You are currently browsing the monthly archive for January 2010.

Right now, I’m watching the Comedy Central special, Intimate Moments For a Sensual Evening by Aziz Ansari (of Parks and Recreation and Human Giant fame). Oh, and I’m doing dishes. Aziz is bringing it pretty well, I must say. His style is by no means universally appealing, and it’s dangerously close to his parody comedian “Randy.” Don’t get me wrong, “Randy” is stupid and Aziz is actually quite smart, but their delivery strikes a similar excitedly hurried chord. Anyway, the fact that I’m watching by myself and consciously muffling laughter (although sometimes unsuccessfully) for fear of waking up my wife must mean Aziz is rockin’ it.

The funniest stand-up I’ve watched in a while is Louis C.K.’s Chewed Up. Really funny. Really honest. Brilliant, really. Unfortunately, I’m running out of streaming stand-up comedian options on Netflix, other than three or four different Katt Williams specials. And I think I’ll pass on those.

I am aware of a few live comedy opportunities around the cities, but have yet to take advantage of them. Hopefully I will soon. In the meantime, I’ll keep watching stand-up on TV and the computer. Who are your favorites? Anyone old school or current, and a link would be awesome!

P.S. I have no plans to become a comedian…yet.

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I am a recent convert to Team Conan (about two years ago). I didn’t stay up late enough to watch, unless I was out at a bar, and Hulu did not yet exist. I support and respect Conan and the Tonight Show–although the legend of Carson is lost on people my age. His sense of humor just hits me right. Leno is…just…meh. The uncertainty of the future and transition time are growing frustrating and boring. I’m sick of the jokes about Leno, Conan, and NBC–except for some by Jimmy Kimmel.
Basically, I want it all to just get worked out. In the end, my viewing will go wherever Conan goes. I guess that puts me on “Team Conan.” At the same time, though, I find it difficult to advocate for a talk show host, when my time is much better spent advocating for the relief efforts in Haiti or even sharing a laugh, a drink, and a dance with my close friends.
My wife mentioned that she’s glad Conan finally said something about Haiti, rather than constant jokes about himself. I agree, but wonder what responsibility a late-night host has regarding disasters or even social injustice. Is their role to distract and entertain in a world of suffering? Or are they to speak to the realities of humanity? I think it’s somewhere in between. They are, ultimately, jesters and comedians–but cannot turn a blind eye to the horrors of the world. They do, after all, have access to a great audience and have the opportunity/responsibility to use their influence for good. But cannot focus solely on the sad. If comedians can’t tell jokes, then how will we have permission to laugh?

I am late posting today (yes, I’m still counting “today” as Thursday) because friends and I were playing Quelf the board game. It was absolutely ridiculous, but hilarious and fun! We made fools of ourselves and barely cared about the “score” (quite rare for me). Even our friend Shannon played and enjoyed herself…and she hates board games. Anyway, here is a link the the website. Apparently you can play Quelf via Facebook. We played in person and I’m sure it is much more fun. If you’re looking for a great time, and don’t mind humbling yourself in the name of hilarity, try it out! Also…the game somewhat resembles the “Circle of Death” drinking game…and might be even more fun with a drink or two.

We look forward to playing with more and different people. It really is crazy fun!

The tragic events in Haiti are almost beyond comprehension. As you likely know, Haiti has likely lost over 100,000 lives, thousands of buildings, and its sense of security. Most of us are wondering what we can do. First, we must pray for them. Now is not the time to wonder “why?” Now is the time to act. Brian McLaren pointed me (via his blog) to the Bread For the World website that has a list of ways to help, organizations to contact, and prayers for the occasion.

Hopefully, everyone (regardless of race, creed, etc…) can gather together and weather the storm. Although the damage has been done, our reaction to tragedy is paramount to its lasing effects. After some time has passed, people may start to wonder “why?” all this happened–although the comment of a certain politician was incredibly rude, inappropriate, and wrong. This post is not meant to approach the theodicy question, but is a call to action and nudge in (what I think is) the right direction.

