Thursday, October 30, 2008


One of the advantages of living in a quiet backwater of the blogosphere is a certain kind of Dutch courage. You figure no one is going to read your words except for a small group of friends plus the stray wanderer lost on their way to somewhere else.

But that's not always true.

Yesterday I mentioned Mark Matlock's book "Don't Buy the Lie" as a jumping off point for a commentary on Halloween.

This morning I wake up to discover a comment from, gulp, Mark Matlock! I mentioned that some of his approach "set me on edge" and Mark asked what that was. A fair question. Since I started it out here I thought I'd answer it here as well.

Let me be clear that I've read a total of about 9 paragraphs out of a book of 176 pages. It would appear that both Mark and I share a healthy skepticism on much of the occult stuff out there. His book did what good books always do - kick off some thoughtful consideration.

Sound like a case of energetic back pedalling? Not really. Think of it more along the lines of the natural Episcopal distaste for making guests feel uncomfortable or being caught in an unseemly spat.

So what put me on edge? Mostly from the section dealing with ghosts, parts of which I quote here:

The tellers are almost always people who heard it secondhand. In addition, people who claim to hear voices or see dead relatives almost always stop experiencing those things when they take anti psychotic medications. That suggests either that ghosts don't like medication or that people who are having intense emotional and psychological problems are more likely to see things that aren't there.

The Bible leaves little room for the existence of ghosts. It never, ever talks about the spirits of dead humans lingering here.

This is one of those moments when you're listening to someone with whom you basically agree then they suddenly say something uncomfortable. Not outrageous but just enough to make you squirm in your seat.

First, I challenge your assumption that there are virtually no first hand stories of encounters with ghosts. Curiously I heard just such a story this morning on the local NPR station. The lady believes she saw a ghost in a local theater. First hand. The genre has more than enough of these first hand stories to make me uncomfortable with this assertion.

Second, the pat statement about anti-psychotic drugs and folks who have seen ghosts is outrageous standing as it does without support. That some folks who are suffering from mental disorder are helped by drugs to eliminate unreal apparitions I do not contest. The way this is stated in the quote leaves the clear impression that ALL folks who claim to see ghosts (wait, aren't we supposed to assume that there really AREN'T any such folk?)would benefit by a quick dose of medicine to re-balance their minds. Again I think a great deal more support for the idea that folks who see ghosts are generally unbalanced needs to be offered.

Finally there is the "But it's not in the Bible" argument. Arguing (and I mean that in the rhetorical sense not the combative) from absence is one of the weakest approaches available. The Bible is silent on many things. The pure pursuit of this line of thought is the life of the Amish. I'm fairly sure that neither you nor I, being computer users, are ready to ride off in that direction.

As an Episcopalian I don't see the Bible as some sort of final word on things scientific. It spends very little time discussing how things take place (and in our more common belief does it in metaphorical terms rather than literal) and much more time telling us why. It is a book of faith that teaches us many important things. Through it we hear the voice and thoughts of God reduced to a manner which we are capable of understanding. It challenges us and in my experience very often surprises me. It is not a complete description of this world or the next. So we need to be careful about drawing absolute meanings especially from absences.

So those are my thoughts Mark. These are the places that made me uncomfortable. It may be that I've drawn an incorrect conclusion from an admittedly limited sample. I was only reacting to the passage provided. (For the record the excerpt was published in the Youth Specialties youth newsletter that I forward to the youth of this diocese in our diocesan youth newsletter. I noted my reservations as an editorial note there but thought that there was more than enough "good stuff" in Mark's words that I sent them un-edited.) Your thoughts triggered my thoughts and I appreciate that.

Thanks for checking in and leaving a comment!

Oh dear, it suddenly dawns on me that I'll probably be hearing from the Dutch embassy next! LOL.


