Thursday, January 28, 2010

Random Randomness, Nippy Dinkle

  • I've thrown this out there before, but is "Nippy" really an appropriate word to use in a cartoon? I've caught it a few times. I'm not sure of the exact origins of the word, but doesn't it have to do with the effects of cold air on nipples?
  • There's no stopping James Cameron now. He could pitch a movie about feces eating sock puppets, request a 100 million dollar budget with Fred Dinkle as his leading man and still get a green light.
  • As bad as things are in Michigan, at least we don't have this guy trying to help our state government. That whole Soylent Green thing seems less far fetched when you hear politicians talk this way.
  • When an iPad can run Photoshop, let me know. I also look forward to making phone calls on it. You could really be face-to-face just like on the Jetsons. (I know it's not really a phone - yet) I'm also guessing that you don't want to drop the sucker, and I would drop it. So, no iPad for me until it runs Photoshop and can take a few drops, kicks, and probably a wash in the washing machine (cause I'd find some way of doing that too).
  • I find it strange that many 'movie review sites' out there will "review" movies they haven't even watched. They'll inform you right off that they didn't actually screen the movie and then launch into why they think the movie isn't worth watching. I'm not sure what bothers me more about it: their reckless judgementalism or their laziness in accomplishing the one single thing we've gone to them for.
  • Here's a great review of the horror classic, Black Sabbath by Mario Bava, starring Boris Karloff (1963). This is one of my all time favorite movies.
  • I'm finding that, instead of looking for new sources of inspiration, I should just re-visit those things that got my fires burning in the first place. Turns out they still work.
  • It's funny to jump on Yahoo Answers and see all the kids trying to get easy answers for their homework.
  • Ugly Betty's and Lost's final seasons? Coincidence?
  • Best Owen quote so far this week: (very randomly) "When the snow goes away the opossums can come back." As far as I know, we've never had an opossum anywhere near our house.
  • I don't know who Fred Dinkle is either.
  • Perhaps we could aid our ailing economy by charging people to use Farmville.
  • Man, it's a bit nippy outside today isn't it?

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Horror Movie "Remake"

There have been a lot of heavy thing on my mind the past few weeks. I'm feeling the need for a post that's less serious, more fun. If you don't like horror movies, you might not find this one as interesting.

To me, horror movies are a form of escapism. For a short time we can visit a world where the horrors are make believe, and we can then exit that world hopefully with a little perspective on our real life horrors.

Hollywood seems to be stuck in a remake zone. The results are hit or miss. When things are basically just copied from the original material, in my opinion, we have a miss on our hands. If the original warrants a remake, chances are, it's already a great movie. Adding modern special effects and current stars doesn't really make things better for me, and chances are whatever made the original great had nothing to do with effects of star power. I also feel that all of the money and effort put into a remake would be just as well spent on something completely new that hasn't been done before.

For me, a remake works when it ventures into re-imagining territory. I want something new. I don't see the sense in watching a "new" movie that takes me through the same exact experience I could go through by watching the original.

When I was about five years old, my older cousin tricked me into watching the original Halloween on television one night. Keep in mind, home entertainment in the late seventies, early eighties consisted of your television and nothing else. We didn't have cable and VCRs were years away. So, we watched a highly edited, prime time television version of Halloween. To be honest, I didn't make it past the first five minutes. I was scared out of my mind. I cried and screamed until she turned the channel, probably to Welcome Back Carter.

I was scared out of my mind, but a seed had also been planted. My boogey man was now Michael Meyers, the main monster in the Halloween series. A few short years later, when I started to love horror movies, Halloween held a special place for me.

For those unfamiliar with the franchise, the original set of movies has a mythos about it. There are all these unanswered questions that add to the fun: What are his motivations? Is he being controlled by outside forces? Is he somehow supernatural or just extremely driven? Why Halloween? Why would a kid kill his older sister? Is that really a William Shatner mask? There was even an early novelization that tried to answer some of these questions.

Chances are, if you love the older Halloween movies, you love the mystery. In talking with other fans, you find that everyone has their own opinions about those mysteries. The mystery is a big part of the fun. Examining the possibilities brought fans together.

