Thursday, May 31, 2007

YouTube Thursday: Presidential Smackdown

No, not that president. This scene from the West Wing episode "The Midterms" which aired on October 18, 2000, has been on my mind for a while and has led to some thoughts that I'll talk about on tomorrow's post.

Transcript if you don't want to watch.

BARTLET: It’s a good idea to be reminded of the awesome impact, the awesome impact… I’m sorry. You’re Dr. Jenna Jacobs, right?

JACOBS (obviously pleased to be recognized): Yes, sir!

BARTLET: It’s good to have you here.

JACOBS: Thank you!

BARTLET: … the awesome impact of the airwaves, and how that translates into the furthering of our national discussions, but obviously also how it can … how it can … Forgive me, Dr. Jacobs. Are you an M.D.?



JACOBS: Yes, sir.

BARTLET: In psychology?

JACOBS: No, sir.

BARTLET: Theology?


BARTLET: Social work?

JACOBS: I have a Ph.D. in English Literature.

BARTLET: I’m asking ‘cause on your show people call in for advice – and you go by the name Dr. Jacobs on your show – and I didn’t know if maybe your listeners were confused by that and assumed you had advanced training in psychology, theology or health care.

JACOBS: I don’t believe they are confused, no, sir.

BARTLET: I like your show. I like how you call homosexuality an “abomination!”

JACOBS: I don’t say homosexuality is an abomination, Mr. President. The Bible does.

BARTLET: Yes it does. Leviticus!

JACOBS: 18:22.

BARTLET: Chapter and verse. I wanted to ask you a couple of questions while I had you here. I wanted to sell my youngest daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. She’s a Georgetown Sophomore, speaks fluent Italian, always cleared the table when it was her turn. What would a good price for her be?

(Bartlet only waits a second for a response, then plunges on.)

BARTLET: While thinking about that, can I ask another? My chief of staff, Leo McGary, insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly says he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself? Or is it okay to call the police?

(Bartlet barely pauses to take a breath.)

BARTLET: Here’s one that’s really important, because we’ve got a lot of sports fans in this town. Touching the skin of a dead pig makes one unclean. Leviticus 11:7. If they promise to wear gloves, can the Washington Redskins still play football? Can Notre Dame? Can West Point? Does the whole town really have to be together to stone my brother John for planting different crops side by side? Can I burn my mother in a small family gathering for wearing garments made from two different threads? Think about those questions, would you?

(The camera pushes in on the president.)

One last thing. While you may be mistaking this for your monthly meeting of the Ignorant Tight-Ass Club, in this building when the president stands, nobody sits.

(Jacobs stays seated for a beat. After a moment, she rises, holding her tiny plate of appetizers.)

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Heroes Wednesday: Year in Review

For a show about a flying man, an indestructible cheerleader, and a secret agent named Noah, Heroes didn't do that badly. According to PopMatters, Heroes was the most watched new show of the entire season and 23rd overall, averaging 13.5 viewers a week.

As you can find out by searching all the writing I did on Heroes this year, I was quite enamored with the show. I found the plots interesting and the way that things played out to be well done also. I wasn't completely happy with the finale, especially when compared to the apparently completely mindblowing ending of Lost, but well done, Island Dwellers.

Even though I know Sheryl won't read this because it'll be too long (love you, babe!) , let's run down the characters and where they came from in the course of the season...
  • Hiro - Someone who really went on the hero's journey. I loved how he developed from the office geek to a true hero who possibly wanted to save the world because it enabled him to be a hero into someone who wanted to save the world and became a Hero as the result of it. (And who doesn't love Ando?)
  • Nathan - The real question is did he plan all along to do what he did for Peter at the end or was it Claire's biting comments and then tres cool jump out the window? We'll either never know or find out next year. I thought the character overall was well played, although how he changed didn't have as much to do with his power as it did with gaining power, as pushed by his mom and Linderman.
  • Peter - He was obviously the other one that we watched go through the Hero journey. We still don't know how powerful he will be if he survived his explosion (which I have to assume that he did, even if Nathan didn't), but it was very interesting to see him work with his power through the course of the season with his various mentors, Nathan on one hand and Claude on the other, who I really hope we see more of.
  • Mohinder - Mohinder's best scenes were honestly with Sylar on the Road Trip of Doom. Him as the great Daddy avenger was not bad and good initial motivation, but I did like how he got more and more intertwined into the story. His scenes with Molly were nice at the end too.
  • Parkman - On one hand, I'm really glad they dropped the wife storyline. It got tiresome, particularly in the face of saving the world. On the other hand, it grounded him and gave him some anchor, even if his wife was annoying and probably cheating on him.
  • Niki - Oh thank goodness. I was so, so tired of her whiny "I'm not strong enough" tripe and when she finally admitted that she was strong enough and started whupping up on Candace and then Sylar. I'm looking forward to seeing new Niki next week.
  • Micah and DL - Ummmm, except for getting a bullet in the gut, did DL change at all? And Micah might have rigged an election, but he was pretty static as well.
  • Claire - Talk about embracing your destiny. She went from deeper-than-Jackie cheerleader and wanting to just be normal to having no issue with walking into a miniature nuclear holocaust to being willing to shoot her uncle in the head. Her next steps are going to be the most interesting to me.
  • Bennett - I'm not sure I can ever call him Noah. He'll always be Bennett to me. I've got to say that Jack Coleman did some of the best acting on the show. He started as a guy that pretty much everyone assumed he was really evil to slightly evil with a strong love for his daughter to a morally gray guy working for the bad guys to a good guy with a slightly sociopathic streak. Still my favorite character on the show.
  • Sylar - Aw poor Gabriel Gray. No one knows him except his "crazy" mother, so now he goes bad. And seriously bad. I'm not sure when he'll be back, but I'm positive that he will. Also, very well played by Zachary Quinto.
So there we are. All we really know about next season is that Hiro is stuck in the past and Claire and Bennett are heading "home." It's a long time until September but it was a great first season that I hope can keep it up.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Dance Recital and Birthday Party

Pics from Kinsey's Dance Recital and Connor's Birthday Party. No video from the Dance like last fall.

