Showing posts from 2012

Leaving Eden

For all those not living in South Florida, it’s winter again. And there’s always a noticeable cold snap this time of year just to remind you of what you may be ignoring on your calendar: a new year is coming. I’m sure it only seems like yesterday that you were excitedly turning the page to a brand new 2012. But here we are again. The cycle of life has spun once more.

Sometimes it feels about as interesting as watching a bicycle wheel go round and round. Soon the frost will thaw, the birds will begin to sing, and the world will come back to life. Until the first leaf drops. Again. And before you know it, we’re back to buying new calendars.

This is how we live, in cycles. Kids plan how to use summer break, every year. Adults plan their allotted vacation days, every year. Television networks plan fall lineups, every year. Apocalyptic predictions notwithstanding, whatever we did last year chances are we’ll do again this year.
No wonder no one’s excited about heaven. Sure, many of us may …

Sandwiches Are the Future

Growing up, I ate a sandwich almost every day of my life. No joke. Bread, meat, cheese, mayo, pickles, and microwaved for 45 seconds was my favorite lunch. Unlike some people, I like looking forward to this same event in my day. I do enjoy change and the excitement that comes with new things. But following a routine provides more than just consistency; it provides security.

Life is unpredictable, but my sandwich is not. I know it will be delicious because I've eaten thousands like it before. And I would hate not knowing if my lunch was gonna suck or not. I have to know.

For the same reason, I rarely start watching a TV show without first checking it out on Wikipedia. Of course, this means that I mostly watch stuff years later on Netflix. But somehow I feel I can prepare myself to enjoy it better if I know what’s going to happen.

One show that I watched recently was Lost. Now I did end up watching the final season as it aired, but I had Lostpedia sitting on my laptop next to me as…

I'm Not Batman

This past summer I saw The Avengers three times in theaters. And honestly it wasn't because I really enjoyed the film so much that I just had to spend $45 on it. I went because different groups of my friends wanted to see it at different times, and I wanted to enjoy it with all of them. Conversely, I only saw The Dark Knight Rises once.

Now based on the empirical evidence, one would conclude that I preferred The Avengers, perhaps even the Marvel series in general, much more. But as much as I did enjoy seeing Hulk slam Loki around like a ragdoll, I thought Christopher Nolan's portrayal of Batman was vastly superior, artistically speaking. My reasoning? The hero--or superhero in this case--was flawed.

I'll admit I'm biased on this. I've been a fan of Nolan's work since his incomparable Memento, and comparing him to the creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer is like comparing "Ride of the Valkyries"to "Call Me Maybe."

Now it's not as though To…

Holy Hand Grenades

And the Lord spake, saying, "First shalt thou take out the Holy Pin. Then, shalt thou count to three. No more. No less. Three shalt be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, nor either count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out. Once the number three, being the third number, be reached, then, lobbest thou thy Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch towards thy foe, who, being naughty in my sight, shall snuff it." For those unaware, this is not actually from the Bible. The King's English has had many other applications beyond religious texts. This is a passage from the fictitious Book of Armaments in the celebrated cult film, Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
Not unlike other British comedies from the 1970's, it is as silly as it is sacrilegious. In fact, religious satire often follows the ad absurdum route of pushing a religion's rituals and culture to the silliest of extremes.…

Heavy & Hopeful

I am a hopeless, unrepentant metalhead. The sound of crushing guitars and pummeling drums makes me lose myself in a way that Eminem could never understand. What it comes down to is I think heavy metal is the most majestic form of music. While some people appreciate the more delicate elements of creation like flowers and butterflies, I prefer the powerful things: thunderstorms, crashing ocean waves, and skyscraping mountains and trees. And I just don't think that Chris Tomlin does a good job capturing those things musically.
But this is not how most people see heavy metal. They see a bunch of angry, defiant, pierced and painted teenagers fighting the "man" and just fighting each other. In short, they see metal as childish. And this is forgivable as kids will be kids. But nothing seems to draw more scorn from the upper crust of American society than a man over thirty with long hair, dangling chains, and an In Flames t-shirt. Eventually, you're expected to grow out of …

The Reason for the Season

With the Christmas season in full swing, holiday cheer is often accompanied by seasonal spats. Conservative Christians maintain the traditional "Merry Christmas" greeting, but it has become increasingly fashionable to utilize the more innocuous phrase, "Happy Holidays."

