Battle of the Bands LXXXIV

02/26/2009, 1:02 pm -- by | No Comments

Winning the Acts band name finals is Havoc! Moving on in Ephesians is Clamor.

Below is the final matchup from Ephesians!

Which band name is the best?
View Results

28

02/25/2009, 9:41 am -- by | 1 Comment

Is anything more annoying than a young person complaining about age? I promise to control myself.

Growing up, I read a lot of Bill James, the bearded baseball wizard who revitalized baseball in the 80s and 90s through his unique statistical approach. One of the nuggets of information he uncovered was that baseball players tend to peak at age 27.

Statistics gradually improve from 18 to 24, until somewhere between 25 and 29 (often 27), a player will have his best season, his career year. From then on, skills and stats regress. This is good to know: a team that understands this general trend of player performance should be less likely to overpay someone about to enter the twilight of his career.

Now obviously this analysis is rather specific to sports, dependent as they are on strength and quickness. In most (though not all) fields, years, even decades, of experience are an asset.

But remember, at the time, I was a 12-year-old ninth grader, averse to aging and used to being the youngest person in the room. So 27 — distant 27 — became internalized for me as the peak year, on the back end of a series of numerical waystations:

16 — graduate from high school
18 — gain right to vote
20 — graduate from college
27 — reach my apex
35 — gain Presidential eligibility
100 — die, preferably after eating pizza

Before 27, you see, I could not be old — even when it seemed unimaginably far-off — because age 27 was when baseball players were at their best. But now, today, the very minute this article went up, I turned 28. So let the long slide into obsolescence begin. Or, perhaps more correctly, continue.

In defending the celebration of Christmas, Samuel Johnson pointed out that “there is danger that what may be done on any day, will be neglected.” Birthdays are a peculiarly perfect time to consider the events of a year, of a life. And since what I do at work all day is confidential, most of what I can show you from the last two years of my life is right here.

Now I don’t think I peaked in much of anything at 27, with the likely exception of Wii tennis. And I know from experience that I will look back at this year and rue my foolishness and error, think of all the things that should have turned out differently. But I also know that for the rest of my life, I will think fondly of these last two years for the experience we have shared here.

It has been a profound honor and an actual privilege to serve among this entertaining and talented group of writers, and to be read by such a kind and discerning audience. Thank you all. I certainly have not loved every minute of it, but I have loved most. And trust me, that’s worth a lot.

And so we will say goodbye this weekend, after two years, 89 clashes, 76 Bible discussions, 70-some Councils, about 60 Chick tracts, countless articles, jokes, and quotes, and — above all — immense and honest gratitude for any time you have spent with us. Everything here will remain, but for the foreseeable future, nothing new will be added. For a while, I’ll be satisfied re-reading it.

I don’t know what will come next, but I’m sure that — before too long — you’ll be able to hear from me again. Of course that assumes that you want to! If you were here for David, or Job, or Connie, or Chloe, or Josh, or Djere, or Kaitlin, or Tom, or Mike, or MCB, or Erin, I don’t blame you! Honestly, I was too.

But yes, I’ll be around, somewhere.

After all, I’ve got another 72 years before I finish that pizza.

One Hundred Words (48)

02/23/2009, 5:52 pm -- by | 1 Comment

As a child in the country, I slept with the radio on, preferring to mask the barks and howls and creaks of the Great Unknown with the comforting patter of overnight disc jockeys.

But now I have learned I have more to fear within than without, and I find I cannot dream of sleeping to a soundtrack other than that which surrounds me.

The ticking wall clock signifies the constant march of time, as outside, the slams and yells and windy moans testify of existence, shared yet separate. Sirens wail. And I experience life again before leaving it, ever so briefly.

–sm

That’s Some Great Police Work

02/20/2009, 6:26 pm -- by | No Comments

Irish police officers have finally cracked the case of a Polish scofflaw with more than 50 tickets to his name. Seems the infamous Prawo Jazdy had given a different address every time he was stopped, and the authorities were at a total loss to stop his reckless driving — until the day they finally figured out that in Polish, Prawo Jazdy…

means…

…”driver’s license.”

True story.

Three Links (Vol. 19)

02/18/2009, 12:40 am -- by | No Comments

— I think this is my favorite AP article of all time. Fascinating, unbelievable, and informative. How did I not know about this before? How could any 17-year-old girl’s greatest wish be to visit a presidential museum? And the most burning question of all: do they have his beard under glass?

— What’s that? You’d like to see the ugliest website in the world?