I think this is why so many Halloween fans hated the Rob Zombie movies. In his re-imagining, he left out the mystery all together. His first movie starts with a clear explanation of what causes young Michael to snap. Any mystery left at the end of the first movie (why is he chasing his younger sister?) is cleared up by the end of the second movie.

I get why fans of the originals hate the "remakes." I think they hate them because they're not exactly remakes. They're more re-imaginings. This group of movies leaves out what they loved about the originals.

I love the originals. The reason the remakes don't upset me is that I can always return to the originals. They're available on DVD, and they're still chock full of everything I originally loved: the suspense, the dread, they still ooze everything Halloween.

The things is, I enjoyed the remakes too. They're still horror movies. They still shock and horrify me. They're well written and the acting isn't bad. I don't love them as much as I love the originals, but I see no reason to hate them. They don't destroy the originals. The originals exist on their own. If you have to have a dose of the mystery, visit the originals, ignore the new films, but don't deny fans the opportunity to see this new aspect of old favorites.

There's a new Nightmare on Elm Street remake coming out soon. To be honest, I never liked the originals. The hokier they got, the less I tolerated them. So, I have hope for this remake too. I'm hoping it's more of a re-imagining. I hope the character of Freddy has more carve than camp.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

No Words

There are some situations that words can not comfort. Shane Hipps would say, "You are sometimes the message." Meaning, you offer the most comfort just by showing up. I hope that was the case today. I certainly had no words.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Angry with God

I feel the need for a disclaimer. The following view is my own. These beliefs are not necessarily shared by most Christians, Free Methodists, Evangelicals or otherwise. They are conclusions I have come to through years of living, studying, and probably over-analyzing.

I'm angry at God today. I'm angry even though I do not believe the situation that is upsetting me is God's fault. The issue of 'Why God Lets Bad Things Happen to Good People' has been front and center for about a week now because of the earthquakes in Haiti. Today I'm also upset about something a bit closer to home.

About a year ago, one of my brother's friends lost a baby. Last night, his girlfriend's cousin lost their three month old. These are people that he is close to, and I see that these things effect him. I don't even know these people, and I feel bad. I've been in their shoes.

I used to fall on the old idea of 'everything happens for a reason.' One person's pain might accomplish a greater good in some, often unseen, way. That never really sat well with me though.

I just can't imagine a loving deity sitting somewhere with a clipboard that lists our names with end dates printed next to them. I'm not saying that He's totally out of the picture, that He doesn't have a plan. I think there's a clear beginning and end for mankind, but I'm not so sure there's a clear end in mind for each of us. That idea seems to defeat the idea of free will for me.

The story that turned this idea around for me was the Adam and Eve story, one of the very first in the Bible. Whether you take it literally or metaphorically, at one point mankind lived with God in near perfection, every need met without danger. Deciding to rebel against all that they are very clearly cast out into a world where every need isn't met, where death is possible. Anne Rice calls it the "Savage Garden" as if we live in a place that is a counter balance to the place we were intended to live.

The idea that we live in a realm where God can't protect us from every blow makes much more sense to me. It makes more sense if we're to believe that we truly have free will, that we're freely allowed to acknowledge God or ignore Him.

I must point out that I do believe God sometimes pulls strings here and there. I've been in situations where mere coincidence seems like an incredibly weak explanation. I've had prayers answered in ways that taught me more than my simple wishful imaginings could have done.

Some would argue that we have good reason to be angry with a god that would turn us out into such a harsh and cruel world instead of protecting us. I'm pretty sure it was more our decision than His. I'm sure, being Omnipotent and all, He knew we'd make the wrong choice at some point, but that whole 'free will' thing comes up again. I think living in a world that can be savage and cruel teaches us about love in a way we wouldn't have been able to learn if we lived in a paradise. I mean, could we really appreciate the goodness we're capable of if we were in an environment where everything falls into place for us?

I think I'm angry today because there's no one else to turn to with these emotions. I don't think anyone's to blame. We live in a world where the people we love the most die, sometimes for reasons doctors can't even explain.

I know it's not exactly your fault Lord, but it sucks.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


We don’t watch TV much anymore. When the box is on, it’s either fixed to the local PBS station or playing a DVD. When I went to bed last Tuesday night, I read a blurb about an earthquake in Haiti. The story didn’t say much. The headline didn’t hook me.

