Friday, May 27, 2005

Getting Back to Reality

TV sucks.

Just had to get that off of my chest.

Have we completely run out of ideas for television shows? Reality television continues to take over the world and it just bothers me. How many more ideas can actually be out there? I will admit, I have enjoyed a reality show every now and then. After the Ravens-Giants Super Bowl (still can't believe that happened), I watched my first "Survivor" episode and got unmercifully hooked. I, sadly, have watched most seasons since. I watched "The Amazing Race" this past season, and that wasn't too off-the-charts terrible. I even watched a few moments of this past season's American Idol (I have never watched it before, nor will I again...).

But reality is getting out of hand. Maybe we should get back to our imagination. I saw something incredibly disturbing on Tuesday. CBS has decided to get in the American Idol business..."Rockstar:INXS" debuts this summer.

Here is one writer's description of the show:

Each week will feature taped reality segments focusing on the performers’ relationships and activities, along with a performance competition and weekly elimination. The last person standing will become the lead singer of INXS, replacing the late Michael Hutchence. INXS had a string of worldwide hits in the late 1980s but their success has since waned and the band is best known for Hutchence’s suicide in a Sydney hotel room in 1997. Since Hutchence’s death, the band has experimented with a string of singers.

I have a few questions. Call them...concerns.

Do we really need an entire series devoted to finding a new lead singer of INXS? I mean, are we that starved for fair 80's music? Are we really wanting to go back to the days of "Suicide Blonde"? Did anyone know that INXS has repeatedly tried to find someone to sing? Does CBS really think that anyone will care after this show is over? What if the album stinks? Is anyone going to buy it because "this guy won a contest!"?. Does anyone care that this disrespects Michael Hutchence even a little? I don't think so.

Maybe, I am misguided.

Don't get me wrong..."Listen Like Thieves" and "Kick" were great albums. But come on, lead singers define bands. Only in very rare cases (see Van Halen and Audioslave) can you replace a very distinct lead vocalist and be successful. INXS is not one of those bands. Hutchence was a pretty good singer. His death was a tragedy, but INXS died long before he did. CBS cannot make INXS cool again. I firmly believe this.

What's sad is that this is a brilliant concept compared to "Nanny:911", "Super Nanny", "Hell's Kitchen", "Big Brother", "The Cut" and others. Add all of this to Psychic crime dramas, CSI: Tuscola and news magazines and you have exceptionally un-riveting TV. Sadly, I actually don't think reality TV will stop until they show an actual death on primetime network television (all you network execs reading this...don't get any ideas).

Why can't I invent a TV that only shows what I want to watch (basically sports and well, sports)? Somebody explain to me why I can't just have the Food Network, ESPN, the Travel Channel and the NFL Sunday Ticket.

A la Carte cable...what a great concept. Somebody needs to invent this. I'm serious. No more reality shows. No more crime dramas. No more steamy shows about housewives. Give me food, sports and world travel.

Now if you will excuse me, I am going to listen to "Kick".

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

At the Movies...

In the wake of Star Wars: Episode III opening tomorrow, I was in a discussion with my friend Aaron about great movies (I have not declared Episode III great, but I am excited...). As we discussed the Original Star Wars trilogy our discussion moved to the current Star Wars trilogy. In discussing "The Phantom Menace", he said it was hard to see "Schindler" (from Schindler's List, obviously...) as Jedi "Qui-Gon Jinn".

He, of course, was referring to Liam Neeson. However, I did not know that. How did I not know that? Well...I didn't know Liam Neeson was in "Schindler's List", because I've never seen "Schindler's List".

That's right...I've never seen "Schindler's List".

Aaron, needless to say, was shocked. "How could you not have seen that?" and "Are you crazy?" followed.

So I started thinking. What are some movies that I have never seen that I should have seen? Actually, I can think of a lot.

I haven't seen:

1. Schindler's List (obviously...)
2. The Green Mile
3. The Shawshank Redemption
4. The Godfather
5. Apocalypse Now
6. Deliverance (Thank goodness...)
7. Platoon
8. Citizen Kane
9. Meet Joe Black
10. A Christmas Story
11. Monty Python's Life of Brian
12. Groundhog Day
13. Saturday Night Fever
14. Goodfellas
15. Hitch
16. Dodgeball
17. Tommy Boy
18. The Natural

Yep, never seen any of those. There are more, but I am drawing a blank. But, think about it. What are some of the movies that when you tell people "I've never seen _________" do they think you are nuts? Which movies were you supposed to see that you didn't?

Nothing beats my good friend Mark Lavender. He has never seen Star Wars. This blog has now officially come full circle...

Thursday, May 12, 2005

The Trojan Horse

I believe I may be sharing too much...but it is too funny not to share.

My daughter, Cayce, is 8 years old. In my opinion, she is very smart. She retains things very well even when you do not think she is listening. She loves school and is very engaged well she is there. If there is a project (like building simple machines) she wants to be the best...without Dad's help. Right now, Cayce's second grade class is studying Greek mythology and things in history that happened in that region. She has dived right in. She reads extra books on mythology and asks questions and more questions.

My wife called me Tuesday and told me this story...

Cayce and her friend Emily (who was over to play) were playing in the back yard when Cayce cut her heel. Being the grown up girl that she is...Cayce decided to fix her own wound. She went into the bathroom looking for band-aids...

My wife, meanwhile, is working in my son's room packing his stuff up (we are moving in a couple of weeks...). All of a sudden, Cayce and Emily appear. Cayce says, "MOM! Why didn't you tell me we had these? This is what we are studying in school! Can I take them for show and tell?"

