What I want you to know. Which is everything.

Monday, October 31, 2005

A Photo for Little Reason

I thought it was about dang time to post a picture of Amanda and meself. This is us on our 3rd anniversary going to see the musical Wicked in New York City. I've mentioned this before. She is going to see it without me tomorrow with one of her friends. I will get a movie, I guess. Recomendations? Remember, I'm very picky. Nothing pretentious, weird is okay, as long as the filmaker knows he's being weird and knows that we know it. Funny is usually better, but not without heart and a dark, morbid undertone. I've seen most movies that fall into this category, so if you know something obscure, feel free...

We started rehearsals for Grease today. I like the cast the way it is. I hope it doesn't change (i.e. get bigger) Can I please just direct plays after school and not teach classes?

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Walken Into a Mess

The way your dad looked at it, this watch was your birthright. He'd be damned if any of the slopes were gonna get their greasy yellow hands on his boy's birthright. So he hid it in the one place he knew he could hide something: his ass. Five long years, he wore this watch up his ass. Then when he died of dysentery, he gave me the watch. I hid this uncomfortable piece of metal up my ass for two years. Then, after seven years, I was sent home to my family. And now, little man, I give the watch to you.

This brilliantly funny monologue from the movie Pulp Fiction was delivered deadpan with all the sincerity in the world by, one of the finest and most loved character actors of all time. He has frightened us in more than one movie, made us cry in a couple more and made us laugh plenty of times. A man known for his evil, nasty characters, those close to Walken know him as a very gentle, friendly man with a brilliant mind and thirst for life.

I believe that it is this attitude and reputation as a well liked, respected human being aside from his acting abilities that has lead to the emergence of Walken 2008, Christopher Walken's bid for the Presidency.

When it comes to actors turn politicians, or actors turn anything, for that matter, I often have a hard time accepting them as sincere and not just trying to bring more attention onto themselves. After all, actors have this inherent desire to be loved and admired and be in the spotlight and politics garner that type of attention in a very similar way as acting does. You would think that as an actor myself I would be more willing to give actors the benefit, but I think it just means that I have even more reason to be skeptical.

But, Walken is different. He's not just any celebrity, trying to hog the headlines. On the contrary, Walken is of the rare breed that shuns the spotlight, but craves the joy and challenge of a heady, complex character study. Walken is an artist, not a celebrity. So, when I saw this site I decided to give Mr. Walken a chance.

It turns out that the platform claims could have come directly from my lips if I had ever been able to verbalize the feelings I had on the issues plaguing our country right now. He seemed quite moderately liberal and gave good well thought out reasoning following each stance. I thought that I may have my candidate for the next presidential election, an election that is sure to produce some interesting, albeit frighteningly inept and snarky candidates. I've not been looking forward to the new crop of political saviors and so Walken seemed like a breath of fresh air.

Unfortunately, as you've probably already figured out, it's all a hoax.

But, man, our own liberal version of a well liked celebrity. Someone who people will really get behind and support, not for all the good reasons, but for the superficial ones, too. You know, the kind that really win elections. Bill Clinton, minus the sex scandals, Al Gore plus Dubyas strange likability. (Which would mean that I wouldn't like him, which would be okay if he was as qualified to lead the country as Gore was. The point is the general population would like him and so he'd win.)

I'm looking for a cross between Jimmy Carter's heart, Al Gore's brain, George W. Bush's balls, and Clinton's sheer animal magnetism. And throw some of that Reagan charm in there for good measure and you've got yourself a president to lead us into the millennium, baby!

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Honor, Part 2: Did the Greeks Capitalize Pronouns for Their Gods?

I've always been perplexed by why people capitalize "him" and "he" and "his" when speaking of God. I've never understood it and furthermore I've never seen it written anywhere that this is a rule to be followed. Surely, God is greater than English rules of punctuation but since when does he care? He knows he's great and could change grammar rules at a moment's notice, but is it really necessary to take it upon ourselves to do that. The truth is that we honor God for ourselves and for others. On a very cynical plane we honor God to show everyone else, "Hey, look how much love I have in my heart for God." Or in my case it's always been, "Oh, gees! I better take off my hat, and stand during this prayer or people are going to ask why I don't love God."

And then my mom informed me that "gees" is short for "Jesus" and that I shouldn't use it in vain either. Of course, every psuedo explative and alternate cuss word is a dirivative of "God" or "Jesus" or some refference to them. You really can't swear without offending God; or rather offending God's followers. Take a look.

