11/29/2007

Candyland...

I love Christmas. I love it for an incredible amount of reasons. Of course, you already know about the Little Debbie Christmas Tree Cakes.
Here's three more:

  • Candy Cane Hershey's Kisses

  • Mint Chocolate M&M's

  • Mint KitKats

    Do yourself a favor: go buy a candy dish, pick up these three candies, enjoy...
  • Generally Speaking...

    Dear world, yesterday I found a remote control General Lee at Wal Mart. I was immediately filled with fond childhood memories of watching Bo and Luke evade Rosco and Boss Hog and wondered if, with this car, I could recreate them in miniature. Hopefully, someone who loves me will buy this for me so I can find out...

    11/26/2007

    The Search Begins: Part 2...

    For part one of this new series, check this out.

    I made it up to Orange County pretty fast on Thanksgiving this year. Only 2 hours and 15 minutes for an hour and 15 minutes drive. One good thing about being trapped in traffic by yourself for that long is that it gives you time to think. So I spent the majority of it thinking about the future. After reflecting on the past (of both my present job and past ones) I realized another thing that I want to look for in the next church I serve at:

    I'm looking for a church that can give me opportunities to exercise my teaching gift outside of student ministry...

    I'm not talking about once a month or anything. Maybe once or twice a year. After reading Andy Stanley and Marcus Buckingham, I've realized that I need to work harder on developing my strengths. And I believe that one of my strongest gifts is that of teaching. I love teaching students, but I'd like to try teaching adults too.

    And I think working at a church that would let me give it a shot would be pretty cool...

    11/25/2007

    Body Double 18: Bedazzler...

    As I walked through Target this weekend, this little beauty caught my eye...

    Actually, it was the girl on the cover. I thought that Rachel Ray had come out with her own Bedazzler!

    I think we've got a cross-promotional body double...

    The Day After Thanksgiving...

    And now, for your viewing and reading pleasure, my day (after Thanksgiving) at Disneyland with Puddles.

    Editor's Note: You may remember that I wrote here that we were going to Magic Mountain this month. Long story short: we didn't go. So, this was our consolation.

  • The day started with breakfast at Chick-Fil-A. After all, we're growing boys that need fuel for our long, adventurous day...

  • Next, we hit the road and drove past this building (the name of which I always forget). It reminds me of Madison Cube Garden from Futurama...

  • The first ride we hit was Space Mountain. After waiting in line for about 45 minutes, we were within sight of the front of the line. That's when the ride shut down. They turned all of the interior lights on and sent us on our way with a pair of fast passes good for one ride that could be redeemed anytime during the day. We used them at 10pm to get back on Space Mountain...

  • Here's a pick from the upstairs of Innovention. Yeah, I'm a nerd. As you can see, half of earth's population was in Anaheim...

  • Cinderella's Castle was decorated for winter...

  • ...as were the California letters at the entrance to California Adventure...

  • Soarin' Over California is one of everybody's faves. Of course, I had to pretend to be Superman while on it...

  • I learned how to draw Donald Duck in the Animation Academy...

  • Here's me screaming "I HATE THIS PART!" on the Tower of Terror...

  • Here's the first time we went on Screamin'. I love this ride...

  • ...and the second time. Editor's Note: I think I poked myself in the eye in this picture. After this ride, some people behind us saw the picture and thought Puddles was ducking because he was scared. So they began pointing and calling him a wuss.

    All in all, it was a great day filled with overpriced food, strollers, lines, giant snakes, a rock band, a potentially awkward encounter, and a great friend. And my feet are still sore...
  • 11/22/2007

    And I'm So Thankful...

    And now, some things I'm thankful for...

    1) That I chose to start cooking early this year, and am already done with two out of my three culinary offerings...

    2) My family in South Carolina...

    3) 24 Hour Fitness...

    4) My friends in Orange County...

    5) 2 1/2 years of amazing memories with incredible Middle Schoolers...

    6) The next two days...

    7) What's next...

    11/20/2007

    I Eat My Turkey and I Take a Nap...