My wife looked in horror as she looked at her daughter. She was holding...


Then...Emily says, "Are those condoms?"

Gotta love awkward conversations with eight year olds...

Friday, May 06, 2005

Decade of...well, you decide

After reading Chris Campbell's post about his 14th birthday, I immediately had about 1,000 80's flashbacks. Then I laughed at him talking about Walkmans and Stadia tennis shoes. Chris, that was hilarious.

I began to realize that any good 80's conversation has to have one of the following three themes:

1. Music
2. Movies
3. Clothes

These are the themes that define the 80's. They make it a decade both worth remembering and forgetting at the same time. I both love and hate the 80's. The 80's seem to keep singing "Don't Forget Me (When I'm Gone)" (That song courtesy of Glass Tiger)

I just pray 80's fashion never comes back. I don't think I could take it. If I have to pinch roll my jeans, wear bandannas, shop at J. Riggings, wear sunglasses with curtains on the sides, own parachute pants, double tie and change the colors on my Kaepas, fit snugly into my red cordouroy OP shorts, buy Girbaud jeans, put Pennies in my loafers, wear a "Coca-Cola" shirt, change the band on my Swatch, put on Aramis or Polo "Green" Cologne, turn up my collar, wear my "Member's Only" Jacket (Light Blue!), tie my sock tie, or wear my knitted sweater vest over a white t-shirt, I think I'd have a heart attack.

I would however gladly wear Jams again...but that's just me.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Church Chat

Over the past couple of weeks, I have had some pretty heavy discussions with folks regarding religion, the Church, Bible topics and the return of Christ. I really don't know where this post will go so bear with me...

Church Specific Writings

In discussing some of the New Testament books with some of my reunion friends, we started talking about how much of Paul's writing was church specific or cultural. It seems that whenever we talk about women's roles or worship or "the assembly", we tend to pull one or two verses out and say they were meant for us. We sometimes do not analyze the entire text. For instance, in Ephesians where wives are told to submit to husbands, do we read down where slaves are to submit to masters? Does that mean it is okay to have slaves in 2005? Of course not. I know there are many of Paul's teachings that apply today, but are there things we take too literal? We know some of those writings were meant to strengthen those early churches. So how do we use that stuff now?

This is not a new concept to you, I realize. But exactly how many of Paul's writings were really church specific? I started wondering what he would write to the congregation at Highland. Would he call out some teenagers for passing notes or dressing scantily? Would he say something about having Jack and Jill Maxwell drawing during worship? (I hope not!) What would he call us on? It is an interesting thing to think about.

Hellfire and Brimstone

I grew up in a very conservative Church of Christ household. We went to a very conservative church most of my youth. There were many Sundays that I heard that we should not use instrumental music (in fact, I heard someone say "We in the Church of Christ have got it right"...oh dear). I heard "turn or burn" sermons. I was taught the evils of pornography and alcohol. We sang hymns and met at 6:00 on Sunday night (5:00 if your church was really committed)

Many churches in 2005 are a lot different in my opinion. We sing a ton of praise songs (Greatness!). We preach the love of God. We preach missions, justice and compassion. All good. However, in the goodness that is taught do some people miss the daily living guide? Many of you (okay both of you) reading this may take this wrong. I don't want to go back to the "you are sinners and are unworthy" kind of teachings. But is a support group for divorce or alcoholism or porn addiction enough? Do people realize they need help? How can we help them do that?

Accountability groups are a start. But how do you ensure that a huge church like Highland makes everyone accountable? Look, everyone on this earth could be condemned (just ask my great-aunt's church...). Only Jesus was blameless. But why would you be condemned? Doesn't that make the grace of God and Jesus' sacrifice even more perfect? How can we help each other? I know sermons against porn aren't the answer, but how do we make people aware that 40% of the men who sit in church with you next Sunday have viewed internet porn in the last 3 weeks? How can we help?

I sure don't have the answers...I guess you can call that "wrestling" with God.

My Wife's Aunt and Cousins

Jennifer's cousin got divorced a few years ago and married a great guy. Doug is loving, funny, a great dad...everything a girl would want. He is also a very religious man. He just believes something completely different. He has worked on Denee (his wife) and her Mom (my wife's Aunt Earlene) and they believe in this school of thought now too.

You see, Doug is a Pre-Millenialist or Preterist. Preterism is the idea that some or all prophecy has been fulfilled in the generation alive when Jesus preached. In other words, it has been fulfilled in the past. It takes the divine inspiration of the bible seriously and literally. Some people came up with the idea that some of Jesus prophecies were wrong, so, in order to counter these arguments preterists believe that Jesus prophecies were fulfilled in this (His) generation, most notably by the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. They believe sin and the evil one were destroyed at the cross and that we are living in the established kingdom of God.

But the problem in our minds is: if sin was destroyed at the cross, why do I still struggle with it? Yet they have explanations for that. They can explain anything away.

Wow. You talk about hard conversations to have. You see the real problem with talking to them about it is that they believe in many of the same things we do. They use scripture as a reference and their points aren't way, way off (except the obvious). It would be easier talking to a Muslim, because they have no knowledge of the Bible or it's teachings. Jen's family is very knowledgeable. That is why it is so scary.

Why am I telling you this? Just to get you to say a quick prayer for us as we deal with this new challenge. Pray for God to give us patience, understanding and truth. Pray for the deceiver not to get a foothold. Thanks.

Well, that about does it. Not sure what that accomplished, but I just needed to ask some questions. All I know is that God is Good. That is the great and eternal truth...