Friday, February 29, 2008

Peter O'Toole

"In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face, is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is more meaningful than our criticism designating it so." I was watching Ratatouille this morning with the boys, and I was really struck by this quote from one of the characters Anton Ego (voiced by Peter O'Toole). I guess what stuck out to me was the idea of how easy being a critic is and how easy it is to thrive on negative criticism. I find this so true in my own life where I can find at least 10 things to complain about or criticize before I can usually find one thing that is good. I am surrounded by this notion everywhere I go. At work, we critique everything we do, always looking at the bad [framing it in the disguise of "how could things go better"] first and trivializing the good. In my relationships, I often notice the things that drive me nuts and usually complain about them much sooner than I recognize the good. My poor wife often gets "left-over compliments" because I tend to notice things like the dishes being left undone or the amount of things she has asked me to help with around the house. It seems like it is much easier to to say "NO!" to my kids than it is to give them patience, understanding, and encouragement. Even with my own self I am apt to offer up more negativity than anything positive. Yes the role of a critic is easy. Unfortunately, I do not believe that is what the world needs from me...or anyone else for that matter. Like anything good in life, discipline is needed to get it. Therefore, instead of allowing myself to live in the realm of "easy" negative criticism, I would like to try to be more positive, uplifting and encouraging. Will that be easy to do? I would assume not...but sometimes I need to face the bitter truth and move onto a better tomorrow.


I am reminded of a quote from one of my all-time favorite movies The American President . [written by Hollywood's greatest dialogue writer, Aaron Sorkin] In it, the character played by Michael J. Fox says, "People want leadership, Mr. President, and in the absence of genuine leadership, they'll listen to anyone who steps up to the microphone. They want leadership. They're so thirsty for it they'll crawl through the desert toward a mirage, and when they discover there's no water, they'll drink the sand." In terms of this political scene right now, I think this is where we find most Americans. We are in the position of wanting someone with genuine leadership who can give us something to believe in. In the event there is no one with genuine leadership to lead - we will "drink the sand" of whoever sounds best. In the campaign for the Presidency in 1992, James Carville got William Jefferson Clinton to focus on three things: the economy, healthcare, and "change" (as in change in Washington and the need to move forward for America). It was a highly succesful campaign and got Clinton elected over the incumbent George HW Bush. Whether or not a person believes Clinton delivered on his promises is certainly debatable. But the point is that Clinton gave people a reason to believe, hope and think that he knew what he was doing. He focused on the 3 things that hit Americans most. Flash foward to 2008. We sit here looking for the same things. Our economy is in the crapper. It is clearly seen in the housing market crash, the ever lowering federal interest rate in the hopes of something good happening, the rise in price of consumer needs like food and gasoline, and the list goes on and on. The current President can hem-and-haw all he wants about this not being a reason to panic but in the lives of real people it is. Most of America is scared to death about what is going to happen economically for us all. Healthcare is another issue. Let me be the first to say that I do not think universal healthcare is the answer or the thing that we should pursue. On the other hand, I think the cost of health insurance and anything to do with medicine is way too high. It is easy to blast ideas on providing healthcare for all people unless you are one of the people who are gambling that their health will stay good because they don't have the insurance or money to pay for anything "bad." Finally there is the notion of change. I don't think we want as much change as we say we want. No, I think change has more to with the idea that we want someone to step into the Oval Office and truly lead this country and this world. Someone who gives a rip about people of all races, religions, and economic statuses. We want someone who is going to lead not based upon popular opinion or personal impulse but on what is actually right. We want someone not in politics for personal gain but for the sole purpose of leading people. Connect with real people, let us know you care, and take us where we are not today. That is the change that will matter. Who is the person? Are they actually running for the Presidency right now? Who knows. That is for us as voters to decide. My hope is that all of the lofty promises, hopes, and dreams that Senators McCain, Obama, and Clinton are throwing out actually mean something to them. Whoever takes office - give us some genuine leadership. Michael Douglas responds to Michael J. Fox in the movie with this, "Lewis, we've had presidents who were beloved, who couldn't find a coherent sentence with two hands and a flashlight. People don't drink the sand because they're thirsty. They drink the sand because they don't know the difference." Do we know the difference? Do our candidates know the difference? Only time will tell.

Monday, February 25, 2008


There is nothing in life that makes me feel more helpless then when my kids are sick. Trenton picked up a nasty sickness over the weekend, and today hit rock-bottom. Danielle finally took him to the doctor where the sickness is so bad that he is having asthma-like breathing difficulties. His poor little body is burning up, he has a terrible cough, and he has to wheeze in order to breathe. It is the saddest thing I have ever encountered (mainly because he is my child). Anyways, it has me feeling completely helpless. I hate not being able to just take away the pain and suffering with just the touch of my finger. I would do just about anything to get that poor kid feeling better - including taking his sickness into my lungs. Unfortunately I am unable to do so, and so I sit helpless and a little scared, praying that God will heal my little man. This is the worst.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

There's a monster outside my room, can I have a glass of water?