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

On Halloween

Halloween is just around the corner. And with it comes a fair bit of noise from the faith community. Just recently I got an e-mail from the folks at Youth Specialties which quoted a book they publish "Don't Buy the Lie" by Mark Matlock. Mark is taking on the interest in the occult that has grown quite a bit in our culture over the last 10-15 years.

And that's not a bad idea really. We need to treat spiritual matters carefully and with careful consideration. It's just how he approaches the subject that sometimes set me on edge. So I noted my reservations and invited the youth to whom I send this information to spend some time and think for themselves.

I am absolutely NOT here to trash Mark Matlock. I've only seen a short passage from his book and I've never met the guy. But he did get me thinking.

So here's what I think about Halloween. These are just mine and kind of off the top of my head.

I don't get the folks who are in full "Halloween is Satan's playground" mode. Like ANY human activity evil can use it for its own ends. Little children dressed up as Spiderman or their favorite Pokemon character getting sugary treats really is not all that sinister.

On the subject of vampires, werewolves and ghosts my thoughts are as follows:
Don't exist.
Don't exist.
Might exist and that makes me sad.

A ghost seems to be a spirit of a person who has for whatever reason not let go of its time in this world. Because I do believe in Heaven (which for me is simply to be in the presence of the Creator with nothing standing between us) the idea that a soul refused to go is sad. The idea that not all souls will go to Heaven (and I believe that many will not choose to go) is equally sad. I've never understood my fellow believers who seem to get their jollies knowing that some folks will end up in Hell, whatever that turns out to be. I don't spend a lot of time thinking about what Heaven and Hell are like. I spend that time thanking God for grace.

Cause I need it.

So what about the Big Fella himself? Satan, Lucifer, the Devil. I do believe that there is a force of evil, a malignant drive in the world. For simplicity of talking about it I'll call he/she/it Satan. I have no better idea of what that "person" is like than I do for God. I see glimpses, shadows, results of actions. In the end however what I "know" is much more what I "believe" and far too often nothing more than pious fiction. Too many of us are still caught up in the horns, pitchfork and form fitting lycra bodysuit to make any headway. There is an evil power in the world. My study of it says it's much subtler than it is often given credit, and it's not as all pervasive as it is often accused of being. Folks out there get very caught up in the "spiritual warfare" mind set where every thing that goes wrong is the Devil striving against them. I'm afraid I find that point of view rather egotistical. It validates what we're doing because look Satan himself opposes me!

I think Satan is more than happy to take credit for our own stupidity and brokenness. We provide more than enough working material for the evil in the world. It usually doesn't seem to take more than a nudge for us to suddenly veer off into actions that are selfish, hurtful or worse. While it would be great to think that Satan really has to work hard to boost the evil levels in the world I think it's just a cop out answer to get ourselves off the hook.

To expand out the circle a little more I don't believe in horoscopes, or fortune tellers. You can only "Tell the Future" if it's a fixed thing with the end already determined. Since I reject predestination that's pretty much out then. I believe that Ouija boards and tarot cards are likewise hokum. Seances require that I believe that spirits that have gone to the "other side" still have calling privileges to this world. It seems unlikely that a soul in the presence of the Divine really has much interest in this world. And the ones in the "other place"? Do you really want to talk with them? What that leaves is our old buddy the Devil playing games with our heads. Thank you, no.

I also believe that any of these can be very dangerous. Because they can quickly become tools that lead people away from God. Rather than trying predict or control the future get out and create it. Things that need to be done in the dark are rarely a good idea. Live in the light, let the next world take care of itself. Live your life to the best of your ability and thank God for grace to cover the rest.

Oh yeah, and make sure to get in some trick or treating.

Mark's Blog
"Don't Buy the Lie"


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I'm Feeling Better!

The title is to be read with Monty Python and the Holy Grail in mind.

With the big weekend out of the way (and it went pretty well), that's lifted my spirits some. Plus today I went and saw my "financial advisor". Now I put that in parentheses because it still feels weird to say that. Like I have a lot of money hanging around. I have a small investment portfolio that I inherited from my folks and that includes the advisor. My dad picked them out and they've done wonderful things for us over the years. Once a year I go down and talk with them.

