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5-30-06

9:08 AM

Buh-Bye

I started this whole bloggin' thang over 4 years ago on Blogspot.  After 2 years I was not satisfied with what Blogger had to offer (they've since gotten better, but not good enough to go back!), so I moved over here to Bravejournal.

My main desire was the ability to include pictures with my posts.  I did that for awhile, but including pictures with posts here is not as easy as it should be.  While this site is good for keeping a journal, it has its limitations for blogging, particularly if you like to tweak the design.

You also have the omnipresent ads at the top, but you can't expect a free lunch.  I toyed with the idea of paying for this particular site but could not justify the expense, plus there were things about Bravejournal that did not make it worth the money.

So now after 2 years here, is it time to move on, or just "fuhgeddaboutit"?  I don't seem to get many folks dropping by here anymore.  That's partly due to my posts and lack of writing prowess, partly due to my lack of promoting the site.  I blog to help let some ideas air out, to practice the "craft", and for the camaraderie.

Should I stay or should I go?  Ya gotta let me know ...

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Time to go ...

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to my own domain!!

Yes, that's right, I spent the money and am now the proud owner of:

SPUDLETS

Actually, I don't "own" it.  Netfirms is hosting me for cheap for a year, and they have a Wordpress application already built in.  I'm going to learn pHp as I go and hopefully all some other junk like RSS, tags, tagbacks, syndication and other junk, so please go to the new and improved Spudlets for all of your tater wisdom needs.

Thanks.

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5-25-06

5:14 AM

AI 5 Blockbuster

I had planned to let the American Idol finale go by without comment, but the show was so good that I just gotta post something. It felt like we had been rewarded for following the show this season, and the two hours went by very quickly. It was the most entertaining show I've viewed in a long time.

Congrats to Taylor and the B-hammians/Soul Patrol. I still don't think he has much of a recording future, though he'll tour for many years. Having the rest of the AI contestants up on stage last night confirmed to me that Katherine did not have the strongest voice (maybe #4?), but hey, vocal talent isn't everything. Here's my running diary (not necessarily in chronological order since I'm doing this off of the top of my head):

  • INTRO:  Those contestants sure clean up good.  They look right purty.  And Carrie Underwood looks a whole lot better than Bo would have in that number.
  • JUDGES:  Kinda funny, especially Simon's "highlights".  At least he took it gracefully.  How many people do you think will come up to him now, grab their chest and shake it?
  • PARIS AND JARREU(sp?):  She's a natural, and I hope she has the opportunity to bring jazz singing back to pop music.  Highlight of the night for me.  She could have a 50+ year career.
  • DAUGHTRY AND LIVE:  Had to explain to Lady Spud that "Live" was the actual name of the group.  I think Chris will form his own group rather than latch onto another established band.  What to call it ... C-Daugs?
  • PUCK AND PICKLER:  Deserves its own section - see below.
  • MEATLOAF AND KATHERINE:  Ehh.  Just because you live in Hollywood doesn't mean you know how to act, Kat.  Did anybody else want to hear "Paradise by the Dashboard Lights"?  Now that would have gotten the theater rocking!  I suppose Mr. Loaf is tired of that particular number, although Kat would not have looked too innocent acting out that song.
  • TAYLOR AND BLIGE, YAMIN AND BRAXTON:  Two white guys trying to look funky/soulful, and falling woefully short.  Lady Spud had never heard of either female singer but she has not listened to pop music in years, so that's understandable.
  • GROUP NUMBERS:  I get an "icky" feeling whenever I see Ace onstage (shudder).  Bucky almost hit a few notes right.  Almost.  Kevin ... ah, what can you say?  His earnestness overshadows his weak voice, and seeing him sing "What's New Pussycat" was funny.  All the gals did well, though it seemed like Katherine was in over her head trying to lead that group.
  • AI AWARDS:  Extry funny.  I loved the Paris Hilton-wannabe chick and her laugh.  Dave Hoover's 15 minutes of fame should have been long over (I like how they had to cut to commercial, probably to bring security in to get him off of the stage).  Brokenote Cowboys - outstanding!  Having the Clay Aiken-wannabe contestant sing, and then Clay himself joining him onstage was great.  The look on the clone-Clay's face was priceless.  I wondered if Ryan had the guy sit down to reduce the chance of him peeing in his pants.  And when he tried to "harmonize" with Clay?  I'm still chuckling.
  • PRINCE:  I was surprised to see him onstage, and it seemed to throw a monkey wrench into the flow of the show.  He is a pro and his two songs were entertaining.  I wondered if he would have sung "Kiss" with Paris, but the thought of a 40+ year old man singing that with an underage girl may have been too much for the Fox executives to consider (as difficult as that is to believe).  I would have preferred seeing Lisa sing a Lion King song with someone, and then Mandisa perform a gospel number with Kirk Franklin or Yolanda Adams.

