Thursday, July 1, 2010

I always had a suspicion...

So, this past Sunday in our Young Pros Bible Class, we were closing out a study on Jesus refilling our lives, with the particular focus that week being on eschatology, which is the study of the end times. And in the course of class prep, I felt compelled to share this via Mark Atteberry, who's a superb Christian author/leader. (hey, if Donald Miller is a fan of this guy, so am I)

Some people have actually spent time identifying Barney, the purple dinosaur, as the Antichrist. What? You didn't know Barney is the Antichrist? Then you need to read Revelation 13:18, which clearly says that the beast's number is 666, and also happens to be Barney's number. If you have any doubts of this, just work your way through the following steps and be enlightened:

Given: Barney is a cute purple dinosaur

Prove: Barney is really the Antichrist in disguise

1. Start with the given: CUTE PURPLE DINOSAUR

2. Change all the U's to V's (which is proper Latin anyway): CVTE PVRPLE DINOSAVR

3. Extract all Roman numerals in the phrase: CVVLDIV

4. Convert these into Arabic values: 100 5 5 50 500 1 5

5. Add all the numbers: 666

So now let your greatest fears be realized.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Name Game Clues Explained

So, now that our sweet girl is here, and her name is known to the world, it's only fitting that we reveal just what exactly all these silly sentences, hints, and random clues all mean. Plus, it might provide some insight into just how ridiculously strange Carly and I can be...ha! And, congrats are in order to Payton (my brother) and Melissa (his fiancee) for being the first to correctly guess our daughter's name. Many of you were right on after the final clue posted Tuesday morning.

Oh, and Phoebe means "bright, shining, brilliant light" in case you were wondering.

May 21st Clue #1

-6 in a Japanese Trend.

*The number 6 stands for the amount of letters in her name. The Japanese trend is none other than Pokemon, whose second member of the Hoenn Elite Four is named Phoebe.

May 28th Clue #2

-"One small step for a feathered friend, one giant leap for our family."

*The quote reflects what Neil Armstrong said when walking on the moon...Phoebe is the name of Saturn's outermost moon. And the feathered friend part refers to an actual insect-eating bird with the same name. So, basically, we made our own astronomical quote.

June 3rd Clue #3

-Screamin' Jay Hawkins decides to belt it out...despite the weather.

*The above-mentioned artist sang "I Put a Spell on You." This points to a profession of ladies who cast spells...witches...specifically from the TV show CHARMED. Alyssa Milano's character was named Phoebe, as was a minor character in the 1952 classic SINGIN' IN THE RAIN, which covers the last part of the clue.

June 9th Clue #4 & #5

-Steven Spielberg, Marcus Skinner, Ray Walston, and Chris Columbus meet up for some pizza. (still first name)

*Spielberg was the Executive Producer and Columbus the writer for Gremlins, which starred Phoebe Cates. Cates was also in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, where Ray Walston's class (he was Mr. Hand) was interrupted by a pizz delivery by one Jeff Spicoli. Oh, and Marcus Skinner was the professor Colin Hanks was trying to track down in Orange County. Skinner was played by Kevin Kline, who is married to Phoebe Cates in real life.

-A Royal Journal of a Red-haired orphan. (middle name)

*The Princess Diaries stars Anne Hathaway...Anne Frank had a famous diary...Anne Boleyn was royalty also...Anne of Green Gables was a red-haired orphan...and yet so was that little mischievous gal Annie from the get the idea.

June 15th (Delivery Date - final clues)

-A servant of the church in Cenchrea, who never let her Greek heritage get in the way of being a good FRIEND.

*A deaconess in the church, Phoebe is mentioned in Scripture only once...Romans 16:1-2. To the Greeks, her name represented the Titan Goddess of the Oracle of Delphi (the Moon Goddess or Bright Moon). And of course, most of us think of Lisa Kudrow and her hilarious character from Friends.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


So, this is going out NOW because it means we're in the hospital and our precious new one is well her way to breathing her first breath. And, without further adieu, here is your final clue. And let me be the first to say Congrats to each of you that have or will guess her name correctly. Thanks so much for playing along...we had a blast with this whole name-riddle madness.

May 21st Clue #1

-6 in a Japanese Trend.

May 28th Clue #2

-"One small step for a feathered friend, one giant leap for our family."

June 3rd Clue #3

-Screamin' Jay Hawkins decides to belt it out...despite the weather.

June 9th Clue #4 & #5

-Steven Spielberg, Marcus Skinner, Ray Walston, and Chris Columbus meet up for some pizza. (still first name)

-A Royal Journal of a Red-haired orphan. (middle name)

June 13th (Due Date - final clues)

-A servant of the church in Cenchrea, who never let her Greek heritage get in the way of being a good FRIEND.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Our Clues - 2 for 1

So, I decided to add some bonus into the game...not sure of how many of you are still intrigued at this point, but today's clues certainly turn up the heat and give ya LOTS to explore. I'm a day late on the middle name clue, but a day early on the regular clue. Happy hunting, and send your guesses to me privately. Much love!

May 21st Clue #1

-6 in a Japanese Trend.

May 28th Clue #2

-"One small step for a feathered friend, one giant leap for our family."

June 3rd Clue #3

-Screamin' Jay Hawkins decides to belt it out...despite the weather.

June 9th Clue #4 & #5

-Steven Spielberg, Marcus Skinner, Ray Walston, and Chris Columbus meet up for some pizza. (still first name)

-A Royal Journal of a Red-haired orphan. (middle name)

June 13th (Due Date - final clues)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Tick, Tock

This is just too much fun...and the guesses are great! We're inchin' closer, so hang in there.
Hey, if Carly can endure the waiting...

May 21st Clue #1

-6 in a Japanese Trend.

May 28th Clue #2

-"One small step for a feathered friend, one giant leap for our family."

June 3rd Clue #3

-Screamin' Jay Hawkins decides to belt it out...despite the weather.

June 7th Clue #4
(this one might actually focus on the middle name only)

June 10th Clue #5

June 13th (Due Date - final clues)

Friday, May 28, 2010

Keepin' it going...

So, after being off and running with this fun game, I'd like to thank those of you that have already offered up some GREAT guesses. And, I'd like to say that there's probably not a good way to let you know if you're right or wrong, warm or cold, you get the idea. BUT, please don't let that discourage you from taking a shot at it, because you can have the satisfaction of guessing correctly and it being documented! So by all means, continue the conversation (privately), and remember to do it messaging Carly or me via Facebook, email, or text. We appreciate your playing along, and let the madness begin.

May 21st Clue #1

-6 in a Japanese Trend.

May 28th Clue #2

-"One small step for a feathered friend, one giant leap for our family."

June 3rd Clue #3

June 7th Clue #4

June 10th Clue #5

June 13th (Due Date - final clues)

Friday, May 21, 2010

And It Begins

I'd like to officially any and all of you to our little game of fun and mischief. I'm actually glad you stopped by, and even more nervous this time around with all the savvy, clever hunters that Carly and I know you to be. And, let me remind you that when you get a guess, send it to me or Carly privately via Facebook or email. We appreciate your playing along, and let the madness begin.

May 21st Clue #1

-6 in a Japanese Trend.

May 28th Clue #2

June 3rd Clue #3

June 7th Clue #4

June 10th Clue #5

June 13th (Due Date - final clues)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

So, Here's the Deal... case you've been wondering what's up.

