Thursday, May 25, 2006

the final countdown

why do sports have such a powerful effect on people?

i just finished watching the conclusion to game two of the eastern conference finals between the detroit pistons and miami heat and my heart is still racing. i wasn't able to tune into the game until the final three minutes or so. i was elated to see that the pistons had the game in hand, with a twelve-point lead at 1:46. this turned to worry as the heat mounted a comeback, and quickly gave way to fury as the refs blew a couple of obvious calls toward the end. i was just about ready to meltdown after dwayne wade hit a three to pull within two points with 9.8 seconds left. but, happily, detroit pulled out a four-point victory in the end. sweet reprieve.

in about a month, the world cup will begin in germany. the hopes & dreams of 32 nations hang in the balance. football heavyweights brazil (the 2002 champs), england and argentina will be there... along with a first-time appearance from trinidad & tobago.

i'll never forget the 2002 tournament. the unheralded korean team shocked the football world and took fourth place. i remember the excitement building with each game... each game would virtually shutdown korean restaurants, bars and markets. because of the extreme time difference, i would watch their games at 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning - cheering silently so that i wouldn't wake up my wife (and on univision no less, because no english-language channels carried their games).

one poignant moment: as korea was preparing to play turkey in the third-place consolation match, i stopped by a gas station in jersey to fill up. as it happened, the attendant was turkish. we smiled and talked about the upcoming match and what a wonderful tournament it had been for both teams. as i left, my new friend looked me in the eye and said, "we are brothers."

i love the energy of live sporting events. the smell of dodger dogs, the sight of university of michigan basketball fans all dressed in maize & blue and hopping up & down through the entire game, the enthusiastic high-fives from the strangers seated next to you.... and the songs! i love how baseball players will use entrance music - apparently derek jeter cues up eminem before coming to bat. other favorites among mlb stars include metallica, rage against the machine, jay-z and ludacris.

however, for me, nothing will ever top the entrance song the pistons used back in the day (and still might very well use today): "the final countdown," by 80s hair rockers europe. i can hardly hear the synth-intro without getting all misty eyed and pumped up. thanks, guys.

Monday, May 22, 2006

bring on the dancing horses (man up!)

sometimes i enjoy infomercials more than actual television programs (but probably not this week, what with the season finales of 24 and lost!). case in point: spray-on hair. the only potential issue i could see might be inclement weather (cut to a soaked, bald man with goopy "hair" dripping off his face). a brief aside: i love these "before/after" photos. it usually appears to be two different people. so, unless the product claims to turn the user into an entirely different person, these photos seem less than authentic. but back to commercials...

i have noticed quite a few "be a man"-type adverts lately. one posits that men's lack of manliness starts in the shower. specifically, from using effete soap products as daily cleansers. the answer, supported by a marching band of g-men, is to take back the shower! and use soap that comes from an oil can! the problem, according to burger king, goes much further than just the cleaning habits of men. oh no, the problem extends even to our eating habits. our food! we scoff at salads. we laugh at low-carb menus. we harumph at health food (okay, that one was a stretch). but seriously, a man's gotta eat a texas double whopper! strangely, bk chose to use a musical-type format to convey this message of manliness. i'm not convinced that this method is consistent with their message of manliness. let's rally, and choreograph! raaaawr! even wines have gotten into the manly act. i mean, really, what man hasn't gone to a ballgame and thought to himself, "i wish i had a nice merlot to pair with this chili dog"? just in case their "no more wimpy wines" tagline was too subtle, this winery's logo used to feature wild stallions. the subtext being, i suppose, that drinking their wines would unleash the inner beast, causing men to run through fields, untamed, unbridled.

what does it mean to be a man? obviously, it goes much deeper than soap or ground beef, or any marketing campaign. several titles at the local christian bookstore wrestle with this question. risk, by kenny luck, tells us "Jesus challenges God's man to throw predictability, control, safety, and comfort out the window and go to the next level in their faith." (in a bit of publishing serendipity, kenny's surname seems to imply the very title of his book)... wild at heart, by john eldredge, offers insight and inspiration. and, though it is not strictly a book for men, erwin mcmanus calls believers to break free from the chains of domesticated, civilized faith in the barbarian way.

strength and servanthood. honor and humility. love, grace, sacrifice... still trying to figure it out...

