Things That Make You Go...

Big weekend. I played six hours of Battlefront II yesterday. I played Ultimate Frisbee with youth group kids and listened to their whining about running too much (what is wrong with the Youth of America that I am wanting to run more than them?) And I went hiking at Starved Rock (Did you know the Native Americans actually built wooden stairs and pathways to make it easier to hike?).

Two thoughts struck me this weekend (hey, it is the weekend. Two thoughts over three days ain't bad!). The first came at Starved Rock.

There was a family with a dog in one of the canyons. He was running around and playing in the water. Well, at one part of the canyon was as slick rock slope. And he kinda tentatively inched further and further on it to check it out. And of course, he went to far and slid down into the water at the bottom. This really struck me as a illustration of how we slide down slippery slopes in our sins and struggles.

But what really got me was what the dog did the bottom. He just kept trying to climb back up that slippery rock to no avial. He struggled and struggled and struggled. He couldn't figure out that if he just turned around, he could just walk up the gradual dirt slope. Instead, he stayed right at the spot where he fell and tried in vain to climb out the same way he slid in.

And this is the best part: His family began to call the dog's name and lead him out of the pit. The woman walked around to the other side and called him to show him the way out. Only when he stopped fussing, whining and clawing did he hear her voice and follow her along the easy way out. Isn't this always the way with our struggles and sins? Man, I've had a situation like this in the last year. I just kept sliding down that depressing slippery rockface into the same puddle. And I'd try to climb out. But the only real way out was by listening and following.

The second thought this weekend is just as thought-provoking. It's about urinals.

After seing X-Men 3 Friday night, I went into the theater bathroom to find a line of about 7 guys waiting for the urinals. Well, then I notice that despite the long line, two urinals are not being used. They are the kid urinals--set about 6 inches lower on the wall. But they are still fully operational. There's no greater exposure. In fact, there's no real difference to these urinals except that they are a tad lower. That's it. And, you know, gravity does it's job.

But there must be a lack of macho street cred with using a kid's urinal. But I am not afraid. I said to the line ahead of me, "So, none of you are going to use those?" No one said anything (probably because of the unwritten Guy Code that you don't speak in the bathroom.) And so I bucked the line and went to one of the smaller urinals. When I was finished, only one guy in the line had gotten to go yet. And still, no one else followed my lead. They just waited.

And you know that one of them is blogging somewhere about the girly man who used the kiddie urinal instead of being a man and waiting.


PTOIT Quotes of the Week

"Fidel Castro's doctor denied rumours that the president's health was ailing, saying today the 77-year-old leader is in excellent health and claiming he can live at least 140 years. 'I am not exaggerating,' said Mr Selman." --From a wire story that raises the question, "How long would Castro's doc live if he didn't say things like this?"

"All of [the warnings] come too late for Emery, a secretary in the political science department, who still winces when she recounts what happened to her on a June afternoon she took a shortcut through Thompson Woods. She heard a rustling and saw 'this deer headed right toward me, full charge." -- From a very melodramatic and overwrought story about deer attacks at Southern Illinois University.

"I was wrong." --Lost's Locke.

"The fans are crazy. God bless White Sox fans. Get punched in the face and you're a hero. You get a standing ovation for getting your [butt] kicked and because you strike out. I've never seen that before. Good for AJ. He's bigger than me now." --Ozzie Guillen, trying to explain AJ's folk hero status with Sox fans.

"I have learned over the years, never to say never. If people say they've got a bear in their backyard, I have to believe them. He's right here on frat row with people walking around. This is not a place we want a bear." --A local police officer in yet another Bear Attack story.


The Controversial Code

I saw The Da Vinci Code last night. I've heard all week that it was a bad movie. And our company's movie site gave it 1.5 stars. But I liked it. I haven't read the book, but I thought it was interesting. It wasn't boring or over-talky like I've heard. It was, for the most part, a good mystery. Of course, it is all made up and wrong...but it's a good mystery.

