Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Worst. Lifetime Movie. Ever.

And that is saying a lot.

Thanks to my father's inexplicable fondness for Lifetime movies*, I was exposed this evening to the cinematic trash known as Last Exit.

The plot, and I use the term veeeeeery loosely, revolves around two women -- (1) a single mom caring for her 10-year-old wheelchair-bound bunny rabbit of a son, and (2) a married-to-a-bum mother-of-two-teenagers on the career track if only she can land the Kraeger account, whatever that is.

It starts as Career Mom cuts off Single Mom in traffic one morning, and then the story weaves back and forth as their paths for the day cross -- unbeknownst to them -- until at the end of the day Single Mom goes carnival-freak crazy and beats the crap out of Career Mom, who pulls a gun and delivers a 9-mm gift to Single Mom's chest cavity. Strangely, it all ends in a moderately happy ending. Not.

Dear Lifetime, enclosed is a bill for two hours of my life, payable upon receipt.

Awesomely random casting note: Kathleen Robertson, who plays Single Mom, also played Evelyn Dick in "Torso: The Evelyn Dick Story". Which I am not making up. And which, ironically, is not actually about the trials and tribulations of a multiple amputee, but is rather the story of the most lurid murder case in Canadian history.

* Truly, this is one of life's great mysteries. Along with "Who's actually buying the Ronco Showtime Rotisserie?" and "How do they get the goo in the Twinkie?" modern science remains unable to explain why my father, a 68-year-old man's man, can become instantly engrossed in any movie which follows the MadLibsian "[NOUN]: The [WOMAN'S NAME] Story" title pattern.

Bonus footnote: You can watch a 9-second clip of the climactic car crash scene (this takes place prior to the aforementioned shooting) by clicking here. Career Mom is in the SUV, being chased by now-over-the-edge Single Mom (in a red POS that you don't see in the clip).

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Shakalaka Baby

There is something meta-magical in the phenomenon that is the Bollywood movie musical. The high-school-show-choir-on-crack choreography combined with big budgets just really gets me.

The Bollywood musical also taps into the deeply ingrained and usually hidden part of my brain that longs for a reality where women and men spontaneously burst into song, dance, and matching outifts. I was introduced to musicals in eighth grade when we compared and contrasted "Romeo and Juliet" and "West Side Story" (which, if we'd had the internet back then, I could have copied this crappy essay and called it a day), and after that I grew up with a sense of hope and longing for this fantasy world where everything you say rhymes and comes out just right. It came as a great shock to my idealistic system when, around age 23, I accepted that my world was not to include outbursts such as the street dancing scene in "Fame" or the "Summer Lovin'" scene from "Grease."

Which is not to say that I've given up on the soul-lifting joy of music and dancing. Anyone who has passed me in the car knows that I'm typically either singing or dancing (or yelling at Sean Hannity for saying something ignorant...again) while driving.

All I'm saying is, I try to keep it positive, and it's the singing and dancing that really get me going. And if, at any time, you want to join me, well then Shakalaka, Baby!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

He Looks Like a Pink Nightmare!

For the humor-challenged, allow me: the hilarious things about this video are...
  • The uncanny resemblance, in physical feature and in attitude, between Darren McGavin and my father
  • Randy's utter focus on going round and round with that blimp or rocket thing
  • The fact that Aunt Clara specifically made the bunny costume herself
The most hilarious thing to me, though, comes at minute-mark 2:06. Being a little brother, I completely identify with Randy's maniacal laughter on Ralphie's debut as the deranged Easter Bunny.

This is classic Christmas, and I can't wait until tomorrow: 24 Hours of A Christmas Story on TBS.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

"No, n-no. Come On. Do It."

When he's not playing the hapless shlub, Ben Stiller is actually pretty funny.

Will I see "A Night At The Museum" in theaters Friday? I likely will not.

Will I laugh when he makes Casey Kasem do Shaggy? I will, indeed.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Don't Tell Aunt Berta

When I moved to Indianapolis, I thought I could go car-less. As in, without an automobile. Sadly, thinking something and it actually happening, I've learned, are two different things.

So after a couple late cabs to the train station to go to Chicago (don't ask), I relented and decided to get a car. Aunt Berta (actually my mom's Aunt Berta, of Aunt Berta and Uncle RV who, coincidentally, traveled the country in an actual RV) had a big red car that she wasn't able to use, on account of the macular degeneration which will, with almost genetic certainty, claim my own vision in my 80s, if I make it that far. So we headed up to Michigan and the deal was done. [This car purchase was also the genesis of The Great License Branch Screw-Up of 2004.]
Anyway, the Big Red Car (convenient web-photographed stand-in pictured above), who has served me well for lo, these almost three years, is failing, bless her little heart. An unidentified schpilkes is lodged in her genekdegezoink, and she sometimes has trouble starting. Like, big trouble -- with sputtering and stalling and whumping.

So with the advent of the new job (oh yeah -- I GOT THE JOB!) I have decided that, in the three-to-four-month range, I shall purchase a new/different car. But I'm having trouble deciding what kind of car to get.

I've been thinking an SUV might be a good idea, but I also like the simplicty of an easy-to-drive, non-gas-guzzling normal car. N&S said that N's new SUV gets good mileage, though, so maybe that's in the cards. I think I've got it narrowed down to one of the following: the Jeep Liberty, the Nissan Murano, or the Ford Escape Hybrid. Or, knowing me, we're looking at going to Carmax and just buying the first thing I see that I think is pretty and/or cool.

