Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Maps, Memes, and Mis

So, as I mentioned in a previous post, I've been listening to the very long Les Miserables audiobook, which has been a great diversion in the car. The problem is I always want to sing the song that matches the current plot line. I know this doesn't seem very life-impacting, but with the way Victor Hugo writes (read: detailed and meandering), I end up singing the same song for days. For example, last week I was singing "Confrontation" all week.

"Valjean, at last, we see each other plain. Monsieur le Mayor, you'll wear a different chain."

This week it's been "Castle on a Cloud," which used to be my favorite song when I was little, especially when my parents made me do chores. "I know a place where no one's lost; I know a place where no one cries. Crying at all is not allowed, not on my castle on a cloud." Little does Cosette know (or maybe she's perfectly aware), she's singing about the kingdom of God that will be more fully addressed in the finale.

So, this is an interesting map that traces football allegiances using facebook likes. I mean, you can't get much more scientific than that.

Obviously, my favorite part is how the purple bleeds west and south into the Dakotas and Iowa. Also, look how small Buffalo's fan base is. How do they still have a team?

Speaking of facebook "likes," I always enjoy when one friend comments on a post and a totally unrelated friend likes the other friend's comment. I know it sounds convoluted, but it makes my world feel smaller. It also usually elicits one of two reactions: 1. Oh yeah, you two would totally love each other; or 2. Ha! I don't think one of you realizes that the other is being sarcastic.

BU should start alerting me when there's not an armed robbery because it seems like it would be less frequent than the texts, phone calls, and emails when there is. Also, they're really pushing flu shots. I always think the flu shot will give me the flu, so I avoid it (not because I'm one of those anti-inoculation parents that are bringing the whooping cough back into style among pre-schoolers). Then, I justify it by saying I'm saving dosages for the elderly and children. If you can mask your fear and/or laziness in a thin veneer of selflessness/goodwill, you're really on to something.

I think Ph.D. programs should have a class a required class on humility...or at least training people how to fake it around others.

Yes, it's the most overused meme picture in the world (speaking of which, I do not like the word "meme" at all), and I'm pseudo-embarrassed about posting it (obviously not enough to keep me from sharing), but I still can't help but laugh:

Speaking of Willy Wonka, I always thought Gene Wilder was dead until I heard him respond negatively to Gilda's Club (a cancer support group named after his late-wife and SNL star Gilda Radner who died of ovarian cancer) changing their name - a decision they then reversed.

Apparently, I wasn't the only one who thought he was deceased because when I went to google him for this picture, one of the autofill choices was "Gene Wilder death" and "Gen Wilder dead or alive." Sorry, Gene.

Finally, nothing is funnier to me than Colbert breaking character:

Okay, that's all the media I have for you today. Now, off to face Wednesday. Later.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Countdown to San Diego, Delivery Service, and Criminal Book Dealers

A week from now I will be on my way to San Diego for Midwinter! I have to say, even though I am an overall fan of cold weather, I will not mind a week-long reprieve from the cold and a chance to run outside without a parka and a eighteen minute pre-run self-pep talk. Also, many of my favorite people in the world will also be there, making a good time basically unavoidable. Here's a picture of the place:

Now, if I could just get two weeks' worth of work done over the next week, I would be set. Obviously, blogging is helping me obtain this goal.

Things I wished had a delivery service:
- Dairy Queen/ice cream parlors
- Libraries (I need to go to Boston College and pick up a book today, and I just can't help but think how great it would be if they could just send it over to my place).
-Trader Joe's

This is quite a list. God knows I need more books and ice cream without having to get up myself and get them. I realize I'm basically making a list of those things that force me to go outside and into civilization. This list could just as well be, "Things that keep Dave from being a recluse." All I need is a ramshackle cabin, a rusted-out shotgun, and kids on my property to scare off with crazy eyes and loud obscenities.

Well, the Wild lost their third straight in OT yesterday...after being up 3-1 in the second period. It was like a performance art piece on Minnesota sports - go up big and choke. Parise, however, continues to play like a monster, and they are currently tied for first in the Northwest.