Gosh: God

Darn: damn

Gees: Jesus

Gees-Louise: Jesus-Louise

(Here's my favorite because my dad would always say this) Dad-gummit: Switch the first letters of each word, you get Gad-Dummit, which sounds an awful lot like a hillbilly with a speach inpediment making the most cardinal of swears. Somebody got really creative in order to swear.

When I was a kid people would say that when you said "gosh" you were really saying "God" and so it was still bad because, "It's what's in your heart that counts." On the one hand, it doesn't really matter because I don't think anyone who uses the word "God" as an explative is feeling any ill will toward God in their heart or otherwise. But on the other hand that little saying is right on the money. God sees our hearts, not whats on our lips.

The Bible says much about honor. I would like to know how the word "honor" is directly translated into the Greek, or Hebrew, or whatever. In the Old Testement, God obviously goes far with showing him outward honor, smiting everything that betrays him. But in the New Testement we are shown an example of how he is much more concerned with honor for our own sake. "Honor your father and mother." Makes sense. They have feelings. Show them you love them. "Honor your body." Yeah, sure, don't kill yourself with alcohol or getting a disease from a skanky woman. I got it. But, throughout the Bible, especially in the NT we see that this honor thing isn't for God, but for us. We, or at least most people, either need to honor others in order to equate love to a more tangible element, or need to be shown honor to feel loved.

So in conclusion, I'm not saying that everyone should stop showing honor God, and certainly not to each other. What I'm saying is that we have a tendency sometimes to focus on the outward expression when what is on the inside is really what matters. I don't think God derives love from physical acts of what we consider honor. I think that he sees what's really in our hearts at all times and regardless of what we do, he will know if it is genuine or superficial. At the same time, those who may go against the grain and ruffle feathers because they may not adhere to the same code of honor that most of us do, should not be judged based solely on our standards. I think this applies to people who have been raised in our culture as well as other cultures. People come to God and honor, or should I say, love God in many different ways. I don't think that one is better or worse than the others. I can't say, "Don't do that because it doesn't honor God." The response to that is, "Do you think God cares? I love God and he knows it, why do I care if you can see it or not." There's obviously a lot of reasons that someone could give as to why you shoud honor God for people, not for him. But this is why Jesus said that we don't judge the hearts of others. We don't have that capability like God does. Even if you consider yourself a good judge of character no one can read hearts or minds like God and so we should show love before judgement on every occasion.

Honor, Part 1: Our Ego is Stupid

I've always heard that we should honor God. That it is sinful, even, to dishonor him by using his name in vain or not taking your hat off in a prayer or doing one of these outward signs of respect that actually stem from ways of honoring those in our own society. Basically, we have tried to make God into, not only a human, but an American human that derives worth and honor from the same petty things that we do.

We feel honor as people when others tell us we did a good job, or we win an award, or if someone asks our opinion of something. Our egos and self-images are entirely based on how we are honored by other people. In this sense, honor is a completely outward and superficial idea. It's not even a real emotion, it's accolades, trophies, and "at-a-boys!" A dictator or king who rules absolutely needs the kind of shows of honor like saluting or even bowing so that their honor is reinforced. The people who serve him or her show that they honor the ruler by completely submitting to their will. Because humans generally equate this type of honor with a deity, the human ruler's ego is so stroked he or she might begin to think of him or herself as as close to a "god" as one can get.

My point is that honor is a concept that is of this world, that human beings have developed in order to show outwardly that one is revered or even loved. So, I have to wonder, does God really care about being honored?

I don't think so. I think God wants to loved which is much more difficult emotion to muster. Anybody can take off their hat during a prayer or refrain from using the Lord's name in vain. Anyone can go to church, sit in a pew and even turn off a television show that they deem "ungodly." These are all acts of honor to God, but they are outward acts. These acts may be associated with the condition of one's heart. A person may only be honoring God because they've been taught that if they love God, they will do these certain things in order to honor him, outwardly. Is God impressed? I suppose that if you actually believe that the two are linked then God may be appreciative of your gesture, but in the end, I gotta think that he doesn't care about that. He cares about the love that you have for him.

Tomorrow: Honor, Part 2: Did the Greeks Capitalize Pronouns for Their Gods?

Thursday, October 20, 2005

The Earlies

My brother-in-law, or rather my wife's brother-in-law... My sister-in-law's husband, (and good friend, btw) Brandon Carr is in a band called The Earlies They are big overseas, and I'm not saying that in a "Oh, but we're HUUGE in Japan" kind of way. They really are a well known group that has received some incredible reviews by some of the U.K.'s nation music publications. I was even amazed the first time I was able to find them on iTunes.