    For the fifth year in a row I'll be spending Thanksgiving with my friends, the Edwards'. I love their family so much and look forward to Thanksgiving every year just because I know I'll be seeing them. What's also great is that Puddles (who also comes) and I each make different things to bring to the table.

    What am I making to bring this year? The same thing that I make every year: sweet potato pie, macaroni and cheese (in a croc pot), and deviled eggs.

    Want the recipes? Just let me know...

    11/19/2007

    Black Friday 2...

    I posted on Black Friday here. The post included a link to a site with a lot of Black Friday advertisements, blackfriday.info.

    Well, I just saw something on Josh's blog pointing to a special Black Friday sale on amazon. Maybe, this year, I don't have to brave the wild of the retail stores. Check it out here...

    Count Chocula...

    I went to the gym tonight. After running, stretching, crunching, pulling, squeezing, pushing, and lifting (not to mention showering), I decided that I knew exactly what I wanted for supper: Count Chocula. So, first to Albertsons. No Count Chocula. Then, Food 4 Less. No Count. Next, Vons. Nope. Denied again. But then, Wal-Mart stepped in and saved the day. They had a whole two shelves worth. The funny thing was that the employees at Vons and Wal-Mart both said that it was only available at Halloween time. I staunchly disagreed (and was met with very hostile looks).

    Needless to say, I bought two boxes (and have already eaten half of one). Oh, Count, how I've missed you...

    11/18/2007

    The Search Begins: Part 1...

    I wrote a post here explaining the situation behind my upcoming departure from my church. Since I've already written all that I can write about the past, I'd like to take some time to write about the future.

    I've had to search for a job twice in my life: once, upon my graduation from college (which led to my internship in Orange County), and again upon completion of the internship (which led to my current position). The first search was tough. I'd never had a full time job in ministry, so I didn't know exactly what I was looking for. I sometimes joke with people that I fell backwards into it. But I know it was God. It had to be. After two and a half years in the OC, I had a little bit more of an idea of what I thought I needed to look for in a church. So, I prayed for a lot of very specific things that I wanted in a job. I got most of them (plus a lot of unexpected things).

    Well, the time has come, once again, to start the job search. With a little bit more experience under my belt, I know a little bit more of what I want in a church. So I thought that, as I pursue what God has next for me, I would blog about some of the things that I'm looking for in a place to serve.

    So, here's the first in a series...

    I'm looking for a church that loves God above anything else...

    I know that you might be thinking that this is a given. But, in the nine years that I've been in vocational ministry, I've worked in churches where it's obvious that their love for God influenced and affected everything they did, and I've worked in churches where it was obvious that God wasn't their number one love. I want to be a part of a church that earnestly seeks God above all else.

    As I go through the process of praying and thinking through all of the things that I believe God is laying (and has laid) on my heart for the future, I'll be posting a few of them here. Hopefully, it'll help you in some small way too...

    Editor's Note: The picture at the top of this post is of my home church, Trinity Baptist Church. See that smaller steeple on the right? Yeah... I climbed it when I was a kid and got stuck on the roof. I know... I'm dumb...

    11/16/2007

    Beowulf...

    "A man like you could own the greatest tale ever sung."

    When Colton and I went to Comic Con back in July, we were saturated with a ton of promotions for a yet-to-be released movie that recreated an over 1,000 year old epic poem. Since we didn't see any footage (only print ads and a sidewalk painting), we didn't get very stoked. However, my mind was changed upon seeing a trailer.

    I remember having to read the epic back in high school. And, right along with almost everything else that my teachers made me read, I hated it. Editor's Note: That's right The Great Gatsby and Jane Eyre, I'm looking at you. But, after last night's viewing of Beowulf, I want to go back and read it again...

    Beowulf
    Running Time:
    1 hr. 53 mins.
    Directed By: Robert Zemeckis
    Starring: Ray Winstone, Anthony Hopkins, John Malkovich, Robin Wright Penn, Angelina Jolie, Brendan Gleeson, Crispin Glover, and Alison Lohman

    Usually, this is the place where I say that what follows will be a spoiler free review. But this story has been around since somewhere between the 8th and 10th centuries. So, if I spoil the plot for you, maybe you should have paid attention in 11th grade Lit class...