I know this is a small thing, and I shouldn't be complaining about an automated system that is already far better than the alternative, I can't help but be frustrated by ill-prepared people who deposit checks at ATMs. I seem to always be behind the man/woman who gets to the ATM, searches for their card, finds it, puts it in, hits deposit check button, spends time looking for the check they're going to deposit, finds the check, decides now would be a good time to endorse the check, finds a pen, writes it, decides to rip off the check from the pay stub, and finally deposits the check  Did you sleepwalk to the ATM, find yourself there and think, "What the heck? I might as well deposit a check in my wallet/purse while I'm here." A little foresight people!

Library fines almost kept me from registering today at BC. However, with my winning Bjorlin charm, I was able to weasel my way in (after a stern lecture).

I think it should be a criminal offense to charge more than $30 for a book. If you're sending out hundreds of books to professors in hopes that they will put them on their syllabus as required readings, don't pass the expense on to the student, the one probably least able to pay your exorbitantly inflated prices. And if it can't be a criminal offense, it should at least be a sin for Christian publishers. I think these marketers/salespersons will find themselves in purgatory forced to work off the difference between the actual value of the books they sold and the price they sold said books for before they will be allowed through the pearly gates. They will do work study in the cafeteria getting paid the going rate for a freshman. They will also have to purchase 15 books a semester at the going rate before they can use the leftover money to pay off their debts. Hope they like working the commercial dishwasher because they're going to be there for a while.

So, I decided that what I needed most this spring break was a trip to Chicago, especially since this coincides with my birthday. So, barring any crazy flight discrepancies, I think I will be in Chi-town March 8-15. You can start making your paper chains/advent calendars now, folks. The week will start with a birthday party at Sidekicks. You should come. That's all for now. Later!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

ResCov Expatriates, Sports, and Small Victories

First off, I spent the weekend in the wonderful state of New Hampshire with the likes of Amy and Andrew Daigle and Sarah, TK, and Sawyer Johnson! It was a great time of conversation, craft brews, reminiscing, and a good deal of eating (to put it positively). We took an excursion to Robert Frost's Farm in Derry, New Hampshire where he lived for 11 years during his adult life. While the building was shut up and there wasn't much too the place, you could walk along the stone wall that inspired one of his most famous poems, "Mending Wall." This is the poem that includes the line, "Good fences make good neighbors," but it's often forgotten that Frost is critiquing the idea, especially on a farm that doesn't have cattle to stray into another's property. Also, you can walk through the woods and think of the amount of poems that Frost must have been written after such walks. We also headed back to the quaint town of Portsmouth, which has to be one of the most idyllic of New England towns with its location on the Ocean, old church buildings, and winding, narrow streets that are built into the contours of the city. It is actually a pretty great place. Then, Sunday afternoon I went to Amy's parents (after driving home Saturday night for church on Sunday morning) to watch the football games. It was a pretty quiet house/state/New England region in the second half of the Patriots game.

As I mentioned on Facebook, I am not looking forward to this Harbaugh Bros. Super Bowl. I can just see the feel-good pre-game video talking about their childhoods/rivalries/relationships, the constant terrible commentator lines about "family feuds," "Harbaugh Bowl," and "brotherly love," and the constant shots of family members. However, I am glad I don't have to see Bill Belichik in his cry-for-attention-cutoff-hoodie. I'm sorry, if you don't care about the way you look, you would just wear a hooded sweatshirt. He is trying to go for the "I'm-so-busy-and-football-minded-that-I-can't-even-wear-a-clean/full-sweatshirt" look, which I'm not buying. I think I'll be rooting for the 49ers as fellow NFCers, even though I have a harder time with Jim. Why? Exhibit A:

I've seen toddler temper tantrums that are less emotive than this. Get a grip - even a loose, tentative grip - on your emotions.

So, two games in and the Wild are 2-0! That first forward line of Parise-Koivu-Heatley is looking to be tough to defend, especially on powerplays.

So, I packed a lunch today. By the level of pride I am feeling for this insignificant action, you would think I had climbed Everest, won a Nobel Peace Prize, and cured cancer. Yet, "it is the small actions that make all the difference," someone probably said at some point.