-We moved to Austin 6 weeks ago.
-We're having our 3rd kid in 4 weeks.
-It's time for the NAME GAME.

The 1st clue is revealed tomorrow (Friday the 21st), with additional clues coming on the dates below.

May 28th
June 3rd
June 7th
June 10th
June 13th (Due Date - final clues)

Now, you remember the way this have a guess, you send it to me or Carly privately via Facebook or email. We appreciate your playing along, and let's have some fun.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Weekly Office

February 24 - "I have taken my downstairs office and I have turned it into a place to hang out, a place where unattractive and attractive people can get together to meet, to greet, to see the ones that you love, to love the ones that you see..." (Michael)

February 25 - "When I discovered YouTube, I didn't work for five days. I did nothing. I viewed 'Cookie Monster Sings Chocolate Rain' about a thousand times." (Michael)

February 26 - "When the baby emerges, mark it secretly in a kind of mark that only you could recognize and no baby snatcher could every copy." (Dwight)

March 1 - "Why are you helping her? You're not even dating. She's my friend. And ultimately, my strategy is to sort of merge into a relationship without her even knowing." (Michael)

March 2 - "Ronni was 'blah!' Things were at an all-time sad here, but then I got an e-mail from Ryan that he was coming back to town and I called the temp agency and I told them, I will pay you any amount, just give me Ryan Howard. Give him to me. I want him. I need him." (Michael)

March 4 - Michael: "So how much are we going to lose?" Jim: "I would like to lose sixty-five pounds." Michael: "Yes! All right. Who else? Angela, can I put you down for ten pounds?" Angela: "No. My doctor wants me to gain weight." Michael: "If you gain weight, you will die. I want you to live forever. I want us all to live forever."

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Jesus was a Jew

Christ could have been born a Roman. The proudest claim of His day was "Civus Romanus sum!" (I am a Roman citizen.) At His birth, Rome ruled the world and to be a citizen of Rome meant you could enjoy all the privileges of the empire.

Or Christ could have been born a Greek. This race has given to the world aesthetics and a beautiful language. Rome conquered Greece...but the Greek language would become the universal language. But Christ did not choose to be identified with "The glory that was Greece or the grandeur that was Rome" according to Poe. Rather He became a member of the most downtrodden, despised race of people in His day. In fact, we are still dealing with anti-Semitism in our era. Just try and get your mind around the horrors of the Holocaust...I've been to Dachau, it's terrifying. Jesus was a Jew!

Sholem Asch writes about being a Jew: "Jesus Christ is the outstanding personality of all time...Is still a Teacher whose teaching is such a guidepost for the world we live in...He became the Light of the World. Why shouldn't I, a Jew, be proud of that?"

Why, then, do we today still attempt to portray Christ as having blond hair...perhaps it's time to show proper respect to the heritage of the son of God.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Secrets of Unhappiness

What's bothering you? That's what the government decided to find out when it launched a $10-million study, "The Primary Causes of Unhappiness," in 1994. Mental-health professionals throughout the country conducted more than six thousand interviews during which subjects were asked to list those problems causing them the most concern and worry. The recently released results of this government study found that the primary cause of mental distress in this nation is government studies.

Almost 80 percent of all respondents indicated that information provided to them by government studies had three or more times been the cause of significant distress and had caused them to alter behavior that they had previously enjoyed. Most subjects reported that they had been happy or relatively happy with their livers until learning of the dangers that they faced. For example, more than $85 percent of all persons interviewed for this study claimed they had little or no knowledge of the existence of the ozone layer until being informed that it might be disappearing, and they had previously never been concerned about it at all. A similarly high percentage of respondents reported having little or no concern about global warming causing rising tides until made aware of this by government studies.

The general unhappiness caused by government studies reached into the home and workplace. Almost 100 percent of all persons interviewed reported that they had never or almost never been concerned about using microwave ovens, cell phones, or living in proximity to power lines until government studies raised issues of potential dangers. In particular, respondents reported that they had suffered depression, worry, anxiety, and general unhappiness after reading government studies concerning the effects on their health of the most commonly enjoyed foods. According to this study, at least half the people queried had given up or significantly decreased their consumption of the foods they most enjoyed. They had reduced intake of most sugar-based products, particularly chocolate, as well as most fried foods, foods containing saturated fats, foods grown or raised on farms using pesticides or chemical fertilizers, and foods resulting from any form of genetic engineering. They had also significantly reduced or eliminated drinks containing sugar or caffeine. They reported being fairly to very upset by government studies indicating that sugar was potentially dangerous while sugar substitutes were potentially even more dangerous.

Conversely, the respondents had significantly increased consumption of foods whose taste they most often described as "poor to cardboard." The study also found that those people interviewed had moderately to significantly changed their normal behavior patterns due to government studies. In many cases they reported that they had reduced time spent on "enjoyable" activities, including watching television, while increasing the amount of time spent on "less enjoyable" activities, such as exercise.

The government study concluded that the elimination of government studies might significantly improve the mental health of citizens. But it also recommended that further studies be funded to consider the consequences of such an action.

Monday, March 15, 2010

A Special Connection...?!

In 1986, Peter Davies was on holiday in Kenya after graduating from Northwestern University. On a hike through the bush, he came across a young bull elephant standing with one leg raised in the air. The elephant seemed distressed, so Peter approached it very carefully.

He got down on one knee, inspected the elephants foot, and found a large piece of wood deeply embedded in it. As carefully and as gently as he could, Peter worked the wood out with his knife,after which the elephant gingerly put down its foot.

The elephant turned to face the man, and with a rather curious look on its face, stared at him for several tense moments. Peter stood frozen, thinking of nothing else but being trampled. Eventually the elephant trumpeted loudly, turned, and walked away.

Peter never forgot that elephant or the events of that day. Twenty years later, Peter was walking through the Chicago Zoo with his teenage son. As they approached the elephant enclosure, one of the creatures turned and walked over to near where Peter and his son Cameron were standing. The large bull elephant stared at Peter, lifted its front foot off the ground, then put it down.

The elephant did that several times then trumpeted loudly, all the while staring at the man. Remembering the encounter in 1986, Peter could not help wondering if this was the same elephant. Peter summoned up his courage, climbed over the railing, and made his way into the enclosure. He walked right up to the elephant and stared back in wonder.

The elephant trumpeted again, wrapped its trunk around one of Peter legs and slammed him against the railing, killing him instantly.

Probably wasn't the same elephant.

Friday, March 12, 2010


So, while this is my 4-year-old daughter's name, it also has some pretty rich history in the Bible and through the Hebrews. The name is from the prophecy of the aged patriarch Jacob who on his deathbed pronounced blessings on each of his sons. "The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh comes" (Genesis 49:10). As you read the blessings you will also find scathing rebuke where there has been moral failure. Some instances of instability, lust, and cruelty forfeited the blessings of birthright. But you can also find special blessings reserved exclusively for the tribes of Judah and Joseph.

In the blessing pronounced on the descendants of Judah there is another piece of the mosaic of messianic prophecy. The specific tribe from which the Messiah would come is revealed. This blessing and prophecy gives us the name "Shiloh." Its root meaning is "to rest" or "to give rest." It is another Old Testament prophecy regarding the rest and peace which Jesus gives to all who follow Him.