Preparing to start

In position

I think Kinsey could open a flowershop from all the bouquets she received.


And Connor's Party...

Once again, the England friends come out in full force for a party...

The banner we hung from a tree in our front yard...

Connor after taking a small dive into his cake.

All in all a good weekend... Hope yours was as well.

Friday, May 25, 2007

A Year of Connor

I'm going to break from theological thoughts today, because it's Connor's birthday.

This year has gone by quickly, but it has been so great having him around. Initially, there's obviously not much difference between having a girl and having a boy. Babies are pretty much babies, except for how they pee. However, I'm definitely starting to see a difference. Connor is a lot braver than Kinsey was. He's perfectly willing to try to climb up steps and do fairly adventurous things. He loves, loves, loves balls. He will play catch for quite a while. Actually, it's someone rolling it to him and then him throwing it back. It's pretty cool.

Now, of course, the difference may not be between a girl and a boy. It might simply be personalities. Nonetheless, there is a difference. It's funny. As much as I love Kinsey and I didn't think I could ever love anyone with that fierce love that a father has for a daughter, I love Connor just as much and it's hard to imagine what it was like to only have one child to put to bed. It's been a great year with him.

Happy birthday, son.

Past posts

Thursday, May 24, 2007

You Tube Thursday: Gallopin' Gertie

The collapse of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. It's long video, but interesting, imo.

Info from Wikipedia

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Heroes Wednesday: How to Stop an Exploding Man

So that's it. That's what happens in the end of the season. The Petrelli Brothers fly into the stratosphere and get blown up and Sylar crawls into the sewer, very wounded, but probably alive. Interesting.

Slightly different format this week than tracking the character arcs, mainly since they all collided in Kirby Square.

What I liked
  • I actually liked the final fight. It wasn't as spectacular as it seemed like it could have been, but I wonder if some of that was writing themselves into a corner with Isaac's comic, all of which seemed to come true. Except for the explosion... unless it happens later. I thought Sylar was appropriately powerful, and it was a real struggle for the Heroes to take him down.
  • Hiro taking care of Ando. For a storyline that got way off the rails earlier this year, very, very nice comeback.
  • I loved the interplay between Micah and Molly. Both of them are so adorable and the little grins and smiles they shared just made you know their having fun.
  • I really liked Niki finally realizing that she had access to the super strength and not just Jessica. It also seemed like Jessica willingly stepped aside to allow Niki to care for her family. Of course, stepping aside and being gone are two different things, it would seem. Loved Niki taking the parking meter upside Sylar's head and then how Peter almost immediately got her power with the way he started smacking Sylar around.
  • Noah. It took all season, but I really liked the way we got it. It took the whole season and some good writing and great acting, but now we've got Noah Bennett, not simply HRG. Nicely done.
  • I'll admit, I liked the prologue to next season. Some very interesting possibilities there.
  • Richard Roundtree as Mr. Deavaux. Big shock to see him back and it just makes me ask the question, "Who IS the man that'll stand up for his brother man?"
  • Molly's vision of the one worse than the bogeyman/Sylar. Nice set up for next year.
  • Loved Claire's dive out the window.
What I didn't Like
  • I also didn't like the fight. You're the top show on NBC, darnit! Suits! Pour some money into the show and get us some awesome special effects. I also didn't like how easy it was for Hiro to take Sylar out. I would have thought that Hiro should have teleported right in front of Sylar to stab him.
  • I wasn't incredibly happy with Nathan and Peter ostensibly dying. Sure, I called it last week, but it still felt like a little bit of a cheat. And I know that in comic book and TV world and especially Comic Book/TV world, death is only real when the show is over, but still...
  • I didn't like not finding out what really caused Peter and Deavaux to interact. I'm assuming we'll find out next year with Volume 2 being called "Generations," but it would have been nice to have some clarity or at least some idea.
  • I don't like that it won't be until September to see the next one.
I liked the show pretty well. It was no Company Man or Five Years Gone. It also did some nice setup for next year and left the audience guessing on many things. 3.5 out 5 I would have to say.

Next Week: Thoughts on the season as a whole and predictions for next season.

Oh, and for the question above? If you answered, "Shaft!", you damn right.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


Noah? For real? OK, much more tomorrow.

Kinsey's year of Kindergarten is ending this week, and I can only tell you that I'm shocked it went by this quickly and so very pleasantly surprised at how far she has come both academically and socially.

Kinsey's always been a particular girl and always like things a certain way, so I wondered how she would react to a new environment, and honestly, she just flourished in so many ways with friends and leadership in her classroom. One story I was told was this: There is a child in Kinsey's class that has some severe behavioral problems. Kinsey's teacher has been dealing with it the best she can, but sometimes the child just has a bad episode. About 2 months ago, Kinsey's teacher moved her and one of her friends to the table with the badly behaved child. When I asked her why, she said that it was because she had been talking too much, which I could see, but didn't think that was the whole story. I asked Sheryl and she said that Kinsey's teacher had told her that when the badly behaved child get the "attitude," Kinsey just ignores it and when it's over, goes back to being the child's friend again. Which just made me so very proud of her. I hope that's something she can keep doing.

Similarly, she's also increased so much this year with her academics. Coming into the year, Kinsey knew her numbers and letters and could identify some words, mainly from memorization (which is how most of us know them). After this year, she is sounding out words, knows her numbers up to 100, and can talk about the lifecycle of a butterfly and frog and other animals. She's doing great on math (thank goodness for fingers) and just had such a great year.