Your mission, dear reader, is to disallow that from happening. Provide constructive comments if you like, e-mail links to helpful car research sites, track me down and tranq me before I drop 20 large on a used POS, whatever it takes. Help!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

"Hell if I know. Go get that tall guy."

Thanks to some quick-thinking marine biologists and a YaoMingian freak of nature, the dolphins in northeast China are sleeping a little easier tonight.

Bao Xishun, the officially certified World's Tallest Living Man, utilized his 42" long arms to dislodge big pieces of plastic from the dolphin's tummies. Apparently the dolphins like to eat the plastic from the edge of their pool. But now they're safe and sound.

Inner Mongolia has never been prouder of their native son. Bao, a 7-foot-9-inch herdsman said to be descended from Genghis Khan, was of normal height until he was 15 -- then it all went downuphill from there. He hit 2.1 meters by 20 and now stands at 2.36 meters at age 54. Doctors say he's normal -- no gigantism or anything...just really, really tall.

Boring Coincidental sidenote: Bao got certified Tallest by the Guinness people on my 32nd birthday: July 21, 2005.

Chad especially enjoys the handicrafts... has posted a powerful opinion essay from Garrison Keillor about the post-modern tradition of the annual Christmas newsletter. You might have to watch a 15-second ad to read the article -- totally worth it.

While I have reason to dread some Christmas letters (seriously, do I need to read about Mrs. Stanley's migraine's for the 28th year in a row?), I find it fascinating what people choose to prioritize and talk about in their letters. My mom has whittled our family's letter down to a two- or three-sentence paragraph on each of us (JJ and Beth are pregnant, Scott's going to Africa, etc.), so it's not as bad as it might be...

I do look forward to receiving these annual updates, though, so if you're considering sending me one, have at it! Oh, and if you've received a particularly compelling Christmas newsletter, post about it in the comments...

And because I know you have been wondering, click on the Christmas letter at right to confirm: Laura and George Jageman (whoever they are) are just fine!

The Carleton Dance

It IS unusual for a sitcom to go a full minute and a half without dialogue. But dialogue isn't even necessary to make this hilarious.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Together In Ministry EVERYday

Here's an essay I wrote for my church's magazine. Unfortunately, there wasn't room for the article this time around. So I'm posting it here.

Together In Ministry EVERYday?

That irritating co-worker. Our demanding family member. The neighbor whose fence is not quite high enough.

Each day, we are called to relate to other fragile humans who, like us, have needs and feelings and fears and dreams. And, like us, sometimes the other humans we relate to are more fragile than others.

How are we living in everyday ministry to our everyday circle of contacts? And if we aren’t living in ministry to them right now, how do we start showing God’s love to them – today, every day – in a way that is genuine, noticeable, and appropriate? That is, how do we show love in a way that is sincerely from our truest self, observable by others, and expressed so that it can be experienced with fullness and abundance?

True Love Loves Even When It Isn’t Deserved
When I was growing up, a counted cross-stitch sampler with that statement hung in my parents’ house. Depending on my behavior at any given time, my folks could be heard editing the cross-stitch, reminding each other that “True love loves especially when it isn’t deserved.”

I have a great mom and dad who taught me what unconditional love is about – and how to show it. The reality of their love has been a rock to me. Because of the way my parents taught me and loved me, I ask myself continually: “How am I showing unconditional love, whether to a relative or a friend or co-worker or neighbor or stranger?”

Too often, our own fears and needs and wants get in our way. I try to be aware of my internal chatter (“Not enough,” “What if,” “Why not,” “I need”) so that it doesn’t keep me from expressing love for others. The genuine part of love – our sincere expression of God’s love through us to another person – starts with our committing ourselves to love God and permitting ourselves to love ourselves. (“Love your neighbor as yourself” doesn’t get us very far if we don’t love ourselves.) That genuine part of ministry comes from taking a stand and claiming our responsibility to be God’s love in action, God’s love on earth.

Called To Say, “I Love You”
Hundreds of individuals and families at St. Luke’s have already started to engage in ministries of service, learning, and advocacy, either on their own or through the “90 Minutes in 90 Days” program. Building on those experiences, we now have the opportunity to start exploring together the “everyday” part of Together In Ministry Everyday. When we commit to ministry, fully engaged in showing God’s love by being God’s love, we automatically start to express God’s love. Our bodies are wonderful gifts from the Creator, but we couldn’t even hope to contain God’s abundant love within us; we become instead the pipe through which God’s love flows, the filter through which God’s love shines.

Being a minister means God’s love shows in you and can be experienced by others. Sometimes what we say is how we help others experience God’s love. Sometimes it’s what we choose not to say. And sometimes our actions speak louder than any sermon.

I believe I am called to stand as a living testimony of God’s present love for all creation. I talk a lot, so one day I decided that I would show God’s love to others by telling them, “God loves you.” The first couple times I expressed God’s love so noticeably, I got some funny looks. But I pressed on and shared with more and more people my pronouncement that God loved them.

Soon, though, I realized that my statement, while factually accurate, could be perceived as distant, nonspecific, and superior. So I altered it. Version 2.0: “God loves you and so do I.” This was especially handy when I was dealing with a difficult somebody – in my heart I was saying, “God loves you and I’m sure trying hard to love you, too.”