There is a place in the state of Tennessee with this beautiful name, Shiloh. However, today it is known only as a place of bloodshed. Our history of the Civil War reveals to us that more than 25,000 men were killed on this battlefield. Those events are the opposite of the meaning of the word.

Jesus Christ is true to the meaning of all of the great titles given to Him. These are descriptions of His character and life mission. In this little-known title, He is the only One who can still bring rest to His people. Hear His promise once more, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28).

Our prayers are for Shiloh to live out her name, and provide rest, comfort, and encouragement to all her cross her path. You know, we actually selected her name because the meaning described to us was "God's gift; precious sacrifice." This, too, falls in line with God's promises and covenant in Jesus. May we all live and trust and hope in that gift of rest.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Weekly Office

February 18 - "This is what I'm going to do. I'm going to randomly select three names and these three people will get liposuction. Uh, Stanley, Phyllis, Kevin. You will be responsible for your own medical bills." (Dwight)

February 19 - Michael: "Does anyone have any idea what the number one cause of death is in this country?" Dwight: "Shotgun weddings." Jim: "That's not what that is." Creed: "Fright. Being scared to death."

February 21 - "Normally I don't condone leaving early but I have an appointment with the horse doctor. How that horse became a doctor, I don't know. No, I'm kidding. He's just a regular doctor who shoots your horse in the head when its leg is broken." (Dwight)

February 22 - Andy: "I don't know if there's any one place that has all these things." Angela: "That's not my problem." Andy: "Thousand-year-old church in the continental United States. There has to be a rainbow, twenty-four-hour veterinarian on call." Angela: "This is very important to me, so--I have work to do. Just do it."

February 23 - Jim: "Oh, right, some drunk guy hit on Pam last year. Said he was grabbing her for balance." Pam: "Yeah. You don't grab these for balance." Jim: "Uh..."

February 24 - "I have taken my downstairs office and I have turned it into a place to hang out, a place where unattractive and attractive people can get together to meet, to greet, to see the ones that you love, to love the ones that you see..." (Michael)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

An Unspoilt Place

Unexpectedly, Daniel Dengate walked out of the dense jungle into paradise. For the famed documentarian, the discovery of West Africa's Golong tribe enabled him to fulfill his lifelong dream. Until Dengate unexpectedly found them living in their Stone Age village in a difficult-to-reach valley, the self-sufficient Golong people had existed only in legend. For what anthropologists estimate is at least one thousand years, the "Lost Tribe" had had absolutely no contact with the outside world. Their primitive life had been totally untouched by modern civilization. This was the last unspoilt place on earth.

Dengate discovered that the Golong people lived in peace and harmony with their magnificent natural surroundings. Their language had no words for enemy or hate or jealousy, they made no weapons, they ate only what they could grow. Man and woman lived together with love based on mutual respect for their lifetime, their children were reverent toward their elders, members of the tribe shared all their possessions and worked happily together. The tribe raised magnificently colored butterflies, which they set free at the full moon as their gift to the gods of nature.

The Golong people had created a paradise on earth, Dengate realized, a living model of how beautiful life could be if people learned to live together peacefully. And he vowed to bring the message of this innocent tribe to the world.

He began filming the PBS documentary A Perfect Place. His twenty-four person crew lived among the Golong people for six months, learning their customs and their language, while teaching them rudimentary English and introducing them to basic technology, such as Panaflex cameras, cell phones, and fax machines.

The documentary and accompanying book appealed tremendously to the desire of many people to return to a simpler world. The documentary was nominated for an Academy Award and the book became a best-seller. Based on this success, Dengate was able to secure financing for the romantic feature film Love in a Grand Old World, in which Sandra Bullock starred as a member of a documentary-film crew who falls in love with a widowed Golong man with an adorable young child.

As the Golong "craze" began growing in America, Dengate knew he had to find a way to protect the tribe from exploitation. So he got them the best lawyer in the field, noted theatrical attorney Andrew Glenn. Gleen immediately negotiated a deal for all rights to manufacture and market authentic Golong woven jewelry, which would be produced in China and sold exclusively on the Home Shopping Network. With proceeds from this sale, the tribe was able to build a small hospital, install a satellite dish, and purchase several flat-screen TVs.

Struck by the simple beauty of traditional Golong songs, Barry Manilow recorded an album of authentic Golong music in a recording studio built less than a mile from the village, hiring Golong tribespeople to sing backup vocals. The opportunity to visit the last unspoilt place on earth proved to be irresistible to thousands of people, who were willing to spend large sums of money to experience a culture completely free of materialism. To make these tourists comfortable, the Hilton Hotel chain constructed the Golong Resort and Casino, which also provided employment for tribe members.

In addition to the regular tours that began visiting the village, Club Med set up a small village and landing strip within observation distance. Club Med management was able to hire several villagers for full-time trainee positions. Advertisers took note of the public desire to slow down. Chrysler created an entire campaign for a new line of four-wheel-drive vehicles entitled "A New Car for an Old World" around this phenomenon. "Deep in the jungle there is a very special place where life is lived slowly," the narrator said mellifluously, as a brute of a vehicle was seen ripping through the jungle, "but you might want to spend your whole vacation getting there." The campaign premiered during the Super Bowl. In recognition of their work in this commercial, the Golong people were granted the first tribal membership in Screen Actors Guild history.

When the jungle surrounding the village became overbooked, Disney Inc. was able to convince several members of the tribe to set up a touring unit. This group of Golongs traveled with the "Jack the Ripper on Ice" troupe and lived in small temporary villages in major arenas where ticketholders could observe them. Discounts were given for school groups. Unfortunately, the worldwide demand for personal appearances by the tribespeople made it impossible for them to continue living in their coconut-leaf huts. So, to fulfill commitments made to tour groups, almost one hundred Chinese people were brought into the jungle to lead authentic Golong lives.

Less than four years after he had stepped out of the jungle into ancient history, Dan Dengate's lifelong dream had finally come true: he had earned more money than he ever thought possible and was able to retire to play golf.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Hoorary! (we can now resume...) Weekly Office

February 9 - Kelly: "Why is it okay for smokers to take breaks all the time? If I want to go outside and hang out once an hour, then I'll just take up smoking. I'll do it. I don't care." Meredith: "I'll smoke with you. I got a bag of cigars in my purse."

February 12 - "Just about everybody in this office is single right now, including me. And everyone is experiencing an incredible amount of emotional pain. Especially me, because of my great capacity for emotion. And it is my first Valentine's Day since Holly so I think that I am well qualified to understand that these people need to be protected from having love shoved into their faces." (Michael)

February 14 - "These people need love. And I am going to get it for them. Who cares if we sell a little bit less paper today. A great boss cares more about the happiness of his employees than anything else. I am going to be Cupid. And I'm going to shoot my sparrow at unsuspecting victims and they are going to get hit and say, 'I'm in love.' I was hit by Cupid's sparrow. A funny little bird but he gets the job done." (Michael)

February 15 - Andy: "I'll drop an ethics bomb on you. Would you steal bread to feed your family? Boom!" Oscar: "Exactly, Andy." Andy: "Yeah. I took Intro to Philosophy twice. No big deal." Dwight: "That's a trick question. The bread is poisoned. Also, it's not your real family. You've been cuckolded by a stronger, smarter male."