I'm so glad Kinsey had a great experience her first full time year of education. I know it only takes one crappy teacher to mess with a child and I'm so glad and thankful for Kinsey's teacher and friends this year. And even though she's going through a mourning process about not being in Kindergarten any more, she's also looking very forward to first grade and her adventures there.

And really, what more could you ask?

Monday, May 21, 2007

30 years ago this week...


Mention this date to any self respecting geek, and they will know immediately what you're talking about. This is the date that the original Star Wars was released. Star Wars defined my childhood. I was 5 years old when it came out and thankfully, I had a dad that took me to see it 6 times in the theater during the original run (not counting re-releases in the theaters). I had action figures all over the place, I had the 12 inch high Luke Skywalker and my sister had the 12 inch high Princess Leia who she made to things with each other that would have been bad if we'd known they were brother and sister. I even had "The Story of Star Wars" album that I played on a little LP player all the time. Literally, all the time. It's because of that album that I can basically quote the whole story. And cool enough, I just found mp3s of that album doing research for this post!!!!! Ahem.

It was Star Wars that introduced me to science fiction and fantasy. It was the gateway for me into Blade Runner and Tolkein and even Raiders of the Lost Ark. And even down to today with Heroes (season finale tonight!!!) It was some of the first mainstreaming of science fiction into culture and honestly, Star Wars and the cliffhanger at the end of The Empire Strikes Back made it ok to be really into SciFi and have t-shirts and toys. And it allowed people to find community with others.

I love Star Wars and Kinsey already loves it too. Not to the same obsessive extent that I did, but there's time...

Friday, May 18, 2007

Suffer the Little Children

How lucky is Nashville this weekend?

Not only is the smiling-feel-good-God-wants-you-to-win-right-now pastor Joel Osteen going to fill up the Nashville Arena, Billy Graham's former Spanish translator Luis Palau is doing a huge city fest called Nashville CityFest downtown this weekend. It's like going to heaven for evangelicals, except without all those people you wouldn't expect to see in heaven.

Ok, I say all of that kind of tongue in cheek, except for the fact that both guys are coming here to town and I'll make sure to not be downtown this weekend, mainly for the traffic.

One thing that I will say about this. Otter Creek hosted a counselor training session last Saturday and I needed to be there for the technical stuff. They talked through how to talk with people who respond to Palau's invitations for salvation on the main stage and where everything is going to be. One of the places is a Kids Zone with Veggie Tales and bouncy games and the like.

And they talked about how they were going to stop all the games periodically to tell the kids the gospel story and they needed counselors there as well, in case any of the kids decided to get saved and follow Jesus. And here's where my real problem is.

I don't have a problem with kids following Jesus. Sheryl and I are trying to teach Kinsey everyday what is means to be a follower and hopefully will instill the same mindset in Connor. The problem I would have with the Palau strategy is if they make this a heaven hell thing. I cannot imagine teaching 6 and 7 year olds that if they die they would go to Hell because of their sins. It's literally unconscionable to me and not only that, but to do this without the parents or guardians of the kids around?!? If someone did something like this to Kinsey, I would be very angry.

A lot of this comes down to the idea of what salvation is. The general Christian sense is that it's this one time event that if it doesn't happen then something just wrong has gone on in someone's life. And understand, I'm not discounting the idea of a decision. And I'm not even discounting a conscious decision to follow Christ, but I really really think that it's something that as much as possible needs to be discussed with family, especially when that family is a Christian one. I have to think that a child needs to understand the nature of the decision that he or she is making and I'm not convinced in the slightest that a 6 or 7 year old understands the gravity of the decision. I'm not even sure a 20 or 21 year old understands that, but at least then they have a better grasp on what life will throw at them that could keep you from living up to that decision.

Part of me really likes the Catholic practice of confirmation. I know that Kinsey and Connor are going to grow up hearing about Jesus and what it means to follow him and I don't doubt that whatever "reward" happens after death that they will be a part of it. But I do like the idea of them at some point making a decision and weighing the consequences that they want to follow Jesus as the focal point of their lives. I even like having baptism be a part of that decision.

In the Church of Christ, we have this idea called the Age of Accountability. I jokingly refer to it as the "Mystical Age of Accountability." Because the idea is that kids reach this age where they suddenly become responsible for their actions. It varies for each kid, hence my Mystical designation. I don't really like this idea in general because it puts a ton of pressure on a kid to get baptized (not the least of which is that you don't want to be the only kid on your row not taking Communion) but I do like the idea of kids understanding and accepting the decision to follow Jesus. But God knows that it has to be considered a step in the process of salvation, and not a scare tactic about avoiding Hell. To me, that borders on mental abuse.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Heroes Wednesday: Landslide

Image from HeroesWiki

After the breather that was The Hard Part, the pace picked right back up again with Landslide. Another extremely well plotted episode with two really unexpected deaths and one that was pretty much expected. I really enjoyed this episode, not just for the action and the continuing of the plot, but also for some of the lighter moments, and some of the really interesting character moments.

Hiro/Ando/Mr. Nakamura - Hiro takes his sword to a repair shop with the "GodSend" symbol on it, thanks to Ando, and meets up with his dad, who never left the country. A very interesting situation, especially now with the knowledge that Hiro's dad has a power, even if we don't know what it means. And I've really grown to love Ando's character. From the fellow office drone to now the man without power who is going to try and stop Sylar, even if it costs him his life.

