Wednesday, May 31, 2006

A Movie for Gaines (and other Logophiles)

Remember the documentary about the spelling bee championships?

Well now there's a documentary about the NYT crossword competition: Wordplay.

Be sure to check out the trailer.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Option B? I make you.

Last night, we watched The Rundown with some friends after a tasty meal. It's a fun, action-packed tough-guy movie starring The Rock as the hero, Beck, who takes on all the bad guys without using guns (well, mostly). In today's AJC, there is a story which could describe a REAL Mr. Beck:

Stephens said Autry had left his job at the Jocks & Jills restaurant in Midtown and was walking along Penn Avenue when a blue Cadillac pulled alongside and three men, one armed with a shotgun, and the woman jumped from the car.

"Autry takes off running, and they chase him. During the chase, Autry's trying to get into his backpack to get a pocket knife, which slows him down," Stephens said.

Grabbing the knife from his backpack, Autry managed to kick the shotgun from the man's hands and stabbed the woman in the chest, fatally wounding her," Stephens said. In the melee, Autry also stabbed one of the male suspects. Another suspect attempted to shoot Autry with a .380 pistol, which misfired, Stephens said. (emphasis mine)

I think this would make a great opening scene to an action movie. The lonely, helpless-looking waiter walks home after work and is suprised by three bandits when WHAM! They're toast! The ex-marine fights off his gun-wielding attackers with nothing by a pocketknife! Now that's a good fight scene.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Wright Response to DaVinci

N.T. Wright on the DaVinci Code. How did I miss this?

Genuine Christianity is to be expressed in self-giving love and radical holiness, not self-cosseting self-discovery. And it lives by, and looks for the completion of, the new world in which God will put all things to rights and wipe away all tears from all eyes; in which all knees will bow at the name of Jesus, not because he had a secret love-child, not because he was a teacher of recondite wisdom, not because he showed us how we could get in touch with the hidden feminine, but because he died as the fulfillment of the Scriptural story of God’s people and rose as the fulfillment of the world-redeeming purposes of the same creator God; and because, in that death and resurrection, we discover him to be the one at whose name every knee shall indeed bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, confessing Jesus Christ as Lord to the glory of God the Father.

Thanks to Barach for the link.

Friday, May 26, 2006

School's Out for Summer!

As of 12:15 p.m. EST today, I officially survived my first year as an English teacher at a public high school.

More (meaningful and lengthy and thoughtful) reflection coming soon.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Dud-Vinci Code?

Ben Witherington notes that early reviews for the film version of The Da Vinci Code have been consistently abysmal. Perhaps all the hubbub has been much ado about nothing?

Does This Guy Know How To Party Or What?

N.T. Wright In Toronto

(H/T to The BHT)

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Christ Church of Berkeley

My cousin Bart Garrett (according to this site, he's my second cousin, not third like I've always thought) is working with some friends to plant a PCA church in Berkeley, CA. Their new website is up and looks great. Nice design, easy to navigate. I pray God would use their efforts to expand His kingdom in the hearts of the people there.

And, even though we've met dozens of people who know or know of my cousin Bart, Gaines has not yet met him; therefore, he stubbornly refuses to believe that he exists! (There's some sort of parable there, but I'll refrain from making any connections...) It's a running joke now, but I'm sure we'll run into him at a family reunion or Thanksgiving, eventually... for now, Gaines can wonder if the website's home page photo is photoshopped or just happens to include some random guy that everyone says is Bart.

HT and thanks to Tyler for the link.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Baptism 101

Al has written a great introductory post on Christian baptism at his blog. As someone who is tapping away at this issue, I found it informative, succinct, and encouraging in its clear call to "remember your baptism" not for the experience, but for what it actually is: "an event in which we are given a new identity, new rights and privileges" in Christ.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Holy Art, Trappist Style!

Many of you probably know that I have an interest in oil painting. In fact, one of the things on my daily schedule for this summer is an afternoon "art class," where I hope to spend most of my time on our porch, paint in hand and with my oft-neglected easel set up all summer long. I didn't think about it before, but technically, while painting on my porch (and using flowers and trees as my main subject) I will be practicing the discipline of plein air painting.