February 16 - "Okay fine! You know what? Phyllis did injure herself. But she injured herself having fun. And I don't think she would trade that memory for anything." (Michael)

February 17 - "Michael had chicken pot pie for lunch. Actually, let me rephrase that. Michael had an entire chicken pot pie for lunch, and let me be more specific--Michael ate an entire family-sized chicken pot pie for lunch and then he promptly fell asleep. So we're all trying to be very quiet so as to not wake him up before 5 p.m., which actually should be in ten minutes." (Jim)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Sea of Galilee

The Sea of Galilee is the world's lowest freshwater lake at 680 feet below sea level. This lake is about 13 miles long and as wide as 8 miles. In some spots, it is as deep as 150 feet. It was also known as the "Lake of Chinnereth," the "Sea of Tiberias," or the "Lake of Gennesaret." This lake is in the center of some of the most fertile area of Israel. It is surrounded by bountiful fields and lush orchards.

It was the center of the fishing industry and a main source of income in Jesus' day. More than 40 different species of fish come from these waters. The fish that were caught were dried or salted and then exported through all of the region and beyond. It was here where Peter and Andrew were tending their nets when Jesus invited them to become "fishers of men."

It was from the seaside town of Capernaum that He launched His Galilean ministry. Mary Magdalene came from the tiny, nearby village of Magdala. It was on these beautiful shores that Jesus fed the crowd of 5,000 with the five loaves and two fishes of the boy's lunch. It was here that he drove the demons from the man possessed and into the herd of swine who drowned themselves in the lake. It was here that Jesus appeared to His fishing disciples after the resurrection with the invitation to come and eat the fish which He had prepared on the fire. And it was in this setting that Jesus restored Peter by commanding him to "feed" His sheep.

And would you believe that to this day, the water is still pure enough from which to drink...

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Thoughts of the Longest-Distance Runner

(wanted to share this for all you marathoners out there...seems like EVERYBODY'S running and may have entertained this mental, inward struggle)

When American long-distance runner Alex Jordan decided to run nonstop from coast to coast to raise awareness of knee and joint diseases, many people believed the task he had set for himself was impossible. But as Jordan persisted, state after state, his saga captured the attention of the public and became a symbol of American determination. What thoughts passed through his mind as he ran the tortuous route across the country? Using a state-of-the-art Nagma lightweight tape recorder, Jordan shared his thoughts during his run into history. Here is an excerpt from those tapes, made as he raced across Kansas:

"This is really, really stupid. My feet are killing me. I've done some dumb things in my life, but where this stupid idea--Ow! Darn, that hurts. What am I, out of my mind? How did I let them talk me into this...I swear, if this doesn't get me on Letterman...Hey! Watch it with that truck, jerk. I swear, if I ever finish this thing..."

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

What's in a phrase?

Jesus said: "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God" (Matthew 19:24; Mark 10:25; Luke 18:25). Some scholars have claimed this memorable, even humorous, quotation is a translation that has been mistaken. Some Greek and Armenian versions of the Bible refer to a "rope" rather than a camel. However...proverbs taken from the Talmud and the Koran do allude to a large animal, perhaps even one so large as an elephant, passing through a needle's eye. Jesus may have chosen the word "camel" for emphasis so that no one would forget the illustration.

Or another possible explanation is that the ancient cities which had walls built around them for safety also provided an "after hours" entrance--a very small gate or gateway which would allow a camel to go through it only if it were made to crawl through the gate after it had been unloaded. This was called the "eye of the needle." It was made very small for security reasons. Only one person or animal at a time could enter. If the people entering were bent on mischief or making trouble, they could be dealt with by the guards one at a time.

But in any translation, explanation, or interpretation...let's not lose the meaning. It is difficult for people who have learned to trust in their riches to humble themselves so that they, too, can enter the kingdom of God.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Weekly Office

February 1 - "Attention! Attention! We only have a few weeks left and most of you are just as fat as the day we began." (Dwight)

February 2 - "Serenity by Jan is kicking butt and taking names. Remember last week when that girl went missing; guess whose candles they used for the vigil?" (Jan)

February 4 - "Jan is about to have a baby with a sperm donor. And Michael is preparing for the birth of a watermelon with Dwight. Now this baby will be related to Michael through delusion." (Jim)

February 5 - Michael: "What's so funny?" Pam: "You had to be there." Michael: "Oh, hey! Geography joke."

February 7 - "Hey everybody, I just invited Jim to 'suck it' and I am cordially inviting all of you to a special convention, a--a lonely hearts convention this afternoon, singles only...We may not have someone in our lives that we love, but we do have each other." (Michael)

February 8 - Michael: "Pam, I would like you to meet Ronni. We call her 'Rice-a-Ronni.' She is hilarious, she is wonderful; a beam of light in this dark, dark office. Not really so much. All she does is plop herself down there and answer phones all day." Pam: "The nerve."

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Witch's Broom

Once upon a time there was a witch named Grizelka who chalked up a very enviable record when it came to witchery. If you don't believe me, just look at her resume:

-Sleeping Beauty: Cast highly effective spell on young female, putting her in a state of slumber for several decades.
-The Frog Prince: Turned member of the royal family into an amphibian. Received wide publicity.
-Hansel and Gretel: Successfully enticed two young siblings to a house in the Forest using sweet food as bait.

Naturally, when it came time to give out the award for The Best Witch of the Year, Grizelka won. At her acceptance speech to the Academy of Witches, she moved almost everyone to tears.

"I'd like to thank all the little people who made this possible. Like that guy I shrank to fourteen inches tall after he said something about the wart on my nose. And I'd especially like to thank my assistant, also a little person, the gnome named Harry. I'll treasure this gold-plated skull the rest of my unnatural life!"

Well, sir, after that, Grizelka's stock soared high, and as far as she was concerned, every night was like Halloween. One day, a typical day, Harry and Grizelka were busy in her cobweb-filled house, hashing out her schedule.

"Okay," Harry said, glancing at the clipboard. "Tomorrow you're due to fly to London to touch off the Year of the Plague. And then you've got a banquet for the Society for the Humane Treatment of Trolls."

"Cancel that till Monday. Tomorrow I've got to lock this lady Rapunzel in a tower and then run over to the--"

Suddenly, the door to the witch's little house creaked open and there stood the most handsome prince in the world. "Ah, fair lady, could I trouble you for a flagon of water?" Such a request wasn't exactly the wisest thing the prince had ever done. In fact, it was tantamount to committing hari-kari.

"Instead of water, try a sip of this!" said mean old Grizelka, handing him a hissing, steaming cup of newts' knees, bat tripe, and other ingredients that would probably not pass FDA inspection, but would turn the prince into a tree stump. Still, witches too have hearts and, at the very last second before the concoction touched the prince's lips, Grizelka's was struck by Cupid's arrow.

"Don't drink that!" she shouted, and knocked it to the floor. The liquid burned a hole three feet deep. "My word," said the prince. "It must be carbonated."

With that, he made a courtly bow, and excused himself to go to the well outside to quench his thirst. Grizelka stared wistfully through the window. For the next few days, Grizelka just couldn't concentrate on her witchery. She sent Snow White a poisoned kumquat instead of a poisoned apple. She turned bats into bunny rabbits. She tried to put people to sleep, but just made them tired and cranky. Finally, she admitted to herself that she was in love--but because she was horribly ugly, even by witchly standards, she knew she could never win the prince. And so she went to the magic mirror--which charged only $100 for fifty minutes--and asked for advice.