— From the author of Moneyball, it’s a quick 9000 words on counterintuitive lessons of probability and efficiency in the sport most like life. The numbers became flesh, and dwelt among us — and Michael Lewis testifies of him: Shane Battier.

Three Links (Vol. 18)

02/11/2009, 11:50 pm -- by | 2 Comments

— Welcome to This Is Why You’re Fat: a gastronomic gallimaufry of “food porn.” Close-up, glossy pictures of such delicacies as a Krispy Kreme sloppy joe, a deep-fried peanut butter-covered brownie wrapped in cookie dough, and the truly frightening “double bacon hamburger fatty melt.”

Right now the front page even includes Rochester’s claim to culinary fame: the aptly named but undeniably delicious “garbage plate.”

— And on that gluttonous note, this essay about shifting attitudes toward food and sex is perhaps the most interesting thing I’ve read all year. Mary Eberstadt argues that our society has developed distinctive and universalized moral hangups about food, at least in part due to its abandonment of such longstanding stigmas against indiscriminate sex.

It’s a little too cute to call this modern man’s “own act of transubstantiation,” but it’s a fascinating observation — and, as Eberstadt points out, both junk food and junk sex have undeniable consequences.

— But if all of this is too base and mundane for your ethereal mind, I’ve something for you too: a brief and surprisingly understandable lecture on the concept of physics’ string theory. As a theory, it’s quite likely nonsense. Sure is cool nonsense, though.

February’s Chick Answer

02/6/2009, 12:00 am -- by | No Comments

What would we learn from this tract?




 
If you picked any of these answers you’re a winner!!

Yes or no, turkey?!

©1984-2008 Chick Publications, Inc. Reprinted without permission as fair use (parody).

February Chick Tract

02/3/2009, 12:11 am -- by | No Comments

 

©1984-2008 Chick Publications, Inc. Reprinted without permission as fair use (parody).

What will we learn from this tract?
View Results

Bweinh! Goes to the Movies — Doubt

01/31/2009, 6:00 pm -- by | No Comments

It is 1964, and inside the most packed Catholic church I have ever seen, Father Flynn (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is delivering a homily on the virtues of doubt. In the faces of the unrealistically attentive parishioners, we see just how relevant the topic is. Here a lonely man, there a sick woman, all around a community of people who remember all too well that earthshaking day, less than a year before, when they witnessed the murder of their beloved president. “Doubt can be a bond as powerful and sustaining as certainty,” the priest tells them. “When you are lost, you are not alone.”

A peculiar conclusion to a sermon, I thought — and so did Sister Aloysius (Meryl Streep), the rock-ribbed battleship of a school principal, who views ballpoint pens as tools of Satan, casts aside cough drops (“candy by another name”), and unironically refers to Frosty the Snowman as “disturbing and heretical.” She views herself as a guardian who foresees and prevents evil, and soon the unease she felt at Flynn’s sermon of doubt is fanned into a flame of full-blown suspicion. “Every easy choice today comes with a consequence tomorrow,” she tells the innocent, young Sister James (Amy Adams), whose observations quickened the fire. Aloysius, we can see, is not afraid of the hard choice.

A cinematic adaptation of the 2005 Pulitzer Prize-winning parable of a play, Doubt is at its most powerful in the adroitly written interplay between its major characters; all four performers have been justly nominated for Academy Awards. Between those scenes of brisk dialogue, the symbolism is laid on a trifle thick — wind, okay, we get it — and the juxtaposition of the sisters’ timid, sedate dinners with the rollicking, smoke-filled bacchanalia of the priest and monsignor is comically blunt. But once the movie gets down to what it’s really about, it is spellbinding.

What do we believe, and why? What evidence do we demand of ourselves to support the conclusions at the heart of our unspoken philosophies? Aloysius is a woman of unshakable conviction, a fevered faith in, above all, the certainty of her own stern judgment. “I know. I am right,” she tells Flynn. “And nothing I can say will change that,” he not-quite-asks. She ponders, frowns. “That’s right.”

But this faith, blind or otherwise, does not make her wrong, not necessarily — and therein is the genius of the script. Like a liberal arts education, this film is about questions, not answers, about how we arrive at a conclusion. I left with an opinion about the movie’s pivotal issue, but the answer is ultimately unknowable, left undefined even by the powerful scene where Flynn and Aloysius engage in anguished, high-stakes psychological combat. Why did I conclude as I did; how could I conclude at all? Is it ever possible to make peace with discomfiting uncertainty, or will we choose to believe certain things just because it’s easier that way?