Anyway, they were just written up in an article from The Dallas Observer, a local arts mag in Dallas, because they are releasing their first album, These Were the Earlies in the U.S., finally. I won't bore you with their story since you can read it at the link provided in this paragraph, but I will tell you that the music they make is very good. It's artsy, but not unmanageable, edgy, but not raucous, beautiful, but not cheesy, and relatable, but not obnoxious. I would even go as far to say that certain tracks could be radio hits. Maybe not on today's homogeneous, corporation dominated radio waves, but perhaps when (if?) that pendulum ever swings back the other way. But even if they aren't the "next pop prophet" they certainly have a grand amount of potential and momentum behind them with top billing at various music festivals, including South By Southwest, enough to make them an underground college radio sensation, which would probably suit them just fine based on what I know about Brandon's taste and snobbery when it comes to music (I mean that in a good way).

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Thank You!

Sometimes... Okay, every year between the months of April and October, I ask myself over and over, "Will this be the year? Will this be the year?"

Well, gosh-darnit! This is that year! It is about time, I'm telling you!

Thank you, boys, now let's go to Chicago and do it again. They're all saying you can't do it again, which of course means that you will.

I guess I like Pujols again. I've actually forgotten what I had against him in the first place.

World Series, Baby! Here we go!

Monday, October 17, 2005

I think I hate Albert Pujols...

I know it's wrong, but I can't help it.


There is a movie out right now called Waiting about waiters getting even with rude and annoying customers that frequently demand too much of waiters and fail to tip properly. I haven't seen the movie, but a lesser known movie with a similar premise came out a few years ago. I waited tables for a year before I became a school teacher, and I actually liked it a lot. I've even thought about waiting tables during my summers or other off time. With that said, I completely relate to the woes of a waiter making $2.13 and having to depend tips, which is basically a gamble.

As a waiter the rude or overly sensitive customers got on my nerves, but after I got better as a waiter and I made less mistakes those issues became less frequent. They still happened but fewer and farther between than before. I think waiting tables is definitely a job that requires a lot of patience and people skills, and much like teaching, takes a while to get good at.

There were However two moments as a waiter that could have gotten me fired had it not been that my wife was a hostess and kept me from doing anything.

The first instance that sticks out was a couple who were nice enough throughout the dinner, the guy was kind of a jerk, they paid in a large bill and I gave them change. They left me a two dollar tip on a $30 check. On one of the dollar bills, face up was was written in large crayon (it was Macaroni Grill, lots of crayons) were the words "F*@K OFF!" I'm not usually overly sensitive, but this came out of nowhere and really bothered me, even besides the horrible tip. It's sad what some people feel they can get away with just because you won't be seen again.

The other table that stands out was a large table of rednecks who were drinking and having a good time. Now, I grew up in Texas and so Rednecks don't bother me, or rather I can deal with them. These people seemed alright until I carded one of them when he ordered a beer. It turns out he was under age and they asked if I would just serve him because everyone else was drinking and he wouldn't be paying for it. I said that I was sorry, but no. Well, they proceeded to order drinks for the kid from the bar and then bring it over. I decided not to make an issue, if they wanted to risk breaking the law, I'd covered my butt. But, after that things got worse, complaining about everything from a small water spot on a fork to not liking their lasagna. Finally, when the temperamental pantry chef took forever to make their deserts they got mad and ended up tipping me $3 on a $180 check. Did I mention they had been taking up my entire section for over 2 hours. My lovely wife kept me from storming out into the parking lot and getting my self fired, or possibly killed (This is Texas, and in Texas, people carry guns...Legally.)

Sunday, October 16, 2005

What Is Wrong With 1997?

I'm a sucker for a list, especially with music being involved. Got this from Deana Nall:

1. Go to musicoutfitters.com and, in the search box provided, enter the year you graduated high school. For me, that would be 1997.
2. From the search results, click the link for the top 100 songs of that year.
3. With the resulting list:

1. Bold the songs you like
2. Italicize the ones you hate
3. Underline your favorites
4. Ignore the ones you don't remember/don't care about.