On Wednesday, my dad, brother Bob, and I went to see Avatar. My dad mentioned that they still were unable to contact anyone in Haiti, even those at the American embassy. I was shocked. I didn’t know it was that bad.

It’s hard not to be depressed when things like this happen. A lot of people ignore these things, close their emotions off from what is happening "so far away." I find it hard to do that. I dwell on my inability to help. If I had a job, if I didn’t have kids to care for right now, I believe I’d be on an airplane or at the very least, donating money.

My dad kept saying, "Oh, you wouldn't want to volunteer for that. It's not like they'd be putting you up in a hotel or anything." My dad and I differ a bit on these types of ideas.

“Evangelical” televangelist, Pat Robertson reared his ugly comments shortly after the tragedy. He claimed that Haiti had made a deal with the devil, and God was punishing them for it. That made me very angry. The Bible is full of scriptures that tell us that God doesn’t do those sorts of things. Jesus dispells the idea specifically. It angers me that someone portrays Christianity this way, with fear instead of love. Many spoke out against his comments.

Tony Campolo wrote:

"I don’t believe God called this disaster down on Haiti, but I do believe God’s grace and love, flowing through those of us who are surrendered to God’s will, can bring healing and redemption to our Haitian brothers and sisters."

One Christian blogger pointed out that none of us cared much for Haiti in past decades while its people lived lives of incredible poverty. Our politicians, our country has done little or nothing to help these people or their country. His plea was this:

“Please, please give generously to help Haiti get back on its feet. But in a week or so when the story has gone from our screens, let’s not forget them, and let’s try to get the systemic issues sorted out. They need debt forgiven. They need minimum wage agreements. They need symmetric fair trade agreements. They need to be given a fair chance, especially by the US.”
- Kester Brewin from his blog: // __ issues. in code. __ //

The problem, of course, is that there are tons of places all over the globe that need help. Individually, we can't help them all. I believe we could help most of them if we acted collectively, in an organized way, but I also realize that there are many that just don't care.

Unlike Mr. Robertson, I don't think God is currently reveling in revenge or anger. I believe He's in mourning. The Bible is pretty clear: He suffers with us and for us.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Fast Food Stories