While Danielle and the boys took a nap this afternoon, I watched Signs - one of my all time favorite movies. Ever since seeing this movie in the theater I have enjoyed it. One of the things that has always stood out to me in the film is the part with Mel Gibson and Joaquin Phoenix on the couch talking and Mel's character states, "People break down into two groups when they experience something lucky. Group number one sees it as more than luck, more than coincidence. They see it as a sign, evidence, that there is someone up there, watching out for them. Group number two sees it as just pure luck. Just a happy turn of chance. I'm sure the people in Group number two are looking at those fourteen lights in a very suspicious way. For them, the situation isn't fifty-fifty. Could be bad, could be good. But deep down, they feel that whatever happens, they're on their own. And that fills them with fear. Yeah, there are those people. But there's a whole lot of people in the Group number one. When they see those fourteen lights, they're looking at a miracle. And deep down, they feel that whatever's going to happen, there will be someone there to help them. And that fills them with hope. See what you have to ask yourself is what kind of person are you? Are you the kind that sees signs, sees miracles? Or do you believe that people just get lucky? Or, look at the question this way: Is it possible that there are no coincidences?" I just like the thought process throughout the whole film that every possible thing happens for a specific reason. From the death of his wife, to the asthma of his son, to the annoying habit of his daughter, to the eccentric nature of his younger brother - Mel Gibson's character Graham Hess is confronted with "signs" or coincidences depending on what group you fall into. It makes me look at my own life with everything that goes on in it and I sit and it possible that there are no coincidences? There are a lot of quirky and weird things that have happened that have lead me to where I am today. How much of that is by very design of Almighty God and how much of that is by "that's the way the cookie crumbles". Every time I watch that movie these thoughts swirl in my head. I like when movies, television, music, books, etc make me think. Makes them all the more worthwhile. So I leave anyone who might be reading it possible that there are no coincidences?

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Free Throws

The undefeated #1 Memphis Tigers just lost to the Volunteers from Tennessee. Without taking any credit away from Tennessee for a well played & well coached game, it is disappointing to see a team lose because they are lazy basketball players. To me if you cannot hit free throws its because you are too lazy to work on it. They hit 8-17 [47.1%l] and it truly cost them - arguably the most crucial aspect of the game. It reminds me of the 2003 National Title game when the Jayhawks shot 12-30 [40%] from the charity stripe and cost themselves the game. It is the little things that matter in college sports, and it is frustrating as a college basketball fan to watch these kids who are given EVERYTHING throw up bricks on the line. As a team on the whole season they are shooting just a shade under 59% from the line. If I was Calipari, I would have those boys shooting free throws in practice. They are too talented and too deep to be losing because of a simple fundamental. In their three "almost" losses this year - look at their free throw percentage: 39% against USC, 51.2% against UTEP (including 20 missed!), and 54.5% against UAB. A team with the 4th worst free throwing shooting percentage in college basketball is not going to win the national title. So Rose, Douglas-Roberts, Dozier, and Co...hit the gym and learn to make a free throw. Who knows, with some practice, you might be cutting down the nets come April 7th in San Antonio.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Do you believe in miracles? YES!

It has been 28 years since Al Michaels [ASU grad fyi] called out perhaps the most famous line in sports history on ABC. What a moment! It has been said that it is the greatest sports moment of the 20th century, and certainly one of the happier highlights of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union [well from an American perspective at least]. It still is amazing that a bunch of college kids - most who would not even make a splash beyond the college level - could take down the well oiled, "professional" Soviet team. My favorite part is that most of the team was from Minnesota as well as coach Herb Brooks! Go Minnesota!!! Well anyways, I think I am going to watch Miracle today in honor of the great sports event. Tip of the hat to the Boys of Winter today. Your inspiring play continues to make us proud long after its success.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Hate & Anger