Top 100 Hits of 1997

1. Candle In The Wind 1997, Elton John
2. Foolish Games / You Were Meant For Me, Jewel
3. I'll Be Missing You, Puff Daddy and Faith Evans
4. Un-Break My Heart, Toni Braxton
5. Can't Nobody Hold Me Down, Puff Daddy
6. I Believe I Can Fly, R. Kelly
7. Don't Let Go (Love), En Vogue
8. Return Of The Mack, Mark Morrison
9. How Do I Live, LeAnn Rimes
10. Wannabe, Spice Girls
11. Quit Playing Games (With My Heart), Backstreet Boys
12. MMMBop, Hanson
13. For You I Will, Monica
14. You Make Me Wanna..., Usher
15. Bitch, Meredith Brooks
16. Nobody Keith Sweat
17. Semi-Charmed Life, Third Eye Blind
18. Barely Breathing, Duncan Sheik
19. Hard To Say I'm Sorry, Az Yet Featuring Peter Cetera
20. Mo Money Mo Problems, Notorious B.I.G.
21. The Freshmen, Verve Pipe
22. I Want You, Savage Garden
23. No Diggity, BLACKstreet Featuring Dr. Dre
24. I Belong To You (Every Time I See Your Face), Rome
25. Hypnotize, Notorious B.I.G.
26. Every Time I Close My Eyes, Babyface
27. In My Bed, Dru Hill
28. Say You'll Be There, Spice Girls
29. Do You Know (What It Takes), Robyn
30. 4 Seasons Of Loneliness, Boyz II Men
31. G.H.E.T.T.O.U.T., Changing Faces
32. Honey, Mariah Carey
33. I Believe In You And Me, Whitney Houston
34. Da' Dip, Freaknasty
35. 2 Become 1, Spice Girls
36. All For You, Sister Hazel
37. Cupid, 112
38. Where Have All The Cowboys Gone?, Paula Cole
39. Sunny Came Home, Shawn Colvin
40. It's Your Love, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill
41. Ooh Aah... Just A Little Bit, Gina G
42. Mouth, Merril Bainbridge
43. All Cried Out, Allure Featuring 112
44. I'm Still In Love With You, New Edition
45. Invisible Man, 98 Degrees
46. Not Tonight, Lil' Kim
47. Look Into My Eyes, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony I don't really remember this song, but these guys were pretty cool
48. Get It Together, 702
49. All By Myself, Celine Dion
50. It's All Coming Back To Me Now, Celine Dion
51. My Love Is The Shhh!, Somethin' For The People
52. Where Do You Go, No Mercy
53. I Finally Found Someon, Barbra Streisand and Bryan Adams
54. I'll Be, Foxy Brown Featuring Jay-Z
55. If It Makes You Happy , Sheryl Crow
56. Never Make A Promise, Dru Hill
57. When You Love A Woman, Journey
58. Up Jumps Da Boogie, Magoo And Timbaland
59. I Don't Want To / I Love Me Some Him, Toni Braxton
60. Everyday Is A Winding Road, Sheryl Crow
61. Cold Rock A Party, Mc Lyte
62. Pony, Ginuwine
63. Building A Mystery, Sarah McLachlan
64. I Love You Always Forever, Donna Lewis
65. Your Woman, White Town
66. C U When U Get There, Coolio
67. Change The World, Eric Clapton
68. My Baby Daddy, B-Rock and The Bizz
69. Tubthumping, Chumbawamba The first time I heard this I liked it but predicted that I would hate it within a week. I was right, but now I like it again. It's like candy. Not too much.
70. Gotham City, R. Kelly
71. Last Night, Az Yet
72. ESPN Presents The Jock Jam, Various Artists
73. Big Daddy, Heavy D
74. What About Us, Total
75. Smile, Scarface
76. What's On Tonight, Montell Jordan
77. Secret Garden, Bruce Springsteen
78. The One I Gave My Heart, w Aaliyah
79. Fly Like An Eagle, Seal
80. No Time, Lil' Kim
81. Naked Eye, Luscious Jackson
82. Macarena (Bayside Boys Mix), Los Del Rio Absolute worst song ever. I hate this song with all my being.
83. On and On, Erykah Badu
84. Don't Wanna Be A Player, Joe
85. I Shot The Sheriff, Warren G
86. You Should Be Mine (Don't Waste Your Time), Brian McKnight Featuring Mase
87. Don't Cry For Me Argentina, Madonna Like the song, okay, but that remix pissed me off.
88. Someone, SWV
89. Go The Distance, Michael Bolton
90. One More Time, Real McCoy
91. Butta Love, Next
92. Coco Jamboo, Mr. President
93. Twisted, Keith Sweat
94. Barbie Girl, Aqua
95. When You're Gone / Free To Decide, Cranberries
96. Let Me Clear My Throat, DJ Kool
97. I Like It, Blackout Allstars
98. You're Makin' Me High / Let It Flow, Toni Braxton
99. You Must Love Me, Madonna
100. Let It Go, Ray J