    So, what was good?
  • The Casting. Did you see who I listed as the stars of this movie up above? 2 oscar winners and one oscar nominee. Not to mention awesome character actors like Brendan Gleeson and Crispin Glover. Plus, Ray Winstone as the great Geat warrior is UH-mazing!

  • The Performance Capture Technology and Animation. If you're not familiar with the performance capture technology, see LOTR: The Two Towers or Return of the King, King Kong, or The Polar Express. One of the differences between this movie and Zemekis' other performance capture, The Polar Express, is that he didn't make the on screen character look like the off screen performer. In real life, Ray Winstone is quite a stout guy. On screen, Beowulf is cut like a rock when he strips naked to fight the monster, Grendel.

  • The Story. Yes, the movie is based upon the anonymously written epic poem. But, the screenplay was co-written by Neil Gaiman and Roger Avary. Gaiman's one of the greatest graphic novelists of all time. And Avary, well, Avary's some other guy.

  • The Themes of Legacy, Honesty, Honor, and Sacrifice. Beowulf sells his soul to Grendel's mother for fame, glory, and power. However, even though he's tormented with guilt for the rest of his life, he's eventually redeemed by choosing to right his past wrongs. In such a tragic story, one spanning a lifetime, it's evident that it's never too late to choose to make things right.

  • One Word, One Number, and a Letter: IMAX 3D! Huge... 3D... Loud... If you have the chance to see this in IMAX 3D, do whatever you can to see it. Sell your car, your iPod, your baby, or your collection of Garbage Pail Kids. Whatever you have to do...


    But...
  • Nothing. Other than the inconvenience of having to drive a little farther to find an IMAX, waiting a little longer to get in because of a tripped fire alarm, and extra cost due to the IMAX 3D, this movie was simply UH-mazing.


    And so, to Beowulf, I give the honor of being awarded a certified 4 Yarmulke™ rating.


    Great movie! Definitely an opening night flick! Go see it this weekend...
  • 11/11/2007

    Weird Cell Phone Picture: #4 (Stairway to Heaven)...

    As I drove to work this morning, I noticed something to my right. I looked over (past the self storage facility) and saw this.

    It's a stairway... that leads to nowhere...

    I feel like it should be on display as a part of Ripley's Believe It or Not...

    AAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH...

    ...is what I'll be screaming tomorrow!

    I'm not sure if anyone actually notices, but the banner to my blog changes every month. You see, each banner represents whatever may be happening in my life during that certain time. For instance, last month, the banner had a birthday cake on it because, well, it was my birthday.

    This month's banner has a picture of a roller coaster on it. Specifically, a roller coaster at Six Flags Magic Mountain. It's there because, tomorrow, Puddles and I will be too.

    I've never been to Magic Mountain before, so I'm looking forward to riding all of the super sweet roller coasters. I will not, however, be riding any ride that is similar to the Supreme Scream (i.e. straight up and then drop down). Mainly because they scare the snot out of me and make me scream like a little girl...

    11/10/2007

    Writers' Strike...

    The latest issue of Entertainment Weekly to arrive in my mailbox has a cover story about the writers' strike going on right now.

    At first, I was wondering what all the fuss was about. After all, the general perception of anyone in the entertainment industry is that they're all rich. Why would they need more money? However, after seeing this video on Adam's blog, I have to say that I can empathize with the WGA. Take a look. I think it explains the situation quite well...



    Unfortunately, now that I've decided to empathize, I can't watch episodes of TV shows online or on iTunes until the strike is over. That way, I don't cross the picket lines...

    11/09/2007

    Follow Your Nose...

    I had a great idea on Wednesday night.

    As I was preparing for my 8th grade guys small group, I realized that the assigned student might forget to bring the snack. That means that I would need a backup plan. That's when I thought, "You know what would make an awesome snack? Cereal!" So, I picked up four boxes (to provide variety): Pops, Fruit Loops, Honey Smacks, and Captain Crunch; along with 3 gallons of milk (which was way too much).

    The guys loved it!