Did you know that the movie is kinda controversial? Well, apparently it is. It seems that the albinos of the world are upset that an albino was protrayed as a villian. They say that this is the 68th movie since 1960 to make an albino character evil. Where are all these evil albino movies? Perhaps we don't know about them because the albino audience doesn't support them and they fail terribly at the box office. Or maybe they are counting all of Nicole Kidman movies. She is really pale. But I wouldn't call her evil.

Update: Perceptive reader Marc from Illinois did think of an evil abino, tho. The torturer with the wheelbarrow (left) from The Princess Bride. Good catch, Marc. But I would submit that he may have been more misunderstood than evil. Or maybe executioner/torturer was the only employment option available to him. We just don't know. But whatever the case, it wasn't exactly a positive portrayal.

And the Associated Press listed these portrayals: The dreadlocked twins in The Matrix Reloaded, a powder-haired hit man in the Chevy Chase-Goldie Hawn crime romp Foul Play, the pasty zombies in The Omega Man, and a sadistic killer in Cold Mountain. Whew, good thing nobody saw any of those movies.

Check out the defense from actor Paul Bettany: “I think it’s no more a comment on albinos than it is on monks, and no more a comment on monks than it is on people who wear sandals.” Dang it, now they are going after sandal wearers. Darn you, Da Vinci Code!


Frank, Bunts and Squirrels

Last night's baseball game was the best of both worlds for a Sox fan. On one hand, we got to see Frank return to his old park for the first time as an Oakland A and blast two homers--something he was very used to doing here. And then, we still won.

It was an eventful night what with Frank's blast, a wild squirrel on the field (and Pablo Ozuna chasing it around), and then the outstanding comeback to win. I really had resigned to that being a loss when it was 4-0 in the top of the 8th. It was a great game to see.

I've seen one walk-off, game-winning homer live before (by Konerko). But this was the first game-winning, walk-off bunt I've seen in person. And how sweet it was. It was like the end of Major Leagues. I was shocked as Pablo Ozuna's bat went down for the bunt and AJ start running from third. That's gutsy. I found myself repeatedly thinking, "What just happened? Did we really just win?" Mr. Clutch Pablo Ozuna went from squirrel chaser to game-winner in just 9 innings.

The way we won with Frank in the house made me see the difference between the club now and then. Frank blasted two bombs, but his team still loses. Homers only go so far. And sure, our comeback was relient on homers by J. Dye and Super Sub Rob Mackowiak. But the win was sealed by small ball. Get them on, get them over, and get them in. A squeeze bunt to win. That is something that didn't happen in the Maggs-Lee-Frank days.

And so, I will always remember Frank as the Best. White. Sock. Ever. And it is hard to see him in that olive green uniform hitting homers against us. But, we are a new team now. A team of squirrel-chasing, base-stealing, 2-out bunting, catcher-demolishing, first-base-stealing grinders. Amen.

I promise, non-Sox fans that the I will return to non-Sox posts soon. Oh, but here is something for everyone to enjoy on the White Sox blog. Read down on the May 22 post for a very funny Ozzie Guillen story. The craziest part of the story? Ozzie gets his nails done?


The Animals are Getting Smarter

When I arrived to work today, my boss had a special surprise: Cupcakes with little monkeys on the top. Even better--the monkey faces topping the cupcakes are rings. Oh, yes. One monkey ring to rule them all. My precious.

Speaking of monkeys (as if I even need to use that transisiton on this blog), a study has proven that monkeys can plan ahead. I was hoping the article would talk about monkeys saving for college or making reservations at nice restaurants. But instead, the study found that orangutans and bonobos could plan to use certain tools to access food.

A few years ago I watched this amazing Discovery show about monkeys who planned and carried out this break-out from the zoo. One monkey used a rock to break off a peice of steel from his water tank and then hid it for days before using it to cut the glass of the cage. It was amazing. Also frightening. Here I am worried about the robot rising and there's monkeys all around us planning agaisnt us. This is how Planet of the Apes really begins.

In other animal news (lots of animals in the news this week!), Alaskan zookeepers are committing one of the foulest types of animal abuse: trying to make an elephant exercise. The articles syas, "By their own admission, the trainers have been making slow progress in trying to coax Maggie, a somewhat cantankerous African elephant, onto the world's first treadmill for a pachyderm."