This year I was in a bit of a panic. That small investment portfolio is a LOT smaller than it was just two months ago. But I came away feeling pretty good. One fund actually MADE money in the last year even with the last two months included. Overall we actually out performed the market. I have very little understanding of what he says to me even though he talks very slowly and uses short words. We talked about our plans for our personal finances and he said we were on the right track. Oh and he believes the worst of the market fluctuations are behind us.

I'm just telling you what he said. Made me feel better.

What doesn't make me feel better is my whole weight thing. I'm stuck at 193 pounds. Have been for months. So today I added a food journal. I hate doing stuff like this cause it's boring. Then I saw today's totals! I was more than a third over my goal. With no exercise to speak of since I was on the road for 7 hours. Hmmmm, I may have stumbled onto something here.

Also interesting to note that after getting used to eating healthy the fast food burger I grabbed today (I know, I know, bad decision!) sat in my stomach like a lead weight.

Football pool was pretty good. 79% on picks good for 13th on the week and up to 9th for the year. I never broke Top 15 last year and spent most of the season in the 30s as I remember. The Miami loss killed me but I did (gulp)choose the Giants to win.

But in the end I'm feeling better. And that's nice for a change.


Monday, October 27, 2008

Sermon on Youth Minister

This past Sunday I was asked by my home parish to talk about the concept of a paid youth minister. We are thinking and praying about whether this is the next step for us. At times our youth ministry has been outstanding and at times it barely exists. So we are in the discernment process and I was asked to help.

I tried to lay out why youth ministry is important and why at a certain point getting a full time person is important.

This is the audio recording from the video we shoot of our 10 AM service. We're having a little trouble with levels so it buzzes when the audio signal peaks. My apologies, I'm still working on the problem. There is no print version because I was working from notes and speaking largely off the top of my head.

A couple notes about things you'll hear but may not understand:

First, I begin with "Can you hear me now?". My wireless mike had a dead battery. This is embarrassing because I'm actually kind of in charge of the sound system!

Second, you'll hear noise in the background when I say that the most important place for youth ministry is right here. That's me hitting a pew with my hand for emphasis.

Third, I take a little dig at Fr. Earle King. I want it known that I have the greatest respect and affection for Fr. King. He is a delightful priest and person and my comment is meant entirely in the spirit of brotherly teasing.

The sermon runs very long for me, just a fraction over 20 minutes.


Reasons why I love my church

This was published on Sunday in the local paper. It's our local response to George Will's column on the Episcopal church from last week:

To the Editor

In the Sunday, October 19 Post-Journal I read with dismay George Will’s syndicated column, a column I usually enjoy. Mr. Will simplistically and falsely accuses the Episcopal Church of being “’progressive’ politics cloaked – very thinly – in piety.” I would like to reassure readers of the Post-Journal that since 1834 St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Jamestown has been and continues to be committed to the historic orthodox Christian faith as expressed in the Apostles and Nicene Creeds. We do provide a bridge between Catholic and Protestant Christianity because we base our authority on Scripture, Tradition and Reason in balance and harmony. We are proud to be a church that wrestles honestly and openly with difficult and sometimes divisive issues. And I personally am very sad that some have left the Episcopal Church over those same issues. Only together can we truly discern the mind of God.

