Thursday, March 30, 2006

stop me if you think you've heard this one before

lake superior state university (greetings from michigan, sufjan!) publishes a list of banished words every year. officially, it's the list of words and phrases banished from the queen's english for mis-use, over-use and general uselessness. past winner (losers?) include: metrosexual, chad, first-time caller and holiday tree.

this year, i'm casting my vote for "make no mistake". if i could also outlaw the look that goes with it (you know - squinting your eyes to affect steeliness) i would. it's one of those strange rhetorical devices that i'm guessing is supposed to imply toughness but is just plain confusing. if you've already spent twenty minutes trying to convince me of something, would i really make the mistake of thinking you're going to change your position in the next sentence?

another verbal pet peeve: asking a question and then immediately answering it. imagine: "how many licks does it take to get to the center of a tootsie pop? eight hundred seventy three! that's how many." wouldn't it save some word mileage to simply say, "it takes eight hundred seventy three licks to get to the center of a tootsie pop"? actually, i think this one bothers me because a pastor i knew from the east coast would use this technique at least three or four times per sermon. which segues into part two of my lil' rant....

i think pastors should not be allowed to preach a single sermon that is longer than twenty-five minutes. i think there should be an agreement with the congregation: after a predetermined period of time has elapsed, the congregation can begin waving the preacher off the stage, as they do on showtime at the apollo (like this). if that doesn't work, then savion glover will unceremoniously tapdance you out of the pulpit. lest you think i'm being too harsh, i would apply the same agreement to myself (as i find myself preaching most sundays).

and, just to toss out a couple of parting shots, i think revealing the number of points you're about to make at the outset of the message should be likewise banished. this never fails to trigger the countdown in my mind... only two more points and three sub-points to go!

the things that get under our skin are so strange. i had a friend in college whose nervous habit was to tap his fingers across his laptop keyboard without actually applying enough force to make the character appear onscreen. come midterms, you could hear the faint tappity-tap-tap echoing stressed-out strains from his room...

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

there is a light that never goes out

i don't want to become one of *those* dads, always bragging about their kids and boring everyone with the minutiae of our lives (she chose blue jeans over green corduroys today! baby genius!).... but i am always delighted to hear her pray.

we've always sang a little song as our prayer for meals and she learned another song at the church nursery that she likes to sing before bedtime, but she's been learning to express many things to God in prayer. it's amazing how even this two-and-a-half year old can pray for her mom to recover from her weeklong bout with the flu (dear God, help mommy not be sick) and it's so much fun to hear what she's thankful for (thank you for the aquarium, and i got to touch a shark - which, incidentally, she did do today!).

tonight, unprompted, she thanked God for saving us. her mom and i have always prayed that she would love God whole-heartedly and i see how He is already answering those prayers.

my daughter, wife and i had a raging dance party tonight in our kitchen. new order's "best of" provided the soundtrack for our dancing, laughing and dishwashing. so many things for which to give thanks to God....

Monday, March 27, 2006

get the balance right

i love infomercials. maybe it's the wonderfully bad production value, or the fanciful nature of the products and their promises (buy our spray on hair and the ladies will love you!)...

i saw one the other day that actually got me thinking... it was a piece of exercise equipment that combines a treadmill, stair climber and elliptical thingy. the underlying message seemed to be if you're only doing one exercise at a time, you are a lazy deadbeat (and probably a bad person, too). only slackers have time for a full workout...

it's like another book of strange inventions i saw... in japan, i guess their work breaks are not long enough to smoke more than one cigarette. the answer to this nicotine dilemma: a surgical mask-looking device, into which one could greedily place an entire pack of cigarettes. and, thus, one can smoke *twenty* in the time it usually takes to smoke just one.

if kierkegaard was right (and i'm putting my money on him over me) that purity of heart is to will one thing, i think i'm in big trouble. my mind is constantly darting around like so many little bunnies trying to escape wallace and gromit's bun-vac 6000. i'm not even a particularly good multitasker, so there goes that excuse. i can half-will about ten different things, but i can never seem to focus intently on that one thing...

i'm asking God for one thing, only one thing: to live with him in his house my whole life long. i'll contemplate his beauty; i'll study at his feet. that's the only quiet, secure place in a noisy world, the perfect getaway, far from the buzz of traffic. - psalm 27:4-5

wasn't ll cool j's unplugged performance amazing? in many ways, showcasing hip hop in the context of a live band was a major breakthrough. bands like the roots might owe some debt to that single performance... in any case, maybe i can unplug from the noise that surrounds and experience a breakthrough.

mama said knock you out!

as someone who grew up with cbc (mr. dressup, anyone?), i will follow the lead of the new degrassi series and title my posts after new wave songs. you gotta love a series that has episodes titled "the lovecats," "bigmouth strikes again" and "bizarre love triangle".