Slow progress? That's because it is an elephant. And you want it to exercise.

For two months, Maggie's trainers have used her favourite treats - watermelon, apples, carrots, peanuts in the shell, banana slices and sweet potatoes to entice the elephant onto the treadmill. So who is the dummy here? It isn't the elephant who won't get on the crazy moving floor. Maggie knows she's got a sweet deal: getting lured with her fave foods. If anyone want to give me free M&Ms, I'll think about exercising too...

So now we go from an elephant too smart to be suckered into exercising (stand strong, Maggie!) to a truly stupid human trick. A man was charged with burglary and criminal mischief Thursday after he allegedly broke into a funeral home and fell asleep in a coffin. Surprisingly, police say the guy was drunk.

Remember that when the non-excercising elephants and monkeys with PDAs take over the Earth. I'll meet you at the Ikea.


"When I smelled bacon wafting from my new computer, I was thrilled, until I realized it was the smell of my thighs igniting." -From the Salon.com article, iAy Carumba! MacBook Is Hot!

"Even though Pippi Longstockings and the damned Grape Ape are great candidates for the dirty dozen, we might want to consider taking the red beret." -Lost's Sawyer, after Jack announced who is going on the mission to rescue Walt.

"We got caught in a net." -Sawyer, sharing his history with Ana Lucia with his best friend Jack.


Thank You, Staple. And Good Night

Staple, 2000 - 2006
Rest in Peace
Today I learned that Staple, my favorite hardcore band, will soon be gone forever. They rock hard, sing honest, relatable and God-honoring lyrics, and end their debut album with the rocktastic yell of "Thank you and good night!"

I'll get to see them one last time at Cornerstone this July. And there, I will hold up my rock goblet in salute. Goodbye, Staple.

The Rise of the Machines

I have long been warning of the robot revolution. I have nightmares about fighting armies of cyborgs. I get chills when I read about new developments in robotics. Even the invention of the robot vacuum made me think, "Yup, this is how the rise of the machines begins!" First they are vacuuming our floors and soon they will realize that they are stronger and less squishy than us. And who will be cleaning up whose trash then?

So, of course my interest was piqued this morning when I found this story about a technolgy conference. The CEO of the company that makes those Roomba robo-vacuums says robots will play a big role in military action and elder care. Helping old people? That's great (unless they convince the elderly to fight on their side). But military action? Hasn't anyone seen The Terminator? Or The Matrix?

So, stop the machines. Shut off your computers and ... wait. Finish my blog entry first.

In other news, Snoop Dogg has written a book and gotten kicked out of England forever. And Britney Spears is rapping. Maybe we'd be better off in the service of the robots.

Monkey Search 2006: Day Nine

Status Report: The plastic monkey from my desk is still gone. Hope is dwindling. However, new research has proven that monkeys may be able to talk. So, if Red Fez Monkey is reading this...please call.

Special Update: The experts back in the crime lab (well, Marc) have come through big time. Using special Aging Software, they've produced an image of what Red Fex Monkey may look like today. Here it is:


Bear vs. Monkey

Monkey Search 2006: Day Eight
Status Report: Last night, I recieved an anonymous phone call from two readers who had a major tip about the possible fate of my missing monkey. They directed my attention to this news story. It seems that in a Dutch zoo, a pack of angry bears ate a monkey in front of panicked guests.

The zoo said in a statement, "In an area where bears, great apes and Barbary macaques [read: monkeys] have co-existed peacefully for a long time, the harmony was temporarily disturbed during opening hours on Sunday."

The harmony was temporary disturbed, indeed. So are bears responsible for my missing monkey? Well, we all know that I've always been suspicious of bears. They're crafty. Then again, I have not seen many bears in my office lately.

Action Steps: Adding additional bear traps to office. Questioning known bears in the area. Olin Kreutz has not been available for comment.


Concentrate on Your Yogurt

My friend Marc buys an individual cup of yogurt each day for his lunch. I however, buy in bulk and then bring them one-by-one to work. I am seeing the wisdom to buying them individually.