Sylar - Sylar has definitely come into own as a villain now. After last week, he's made the full decision to make the explosion happen. He has decided to use all of his powers and go hard after Ted and he did, even pulling a Magneto a la XMen3 with the police truck. And now he's got Ted's power. I actually feel really bad for radioactive Ted. He was brought to New York to stop the explosion and inadvertently gave Sylar the power for it. Also, it was nice to get some continuity with Agent Hanson from the FBI from earlier this season. Nice to know that even though we haven't seen her, she was still working the Ted case.

Nathan Petrelli - I'm not sure that I agree with Hiro's assessment that he's a villain yet. I think he' s been inexorably drawn into Linderman and Mama Petrelli's plan, and I'm fully convinced that now that she's taking over the whole thing now that Linderman has been so effectively lobotomized. It does make you wonder two things: 1) What was Papa Petrelli's power? 2) Did he really commit suicide or did something more sinister happen?

Peter/Claire - These two were joined at the hip and even though Peter was able to control the nuclear reaction (nice non cliffhanger there, writers), I feel positive that he's going to come back into play with the nuclear power, especially next week where there looks to be a huge confrontation with Sylar.

Micah/Candice - Micah did his thing and Nathan the win, but the amazing thing about this pairing was the ability of the writers to make Candice almost... almost sympathetic, while making a very interesting commentary on the nature of appearances and making judgments by them. Almost sympathetic. Then you remember that she tricked Bennett into telling the OWI about Claire being gone and it's easy to not like her again.

Now for the interesting part...

Jessiki/DL - Finally, this aspect of the story became the most interesting it's been since the beginning of the show. Obviously, Jessica has been in control for a while, but on Monday, she allowed Niki to come back out. I found it interesting that Jessica mentioned that she had been doing everything she'd done "for them." It makes me wonder if her feelings for DL have changed since she obviously didn't care about him earlier in the season and was only concerned about Micah. And DL came through strong against Linderman. Some people have wondered why DL didn't just grab Niki and phase her out like he did to get them through the walls, but I'm thinking he was caught up in the moment and just made an instantaneous decision, resulting in getting shot and then getting up and squeezing Linderman's brain until he died!?! I mean, seriously, does the creator of the show Tim Kring have some weird brain fetish? First Sylar accessing the brains of his victims and now this? Crazy. Oh, and Jessica got the greatest line of the episode. Upon seeing Parkman, she says, "Didn't I throw you out a window?"

Mohinder - Hi everyone. I'll just stand here protecting Molly and looking handsome for the ladies...

Parkman - I thought Greg Grundberg really brought the funny this episode. The whole mind reading thing with the security guard was funny, then apparently he suggested a shot of DL, Jessica, him, and Bennett listening to muzak in the elevator. He also did a great job as the decoy for

Bennett - Any doubt? Any doubt at all that Bennett is the cold, smoothest operator on this show? Now, that's not to say that I like everything he does. For instance, I love, love his relationship with Claire and the look on her face when she saw him in Kirby Plaza was just heart melting for a dad. And while I think we can all agree that him taking out Thompson was just super cool (for a violent TV show), he did it in complete cold blood and even left Parkman to hang out to dry. But great, great exchange between him and Thompson at the end: "What am I thinking now, Parkman?" "Your last thoughts." Bang. Bang.

Which leads us to the next thing. It was obvious from Bennett talking to Parkman as they were entering the room that Bennett knew the tracking device was a person and he was ready to take the person out to protect Claire and by extension all the other special people. What took him back was the fact that it was a little girl and I'm almost positive that he saw a vision of Claire as a little girl in Molly, who is not only as cute as a button, but a terrific actress as well. It's weird how the writers and producers and even Jack Coleman the actor have created this completely morally gray character that most people seem to really, really like.

So another great week and great setup for next week's finale. I'm interested in seeing how the final stuff goes down, and I'm predicting that Molly will be around next season as a surrogate little sister to Claire and protected by Bennett.

For comment from the director of the episode, visit

And now for the preview...

Lots of interesting shots in this
  • We get spoiled about someone surviving one of the "deaths"
  • Parkman looks to be in a bad way
  • Sylar is seriously coming after Molly
  • Someone jumps out a window. Sheryl and I slo mo'ed several times (I love my wife) and we decided it's Claire trying to escape Casa de Petrelli because the hair looks blonde.
  • Peter and Sylar are facing off
So, here are my predictions.
  • Peter and Sylar BOTH go off. But New York won't blow up. I'm not sure how that will work, but it really seems like that's the way the writers would go. What's interesting in the preview is that there are a ton of shots of the characters looking up in the sky. I wonder if Nathan does something with his flying power, or if Peter flies Sylar out of range of NYC.
  • I think Sylar is toast. He's been a great villain this season, but he could get way too powerful, and Peter will take him out.
  • Molly is safe, and I think she'll be a major part of next season.
What did you all think of the episode? What are your predictions for the finale? Next season?

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Ebony, Ivory, and Pictures

Yes, I'm going to continue Kinsey's story soon, but I've just got too many cool pictures to share...

For instance, check out this pics of Sheryl, her mom, and Kinsey from Mother's Day

And how could you resist this one of Kinsey in her dance costume?

And this incredibly cute one of Connor?

Seriously, I know the story is important, but these pics are too great.


We made an important addition to the household this weekend. Remember this post Christmas picture?

And then this one...

Yep, finally in our house we have a piano. I took piano lesson from age 6 to 12 and can't say that I enjoyed it then, but I've really enjoyed it now, not just from being able to play some neat songs but also from the music theory part of it. And now, we're really going to enjoy having it ourselves, and starting Kinsey off with some simple stuff on it.

She seems to already like it a lot. This is how she looked when I got home from work today.

Good times. And now with video!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Spider-Man 3

Warning: Spoilers abound.