Again, this felt distant, and with those difficult people it felt a little dishonest. So I decided to take action – scary, terrifying, awesome action! “I love you,” I began to say. “You what?” asked a friend of 15 years. “Huh?” said my brother. “I love you too, man!” another friend mock-sobbed.

I knew that was the final draft for me: “I love you.” Simple. Easy. Risky, at times. But so worth it. And it works for me. But it might not work for you. You might not be as stupidly optimistic as I am. Or as blissfully ignorant of what others think.

So, what if you were to find your own way of saying, “God loves you” or – gulp! – “I love you”? Maybe it involves spoken words. Maybe it’s written. Or maybe the way to express “I love you” is in the way you clean the kitchen so a roommate doesn’t have to, or the way you shovel snow from your neighbors’ driveway so they don’t have to, or the way you smile at a stranger on the street. Louis Armstrong knew that even a handshake and a how-do-you-do can really say, “I love you.”

Expressing Love So It Can Be Experienced
Once we’ve reached a place of genuine love and it’s begun to bubble over outside of us into a way that others will notice, it’s time to shape that love so that it is expressed in a way that others can accept.

You could go around hugging everyone and telling them that you love them, but the outcome might not be what you expected. So the challenge becomes this: how do you take that love and funnel it to those who most need to experience it in a way that they can experience it?

I think the first step is to move that love as close to your everyday person as possible. Living with love simmering right under your surface, ready to express at the drop of a hat, will help you capitalize on the opportunities when they arise. I find practice helps with this – I like to play a game where I try to catch myself feeling particularly loving (or particularly not loving). This mindful approach puts us in touch with God’s love and, like any skill or activity, can be learned and exercised until it becomes second nature.

The next step is to be aware of opportunities to show God’s love, so that once you’re virtually exuding God’s love, you’re ready to let it out when the chance becomes available. Living with love tingling right under our skin allows us to let someone else go first at the grocery check-out and empowers us to say a prayer – rather than something else – for the person who cuts us off in traffic. Going through our day with love nearly bursting forth is a lot like the life of a child – full of wonder and promise, both thrilling and fulfilling.

So, once you’re living with abundant love virtually oozing out of you and you’re becoming aware of opportunities to be God’s love to another person…now what? The trickiest part – now you do it. Now we courageously show our stripes as what Dr. Carolyn Scanlan-Craighead once characterized as Radical Fundamentalist Christians. As servants of God and others, guided by hope and faith, we show God’s love. By saying it. By doing it. By being it. By any and all means necessary. All the time. In our everything tasks, in our everywhere places, in our everyday moments.

Together In Ministry Everyday
The fact is, there’s a lot going on in the world that gets in the way of us humans showing love to each other. But I believe that’s why God put so many of us here right now – so that we can band together as billions of little mirrors reflecting God’s love to each other and outshining the doubt and violence and desperation and hatred that choke us as individuals and as a local, national, and global community.

This year, building on our congregation’s commitment to our outward, community focus embodied by the “90 in 90” program, the T.I.M.E. team will be working with clergy and lay leaders to develop opportunities for us to further integrate the “everyday” part of Together In Ministry Everyday into our own faith lives.

We develop spiritual disciplines to grow closer to God. We pray; we read the Bible. Some of us journal, some meditate, some go on retreat. Our challenge is to develop the spiritual discipline of love for others – and to integrate that into our everyday lives in a way that is genuine, noticeable, and appropriate. We’re being transformed by God, so that we might transform the world – with God’s love through us – into a more compassionate, inclusive, just, and Christlike community. And it starts with love.

Monday, December 11, 2006

I Want a Magic Light-Up Shirt!

A guy at the University of Sydney has invented a basketball jersey that keeps real-time stats in an electroluminescent display. But the magical swirly color shirts and clock-couches in the video above are way cooler than that.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Monday, December 04, 2006

It's music that listens to me ... and I'm afraid to offend it.

So I'm finally using my Yahoo! account for something other than e-mail. I'm at work, listening to my own customized LAUNCHcast radio station.

It's free with your Yahoo! ID, you see, unless you hate 6 songs in a row, in which case you are screwed. You only have 5 skips per listening hour, and you will definitely pay when you have to listen to Gwen Stefani's new song that samples "The Lonely Goatherd" from The Sound of Music. Trust me: you'll pay.

It also learns from your ratings of each song, and it figures out what you might want to hear next. The thing that blows my mind is this: I had actually thought, "Well, I don't want to make Gwen Stefani feel bad, so I'll rate her song as 'Like It' but then skip over it."

OK, first of all, I don't want to make Gwen Stefani feel bad? What is that?

Second of all, I'm only gonna get more wrath if I'm actively approving Stefanian show tune hijinx.

Therefore, I awarded Gwen no points, prayed that God may have mercy on her soul and happily clicked "Never play again."

Sorry, Gwen. No offense or anything.

No, really. This is beyond the joy of the season.

I kind of wonder how long it took the neighbors to call the cops after this admittedly cool holiday monstrosity made its debut. If that was across the street from me, I'd be able to endure about one time through the song completely before it all had to end, whether through a peaceful exchange of Christmas cookies and cocoa or from the cozy convenience of the nearest bell tower.

Guy: "Mustache." Other Guy: *Nods.* "Harvey?"

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Operation Classroom -- January 2007

If I haven't mentioned it, I've set up an Africablog.