You see, a 12-pack flat of yogurt almost led to my demise.

At Aldi, I grabbed one of their cardboard flats that hold 12 yogurts and filled it with the delightful Cherries Jubliee yogurt. I set the box on my passenger seat and drove off. Well, I was talking to The Ladyfriend on my phone and pulling into the gas station (to spend $800 on gas, btw). As I turned, went over a bump and hit the brakes, the flat of yogurt turned into a catapult and shot all 12 cartons down to my feet. At first, I playfully yelped because it was kinda funny how they all shot directly down there. And I was relieved that none had broken.

But then horror struck: With the amount of yogurt cartons now at my feet, the already limited surface area near the pedals was filled by tiny fragile Cherry Jubliee landmines. I couldn't move my feet. The little tubs were also under the brake pedal, meaning I couldn't press down. And I was rocketing towards a gas pump. Things didn't look good.

I quickly told The Ladyfriend that I needed to hang-up, but added that I was OK. And then I led the truck into a gentle coast away from any gas pumps or people until I could navigate my feet around the yogurt to press the brake pedal down. Situation averted.

When I called The Ladyfriend back, I aplogized that my yelping and quick goodbye made her think I'd been in an accident. But I explained, "I had to lend my full concentration to all this yogurt."

Monkey Search 2006: Day Seven

Status Report: It is a week now since the Fez Monkey has disappeared. I looked under the desk to no luck. I have also questioned more suspects. No one seems to know anything--or perhaps I surround myself with very good liars. Hard to tell.

Action Steps: I have used another Fez Monkey (Purple Fez Monkey) to generate a missing poster of what Red Fez Monkey looks like (see right). It's only been a week so far, but soon I may implement aging software to get an accurate idea of what he may look like today. I am hoping this poster will help jog people's memories and generate an awareness out there. If you know anything, please let us at PTOIT know.


Why Wait Until the Playoffs?

When I see this photo I imagine Jim Thome saying, "Good job, little man! Only 14 more and you'll be like me!"

That's right: Scott Podsednik got a head start on his normal homerun productivity by not waiting until Game One of the ALDS this year to get his first jack. He got the White Sox going against the Twins today with a two-run home run in the second inning.

It was his first since his Game 2 walk-off home run in the World Series and his first regular-season home run since Sept. 30, 2004. Oh look out, Thome. We may have a new DH. OK, maybe not. But Scotty Pods is back.

His great hitting this series (three hits today--and a triple short of the cycle) has pushed his average to .300 after that 3-for-38 start. Oh yah.

You Are My Gumbo. Or Something.

So I was in church yesterday watching a Mother's Day skit. One of the actors at one point said, "Join us in singing 'You Are My Sunshine.' The lyrics are in your bulletin."

Being a person who does what I am told, I reached down for my bulletin. At that point, my sister gave me a funny look and said, "You need the lyrics for 'You Are My Sunshine?' They are pretty much 'You are my sunshine.'"

She's right. It isn't that difficult of a song. But in my defense, I figured we'd sing more than just the chorus. But we didn't. And it's a good thing. Have you ever read the verses of this song? It's not all that happy. It's about a guy who's lost his love. And there's lines like, "If you leave me/To love another/You'll regret it all some day" and "Now you've left me/And love another/You have shattered all my dreams."

What I didn't know was that it is also the Louisiana State Song. And the state has apparently tacked two verses on the end to apply to their state...so with no warning, the lyrics switch from unrequited love to gumbo.

Man, we should have sung that version in church.


The Wild Kingdom

Many people know about my fear of bears. An irrational fear since I live in the Chicagoland area? Maybe. But you never know when one could shimmy out of it's zoo cage and terrorize the streets of the Chicago suburbs. They're crafty.

Well, imagine my fear when I saw this story about a hunter who found a half-grizzly, half-polar bear. The bears are building the perfect killing machine using their own genes!

But as I read the story, my fear relaxed. You see, I began to see this as not a threat but as a sweet story of forbidden love. A Polar Bear and a Grizzly. They came from different worlds. They were told it could never work. But love is a force of nature.

