Monday, November 30, 2009

Don't Go Stoops!

C'mon Stoops. The weather in South Bend is awful. Notre Dame is so 1940's. NBC doesn't mean much in the age of satellite t.v. and internet exposure. Plus, half your OU lineup couldn't pass the stringent academic requirements of ND. You'd have to recruit against the Buckeyes and Michigan.

Stay where you're appreciated. Don't listen to a few haters...they're just aggies in disguise trying to sabotage the Sooners.

Don't go Stoops! Don't go!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The truth is....

Oklahoma State will always be just Oklahoma State.

I guess maybe they could change their name to Boone T. Picken's University. Maybe their fortune would change then.

Friday, November 27, 2009


Do not buy a Samsung cell phone. In fact, I'm going to say that again...


Just got a new Samsung Rant cell phone six months ago through Sprint via Walmart. Then after only six months...the LCD screen whites out. Can't see anything on the screen. This phone had never been dropped or damaged in anyway...I can honestly say that. Then one day the screen is useless.

Samsung tells me to return it. Then contacts me to say that a new LCD screen is NOT covered in the year warranty and that the charge will be $85.00...for a $29.00 phone. Asinine. So I went up the chain of command to the supervisor who said just the same thing.

I said send the thing back. Don't bother. What a fraudulent warranty. Turns out the screen is what needs to be replaced the they conveniently leave that out of the warranty. First time I've EVER had a problem with a cell phone before the service agreement was up. This phone didn't even last six months. So I'll say it again...


Wednesday, November 25, 2009


So I was bored one fine morning when I decided for my own amusement to make a simple demand of my students. I instructed them that their assignments for that day had to be written in cursive.

Wailing and gnashing of teeth ensued. Some had no idea how to proceed. A real apoplectic frenzy of anuerysms and emo song ideas.

Now I know they learn this skill (cursive writing...not whining) in the third grade. But many related that they had not used cursive writing since that long ago innocent time in their lives. I can relate. I actually hate cursive script. I hate writing it and I loathe reading it. I also abhor writing in lower case. Yep...that's right...I write in print. Although all-caps is not appropriate for email and cyberspace because IT LOOKS LIKE YOU ARE YELLING it looks fine and non-threatening on paper or the chalk/white board.

I'm not sure of the origins of my all-caps fixation. I think it started in college with the rapid note-taking of the university lecture. But I was also greatly inspired by that scene in "Raiders of the Lost Ark" when Professor Indiana Jones writes the word NEOLITHIC on the chalkboard in all-caps. Every year, in the first week of my World History course, when I write NEOLITHIC on the board I think back to Raiders. Could also be genetic since my Dad writes in all-caps.

Anyway, I digress. I told my students that doing things that are difficult for your brain is an excellent exercise habit to develop. Write in cursive if it's difficult for you. Work logic problems. Write with your opposite hand. Better yet...write in cursive with your opposite hand. Read hard books. Memorize things. It's good for your brain.

Studies show that such exercise may actually improve your intelligence quotient. Some think your "intelligence" is a set thing. Yes, you can increase your knowledge...but not your base intelligence. Some disagree saying that by working your brain you create new synaptic pathways that allow for better understanding and the ability to enjoy Demitri Martin jokes.

I dunno. I just like making my students intellectually sweat.

Monday, November 23, 2009

NOT the Hits!

I am very happy with the newest radio station in the Dallas/Fort Worth area...91.7 KXT. KXT is owned and operated by the local PBS affiliate KERA and is a sister station to our DFW NPR station. This station focuses on eclectic music. They play everything from world music to alt country to acoustic folk to jazz to alternative to indie rock and everything in between.

I began listening the day they went on air (last Monday) when I read about the station in the Sunday paper. Here's a list of songs or groups I actually heard in one hour of listening yesterday...

A Love Supreme by John Coltrane
Do You Realize? by The Flaming Lips
Live and Let Die by Paul McCartney and Wings
Bottle of Blues by Beck
Ain't Nobody's Business...a duet by Willie Nelson AND Wynton Marsalis
No Surprises by Radiohead
a song (I didn't catch the title) by Leonard Cohen
a song by Regina Specktor
a song by the Polyphonic Spree
and...Pretty Girls Don't Cry by Chris Isaak.

Now that was just in one hour of listening. That's the kind of lineup you won't find on some crappy corporate owned pop station. I now stream the station all day on my work computer. Check it out online HERE.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Raditude Review

Yeah, I know this review comes a bit late since Raditude came out November 3rd. But I'm an historian by trade and I like things to settle a bit before I throw my analysis in the mix. I need the critical distance and I've now listened to Raditude about 10 times all the way through. I'll keep my thoughts brief.