Today is my last first class of the semester, so after this I will know what the semester holds. I don't think it should be a game-changer, but one can never tell.

(a few hours later)

Good news! It wasn't a game-changer, and I think I should be set as far as work goes this semester. The bulk of the work is three larger papers that will focus on the origins of Advent, Social Gospel hymns of the 19th century, and the development of Sunday School hymnals in the Methodist church. Let's do this!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Li(v)estrong, School, and Randomness

I think that after everything is said and done with this Lance Armstrong/cycling doping scandal, there's going to be some random, honest Belgian cyclist who's going to end up with 13 Tour de France titles by default. Congratulations, Arnaud (and yes, I looked up popular Belgian male names. What's it to ya?)! And really? You're confessing on Oprah? What is this, 2001? Also, how can you lie for that long to so many people? How does that happen? If I hint at a lie, I lay awake until I send a late night email confessing my sins. And just when I thought cycling was going to be my new favorite spectator sport (sarcasm).

What is the statute of limitations on spoiler alerts? For instance, if you still do not know how the Harry Potter series ends, I don't think you can still be legitimately angry when someone talks about it in conversation. You know, if you're watching Lincoln and find out he dies at the end, you shouldn't be that surprised (same goes for Zero Dark Thirty).

School starts again on Thursday, and I realize I have (I believe?) neglected to tell you my school schedule. First and foremost, I crazily only have regular classes on Thursdays! While this has a huge upside, I'm a bit concerned that the rest of my week will fall into a dystopian state of unstructured time where I'll sleep until 11:30, eat cheez whiz for lunch, and try to read the occasional textbook while watching continuous episodes of Laverne and Shirley. The key is a structured schedule. Anyhow, I am taking Medieval History (focusing on the liturgy of the Medieval Church), American Theological Liberalism (focusing on the hymns of the social gospel movement), and an independent study at Boston College on early church liturgies. All in all, I think it should be an interesting and enlightening semester.

While I did not watch the Golden Globes (because I have better things to do with my time, like watch Parenthood or YouTube clips of amazing goalie saves), I did catch Amy Poehler and Tina Fey's opening bit. My two favorite jokes (one already written on facebook):
1. "Ben's (Affleck) first two movies took place in Boston, but he moved this one to Iran because he wanted to film somewhere that was friendlier to outsiders."
2. "Meryl Streep is not here tonight; she has the flu, and I hear she is amazing in it."

Don't worry, #1 got a response in the Boston Globe op-ed section asking if this was true and calling on Bostonians to change this perception of unfriendliness.

This morning I got an early automated phone call from BU telling me to evacuate if I was in such and such a building because they had a "chemical spill." Some chemistry professor is losing his/her job. Also, I might go down and try to turn into a super hero. What could go wrong?

I have to admit seeing the Packers take it on the chin was a bit of consolation for our grievous loss. I think I'm cheering for the 49ers or the Ravens. I mean, Ray Lewis seems almost half-machine now with all the gear he has to wear. How can you not cheer for a 37 year-old playing at that level in the NFL?

Well, I think that's all for today. I'm going to try and do some legitimate reading (as opposed to illegitimate reading) this afternoon before choir practice. Later!

Friday, January 11, 2013

More Les Mis Revelations, Musicals, and Gun Control

So, as you know, I love Les Miserables: the book, the musical, and now the movie. Today I downloaded the audiobook (it's 57 hours long, so it will be my companion for the foreseeable future running in the park and riding in the car). Listen to (or I guess read) the Victor Hugo's preface to the book: "So long as there shall exist, by reason of law and custom, a social condemnation which, in the midst of civilization, artificially creates a hell on earth, and complicates with human fatality a destiny that is divine; so long as the three problems of the century - the degradation of man by the exploitation of his labor, the ruin of woman by starvation, and the atrophy of childhood by physical and spiritual night - are not solved; so long as, in certain regions, social asphyxia shall be possible; in other words, and from a still broder point of view, so long as ignorance and misery remain on earth, there should be a need for books such as this."