*After reviewing this list I am utterly disappointed in my graduating class, or at least the songs from that class. I actually knew more of the songs from the 1989 list. And of the one's I did know I barely liked any of them, and even those weren't my favorites. Very disappointing. I think the problem was that this is the first year that the teeny-bopper crap came back into style and I largely ignored it, if not completely dispised it. Sooner or later I gave up on pop music for good. Look for my own list soon.*

Thursday, October 13, 2005

More Math

No implications, just take it at face value

Fill in the blank with "<", ">" or "="

1. Good Hitting+Good Pitching _____ Decent Hitting+Great Pitching

2. Home Field Advantage _____ An overall (slightly) better ballclub

3. Best record in Baseball ______ Best record in second half of season

What is the formula for a World Championship team?

Monday, October 10, 2005

The Greatest Game Ever Played

While I am always a little remiss to post twice in a day, muchless the same hour, I cannot let this go.

Yesterday was, regardless of what happens in the next few weeks, the greatest moment in baseball history as far as I'm concerned. This six hour monstrosity that was the longest game in baseball postseason history was destined to be our undoing or our greatest moment ever. I figure if the Astros hadn't been able to pull this one out after coming from behind they had no chance of winning a game 5. Even with Pettitte on the mound (I just glanced up at my Andy Pettitte autographed baseball to check my spelling) I don't think there is any way we could have recovered. But, oh, I need not worry about that, my friend. Yesterday was amazing. I need not worry because thanks to Clemens, Burke, Ausmus, Berkman, and the rest the Astros pulled it out to win this amazingly long, tedious, painful, and glorious contest.

I won't bore you with the details of the game. If you don't know them already, my brother gives a pretty good account. I think the interesting part lies within the story that every Astros fan has with regard to this game. Where were they when the Astros beat the Braves in the 2005 NL Division Series. Like every Rita evacuation story, Houstonians are going to long be able to account for their every move and thought over this 6 hour marathon. If you are like my brother and I you may be able to recount multiple places. Or, like my uncle, Steve, perhaps the first quarter of the game was simply too painful and you had to go do something else to get your mind off of it, only to realize later that the boys had come through and you were left to hang your head in shame for giving up so soon.

My tale isn't that of a traveling family man or shamed gardener. Mine is more akin to that of the Hobbit Frodo in Lord of the Rings, or the Knights of King Arthur's Court in search of the Holy Grail. Yes, my tale begins simply enough, but alas, comes to light in victory and heroics and romance. Ah, yes...romance. Baseball, my friends, is not just any game.

The journey began as my friends Eric and Paula and Amanda and I were trying to decide where to eat lunch. They were here visiting from the far away land of "Toronto" and we wanted to watch the game. Eric, a native of these lands, was a championeer of the Houston ballclub. In fact, Eric pays for internet TV in Canada just to watch the Astros. He is a true soldier, I can tell you that. So we decide on this little local restaurant called Baytown Seafood and are delighted to find out that it indeed has two TVs, one on either side of the room. That way we can all watch the game and talk to each other face to face at the same time. Eye contact had to be sacrificed, but in a battle like this one, something had to give.

By the end of lunch it wasn't looking good. On the way home things became worse. Finally, one run, but it was match by a Braves run. It looked like this adventure would extend to yet another day. The longer I sat waiting for the Astros to make their move the more futile it became. I had some errands to run, so I opted for the inferior car radio. The entire drive to my destination was riddled with peril and challenges. I was pulling a very heavy bar-b-que pit and having to carefully maneuver through potholes and curves and crappy drivers and pygmies. At least I think they were pygmies. But it was perilous, nonetheless. The radio of silenced Astro fans was simply background noise. It was the same scoreless inning after scoreless inning. A voice inside my head thought, "I wonder if there have ever been two grand slams in one game. If we could just get another grand slam." Then another voice in my head thought back, "Way to go, dillhole, now that you thought of it it'll never happen. Never!" So my other voice though, "Nuh-uh. Remember back in May when Jason Lane hit that slam to come from behind and win that game. You had predicted it then." So my other voice said back, "That was a once in a lifetime fluke. It'll never happen again."

"Settle down, boys!" I said out loud informs of my friend's dad who had loaned me the pit. "See you." I blushed.