Sheryl and I got to go out and see the first big summer movie this year, Spider-Man 3. I've always been a big fan of Spidey. Even with my irrational fear of creature with more than 4 legs and especially spiders, Spider-Man has always been my favorite superhero. Normal (and nerdy) kid just happens to get bit by a radioactive spider and gains great powers (and great responsibility). Of course, if I had been him, I'd have been glad to not have silk coming out of where it comes out of spiders (in the comic books, Peter Parker invents mechanical webslingers, instead of having it "naturally" coming out of his wrists).

The first Spider-Man and 2 were very good movies. Along with Batman Begins, Spider-Man is one of the greatest origin movies for superheroes ever. It captured the strength and joy that came out of that. 2 was also a very good continuation and while focusing more on Peter and Mary Jane, the conflict of Doctor Octopus was well handled.

3 disappointed me some...

On its face, 3 has a lot going for it. For one, it's got the black suit. An alien symbiote arrives on earth and decides to attach itself to Peter, giving him incredible powers and a black suit which looks pretty cool. We have the continuing development of the Peter/MJ relationship with its necessary conundrums. We have the revenge factor of Harry Osborn (Peter's former best friend) trying to get revenge on him ostensibly for murdering his father. And parts of it work well. Some of the fight scenes are really good. Even some of the Peter/MJ relationship issues work well. I remember during one of their conversations, thinking that they really captured the Women from Venus Men from Mars moments that men and women have, where I perfectly understood where Peter was coming from and not having a clue how MJ got to the point she did (no, not "the Kiss;" I understood that one perfectly). I even liked how the Eddie Brock character was portrayed, especially leading up to his changeover. I thought Venom was a great villain, and the mistake made there, was killing him way, way too quickly. Sandman should have been killed and Venom to come back for another movie.

Speaking of Sandman, he was the part that didn't work for me in the slightest. I understand the storyline need to build up the revenge factor in Peter. It allowed the symbiote to gain control over him (which also gave us the awful, Peter in black and with the Peter Petrelli bangs). However, I found the whole character completely unnecessary. The movie didn't need another misunderstood villain who was doing the wrong thing for the right reason, and just happened to get caught up in a science experiment that changed him into a giant Sandman. And it particularly didn't need him disrupting established continuity by making him Uncle Ben's killer. Peter's need for revenge (btw, in that conversation with Aunt May, I really wanted her to say, "You're not Batman") could have been fulfilled in some other way, and that way we could get the New Goblin and Venom without the time devoted to the Sandman, cutting probably about 20 minutes out of the movie.

The other thing that really bothered me about the movie was that in some ways, it seemed like it was becoming a parody of itself. The Stan Lee cameo seemed almost obligatory and even the Spidey in front of the American flag just seemed like they did it because it was expected. It's moments like that which take me completely out of the movie. Self referential is not bad. I liked Peter's line about wondering where all these super villains came from, but too much of it, and it just seems like they're getting too "winky."

So, I enjoyed it, but it wasn't nearly the movie that the first two were, which is unfortunate, but it does save me from wanting to see it in the theater again.

Friday, May 11, 2007


In the last few months, there has seemed to be a greater call on mine and Sheryl's lives toward simplicity, and we're trying to figure out how to do this within a community of people who feel called in the same way.

What I've tried to work through is why there are more and more people feeling this kind of call. Obviously there is a strong spiritual aspect to it. People are trying to pursue the way of Christ and one of the paths to doing that is through divesting themselves of things that hold them back.

I think however that there's another aspect to all of this. All generations want the generation after them to do better than they did. So parents sacrifice to send their children to private schools and expensive colleges to ensure that they will have every opportunity to succeed. There's a part of me that wonders if my generation looked at the family sacrifices that many of our parents made (both parents working, for example) and wondered if all the success was worth it. I think that's one reason that more families are having a parent stay at home.

With that being said, how reasonable is it to pursue simplicity within our culture that values wealth as a sign of success? And regardless of how reasonable it is, how difficult is it? And if you have been someone who has pursued this practice, what steps have you taken within your own lives to do so?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

You Tube Thursday: Back When He Was Slightly Normal

I really, really tried to moonwalk after seeing this. I never could. I consider this and not being able to dunk the great failures of my life...

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Heroes Wednesday: The Hard Part

(Image from Heroeswiki)

I knew that after last week's tour de force episode, Five Years Gone, that it would be tough to top. And this week's didn't. That's not to say that it wasn't a great episode. There were a lot of little character pieces in it that really made it quite good, but very different from last week which felt like it could have been a two hour show.

Mama Petrelli - It's pretty amazing how Mama Petrelli has gone from the shoplifting woman in the first episode to the cold hearted ice queen she is now. Conspiring with Linderman about the explosion. Talking Nathan into going through with the plan. And in fact using the same language that FutureHiro used to Peter in the subway, "Can you be the one we need?"

Nathan - Not a ton of stuff on him this week. I like the conflict that he's feeling, but this seems like a forgone conclusion that he's going through with it.

Peter - Again, I think we all knew this was coming, with him getting the nuclear power from Ted. I did find it interesting that he wants Claire to shoot him in the head to prevent it from happening, but I'm also thinking that the bomb will actually happen.

Claire - I think it's interesting that Claire is still desiring a "normal" life, which makes complete sense from the teenager's perspective, but as I've said before, I think the normal train left the station before she was born. I loved (as I generally do on this show) the complete love that she showed to Bennett when she saw him, and the recognition in her mind that he's her dad and not Nathan, who was basically a sperm donor. Claire also got the two best lines of the episode. On finding out that Nathan can fly, "Cool," which I think Nathan liked hearing. And when Peter asked her to shoot him: "My destiny cannot be to shoot you in the head. The universe isn't that lame!"

