World Series of Pop Culture...

Ok, the oath of not posting any substance-less posts for a while didn't stay in effect too long. But, the way I see it; this is too big to not mention.

Earlier this year, Vh1 hosted the first ever World Series of Pop Culture. This was one of the most exciting things I had ever...well...gotten excited about. I have said for some time now, that I wish that I was able to memorize things of actual value as easily as I memorize useless pop culture trivia.

Well, now the Lord has decided to put my propensity for learning all kinds of trivial knowledge to good use. Josh Griffin, Allison Hibbard, and myself are forming a team, really an unstoppable juggernaut, to compete in this year's competition.

Auditions are in L.A. in January. The competition is in New York in March. All we need is a good team name. Something that we are all asking for on our respective blogs. Any suggestions are welcome...

Should You Be Watching/Enjoying Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip...

The answer, of course, is yes. But, this is pretty funny, so I figured I'd post it.

This will be my last substance-less post for a while...


NFL Predictions...

Perhaps you've wondered what my predictions are for the end of this NFL season. Well, here they are. And because I am the very model of a modern major general and have information vegetable, animal, and mineral; you can bet your sweet cheesehead they'll be right...

AFC Championship
Winner: San Diego Chargers

NFC Championship
Winner: Dallas Cowboys

Superbowl XLI
Superbowl Champion: San Diego Chargers


He Shall, From Time to Time...

Every now and then I like to put my iPod on shuffle and attempt to listen to all of my songs in whatever order they come to me. Editor's Note: This is, of course, difficult considering I have somewhere around 2,500 songs. One of the great things about this is that, sometimes, a song comes on that I haven't heard in a long time. This is great for reminiscing. It's also great because sometimes a familiar song will somehow ring true in a brand new way to me.

This happened to me today as I drove home from Temecula.

I have a friend who, from time to time, likes to post song lyrics on their blog and let the lyrics speak for themselves. I've decided that I'd like to do that with this song that I heard today. The words hit me pretty hard...

Table For Two by Caedmon's Call, written by Derek Webb

Danny and I spent another late night over pancakes,
Talkin' 'bout soccer
And how every man's just the same
We made speculation
On the who's and the when's of our futures
And how everyone's lonely
But still we just couldn't complain

And how we just hate being alone
Could I have missed my only chance
And now I'm just wasting my time
By looking around
But you know I know better
I'm not gonna worry 'bout nothing
Cause if the birds and the flowers survive
Then I'll make it okay
I'm given a chance and a rock
see which one breaks a window
See which one keeps me up all night and into the day

Because I'm so scared of being alone
That I forget what house I live in
But it's not my job to wait by the phone
For her to call

Well this day's been crazy
But everything's happened on schedule
from the rain and the cold
To the drink that I spilled on my shirt
'Cause You knew how You'd save me
before I fell dead in the garden
And You knew this day
long before You made me out of dirt

And You know the plans that You have for me
And You can't plan the end and not plan the means
And so I suppose I just need some peace
Just to get me to sleep.


Finish the Sentence...

Hooray! I finally got tagged!

I don't know... if I’ll ever get what I really want the most.

I talk... about things that make me look like a nerd.

I love... banana spring rolls from P.F. Chang’s.

My best friend... was given his nickname by a three year old.

My first real kiss... was stolen from me.

I hate it when people... blow their nose in public.

Love is... epic: spanning years, and continents. Lives ruined and blood shed. Epic!

Marriage is... an institute you can’t despair-age.

Somewhere, someone is thinking... too much. That someone is me.

I'll always... feel like I could have done better.

The last time I cried was because... I felt overwhelmed and unable to handle something.

My cell phone... can dance when placed on a table.

When I wake up in the morning... I prefer to not be talked to… AT ALL!

Before I go to sleep at night... I watch “The West Wing”.

Right now I am thinking about... chinese food.

Babies are... the cause of the last time I threw up.

Today I... was struck in the foot by a frozen turkey.

Tonight I will... watch the Chargers beat the Broncos and maybe, maybe, start unpacking my bedroom.