Painting out-of-doors, in nature, and on-site of the artist's subject was first practiced in Europe over 150 years ago, and now a group of painters in Georgia has formed an organization that continues that tradition at locations around the Peach State. This week, they will be painting scenes at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, Ga. I would absolutely love to do something like that-- to paint the beautiful old buildings, trees, and grounds of a monastery or a cathedral. Perhaps one day soon, I shall. (Though not this week-- school isn't over yet! Only ten more days...I can taste summer already!) Besides, PAPGA only takes juried members, and they aren't looking for new recruits at this time. I'll just have to start my own amateur club. PAPMA (Plein Air Painters of Metro Atlanta), anyone?


Fans of the X-Files (it's okay to admit you are/were one) may remember the mysterious "Black Oil" that Mulder, Scully & co. kept running into.

I've been sick all week, and I think the "Black Oil" is the best description for what I think has infected by lungs and sinuses. Gross.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The End Of The Exile

I've finally settled into my new cubicle at work, despite my previous tribulations. Although the cube was finished earlier in the week, there was a lingering, tangible sense of being "in exile" -- up until today, the phone and network connections were inoperable. But all has now been restored. Hallelujah!

Evil Wizard Rock?

So, it's no secret that Harry and the Potters are pretty rad. But apparently, they are touring this summer with Draco and the Malfoys. Draco and the Malfoys? Can such a band even exist? Are these gigs destined to end in wizard duels and untold carnage?

Sadly, none of the tour dates are anywhere near us. Happily, though, it looks as if the Harrys will have a new CD out this summer. (Wizard) Rock On!

Really, Your Only Crime Was Violating U.S. Law

The Simpsons episode "Much Apu About Nothing" (Season 7) is just as relevant today as when it first aired in 1996. The premise is that Mayor Quimby, in an effort to divert public outrage over high taxes, campaigns in favor of "Proposition 24," which will deport all illegal immigrants.

Hilarity ensues.

Monday, May 08, 2006

In Exile

At the end of last week, my department conducted a major reconfiguration of our office. People moving around, new rooms being built out -- quite a big deal. Although I still won't have an actual office, I will finally have a cubicle with a window. (Oooooo.)

Unfortunately, I am not yet sitting next to that window. Due to some scheduling mishaps, my new cube is not yet complete. Today, as on Friday, I am "temporarily" holed-up in our file/work room, which at least has a computer. This isolated location does have a few silver linings, one of which is the ability to turn up some music without pestering any co-workers. But this is no substitute for the Promised Land of my new cube. Will I ever reach that happy place?

Thursday, May 04, 2006

A Yarn About Yarn

I have been surrounded by arts and crafts for as long as I can remember. My mother has always loved to paint and I grew up with her art adorning our walls. She took me with her to painting classes and encouraged anything I decided to create, no matter how messy. My grandmothers both had artistic talents (whether it was crocheting, knitting, or arranging flowers), my aunt is a professional landscape designer and an all-around amazingly creative person who and always sent me wonderfully fun birthday craft projects, her son--my cousin-- does some really cool things with clay and wood, and my dad has always been one of those tool-type guys who, if he couldn't find something that he needed for a project, would come up with it on his own, whether it was a boat accessory, some woodworking project, or even a golf club.

Somehow, these artistically inclined genes worked their way down to me. Now, I would describe myself as a crafty person. Ever since I was a little girl, I've had a craft box. It grew into a couple of craft shelves, but soon shrunk once I was in high school and became distracted by other pursuits (Sadly, we had no art classes at my small town high school the years I attended). In college, for lack of space I kept a rubbermaid tub with some craft supplies under my bed. I had many "artsy" friends, though I would never have described myself as such-- I was too conservative, too restrained. Honestly, the art department intimidated me. But I braved enough classes to graduate with an art minor-- trying out studio classes in watercolor, oil painting, design, and sculpture (working with power tools was both exhilerating and horrifying all at once).

And then, once I got married and started volunteering with kids, my little craft box grew into almost an entire closet. A few years ago, with the encouragement of a friend, we took a night class in oil painting, and I acquired a great new storage box on wheels to hold paints, brushes, canvasses, etc. Since then, I've scaled down a bit, passed some of my crafts along now that we've retired from Apartment Life. However, I plan to carve out some time this summer to resurrect my oils and brushes, especially since I have a full-scale easel that has gone largely unused. I even try to work some art appreciation into my high school English classes--if nothing else I have a collage of "great art" on my walls at school. Currently, (and I hope to write more on this once we finish) I am part of a weekly group in our church that meets to discuss the book Creative Call.