At St. Luke’s we are focused on preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ, deepening our faith in Him, and sharing that faith with others. We are committed to living out that faith in service to our community through ministries like the Thrift Shop and Fourth Street CafĂ©. Did you know, for instance, that every dollar raised by the Thrift Shop (after expenses) and at the annual Shoppers’ Luncheon in November is given away to local outreach? In addition, members of our church are active in virtually every service organization in our community. We are not a ‘liberal’ church or a ‘conservative’ church, but a diverse church of Republicans and Democrats and Independents, who come together because of our shared faith in Jesus. Don’t take George Will’s opinion, come check us out in person or online at

Eric Williams

Rector of St. Luke’s Church

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Update October 26

The Weekend That Was - This actually turned out pretty well. Convention went well. My report was very well received. The new version of the video seemed to be well received. My job is still in the budget. Really, all good. I put together some notes for my sermon on Sunday and just tried to accept that I was going to go extemporaneous. Turned out very well, got great reactions from people. Then went to volleyball practice and that went pretty well too. Both the Steelers and Bills lost so that's the only downer.

So it was a pretty good weekend!

The To Do List - Got some jobs from convention to follow up on plus the next batch of projects. Plus a trip to Pittsburgh to consult with the family financial advisors (that sounds SO much more impressive than it really is).

What Am I Procrastinating About? - I've got some paperwork at home I need to just do and get over.

What Am I Watching/Reading/Listening To? "Humboldt's Gift" is finally in my past. Three weeks to read a book of less than 500 pages. Unreal. Normally a book this length takes me about 3 days, maybe a week. It's a Pulitzer prize winner written by a Nobel winning writer. And I don't recommend it to anyone. It's a tale of a spineless wimp, an idiotic gift and it largely lacks a point. Charlie Citrine, the main character, spends his time making excuses for his list of leech like friends while allowing them to continue to bleed him of money and life force. He also prattles on about Anthroposophy (which has nothing to do with the plot except to show what a nitwit Citrine is)and, oh yes, spends a fair bit of time considering writing an extensive piece on the subject of boredom. And you get lots of details in the book. Citrine is apparently based loosely on the author. Which does nothing to recommend the author to me. It will take a lot for me to ever read anything else by Bellow. A total waste of my time. Seriously.

Watched a fun little British film tonight called "Keeping Mum". It stars Rowan Atkinson, Maggie Smith, Kristen Scott Thomas and Patrick Swayze. I don't want to give away any of the suprises but it turns out Mum is a bit of a cheerful serial killer, all to protect her family. Wonderfully dotty and fun.

Not much in the music world at the moment.

Next Up Hmm, not sure really. Need to completely re-do the To Do list.

How Am I Doing The stress is over for the moment and I'm feeling quite good. Nice feeling for a change.


Monday, October 20, 2008

Weekend Update October 20

The Weekend That Was - Bleah. I've been putting in a lot of time on this video project. Got it all done in time to present to Youth Commission. And the reaction from everyone has been positive but without enthusiasm. The idea of the video is get adults enthused about sending kids to camp. And the video, while good from a technique point of view, doesn't do that. So it fails in it's primary goal. It was the kid, my darling daughter, who hit the nail on the head. She said it was too academic/intellectual. Just emotionally flat. Here's my best comparison. Have you ever watched real attorneys in real court rooms? They're almost NEVER the kind of inspiring, heart racing performers we see on TV shows. It's reality versus TV. I forgot that I was doing TV and did reality. And now I have four days to fix it.

Other than that I spent a lot of time running around doing chores. Some shopping, drop off the recycling, put the deck stuff into storage for the winter. Try my hand at baking bread (let's just say it came out much like the video.)

Oh one good piece of news. The sunroof on my lady wife's car spontaneously fixed itself. We kept trying the button, praying that we could at least get the fool thing shut. And it did! So it will stay shut till the spring at which point I'll have our garage start looking for the wiring short. Which is what it has to be.

The To Do List - Videos remain at the top with a new complication thrown in. I need to duplicate a lot of very large files for someone and they need them immediately so it's going to be a long week.

What Am I Procrastinating About? - Mostly raking leaves. Don't know if I'll get to it this week or not.

What Am I Watching/Reading/Listening To? "Humboldt's Gift" is still getting plowed through. Books NEVER take me this long. But I'm within 200 pages of the end and I keep hoping it'll get better. No music, no movies this week. Awful.