Tomorrow I will... work, spend some time writing, and pick up a friend from the airport.

I really want... to go to Disneyland, a booqbag, an authentic Brett Favre jersey, or I’d settle for a Rush's chili cheeseburger basket, ketchup/mustard only, no slaw, extra fries.

Guess what? I tag Steve Faiai, Puddles, and Tara Kaya...


I Have Waited For This Day...

There is a day that I look forward to every year. This day can never come fast enough. Today is that day. Let the record show that, on November 14th, I spotted and bought my first pack of Little Debbie Christmas Tree Cakes of the entire year. I love these things!!! If you haven't tried them yet, drop what you're doing and go get them...

Important Thoughts #2...

In my continued reading of Donald Miller's Searching For God Knows What many of the ideas and philosophies that I hold to be true have been regularly challenged. If I had to sum up my experience reading any of Miller's books, I would say that he presents me with new things that I haven't thought about yet, he presents another side to a familiar issue that I hadn't considered, and he gives new language to ideas and beliefs which had long since become stale inside my head.

So, all in all, I usually get smacked in the face.

But, I ran across a passage last night that rings especially true for those of us in youth ministry. Once again, thanks Donald Miller: Chapter 8, page 113...

It makes you feel that as a parent the most important thing you can do is love your kids, hold them and tell them you love them because, until we get to heaven, all we can do is hold our palms over the wounds. I mean, if a kid doesn’t feel he is loved, he is going to go looking for it in all kinds of ways. He is going to want to feel powerful or important or tough, and she is going to want to feel beautiful and wanted and needed. Give a kid the feeling of being loved early, and they will be better at negotiating the other stuff when they get older. They won’t fall for anything stupid, and they won’t feel a kind of desperation all the time in their souls. It is no coincidence that Jesus talks endlessly about love. Free love. Unconditional love.


Yes, the Spiderman 3 full-length trailer came out last Thursday. Yes, parts of it were awesome. Yes, it was eagerly anticipated by the fans and heavily hyped by the studio. But no, it did not include even one shot of what we wanted to see the most: VENOM! Well, worry no more. In a coincidental turn of events (so eerily well-timed it seems almost planned) an unfinished trailer featuring a last shot of Venom was leaked onto the internet this weekend. The above picture is a still shot from said trailer. I would post a copy of the trailer here, but Sony is making them disappear from the internet pretty fast. Find it if you can...


A Very Painful Morning...

Once upon a time, I built a castle. Actually, it was about 3 weeks ago. You might remember reading about how we decided to do some stage design for our new Middle School weekend service teaching series. Well, along with the castle that we built, I also made a suit of armor. Now, let me start by saying that I did think about renting a costume. But, I thought that it would be funnier if I built it and made it look homemade. Mission accomplished. So, here's the picture that I promised you a couple of weeks ago. 30 gallon steel trash can + pool noodles + vent piping + trash can lid + bucket + Captain Jack's sword = suit of armor. You can't see it. But, underneath the trash can I'm wearing a WWE tag team championship belt to represent the belt of truth. You have to admit; I look tough. By the way, in case you were wondering: yes. It was extremely hot inside of that thing.

We also played a game called "Pinhead". We give the participants 2 minutes to put as many clothespins as they can on their face. We played this a year ago and I got 32. This year, I bested my record by one. That's right: 33 in 2 minutes! A 7th grade boy in first service got 36. The world record is 120, although no time limit was assigned. Let me go ahead and tell you that this hurt a great deal. Especially on the eyebrows. But the worst is when you have them on your face and someone makes you laugh...


The Best News I've Heard All Day...

This comes from comingsoon.net.

NBC has renewed its critically acclaimed, first-year drama "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" (Mondays, 10-11 p.m. ET) for the remainder of the 2006-07 season, it was announced today by Kevin Reilly, President, NBC Entertainment.

