 PM

Gotta get your thoughts on Bobby Petrino.

Are you happy with him?
How long do you think you’ll keep him?
What do you think of him as a person?
Do you think he will bring a championship to Arkansas?
If so, how long will it take?


----------------- Original Message -----------------
From: Original Grubb
Date: Jan 7, 2008 1:11 PM

I’m not thrilled with the hire but I think it is a bolder step for the program. One of the board members said something about how the past business model had been 8-4 and that the new business model is a REAL national championship.

I think the hire is immediately good in a couple of areas...namely the PASSING GAME. Which has just continued to get worse and worse and worse.

I think he has to stay at Ark. for at least 4 years to improve his “jumping” image.

I don’t know what to think of him as a person. I think the way he left Atlanta was not ideal. However, that is the business. In the past the Falcons have fired coaches quickly just like most NFL franchises.

I think he should have offered to stay and finish the season, and maybe he did and maybe they said “don’t let the door hit you”. I don’t know. It does seem like what the players wanted though, like it was a SPLIT that was going to happen anyways. In terms of betrayal. I think what Coach FRAN was the WORST. I think Saban was worse, ONLY because he specifically denied not only interest but in ever TAKING the BAMA job. Then he did it. I have no problem with him leaving the FINS for BAMA (though I am a FIN fan) but rather in how he did it.

I do not like how ESPN bashed and bashed him, but that was one thing and then mocking the UA program is not ok. Nutt was chased off for more than just his record and never proving he could take the NEXT STEP. In the past Arkansas’s expectations were just that of being 8-4. Only once in 50 years should the razorbacks be a top 5 team. Yet you look at Kansas, Rutgers, Boise State, Wake Forrest....other programs with similar excuses...small state, no big talent base???? Yet other programs have success. Still it was the DRAMA. The way he mishandled the recruiting and treatment of players, his wife’s involvement in the email and texting and the continual lack of a passing game, and the moral character issue of how he unfairly treated players...someone did DWI and a started was patted on the wrist and the other guy was kicked off the team for GOOD! And again, the inability to develop QB...ala DICK who looks worse as a Junior than he did as a raw 17 year old true freshman when he played at LSU.

I think he could bring a CHAMPIONSHIP to the HOGS but I don’t see it in the next two years. The talent is not all GONE but it is sparse. Pending Felix coming back. The schedule is killer. Play Florida and Texas the next two years plus the regulars of the west and South Carolina at Carolina. The year after that along with the SEC west and Florida, there is Georgia, and Texas and Texas A&M. So 2009 is a bad bad bad year.

The defense is sooo gross though.

And another thing about coach P. that I don’t think I’ve expressed yet is the concern over how he left the sitcha in Louie. Did he leave a bad pile for the new coach to step into in terms of OFF the field problems or...was he the GLUE that was keeping things stable? I don’t know.


----------------- Original Message -----------------
From: III
Date: Jan 11, 2008 12:01 AM

I love studying fanhood. Its one of my hobbies. And it’s fascinating to hear you talk about Petrino & Arkansas. You almost sound like an Alabama fan talking about Saban! Its hilarious! The similarities:

1) Common hatred for ESPN
2) Remarkable ability to forgive prior sins
3) Having to defend shoving the old guy out the door by…
- a) Having to share insider-type info to back it up
- b) Not settling for mediocrity
- c) Pointing to chronic problems that were never fixed
- d) Claiming that that our program & our “folks” are misunderstood by the national media.

I’m not making fun of you. I promise! I’m just pointing out how similar the logic, rationalization, & propaganda is.

---

As far as the “coaching sins” deal, here’s my take. As long as we live in a world where the two winningest coaches in Division 1A history are perennially on the hot seat, I refuse to fault coaches for looking after themselves by pre-empting their own dismissals. There’s a double-standard that exists here. Organizations & G.M.’s can give their “vote of confidence, still fire a guy, & get away clean, but Nick Saban can’t do the same. Organizations & G.M.’s can fire a coach midseason without repercussion, but if a coach leaves the team midseason he’s quitting on the team.