Anne Lamott once said,“You can safely assume that you've created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.” Lately the hatred of people around the world for each other has been on my heart. It saddens me how much we have left the ideas of tolerance and respect by the wayside and have let our anger over the differences we all have boil into hatred. Just today, an angry mob in Serbia [over the United States' support of Kosovo's independence] attacked the US Embassy in Belgrade. No Americans were killed but one of the protestors was. Now I will honestly admit terrible ignorance on my behalf on the entire history of the former Yugoslavia, but I know it is filled with violence, anger, and hatred. Whatever the reasons, it is known that this split of Serbia & Kosovo isn't exactly sitting well with everyone. Interestingly enough, it was 43 years ago that Malcolm X was killed in the Audubon Ballroom in Manhattan by angry members of the Nation of Islam. Once again, hatred and anger showing their ugly faces. I know this is kind of a jumbled post, but all of this violence over anger/hate just does not sit well with me. It is frustrating that we as human beings cannot get over our own biases and thoughts to see another person's viewpoint. If a person does not believe exactly what I believe in - they must be wrong. Not once does it seem like we take the time to understand why others believe what they believe. I see this in my life all of the time. For me it can range from simple things like sports and music preference to more complex things like parenting styles, religious beliefs, and political stances. No matter what the topic though, when someone else disagrees I feel the need to defend myself and argue why the other person is wrong. When did it become "wrong" to disagree over something? I wish SO MUCH that this would somehow not describe the Chuch - and yet look around - thousands of denominations, all split and developed because of anger (hatred?) over disagreements. The problem lies in that we, as a human race, have chosen to take our arguments and anger to the point of killing. Murder and killing reigns in a world filled with anger & hatred all stemming from intolerance. Instead of stopping the violence and trying to understand - we continue to build up our grudges, frustrations, and hate. I am not sure if there is anything that can be done. The pessimist inside of me wants to say that it is impossible to overcome all of this. And yet...part of me wants to believe that I can make a difference. That somehow, someway I can help put an end to all of the violence, frustration, anger and hate. Who knows. Maybe I can make a difference, maybe I cannot. All I know is that I want to live the rest of my life trying to understand other people. I want to take the time to listen. I want to take the time to be tolerant. Most of all, I want to stop thinking that somehow my way is God's way, and therefore the right way. Whether that can change the world or not, is not up to me. It changes my world, though, and that's a pretty good start.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Remember the Maine!, To h**l with Spain!

February 15, 1898. 110 years ago to the day, the USS Maine was sunk in the harbor at Havana, Cuba. 274 men would lose their lives either in the explosion or soon after from injury. To this day the reason for the explosion and subsequent sinking of the ship is unknown. However, it did help spark the beginning of what Theodore Roosevelt would call "the splendid little war" better known as the Spanish-American War. Interestingly enough, President McKinley did not want to go to war. However, the outrageous reporting of the news by Joseph Pulitzer & William Randolph Hearst helped spread American dissent with Spain. When that was combined with the pro-war sentiments of Teddy Roosevelt and others, war was inevitable. The war was short, and depending upon who you ask, very "successful". The United States would take off at this point on its way to becoming a world power. Spain, on the other hand, would begin its decline as a world power. Outside of gaining Guam, Puerto Rico, the Philippines...perhaps the biggest thing the war did was launch the career of Teddy Roosevelt. If you are interested in learning more about this, I recommend a great book by G.J.A. O'Toole. Roosevelt would later say, "Wars are, of course, as a rule to be avoided; but they are far better than certain kinds of peace." A fascinating man at a fascinating time.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Alexander Pope

How happy is the blameless vestal's lot! The world forgetting, by the world forgot. Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind! Each pray'r accepted, and each wish resign'd; Labour and rest, that equal periods keep; "Obedient slumbers that can wake and weep;" Desires compos'd, affections ever ev'n, Tears that delight, and sighs that waft to Heav'n. Grace shines around her with serenest beams, And whisp'ring angels prompt her golden dreams. For her th' unfading rose of Eden blooms, And wings of seraphs shed divine perfumes, For her the Spouse prepares the bridal ring, For her white virgins hymeneals sing, To sounds of heav'nly harps she dies away, And melts in visions of eternal day.

The above is an excerpt from Pope's Eloisa to Abelard. You may or may not recognize the title of one of the best movies ever made in the lines of the poem. As it is Valentine's Day, I am reminded of the opening lines of the movie as said by Jim Carrey's character Joel: random thoughts for Valentine's day, 2004. Today is a holiday invented by greeting card companies to make people feel like crap. I personally think Valentine's Day is pretty stupid. After all, why should I remember to love my wife and treat her like she is the greatest woman alive only one day out of the year? No amount of flowers, jewlery, cards or chocolate (well she might debate me on that one) will convey how much she means to me or how much I love her. So Hallmark - kiss my ugly, hairy rear. You aren't getting my money - I'll tell my wife myself how much I love her.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

"When I run I feel His pleasure"