Next Up Video repair, sermon for Sunday, materials for Convention, radio techniques class I'm teaching on Wednesday. Sigh.

How Am I Doing I did in fact gain weight last week (sigh). I hope to at least be back to where I was this week. Our volleyball team continues to be winless. And the teams on the other side of the net seem to be getting better. The car situation is at least a little better (see above) and the stock market has settled down to merely twitchy rather than in full breakdown mode. So I'm stressed.


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Isn't Life a laugh?

I thought I'd reached the point where I could just laugh. That point when the sadness and the bad news either tip you over into the dark night of the soul or into a crystalline realization of the absurdity of it all.

All the stuff from last week. Followed by a really good Monday in the market and an OK Tuesday. Then a calamitous Wednesday. Then the sunroof in my lady wife's car decides to stop working, with the roof cracked open. And her transmission is acting strange. And my car has worn out a wheel bearing. Then the shop calls to say the wheel bearing is actually a wheel HUB because it was built as one big, expensive piece ($259 just for the part) and oh by the way your front brakes are SHOT. 600 dollars later...

I thought I'd found the tipping point into laughter.

Then an e-mail. A friend. A fellow youth minister. A fellow diocesan staff person from not that far away. His position has been eliminated. He'll be out of work with a mortgage and a new baby just in time to greet the New Year.

And my brain shut down. I don't know what to do. I don't know what to think.

So I do little things. Things that keep me busy without asking too much from my resources. I'm sorry all lines are busy. Your request is still being processed. I send a quick note to my friend, reaching out in what small way I can at this moment. I do futzy little office things. Things that need to be done but are simple. I take a walk only to discover it's too damn cold for a walk with no jacket. So it's a short walk.

I'm sorry but when does this shit storm end? Yes I'm almost ready to lay in a stock of food and water, board up the windows and post the sign "Keep Out - trespassers will be shot".

My lady wife won't permit it. I know her and that answer is just not on. She's told me that she believes we'll be OK, no matter what. And she's so sure. And I want to believe. Maybe this is how it's supposed to work. She's here to be strong for me when I quail before the darkness. When she was so sick I tried to be strong for her. We weathered that storm together.

I keep remembering the story of Jesus and the disciples in the boat in the storm. And they woke him crying "Don't you care that we're going to die?!?". And he calmed the storm and asked them "Why were you afraid?".

I don't know Lord. But I am. And I waiting for the storm to calm.

Maybe then I'll laugh.


Monday, October 13, 2008

Weekend Update - October 13

The Weekend That Was - My first impulse is to say not a lot went on but...
Saturday we drove up to see the kid at college so we could all go out for a birthday dinner for my lady wife. We tried a new restaurant near the kid's university that had an incredible view of the Niagara gorge, the food was fabulous and so was the bill! Suck it up for my lady. Plus we were finally told how much the semester abroad next summer is going to cost. My beloved daughter obviously saw my thoughts on my face. Expensive. But we'll make it work. Then Saturday was off to a Conference Assembly with my ELCA brothers and sisters. It was fine for what it was, a big official meeting. Then came home prepared to watch the Formula 1 race on video only to discover that SPEED channel was running off schedule (due to a long race right before the Japanese GP) and I hadn't set up a big enough recording window. So I missed the final 20 laps or so. The long weekend ended with me just futzing around the house working on some recording work.

The To Do List - Videos remain at the top with a new complication thrown in. I need to duplicate a lot of very large files for someone and they need them immediately so it's going to be a long week.

What Am I Procrastinating About? - I don't think anything actively at work, a couple things at home.

What Am I Watching/Reading/Listening To? Still hacking my way through "Humboldt's Gift" the Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Saul Bellow. I am exactly half way through the book and we may finally be told what the gift is. This has become a challenge. I will finish this book. But I may never read another thing by Bellow.