Micah, DL, and Jessiki - One theory I've read about Micah is that he's going to be used to "fix" the voting machines in NY to get Nathan elected, which I think is plausible. On the DL/Jessiki front, it seems like Linderman has been interested in them for a long long time, which makes me wonder if Micah is some kind of genetic experiment. Also, it seems like Jessica is completely in control at this point with Niki completely in the background. We still don't have a complete explanation about how all of that's working, but now they're headed to NY as well.

Mohinder - I liked this little story line. I like how they've called back to the beginning of the season with Molly, as well as the story of Mohinder's sister, thankfully bringing some meaning to that whole pursuit. I do wonder if Mohinder will suffer from some identity anxiety because he thinks he only conceived to help his sister. I'm also fully convinced that Thompson was snowing him bad. Sure, they might use Molly to find Sylar, but it'll be much more sinister next season to find all the other "specials."

And now for the fun stuff...

Hiro - I love, love, love that Hiro doesn't want to be FutureHiro. Yes, we all thought FutureHiro was cool and Bada.., but I love the Hiro recognizes that killing people has really hardened him and taken so much of the joy out of him. Hiro is so reticent to murder that I believe that it distracted him from killing Sylar when he had the chance and that's how time started back up again. Which led to the sword getting broken, which seems like it will have a significant impact on Hiro's powers or at least his confidence in his powers.

Sylar - Yes, I yawned last week at the mention of visiting his mother. And it wasn't as great as it might have been. But it was such an extension of the character. Actually, to me the most interesting character moment for Sylar was when he realized that he might be the bomb and how killing thousands of people gave him pause. I don't think Sylar has a problem with killing one person at a time, particularly because he wants to be the most special person in the world. So to him, killing other people with powers makes sense. However, killing multitudes without powers really takes him back. Him calling Mohinder was incredibly moving, as was his feeling of betrayal at Mohinder dialing 911 (nice use of the power there). Sylar's mom was incredibly interesting to me and on the two boards I read there's been general assent that she was kind of crazy. I didn't think so. I thought that she had high expectations for him (vicariously trying to live through him?) and is a fairly religious woman, and so her reactions to him made sense to me as well. Sylar's shock at killing her was so strong, but I also think that's his tipping point. She was his last connection to his life as Gabriel Gray. That is now gone and he is completely Sylar.

For more info on this ep and/or if you're a Heroes junkie, like me, check out Greg Beeman's blog. He's one of the producers of the show and gives some good behind-the-scenes perspectives as well as why this was a slower episode.

Here's next week's preview...

So how is Peter going to prevent meltdown? I see three possibilities 1) He figures it out himself; 2) Bennett gets him to stop it; and 3) my dream scenario, Claude shows back up and gets Peter to calm down, and then tries to beat the crap out of Bennett. Three is also the least likely, but it would be cool.

Two weeks left, gang. I think the breather is over and it's going to be huge from here on out. We've got all the Heroes gathering in New York and I'm pretty certain we're getting a huge Sylar/Peter showdown that we've been getting little hints of throughout the season. This should be really good.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Picture Time!

Once again, I didn't take the time to enter Kinsey's story, so here are some fun pictures.

Connor had been quiet for a while, so we went to go find him. I think we're in for a lot of this.

He really wanted to be picked up.


I was gone every night last week doing sound for the play so Sheryl was craving some adult interaction. On Friday night, two of our "England Friends," Tiffany and Melody came over to do a Princess Party with Kinsey. They brought dresses and make up and generally seemed to have a great time.

Once again, I see her future flashing before my eyes.

Just a fun, fun picture.

Showing off the dancing skills

He doesn't seem to be enjoying it as much as the girls...

Since I was a kid at Otter Creek, on the first Sunday of every month, Bob Enkema gets up and announces the names of the kids having a birthday that month, so Sunday was Connor's first Birthday Sunday. As soon as his name was called, he started yelling basically, which he does a lot and he does a lot in the car. So much so and so loud that even sitting next to each other, Sheryl and I have to lean in to hear each other.

At any rate, here are some fun pictures of his first Birthday Sunday.

Monday, May 07, 2007

The Question

As I was working on the play I was doing sound for this weekend, there was some downtime. I was sitting around with some of the actors, none of whom I knew before last week. We were talking about the Bible and the Genesis stories of creation, and one of them turned to me and asked, "Phil, how old do you think the earth is?" And immediately, I knew what the real question was. It was a test question. The guy didn't really want to know how old I thought the earth was. His real question was, "Phil, do you think the Bible is inerrant, infallible, authoritative, and trustworthy?"

You see, in my mind, the whole flap about Creationism vs. Evolution is not really about Creationism or Evolution. It's really about whether someone believes that the Bible is completely inerrant, which interestingly is not a term the Bible uses in reference to itself...

My answer to him was a bit of a dodge, mainly because I wasn't feeling combative. I told him that no one really knows how long it was from the Creation to the Fall, and how Bishop what's-his-name (Ussher, I later looked up) thought the Earth was about 6,000 years old. I then did bring up the fossil record, and he brought up the idea of God creating matter to look old, which makes no sense to me at all. Things were getting cranked back up so we didn't have time to continue and didn't get back to it.

So, how would you have responded?

Friday, May 04, 2007

The Worst Day of My Life

Five years ago, today, May 4, 2002, was the worst day of my life.

For 15 months, I had worked for a book distribution company to the southeast of Nashville, doing technical writing. On that day, a Thursday, I had driven in as always, got in, sat in my cube, and started on the current assignment for that day. Sheryl was completing her first year as a part time teacher, working half time, and Kinsey was 11 months old, her first birthday being less than a month away. It was a comfortable time.

Until my boss's boss came to me that Thursday morning and said, "Hey Phil. Let's go talk to (his boss)."