I understand the point of view that a majority of the nation holds about these two coaches. I just think its biased in favor of “fanhood” of the team. Why should a coach care to be loyal when it will never be shown to him? And this reveals a lack in character in coaches? Sports writers need to get off their sanctimonious high horses. Either that, or NEVER take a better job with a higher salary. When did upward mobility become taboo in our country?

That said, I think Petrino is gone from Arkansas in 3 years time. And Saban will be gone from ‘Bama in at least 5. These men are not settlers. Why would either of us expect that they ever will be? If your MFT studies taught you anything, I’m sure you learned that the best predictor of future behavior is past performance. I think Saban will rebuild Alabama just enough, but will not stick around to suckle off his success—he never has. Petrino will be looking for a new job every offseason—he did just that at Louisville according to Pat Forde (who covered him as a beat writer at that paper before moving on to ESPN).

I do agree with you that Fran is the slimiest one of them all.

Saban is putting together a scary ‘08 recruiting class. If he continues to stack this caliber of class year after year for several years, like he did at LSU, I won’t care whether he stays or goes. Looking at everything right now, I think the Tide re-emerges on the national scene in 2010 with enough flashes of brilliance between now & then to keep our loony fanbase satiated enough.

FWIW, I think Saban is an honorable man in a dishonorable profession. Underneath the veneer, he is a shy boy from West Virginia who doesn’t know how to deal with so much attention. From just listening to his press conferences each week, I can tell that he is a wise man who has keen insight in coaching & human nature. I’m telling you: this is no snake-oil salesman. He’s the genuine article… unless he is the most sociopathic, Machiavellian liar that I’ve ever heard of. I just don’t buy that he could be. I don’t think he could have the level of success that he has if he was. He’s a “Do the Right Thing” kind of guy who could only get what he wanted (having his cake & eating it, too—finishing the job in Miami while wanting to be back in the college game) by doing the wrong thing. I’m sure it will haunt him for the rest of his natural born days, but there was no other way around it.

I’m with you in not knowing what to think about Petrino.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

My New-Found Imperialistic Fanhood

When you grow up as a sports fan, your team is always "the good guys." Its usually a case where you root for a regional team that all your buddies/family root for as well. And so, given that sphere of influence, subjectivity tends to reign in sports conversations. You grow up having heated discussions on the school bus about how the rival team is evil. And you overhear older family members chatting about how our team is filled with the good guys who champion the cause of "good," whatever that is in the world of sports.

This was true for me, at least.

I grew up a fan of Alabama Football and, in MLB, the Atlanta Braves (like every other kid in the deep south) and Boston Red Sox (randomly grew into being a big Wade Boggs fan... I like to pretend the Yankee years never happened). Yes, I realize that being a fan of two MLB teams makes me a sports bigamist. I came about it honestly though, so don't lump me in with the rest of those soul-less scoundrels of my generation who grew up fans of Florida State, the Dallas Cowboys, and the Chicago Bulls.

The Emperor
I'm embracing the hate with my new mentor
Well, now I'm an adult, and my favorite sports franchises are no longer the good guys. I root for the bad guys now. At least that's what the media keeps telling me.

This wasn't necessarily true 5 years ago. Alabama had just done the right thing and fired Head Coach Mike Price for his reckless decision to sleep with a stripper while on a recruiting trip. And the Boston Red Sox were like that guy Trent talks about in Swingers: "the PG-13 guy that everybody's REALLY hoping makes it happen." Except they couldn't make it happen, losing to the Yankees once again.