"Mirror, mirror on the wall--and don't you dare crack on me--how can I win the prince's love?" The mirror responded, "Why don't you cast a spell on yourself? I'm afraid our time is up. I must go before I crack up myself."

Of course! The mirror was right. If Grizelka changed herself into a beautiful princess, the prince would fall in love with her. For two weeks she worked on the project, stirring a cauldron full of wolfbane, mice wings, and artificial flavors and colors. Finally, it came time for the age-old incantation. "Over the teeth and through the gums, look out stomach, here it comes!"

She drank it and--POOF!--where the witch once stood, there was an enchanting princess. The next day, the newly beautiful witch went to the royal ball. When she got there, the prince and the king were in the corner, talking.

"Well, my son, how are you enjoying the ball?" asked the king.
"Oh, I'm having a ball, Dad."
"I know that, but how are you enjoying it?"
But before the prince could answer, he spotted the most beautiful maiden he had ever seen. "You're beautiful, you're lovely, you're me! Am I rushing things?"

Grizelka shook her head. A whirlwind romance ensued. They went to the opera, to the ballet, to be-headings. But there was one little problem. They were never alone. For wherever they went, along came a broom--they broom that Grizelka used to ride on her nightly forays. It would ride i the carriage with them, sit next to them at shows. There was just no escaping her past. The prince began to get a bit suspicious. "Now, I have nothing against cleaning instruments in general," he said. "I just want to be alone with you."

Desperate, Grizelka decided to shell out another $100 and go to her old mirror on the wall. The mirror counseled her, "Ah, well, it is all psychological my dear. You see, that broom over there has a sort of dust complex. Now that you're a princess, it's lonely. It misses its former owner. And it no doubt still thinks you are a witch."
"Well, what can I do?"
"The answer is simple. Get it a gride."

Now, in medieval English, which is what the mirror was speaking, the word gride mean dustpan. So, the witch immediately purchased a small but attractive dustpan and set it beside the lonesome broom in the broom closet. The rest happened naturally.

In the end, when the prince and princess got married, they had a double wedding with the happy cleaning instrument couple. So, as you can see, not only was there a bride and a groom, but there was also a gride and a broom.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Weekly Office

January 22 - "Babies are one of my many areas of expertise. Growing up, I performed my own circumcision." (Dwight)

January 24 - "I'm excited to lose weight for the wedding because I really want to have washboard abs the first time Angela sees me naked." (Andy)

January 26 - Holly: "No! You do not talk to him like that!" Angela: "But he's an idiot." Holly: "He is not an idiot. He is mentally challenged. But he's doing a super job here." Kevin: "Wait, back up. Do you think that I'm retarded?"

January 27 - "Well, I was in the seminary for a year and dropped out because I wanted to have sex with this girl, Cathy. Followed her back to Scranton, took the first job I could find in H.R. Later, she divorced me, so, no, I wouldn't say I have a passion for H.R." (Toby)

January 28 - "When held over heat, the invisible ink will reveal that everyone should meet at the warehouse immediately. Do not ask me where I got the invisible ink...Urine. It was urine." (Dwight)

January 29 - "I have an enormous amount of trouble trying to get people to come to my place and I hate it. I can't tell you how much leftover guacamole I have ended up eating over the years. I don't even know why I make it in such great quantities." (Michael)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Some Serious Influence

His active life work lasted a bit less than 3 years. He held no political position in public life. He had almost no money and very few material possessions. He never wrote a book, poem, or song. He never painted a picture. He is not known for any clever invention. He never used force, other than throwing moneychangers out of the temple. He was hated by the religious and political authorities, arrested, condemned, tortured, and executed. And yet...

His teachings are of enormous relevance for us today. If what He said was true, we have the answers, profound answers, to some of the greatest questions that have perplexed peoples down through the centuries of time. These are issues of life and death, God and humanity, humanity relating to each other, time and eternity...and a whole lot more. His life and character wrapped up in a single being what all of us would like to be in our best moments.

His death, beyond any question or dispute, was the most famous death in all of human history. No other death has aroused even a fraction of such intense feelings over these hundreds of years. This death is still the subject of study. His resurrection was either the most outstanding event of all time or else a monstrous hoax perpetrated on a trusting humanity.

And today...about 2,000 years after these events took place in history...more than 1,400,000,000 people throughout this world profess to follow Him. (This is approximately one-third of the world's population.) Few have the luxury of being neutral about Jesus. No other human being has been so loved and so hated, so adored and so despised, so proclaimed and so opposed.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Take a Moment to Remember

At those times when you're feeling insecure, inept, and unsuccessful, when it seems as if every person you know is more successful and accomplished that you are, it's important to take a moment to remember that:

-Alexander the Great, who conquered the world before his thirtieth birthday, did not graduate from high school.

-Plato, considered by many to be the greatest philosopher in history, never read a single book.

-William Shakespeare, the greatest writer in history, did not know how to type.

-Christopher Columbus, the man who sailed across uncharted oceans in a tiny wooden sailing ship to discover America, never drove a car.

-John D. Rockefeller, once the richest man in the world, was never approved for a credit card.

-Knute Rockne, the legendary Notre Dame football coach, never won a single NCAA championship.

-Amadeus Mozart, perhaps the greatest composer in history, did not even own a radio.

-In his entire lifetime, not a single article about Leonardo da Vinci, one of the greatest scientists and artists in history, ever appeared in a major magazine.

-And Benjamin Franklin, the legendary statesman and inventor, never successfully programmed his own DVR.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Weekly Office

January 13 - Holly: "Today we're going to have a business ethics seminar recently, without mentioning any names, there has been some misconduct at corporate and we have a very strict ethics policy and that employee has been fired." Kevin: "Oh, come on. He's right there. He was hired. Ooh, check it out, hired guy!"

January 14 - "Okay, Dwight, let me explain something to you. I set the rules and you follow them blindly, okay? And if you have a problem with that, then you can talk to our complaint department. It's a trashcan." (Michael)

January 17 - "Oh, I went zip-lining my third day in Costa Rica. I guess the harness wasn't strapped in exactly right. I broke my neck. And I've been in the hospital five weeks now. Still haven't seen the beach." (Toby)

January 18 - "I happen to be losing weight on my own for my own reasons. The truth is, I have lost a little of my speed, a little of my fire. Here's what I used to look like. Look at those biceps. We were fighting the power and eating whatever we wanted." (Stanley)

January 19 - "When Michael told us that Jan was pregnant, he led us to believe that he was the father. By telling us that he was the father." (Jim)

January 20 - "People expect a lot from these meetings: laughter, sudden twists, surprise endings...You need to be Robin Williams and M. Night Shyamalan. You need to be 'Robin Shyamalan.'" (Michael)

January 21 - Ryan: "That's me and my friend Jasmine from Thailand." Pam: "I don't want to look at your friend Jasmine's boobs all day." Ryan: "You could be hot, too, if you made any effort at all."