Still not watching many movies. Starting to bum me out. Don't know how I missed this movie all these years but finally watched "Miller's Crossing". Given that I generally like both Coen Brothers movies and movies about organized crime it's a strange oversight. The movie is dark and typically Coen in so many ways (although there's virtually none of the usual cast here other than John Turturro). It was fascinating, and grim. I kept thinking "film noir, film noir, film noir". And by the end your brain is twisted all around by who betrays whom and which story is a lie and which one is the truth.

Next Up I must complete or very nearly complete the current video project. It is the ONLY thing on my list this week. Oh, how I wish that were true.

How Am I Doing Well, if I'm lucky I won't have GAINED any weight this week. The big rebound on the stock market takes some weight off my shoulders. I'll believe that things are better when we put together at least a full week of stability. We continue to get slaughtered at volleyball but I'm really having a good time. Out the door in about 40 minutes.


Friday, October 10, 2008

A deepening sadness

I'm still not sure that I should write this post. But it seems I am so I'll go ahead.

This has been one of the most...

And then I stop. I can not seem to find the words to describe how I feel. Saddened? Yes but that's not all. Worried? Yes that too but still doesn't cover it. There's an aspect of spiritual gloom that has descended on me that I struggle to describe. It is a great weight upon my mind and soul and heart.

Last weekend the the diocese where I grew up voted that they no longer wished to be part of the Episcopal church. It wasn't a surprising move, they've been telegraphing this punch for years now. I respect their point of view theologically even as I utterly disagree with it. I believe their attempt to leave as a diocese is without meaning. Dioceses are creations of General Convention and have no independent existence. They can leave individually but not as an entity.

Even though I knew the vote was a foregone conclusion it still saddens me. Sad beyond the deepening rift in my denomination. Sad to my core because this is the diocese of my baptism (St. Andrews, New Kensington), my confirmation and marriage (St. Thomas in the Fields, Gibsonia). It is where my parents ashes are interred. I don't know if that congregation will decide to stay as have 19 other so far. I can only imagine this is how children of divorce must feel. Torn by our affection for both sides but feeling that we are being forced into making a choice. It has been a darkness on my heart.

Then came the announcement that some folks are leaving us here in Western New York. Some of the clery and congregation at St. Bartholomew's Tonawanda have informed the bishop that they too will be departing TEC. Again, not a surprise. The folks at St. Bart's have been open about their disagreement, have kept the channels open for discussion and in the end have made their decision. They will walk away and form a new congregation in a new building. I have the highest respect for these folks. They have walked what must have been an incredibly difficult path and done it with honor and dignity. The words fail me on how much I respect and honor this hard and painful decision. I am truly sorry to lose them and I wish them well. But it is a further darkness on my heart.

Finally I must admit the financial crisis frightens me. Each day my small investments portfolio is devastated again. My financial situation was tight but manageable before. Now I must admit that the first touch of fear has descended. What will be left? How bad will the economy get? How hard will our diocesan budget be hit. Will I still have a job? How will I care for my family? Yesterday when I saw the final numbers for the Dow I literally became light headed. I can not deny it any longer.

I am afraid.

My faith tells me to trust in God. But I am not one who can just lay back and hope that God will make it all better. My belief is that God expects us to be involved in creating our own lives. I have no faith in predestination, nor a micro-manager deity. God has given me life, and gifts and love. Now I must make of them what I am able. I must ask God to help me hold this fear at bay. I will ask him to lift, at least a little, the darkness that oppresses me. And yes, foolish inconsistent mortal that I am I will ask him to micro-manage just a little bit in my favor!

I will not give up. I will not give in. I will continue to live my life and follow my calling.

And I will pray. A lot.

God watch over us all.


Tuesday, October 07, 2008

What spiritual type are you?

Spiritual Type test

You are a Sage, characterized by a thinking or head spirituality. You value responsibility, logic, and order. Maybe that's why you were voted "Most Dependable" by your high school classmates. Structure and organization are important to you. What would the world be like without you? Chaos, that's what! Your favorite words include should, ought, and be prepared. What makes you feel warm and fuzzy? Like Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof it's tradition! tradition! tradition!