So far, it's mostly background and fundraising pleas. I'm going to use it as a tool in my last-ditch effort to get the thousand dollars or so remaining toward the $3,500 trip.

[Aside: Don't you love the anonymous Starvin'-Marvin-esque youngster whose image I've co-opted for my own evil fundraising genius? How do you say "Brilliant!" in that African clicking language?]

However, comma:

Even if you (circle one: can't/don't want to) donate, head on over and check out what's up in Sierra Leone and Liberia. This blog will, of course, be off-line whilst I'm on The Dark Continent. (They started calling it that back in the 1500s because of the intermittent internet access. And also because it remained unexplored for a long time. Or because of the preponderance of Black people. Whatever, racists.)

Anyhoo -- over at the ol' Africablog, you'll see a cool countdown clock at the top that freaks me the heck out because it tells me I'm going to be leaving in 31 days. Hachi machi -- that is SOON, yo!

I know the trip is going to be a blast, and we're going to do some good -- and we'll be equipped to do even more good on our return. But prayers, positive thoughts, grooving vibes, peace signs, smoke signals, sucess spells, whatever fits your personal faith profile will be greatly appreciated.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

I Urge You: Act Before You Think

Is there ANYTHING the Canadians suck at? Doughnuts, healthcare, satire...the list is never-ending!

Nobody's Watching Neil Diamond Sing While This Guy Gets Hit In The Crotch

I am an excellent sleeper. Like I excel, quantifiably, at sleep: anywhere, any time, any place. I'm good at closing my eyes and going to Dreamland.

Except for tonight.

It's 5:00 a.m. as I start to write this. I have been up since 2:30.

Without getting all "Dear Diary" on you, there's a lot on my heart right now that's keeping me awake. So to deal with that, friendly loyal viewers, I shall seek out the finest in YouTubery for your, and my, entertainment. For example, you may have seen the OK Go video with's a nice (short) remake from the guys at Nobody's Watching:

This one is also from Nobody's Watching -- a take on the now-classic Diet Coke and Mentos phenomenon:

And finally, for your viewing pleasure, I provide the strangest :18-second Neil-Diamond-soundtracked video I've ever seen:

And now, having exhausted myself and you, I'm going to buy another ticket to Dreamland and see if I can get some sleep before waking up to go to work in an hour and a half.

Night night!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Numa Numa / Notme, Notme

Say what you will, believe what you must, but this is not, in fact, me.

While there may be many similarities between me and the star of this video (which, by the way, has been viewed 700 million times), we all know that I can only raise my LEFT eyebrow, while this man -- Gary Brolsma is his name -- clearly raises his right.

"I Swear to Grandpa: I Didn't Take Your Gel!"

That television train wreck of 2004, Growing Up Gotti, has just gotten worse.

Little Frankie, who I think was the youngest of the Gotti grandsons, has been arrested on drug charges.

He got pulled over after failing to heed a stop sign and they found marijuana, OxyContin, and morphine pills in the vehicle. The Gotti Diet, indeed.

Pauvre, pauvre petit gangster.

How we long for the simpler days of Growing Up Gotti's Missing Gel Incident or those times we went roving around the grounds of our estate in a golf cart, destroying whatever we like because our mother has no control over us and the mountains of family money have destroyed any sense of accountability. Now, all we have to look forward to is up to a year in prison and three-to-five stints in rehab before it all comes to a tragic, bloated end in Newark. (I'm guessing.)

Sunday, November 26, 2006

All It Takes Is A Little Faith

Meet Faith, the dog who was born without front legs. I am at once appalled, intrigued, and compelled to watch more.

Best Week Ever is reporting that Faith was scheduled to appear on David Letterman last week but got bumped when Kramer had to repent for his racist outburst at that comedy club.

The world is a messed-up place when an N-word-spouting has-been upstages a deformed-but-ultimately-triumphant miracle pup. Say a prayer for Faith -- and for Kramer.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Just a few more hours and I'm off to Las Vegas for the holiday weekend. I think we'll have a great time and win a little, lose a little, win a lot over the course of the next few days.

Looking forward to seeing Mike and Jon -- and Nat and Spike, for that matter!

We'll be doing a bunch of the aforementioned activities: gambling, TPIR -- Live, Thanksgiving dinner in the Buffet Capital of the Western US. But we will not be going to 7-11, for fear of witnessing this:

"Ve deed naht come all zees vay to slurp. Ve came to gulp!" indeed.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Very Much Insane In The Brain

This is Insanity, one of the rides at the top of the Strat.

Am I the only one dumb enough to consider actually paying almost $20 (I think $10 to get to the top of the tower and I think $8 for the ride itself) to do this? 900 feet over the City of Las Vegas? That's pretty awesome.

Girl Power

We owe it to each other to call Shenanigans! on the "beauty industry" and deal with reality. The model is beautiful to start with, before make-up. Pause it at :41 seconds and see her post-make-up, pre-computer-enhancement. This is a great video and should be required viewing for every human being -- male, female, transgender.