Speaking of the animal kingdom, I've been wanting to discuss a new film for awhile now. Shoot, what is the name of it... It is about these snakes. And they are unleashed on a plane. Dang, what is the name? Oh yah, Snakes on a Plane. I am sure you've heard about it.

Samuel L. Jackson is a cop on a plane with like 400 snakes. It doesn't come out until August but has become a pop-cultural phenomenon. There's fan sites for it. There's a huge cult following. In fact, the early clamoring for it from the Internet community pushed the film company to do reshoots to amp up the gore, camp and violence.

Because there is such a supportive and excited fan community behind it already, I figure it is about time for the backlash to begin. I think I might start an Anti-Snakes on a Plane movement. I mean how good can the acting of these snakes be? Maybe I will claim cruelity to animals. You know kids will see this movie and take their pet snakes on flights--without a proper dosage of Dramamine. And then we have all these air-sick snakes on our hands. Or maybe I will claim the film exploits snakes. Or Planes. Or flight attendants.

On the other hand, I think I may begin supporting this film to become a franchise. Think about how scary Bears on a Plane would be!


Somehow, This is George Lopez's Fault

It has become part of my idiom that I struggle with the fine mechanics of programming a VCR. This reputation has come from how often I tape The George Lopez Show.

Since no one would do that voluntarily, there's obviously a problem.

I maintain my problem is really with time--and not setting a VCR itself. At the beginning of this season, ABC featured Lopez at 7, The Freddie Prinze show at 7:30 and Lost at 8 on Wednesdays. That sounds simple. But I had it in my head that Lost was on at 7 so I kept taping the dang Lopez Show. After doing that 30 or 40 times, people gave me a hard time for it. And then it got worse.

The first week that I remembered that Lost was on at 8, it also happened to be the fall time change. Since I didn't re-set my VCR clock, it taped at 7:00. And ya, I had a useless tape of the stinking George Lopez Show again. Then, when I went to Nashville, my VCR somehow got its calendar off by a day so it taped on Tuesday instead of Wendesday (??).

This is all to say that my friends don't trust me to provide a tape of Lost. Well, that leads us to last night. We had a softball game and a few of us arranged to go back to my place afterwards to watch last night's episode. There were many jokes about whether I could be trusted to have it on tape. I was kinda stressed out about it. But I took my time and made sure the programming was right.

So, we get there and sure enough: It worked! We watch the show and then--just about 4 minutes from the end--right at the climax, the show abruptly stops. It quit taping right after Mr.Eko yells, "What are you doing?" And then Charissa-- shocked by what is happening--yelled back at the TV, "What are you doing???"

We all drove to Emily and Charissa's house to watch the end on her tape. But for some reason, it didn't tape at all! So we called Marc to go to his house--but he informs us that he missed the very end too! Ack.

So what happended to my taping? I don't know. It is a mystery. I maintain it's not my fault. I had the VCR set to tape until 9:02, but I think my clock was two minutes fast. However, that should have still been fine. Since Marc's taping cut off too, the show must have run over after 9. Bummer.

But the good news is that ABC puts all it's shows online for free. Heck with VCRs.

Monkey Search 2006: Day Three
Status Report: The monkey is still missing. I have searched the desk and surrounding floor area to no success. I have also qustioned suspects and gotten testimonies ranging from "Why would you ask me that?" to "You had a monkey?" to "Do I know you?"
Planned Step: Searching under my desk today.


The Joy of Sox

Last night was the perfect night at the ballpark. I had The Ladyfriend at my side. I got to eat a frozen banana. And nachos. We had great bleacher seats right in center field. The weather turned out to be wonderful. And the White Sox kicked the crud out of the Angels for the 8th straight meeting. (Ironically, the last time the Angels beat the Sox, the first game of the ALCS, I was also in the ballpark. And also had a frozen banana.)

During the first inning, the pseudo-fans behind us began to complain about Freddy. He gave up some hits and a run. They were concerned. They started talking about it being a short night for Mr. Garcia. They worried about his 4 hits allowed in two innings. But have they never seen Freddy pitch? He takes time. He settles down. (I will not comment on how he calms himself down. I will leave those jokes to The Gat.) On the night, Freddy gave up only one more hit and 1 run total. Nice.