Back in the car, to my surprise, "Two grand slams in one game. This is a record for post season play. There has never been two grand slams in a single post-season game."

Two grand slams?! Who did it? Who hit the other one?

Oh, my heart was racing. Had I predicted yet another grand slam?

"First LaRoche and now Berkman with his first post-season slam..."

They did it! I couldn't believe it! This was awesome. We were back in. I was at a self carwash, washing out some coolers that had stored greasy briskets and the guy next to me must have heard me freak out when Ausmus tied it because he came around the corner and asked, "What happened?"

I finally made it back home to watch the rest of the game on television. The next three hours were difficult, to say the least. Imagine being in a waiting room at a hospital not knowing whether or not your new baby is going to be a healthy baby boy or something else that is bad. Like a troll, or a warlock, or something. (I got weird just now because the only other funny things I could think of were highly offensive, and I'm trying something out called "sensitivity to the audience.") So I waited and waited and inning after disappointing inning I paced in my sterile waiting room, checking back every so often to ask, "Is it done yet?" It got to where I couldn't watch. I took breaks while Atlanta was at bat, listening from another room. While I would never miss the victorious triumph of the Good Guys, I couldn't have handled it if the strong side of the bat lay on the third base side.

Finally, it happened. The inevitable. This was the only way the game could have possibly ended. Clemens after basically pitching the second game of a double header as masterfully as we would expect, stepped up to the plate. As much a position player now as any man sitting on the bench (or rather, leaning up on the rail). I thought for sure he was about to hit his first career post season long ball. Those massive whiffs would have taken a basketball yard if contact had been made. I wasn't the only one who thought the Rocket was going to bag this one. Garner, himself, said later that he really thought Roger was going to hit a homer. It didn't fall that way and now an unlikely candidate approached to take a crack at glory. The rest doesn't have to be recounted again.

But I will anyway. Chris Burke lived the dream of every boy who ever put on a pair cleats and knocked the dirt off his shoes before approaching that strange looking pentagon. Burke was the envy of every inner-child from California to Tokyo who had been told to choke up and wait for a good one. Burke got a great one and this young man took his shot, swung the bat and simply had to let his intuition, everything that he'd been training for take control. As he rounded the bases there was a stoic look of duty on his face, as if the task had been an honorable, yet humble task that would have been done by the next guy if he hadn't been able to do it. Turning second the weight of such a swing could be seen melting on the 25 year old's face. On the final stretch his composure was no longer need, as if it ever was. Burke could no longer contain the elation that boiled over all the more with every bag that he stomped. Coming down the stretch he laughed with glee as he was engulfed in the already celebrating mass of red and gold and black uniforms, jumping and hugging and laughing and back slapping and high fiving. These men had been tired and now they exuded more energy than a ADHD kid without his Ritalin.

I celebrated right along with them. Amanda was afraid people across the hall would think people were dying. I told her that they would understand and I picked her up. She caught the bug from me and jumped into my arms, screaming and hollering right along with me. She would tell you that she was happy for me. That her exuberant behavior was simply out of joy for my sake. If that simple gesture doesn't make the woman wonderful enough, I actually think she is using that as a front to mask her ever-growing and undying love for the 'Stros, herself.

It was almost as if they were destined to win this game and it was only a matter of time. I really can't even imagine this game ending any different. This was how it had to be. This was destiny, drama. Yesterday was a prime example of what I love so much about the game of baseball. Patience. Art. Determination. Character. Love. Astros.

Brisket Math

Number of hours it takes to smoke 46 briskets: 12

Number of days it takes to prepare for said brisket smoking: 2

Number of people you will piss off my following my Brisket Smoking Plan: 4-6

Number of people it takes to tell you that said Brisket Smoking Plan is ineffective: 0

Number of people who will tell you anyway: 4-6

Number of happy customers eating delicious brisket: 45 (apparently one was a little to done)

Number of times I let out a barbaric yalp in my car on Friday to relieve stress: 4

Number of high school students who will show up for a lock-in: 19

Number of high school students I expected to show up: Like, 10, max

Number of high school students it takes to rub down 46 briskets in 10 minutes: 19

Number of packages of rub bought for 46 briskets: 15

Number of packages of rub actually used: 10

If all these numbers are added together (assuming "4-6"=6) and divided by the number of stats shown the final number is 12.3333333333333333, etc.

So based on this year's calculations I will die of a brain aneurysm if I try to make any sense out of all this crap.