Worship was awesome this morning, and it made me want to work at Broadway even more. I met these great folks -- Jerry and Martha, who are from Franklin but come to Broadway in inner-city Indy because of their commitment to the openness and love of the congregation, specifically with regard to the GLBT community. I can definitely see myself going back to Broadway even if I don't work's a beautiful church full of beautiful people with beautiful souls.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Great Expectations

Life is so good. There's great stuff in the works in my life right now. To wit:

  • I'm heading to Las Vegas in four days. I've actually been looking online at the description of Let It Ride, and it's possible that I may, in fact, follow Jon's lead and let it ride (whatever it is). The game seems like nice, entry-level entertainment, and I'm thinking it's time to do more than just drop coins in a slot machine. At the very least we'll hit The Price Is Right -- Live and be up for some fun pricing games. We're staying at the Stratosphere, and I'm the first one of the five of us arriving, so I might spend some of my waiting time at the Strat's Roni Josef spa. I also have to head to the MGM Grand at some point to get my mom's jewelry bag that she left in the safe when she and my dad were there last week -- and I might kill some time at the Lion Habitat there. And I get to go to Coyote Ugly to get my bro a replacement t-shirt for one that fell victim to a tragic laundry accident. Might wait for the boys to join me for that mission, though.

  • I'm up for a position at Broadway United Methodist Church in Indianapolis -- I'm interviewing the Monday after Thanksgiving to serve as their director of development. It's an ambitious role in a faith community that could also be described as ambitious. Check out their website, click over to the blogs they link to, and you'll know why this looks like such a great place to work. I would be honored to serve as one of the leaders in that congregation. It's quite a bit different from St. Luke's -- much smaller, more mission-driven, located in a way more urban setting -- and I'd love to contribute to their vision. They're actually walking the walk that we've just begun to talk about at St. Luke's.

  • Jon, Mike and I are submitting our application to be a team on VH1's World Series of Pop Culture. We're calling ourselves The Riegel Beagles. Originally we were The Regal Beagles, after the pub on Three's Company, but when we heard about the recent tornado in North Carolina and how it destroyed a town called Riegelwood (pronounced "regal-wood"), we switched to the Riegel spelling, and committed to donating 10% of our winnings (assuming we win anything!) to help rebuild Riegelwood.

  • The trip to West Africa (Liberia and Sierra Leone) is about six weeks away! We had another orientation meeting last night, and we're down to the nitty gritty. Making serious plans about who's in charge of the suitcases, who's in charge of lunch or devotions on which day, etc. (I know.) I'm going to be the music leader for the trip (I know.), which will entail brushing up on guitar and creating a songbook for our team to use. I'm also going to be interviewing a lot of students and faculty at the remote school where we're going, so we can come back and tell the story to other United Methodist churches in our district (about 60 churches between Indy and Terre Haute). We hope to be able to support the scholarships, supply needs, and capital projects for the 400 students at Jaiama Secondary School, which is in the Middle of Nowhere, Sierra Leone.

So, despite missing Nat's Bucca di Birthday this afternoon, I'm flyin' high!

Wish me luck! (And luck!) (And luck!) (And...luck!)

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Very Conic, Jüggler

"Some people see things as they are and ask, Why?
I dream things that never were and ask,
Where the hell do you get an eight-foot-tall plexiglass cone?"

-- George Bernard Shaw (paraphrase)

Monday, November 13, 2006

A Man's Home Is His Castle

I'm going to facilitate your castle-related daydreaming and time-wasting right here, right now:

  • The good people at Sotheby's International Realty and Christie's Great Estates have offered you, free of charge, the opportunity to browse and purchase the world's finest estates and castles and mansions and whatnot.
  • The good people at Private Islands Online have offered you, free of charge, the opportunity to browse and purchase the world's finest private islands (online) and whatnot; castles occasionally included.
  • And some dude named John Sadowski will wow you with a freaky optical illusion (also involving a castle) that will keep you entertained for at least ten minutes.

Bonus points for the first commenter to make the connection between the topic of this post and the awesomely cheesetastic video I've posted below.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Sry 4 ur Nglsh sklz, Nu Zlnd

Remember that whole cavefish-milk-eyed, translucent-skinned compu-people thing? We're one step closer.

Our friends in New Zealand have deemed it appropriate for students to use text speak (or "txt spk") in their national exams.

Other, narrowly-defeated propositions for the Great Kiwi Student Dumbening, er, for the administration of national exams included:

  • Mandating that Scantron dots be filled in with fingerpaint
  • Receving half-credit for any question answered using the phrase, "I do not know because I was watching The O.C."
  • Allowing students to observe November 7 (which, in New Zealand, is actually May 7) as a religious holiday, expressing gratitude to their respective deities that Britney filed for divorce from K-Fed.

Event Honors Discovery of Alzheimer's

The literally dozens of readers who made it to page 23 of the Carmel Star (and the Fishers Star and other local-insert versions of the Indy Star) were treated to this image this morning over coffee and scrambled eggs.

We're famous, you guys!

Click it to make it bigger. And big thanks to all who participated. I think this is awesome!

[UPDATE: The Carmel Star put us on page 23, but if you got the Hamilton AM insert to your Indy Star, we were on the insert's front page!]

This is why YouTube was invented.


YouTube's sole purpose in my life (you know, other than all the other random things I've posted here) has been defined and crystallized in one 27-second video.

[UPDATE: I still laugh when I watch this a full 36 hours later. The kid in the yellow shirt really sells it...I think his commitment is what I love the most. That, and the way the girl pronounces "fajitas." UPDATE UPDATE: The user has disabled embeddingment, which means you just click somewhere on the video other than the "play" arrow and it'll open in a new window. Totally worth it.]

Friday, November 10, 2006

Me tin-foil hat is in me lorry, guv'nah!

So, you see, the alien menace is much more immediate and urgent than previously imagined.