And then we got treated to a Thome homerun. Like Konerko, Thome's homers are noticable as soon as they touch the bat. As soon as he swang his big bohemoth swing, the entire crowd stood. I think they partly stood out of excitement. And perhaps partly out of reverence. But I think most stood because they feared being hit. With the speed those suckers go out, it's like a meteor shower. You don't know where it's gonna land and you don't know what damage could be done. I have heard that U.S. Cellular is offering Thome insurance.

Crede and Dye also homered. Has anyone else looked at our offensive numbers recently? It's ridiculous. Seven guys are batting over .300. Four guys have 7 homers or more. And even Scott Podsednick is knocking on the door of .300 now after a rough start. This is a defense and pitching team remember?

In fact, I have to say the highlight of the night was the defense by my boy Scotty Pods. I expect him to steal bases (which he did). I expect him to get on base (1 for 1 with 4 walks? Are you kidding me?). But Scott amazed me last night by robbing that homer by Tim Salmon. What was cool was that, being in the bleachers, I had an awesome view of it. I watched as Scott just stood at the wall waiting. His eyes were on the ball and I thought, "The dude is so zoned in." And still he waited. His eyes were locked. And then, he jumped, timed it perfectly, and ripped it back out of the bullpen.

I've seen great moments at Sox games. Homers, comebacks, game-winning hits, etc. But that was the best defensive play I've seen live. Getting to see it that close, and to see Scott's eyes as it unfolded, was great. Almost as good was the rection of the fans after the catch. There was a long chant of his name as he stood there playing the rest of the inning. As it peaked, he just stood there with his glove over his mouth in his humble, "Gee Shucks" manner.

This was the second Sox game that I've seen with The Ladyfriend. The first was in early April. It was very cold and we lost. So I remarked to her that I was glad our streak of bad games together was over and not some horrible omen. She said that one game is not a streak. I maintain that it is a streak--just a really short one.


Do you have my monkey?

Boy, my day was going great until I made a shocking discovery. Someone has stolen my monkey! I have a replica of the Santa Maria (not full size) on my desk and there's a little monkey with a fez who sits in it (like the original Fez Monkeys who came over to the New World on the real Santa Maria of course). This morning, I've realized that the ship was moved (it usually faces due Southeast and it was facing West) and the monkey is gone. Maybe he got the scurvy.

This is quite unnerving. I need to get my mind off it.

This weekend, I took down the decorations from the Storm party. The steamers were drooping so badly that they were rubbing my head when I walked by. The big lightning bolts however were hanging strong. I could have left those up, but without the streamers they just looked silly. You know, because if a neighbor saw the whole thing they'd be like, "Oh. Party," but with just the big lightning bolts they'd be more like, "Wow, I need to watch my kids closer."

As another condo update, my tree is no longer dying. It turns out that it needs far less water than I would have guessed. Through this experience, I think the tree and I have reached a watering agreement much like the Resurrection Plant and I have. The RP dies when it needs waters--turns brown and droops. I water it, and it pops right back up. It's a nice arrangement. The tree now knows to drop a couple leaves when it needs a glass of water. This is how I expect to care for children also.


Fish-slapping and Locomotives

I celebrated Cinco de Mayo on Friday in the traditional festive way--by eating salsa and then seeing a musical. At least, I think that's what you're supposed to do. At work, we took out an hour and a half of the day to have a Salsa-making competition. 10 people entered. Did you know how many different kinds of salsa there are? One woman said that she found a website with 465 different recipes. That's about 456 more than I figured.

And then, I went to see "Spamalot," the musical based on Monty Python and the Holy Grail. My goodness. This is a fabulous show. I highly recommend. I usually get bored in musicals. But when there are people rolling off of dead carts, flinging cows and fish-slapping, I am very attentive. Nicely done, Mr. Python.

On Saturday, I went to prom. Really. I went as a chaperone. It was interesting for me to see prom from this angle. It felt different watching it unfold from the outside as an adult instead of being a teen caught up in the excitement of hormones and emotions.