At this point, the cold sweat that I had always heard about started up. I knew that this was either something really good, or something really, really bad. And when I walked with him into her office and there was an HR person in there too, I knew what was going on.

I'm not very good at hiding my feelings most of the time and I'm sure I didn't then. They told me that they were cutting back in the area where I worked and that I and another designer on our team were being let go. He had just gotten married and I had an 11 month old child. I'm sure it sucks to lay anyone off, but this felt particularly cruel, probably because it was me getting laid off. They told me that I was going to be escorted out of the building immediately and that I could return at 5 to clean out my cube. Again, I understand the business reason behind that (prevent someone from causing a scene), but then it just seemed like it was piling on.

My boss's boss escorted me out and we didn't talk much. When we got to the door, he mentioned how sorry he was, and I'm sure I said that I appreciated that, and then he said that even when things seem dark, there's always a light shining somewhere and I'm pretty sure I remember wanting to punch him.

I got into my car and had to make the worst phone call of my life. I called Sheryl at school. And it's one of those moments that's crystallized in my head. She picked up and sounded as cheerful as always, and then I told her... And life crashed down around us. She had been planning on taking the summer off that year to spend with Kinsey, so we had saved money from her check every two weeks, and now that plan was in jeopardy. I drove immediately to her school and we sat in her room and talked for a while. I then got onto one of her computers and started emailing people about my situation and asking for prayers. I got onto and started looking for positions. And for the next five months I looked.

Those five months were incredibly difficult. Thankfully, Sheryl and I had saved money to finish out our basement, so we had some in the bank. We went into what we called "crisis mode" in our spending. Nothing frivolous. No entertainment, no restaurants, nothing. We had a house payment, a car payment, and all the bills that we had to make sure stayed paid. For two months, May and June, I looked for work and there wasn't much. The internet bubble had burst and people were cutting back everywhere. So there were few positions and more people looking.

I was able to pick up odd jobs here and there. Doing some writing for one company, doing a little website for another. Some of it was charity work, I think. After two months of looking and only one or two bites (including from the company I'm currently at, in the position I'm currently in, even though I didn't get it then), I decided that I couldn't live off of unemployment anymore. I had to get out and do something. So I got a job waiting tables at O'Charley's.

And this is where the church stepped up.

We had told Otter Creek about our situation when it happened and told the people around us. People would always ask us how we were doing and I wouldn't lie. I'd say things were very tough, but we were scraping by. Every now and then, a check from Otter Creek would appear in our mailbox. I called the church to find out what was going on and the office manager there would say that it was an anonymous donation to us. $50 here, $250 there. Enough to help us out.

When I started waiting tables, I told that to several people and on Sundays after church fairly large groups of our friends started showing up. And they would wait for me to have an open table, sometimes over an hour. They would sit in my section and I would wait on them, and enjoy doing it and when they left, they would leave huge tips. $50, $100, sometimes $200. They would come after work for dinner and leave tips. In many, many ways, it was one of the most faith-affirming times of my life. But it was also so frustrating.

I got so angry at God for the situation. I would scream and cry, "What?!? What have I done?!? I don't deserve this! I just want to take care of my family and You're stopping me from doing that!! What do you want from me? Help me take care of my family!!" And I guess He did, through His people.

In September, the tech guy at Otter Creek left, and they offered me the part time position of technical director. I took and five years later (for better and worse), I'm still doing that. In late September, I interviewed with a contract firm, directly because of the position I had interviewed for with my current company. I got hired and at a good enough hourly rate to quit waiting tables. Sheryl had had to go back to work full time teaching, not because of our need, but because she got a new principal that didn't honor her part time teaching deal with her previous principal. And 15 months later in November 2003, the position I had interviewed for in July 2002 with my current company opened back up (I later found out I was the second choice), and because of my previous interview (they still had my portfolio), I got a great job with my current company where I still am almost three and a half years later.

I don't believe it was God's plan for me and my family to go through this. I don't believe that from the beginning of time, God said, "Yes, on May 4, 2002, John Philip Wilson will get laid off from his position at the book company and begin to learn a lesson about faith for the next five months." I do believe that from the experience, as crappy as it was, I was able to learn about faith, and I was able to learn about community, and I was able to see how God can work, even through what feels like the darkest time of life.

The day after getting laid off, I looked at the paper and saw in the business section a small blurb about my former employer cutting back 53 people and realizing that day every time I saw a story like that from then on, I wouldn't look at it the same because I knew that I was one of those 53 and that each of the people mentioned in that number had just had one of the worst days of their lives and that anytime I saw stories about layoffs, I knew that there were individuals hurting. I still think that today when I see stories. I pray that those times are short for those laid off and if I'm in relationship with someone in that situation, we try to help in the ways we were helped.

Perhaps in a small way, Sheryl and I can be an answer to someone's prayer the way others were the answer to ours.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

You Tube Thursday: The Simpsons

I love the Simpsons. Have for a long time. The first 6 years or so were some of the most intelligent comedy writing since M*A*S*H and recently it's much more hit or miss, even though I'm pretty excited for the movie.

In my ramblings and rumblings around YouTube, I've found several Simpsons related videos that I think are really cool.

This is a fairly trippy one. Worlds within worlds, baby.

This one might not be agreed on by the entire evangelical world. Some might even believe it's the secular humanist agenda being promoted in the entertainment world, but it's really funny...

And this one is a LIVE ACTION intro done by a British channel when they started showing the show. Pretty cool.


Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Heroes Wednesday: Five Years Gone

(Image from Heroeswiki)

OK. Major fanboy geek out moment coming up... now. OMG so freakin' fantastic! Did you see...?! and then when he....?!? And at the end when they...?! BEST. EPISODE. EVAH!!!!!!