“You just want things resolved so you can have simplicity back,” Aloysius tells James early on. By the time the film ends, we discover that she was speaking to herself as well. Thank God that He calls us all beyond the mere simplistic — and gives us strength to stand.

I give this film a “Bweinh” out of “Bweinh!” (6 out of 7).

Big Lots (Part Three)

01/31/2009, 1:57 pm -- by | 3 Comments

More fun at Big Lots (see part one and part two).

Have you ever seen a lion look so bereft? This guy isn’t scaring anybody, unless you take into account the large chunks of paint he sheds. Come no farther — or I shall tempt your children with tasty flakes of lead!

On the plus side, it’s incredibly heavy, discouraging thieves who are really into that “unfinished modeling clay” look.

This is not a game
But a secret Chinese test:
Just how dumb are we?

I find it important to note — this is not a singing horse, as the packaging claims.

No. This is a singing, dancing decapitated head of a horse. And as such, what exactly does he have to dance about? They cut off his head and didn’t even remove the reins!

Oh, you were looking for drunken, cross-eyed gnomes, were you? Right this way!

Super Bowl Haiku Prediction 3

01/30/2009, 2:22 pm -- by | No Comments

If the Jets beat you
by scoring eight (8!) touchdowns,
you stink: Pitt blowout.

Big Lots (Part Two)

01/30/2009, 9:00 am -- by | No Comments

More fun at Big Lots (see part one).

How ’bout this clearance aisle, huh? These products were apparently priced to move chaotically, without warning, evading all attempts at organization!

Kind of takes all the fun out of having an Easter pet, doesn’t it? I mean, they know this isn’t a real animal, don’t they? It’s not going anywhere unless you move it there, so why put it in a cage?

Do we really want to raise a generation of children who keep their stuffed animals in cages, sitting on their shelves, while they sit at their computers?

Also, what’s with the ponytailed duck on the tag?? This is a rabbit, isn’t it? What’s going on in China anyway?

This picture’s for Josh. Oh, it’s available in stores, my friend.


I can’t wait until spring — the time when kings go out to battle — when these two mighty empires will finally meet in the ultimate conflict!

Robots! Monsters! The six-sided ring of fire! Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!

Big Lots (Part One)

01/29/2009, 7:51 pm -- by | No Comments

Ever been to Big Lots? It’s the Aldi (“like a rummage sale for food”) of department stores: messily stacked aisles filled to the brim with whatever Chinese imports haven’t exactly been flying off the shelves at Walmart.

I went there recently. For you.

Well, at least they’ve got the truth in advertising thing down — although is it just me, or does the picture on the outside not accurately reflect the doll on the inside? All they have in common is that vacant, bovine stare, like someone’s been spiking the formula with Valium.

And what does this ‘babbling kid’ (why not alliterate to ‘babbling baby’??) say anyway? I imagine some harsh words for whoever plucked his eyebrows and dressed him in white-collared overalls.

Because no sentiment goes better with “I love you” like “Now with trout and bass!”

Honey, happy Valentine’s Day! Here’s a two-dollar chocolate fish, to let you know that I won’t throw you back until your painful asphyxiation is complete!

Wait, where are you going?

Right… The problem with Barbies has always been difficulty.

I just like how this says “A game for 2-3 players with fun.” They must not have liked how the focus group responded to the funless version.

Let’s spice up this fishing game, McIntosh! What do you say, we add a little…fun?

Can you spot the fun in the picture though? I think it’s represented by the blurred action chomp shot.

Bumper Stickers III

01/27/2009, 12:00 am -- by | No Comments

Previous entries here and here.

Driving around…
 
  Summary: Peace through . . . alien invasion?
 
In Other Words: I give up, ET! Do your worst! Please — take my ’99 Honda Civic!
 
Designed For: People who still think an alien head logo looks cool. People who still think a peace sign is trendy. People who like to get their surrendering out of the way super early.

 
  What Now?: The SUV didn’t seem higher than normal…
 
Leading Me to Wonder: Eyebrows, face, chest, or backside?
 
And If I Had a Nickel: For every time I’d asked that…
 
  Oh Good!: Snarky, unnecessarily combative bumper stickers are no longer the sole province of the left! We’re saved!
 
One-Sentence Summary: Please deface my station wagon!
 
Dirty Looks Per Drive: 25 (city), 35 (highway)
 
No, Susie, Don’t Be Silly: That nice man is just telling Mommy she’s number one!

 

It Takes A Frenchman…

01/22/2009, 12:56 am -- by | No Comments

…to surrender to a depressed poodle!

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