If you're longing for the emo days of Blue and Pinkerton then Raditude is not for you. Raditude fits more with Green. It's lighthearted (and at times satirical) faire. Weez should have released this album in the summer. It brings to mind rolling to the cineplex after a stop by Sonic listening to Q104 (R.I.P....Kansas City's "the number one hit music station!") at full volume in a beat-up pontiac with the windows down.

You'll find Beach Boy hooks and Slayer powerchords on this disc. There's no serious meditation here...just catchy songs that you won't easily eject from your brain. I'm not a big fan of "Can't Stop Partying" even though I catch the fact that it's a joke and slam on the britney/paris/simpson set. I actually like the Hindu Slumdog Millionaire vibe of "Love is the Answer" although I'm sure it's pageantry made some hardcore maladroit fans wretch in the backalley of some CBGB wannabe hangout in Deep Ellum.

Not sure what my favorite track is although I like the Brian Wilsonesque closer "I don't Want to Let You Go" which comes via River's solo album Alone II. On Alone II the demo version of this song actually follows River's cover of "Don't Worry Baby" so I think the Beach Boy's comparison is intentional. I know it's a juvenile Phil Spector rip-off but the wall of sound in "Trippin' Down the Freeway" is very appealing and I still can't get "I'm Your Daddy" out of my head.

The only disappointing thing about this album are the four bonus tracks that come with the iTunes pass. The bonus tracks on the Red Album were all good...better than many of the tracks on the actual album. These are typical mediocre bonus tracks and aren't worth the extra cash. Stick with the original album content.

So get over your urbanpoet hipster emo pose, let your guard down and enjoy some real power nerdrock.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


So I'm really diggin' my small group's new book, "The Kingdom Experiment" from The House Studio. This book examines the beatitudes and suggests eight experiments for each beatitude to carry out to help us live out the particular beatitude in real life. No more talk, no more discussion...actions. Talk is important. But it can also be cheap. To paraphrase one of my favorite movies "He's all action with no theory and we're all theory with no action."

There's got to be a balance. But I think the scales should probably weigh more heavily toward the action side of the equation. I get tired of conversating and discussing things to death. I want to live my life more intentionally for the achieve praxis. "Faith without works is dead" right? I think as Protestants we got so paranoid about people thinking they could achieve salvation through deeds that many threw service out the window. I admire those Prots who emulate Christ by doing while realizing that salvation comes soley through faith.

James Sire says that you don't truly believe something unless you put into practice. My SNU mentor prof Dr. Bob Lively used to say there's a lot of professors of philosophy out there but not too many true philosophers because true philosophers live out their beliefs...not just talk about them.

The clip above is from the movie Waking Life. Sorry, I seem to be on a Waking Life kick lately.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Journey Never Ends

To quote Magnum P.I., I know what you're thinking...

After you read this you will think I've recently become obsessed with the debate over destiny or coincidence (see my post on my random Cobain references earlier this week.). But maybe I'm just paying better attention to the swirling mists of life. These things happened and I did not seek them out...

I hate Journey...the band fronted by that mulleted mo Steve Perry. But I have a student this year named Jerry who is obsessed with Journey. Not the current incarnation with that fillipino imposter as a frontman...but classic Journey with Perry et al. Never in ten years of teaching have I met a student obsessed with Journey. In fact I don't know if I've ever met a true Journey fan. Most sane people wouldn't admit to liking Journey in the first place.

So I'm driving to school listening to my new Raditude CD and I pull into my usual parking space. I put the car in park, eject the Weezer CD and lo and behold, Journey is playing on the radio. Jack FM i s playing that stupid ballad 'when the lights go out in the city.' Here's where it gets all Ingmar that EXACT moment...the moment I eject the CD and hear Journey on the radio...Jerry, my Journey obsessed student, is walking on the sidewalk RIGHT in front of my Mini Cooper. He's two feet in front of the car when all this happens. And I never see Jerry before school in the parking lot. Coincidence that the ONLY Journey fan I know happened to be walking in front of my car at the exact moment Jack FM plays their stupid song? Wouldn't have happened had I left five minutes earlier or five minutes later or had the radio tuned to a different station.

And if this weird confluence of events is not mere coincidence...what does it all mean? Am I supposed to start appreciating Journey more? Contrary to my student's beliefs...I don't have all the answers.

I'm just asking...

Friday, November 13, 2009

What's in my bag...

What's in my messenger bag right now...nothing worth stealing I'll tell you that much...

The contents as of right now (subject to change hourly) are...