    Here's my favorite part: The kid who was supposed to bring snack did (doughnuts and gatorade). We had one guy who doesn't drink milk, so he poured red gatorade on his Captain Crunch and ate it. Editor's Note: See the above picture.

    It looked like his Captain Crunch was bleeding. Which is awesome...

    iTunes Receipt: Part 5...

    The past two editions of my iTunes Receipts have featured songs that I've loved jamming to on Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock (which I just beat on medium yesterday). So, now that that's over, I figured we'd get back to the normal stuff. Here's the latest five singles I picked up on iTunes...

  • Where I Stood by Missy Higgins

  • Free and Easy (Down the Road I Go) by Dierks Bentley

  • Stuttering by Ben's Brother

  • Good Life by Kanye West

  • Sideways by Citizen Cope
  • 11/08/2007

    Leave Me Alone...

    I've written posts about things I don't like before. I'm pretty sure I mentioned all of them in this post. Well, I have a new item to add to that list:

    The people who work at kiosks at the mall.

    Now, I should say that I've been sitting on this one for a while, in hopes that they would realize the error of their ways. But, they've forced my hand.

    As I was exiting the mall after seeing American Gangster (certified 4 Yarmulke™ rating), I was approached by 5 different kiosk-ers offering all of the latest wares in cell phones (2x), personal cooling bandanas, gold plated medallions, and tupperware. Here's the deal: I'm in a shopping mall. Since I'm not 13, you can assume that I'm there to shop, not just hang out. That means that, if I want something, I'll walk into a store and buy it. I shouldn't be made to feel like I'm walking through the alley full of games at the state fair. I feel like I've got to walk through the mall with my hand cupped to the side of my face while I look down. I mean, come on, I had to suffer through that enough that summer I gave swimming lessons to the elderly. Editor's Note: That was a joke. I never taught the elderly how to swim.

    So, kiosk-ers of the world, after you come to the realization that the things that you sell are so bad that you couldn't afford to get a whole store to put them in, let's make a deal: if you don't approach me as I'm trying to enjoy my DQ soft-serve, I won't spray your kiosk down with a fire extinguisher. Just let me know...

    Editor's Note: As a bonus part of the story, I was carded when I purchased my ticket to the movie. I'm 27, have a 4 day beard, and I was carded. I guess I don't look like I'm 30...

    11/06/2007

    Weird Cell Phone Picture: #3 (Arm Candy)...

    I was at an incredible new mall on Saturday night. It had an REI, an Apple store, a Barnes & Noble, and a P.F. Chang's. I could live there.

    Anyway, as I walked by a window display I couldn't help but notice this interesting looking mannequin. Notice anything different about it? Need a hand figuring it out? I wouldn't want to strongarm you into solving the puzzle. OK, I'm done with the lame jokes. The mannequin's arm is abnormally long.

    I marveled at it for a few minutes myself, then stood by and watched 4 others double-take as they passed by. I hope they leave it like that...


    11/05/2007

    My DVD Library: Volume 2...

    I wrote a post last month sharing some of my favorite DVDs. I also promised that it would be the first in a series. So, as promised, here's part two. Five more favorites from my collection...

    1) That Thing You Do- This was the first DVD I ever bought. Written, directed, starring, and catered by Tom Hanks; it's the story of a band who makes it big (with an oscar nominated song that lost to a song from Evita) then struggles find its second single and eventually breaks up. I can't even begin to tell you how much I love this film. If you've never seen it, do yourself a favor and go out and rent or buy it. Editor's Note: I also learned how to play the drums by practicing to the song.

    2) Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind- People ask me all the time, as a movie lover, what my favorite movie is. My answer is always, "Gosh, there are so many. Can you give me a genre?" But, if forced, I'd have to say that this is that movie. It's a creative masterpiece. It stars Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet as two estranged lovers, one of which has decided to erase her memories of the other. I love everything about this movie: the acting, the visuals... everything.

    3) The Count of Monte Christo- This movie stars Dumbledore, Jesus, and the guy from Memento. Even to this day, Dr. Olshine gets on to me about seeing 4 times in the dollar theater the weekend before finals. If you don't know about the story, you should probably read more. Just kidding. Such great themes of grace, redemption, forgiveness, and sword fighting. All of which are in the Bible.