Blessings and Peace to all of you, and may God be with the people of Haiti.

Okay, don’t worry. I would never ask you that question. In fact, I would probably be uncomfortable if you asked me that question.

Today, I started my J-term class, Mission of the Triune God II. I have already taken Mission I, but the first day of Mission II was still very introductory. It made me think, though, about people’s initial impression of “mission,” “evangelism,” or “evangelization” ? Are you confident that the church is the instrument of God? Or maybe that God is at work in the world and our job is to seek out and join in what God is up to? Or has someone confronted you in a public place and questioned your faith? Or knocked on your door with a pamphlet?

Mission is a passion of mine, but it so often gets a bad rap. I’m anxious to hear people’s thoughts.

I’m working on a more theological post, but today’s post needs to be about the best part of my day–by far. My wife and I don’t have a lot of money. We are not “poor,” per se, but (as of yesterday) were living mostly off of student loans. Not so great for two people. We were beginning to worry some about our finances, but today, my wife got a job! Not only that, but the tuition support from my home church was processed. We are not rich or anything, but it feels so good to not stress over our finances. We still have a financial plan and have to be somewhat frugal, but we’re so blessed to have employment and support from friends, family, and other communities.

Discovering that my home church had sent in a check and we didn’t have to worry anymore nearly brought a tear to mine and my wife’s eyes. It made us realize how truly blessed we are. I apologize if some of this post felt like whining, because I really wanted it to be about rejoicing and realizing our blessings. I know that, as we grow older (and hopefully more financially secure), Kirsten and I will be generous with our gifts, sharing them with others, just as many have shared with us. We give thanks every day, but sometimes have special reason to rejoice. Today is truly one of those days.

First, I’d like to apologize (mostly to myself) for not posting the past two days. One day it was because I was having so much fun. The other day, it was because I was too busy/tired. I’m not writing this blog with a hard deadline, though, but to get back into writing. So I’m not too worried about it.

Anyway…I’ve just finished watching The Simpsons and The Simpsons: 20th Anniversary Special. This week’s episode (the 450th!) was not all that great, although it had a pleasant and heartfelt ending. The special, though, was great. Moreover, it reminded me of how much I love The Simpsons. The Simpsons has rarely been the best show on television at any time, but has been in the top five for nearly all of its 20 year reign (at least in my opinion) and has earned its spot as my all-time favorite show. The Simpsons is funny, smart, edgy (at least it used to be), creative, heartwarming, humble, and honest. The animation allows the show to get away with sex and murder (quite literally). The Simpsons opened doors for shows like Family Guy and South Park, and much like those two shows, The Simpsons has a knack for social criticism–anyone and everyone is a target. I grew up watching The Simpsons, and learned both my sense of humor and social mores from it. My father and I spent many night watching 60 minutes on CBS and then The Simpsons on Fox. Oh, that reminds me. The Simpsons, if I’m not mistaken, was also a pioneer show in mocking itself and its own network. It truly didn’t take itself too seriously.

Besides the infinite lines I quote and the limitless trivia I know from The Simpsons, what is love most about the show is the family. It paints a picture of a family that is mostly dysfunctional, seldom on the same page, and made up of a bunch of “unique” people. However, the Simpson family loves  . While most of the family members bring out unfortunately true characteristics of many Americans (or people, for that matter), in their love for one another, the Simpson family represents the family ideal–a bunch of people, all with their own sometimes-hilarious, sometimes-infuriating shortcomings and nuances that live together and love each other.