And then there's Kelli.  Kelli, Kelli, Kelli.  Last night gave even more evidence that she NEEDS to have her own Hee-Haw show.  You knew once the escargot went into her mouth she was going to find some way of spitting it out.  I'm surprised she didn't tell Puck:  "I'm a grown woman and I'll decide what goes into my mouth!"  I liked her comeback after she spit it out:  Mmm, that was delicious!  The lobster thing was funny too.

Anyhow, her show should be more family-friendly, as the original Hee-Haw could get a little raunchy.  It should include characters resembling Junior Samples, Granpa and Minnie Pearl.  They can get that Army guy from AI season 3, the one trying to have a country music career, and then include a special salute each show to the military.  Finally, get the Brokenote Cowboys and have them form a goofy crime-fighting crew (like the A-Team) for a weekly skit.  I hope they can get-er done while they're still riding the publicity wave of popularity.

It was a good season, and they will be hard pressed to top it next year.  It's the only network show I watch, so I'll be back watching in January.

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5-24-06

6:49 AM

This-n-That 16

- For you X-Men fans, eagerly awaiting this Friday's premiere, Christianity Today has a good article on the parallels between the X-Men and Christians. Both are in the world and not of the world. Both have choices to make with regards to interacting with the world. Myself, I'm looking forward to seeing the movie this weekend and seeing how the X-Men choose to "interact".

- Well, here's another goodie from CT: Glimpses of an elusive God. What makes it even better is relating golf to your faith-walk. Ya gotta love that! The article helped me to understand the allure golf has for me by introducing the term inconsistent positive reinforcement, where unpredictable rewards maintain your interest:

Inconsistent reinforcement keeps us coming back for more; in gambling we call it addiction, in golf we call it obsession. So I hit three great drives in a row; I can't stay out of the trees for the rest of the day. A great putt on 18 and my friend says, "That'll keep you coming back." And it does.

Another good observation from the article is that if we keep focused on the path in front of us, God has a chance to reveal Himself to us through our peripheral vision. So many people want a direct sign, yet the Lord works on the edges to draw us to Him.

- Most of the folks who visit here are (like me) small-town-lovin' redstaters, people who may like to visit the big city but would prefer not to live there, thank you very much. If you do visit, this guide to New York jargon may help you to "fit in" (uh-huh). There are some interesting definitions and you may even chuckle at a few of them:

Stoopified (adjective): The feeling you have after being glared at for walking on the sidewalk that your neighbors have converted into their own personal patio.

Sidewalks? Aren't patios supposed to be in the back yard with the grill? Go figure.

- Oh yeah, American Idol last night ... eh, whatever. Since Paris and Chris were prematurely booted off, it has been anti-climactic. Both Katherine and Taylor don't do much for me vocally - I can't see where people would want to buy their CD's for the vocal talent. It looks like Taylor will win it in order to have a male winner, though I can see the "let's have someone NOT from a red-state (Southener) win" sentiment give Katherine the edge.

- I just read the story about the two old women who would take insurance policies out on homeless men and then kill them in a hit-and-run accident. They are in custody now and their +$2 million in assets have been frozen. It's difficult to fathom the evil it takes to do something like that. The whole story is interesting if you have a chance to read it (may have to be registered with WaPo, though).
201 Comment(s) / Post Comment

5-19-06

11:28 AM

Movie blurb

It's the big Friday of the big nationwide premiere of the big movie ... Over the Hedge! Oh yeah, some other film is opening as well, something about a code, or toad, or something. Anywhozitz, the somewhat small seven screen theater in my conservative small town has Over the Hedge playing on two screens while DVC gets only one.

In that big metropolis of Greensboro, the 18 screen mega-theater has: DVC-3, OtH-3, MI3-2, Poseidon-2. We'll all be waiting with bated (or is it baited?) breath on the weekend haul for all of these movies. I probably won't contribute to any of these, but instead will wait and take Li'l Tater to see X-Men next weekend.
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5-18-06

8:04 AM

No Soul Man Yamin

It's down to the final two on American Idol, with Elliot getting booted off last night. He's billed as a 'blue-eyed soul singer', but I just didn't get much of a "soulful vibe" from him. Yamin's performance from Tuesday night reminded me of Pat Boone trying to get funky from over 40 years ago. It just didn't do it for me, dawg.

It's a toss-up next week who Clive Davis will choose. Don't believe that junk about phone-in votes. Clive picks the one he thinks will sell the most records. I think he made that abundantly clear last night during his somewhat long speech.

McPhee has a strong voice and is (obviously) very easy on the eyes. I'm just not sure that she can sing enough songs on a CD where you would want to listen to them repeatedly, let alone spend money on. She also seems to be an "innocent" like Kellie Pickler (that's why they got along so well together), so there may be a question of her maturity/confidence to handle this job. I question her confidence based on her reaction in the past weeks, when she looked shocked that she was not sent home after the results were announced.