The following stories are all true, to the best of my recollection. They have not been embelished for your enjoyment. Having lived through these incidents, I wish they had.
I worked in fast food for about four years, paying my way through college. I started as a cashier, but quickly climbed the prestigious ladder to management. It always amazed me that people would obviously take out more deep seeded problems in asinine ways usually under the guise of disatisfaction regarding french fries.
  • At least once a month (the times I actually heard about), someone would do a Number 2 in the Mens' room sink.
  • A lady successfully sued the company for tripping on a beer bottle that fell out of her own car. I wrote up the initial complaint. There were plenty of empties. The fact that only one fell out was surprising.
  • At least once a week, a co-worker of mine would get hit by something thrown by an angry customer. Items include cartons of french fries, sandwiches, bags of garbage. One guy threw a large cup of ice water on a girl I was working with because it didn't have enough ice in it. He cussed at us as he walked away, not giving us enough time to explain that both water and ice were free and of no consequence to us. I felt bad because I had filled the cup, not her.
  • A very drunk gentleman came in one night and threatened to kill one of my teenaged employees because he felt the kid had been "laughing at him" as he went through the drive-thru. The best part was, he brought his wife and young child inside to share in the festivities.
  • I watched in horror one afternoon as a lady drove too close to our cautionary barriers breaking the driver's side mirror off her brand new car. She calmly ordered food and then proceeded to scrape the cement structure down through her door into her rear quarter panel. She paid for her order, parked, and then came inside demanding money "because she had just bought the car." The barriers had been there for years. No one had ever hit them before. They were actually behind a curb. She demanded that we call the police. The officer that showed up explained to her that, if she had simply turned the damage into the insurance company, she wouldn't have received the reckless driving ticket he now had to write her.
  • I don't remember a day passing without some customer using fowl language directed at us.
  • I remember the first time a guy came in that was obviously in a huge hurry. Before getting to the cash register he very loudly asked what we had "ready to go." We explained that we typically made everything fresh to order. He agreed to wait for a sandwich and fries. About two minutes in, as his sandwich was already half scarfed, he started cussing because he didn't have time to wait any longer. He had important places to be because he had an important job, not like ours. He demanded a refund on the fries, which took longer than the fries needed to finish cooking. Whenever these people would come in, I'd wonder, if you knew you were in such a big hurry, if you had to be somewhere that soon, why did you even stop?
  • We had a local judge that frequently came through drive-thru. He was very particular. He always ordered the exact same thing, and acted like we should always know what his "usual" was. The problem being, we had thirty employees that rotated shifts regularly. Not to mention it's hard to tell who someone is when they're in a car twenty or more feet away speaking through a hard to understand speaker system. He always demanded his drink be placed inside his bag with the rest of his meal. We messed it up once. He called on the phone to tell me how "f-ing stupid" we all were. I told him he had no right to talk to us that way, no matter who he was.
  • A guy came through drive-thru one night and he was exposed. Even more disturbing was the fact that his wife and children were in the car with him. It was summer. They had apparently been to the beach, but dad apparently didn't like to wear a suit. Luckily, I didn't have to verify this one myself. There was another manager on duty that just couldn't resist handing the order out.
  • One of my first customer complaints as a manager was from a guy that we had watched enter the store, rummage through our garbage, and then approach the counter claiming that he'd been given empty cartons through drive-thru. In his hand he had a ketchup smeared bag full of used cartons and fry containers that we'd just watched him fish from the trash. Now, we'd been taught that the customer was always right. Part of me wanted to laugh so hard, but another part of me was very, very angry. I explained that the cartons were dirty, and had therefore, at some point, contained food. I told him that, if he couldn't produce a receipt, he'd be out of luck. The person working drive-thru, also trying hard not to laugh, had never seen the guy before.
  • A minister came in one day wearing all white, surrounded by 10 to 12 nuns also in all white. As he ordered food, they stood protectively around him, never ordering anything for themselves. He leaned in to the female cashier and explained to her that men were not allowed to wait on other men, therefore I was not allowed to put anything on his tray. I took a short break. The nuns sat quietly while the minister ate his lunch.
  • We opened around 10:30 a.m. About ten minutes after opening one morning, a station wagon pulled up in the drive-thru. A lady in her thirties paid for the food, and we noticed she had a very large, obvious 40 oz. beer between her legs. As we asked her a few pleasantry questions (do you need sauce?), it was obvious she had already been hitting the bottle. The part that made us call the police was the five kids of various ages not buckled in residing in the back seats.
  • One guy threatened me and my 16 year old janitor with bodily harm because he claimed to have seen our American flag touch the ground as it was being hung. He wanted it immediately burned because many of his good friends had died for their country. Did I mention it was about 6:45 a.m. and his wife was with him? I explained that I'd have to check with my supervisor prior to destroying company property and starting fires. When that didn't work, I told him we'd let the police hand it. The janitor swore up and down that there was no way the flag touched the ground, and no way the guy could have even witnessed it if it had.
Good Times!

Monday, January 4, 2010

What I'm Praying for From 2010

2010 holds tons of promise for us. 2009 wasn’t good to us in a lot of ways. There was a lot of hurting in relation to our finances, which is always a strain on every other aspect of life, especially our marriage. I've been unemployed since July. I’m praying that 2010 finds us in a better place - soon.

I pray that, at least, my kids have health insurance. I pray that we’re all healthy enough anyway.

I pray that my trespasses for 2009 are already forgiven by whomever I did wrong.

I pray that Gage starts to speak more regularly. I pray that Owen continues to be the imaginative, quirky kid he often is - approaching every new thing with zeal.

I pray that my wife grows to love me more and not even a bit less.

I pray that I find my place again, my purpose when it comes to employment. I pray that I hold on to a lot of my creativity no matter what field I end up in.

I pray that I grow closer to God and remain steadfast in my faith.

I pray that our parents are healthy and strong. I pray that my brothers settle down even more, and find some happiness for themselves (neices and/or nephews please).

I pray that we have more friends in 2010. I pray that the people I miss in my life, miss us too.

I pray that we spread more love, joy, and peace.