Because you love words, written or spoken, you enjoy a good lecture, serious discussions, and theological reflection. Prayer for you usually is verbal. You thrive on activity and gatherings of people, such as study groups. Sages on retreat likely would fill every day with planned activities, leaving little time for silence or solitude.

We need Sages for your clear thinking and orderly ways. You pay attention to details that others overlook. Sages make contributions to education, publishing, and theology. You often are the ones who feel a duty to serve, give, care, and share with the rest of us.

On the other hand, sometimes you seem unfeeling, too intellectual, or dry. Can you say "dogmatic"? You may need to experience the freedom of breaking a rule or two every now and then. God's grace covers Sages too, you know!

Famous Sages:

Mr. Spock | Dilbert | Elrond
Dietrich Bonhoeffer | Maya Angelou | Linus (Peanuts)
Yoda (Star Wars) | Andy Griffith | Mr. Miyagi
The Buddha | Rodin's The Thinker | Moses
Ross Geller | Matthew (the Gospel writer) | Tiger Woods

Read about some Saints who were Sages

(h/t to Gman)

Update plus 12 seconds

Quick update:

I lost another pound. I can see the next milestone! With a good week I can be below 190 pounds by this time next week.

I had an excellent week on the football pool. I missed only 3 picks this week and still finished tied for 5th place. I move up to 6th overall just 19 points behind the leader! Yeah baby!

Volleyball was good and bad last night. Played fairly uninspiredly but we won our first game. Still haven't won a match yet but at least we didn't get shut out.

Something new! Call it 12 seconds a day with Jay (yes I'm going to try and scratch out 12 seconds every week day at least to do this). It should be an interesting challenge. Let's see how this works embeded on the page. This is a flash program.

And so it begins on

Let me know if this works for you. It's being squirelly.

Monday, October 06, 2008

It's terrible news!!!

It is the end of an era. A great personal loss. I can not imagine how I'm going to go on. You'll find me weeping inconsolably in the corner.

Opus is going away. Forever.

One of my all time favorite cartoons will finally come to a complete halt. It began with Bloom County, which gave way to Outlands, which finally came down to just Opus. And as of the beginning of next month it will all be done. Berkeley Breathed the man who brought us Opus and Milo and the Radical Meadow Party and the Starchair Enterpoop is finally ending the entire series. He's announced there will be a final ending for Opus that will truly be final. One that won't let him bring Opus back but that will leave Opus as he always has been. The perfect naif. The ultimate innocent.

I enjoy the funnies, I read them most days even now. My all time favorites are a select group. Peanuts (the first one I went out of my way to read), Doonesbury, Calvin and Hobbes and Bloom County. Three of them are gone (though Peanuts is in re-runs).

The clip above is from an early version of the strip and one of my all time favorite episodes. So I'll leave you with the punch line. If you've never seen the strip it will make no sense at all.

But that's OK.

Pear Pimples for Hairy Fishnuts.

I truly will miss you Opurt old buddy. Stay away from the late night infomercials.


Monday Update - October 6

The Weekend That Was - Hmmm, interesting and sad. I have volunteered as race announcer for the local Soap Box Derby for something just shy of 20 years I think. They had a "rally" over the weekend and I did the first day's announcing. It was rather cold and I actually got a bit wind burned. So my face is red and covered in dry skin. Not fun. The racing went well. I look to be in very good shape this week on the football pool. I think I've picked 9 out of 14 correct so far with Monday night to go. Picked the Washington game which I was pretty proud of, most of the experts had that game the other way. Of course the Diocese of Pittsburgh voted at its convention to leave the Episcopal Church. Count me among those who don't believe that dioceses can leave but that's for another day. It is profoundly sad for me. My roots are very deep there and it is very painful.