Hicks has a moderate voice and is at heart an entertainer. The AI handlers have done a great job converting him from a bar-band singer to a pop-star. Since his voice is not very strong, he relies on other tricks (dancing, mugging) to put on a show. I got an appreciation for the vocal talents of Otis Redding and even Bruce Springsteen, after Taylor slogged through their songs. Taylor could sell videos, but I'm not so sure how many CD (or downloaded songs) sales he could generate.

Do you pick the hot (not so confident) chick who sings purty good, or the older (more experienced) guy who sings OK but loves to mug for the camera? McFever or Soul Patrol? It will be interesting next week, but I'm also glad this "madness" will finally be over and I won't have to mess with this until January.
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5-17-06

8:03 AM

Cravings and Remorse

Sounds like a good movie title, but instead it's from an article on how people seem to swing between extremes, either overindulgence or contrition. We all go through this cycle of treating ourselves and then feeling guilty afterwards, resulting in some type of penance. The classic example is eating a whole container of ice cream and then going to the gym, or jogging a few miles, to "work it off".

Perhaps nowhere is this mild form of consumer split personality more pronounced than among the nation's 79 million baby boomers. "This was a generation raised on indulgence," says Steven Berglas, a clinical psychologist and executive coach in Los Angeles. "Boomers won't even hear of being deprived until after they've overindulged."
Then, they want it. Even need it.
"We're not a society that drives down the middle of the road," says Denny Marie Post, chief concept officer at Burger King. "We swerve between the two extremes." Trends forecaster and pop culture guru Faith Popcorn has her own term for this: dueling extremes. It is, she says, a need to "balance binge moments with restorative acts."

Faith Popcorn?! Hello, I'm Peace Pretzel, pleased to meet you! Many bloggers would like the title of "Trend Forecaster and Pop Culture Guru", as if we actually have a pulse on what's happenin'. I have a hunch she makes money by marketing herself rather than the "gravity" of what she actually says. Here's more on food:

More often than not, dueling extremes involve food. Few know that better than Whole Foods Market. "We've evolved from being the natural and organic store to the one for the foodies," says Walter Robb, co-president and COO of Whole Foods Market. But even if an item is over-the-top decadent, it's going to at least be made from natural ingredients, he says.

Such as the cotton candy — yes, "natural" cotton candy — sold in its new store in Woburn, Mass. Bear in mind, it has no artificial food coloring. And the sugar it's spun from is, of course, organic. Robb says it's not entirely uncommon for the same shopper who visits the Austin store's Candy Island — where a fountain of rich chocolate flows for the enrobing of fresh fruits — to later that day atone at the organic salad bar or raw juice bar.

"I don't think consumers see it as a contradiction," he says. "They just feel cleaner and squeakier after visiting the salad bar or juice bar." Many consumers mentally view life as a balance sheet of debits and credits, he says.

Debit for a decadent doughnut — made with all natural ingredients — from Whole Foods' in-store bakery.
Credit for a fruit salad — perhaps with kiwi, kumquat and mango — from the fresh fruit bar.

I'm getting numb to the marketing ploy of reduced this or that: 1/2 the fat slow-churned ice cream, sugar-free cookies, reduced cholestorol eggs. While there is no specific Bible verse for it, you can't go wrong with "everything in moderation" (Ben Franklin?) - well, most everything. The media, though, appeals to your desire for the extremes. The "I'll pay for it later" attitude can be quite harmful when the bill comes due.

The "binge and restoration" cycle is one that I need to avoid, and getting on the path of righteousness is as good a start as any. It's easy to justify many things, particularly when it's something selfish and it won't "hurt" anybody else.

And speaking of movie titles (segue from the first line of this post ... clever, eh?), it looks like Sony has a big flop on its hands concerning The DaVinci Code movie set to open this Friday. It was given the first viewing (for movie critics) at the Cannes festival and was roundly panned. For a good summary of the negative criticisms, see Jeffrey Overstreet's post. For all of this gnashing of teeth over the movie, it may turn out that it bombs due to being boring. Hee hee.
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5-16-06

11:31 AM

Macaque Attacked

When I saw the headline "Bears Eat Monkey", and at first I thought it had something to do with my Chicago Bears (go figure, one track mind). Apparently there is a zoo in Amsterdam that lets a few species "interact":

The park confirmed the killing in a statement, saying: "In an area where Sloth bears, great apes and Barbary macaques have coexisted peacefully for a long time, the harmony was temporarily disturbed during opening hours on Sunday."

Some bears cornered a macaque, drove it into an electric fence, then eventually mauled and killed it, bringing it back to the cave so that three bears could enjoy an unusual feast. Zoo officials plan to move the remaining macaques to a different area of the park. The remaining, traumatized macaques had no comment, besides their usual screeching and flinging of poo.