"I am pleased to show our support for this outstanding and ambitious effort from executive producers Aaron Sorkin and Thomas Schlamme," said Reilly. "From the start, they have delivered the superb show that we wanted. The critical support has been rock-solid and there is a passionate core audience. We can't wait for what's going to come in the remainder of the season."

Emmy Award-winning executive producer-writer (NBC's "The West Wing") Sorkin and Emmy-winning executive producer-director ("The West Wing") Schlamme returned to television this Fall with this crackling take on the drama behind the humor of producing a popular, late-night comedy sketch show, "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip."

Sorkin lays bare the backstage politics, romances and delicate balance between creative talent, on-air personalities and network executives in an instant text-messaging world. Prominent are Jordan McDeere (Amanda Peet), a savvy new network entertainment chief who inherits a massive public relations disaster on the series -- even before she starts her first day -- and Matt Albie (Matthew Perry) and Danny Tripp (Bradley Whitford), a brilliant creative team that she wants to resurrect the program.

Also playing crucial roles are the sketch-comedy series stars Harriet Hayes (Sarah Paulson), Simon Stiles (D.L. Hughley) and Tom Jeter (Nathan Corddry), their normally cool-headed director, Cal Shanley (Timothy Busfield) as well as supreme network honcho Jack Rudolph (Steven Weber).

The series is a production of Warner Bros. Television.


More Than Meets the Eye...

If this clip doesn't get you excited about the Transformers movie, then you have no soul...


Web Wednesday: Office Space Re-Cut...

I've been a little slack on my Web Wednesday posts lately. But no more! I'm back this week with what I can say is the best re-do in American film history. Editor's Note: That last sentance was hyperbole. It's a re-cut trailer for Mike Judge's Office Space made to make the movie look like a psychological thriller. Enjoy...

The Prestige...

“It’s not the secret that’s worth anything. It’s the trick you use the secret for.”

The Prestige
Running Time: 2hr 15min
Directed By: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Scarlett Johanssen, David Bowie

Let me start by saying that my appreciation for movies exceeds movies. My appreciation for movies leaks over into the art of filmmaking. I look at cinematography, editing, soundtrack, lighting, and a lot of other creative elements that make up movies. I love when a director brings a vision to a movie that isn’t like anything we’ve seen before. Because of that, I’ve come to admire many directors. In fact, for the majority of my high school years I obsessed over Stephen Spielberg. I read biographies. I watched every one of his movies. I obsessed. I’ve grown to venerate these auteurs because of their effectiveness as storytellers. There isn’t anything I love more than a good story. And I love to tell stories. In fact, I’ve said many times that, had I not gone into ministry, I would have been a history teacher. That way, I could have told stories for a living.

All of that to say this: Christopher Nolan knows how to tell a story. If you’re not sure of the credibility of that statement, I’d like to cite Batman Begins as my prime example.

So, lets talk about the story.

What follows is a SPOILER FREE review.

If you’re haven’t heard anything about this movie, here’s a basic rundown: Two men, Robert Angier (Jackman) and Alfred Borden (Bale), are magicians, and more importantly, friends in turn-of-the-century London. As they try to break into show business, they learn many things about how to suspend the audience’s disbelief. Unfortunately, an incident takes place that drives a wedge in between the two friends. They quickly become rivals and enemies. Their rivalry starts with trying to top each other’s tricks, but then escalates to attempts at hurting each other, competing for the love of the same woman, and finally, murder.

The title comes from what the movie describes as the three parts of a magic trick: The first act is called "The Pledge"; The magician shows you something ordinary, but of course... it probably isn't. The second act is called "The Turn"; The magician makes his ordinary some thing do something extraordinary. Now if you're looking for the secret... you won't find it, that's why there's a third act called, "The Prestige"; this is the part with the twists and turns, where lives hang in the balance, and you see something shocking you've never seen before. It’s the point of the trick.

Lots of eyes were on Christopher Nolan in regards to this movie. He made his splash in Hollywood with 2000’s Memento, followed up by 2002’s Insomnia. But his real success came with 2005’s Batman Begins. And, as with any successful director, the follow-up to their biggest grossing movie is usually considered the real litmus test to determine whether or not they actually have the chops to make it.