The To Do List - Videos remain at the top but I have work to do for my Lutheran brothers and sisters, preparations for the next Youth Commission and, oh yeah, diocesan convention at the end of the month!

What Am I Procrastinating About? - Nothing too much, lots of things just a little.

What Am I Watching/Reading/Listening To? Haven't listened to much of anything new, lots of my favorites on the ipod. Working on "Humboldt's Gift" the Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Saul Bellow. This is part of my ongoing attempt to broaden my reading a little. I use the list from "1,000 Books You Have To Read Before You Die" as a jumping off point. The Bellow book is #332 (arranged by date). To be honest I'm finding it a bit slow. But I keep hoping.

Not many movies either. Watched "Ringers - Lord of the Fans" a documentary on fans of the Lord of the Rings, both books and movies. Plus the impact of the books and movie on popular culture. If you're into LOTR it's not too bad. If you're not there will be nothing here to amuse you except the chance to mock folks with more time on their hands than sense in their heads. These folks (called Ringers) are right up there with Trekkies or Trekkers (whichever you prefer) and Star Wars fanatics. Clearly the person having the most fun was Andy Serkis who played Gollum. All he has to do is break into his Gollum voice and the fans go wild!

Next Up Videos and more videos. Tonight is volleyball (I did pretty well last week and the team thinks I might be worth keeping around) and the next weigh in. Down a pound last week probably not much more than that this.

How Am I Doing I'm feeling rather down about the vote in Pittsburgh. I'll probably break my silence on the "issues" of the day later this week and write about it. Otherwise things are going pretty well. I'd be happier if the economy would start turning around!


Friday, October 03, 2008

Because it's important

For the years that I was a morning man in radio one of my recurrent themes was the importance of voting. I'm a firm believer that if you don't vote, don't complain. You abdicated your responsibility as a citizen of our nation. Vote for whatever party, vote as a protest, write in Mickey Mouse, Homer Simpson, right in MY name, whatever. But for the love of God vote.

You can still register to vote in the state of NY through at least October 10. So make sure you're registered. If you're 18 or older get registered. And then vote. Check out the video. It says it as well as I can think of any way to say it. Yes, they're all celebrities (except for Julie) but even celebrities are right some times. Oh and be warned some of the language is pretty raw. Not a lot but some.

But the message is important enough to use that language. Copping out on voting is not an option I believe for people of faith. It's not an option for people who care. Is the system messed up? Sure it is, you have to be an idiot not to understand that. Even Winston Churchill said "Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time." (House of Commons speech on Nov. 11, 1947) If enough people care enough to vote the system can, does, has and will change.

Get out and vote.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Just some random stuff

I studiously avoid airing my political views here. But this is a candidate I could absolutely get behind:

I approached the football pool results for this past week with fear and trembling. Out of a total of 91 possible points I got 56. Figured my standing would take a hammering. Turns out the weeks champ had a total of 66 points! Stupid Broncos. So I remain in 11th place. Not sure I like this coming week any better.

Weight loss contest - down 1 pound. But hey it's DOWN a pound. Any weight I lose from here on out is territory I haven't seen in over 20 years. Kinda cool when I realize that I will have no choice soon but to buy new clothes. My current wardrobe is starting to hang on me like I'd just gotten over a long illness.

Added a new recipe to my repertoire! Homemade spaghetti sauce. It's very close to the classic "Godfather" sauce (which legend says is actually the Coppola family recipe) and it was delicious! I was little worried because spaghetti is one of my lady wife's favorites and she can be a little picky (just a little). She's happy to make the homemade sauce our regular. Very cool.

And I pulled off a little car repair spiffiness too. I swapped out the door jamb switch on the driver's door. Now I not only have the interior light come on when I get in but the "lights on" warning chime now works too! Took all of five minutes. But oh so satisfying.

Later today I'll launch the first youth ministry video (actually this would be youth ministry videos v.2. We tried last year and had some technical problems) It's just a quick collection of memories from EYE but it's nice to have one up and running.