*Go to the website to check out how the set for A Midsummer Night's Dream turned out*

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Seven Questions

I wasn't tagged, but I want to do this. I might tag other people. I don't know. I feel like I've been doing too many of these lately, but I've been busy and these are generally pretty mindless.

7 answers to 7 questions

7 things I plan to do before I die:
Have a child, or two.
Write and direct a film
Form a Rock Band when I get tired of theatre and play in smoky bars
Backpack across Europe with Amanda
Go to a third world country where I can help starving people first hand.
Grow into a goofy, but cute old man that is active and fun and everybody in town knows and says hi to.

7 things I can do:

Play guitar
Hold my foot while standing on the othe foot and jump through the foot I'm still holding.
Open a Zippo Lighter by flicking it between two fingers (and I don't even smoke, I'm just cool)
Change my own oil.
Swing Dance
Design and build a set and have it come out looking a great deal like I was hoping.
Hit an 80 mph fast ball from a pitching machine

7 things I cannot do:

Wake up in the morning without hitting the snooze alarm (multiple times)
Brush my cat, Bonkers, until he no long has loose hair to shed.
Design a real website, despite having one that I cheated with.
Play a really cool, fast, rocking guitar solo
Convince my wife that making the bed is a complete waste of time.
Remember to do everything that needs to be done in a single day. Yes, I know I've got to write things down, but sometimes I forget to do that.
Balance my checkbook to within a even a dime of what it should be.

7 things that attract me to another person:

An Open mind
Williingness to change for the better

7 Celebrity Crushes:

Kirsten Dunst
Clare Danes
Kate Winslet
Drew Barrymore
Lucy Lu
Cameron Diaz (I guess all of the Charlies Angels)
Uma Thurman
(This was hard, since I don't really have any celebrity crushes.)

7 things I say the most:

Say it loud and proud
No, go sit down.
Is this relevant?
What was I saying?
Come on in and have a seat.
I feel like I'm saying the same things over and over.

7 bloggers I am tagging:

Mad C

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Happiness Runs

In 1972, the king of Bhutan declared that his Himalayan country (which is the size of Switzerland) would henceforth measure progress with gross national happiness instead of gross national product. It is still the only country in the world to do so.

Click here for the rest

This article from Sojourners seems to contend that, according to Bhutan, property or land, power or influence, even money isn't taken into consideration when determining wealth. The only deciding factor when it comes to how rich and successful a person is is how happy a person is.

This brings a number of things to question: How do they determine how happy a person is? Does it matter if others even know if you are happy or not? In our country we quantify wealth and success by one's station, money, office held. These are all measurable, quantitative entities. If you want to know how much money I have you can peek a look at my bank account. If you want to know if I am successful at my job you could come watch me in action, or ask my superior. But, how would you know if I was happy?

If you know me you probably think I'm a pretty happy person. For the most part you would be right. I haven't many complaints. But, if you know me really well, you know that I don't hide my mood very well from people. If I am upset, you will know it. I may even tell you. It really isn't a plea for pity or anything like that, I simply don't feel the need to lie to people by acting completely happy when I am anything but. That is one thing that makes me an ineffective teacher at times. I don't take my bad days out on my students, but they definitely know if I'm not to be messed with. On the other hand my students benefit heavily when I am in a good mood because I can tell that they catch on to my enthusiasm and energy. Plus, when I'm in a good mood their little irksome tendencies are much less irksome.

So by the standards of Bhutan, I'm not doing bad. But, by the standards of the U.S.A., who gives a rip if I smile jollily down the street and whistle greeting each stranger as my own brother. (Not that I do that.) I'm a teacher with a steady, but humble income, I drive a decent, albeit used car, and I live in a suburb. I'm a pretty typical white guy you could say. While no one would ever say that teaching isn't a respectable profession, high school drama teachers aren't exactly being interviewed by 60 minutes. The article debates the question of whether or not a system like Bhutan's would ever work in America. I think we can safely say that we will never conduct our affairs based on the "four pillars." Too many people in middle-America would think that was too "gay." (Let me know if I'm overusing "quotes.")

So, how does one measure Gross National Happiness. Of course we could look at the quality of life, which a very subjective standard. Some people who live without a lot of "stuff" that many of us consider part of our quality of life consider themselves to have a very high quality of life. On the other hand, if they were offered those things perhaps they would take them and consider themselves happier for it. Maybe the Bhutan government just asks people if they are happy. Like an opinion poll.