A moleskine journal (pocket sketchbook edition)
A Collins Gem Diccionario Ingles (Spanish/English dictionary) bought while in Spain
Pocket sized New King James New Testament
wax for my braces
Three uni-ball deluxe micro pens
Three Bic round stic medium pens
One papermate clickster grip 0.5 mm mechanical pencil
Greatland Multi-tool
Mini tube of Colgate Total toothpaste
rubberbands for my braces
One old Advil allergy sinus tablet
2 gig Kaufman ISD flashdrive
Keystone Resort matchbox
One bandaid
One pad of post-it notes (three inch)
three school business cards
three Lion and Lamb Fellowship business cards
three Center for Human Rights Policy business cards
Raditude by Weezer CD
School Parking pass
six hanging files to take home
vinyl portfolio with legal pad
September and October 2009 Backpacker Magazines
October 2009 National Geographic Adventure Magazine
Number 9 Dream by David Mitchell
Getting Things Done by David Allen
The Kingdom Experiment from The House Studio
pair of fake Elvis Costello/Rivers Cuomo black rimmed glasses

That's way too much garbage to be carrying around.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Good Riddance!

I was very glad to hear that the Kansas City Chiefs have finally cut Larry Johnson. I know that some will question the cutting of the Chief's most talented player. But he was over the hill anyway and hadn't done much the last several years. Besides, was he really all that great? A 7th Grade tailback could run through the holes that amazing Chiefs O-Line of the mid 2000's made. Three of those future hall of famers retire and Johnson becomes a mediocre back.

Plus, he was a criminal. The guy was cited three times for hitting, spitting or abusing women in some way or another. He was homophobic and disrespectful to every NFL coach he played for. He disrespected the fans. He had been a cancer for years in the locker room. He was more interested in being a rapper than a football player.

The best thing of all is he will never get the honor of breaking the Chiefs all-time rushing record. He was only about 75 yards shy of Priest Holmes's record. Chiefs fans deserved better than Johnson being the record holder. Many might be surprised that I would rather have a Longhorn hold the Chiefs record...but Priest was a stand up guy who respected the fans. The Chiefs aren't going to win much this year and maybe the next...Johnson will not be missed. L.J....don't let the door hit you on the way out.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Giving Blood

So I gave blood Monday. The mobile blood center made their stop at the high school. I try to give blood whenever I can because I'm O negative...which is the universal donor blood. Unfortunately its also a very rare blood type. Only seven percent of Americans have O- blood. To complicate things...O - types can only receive O -. Nothing else works. So I've entered the numbers of several friends of mine who have O - in my cell phone...just in case I need an emergency donation.

Give blood if you can. My wife lost six (out of a possible nine) units of blood in an ectopic pregnancy about five years ago. Donated blood saved her life. Thirty more minutes and it would have been too late. Because of that incident and the fact that my blood is rare...I try to give whenever I can. Doesn't hurt and I've never felt sick or close to passing out. They're not exaggerating when they say you're saving a life. Plus you get a cool t-shirt.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Bring back Oklahoma - Nebraska!

Barry Tramel of the Oklahoman makes a case for OKLAHOMA and Nebraska to meet every year. Currently because of the balanced Big 12 schedule they are two years on then two years off. I've always hated that because this rivarly deserves to be played every year. Tramel points out that the SEC adopted an annual cross-divisional game for each member school in part to protect the Alabama-Tennessee rivalry. The Big 12 could easily adopt the same system.

As an OU fan growing up in Kansas City during the 1980's the OU-Nebraska game was the biggest of the year. Most years, in the 1980's, it was even bigger than OU-texas. It was the last game of the season and often determined the Big 8 championship which frequently gave the conference champion the chance to play for the national championship.

The game was always played the day after Thanksgiving so the game was often played in cold and rainy conditions. Living in Kansas City there were lots of Nebraska alums and fans around. But the pre-game trash talking actually didn't possess much trash. Cornhusker fans are among the nicest and respectful you'll ever find. The ribbing was always good natured and after the game there was rarely any lingering bitterness or acrimony.

I also miss the fact that the Big 12 is not associated with the Orange Bowl. The Big 12 champion if not playing in the BCS title game plays in the Fiesta Bowl...which is still a minor bowl in my eyes compared to the Orange, Sugar, and Rose. Heck I'd rather have the Cotton Bowl in the BCS rotation than the Fiesta. I miss the conference champ playing their game at night in balmy Miami.

I've got a lot of great memories of the OU-Nebraska series. I agree with Tramel...its time to make it an annual affair once again.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Nirvana or Coincidence?

So I'm walking down the vaunted hallways of learning at KHS when I can't help but to overhear a student say to another..."he's our generation's Kurt Cobain."