The former head of the UK's Ministry of Defence (my favourite ministry which uses the British English spelling of "defense") has articulated that not only is there life outside of Earth, and not only will they come to visit Earth, and not only will they make their way to Great Britain, but they might also be hostile.

The truth is out there. If by "out there" you mean "not actually anywhere remotely near this article."

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Mr. Pop will require a Bob Hope impersonator.

The Smoking Gun has obtained the contract rider for Iggy Pop and the Stooges.

The rider includes not only technical information (and hilarious observations about previous performance experiences that have gone wrong), but also circular security mathematics (an unspecified number of men, the quantity of whom shall be exactly proportional to the number of doors), backstage requirements (note to Germany: sausage is not actually vegetarian) and a pitch for a reality TV show called -- brace yourself -- Dead Dog Island.

Some of the other riders on Smoking Gun are fun to read through. Tony Danza prefers Beefeater Gin and Heineken, and he requires separate restrooms for men and women. Luciano Pavarotti demands, and I quote, "There must be no distinct smells anywhere near the artist." Penn and/or Teller? Allegedly allergic to eggplant. ("PLEASE AVOID.")

When I get famous enough to have a rider -- and I will -- I think it goes without saying that Nilla wafers and frosting would be in there for me. So what would be in your rider? Let's all make our own!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Aw, HELL no. It's on, Martha Gibson of North Yorkshire

So this Martha person seems to have bagged the World's Loudest Clap record from the good folks at Guinness.

Anyone who has attended a sporting event or ABBA concert with me -- or, really, spent more than an hour and a half with me, in person -- knows that my clap is clearly louder than a lorry roaring by or a washing machine at full spin.

All I'm saying is this: your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to do the following:
  1. Track down a decibel-o-meter,
  2. Determine the precise conditions used to measure Martha's clap,
  3. Simulate those conditions with me,
  4. Measure my clap, and
  5. Assuming my clap blows hers out of the water as if I was calling "G-7" and sinking her battleship, submit my clap for consideration to the Guinness people.
Ready? Go!

[UPDATE: It's now Ma Honglie, a public-bath masseur in China, who holds the record. Martha's clap weighed in at 73 decibels. Ma's is like 97 decibels. Formidable. But, seriously? A public-bath masseur? I would not want to shake his hand in congratulation. Yeech.]


Much Music, my favourite MTV-ten-years-ago-style Canadian-store-front-based music channel, was filming an episode of Much Exposed, when -- allegedly -- K-Fed got the text message informing him that Britney had filed for divorce.

So you see, Canada wins again. ("Why don't you just move to Canada, you Canuck-lover?!")

I know.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Faith Hill is awesome.

The country diva is pissed.

Unless instead of "WHAT?!" she's actually saying, "Way to go, Carrie Underwood! I've always believed in you! I think you are the one who deserved to win, and I'm just so proud of you!"

Democracy, she is a fickle mistress

Mere seconds after my last post, I went through the mail from yesterday and discovered...dun dun DUN!...a juror questionnaire from the nice folks at the Hamilton County courthouse. Not a summons, mind you, but a questionnaire. The questionnaire is like the pre-screen...later, I might get the summons for jury duty. But they don't even give you any wiggle room in the questions to make yourself unappealing to the jury selectors. All they really ask is...

Am I over 18?
Well, yes, you fools -- you got my info from the voter registration rolls. (Strangely, "Yes, you fools" was not a choice, so I simply checked "Yes.")

Am I a resident of Hamilton County?
Most of the time, I'm cool with living in Hamilton County. But in this case, I checked the box marked, "Sadly, yes."

Am I in the Department of Corrections, or have my voting rights been otherwise revoked?
"No." (But intriguing...other than felony-committing-ness, how might one's voting rights be revoked? Is this part of the Patriot Act that we haven't yet seen in action?)

In the Remarks section, I considered including a crazy diatribe about the Second Amendment (either way, pro or con) or making up a history of mental illness that might disqualify me, but I -- I chose the road less perjured, and that has made all the difference. Seemed the safer bet, at least.

Come on, man -- seriously, just vote, right?

Vote Out Loud is actually the Canadian answer to Rock the Vote.

I think they're cooler, logo- and slogan-wise. Of course, I think many Canadian things are cooler, such as Degrassi, Tim Horton's, and universal health care. Also, the logo goes with the black-white-and-red-all-over color theme of today's linktacular. So there you go.

What the Heck -- It Worked for Kelly Clarkson...

CourtTV is hosting the search for the next great crime writer. I've decided to toss my hat into the ring with whatever emerges from my NaNoWriMo '06 experience. The deadline is November 27, so I'll probably be bringing my laptop to Vegas, to put the finishing touches on my entry between slot machine marathons, buffet binges, and The Price Is Right - Live.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Effing Level 17 [UPDATE: Woo Hoo!] [UPDATE UPDATE: Meh.]

Sling (click the game below) is a nice little time-waster; I highly recommend it.

I've cleared all the levels in the time provided except for Level 17. I've cleared it, but now that I'm going back to do it fast enough, I can't figure out how I did it the first time. Comments?
Miniclip Games - Sling

Help this little slimy dude do his job.

Play this game right now!

[UPDATE: Woo hoo! I finished Level 17 and now I've unlocked the final room! UPDATE UPDATE: Big freakin' whoop. Am I missing something in this wondrous treasure room?]