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Three Different Structures

The members of the "Order of the Star of the East," who were led by a Hindu mystic named Krishnamurti, held a strange belief about the return of Jesus Christ to this earth. In fact, they believed so strongly that they built a 2,000 amphitheater in 1925 which cost more than $100,000, in anticipation of this event which was to happen. Their strange belief was that Jesus would return to the earth, and in particular to this part of India. He would come walking across the Pacific Ocean to be welcomed by the waiting crowd in the seaside amphitheater. They gathered regularly for the next four years in preparation. When He did not arrive by 1929, this group finally gave up all hope and dissolved.

The "All Saints Church" of Sedlac, located in the former nation of Czechoslovakia, was completely looted of all its decorations and fine ornaments in the year A.D. 1600. However, this congregation was not deterred nor discouraged. These worshipers set about re-decorating their house of worship with human bones. They exhumed nearly 10,000 graves for what must be the most macabre interior in all of Christendom. The highlights are a bony chandelier made up primarily of femurs and hundreds of skulls piled up in the shape of the "Schwarzenberk" family crest. It was all done in the name of Jesus Christ to honor some of His saints. In his well-known collection of books about travel, Fodor calls it a "ghastly fascination" and recommends that you should stop in to take a look.

The world's largest active salt mine is located in Zipaquira, Colombia. Contained as part of the mine, more than 800 feet deep into the mountainside is the unique "Salt Cathedral." A remarkable place of worship...magnificent, yet so earth-bound. The three main corridors have ceilings arching 73 feet high supported by columns of solid salt. It took about six years to excavate and seats up to 5,000 people. It must give a whole new meaning to the statement of Jesus that "you are the salt of the earth" (Matthew 5:13).

So, which ones of these stories is cool? And the flip-side of that coin, which one is utterly ridiculous?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Good Agent

Richard Langsam was once the most powerful agent in Hollywood. Representing superstar clients like Clint Eastwood, Barbra Streisand, and Jim Carrey, he could put a $50-million picture into production or end a career with a single phone call. Langsam's reputation as the ultimate take-no-prisoners negotiator had earned him the nickname Richie Nightmare, a sobriquet of which he was so proud he had it stenciled in gold leaf on his reserved parking spot. He was so powerful, it was said, that owners of restaurants so trendy that no one even knew existed actually made reservations at his house for dinner. Other agents looked to him with admiration for inspiration and followed his every more. If he took his car to a certain car wash, for example, that car wash immediately became the place in town to be seen, and every other agent, producer, director, and actor in Hollywood would soon be found lined up behind him.
But in 1991, Richard Langsam made a left turn into history. Coming out of a shopping center, he turned the wrong way into oncoming traffic. The result was a devastating accident. But his will to survive to deal again was so strong--doctors called it a miracle and the rights to his recovery story were purchased for a TV movie--that within six months he returned to work. But he returned a different man.
Although he proudly wore his scars--causing numerous young agents to visit tattoo parlors for facsimile scars--his brush with death had forced him to look his life squarely in the eye. And he did not like the reflection. And so Richard Langsam decided to change the world.
Within months he had founded The Two Percenters, an organization based on his belief that the top 2 percent of American businessmen could foster significant changes in society by working together to educate this nation's children and to provide assistance to people in need.
To support this program, Richard Langsam announced he would donate 2 percent of all profits earned by his giant talent agency and requested that all other agents in the motion picture and television community follow his example. "It is time," he said, "for those of us who have had the great fortune to be part of this wonderful entertainment industry to give back to the people who have made it possible."
Richard Langsam's unusual request did not go unnoticed. In 1992, in the annual vote by all agents for the prestigious Agent of the Year honors, Richard Langsam finished 14,782nd, directly behind the agent representing Bozo the Clown.

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Box & The Lovely Bones

More than any of my previous blogposts, this one has the potential to be completely random. And let me preface by saying that what I'm going to just utter forth on the lines below are all things that have been buzzing around in my mind for days now, and really I felt compelled to put them down on paper now as opposed to constructing separate blogposts for each one.

-What a clever film we find in THE BOX. You know how most of us have been programmed to watch TV or Movies, and regardless of the climate of the story, the conflict, or even the insurmountable odds of the characters, we always hold out that slight chance that in the very end there will be some redemption...some exemption...some get-out-of-jail-free-squeaky-clean-card...some loophole that circumvents negativity and sets things right in the universe...some Ace of Spade for the final trick.

Well, THE BOX doesn't exactly entertain that mirage. In fact, more than most films, it stays true to its form, not really allowing for the romantic rescue that we have become so sensitized in film today. The story actually reflects the principle of reaping and sowing, and that there are indeed inescapable consequences for our decisions. The writer/director of THE BOX, Richard Kelly, is no stranger to this idea of choices, intricate plot twists, and evolving realities. His brief resume includes Southland Tales and the cult-fav Donnie Darko.

All in all, THE BOX has some very tangible spiritual undertones...greed, love, sacrifice, contentment, victims, suffering, the afterlife, baptism, temptation...I would suggest that you only see it if you're ready to process some of those big life-items, no matter your place in the faith discussion. While it has a great cast, nice pacing, and even some humor for a period movie, it's not a daisies and roses story. Check it out if you dare!

Now, about this Peter Jackson flick, THE LOVELY BONES...well, it just wasn't so lovely to me. In fact, I found it to be quite a tease of a film. The book seemed to have a decent following before Jackson got the movie rolling, but from my vantage point, book sales have skyrocketed lately, particularly around the holidays. I have not read the book, but my wife has, and she really enjoyed it.

It was nice to see Saoirse Ronan (she also appeared in Atonement & City of Ember) not annoy me AS much in this was creepy how her voice narrations are the thread through the story, and it's very awkward when she keeps flirting with really going into the "wide heaven." I found this struggle a little weaksauce, despite her tragedy and love for her family. Wahlberg and Weisz were solid, Sarandon complimentary, but Stanley Tucci steals the movie. He's Dark and Demented (capital "D's"), and really made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up out of fear for my own kids. In fact, I didn't find the supernatural retribution the book and movie lay out for his demise gratifying at all...I suppose as a father I wanted some earthly justice, ya know?

All in all, it's a solid movie...would it ruin it for you if I mentioned that the author of the story, Alice Sebold, is a rape survivor from her college days @ Syracuse, who eventually single-handedly identified and testified against her attacker? While I celebrate HER story, it would be nice if her novels offered more of that kind of closure. THE LOVELY BONES was sort of Law and Order: SVU meets What Dreams May Come. Not too shabby, but not really sure of what it wants to be, ya know? Enjoy it if you must.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Weekly Office

January 1 - "My boss is sending me abroad to do a presentation to an international client and I have always been intrigued by all things international; the women, the pancakes, the man of mystery." (Michael)

January 6 - "Holly thinks that this relationship is over. Well, you know what? I am not going to give up that easy. I'm going to make this way harder than it needs to be." (Michael)

January 7 - "Oh, I don't think it's blackmail. Angela just does what I ask her to do, so I won't tell everyone that she's cheating on Andy with Dwight. I think for it to be blackmail it would have to be a formal letter." (Phyllis)

January 8 - "I learned a while back that if I don't text 'nine-one-one,' people will not return my calls. Um, but now people always return my calls because they think that something horrible has happened." (Michael)

January 10 - Pam: "You know, when Holly gets back, everyone will tell her what a great job you did. And then she'll realize what she's missing." Michael: "And then she'll move back to Scranton and her boyfriend will die." Pam: "Yeah, maybe. Maybe. One step at a time. You can do this."