That's all I heard so I missed the context and who they were referring to. But it reminded me of the strange and random way references to Kurt Cobain have been popping up in my life in the past week. A week ago I was invited to take part in a pep rally skit that honors the birth year of this year's senior class by lip-syncing songs from 1991-1992. I was asked to play Kurt Cobain singing "Smells Like Teen Spirit" (which ironically the video for the song takes place during a high school pep rally). The cheerleader sponsor figured I must have been a Nirvana type back in the nineties. I politely declined...I hate pep rallys. At least they figured me for Nirvana and not Right Said Fred or Fine Young Cannibals.

Three days ago Kimberly and I watched one of her Netflix picks..."Management"... Some obscure comedy starring Jennifer Aniston (who I think must star in one movie a week.) and Steve Zahn. Unbeknownst to us beforehand, much of the movie takes place in Aberdeen, Washington (Kurt Cobain's birthplace) with many a reference to the late singer songwriter.

Then I hear that reference to Cobain today...shocked that the MySpace generation has even heard of that name. And on this very day my class lecture was focused on Hinduism and.... nirvana. Spooky eh?

I wasn't even a big Cobain fan back in the day. I liked Nirvana's stuff okay but I never bought an album. I really liked "Scentless Apprentice" and "Tourettes" as songs. But his suicide didn't really mean all that much to me. I was a bigger fan of Stone Temple Pilots. I actually really like the band Nirvana's drummer Dave Grohl put together after Cobain died...Foo Fighters. Got a lot of their discs and even saw them in concert when they toured with Weezer.

Speaking of Weezer...they say their biggest influence was Nirvana...even having a song about Nirvana's album "Nevermind" on the Red Album. At Weezer's Troublemaker Tour in 2008 they sang a cover of Nirvana's "Sliver." And here's where the connection gets even more obtuse. TODAY...the new Weezer album "Raditude" drops. (written 11/3)

Confluence of weird events? Dunno. I did catch that student in the hallway later in the day and asked her who she was referring to. She said she was talking about some random KHS student and said she really didn't even know who Kurt Cobain is...she was just namedropping.


Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Raditude Day.

Raditude by Weezer dropped today. Just picked up my copy. Rocks.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Are You A Dreamer?

The following dialogue comes from one of my favorite movies "Waking Life."

Man on Train: Hey, are you a dreamer?

Wiley: Yeah.

Man on Train: I haven't seen too many around lately. Things have been tough lately for dreamers. They say dreaming is dead, no one does it anymore. It's not dead it's just that it's been forgotten, removed from our language. Nobody teaches it so nobody knows it exists. The dreamer is banished to obscurity. Well, I'm trying to change all that, and I hope you are too. By dreaming, every day. Dreaming with our hands and dreaming with our minds. Our planet is facing the greatest problems it's ever faced, ever. So whatever you do, don't be bored, this is absolutely the most exciting time we could have possibly hoped to be alive. And things are just starting.

Great scene from a great movie. I used to dream a lot...both awake and sleeping. Still dream a lot when I'm asleep...hard to control that. But I noticed that I was dreaming less while awake...and that's a shame. I knew things were going the wrong direction when a college student friend of mine asked me a few years ago..."what are your dreams?" I kind of laughed to myself and thought "what a tool."
But the reality is that I was the tool. I had become cynical and sceptical about dreaming. I had become a tool of the industrial complexities of the modern economy. What had happened to the metaphysicality of my world view? I decided right then to rage against the mind-numbing machinery of modern existence. To quote another exchange from Waking Life...

Two characters bump into each other while traversing the stairs to a subway...

Soap Opera Woman: Excuse me.

Wiley: Excuse me.

Soap Opera Woman: Hey. Could we do that again? I know we haven't met, but I don't want to be an ant. You know? I mean, it's like we go through life with our antennas bouncing off one another, continously on ant autopilot, with nothing really human required of us. Stop. Go. Walk here. Drive there. All action basically for survival. All communication simply to keep this ant colony buzzing along in an efficient, polite manner. "Here's your change." "Paper or plastic?' "Credit or debit?" "You want ketchup with that?" I don't want a straw. I want real human moments. I want to see you. I want you to see me. I don't want to give that up. I don't want to be ant, you know?

Naw...I'm not going to be an ant. I even preached along those lines last week at church. God invented dreams. He dreamed up all of existence. Ever notice how much of the Biblical narrative is driven by dreams and visions? If we stop dreaming then we lose an essential part of our humanity. A society that mocks dreams mocks God.

So last week my two-year old son gave me this elastic Lance Armstong style bracelet...except it's not yellow and it doesn't say "livestrong." It's blue and has one word on it...dream. That's word...dream. So I've been wearing that lately to remind me to dream both while asleep and awake.

The whole "dreamer" scene from the movie Waking Life (1:18 in length) can be seen here...