Proponents of the latter argue that this ensures greater religious tolerance, political correctness, and avoiding the constitutionally-prohibited establishment of a state religion. The politically correct are countered with charges of secularization to a sacred and ancient celebration.

For fairness’ sake, it should not be ignored that America is a melting pot of ethnic celebrations, and that Christmas--though the most commercially recognized--is not the only wintry festival that is commonly celebrated. Conversely, it is true that one cannot simply "take Christ out of Christmas" any more than they could pc the menorah out of Hanukkah. Thus, the principles of both sides retain a certain necess…

Feasting On Guilt

One of the more ancient cultural artifacts we've retained today is the feast. It's just not a celebration without a full table and full stomachs. And no modern holiday represents this tradition better than Thanksgiving.

While other holidays can get murky amid their consumerist contrivances and religious rivalries, Thanksgiving maintains the simplicity of a feast: being thankful with family and food. People can argue about other holiday symbols all day: Santa Claus or the baby Jesus, the Easter bunny or a cross. But no one can argue that the centerpiece of Thanksgiving is a turkey dinner. Even as Black Friday rears its ugly head, more people are in their dining rooms on that Thursday than probably any other holiday.

Imagine yourself at that table, quite literally gobbling down the turkey and stuffing. The pleasant conversations naturally shift to everyone sharing what they're thankful for. Eventually, someone will say, "I'm thankful that we can enjoy this huge mea…

Christianity: Now With Ranch

Most kids hate eating their vegetables. Two of the most vilified in the eyes of children are broccoli and spinach. Now when I was a child, I never understood this because they were my two favorites.

On the other hand, I despised carrots. I remember my mother telling me I couldn't leave the table until all of my carrots were gone. And I had them EVERY DAY. I used to smother them in yogurt or ranch dressing just to distract from the putrid taste. But there was still the bone-cracking crunch of a potato chip gone horribly wrong.

I've since grown up and put aside my childish ways. So does this mean that I suck it up and eat my vegetables without complaint? Even the ones I hate? Actually, no. I don’t like carrots. I've never developed a taste for them, and I doubt I ever will.

At this point, someone will likely say, "But they’re good for you!" I know. But so is broccoli. It’s one thing to avoid eating vegetables all together (good luck with that). And it’s another to…

Miracles and Coincidences

A few years ago, I was driving up to spend time with my new girlfriend (now wife). General Sherman and I(my 1986 Volvo) were on the Garden State Parkway when I heard an unusual sound. It sounded like a small explosion in the engine. I would later find out that some of the spark plug wires had fried. This meant that Sherman was literally not running on all cylinders.

Two things happened at this point. First, my maximum speed dropped to 40 mph--I couldn't go any faster. Second, my fuel gauge suddenly had a visible descent. Now Sherman didn't have the best mileage. But after 120 miles, my once full tank had under a quarter left. And I had a grand total of $6 to make it home. An hour and half into the return trip, my gauge hit E.

I thought about pulling over and calling for help, but it was late and no one I knew was nearby. Seconds passed to minutes, and minutes to an hour. And to my surprise, an hour was all it took. I made it home in one piece, though I can’t say the same for …

Cowering Behind Black Cats

I love glow sticks. You know, those little green things you shake and crack. They represent one of my favorite childhood memories: Halloween. Because, you see, my family didn't celebrate it. Instead, my sister and I hunted for candy and other plunder with glow sticks in our blacked-out attic. This way, we didn't feel left out of the trick-or-treating fun, but we also didn't have to participate in a 'pagan' event.

To this day, I have never trick-or-treated or even dressed up for Halloween. People often ask, "Do you resent your parents for that?" The answer is a simple "No. Why would I?" I think my parents did what any good Christian parents would do. They came up with a creative way to avoid compromising their beliefs. And I don't feel compelled to hold this against them. So, does that mean I'll carry on the tradition, and teach my children not to observe Halloween?

I mean, what is Halloween really about anyway? Is it the Gaelic Samhain f…