The Line is the Natural Enemy of the Ninja contains all manner of insights about the deadly ninja arts.

Sneaky Bastard Round-Up

The good folks over at have recently compiled a number of links which will help you passive-aggressively rule the world. To wit:

  • SorryGottaGo(.com) lets you escape phone calls. (Seriously? Are there people who can't just hang up on telemarketers? And this is coming from a guy who has worked as a telemarketer.)

Slacklining Kit -- Me Definitely Wanty!

Oh. Em. Jee.

I want this, you guys.

It's only 35 Euros, which is only US$44.5207 (as of right this moment).

For anyone keeping track, this would make an excellent Chrismuhanukwanzakkah gift for me. You can get it for me here: I love the disclaimer under What is less good with the Bugs Balance Slackline Kit?
It is not made for rigging over waterfalls or canyons - It is made as a recreational toy to be used on low altitude over ground. If you want to cross the Niagara Falls* you can train your balance in the park with a Bugs Balance Slackline Kit but then you will have to buy more expensive, sofisticated equipment.**

* Yes, that's "the Niagara Falls".
** And yes, that is "sofisticated".

So, anyway, sofisticated dreams of the Niagara Falls or no sofisticated dreams of the Niagara Falls, this would probably also be a good go-along gift.

And I make no guarantees that I will not all of a sudden stahrt speakhing with a vague Euhrohpeahn ahccehnt. Bork! Bork! Bork!

Wii the People -- Me Likey, Me Kind of Wanty

The new promo for the Nintendo Wii (pronounced "we") makes me nostalgic for thumb cramps and carpal tunnel.

The new remote-control-turned-into-joystick thing is intriguing. All I'm saying is if the trends continue, at some point we're all going to become these cavefish-milk-eyed, translucent skinned compu-people with electronic implants and kung-fu grip.

I, for one, welcome our new Nintendo overlords.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Funny Outakes from Connecting With Carmel

By "popular" "demand" I present "funny" outtakes from Connecting with Carmel, our local community affairs program -- which, I've just learned, is "Carmel's premier monthly magazine show." (If by "premier" you mean "only.")

Those new to CwC can catch up by clicking here and scrolling down past Arbor Day 2006 ("Arbor Day? What a Day!") to Connecting With Carmel -- October 2006. Or dive further into the past, if you dare.

The show features Jeff and Stephanie (hereafter referred to as Jeffanie because they are interchangeably lame), your hosts through the magical world of Carmel government, business, and cultural happenings...

  • Watch as Jeffanie suckerviews Boss 'Nard on his bajillion-dollar development plans!
  • Thrill as Jeffanie tosses it over to zombie-with-80's-hair-I-mean-Carmel-Director-of-Community-Relations-Nancy-Heck who will teach you how to use this new thing called the interwebotron or something!
  • Gag as Jeffanie profiles Carmel volunteers and reminds us, with dazzling props costing upwards of 30 cents, that "Volunteers Are #1!"
  • And enjoy the "bloopers" below -- sadly, the finished product is not much better. Tough to tell where the final cut ends and the bloopers begin...

All I'm saying is that I love my Carmel and I love my TV, but sometimes two things you love just don't go together in the way you dreamed they might.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Dixie Chicks: "Shut up and Sing" Trailer

I've always enjoyed the Chicks, and I will likely see this film.

The uproar over Natalie Maines's remarks reminds me a lot of the uproar of John Kerry's "Do your homework or you'll end up stuck in Iraq" remark. Everybody knows it's no big thing, but the Republicans make it into a big thing, and then Americans (who, as a nation, tend NOT to do their homework) eat it up.

Shut up and sing, Dixie Chicks. Go back to France, John Kerry. Sorry about your rights, gay people. Go back to Mexico, immigrants.

All I'm saying is that if we each liked ourselves a little bit more, maybe it would be easier to like other people.

"Take my plate. Fill it up. Bring it right back."

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you our WTF video of the day, "Solid Potato Salad."

Be sure to watch the whole thing. Their exit strategy is against the law in 49 states -- but not West Virginia. (Ba-dump-bump!) That's all I'm saying.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Whatever you do, do not tell Laura Branigan.

It's like me, if I was an Argentine soccer announcer.

Lo todo que yo digo es que los latinos son muy awesome. Viva el fútbol.

[UPDATE: Did you know that Laura Branigan died in 2004? She had a brain aneurysm, which is also what killed her father and paternal grandfather, and she was cremated, with her ashes distributed over Long Island Sound. How's that for an information-packed UPDATE?]

Oh, No! NaNoWriMo -- Again

Well, it's that special time of year. Leaves are falling, times are changing, and armchair novelists across the nation are working to put pens to paper or fingers to keyboard or crayon to woobie to get those magical 50,000 words down in pursuit of their National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) goals.

So what the heck, right? I'll try to post some updates throughout the month to let you know how things are going and maybe -- just maybe -- post a sample near the end of the month.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

"I totally checked the wrong box!"

How's this for a headline:

Murder Suspect Released By Mistake

Sorry about your sense of safety and justice, there, victim's family. Lucky the suspect didn't come to your home and, you know, kill you or anything.

All I'm saying is that it does not instill confidence in the system when the judge says, "Now that I see how it happened, I'm surprised it hasn't before."

FLAWLESS VICTORY ("Awwwh! Tssssss! Gaaaaaaaaaah! Tsssssss!")