January 11 - "At least once a year I like to bring in some of my Kevin's famous chili. The trick is to undercook the onions. Everybody is going to get to know each other in the pot. I'm serious about this stuff. I'm up the night before, pressing garlic and dicing whole tomatoes. I toast my own ancho chilies. It's a recipe passed down from Malones for generations. It's probably the thing I do best." (Kevin)

January 12 - "What did I tell you about building forts in my warehouse?" (Darryl)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Bono & the Psalms

The following is an introduction Bono wrote years ago for a little pocket-sized version of the Psalms in KJV language. It's quite revealing and a little quirky, and I hope you gobble it up just a tad.

Explaining belief has always been difficult. How do you explain a love and logic at the heart of the universe when the world is so out of kilter with this? Has free will got us crucified? And what about the dodgy characters who inhabit the tome known as the Bible, who hear the voice of God? Explaining faith is impossible: vision over visibility; instinct over intellect. A songwriter plays a chord with the faith that he will hear the next one in his head.

One of the writers of the psalms was a musician, a harp-player whose talents were required at "the palace" as the only medicine that would still the demons of the moody and insecure King Saul of Israel. It is a thought that still inspires: Marilyn sang for Kennedy, the Spice Girls for Prince Charles.

At the age of 12, I was a fan of David. He felt familiar, like a pop star could feel familiar. The words of the psalms were as poetic as they were religious, and he was a star. Before David could fulfil the prophecy and become the king of Israel, he had to take quite a beating. He was forced into exile and ended up in a cave in some no-name border town facing the collapse of his ego and abandonment by God. But this is where the soap opera got interesting. This is where David was said to have composed his first psalm -- a blues. That's what a lot of the psalms feel like to me, the blues. Man shouting at God -- "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Why art thou so far from helping me?" (Psalm 22).

I hear echoes of this holy row when un-holy bluesman Robert Johnson howls, "There's a hellhound on my trail" or Van Morrison sings, "Sometimes, I feel like a motherless child." Texas Alexander mimics the psalms in "Justice Blues": "I cried Lord my father, Lord kingdom come. Send me back my woman, then thy will be done." Humorous, sometimes blasphemous, the blues was backslidin' music but, by its very opposition, it flattered the subject of its perfect cousin, gospel.

Abandonment and displacement are the stuff of my favourite psalms. The Psalter may be a font of gospel music, but for me it's despair that the psalmist really reveals and the nature of his special relationship with God. Honesty, even to the point of anger. "How long, Lord? Wilt thou hide thyself forever?" (Psalm 89), or "Answer me when I call" (Psalm 5).

Psalms and hymns were my first taste of inspirational music. I liked the words, but I wasn't sure about the tunes -- with the exception of Psalm 23, "The Lord is my Shepherd." I remember them as droned and chanted rather than sung. But they prepared me for the honesty of John Lennon, the baroque language of Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen, the open throat of Al Green and Stevie Wonder. When I hear these singers, I am reconnected to a part of me I have no explanation for -- my "soul" I guess.

Words and music did for me what solid, even rigorous, religious argument could never do -- they introduced me to God, not belief in God, more an experiential sense of GOD. Over art, literature, girls, my mates, the way in to my spirit was a combination of words and music. As a result, the Book of Psalms always felt open to me and led me to the poetry of Ecclesiastes, the Song of Solomon, the book of John...My religion could not be fiction, but it had to transcend facts. It could be mystical, but not mythical.

My mother was Protestant, my father Catholic. Anywhere other than Ireland that would be unremarkable. The "Prods" at that time had the better tunes and the Catholics had the better stage-gear. My mate Gavin Friday used to say: "Roman Catholicism is the Glamrock of religion" with its candles and psychedelic colours -- cardinal blues, scarlets and purples -- smoke bombs of incense and the ring of the little bell. The Prods were better at the bigger bells, they could afford them. In Ireland, wealth and Protestantism went together. To have either was to have collaborated with the enemy -- that is, Britain. This did not fly in our house.

After going to Mass at the top of the hill, in Finglas on the north side of Dublin, my father waited outside the little Church of Ireland chapel at the bottom of the hill, where my mother had brought her two sons.

I kept myself awake thinking of the clergyman's daughter and let my eyes dive into the cinema of the stained glass. These Christian artists had invented the movies. Light projected through colour to tell their story. In the Seventies the story was "the Troubles," and the Troubles came through the stained glass, with rocks thrown more in mischief than in anger. But the message was the same: the country was to be divided along sectarian lines. I had a foot in both camps, so my Goliath became religion itself: I began to see religion as the perversion of faith. I began to see God everywhere else. In girls, fun, music, justice and still -- despite the lofty King James translation -- the Scriptures.

I loved these stories for the basest reasons. These were action movies, with some hardcore men and women, the car chases, the casualties, the blood and guts. There was very little kissing.

David was a star, the Elvis of the Bible, if we can believe the chiselling of Michelangelo. And unusually for such a "rock star," with his lust for power, lust for women, lust for life, he had the humility of one who knew his gift worked harder than he ever would. He even danced naked in front of his troops -- the biblical equivalent of the royal walkabout. David was definitely more performance artist than politician.

Anyway, I stopped going to churches and got into a different kind of religion. Don't laugh. That's what being in a rock 'n' roll band is. Showbiz is shamanism, music is worship. Whether it's worship of women or their designer, the world or its destroyer, whether it comes from that ancient place we call soul or simply the spinal cortex, whether the prayers are on fire with a dumb rage or dove-like desire, the smoke goes upwards, to God or something you replace God with -- usually yourself.

Years ago, lost for words and with 40 minutes of recording time left before the end of our studio time, we were still looking for a song to close our third album, War. We wanted to put something explicitly spiritual on the record to balance the politics and romance of it; like Bob Marley or Marvin Gaye would. We thought about the psalms -- Psalm 40. There was some squirming. We were a very "white" rock group, and such plundering of the scriptures was taboo for a white rock group unless it was in the "service of Satan." Psalm 40 is interesting in that it suggests a time in which grace will replace karma, and love will replace the very strict laws of Moses (in other words, fulfil them). I love that thought. David, who committed some of the most selfish as well as selfless acts, was depending on it. That the scriptures are brim full of hustlers, murderers, cowards, adulterers and mercenaries used to shock me. Now it is a source of great comfort.

"40" became the closing song at U2 shows, and on hundreds of occasions, literally hundreds of thousands of people of every size and shape of T-shirt have shouted back the refrain, pinched from Psalm 6: "How long (to sing this song)." I had thought of it as a nagging question, pulling at the hem of an invisible deity whose presence we glimpse only when we act in love. How long hunger? How long hatred? How long until creation grows up and the chaos of its precocious, hell-bent adolescence has been discarded? I thought it odd that the vocalising of such questions could bring such comfort -- to me, too.