I will never stop watching The Simpsons. I learn something new about the characters and about myself each time I watch an episode–no matter how many times I’ve seen it. I wonder, whatever readers are out there, what is your experience with The Simpsons? Were you like many of my friends growing up, and not allowed to watch them? Do you think they’re funny? Stupid? Whatever your thoughts/feelings, I encourage you to brush up on your Simpsons knowledge–first, to be culturally literate, but second, to explore what thoughts (or laughs!!) it will bring out in you. You can try watching this year’s episodes at 8:00 EST on Sunday on FOX, or borrow a DVD from me (I…have Seasons 1-12…all of them that have been released so far). There are also many websites that stream old Simpsons episodes. I recommend just about any episode from seasons 3-5.

Blessings to you and yours. Goodnight. I’ve got to get up and run a bunch of miles tomorrow. “D’oh!”

P.S. If you ever want to come over and watch The Simpsons with me, let me know!! I’ve also got a Simpsons trivia game!

So I’ve got these thoughts that race through my head. Some of them keep coming back. A lot. One of these is time travel. Take a second. Get all the odd looks and laughs out of your system. Now let’s get down to it: time travel is super interesting. Time travel is richly reflected in a myriad of disciplines–science, philosophy, film, and literature to name a few.

The theory of time travel first caught my attention in the movie Back to the Future (and its sequels). I fell in love with the theory after seeing Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure and getting into a bit of philosophy. After years of thinking and dreaming about time travel, I had concluded that time travel was impossible because, if it were to ever exist, people would have traveled back in time and time travel always would have existed. After doing some more reading (as unreliable as Wikipedia sometimes is), I found out that a lot of scientific thought (and a little research) has gone into the area of time travel. In fact, Stephen Hawking has a similar theory regarding time travel as mine…although his is much more complicated, informed, intelligent, and detailed. I learned a little about general relativity in physics classes in high school and college, and remember a bit about time dilation. After reading a few more articles, though (in addition to Wikipedia), I have a renewed hope in time travel. The research seems to indicate that time travel might indeed be possible in the future, and will likely involve wormholes and/or some sort of advanced propulsion system–and it might only be possible to move into the future…which would not be able to be checked. Here’s another, slightly more credible source with some expert interviews.

So…time travel never ceases to supply us with something to ponder, whether from a scientific, philosophical, or artistic sense. What, if any, are your thoughts on time travel? Personally, I don’t think we could change the past because then we would change our present in ways that might prevent us from acting as we did (and then I start to get confused). BUT, if you could go back in time, what would you do? Stop a war? Win a bet? Save a life? For now, time travel is a DeLorean at 88 mph, a phone booth filled with historical figures, and theoretical wormhole usage, but someday it may be realized. ‘Til then, I hope the theory of time travel feeds your heart or your mind for a while. And maybe sparks some good (albeit confusing) conversation.

August 8th of this past year was a great day for me. It was the one-year anniversary of the ’08 summer Olympics–my favorite. Oh, and I got married. The wedding day (really, the entire weekend) was a whirlwind of activity, family, pictures, and smiles (almost all real). It was fantastic, but I’ve never really put my thoughts on that weekend, or marriage so far, on paper. Frankly, I’ve barely even talked about marriage in too much detail, save for with my wife. Don’t get me wrong, I am often asked, “How’s married life?” I seldom know how to respond, though, since…you kind of have to do it to find out.

I don’t feel like I can “sum up” marriage so far, but I want to comment on in a bit. First, I love it. There are definite ups and downs, but my best friend is almost always the first person I see when I wake up and the last person I see before going to bed (except, of course, when she is home late or up early). That, in it of itself, is wonderful. Moreover, it’s nice having someone to come home to. Conversely, it’s also nice to have someone come home to you.

Second, I don’t know if the life of a married couple is all that different from a couple who lives together and have acknowledged their intentions of a long relationship. The primary difference, I think, arises in the “getting married” part. We had tons of our friends and family (although unfortunately not all) surround us, embrace us as a couple, and we all recognized the love that Kirsten and I shared and pledged to do our best to make this relationship last. It’s really a communal action. Or ritual. For us (and for many), it was also about being intentional about bringing God into the community of support for our love and relationship. I have found that our relationship (and life) has changed because of this sacred ritual. On a day-to-day basis, there’s little that differentiates marriage from co-habitation. But the knowledge that God and a community of our loved ones honors and supports our love, through all the ups and downs, is powerful. And hope-giving. And just plain great.