But now, in 2008, I root for the Evil Empires. In the 4 years since the 2003 ALCS failure, the Red Sox have won 2 World Series titles. And because Americans everywhere jumped on the bandwagon & embraced Red Sox fever after the '04 ALCS comeback, profiteers seized the opportunity to flood the culture with everything "Red Sox". ESPN inundated sports fans with nothing but talk of "the Yanks & the SAWX," as ESPN's Michael Wilbon is accustomed to saying. There was even a movie. Used to be that Red Sox fans framed their rivalry with the Yankees like a Star Wars movie: Steinbrenner was the Emperor, various characters were Darth Vader, and the highlight clips of the Yankees' inevitable march through the postseason could be played to John Williams' "Imperial March" musical theme. That sentiment has completely reversed now, though, with the Red Sox on top.

Darth Vader
Nick Saban photographed in his iron lung pajama's
My Crimson Tide has the same hated, "imperialistic" feel. Alabama's head coach is now Nick Satan, the representation of everything that is wrong with coaches in contemporary society. Apparently, upward mobility was abolished in America. Who knew? Be on alert, readers: if you take a job that is more personally gratifying and that pays more, you too could be vilified.

You can't watch a Dolphins or Alabama football game without laboriously listening to a conversation between a wanna-be Keith Jackson broadcaster & some has-been coach/player color analyst that concerns either (1) Saban's now false statement to the media in his final days in Miami, or (2) Nick Saban's 4 million dollar per year contract. And it is BEYOND clear that the two individuals engaging in said conversation either (1) are offended that Coach Saban lied to a fellow media member ("Solidarity, Brother!") or (2) are simply jealous.

Nevertheless, it is what it is. So since Satan is our head coach, I've heard it all. We cheat on the field, break the rules on the recruiting trail, have no sense of cultural perspective (e.g. the Saban 9/11 & Pear Harbor remarks), are a win at all costs people, have no soul, etc. Nobody likes us.

Bill Belichick
Emperor Belichick
And since I don't particularly have a favorite NFL team (I typically root for the team that has the most prominent former Alabama player), I've acquired a taste for the New England Patriots. Talk about a guy who looks like Emperor Palpatine! Bill Belichick is a dead-ringer for that guy! You could probably fairly criticize me for being a front-runner here. But I like them because I feel like I'm rooting for Nick Saban's big brother in coaching (FYI: Nick Saban was once an assistant coach under Bill Belichick). They're cheaters. They have no class. They have the poster-boy of me-first sports prima donna's: Randy Moss. What is there NOT to hate here? And yet, I enjoy watching them & rooting for them.

I'm slowly learning to appreciate this turn of events, though. Rooting for the "nasty boys" of the sports world is kinda fun. My guys are now kind of like that other guy Trent talks about in Swingers: "like that guy in the Rated R movie -- the guy you're not sure whether or not you like yet. You're not sure where he's coming from." There's even a slight psychological advantage in terms of the other team being intimidated, whether that takes the form of Saban's blitz schemes, Josh Beckett's fastball, or that lethal Brady/Moss connection.

Heck, even my country is looking more & more imperialistic. "It is useless to resist, Iraqi citizens..."

I say long live the Empires.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

What Should I Have Done?

I'm a total chicken. Allow me to explain.

Early in the evening this past Saturday, I was about to return home from running a few errands. Not without stopping by Starbucks to grab a sweet tea. (OF COURSE!) As I was pulling in to the parking lot, I was taking great care because there was a weathered-looking caucasian man in a trench coat who could have walked into my path. He didn't, and so I turned in, parked, & walked on in.

As I stood in line, I noticed that the man I noticed on the street walked in & stood in line behind me. Without trying to be too obvious, I at least noticed that this fellow probably wasn't wealthy. As I stepped to the register & placed my order, it hit me that this was a great opportunity to spontaneously pay it forward in terms of God's grace.

I looked back again to see this guy holding 2 or 3 One Dollar bills in his fist. I panicked. "Should I tell the young lady at the register that I would cover the guy behind me? Would that make a scene? Would I embarrass or offend this guy? Isn't it the right thing to do? Is it???" The moment passed, along with the opportunity.