So, what was good?
-The two leads. Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale are two amazing actors. Jackman is a virtual chameleon who can play anything from a macho, loner, tough guy, mutant assassin (X-men) to to the lead in Oklahoma!. Christian Bale can play bad like almost no one else out there. Just watch American Psycho for proof. He can also play tormented (The Machinist). Two things that he shows off in this movie. Two better actors would have been tough to find for these parts.

-Michael Caine. Dear Hollywood, from now on, when you make movies, if you have a part that calls for an actor to play a supporting role that involves teaching, narrating, representing the moral conscience, or speaking with a cockney accent; cast Michael Caine. Michael Caine is the new Morgan Freeman.

-The story structure. The way that Nolan tells the story is a magic trick in itself. He keeps you guessing on how things happen for the entire movie. Unfortunately, it wasn’t terribly difficult to figure out.

-The way that the story is set up also leads it to be a bit choppy. I was never quite sure whether to blame the editor or the writers, but some scene changes were a little too abrupt for me. This coupled with a few misplaced plot twists could loose the less observant viewers. A chain is only as strong as its’ weakest link and a story is only as strong as its’ weakest scene (or transition). This story had a few weaknesses.

-Without giving too much away, the ending is somewhat easily predicted. Some big clues are given a little too early on. It’s a director’s job to lead the audience through a story. In order to lead, you have to stay up ahead. Nolan should know that a magician never revels his tricks, especially as early on as he did.

And so, to The Prestige, I give the honor of being awarded with a certified 3 Yarmulke™ rating.

Probably not an opening night movie (especially since it’s already on it’s third week). But definitely one that you can feel good about seeing in the theater. Dark themes, thought provoking, great acting, and an interesting premise make The Prestige a good, but not great, transitional movie between Batman Begins and its’ follow up, The Dark Knight, for Christopher Nolan and his alumni cast…



I know some people who need this product...

Click on the white area to enjoy the clip.

WARNING: There is one NSFW word at the very end of the clip!

Who Could Have Predicted This...

Let this be the first blog you read it on: Britney Spears has filed for divorce from her husband (and greatest rap artist in the history of the recording industry) Kevin Federline.

I know, I know... shocking. TMZ has a report on it you can read about here. Or, since you'll probably be hearing about nothing else during the next 8-10 weeks, just save yourself the trouble and go buy some earplugs and a blindfold and try and weather the storm...

Important Thoughts...

I've been asking myself this question lately: "Why aren't I like everybody else?" Why does my life look so vastly different than the lives of most of the people who I count as friend? And, just as I am at the height of questioning whether or not I am on par with the majority of my peers, this was delivered to me, courtesy of Donald Miller, in Searching For God Knows What, Chapter 7, Page 92...

Humans, as a species, are constantly, and in every way, comparing themselves to one another, which, given the brief nature of their existence, seems an oddity and, for that matter, a waste. Nevertheless, this is the driving influence behind every human's social development, their emotional health and sense of joy, and, sadly, their greatest tragedies. It is as though something that helped them function and live well has gone missing, and they are pining for that missing thing in all sorts of odd methods, none of which are working. The greater tragedy is that very few people understand that they have the disease. This seems strange as well because it is obvious. To be sure, it is killing them, and yet sustaining their social and economic systems. They are an entirely beautiful people with a terrible problem.

You Should Read McSweeney's...

...If for no other reason than this little gem right here. Check out McSweeney's...


DENTAL HYGIENIST: Can you open up for me, Mr. Sorkin?

AARON SORKIN: Hey, what is this music?

DENTAL HYGIENIST: I'm not sure. It's just something they pipe in. "Girl From Ipanema"?

AARON SORKIN: Because it sounds like Poulenc. Are you familiar with Les Six?

DENTAL HYGIENIST: I'm going to need you to stop talking, please.

AARON SORKIN: Of course you're not familiar with Les Six. In these days of freedom fries!