Of course, the biggest difference I viewed was that my prom had no jets, coal mines or locomotives. You see, my prom was held at a small country club. Saturday's prom was at the Museum of Science and Industry. Holy cow. There is nothing like walking around a giant train set with hundreds of sweaty people gyrating to "Booty, Booty, Booty" just yards away. Oh, I hope The Youth of America appreciate the opportunities they have...


On a Very Special Episode of "Pirate Dad"...

So, we had another productive staff meeting at work yesterday. Last week, we discussed my plans to rebuild society after the nukes fall at the Ikea. This week, we discussed parenting.

I had to reveal my big parenting plan. Kids pick up on what is around them. They use the words they hear. That is their reality and all they know. So, I figure I will save myself a lot of trouble if I carefully plan the words I use. For instance, I will always call any candy, broccoli. And broccoli will be candy. That way, when they get to school and people offer them candy and such, they will be like, "Heck. No." This plan should work perfectly with other things I wnat them to stay away from, like making out, drugs, and Pauley Shore. Dang, I should write a parenting book.

Also in that meeting, Doug F and I hit onto a new TV show idea: Pirate Dad. It began as a Father Knows Best kind of thing with Dad in an eye patch and a hook for a hand. He'd always warn about scurvy. And pat Johnny on the head and tell him to go help his mom swab the deck. It'd be a good family show. But as we discussed we thought that it would be better to be a Full House kind of thing with three pirates raising kids. Cookie would be the pirate who'd make dinner and stuff. The Captain would be the actual father figure. The best part is that we thought they could all sleep on hammocks tacked to one wall in the house. It'd be great.

PTOIT Quotes of the Week

"My show ain't no Dr. Phil, with people sitting around crying. You're a fool--that's what's wrong with you. You're a fool if you don't take my advice." --Mr. T talking about his new TV talk show.

"Brides will be taken, but they won't help your chances any." --A Freudian slip by me in a list of rules for my work's Salsa contest. It was meant to be "bribes."

"I don't have a choice. It's not like I can go do construction, start building houses in Malibu. [The Media] are forcing me to do this, and I'm glad they are. I'm more than happy to do it. I categorize myself as an artist--a true artist." --Kevin Federline's crazy rationalization on why he is making a rap album.


All Hail Pablo Ozuna

Clutch (kluch): 1. Being or occuring in a tense situation. 2. Tending to be successful in tense or critical situations. 3. Pablo Ozuna.

(So, sidenote: How come every time you see a White Sox celebration picture, Brian Anderson is in it? If he could hit as well he can run out to home plate...we'd be set. I dub him Honorary Team Congratulator.)


It's Hard to Have Good Dental Health

I am finding obstacles in my battle for good dental health. I am trying so hard to brush every day now after the "6-Cavity Incident of March". But things just keep stopping me. I think it's the powers of evil. They hate clean teeth apparently.

So first, I left my toothbrush at my parents' house at Easter and kept forgetting for like a week to buy a new one. And then this weekend on the retreat, my hair gel spilled into my bathroom bag. Well, I didn't notice that and tried brushing my teeth with the newly-purchased toothbrush that was in that bag. As I was brushing I thought, "Man this toothpaste is gross. But I used to like it. Can toothpaste go bad?" That's when I looked in the bag and saw the layer of goo.

I tried soaking that brush. But in the end, I needed a new one. Again. And I bought two--for the next time the armies of darkness try to stop me from good oral hygiene.

In other news... I haven't listed clever song titles lately, but I found this good one on the re-release of the awesome House of Heroes debut CD: "You are the Judas of the Cheerleading Squad."

I also saw Mission:Impossible 3 last night at a preview screening. It's awesome. J.J. Abrams has breathed new life into the franchise with fun, excitement and intensity. It is a crazy ride. By the end, I was worn out.


The 788-Person Difference

In Entertainment Weekly, Tom Hanks said this about The Da Vinci Code:

"I think the movie may end up helping churches do their job. You know, if they put up a sign saying, 'This Wednesday we're discussing the gospel,' 12 people show up. But if the sign says, 'This Wednesday we're discussing The Da Vinci Code,' 800 people show up."