Friday, May 12, 2006

somewhere only we know

despite the fact that i am in the middle of several books right now (the secret message of jesus, growing healthy asian-american churches, to own a dragon, in praise of slowness) i could not resist purchasing this title at the bookstore today > >

this is amazon's description:
"A riveting, in-depth, behind-the-scenes account of the subculture of modern Christian rock music, which saw estimated sales of one billion dollars in 2003 alone

Body Piercing Saved My Life is the first in-depth journalistic investigation into a subculture so large that it's erroneous to even call it a subculture: Christian rock. Christian rock culture is booming, not only with bands but with extreme teen Bibles, skateboarding ministries, Christian tattoo parlors, paintball parks, coffeehouses, and nightclubs,encouraging kids to form their own communities apart from the mainstream.

Profiling such successful Christian rock bands as P.O.D., Switchfoot, Creed, Evanescence, and Sixpence None the Richer, as well as the phenomenally successful Seattle Christian record label Tooth & Nail, enormous Christian rock festivals, and more, Spin journalist Andrew Beaujon lifts the veil on a thriving scene that operates beneath the secular world's radar. Revealing, sympathetic, and groundbreaking, Body Piercing Saved My Life (named for a popular Christian rock T-shirt depicting Christ's wounds) is a fascinating look into the hearts and minds of an enormous, and growing, youth culture."

i have been mowing through this book, alternately laughing out loud (and reading particularly funny passages out loud to family members) and sighing at the recognition of what can be so messed up about the christian subculture bubble deal.

while one might expect a spin magazine writer to be derisive and/or condescending towards christian rock, beaujon's accounts have been very even-handed. he even counters some unfair criticism some bands have received.

this is the passage that convinced me to purchase this book:
At Christian rock festivals, it's the adults who dress wacky - turning out in full kilt dress, for instance, or an Oompa Loompa outfit. These people are youth pastors, and I was more than slightly mortified when, upon entering the gates at the Orlando Fairgrounds to see the Florida franchise of the Cornerstone Festival, a well-scrubbed young fellow asked me if I was one.

although i am one of these oddball youth pastors, i do not want to be one of those creepy youth pastors who tries to be "hip with the teens", tossing out "fo' shizzles" for street cred through my well-groomed goatee (or ironic handlebar moustache for the hipster set). i think it's great that many youth pastors can reach young people through various dude-isms, but it just doesn't work for me. i'm too much of a dork.

i really want to be able to focus in on one book at a time, but this one was too good to pass up.

enjoying onelinedrawing and viva voce...

Friday, May 05, 2006


my daughter received this "girl fun pc" as a gift recently > > >

according to v-tech:
Girls just want to have fun—and with this hip, password-protected laptop, they will! Guided by talkative virtual friends she creates, your child will go to town playing fun, fashion-focused games that teach key skills in math and spelling. As she advances through the arcade-style games, your child adds value to her debit card, which she can use to buy pets and accessories in the Digital Pet Shop. With a magic lipstick stylus, flower-shaped keys and cool animations on the large LCD screen, Girl Fun PC makes an awesome impression on girls—and their learning!

i certainly do not want to sound ungrateful, but i was disappointed at this blatant stereotyping of what girls are supposed to be "into"... makeup, clothes, money, fashion... after completing a task, my daughter was urged by her digital friend, "let's go shopping!"... it's like the kid-sized shopping carts at some supermarkets that say "customer in training" on them. get 'em while they're young and mold them into consumers who want - need - more stuff! yikes.

there's nothing wrong with girls being "girly"... in fact, my daughter loves all things princess these days. i guess my issue is the underlying consumer-mentality - that, somehow, learning is not a worthwhile goal in itself; the great reward is the cash money. i suppose the manufacturer did make some effort to teach fiscal responsibility (it's a debit, not a credit, card). but i don't know.... the stylus is a "magic lipstick" tube? i guess girls don't want to use technology unless it's directly related to makeup or the mall?

as a father, i want my daughter to find her worth and identity in our heavenly Father, not in some kind of marketing agenda. we don't need any more help in trying to fill the void with things other than Christ.

"you are not what you own." - ian mackaye