Well said, Victor (Yeah, we're on a first name basis; no big deal.). The question is, why don't we have more books like this - sprawling books that speak to the social condition, the human condition, and the need for redemption? There still seems to be enough ignorance and misery to go around. I think Jay Phelan points in the right direction: post-modernity and cynicism have disregarded all grand narratives, especially about redemption. And don't even get me started on "Christian fiction," which either focus on personal salvation, terrible eschatology surrounding the "End Times" (Yeah, I'm looking at you, Left Behind), or narrow notions of Christian morality. I wish we had some present-day Victor Hugos.

Speaking of musicals, I hope this is me in 40 or so years.

The Minnesota Gophers are ranked 8th in the country! In unrelated news, plagues of frogs have been sighted and and an international outbreak of boils have been reported as the end of the world must be around the corner.

If they make this 1 trillion dollar platinum coin, I hope they at least use it for the Super Bowl coin toss or as a prize in some type of bio-dome/Hunger Games competition.

After Kim Crawford told me that it was a bit disconcerting to see a poll on physician-assisted suicide next to pictures of my new nieces, I decided to switch it out. So, vote early, vote often!

I was really happy to see Wayne LaPierre, executive Vice President of the NRA, continue to make great suggestions of what should be done in the wake of unmitigated gun violence (and yes, I'm riffing off some Stewart/Colbert material): armed police in schools (how could that go wrong?), controlling violent video games and movies for children (this is probably the sanest of his recommendations), a national database of the "lunatics" and "monsters" roaming the street (I'm assuming he means the mentally-ill, who need care and treatment more than their names on a registry). Anything else, Msr LaPierre? I've got a couple of my own:
-ban semi-automatic assault rifles, and not just the manufacturing of them as the previous assault weapons ban did, leaving hundreds of thousands on the market.
-ban high-capacity magazines. Someone please tell me how any citizen needs a 30-bullet magazine (used in the Newtown shootings) let alone a 100-bullet drum (as used in the Aurora shootings) in their lives?
-clamp down on unlicensed gun sales at gun shows (and enforce background checks at gun shows!) and close the gun show loophole.
-beat all guns and armaments of every kind into plowshares and study war no more.

Alas, I think the last one will have trouble getting through the House of Representatives. A boy can dream!

This evening I'm going to a restaurant in Boston (duh) called Jacob Wirth that has a Friday evening sing-along. They describe it on the sing-along on the website as "rock/oldies from the 50's, 60's, and 70's, with plenty of show tunes and standards, too." So basically, this place is my dream come true.

So, until then I'll be reading The Making of American Liberal Theology: Imagining Progressive Religion - 1805-1900. Jealous?

Monday, January 7, 2013

Paisley Jo!!, Minnesota Sports, and New Stand-Up Material

First and best, Anna and Peter had their baby! Paisley Jo was born in January 5th weighing in at a healthy 8 lbs, 4 oz and stretching out to 21 1/2 inches, which happens to be the exact dimensions of her older cousin Daphne! Mom, Dad, and baby are doing great! Anna was obviously a rockstar. As usual,  I think she was named all-conference and all-state in birthing. There's probably going to be a feature in the Duluth News Tribune.  Here's a picture:

I think those are Bjorlin lips. Now I just have to figure out when I can get to Duluth and see her! Whose driving from Boston to Duluth this week?

I hope everyone had a good feast of the Epiphany yesterday. I just am so sick of how our society has commercialized Epiphany with the constant jingles, the crazy mall shopping, the lights and parties - sometimes it's just too much. And don't even get me started on the leftist/secular atheists' war on the Ascension. 

The Vikings looked pretty good, huh? Who would have thought that a back-up quarterback that hadn't taken a snap all year wouldn't be up to the challenge of a playoff game against our division rivals? The silver lining: hockey is back on! I think this is the year of the Wild - Koivu, Parise, Suter, Granlund, Backstrom - I think this is the year. I might even splurge and get NHL GameCenter, especially if they're going to give a big price break in an attempt to win back some fans after their off season stupidity. You better at least prorate it. Maybe I'll take out a second mortgage on my school loans to buy a jersey.

Parenthood is getting real, y'all. (And I use "is" in the past tense, since I'm only at the tail end of season 2. So I guess I should say, "Parenthood was getting real two years ago, y'all).