Given my natural personality, I tend to analyze what to do or say before doing or saying it rather than doing or saying whatever and dealing with the consequences. I handicapped my decision-making ability with too much information -- "paralysis by analysis." I don't offer that as an excuse as much as I do a partial explanation for why I acted the way I did in that situation.

Another way to look at it: I choked. I can't shake that guilty feeling that I knew "good to do and (did) not do it" (James 4:17). And I think that speaks volumes.

We were just reading John 5 at a Bible Study last night, and we came across & made a big deal out of verse 6. Jesus noticed the lame man, obviously felt compassion for him, and then acted on that. It's debatable given his omniscience (and, as follows, his ability to plan out everything), but it appears that Jesus was able to show kindness spontaneously.

We saw what I did. We saw what Jesus did. What would you have done? What should I have done? What can you share with me to help me respond better in a similar moment in the future?

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Poor Auburn...

Even Google reminds them of their inferiority. 1 National Championship to 12 for Alabama.

Click on the cropped image below to see the full-size image:

Silly Auburn...

Grin & Colbert it...

Ok, one final video of Stephen Colbert's 434-part series, "Better Know a District." Today, former candidate Rich Sexton, who unsuccessfully ran against incumbent & current Republican Representative of New Jersey's 3rd District, Jim Saxton.

Enjoy!


Saturday, January 05, 2008

More Colbert

More of Colbert's 434-part series, "Better Know a District."

But first, here's a review of Stephen Colbert's book, I'm America (And So Can You!), by one of my favorite Protestant scholars, Ben Witherington III. I think I'm gonna go buy that book on impulse now.

Alright. Today, Congress-woman Eleanor Holmes Norton of the District of Columbia. FYI, she's allowed to participate in debates and fully participate in committees & vote in them, but she is not allowed to vote on actual bills & referendums when the House votes.

Enjoy!

Part 1


Part 2

Friday, January 04, 2008

Colbert Returns!

Stephen Colbert
Get Ready, America!
My very favorite political pundit returns Monday, January 7th. Stephen Colbert is crossing the picket lines to resume filming new episodes the best television program in the history of the Milky Way Galaxy, The Colbert Report (both T's are silent). Just in time for the New Hampshire primaries! I'll have no 24 & no new visits to The Office. But at least I'll have my man Stephen back to tell me what to think about the world & its news. This Presidential campaign will be a lot more fun with him around again.

In honor of his return, I'll be posting my favorite Colbert videos this weekend. They each come from Colbert's 434-part series, "Better Know a District." Today, Congressman Robert Wexler of Florida's 19th District. Make sure you hear him tell Colbert what "fun things" he likes to do...


Reality Imitates Art

My favorite movie of all-time is The Shawshank Redemption. There is even evidence of this fact in an old blog entry, as well as other Shawshank thoughts that I've peppered throughout other entries.

If you haven't seen it yet, I'm not going to apologize for giving away one of the major plot points. The warden commits suicide by putting a gun to his throat & shoowing himself through the head right before he is about to be arrested. One of the more memorable lines of the movie is delivered by Morgan Freeman's character, "Red," as he narrates the aftermath of the warden's suicide:

Red: I'd like to think that the last thing that went through his head, other than that bullet, was to wonder how the hell Andy Dufresne ever got the best of him.

OK, now that you're aware of that, you may or may not remember that my old college room-mate & blogosphere buddy, Jordan, wrote about an eerily familiar prison break. Well, the story took a tragic twist. The prison guard named in the escape note committed suicide.

Nevertheless, I found a little humor in a couple of lines, perhaps ill-spoken or ill-written, in the CNN report:

"Everything I understand, he did nothing wrong," said attorney Michael J. Mitzner, who spoke to Zurick [the former guard] on Monday. "It's hard to know what goes through someone's head."

Mitzner did not have Zurick's cause of death.