I love running. There is just something so freeing about putting on my IPod and then just taking off for a run. I have to run outdoors (running on treadmills sucks, and there is no way I will do that weird elliptical machine) and I need to do it in the morning (of course in Arizona for most of the year running in the afternoon would kill you from the heat). About a year ago, while training for a 10 mile race, I did something to my knee. Not sure if I stepped wrong, twisted it, put too much strain, or whatever. But it hurt really bad and so I stopped. I had the doctor check it out and it turned out to be nothing. Yet every time I ran it kept hurting so I stopped running. Well this past fall I started back up and after a few runs got back into it and my knee only hurt a bit. Well then we moved and with the move and everything else in my life I got lazy and stopped running. I hate my laziness - whether it be at work, with the house, in my relationships, or with hobbies like running. Yet, so often it seems like no matter how much I don't want to be lazy and no matter how much I realize laziness hurts my just creeps up on me. It is amazing how I can watch laziness destroy my life and yet I hardly ever do anything to counteract it. Well flash forward to last week. I finally got fed up with my lack of running, and I woke up last Friday, put my shoes on (Asics by the way, all other running shoes are inferior) and ran about two and half miles. It was so liberating! I felt GREAT afterwards and my whole day improved. Well since that day I have 4 others times in the past week and it has been so awesome. It feels great to be back and fighting the laziness in my life in at least one area. The title of this blog comes from a quote in the movie Chariots of Fire, from the runner Eric Liddell (The Flying Scotsman). The funny thing is I think I understand what he said. It feels amazing to run, and I actually feel at peace with God as I run. It gives me a time to listen to music, be outside, do something I enjoy, discipline my body, and experience the day as the sun rises. To say the least, it has been incredible this past week. As Steve Prefontaine (the best American distance runner ever?) said, "You have to wonder at times what you're doing out there. Over the years, I've given myself a thousand reasons to keep running, but it always comes back to where it started. It comes down to self-satisfaction and a sense of achievement." Whatever the reason, I am going to keep pounding the pavement.


This movie looks freaking hilarious - but then again that's because I absolutely love Will Ferrell movies. The best is the Old Spice commericals coming out starring his character from the movie. I cannot wait for the movie!

Friday, February 8, 2008

What happened?

There was a time in my life that I went to a lot of movies in the theatre, and more often than not I would see movies I truly wanted to see. Now occasionally there was the dud or chick-flick that I saw because I was hoping to smooch some girl. Flash forward to now. I never see movies in the theatre. For one, it now costs $9.50 for a ticket [I think the oil industry must own the movie industry as well]. Secondly, I have kids. The funny thing is before I had kids, multiple couples told me to enjoy seeing movies in the theatre while I could, because once the kids came it would be over. I laughed figuring they must be exaggerating. Well it turns out there is some weird-spooky connection between having children and not seeing movies in the theatre. To all of the people who advised me on that...good call. And finally, even if Danielle and I figure out a night to go out, we still need to find a baby-sitter. Usually that is not a problem [ie Danielle figures that out] but I am listing it anyways. But in the rare occasion I do venture out into the gread wide open, all of my manhood and decision making has been stripped away from me. I do not see the movies I would choose to see [ie Rambo right about now] but instead see 27 Dresses. Now I have nothing against girly movies [in fact part of me secretly likes them] but I would rather snuggle up with Danielle at home and watch one of them. On a side note, I think there is only one plot line to all girly movies - some attractive girl is for some reason unnattractive (ie she dresses funny, she is too busy caring for others to care for herself, she is always dating the wrong guy, whatever) until she meets Mr. Right. They fall in love, they have a fight, they end back together, big sloppy kiss, the end. Back to my point, I would rather see the action packed or insanely funny movies in the theatre. Apparently though, that ship set sail a few years back. So if you find yourself reading this and you aren't married or at the very least you don't have kids...go and see Rambo for me. At least you'll enjoy the violence.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The conservatives vs. McCain battle rages on

Another article on McCain and his battle with conservatives. By the way, the guy who wrote this [Roland S. Martin] has some great viewpoints. I have enjoyed reading the stuff he produces.