Throughout studying the liturgical life of the Church, I am more and more amazed that we (the Evangelical Covenant Church) can ordain people to Word and Sacrament without people ever being required to take a class on the sacraments. Would we ordain people if they took five classes on the sacraments and none on the Bible (since we do the opposite)? Just sayin'.

So, I just looked over at the movies I own: Lord of the Rings trilogy, Harry Potter 5, 6, 7a, and 7b, Scoop, Home Alone, Children of Men, and Adventures in Babysitting. Eat your heart out, Roger Ebert.

I hate when you have to prove you're not a robot online by typing in a series of numbers and letters they present to you in an almost unreadable fashion. First, the numbers always seem to be a creepy and grainy picture of numbers on a sketchy hotel room and the letters are almost always incomprehensible. They might as well be wingdings. This is my inner dialogue upon seeing these: "Let's see...that's an r...and that maybe is the Egyptian hieroglyph for  the Sun God Ra?...then s, yep, definitely s...then a contorted pi...and is that last one a gang symbol of some type?...Maybe the next one will be readable." That's going to be part of my stand-up routine. "What's the deal with ovaltine!?"

Well, that's all I have to say. I need to do a bit more writing and then figure out how/where to watch the college football championship tonight. I need to get a sports friend in Boston. Later!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Pilgrim Pines, Writing, and Les Mis Reactions

So, for those of you who have been following my Facebook updates (a throng of millions, I'm sure), you know that I am currently in Swanzey, New Hampshire at Pilgrim Pines, a camp that is part of my denomination (the Evangelical Covenant Church).  First, I had heard this place was great, but it really is (you know, sometimes people are biased and think a place is great because their memories and nostalgia have constructed a place bearing little resemblance to reality (e.g. Disney World (that could get me in trouble, but I stand by it))). However, this place is legitimately great in reality. It has the feel of a Northern Minnesota lake (an obvious point in its favor) with the added bonus of surrounding mountains.

Anyway,  I came up here to do some writing, and while writing on my blog wasn't high on the agenda, I am giving in to my baser instincts. It's amazing how easy it is to divert yourself to superfluous activities no matter where you are or how you try to sequester yourself. If only this divergent energy could could be channeled!

First, I had a great time at Stefan and Kiera Fritz's New Year's Eve Party! It was good to see some old Chicago friends and catch up. The one problem: due to a cold and my penchant towards geriatric behavior, I was ready to go to bed by about 10. The rest of the night was spent asking what time it was every 78 seconds and then audibly groaning at how little time had passed since the previous time I asked. I'm sure everyone was elated that I was invited. Although midnight did include a real-life dropping of the ball, granted it was a soccer ball dropped on a flag pole at about 12:03 (I worked the spotlight (read: huge flashlight), but why quibble over the details? It was pretty great.

My sister is still pregnant. She's like the girl who cried baby.  I'm starting to think she's just got a basketball shoved under her shirt.

I like using the word "cosmos" way too much in my writing. It seems bigger and grander than universe, not as mind- numbing and "all that is," and a little more creative than "all creation." Maybe I should do something crazy and consult a thesaurus, which is usually reserved for editing a paper when I realize that I have used "asserts" 6.02 ×1023 times in a term paper before a scholar's quote (Oh hey, Avogadro's constant!)

As I was going through old journals (another great way to divert yourself from pressing activities), I came upon this quote from John Steinbeck that I think captures better than any other our country's reliance on force, the military-industrial complex, and guns. It could have been written in last month's New York Times:

“Now for many years we have suckled on fear and fear alone, and there is no good product of fear. Its children are cruelty and deceit and suspicion germinating in our darkness. And just as surely as we are poisoning the air with our test bombs, so are we poisoned in our souls by fear, faceless, stupid sarcomic terror.” 


I also found this more humorous gem of a quote from St. Brigid of Ireland:

“I would like a great lake of beer for the King of kings; I would like the people of heaven to be drinking it through time eternal.” 

It's just not a quote you have come to expect from saints. And I will leave you with this gem: emotional parents getting interviewed by their children after seeing Les Mis. Note especially the father's words towards the end.