I have some conflicting reactions to Hanks here. First of all, I agree. This movie is not a threat to the church but an open door. To react with only fear and protest and anger is to miss the point that God can use anything. Here we have a major movie getting people to think about Jesus. That's a good thing, right? Instead of boycotting it, go with your friends. That way, when they have questions about the real Jesus and the biblical Truth, you're there. I know I'll end up seeing it.

I also agree with Hanks that using culture and media to teach the Bible is a key way to pull people in and reach them. I do this with my youth all the time. I'll use football analogies to talk about God's plan. I'll use X-Men to talk about the gifts of the church. Most of the articles I write use the movies to talk about heaven & hell, free will, happy endings and other messages. I hope churches do have open-to-the-community discussions about the film. I hope we do use this to get conversations started.

What I have a hard time with is Hanks' numbers. 12 people to talk about the Gospel? 800 to talk about the movie? A 788-person difference? I wonder if what bothers me is a) Hank's pretentiousness about his own movie's draw or b) that he's right. More would come with the second sign. How are we in a societal place where the name of a movie would pull in many more people to the church than the name of Jesus itself? And is that a bad thing? Does that mean that Hollywood and culture are more relevant to each person's life than the church? Or does it simply mean that we as a church can grow in our ability to use the culture around us to show how relevant to a daily life we really are?

Leading the Blind Through Hot Lava

So, this weekend was exhilarating and exciting. I went with our high school youth group to Bair Lake, Michigan, for a high ropes course retreat. (For those of you keeping track at home, Bair Lake is the site of the "Ski Incident" two winters ago.)

We started out with the typical team building games where you have to come together as a group to solve a problem. Suffice it to say that if our group ever gets caught needing to cross hot lava, we are set. Or if anyone goes blind and needs to be led through a forest? No prob.

After doing a morning full of games and activities that helped to build trust, emotional saefty and teamwork, we moved 25 feet into the air. I have never really had much of a problem with climbing or heights. (However, I have been known to dislike planes and flying. I think the difference is who is in control: me or a pilot? Is my life in my own hands? Or in the hands of earthly mechanics?).

But even with doing ropes courses before--and not being too afraid--there were still challenges (like the waist harness that basically catches guys from falling in a very bad part of the body to be caught at.)

This weekend's ropes course was more diverse than I'd ever done before. There were over 15 different obstacles (or elements) up there: balance beams, mini-zip lines, rope puzzles, tightropes, swings, pulley carts, cargo nets, etc. Some were very challenging. One element was just two platforms facing each other about 4 feet apart. And you were supposed to jump. Seriously.

The neat thing about this weekend (and really every time I am with the youth) is how I wasn't just the teacher or model. I was also a learner and follower. I only did that crazy jump because I saw a junior do it boldly and safely. I only figured out one mutha of a rope puzzle because a freshman guy talked me through it after figuring it out himself.

In fact, when we were are preparing to go up onto the course, there were two pretty freaked out girls. Another adult leader decided to be one's "Climbing buddy." I volunteered to be Andrea's buddy. As we got set to go up, I made a deal with Andrea--she could pick whatever elements we did and I would do them first. The catch? She'd then have to do it. And so, all day, we went around the ropes course together. I'd figure out how to do the crazy pulley cart, and then talk her through it. I'd walk the log. And then she would. I'd make the crazy jump and then she would. I'd coach her on and be a cheerleader.

The funny thing is that while I was so busy coaching Andrea on, I didn't realize all the elements I was conquering. I did stuff that I never would have on my own. If I'd not been Andrea's "Climbing Buddy," I would have just turned around at that jump platform. I wouldn't have done that mutha of a rope puzzle. But, I wanted to show her they could be done. I was so focused on showing her an example, that I just did it. I was busy being a big brother and didn't realize how I was growing.

This experience just reminded me again how God doesn't just call us to service to get the work done. Or even to just change others' lives. He does it because he knows service and leadership changes us too.