Though I have acquired sundry skills over the years--painting in various mediums, sketching, scrapbooking, coloring, collage-making, paper-mache, jewelry-making, woodworking, and about anything else you could find in the aisles of a Michael's store--it is in no way an exhaustive list. Until this past weekend I had never spent too much time in the yarn aisle. (I think my grandmother tried to teach me to crochet once, but I probably gave up out of frustration-- despite my love of all things craft-related, I am in no way dexterous.) Rows upon rows of tactile comfort-- soft, fluffy, furry, fuzzy, sleek, puffy, warm, luxurious textures, all in a garish to gentle rainbow pallette. I was in a crafter's paradise, but I had no idea what to buy. Some of the older ladies in our church had offered to give us "knitting lessons" on Sunday afternoon, and I wanted to at least come with some supplies, so if I got hooked I wouldn't feel bad taking theirs. I ended up picking up some cheap yarn in a dark blue and two size 8 needles.

Well, despite the promise of clacking over wollen sweaters, it turns out that none of the three ladies present are actually knitters. They are all much better with the art of crochet. So, after some light snacks and a heavenly introduction to making homemade Southern biscuits, we sat down with our yarn and our clumsy fingers and learned another new skill. Their deft fingers contrasted sharply with our frustrated fits and starts, and there was much re-doing and pulling out of thread, but eventually we learned the basic steps. (I also learned never to buy the cheap stuff and that it is better to buy light-colored thread as a beginner because it is easier to see.) I have no idea what the terminology is for this skill, since I was too busy concentrating on how to actually accomplish it to remember, so if anyone has any good book recommendations, please let me know.

Though we only had an hour of practice before they sent us out into the wilderness, and my potholder will surely be misshapen, I think I have been taken in by the whole knitting/crocheting craze. We left with promises of future lessons, and I know there are other ladies in our church who knit quite well, so I am hoping to expand my textile repertoire in the near future. What I think I appreciate most, though, about our afternoon crocheting adventure was the lessons in hospitality, service, and patience. The organizer opened the session with prayer and the verse from Titus 2: "Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled."

Those ladies who took the time to teach us impatient young housewives definitely passed along much more than just their knowledge of working with hands and yarn. I look forward to future lessons, as we grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord while making socks and scarves and sweaters for our families as well as for those less fortunate around the world. (At least, that's our plan. The actual making of said scarves, sweaters, and socks may be a long time coming.)

As an added bonus to this little tale, tonight I found this fun article about a reluctant knitter whose inspiration came after she bought her own pair of llamas. Even if we didn't live in an upstairs apartment in a large metropolitan area, I don't think I could be that hardcore. Those things spit! Still, I'll never say never...

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

EP on the Radio?

This is very cool. All week, Lightning 100 (WRLT - "Nashville's Progressive Radio") is playing "The Storm" by Eric Peters during their Local Lightning Spotlight. Did I mention this was pretty cool?

(Too bad the station doesn't stream via their website.)

Counter Protest

I get together with some of "the guys" on Monday nights for dinner. In light of yesterday's "Day Without Immigrants" shenanigans, we decided to visit one of our favorite Mexican restaurants in a fierce show of resistance. To our horror, our first choice of venues was actually closed! Fortunately, we have several Mexican places on our usual roster, and a workplace intelligence operation revealed that one of our other favorites was indeed open. So, although we were discouraged by the initial setback (you made a powerful enemy yesterday, "The Border"!), we ultimately succeeded in striking a triumphant blow in favor of ... filling our stomachs with tasty food.

On a slightly more serious note, it turns out that the boycott and demonstrations planned for Atlanta were quite underwhelming. For instance, the police prepared for something like 50,000 protesters down at the state Capitol, but only a few thousand actually showed up. And although there were several pockets of immigrant-owned businesses that closed for the day, a significant number stayed open. Of course, it's still too early to tell what the overall impact was.