But to get back to David, it is not clear how many of these psalms David or his son Solomon really wrote. Some scholars suggest that the royals never dampened their nibs and that there was a host of Holy Ghost writers. Who cares? I didn't buy Leiber and Stoller -- they were just his songwriters. I bought Elvis.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Richard Soll's Incredible List

In 1975, Five-Year-Old Richard Soll received an assignment from his kindergarten teacher. With the help of a parent, he was to write down ten goals he hoped to accomplish by his twenty-first birthday.
Young Rich Soll was determined to compile his list all by himself. Printing neatly, in pencil, and carefully checking the spelling of words he did not know in the new dictionary given to him by his grandmother, he painstakingly competed this list.
Twenty-two years later, while going through his personal papers, Dr. Richard Soll came across this kindergarten assignment. He smiled broadly. Though he had completely forgotten about the list, he was amazed to discover that he had accomplished each of the ten goals he had set for himself so long ago.
Reprinted here with the doctor's permission is five-year-old Richard's list:

1. Stay up until 10P.M.
2. Sleep with all the lights out in my room.
3. Learn to ride a two-wheeler without training wheels.
4. Don't go to school.
5. Stay home without a baby-sitter.
6. Watch any TV show I want to watch.
7. Save $25.
8. Drive a real car.
9. Don't be afraid to look under my bed.
10. Eat ten pieces of gum at the same time.

Monday, January 25, 2010

American Idol Revealed

With the new Season underway (#9, I believe, and the supposed last hurrah for Simon), I wanted to share something that my sweet wife Carly sent my way which filled in some burning questions for us.

You see, I'm sitting there in front of the TV wondering how in the world the stadium and arena crowds shrink from 12,000+ to 15-25 per city with the gold tickets. It just seemed like there's not enough time, man power, etc. SO, here's a very fascinating article which really clears up some of the myths and truths of the auditioning process, leading all the way up to Randy Jackson's, "Welcome to Hollywood, baby!" Enjoy!


Thursday, January 21, 2010

My posts in 2010

First off, I want to say many thanks to any of you out there who read my silly musings, and especially if you weigh in with comments, opinions, and perspectives. Now, for a great period of 2009, perhaps you noticed I was in rotation with my posts between some distinctive, hilarious quotes from my NBC's The Office Desk Calendar, and David Fisher's Chicken Poop for the Soul. So, many of the short stories that several of you might have assumed were true, or even created by yours truly were nothing more than parodies and straight up non-sense. But they were fun, right?

Well, here's where we headed with the blog in 2010, and certainly I plan on staying as true to this as I can. Here we go:

Culture and Entertainment: This includes my personal Movie Reviews/Recap, Book Insights/Updates, ETC.

Parodies and Satirical Nonsense: This includes more excerpts from Chicken Poop, as well as new posts from Fractured Fairy Tales by A.J. Jacobs

Bartee Personal Musings: This includes reflections on Jesus, faith perspectives, and spiritual stuff.

The Office: Yes, I was blessed again to receive a treasured desk calendar once again, and thus I'll be posting hilarious quotes to get your funny bone ready for the evening viewing.

Day Off: I try and reserve this day for my family, but I suppose that if I miss a particular posting day, then this would serve as the day to stay current.

So, how's this look to everybody? Thanks, and quite frankly I'm pledging to stay as aggressive with this as I will playing with my kids, finishing my reading lists, and honoring my Creator in prayer...all MAJOR focuses of this next year.

Monday, January 18, 2010

A LOST Sandwhich

*With the final season of one of the most compelling TV epics fast approaching, allow me the opportunity to wet your appetite with some theme-related humor. Kudos to my brother Payton for sending me this link the other day. Enjoy!

How To Make a Sandwich on the Island:

1. Gather ingredients
2. Point gun at ingredients and shout “HOW DO I MAKE A SANDWICH OUT OF YOU?!?!?”
3. Breathe heavily through your nose as though you were about to hit ingredients
4. Give up and make the sandwich yourself, and eat it bitterly

1. Make separate sandwiches, one with peanut butter and one with jelly
2. Take a bite of the peanut butter sandwich, declaring it the best
3. Take a bite of the jelly sandwich, declaring it the best
4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 ad infinitum
5. Follow peanut butter or jelly sandwich into grave danger

1. Throw the jar of jelly at wall, sneering “I don’t need no sandwich”
2. Call the mascot on the jar of peanut butter lots of clever nicknames
3. Huff and puff and stomp around and grumble a lot
4. When no one’s looking, make perfect, even, symmetrical peanut butter and jelly sandwich and sit in a corner, enjoying every bite

1. Sit idly by, believing that the ingredients will find a way to make a sandwich out of themselves
2. Lose faith and make the sandwich anyway
3. Realize that you were the instrument by which the ingredients chose to make a sandwich after all
4. Run around the room and grab everyone’s knives, insisting that their sandwiches will do the same in time

1. Make sandwich
2. Eat sandwich
3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 ad infinitum

1. Procure 23 milligrams of uranium-20
2. Set hadron supercollider to eight megajoules
3. Program a sandwich-making macro using Cobol or Visual Basic
4. Act all tough-like

1. Eat sandwich
2. Call the sandwich “brother”
3. Place peanut butter slice over jelly slice
4. Spread jelly on the other slice
5. Spread peanut butter on one slice
6. Take two slices of bread, a jar of peanut butter and a jar of jelly

1. Steal someone else’s sandwich
2. Claim you coerced them into making the sandwich for you all along
3. Say you’ll tell them everything if they make you another sandwich
4. Stare at them all creepy-like

1. Lay out plans for one of the most intricate, fascinating, and delicious sandwiches of all time
2. Just as you start making it, get shot

1. Apply peanut butter
2. Disappear for eight months
3. Apply jelly
4. Disappear for eight months
5. Eat sandwich

1. Mmmmmmm, peanut butter

Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse
1. Make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich
2. Have someone take a bite, then tell them it’s a baloney sandwich
3. Make up a whole bunch of other kaka, then say you had planned it all along
4. Buy a few yachts

Thursday, January 14, 2010

My Favorite 50

Well friends, I'm slow as usual with this, but I wanted to spark some discussion via the cinematic realm by releasing MY TOP FILMS OF THE DECADE. Now, there's a total of 50 movies, and certainly I can't include all films, much less the ones that are critically acclaimed and revered by many of you. But, I'm more than happy with this list, and can honestly give solid reasons why I feel each movie has a significant impact on my life (entertaining, perspective, laughter, etc.). I hope all that makes sense.

The movies are grouped together by year, and in order of my preference. I have no way to exhaust and rank them completely, and you'll notice that some years are stronger than others. So, take 90 seconds and scan this list, and may 2010 bring you many happy movie watching experiences!

2000 (4)
-Meet the Parents
-O Brother, Where art Thou?
-Almost Famous

2001 (6)
-Ocean's 11
-Monster's Inc.
-Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
-Moulin Rouge
-Spy Game
-A Beautiful Mind

2002 (7)
-About a Boy
-Minority Report
-Catch Me if You Can
-We Were Soldiers
-Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
-Bowling for Columbine

2003 (5)
-Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
-Finding Nemo
-Open Range
-Old School
-The Last Samurai

2004 (6)
-The Incredibles
-The Passion of the Christ
-The Village
-Supersize Me
-The Polar Express

2005 (4)
-Wedding Crashers
-Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe
-Cinderella Man

2006 (3)
-The Prestige
-Children of Men

2007 (3)
-I am Legend
-Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

2008 (8)
-Gran Torino
-The Dark Knight
-Kung Fu Panda
-Horton Hears a Who

2009 (4)
-Star Trek
-District 9