Will the bears be tested for AIDS, assuming they ate some of the monkey brains? Will the other great apes form a posse for revenge? There was no mention of issuing special, commemorative gummi bears (or gummi macaques).
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5-12-06

10:43 AM

Last Tarheel Down

Well, I should say something about Chris Daughtry getting booted off of "American Idol". Uhhh ... too bad. I wasn't a big fan of his vocal "stylings", even though he seems to be more talented than the other 3. Paris was more talented too, and look where it got her.

So both of my picks (Chris and Paris) for the finals have been shot down. Paris felt the anti-Fantasia backlash, while I have to wonder if Chris had some anti-Tarheel sentiment against him. The most telling comment was when Simon commented that Chris was the first contestant who never compromised. That trait just will not do for an American Idol, and the producers may have decided now was the time to ease him out. Katherine will probably be next. I'm not sure which of the two goofy yokels will come out as the winner.

During our care group meeting last Sunday night, one of the guys mentioned something about a friend (Joe) who usually takes his car to Crown Automotive in Greensboro for repair work. Chris D. used to work there in the service department, and Joe got to know him and would ask for him by name. Joe knew nothing about American Idol. Joe had not been to Crown for awhile, but ended up taking his car in about two weeks ago. When he asked where Chris D. was, he got the response "Chris won't be back". We'll see if he's back in the public eye fronting a rock band.
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5-12-06

6:19 AM

More Marriage Stuff

I've looked around the blogosphere for some support, and the best I found was Mark D. Roberts looking at the issue of Jesus marriage to Mary of Magdalene in depth. He plainly admits that there is no hard historical evidence that Jesus was or was not married. He looks at both the Gospels/New Testament as well as non-canonical "gospels", and found nothing convincing to prove that Jesus was married.

The marital state of Jesus has never been one of the essential doctrines of Christian faith.

... So, in light of the coming of God's kingdom, and in light of Jesus's commitment to announce and inaugurate the kingdom, He might have chosen to remain single so that nothing would distract Him from His primary calling and purpose.

... it forces us to believe that the most reliable accounts of Jesus' life failed to mention one of the most salient aspects of that life. How unlikely!

There is still the question of divinity and if marriage would have detracted from Jesus' divinity. My gut tells me yes, though I cannot prove it by Scripture. Mr. Roberts has more to say in his article Was Jesus married?:

They are trying to strip Jesus of his uniqueness, and especially his deity. They want a Jesus who was a mere human being, one with spiritual insight, but otherwise ordinary. The supposed marriage of Jesus is taken by many to be proof that he really wasn't God in the flesh, but only a mortal man.

Along with Christians throughout the ages, I believe that Jesus was fully God and fully human. To be sure I can't fully comprehend or explain this mystery, but I believe it nevertheless. My faith in the unique nature of Jesus doesn't demand that he was single, ironically enough. Jesus could have married and maintained his sinless, human-divine nature. But the fact is that he didn't do this. We can speculate about the reasons. I imagine that Jesus realized his unique calling was incompatible with marriage and family life. But I don't know this for a fact.

Jesus being married would have caused some deep theological issues for us: would His wife be more honored than any other human, how would He have supported her as an itinerant preacher/healer, if the marriage produced children would they be part God?

I suppose my "rabid" insistence of Jesus being single to preserve His divinity was overboard. There's a part of me concerned that if we give in to this idea of Jesus being married, then there will be more pressure to compromise on who Jesus was/is and to strip away His divinity. We all have our own definition of what constitutes divinity and what we should honor/glorify.

In particular, we should be very careful with how the media portrays Jesus, as more movies and TV shows come out purporting to show the "true" Jesus. It's up to the church to spread the good news of the Gospel and portray Jesus as best as a disciple can.
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5-10-06

9:56 AM

FREE ICE CREAM

Yes, it's been almost a week, so where's the ice cream? Bloggers like to joke about the "free ice cream" dished out on the blogosphere, but yesterday I had the chance for the real thing. A local credit union was trying to drum up business at my plant, so they set up an ice cream stand in the main break room and handed out free scoops around the lunch hour.

After they were done, the freezer cart was wheeled into the office break room, near my desk. I was a semi-good boy and only got one more dish of ice cream before leaving at the end of the day. It was tasty, but the waist band on my pants are straining too much.

I realize the Spudlets-flavored ice cream has been cut back some here, though other sites I visit have also seemed to lose some steam and not post as much. Work has been intruding some on blog-time. I'm also struggling with the direction of this site. I still want to keep going, as I enjoy my e-Buddies and writing posts.

The struggle has been with making interesting posts and deciding on a direction for Spudlets, if you'll allow me a moment of navel gazing. Please bear with me and maybe I can put things on a better track, quantitatively speaking.
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