"When asked, 75% of Bhutans say that they consider themselves happy." the report may say. Of course that would be a huge number but for a country that is focusing on happiness as a sole measure of national wealth I find it hard to believe that they aren't already on a higher level of content than most of the rest of the world. Who else but a happy person is going to say, "We may not be rich in money, but we have much wealth in happiness."? The general population in The Good Ole U.S. of A. buys and spends and rents and goes into massive debt so that they can acquire things that will supposedly make them happy. A study by the National Bureau of Economic Research suggests that there is one factor much more important to determining happiness: sexual activity.

An essay by London economist Richard Layard asserts that as we have acquired wealth, health, and physical comfort that the U.S., as well as other wealthy, industrialized nations have become less happy.

So, what the crap? Are we simply making ourselves miserable as we shove ice cream down our throats? "This will make the pain go away."

Many of our present woes stem from the tragedies and economic difficulties of recent years. It seems at times that everything is getting worse and that the world is coming to an end. I had a student at school remark to me the other day that she felt the world was getting worse off every year. By her narrow viewpoint there were less jobs, more poor, a greater gap in wealth. On top of all that nothing is cheaper, on the contrary everything is more expensive which widens the gap even more. At this point I wanted to say, "Yes, it's because of the Republicans! Don't grow up to be Republicans! Talk to your parents. Let them know what is going on. We've got to stop this machine of greed and corruption in government. For that matter don't vote for Democrats either, but that would be a start. There's got to be a balance between Piggish Capitalism and oppressive Socialism!" And then I would sink to my knees, sobbing. But, of course, I can't say that in a public school. So, I reminded them that every decade, every century, and every year and even day has it's highs and lows. Some highs are going to be much higher than others. I reminded them that when they were children, growing up in the 90s America was wealthier than it had ever been. We didn't worry about terrorism, even if we should have, everyone had jobs and everyone was "happy." Supposedly. Certainly to 15 and 16 year olds the good ole day of yesteryear must seem like forever ago and the worries and hardships of today all seem to be the result of a strange, evil phenomenon. 9/11.

I must admit, everything seems to stem back to 9/11, even in my rational mind. Much like my students, 9/11 just so happened to come at a time of great transition in my life. They were transitioning from child to adolescent. I, on the other hand was transitioning from dependent to full-out adult, with all the responsibilities that came with it. To me, everything after 9/11 changed. Part of this change was obviously my departure from the carefree college life and my attitude toward it.

Am I sadder since 9/11? I don't know. If ignorance is bliss, and we can decipher how happy we are by how we have felt previously than I'm going to say that I am utterly depressed. I know more about the world, I know more about myself, I am aware of my own mortality, stupidity and other plethora of faults and so being I must be a rolling ball of melancholy.

But, rest assured, I actually feel happier now than I can ever remember being. Not that I've had a bad life, in fact, on the contrary, I've been blessed beyond compare. But, as a youngster I always seemed to be discontent with something. There was always something worrying me or standing in my way of complete satisfaction. I remember ending the school year after a rough semester in school. Tests, projects, auditions, etc. had finished and I was free from every burden that had been weighing on me. But then I lost my trumpet. I was borrowing a trumpet from the band and I could not find it anywhere. Suddenly I was struck with the prospect of having to pay for this multi-thousand dollar instrument and facing repercussions from my parents, band teacher, and my own self-image that already myself as forgetful and incompetent. I remember thinking to myself, "It will never end! There will never be a time when I can just not worry, sit back and enjoy not having any responsibility or problem." This greatly distressed me, at the time.

To my knowledge and memory, that thought has never been proven wrong. There has never been an instance where I was not without an upcoming deadline, a consequence of my own mistake, a debt to repay, or relationship that I needed to mend and was weighing on my conscience. At any time one moment in my life since I've been able to realize this fact I have possibly been under the weight of one or more of these burdens. As I type this I am dealing with at least one of each, if not more. I am currently under more scrutiny and contain more responsibility than I have ever dealt with.

So, why am I so happy?

In Paul's letter to the Philippians he writes, "I've learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances." I've always liked this verse because I think that I want to strive for that kind of mentality. No matter what life throws my way or what obstacles are presented I can handle it.

Of course, the main part of that verse is that Paul can deal with any situation because of his assurance and relationship with Christ. But in the context of a discussion on happiness I think even non-Christians can identify with a need to attempt an attitude of contentment regardless of how peachy or rotten life seems at the time. This is a lesson America, a "Christian" nation could certainly learn. It isn't what you've got, where you live, or what you drive. What makes us happy is the relationships we maintain and the attitude toward our problems. They are either road blocks or speedbumps.