“I do” were the best two words I’ve ever said. I thank God each and every day for my wonderful wife, and our fantastic friends and family. Thanks to all who have congratulated us in the past (almost) five months, and a special thanks to all who attended. Marriage is a touchy subject for many reasons, including GLBT marriage and a skyrocketing divorce rate (and polygamy…my wife it watching Big Love online). I am sensitive to and my heart breaks for those who don’t (or can’t) have a similar marriage experience, and I pray that they are someday able. So, next time you ask me “How’s married life?” I”ll give you my stock answer: “It’s great, but it’s not all that exciting.” It may not always be exciting (we spend more nights in that most), but what I really mean is, “It’s the best thing to ever happen to me and I’m forever grateful to my wife, God, and all my friends and family who support us.”

P.S. Sorry for the sappy post. I’m thinking sports or science tomorrow…

After cooking dinner and doing dishes, I unwound tonight by watching Chopped on the Food Network. If you haven’t watched it, it’s great. It’s similar to most cooking competition shows out there, but with more exotic ingredient combinations and each show is its own self-contained competition for $10,000. The contestants start with a basket of ingredients, and must make an appetizer using all the ingredients (and whatever they want from the pantry) in 20 minutes. Then, they repeat with an entree and a dessert, ’til one person is crowned the winner. When a lot of interesting and creative cooking is combined with a timer, you get great television.

As entertaining as Chopped and other cooking shows (Top Chef, Hell’s Kitchen, Iron Chef, etc…) might be, I find them particularly facsinating because I love cooking. Really, I just love food. I enjoy the challenge and adventure that food presents. Nature provides us with naturally delicious things (for the most part), and we have the responsibility to draw out their natural flavors and the opportunity to create new combinations. Not only are there infinite possibilities, but no two dishes are the same. Plus, cooking creates beauty and can instill joy in someone. Some of my most cherished memories of family and friends are deeply rooted in the smells and tastes that mixed and mingled with our conversation and laughter. Helping create those memories, or even make my wife smile once, is a large part of why I love to cook.

Right now, I cook because I need to eat (and God knows my wife can’t cook), I enjoy it, and I can control (kinda) how it tastes. I’m not that great, but I am getting better and better with each chicken breast, pizza, chili, and salad–not to mention the plethora of cooking shows I watch (although, thankfully, I am no longer a slave to the Food Network!). I sometimes wonder, though, what it might look like to have a career in cooking. Could I have what it takes to be a chef? This interest in cooking isn’t anywhere near usurping my call to ministry, but maybe it can serve that calling? Is there such a thing as a pastor-chef? Some sort of food ministry? I know there are soup kitchens, but…the one food I don’t really like is soup. I can get behind the soup kitchen idea, but could never be a soup kitchen chef. Maybe God will use me for a few years or decades, and I’ll pursue cooking as a later vocation? For now, though, I’ll stick to making regular meals, occasionally wowing my wife, and sharing smiles and adventures with good food.

My Tweets

  • RT @peggyflanagan: The amount of victim blaming that folks are throwing around is frightening. 8 hours ago
  • RT @TopherSpiro: JUST DISCOVERED: The Senate tax bill includes a tax break for private aircraft. Can you believe this? Not a joke 👇🏼 https:… 1 day ago
  • RT @Pontifex: Poverty is not an accident. It has causes that must be recognized and removed for the good of so many of our brothers and sis… 2 days ago
  • RT @ISAIAHMN: Dear US Representatives who are Christian: May we recommend you meditate on Matthew 23 tonight before your big tax vote tomor… 3 days ago
  • RT @CunninghamMPLS: Big day today in City Hall! Spent some time with the City Clerk prepping to transition into the job AND election result… 3 days ago

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