    4) Cinderella Man- C'mon... When's the last time you saw a bad Russell Crowe movie? Proof of Life? Yeah right, like anyone saw that... This is the story of down and out boxer, Jim Braddock. Wonderfully acted by Crowe, Renee Zellweger, and Paul Giamatti. Do yourself a favor and see this one today!

    5) Signs- The first time I saw this movie I had to go home to a big, empty house at night. I was scared to death that an alien was hiding in a closet, so I turned on all the lights and "forgot" to turn them off when I went to sleep. I was 20. This was, what I consider to be, M. Night Shyamalan's last great movie. I love how the ending ties up the whole movie. So great...

    11/03/2007

    Fifteen Ways Stores Trick You Into Spending...

    Now that we're getting so close to the holiday shopping season, we're all being trained to think of the importance of getting into the stores and getting our credit and debit cards warmed up.

    I found this article a while ago, but began thinking about it again yesterday. I don't think that every one of these principles applies to ministry, but it is interesting to see how purposeful grocery stores are in their construction and organization of their layouts.

    Most of the time, when it comes to creating our "youth rooms", we youth workers only think of what looks cool. But is there a better way for us to use our spaces to direct and lead our students? Not that we want to subliminally manipulate them... But, why not use the unspoken to communicate our message too? Simple things like how the outside entrance to your room looks can affect how inviting it is to newcomers. Do you think about the first impression you make on a person when you meet them? Why not stand at the door (looking in) of your meeting room and think about the first thing a student sees as they walk in? Their first impression can affect how they view your ministry forever.

    Just food for thought...

    You can check out the article I mentioned above here. Here's a clip of a few of my faves...

    3. The toy section is far, far, far away from the entrance. Naturally, if I take my son to the store, he wants to visit the toy section. He gets excited and starts shouting "Ball! Ball!" to me when we go in because he remembers the enormous plastic balls in the toy section...

    4. Impulse-oriented items are near the checkouts. Stores stock the latest DVD releases and "froth" magazines there, along with overpriced beverages and candy...

    5. The most expensive versions of a product are the ones at eye level. Take a look sometime at the arrangement of different choices for a particular product, such as laundry detergent. Almost every time, the most expensive options per unit are placed at eye level, so you see them first when you enter an aisle...

    9. Stop, stop, stop. You add items to your cart only if you stop, right? So stores are designed to maximize the number of stops you have to make...

    11/02/2007

    This Commercial is So Sweet...

    Even if my life wasn't about Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock right now, this commercial would still be sweet. Such an awesome idea pulled off so well...

    I Wish...

  • ...that I knew what the future holds... (Staring into the unknown is a scary thing.)

  • ...that they sold Little Debbie Christmas Tree Cakes year round...

  • ...I could figure out how to make a semi-living writing...

  • ...that Perfect Strangers was out on DVD...

  • ...that I could spend just one day with my friends from Orange County and CIU...

  • ...that all of these Bee Movie promos on NBC would stop... (WE GET IT ALREADY! YOU OWE SEINFELD! STOP WITH THE TV JUNIORS!)

    -Oh yeah, and...-

  • ...I wish that McDonald's sold its sweet n' sour sauce in the store... (I'd buy so much of it...)
  • 11/01/2007

    iTunes Receipt: Part 4 (2nd Guitar Hero III Edition)...


    I've made it through the rest of the game on Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock. Well, all of it except the last song, a metal version of The Devil Went Down to Georgia. Editor's Note: IT'S REALLY HARD! Anywho, here's a few more favorites from the game that I picked up on iTunes this afternoon...

  • Paint it Black by The Rolling Stones

  • My Name is Jonas by Weezer

  • WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE!!! by Guns N' Roses

  • Black Magic Woman by Santana

  • Cult of Personality by Living Colour
  • Newest Pic of the Clown Prince...

    Have you been wondering about the sequel to 2005's Batman Begins, The Dark Knight? Well, here's the latest production photo. Another great pic of Heath Ledger as the Clown Prince of Crime...