Republican does not mean Christian

An interesting article I found on Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family. He is all up in arms because he thinks McCain is a terrible candidate and of course the democrats have no candidates worth considering because democrats are all heathens. Politics never cease to amaze me, especially when intertwined with religion. Now let me say that I have the upmost respect for Dr. Dobson and all that I know he wants from America in terms of family. I think that is very awesome and I agree that our nation could use more family values and a focus upon Christ. However, I think it is very absurd how this man seemingly links the Republican party with Christianity. My reading of Scripture shows that many of the religious leaders of Christ's day would have blasted Jesus as an extreme liberal simply because he cared about people and not religion. I am not saying that all democrats or liberals are more caring than conservatives, but as I have stated before, I do not think the Republican party deserves to have the monopoly on religious belief. For instance...I hate abortion. I think it is one of the most terrible crimes in the world today. Traditionally speaking, democrats have been pro-choice people. However, on the flip side I think all the nut-jobs wanting to arm everyone because of their interpretation of the 2nd Amendment is crazy too. The Republican party caters to a segment of the population. The real deal is that both sides have become too connected to special interest groups and serving those who will bolster their finances instead of actually caring about people. I think in times like this we need a leader for this country who will lead strong and listen to the people as much as possible. I don't happen to agree with all of the views of any of the candidates. But I will not single out a person just because their stance on stem cell research, taxes, abortion, gun control, marriage beliefs, death penalty, etc. disagrees with mine. How egotistical to assume that my brain and my beliefs are the only correct ones. Furthermore [going back to the article] I find it so ironic that Dobson can saddle up with the Mormon guy who blatantly pulls away from Scripture, adds to the Bible, and has a very different view on God - and call it ok. No offense Mitt, I am not holding your religion against you in this election, but I think Dobson is way off course if he can mix with him. What am I saying in all of this ramble? I think politics and religion have a funny way of mixing. Like the title of my blog, "intense feeling too often obscures the truth" in life [well said by the way Harry S Truman]. I have learned that my beliefs and ideas have often been shaped by my own personal biases and views. That does not make them wrong, but it sure as heck does not make them right. Dr. James Dobson - you have to do what you feel is right, but for pete's sake don't assume that just because McCain cusses and has a temper that he isn't a viable option.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

McCarthy? Good Call!

Great news out of Green Bay, Wisconsin. Ted Thompson signed coach Mike McCarthy to a new deal. Coach McCarthy has shown a great ability to coach and get the most out of basic and raw talent. Here's hoping that McCarthy can bring the Lombardi trophy back to the Frozen Tundra...and hopefully its next year in Favre's last season.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

And that's why they play the game...

Growing up watching sports with my father and two older brothers I was always convinced and absolutely positive about things. It just seemed like some things were so certain it was worthless for the actual event to even be played. I was always fond of saying "not even Jesus joining the team could help them win..." Yet time after time, my dad would always say, "that's why they play the game." It was a frustrating thing to hear because I wanted to continue to live in the irrational realm of impossibility that I had set up in my sweet little naive mind. I remember being convinced like my older brothers that the Oakland Athletics would never lose another World Series title. I remember thinking that the Miami Hurricanes would never fall out of the top 25 in college football. I remember thinking that the Golden Gophers would never win a college hockey title in my lifetime. I remember thinking the stupid Dallas Cowboys would never stop winning the Super Bowl. I remember thinking a lot of stupid things. And yet, time after time, my dad would only say, "and that's why they play the game." Flash forward to Super Bowl 42 in Glendale Arizona. The undefeated New England Patriots, from the "better" conference, winners of 3 Super Bowls since 2002, best offense, best defense, best coach, best quarterback, blah, blah, blah...against the New York Giants. Not a slouch team (after all they did beat my beloved Packers) but still just the New York football Giants [assist to Berman on that title]. Every part of me wanted to say that this game was in the bag before it started. Every part of me wanted to say that it was destiny for the Patriots. And yet...that's why they play the game. Congrats to the Giants and their fan base. A well deserved praise for a great season. Even more than that, though, a shout-out to my father. You may not always be right, but then again...that's why they play the game old man.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

The bare necessities of life will come to you...

For Christmas this year, Danielle and I decided to not get each other gifts. She broke her end of the deal though and picked me up something anyway [not that I mind!]. Well the gift she got me was some Disney movies knowing that not only do I love them but it would benefit the kids as well. The best part was that one of them was The Jungle Book. I absolutely love that movie! Growing up, it was the one kid's movie that my dad would always watch with us kids. He always claimed it was his favorite movie. Well when it was released from the Disney Vault I begged and pleaded with Danielle to have it and of course she spoiled me. Today I watched it with Trenton and we sat on the living room floor together, him sitting in my lap leaning back against my chest. I wrapped a blanket around us and then I put my arms around him. It was such an amazing moment in my very short tenure as a dad. He is such an amazing blessing in my life, and I could not possibly imagine life without him. I love being dad.

Friday, February 1, 2008

No matter what I do, you're gonna die Charlie.

Welcome back Lost! I absolutely love this show. It was nice to have it back on last night. Unfortunately, this season will only bring 8 episodes because of the stupid writer's strike. But this episode definitely brought forth some new questions and mystery (as if the show didn't have enough!). Good 2 have it back.