Pitting your favorite Family Guy characters against your favorite (or, rather: "favorite?") American Dad characters! I dare you to.....


Sure, it's to help you buy the two sets of DVDs -- but it's brilliant marketing, particularly since I'd rather play Family Guy vs. American Dad Kung-Fu than Mortal Kombat: Armageddagabon. (Wait -- is Liu Kang a zombie now? I say we kontact the koroner -- I'm kalling for a full-scale investigation, including a tox-screen for that pufferfish poison.)

[UPDATE: Wow -- Turbo Hyper Mega Edition! Click it -- same great link, new great game, now with included Steve and Brian, as well as unlockable Francine and Meg characters.]

It's still Halloween somewhere...

In the last, dying throes of Halloween '06, I give to you: Scary Mary.

Julie Andrews is a key figure in my growing up (don't ask) so this is especially terrifying to me.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Halloween Killjoy

Click It: Count Dracula not in the numbers, physicist says

So you see, zombies can be explained away by the ages-old "Japanese pufferfish toxin" excuse, and vampires are simply a mathematical impossibility. The professor goes on to break the news that Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy were all recently killed in a fiery plane crash. That's all I'm saying.

Dirty Dancing: The Corner'ingation of Baby

"Say there you, Watermelon boy. Do you know where one can find a Tin Pan Alley?"

Friday, October 27, 2006

It's like a blue, latex, wet, backwards yarmulke

I'm no Mr. Wizard, but that video is scientifically awesome.

I imagine that's what it looks like when you're the sperm that breaks through the condom that 1% of the time or whatever.

What's more than "morbidly" obese?

I am not joking: Fried Coke Balls. That's what that is in the picture below.

Deep-fried, cola-flavored donut-batter bombs, served in a cup, like at least a dozen at a time, drizzled with more cola syrup and whipped cream and cinnamon sugar.

All I'm saying is that they're going to need to invent a new category beyond "morbidly" obese. (Kyle: "Fat ass?" Stan: "Super-fat ass?") [UPDATE: The technically correct phrase is "Super Obese," so South Park blazes the trail yet again. UPDATE UPDATE: There's also this respected doctor who coined the special technical term, "Super-Duper Obese."]

The careful reader will note that next year's fair fare will include Fried Diet Coke, in case you're watching your girlish figure.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

This time Corky didn't burn the house down.

He burnt the freakin' house DOWN. That's all I'm saying.

A little Halloween treat.

"We're not unreasonable. I mean, no one's gonna eat your eyes."

I don't know who this Janice is...

...but I'm with her. This is quantifiably, empirically hilarious.

(It's OK to laugh because the kid didn't die. Right?)

I know you must have seen this...

...but come on, man!

1) A Madonna remix, with rap
2) Breakdancing
3) A little person
4) Some sort of foreign language (which, I guess, is Tamil), and
5) Inappropriate smoking

You can NOT beat this video.

Divorce Shocka-Locka-Locka-Locka

I dare you to click it: Stephen Hawking's Marriage in Black Hole

If you're keeping humor score, rejected subject line alternatives for this post included:

  • Stephen Hawking Was Married to Carrot Top?
  • If She Can't Beat You, Divorce Her
  • A Brief History of "Time for You to Hit the Road"
  • World-Famous Scientists Gone Wild!

And for the timid, the third-to-last and second-to-last paragraphs of the linked article conjure up eye-bleachingly disturbing imagery (as if my subject lines weren't bad enough). Reader discretion is advised.

Me and My Angst (Gettin' Goddy With It)

I'm supposed to be working right now, but today is so blah that it's too hard to focus. I'm blazing new trails and have the digital cable music system set to "Smooth Jazz". (I know -- I'm a wild man. But when you realize it's normally on "80's" or "Show Tunes" you realize how out of the zone "Smooth Jazz" is.) It's just a rainy, smooth jazzy day.

Brenda has started a new blog to help envision the future of the Later @ St. Luke's community. The work that she and others are doing to lead the discussion about where we're heading and what it'll look like is very exciting -- for Later and for our entire congregation. I'm eager to see where the group's mix of Christ-centered faith, forward-looking techno-savvy and enthusiastic teamwork will end up.

Planning for the Africa trip is in full-swing. Looks like I'll be bumped up from second-string story-teller into the big leagues, now that our dear friend Rosemary Brown is unable to join us for the trip. I talked with Don and Marilyn yesterday and learned more about what I, specifically, will be doing to contribute to the mission of the group. In addition to helping with the children's peace activities in Liberia, I'll be working in Sierra Leone to learn about the needs of our friends in Jaiama, so I can come back and share their struggles and their joys. You know, so many of the others on the work team have actual skills (medical/pharmacy training, construction background, counseling experience, etc.), and I felt intimidated that I don't have any real-time applicable skills to speak of that might translate into an effective contribution over there. Now, I'm really excited about the opportunity to use the gifts that God gave me to communicate the need by articulating a clear vision and enrolling individuals and families to help us realize that vision. I've still got about $1,800 to raise, but I'm doing my part and trusting God with the heavy lifting to get me over there. (Insert self-deprecating "heavy lifting" joke here.)

My prayer is that God will allow us to see how we can work together in loving support to reach our shared and individual dreams for the future. I am grateful for opportunities and friendships that have powered me into the place where I am today, and I continue to give thanks as I seek out new opportunities and friendships to advance my personal mission and to realize God's purpose for me.