I think I know the cause of death... (G)

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Yours Truly on the Cutting Edge of Cultural Change

You may remember that I railed against our culture's over-use of the phrase "the perfect storm." Well today is sweet vindication. The good people at Lake Superior State University included "perfect storm" in the list of 19 clich├ęs they have targeted as affronts to the English language.

Nerdy wordsmiths everywhere rejoice.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Boycotting the Rose Bowl Game

I decided not to watch the Grand-Daddy today.

Beautiful
Missed an opportunity to see the
beautiful Song Girls today
For firsts, the outcome was never in doubt. USC blows out every out of conference opponent they face every year, especially in bowl games. Why would the fighting Zookers be any different? The Men of Troy are bred to win big games; Pete Carroll has built a group of players with a championship pedigree. When the other team is a bundle of nerves, USC is cold as ice, and they dispatch their competition with an executioner's efficiency.

Also, while I love me some USC Song Girls, the Men of Troy are one of the more annoying teams to watch blow out another team because of the way they insist on playing their "Fight On" theme song after every first down & touchdown. The list of teams that are horrible to watch in blowouts are as follows...

(Just imagine hearing these theme songs more than 30 times in a 3-hour stretch)

3.) Southern California -- "Fight On"
2.) Oklahoma -- "Boomer Sooner"
1.) Tennessee -- "Rocky Top". Hands DOWN the worst!

And, the three best chants in college football:

3.) Alabama -- "The Rammer Jammer" (and another good version)
2.) Kansas -- "Rock Chalk Jayhawk" (FF to the 1:00 mark)
1.) Florida State -- "War Chant". Nothing more intimidating.

I feel like you need to know these things.


The second reason I wasn't real big on watching the Rose Bowl today is their stance on a College Football playoff. With the system we already have in place, we could have a "Plus One" Championship Game with the top 4 teams playing off for the championship. The ONLY thing holding this back is the Rose Bowl & the commissioners of the Pac-10 and Big Ten. Here's an excerpt from an article by Austin Murphy on CNN/SI:

Baseball players, basketball players and golfers all miss substantially more classes. "Football players miss four or five Friday afternoons a year -- on a day most of 'em don't even have classes," says DeLoss Dodds, the athletic director at Texas, who believes the buzz created by a playoff would equal if not surpass the excitement of the Final Four in basketball. "If we had an eight-team playoff," says Dodds, "it would capture America."

In the next sentence he explains why it can't happen. "The plus-one won't work," he says, wearily, "because to do it, you've got to seed the [top] four teams. And if you do that, the Rose Bowl won't accept it."

Confirming that is Pac-10 commissioner Tom Hansen, who replies, "Uh, no," when asked if his conference is open to the possibility of a plus-one.

"If you seed the teams, and that's the only fair way to do it," he says, "then you're going to seed the conference champions out of their traditional bowl games. And that would be very injurious to all those games."

Hubba Hubba
Have I mentioned that I like the USC Song Girls?
So "injurious" and abhorrent do Hansen and his ilk find such crime-against-nature bowl matchups that they are only too pleased to block the path to a playoff. And so tied to tradition is the Rose Bowl that, having lost Ohio State to the title game, it invited 13th-ranked Illinois, the only three-loss team to get a BCS bid, to face USC. The sport is being held hostage, as one frustrated AD puts it, "by the Rose Bowl parade."

Springing to the defense of his Pac-10 counterpart is Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany, who together with Hansen forms a kind of Axis of Obstruction. Pointing out that their conferences already compromised once, back in 1998, when they joined the Bowl Alliance -- later christened the BCS -- Delany says, "We gave up a lot. I don't feel like we're takers. I feel like we're givers."

It is the rest of college football's problem that they are no longer in a giving mood. That nine-year-old decision to play ball with the Bowl Alliance "was not a first step toward a playoff," Delany emphasized last Friday, "but a last step." The Big Ten, Pac-10 and Rose Bowl recently signed an eight-year deal with ABC. (Fox has the rights to the four other BCS bowls in a contract that runs through 2014.) Says Delany, "We intend to honor that commitment."