Having got that out of the way, let's get analytical and do some deep geeking.

I won't go into my theory of Newtonian time travel about having to travel through space and time because of the Earth being in a different place in its orbit around the sun, mainly because it's been proven that Hiro can travel though space and time. I will say that I have always loved time travel stories and the paradoxes and possibilities. Back to the Future came out when I was in middle school (does it scare anyone else that we're only 8 years from the year depicted in BTTF2?), and I loved figuring it all out. For instance, at one point in 1955, there were 4 Deloreans in Hill Valley.

Anyway, I want to think about the timelines we've seen in Heroes so far, before we get to the actual story that we saw last night.

Timeline 1: This is the timeline before FutureHiro goes back in time to visit Peter on the subway. In this one, it seems that Sylar kills Claire, becomes the bomb, and destroys New York.

Timeline 2: This is the future we saw Monday night. FutureHiro has altered the world with the Save the Cheerleader, Save the World missive to Peter, but now Peter became the bomb, even though the world thought Sylar had.

Timeline 3: This is the future that we'll see now that Hiro has come back to his regular time with Ando.

I love it. Of course, the trick with time travel is to not think about all the paradoxes that come out of this. Just roll with it. This is when stuff gets really really good.

So, onto the plotlines which intertwine almost as much as string in a particular loft....
  • Hiro and Ando - After a lot of the season where their plot line just dragged and dragged, it really came into its own with this episode. I loved Hiro kept his joy, even in the midst of such a dystopian reality. Yes, his situation was bad, especially while he was in Parkman's grasp, but I loved when they got back to present and he was ready to get out and save New York. Ando was particularly great, and James Kyson Lee has done a great job portraying him. He seemed to accept the case of his death fairly well considering everything. I've had Ando marked down for death for a while and in the middle of the season, it wouldn't have bothered me that much, but now, I would really, really miss his character.
  • FutureHiro - We knew FutureHiro was pretty cool, just from the little we saw of him back in Hiros. And we really saw it last night. Ando's death in the bomb changed FutureHiro in a major way. I think Peter said he became harder. He really, really did. He became very hardcore and a terrorist, although that seemed to be a matter of perspective. I was said to see him go at the end.
  • Parkman - Wow. Parkman as a bad guy? Not just a bad guy but taking out FutureHiro and Bennett? I thought this was so well done and he was so hate-able. I really really wonder what happened to him in this timeline to make him go that bad. Perhaps it was a slow burn and once he got there, he was already committed to his actions. Also, nice little political commentary making Homeland Security into the stormtrooper arm for the Petrelli Administration.
  • Bennett - Running an underground railroad for "specials," but also selling out the "terrorists" to Parkman, who then kills him when he gets the information about Claire. I felt incredibly bad for Bennett, particularly because even in his dying moments, he couldn't protect his daughter.
  • Claire - So she was brunette to protect her identity while living in a town close to where her dad lived. Um.... ok. And she was hooking up with the blond dunce of a boyfriend. Yeah, not really happy with this deal, until Parkman showed up and said, "I don't know. What's good, Claire?" Plus going to see her "dad" in NYC... which we'll get to later...
  • Niki - So apparently, Niki becomes dominant and Jessica becomes her stage name. Stripping is a natural progression for her to continue on, but did any one else get the impression that she owned the bar? She was obviously broken by DL and Micah's deaths, but seemed to think that Peter Petrelli was hot enough to latch onto. We never did get answers about whether the super strength is the power or the split personality.
  • Mohinder - Important to this episode, but ancillary at the same time. Nice choice on taking out the Haitian Sensation. The hair still scared me.
And now for the really, really fun stuff.
  • Peter - Hi. I'll be your Neo for this episode. Which would seem really derivative, but going from Emo-Peter to Bad-A.. Peter was such a cool transition, especially about how comfortable he was with his powers. Watching him just do his thing was fun and I wouldn't mind revisiting him at some point. I do wonder how he got the scar if he has Claire's regenerative power. Did it come from being the bomb?
  • Nathan/Sylar - For the first part of this episode, I thought the power of being President had gotten to him. And maybe it did. Sylar mentioned that Nathan had already turned his back at the time he'd killed Nathan, but I've got to tell you that the reveal of Sylar using Candice's power to be Nathan was one of the coolest reveals that I've ever seen on TV. Ever. I was so glad for TiVo to be able to go back and watch that again immediately. Although it was really bad for Claire. Interesting that he started at the back of her head. I wonder if that was to negate her regenerative powers. And the ending battle with Peter, which we just got little shots of, was really amazing: Sylar busting out the freeze power we saw in the second episode and Peter getting out the radioactive power. I think that battle would have gone on for a long, long time, since both had Claire's regenerative power.
All in all, it's an episode that just did so much right and just made me kind of point and laugh at Lost. It's an episode that a new watcher would come in and not have a clue about it because so much of the back story is working there. But for those who have been fans from the first few episodes, this was almost like a "Thank You" to the fans. The next three weeks should be really fun.

btw, a prediction. Neither Peter or Sylar will be the bomb. Ted will be the bomb and will die protecting something, but still blowing up New York.

Speaking of the next episode...

I'm not going to do a shot by shot breakdown of the preview, but it seems like there's a lot going on. Claire and HRG reuniting, Sylar seeing his mom (yawn), and Hiro getting the sword ready to take Sylar out. Plus, Molly Walker?!? From the second episode?!? Just, wow.

So, where did you come down on it? Best episode ever? Merely ok?

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Connor's First Haircut

Gah..... Prepare for serious geeking about Heroes tomorrow.


I didn't get a chance this week to type in the next installment of Kinsey's story, so here's a video of Connor's first haircut that Sheryl and I gave him last week.

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