DENTAL HYGIENIST: I just need to ...

AARON SORKIN: You know what's weird about Poulenc? It sounds like you're pronouncing him wrong, even when you're doing it right. It's the "ank" sound, as in "Paul Anka." I guess you've never heard of Paul Anka, either.

DENTAL HYGIENIST: Can you open wide for me, please?

AARON SORKIN: You would think it would be the "ankh" sound, as in the ankh, the Egyptian symbol of life. But it's not. It's the Paul Anka sound. You know, it would help if you said certain words back to me, just random sentences that use the same key words I'm using.

DENTAL HYGIENIST: I have a lot of other patients who need their teeth cleaned, so ...

AARON SORKIN: Like I say, "Les Six," and you say, "Les Shut Up!" Something like that. I don't know. That's just off the top of my head. It doesn't have to make sense. It just has to sound like banter. It has to give a banterlike impression. Hey, that's a good example. I could say, "It just has to sound like banter," and then you shoot back, real quick-like, "Oh, it has to give a banterlike impression." We just say the same words back to one another over and over in different random orders.

DENTAL HYGIENIST: OK, that sounds nice. Maybe at the end of the appointment, when I'm removing your bib. But right now I need you to open wide so I can ...

AARON SORKIN: Oh, then, at the end, you say something like, "In the United States today, 30 percent of the people can't do so-and-so and here we are bantering about Poulenc." And then we both look sad.

DENTAL HYGIENIST: You sleep now.

(The DENTAL HYGIENIST suddenly places a mask over AARON SORKIN's face and turns up the laughing gas full force. Soon AARON SORKIN is out like a light.)

DENTAL HYGIENIST: It's "Girl From Ipanema," jerk.


Germans Who Say Nice Things...

This show had Dana Carvey, Steve Carrell, Stephen Colbert, and Robert Smigel all working together. How it didn't make it, we'll never know...

What's Your Secret Service Name...

A little while ago, I posted on my affinity for the new show, Studio 60 On the Sunset Strip. In it's conspicuous absense from Monday Night's Lineup (Come on NBC! Another episode of Deal or No Deal?), I decided to begin my desired viewing of Aaron Sorkin's other show, The West Wing.

Wow! This is an amazing show! I just wrapped season one this morning. After church (and the gym) tonight, I'm starting season 2.

What follows is a list of casual observations, thoughts, and questions about one of my new favorite shows:

-The cast of this show must be the most physically fit cast on television, as they are walking while speaking almost every line of dialogue that they have.

-I really like how they refer to the part of the white house that the President lives in as "The Residence". I think that I'll start calling my new apartment that.

-The President said that he doesn't carry a wallet or keys, and hadn't for some time. I wonder if that's true. I would feel naked without my keys.

-I love how the main characters on the show are so eager to defend each other. Their loyalty inspires me and makes me wonder if our staff is considered that loyal to those on the outside.

-What's the deal with Bradley Whitford's hair? Is he going bald or does he just have an unusually large forehead?

-I like that the President is an economist who has a PhD. I'm tired of every one who is elected to public office having a background in law. This is mainly because I've been wondering for some time if, one day, I could run for public office.

-I had no idea how powerful and involved the President's Chief-of-Staff and Deputy Chief-of-Staff are in our government. In real life, the Chief-of-Staff is Joshua Bolten and the Deputy Chief-of-Staff is Karl Rove.

-I wouldn't mind being the President's personal assistant. In the show, this part is played by Dulé Hill (who, in real life, is an accomplished tap dancer). Lots of stress and running personal errands, but you would have a chance to observe and learn from the most powerful man in the free world.

-I would not, however, like to be in the Secret Service. Which, by the way, curiously has it's own web page. Not-so-secret service?

All in all, this show is totally growing my interest in our federal government. In fact, on a completely unrelated note, the book that I have waiting "on deck" to read is The Audacity of Hope by Senator Barack Obama.

Who knows? Maybe, one day, you could be reading a blog by Joshua Treece, member of the La Mesa/Spring Valley School Board...