Saturday, April 08, 2006

Uncle Jim's Blog and Some Sad News

In case you didn't notice, Uncle Jim has a new blog. If you ever wanted to know what goes through the mind of a NASCAR Dad from Colorado, here's where you need to go. Drop and give me 20, maggot!

Commercial coming soon.

I also heard some awful news today. My Aunt Paula passed away. I'm not sure what got her, but years of alcoholism and drug abuse probably took their toll. Last I heard, she was in bad shape but near death? She got a divorce from my Uncle Tom years ago. (Yes, I have an Uncle Tom. I also have an Uncle Sam. I was going to have an Uncle Vanya, but they named him Henry instead.)

Presumably my cousin Josh, who lives in Florida, will be coming into town for the funeral. I can only imagine how he's feeling since I haven't talked to him. Since I have nothing better to do, I had been considering taking a little trip down to St. Petersburg to see him, but now...who knows?

It'll be good to see him, though, but I wish it was under different circumstances.

All-Video Post

I ran across this great short thanks to Will at MSNBC. It should have been obvious that digital cameras would make stop-motion animation easier for average joes.

And then, there's this one, a ninja for hire. One word: Awesome.

And last, but not least, a little video that shows one of the great things about America. Consider for a minute that this is a video of Bush getting a verbal takedown from an average citizen. The President listens and at one point even says, "Let him speak." Maybe it's all a show, but I was impressed with how the President handled it. It's easy to descend into gloom with the current events in the world, but that video is proof that we still live in a society that's healthy, and that over all, things aren't so bad. That warms my heart.

A Delayed Post

One of the side benefits of not having a day job is that you can stay out late on a weeknight.  Thursday night, I met some friends at the Park Tavern for some ritual imbibing.  The Rockies were losing on the big screen until the Nuggets game came on.  Dissolve from Coors Field to the Pepsi Center, where Melo and the boys were hosting Kobe and his, ahem, team.  (Just for the record, the Nugs owned that game until Kobe went into the courtside phone booth and got into his Superman outfit.  Melo had the final word with a fadeaway jumper, reminiscent of Jordan, in the final seconds of overtime.  It was beautiful.)

A few games of foosball were played, and I finally beat Ginger!  This is an accomplishment worthy of a medal.  It’s unprecedented!  I think my record is now 1-57.  I also had a chance to fall in love with one of the new bar girls, Rebecca, a cute little redhead with the most gorgeous eyes.  Ah, Rebecca, you stole my heart and you didn’t even know it.  Ha!

I got this Bukowski movie from Netflix recently.  I saw it in the theater at a special screening down at the Tivoli, which was pretty cool actually.  The director was there and did a Q&A afterwards.  It may have been his only print and now it’s on DVD, the more suitable format for a little documentary like this.  I never read Bukowski, but I almost feel like I should after watching this movie.

Speaking of never been read, a new Gospel of Judas has been discovered, translated, and interpreted for us.  Like many of the newly released apocryphal “gospels” found in the last hundred years, it gives a different window into the story of Jesus.  Apparently in this one, Judas isn’t so much a betrayer as a divine catalyst for God’s Ultimate Plan.  In this version, the Judean betrayal is almost a saintly act, considering that Jesus asked Judas to betray him.  (Perhaps commanded would be a better word, since when God asks, men don’t say no.)  

The Jesus story is still big (forgive the understatement) because it resonates, the story of a man blessed with divinity and yet cursed to die a painful humiliating death.  And now here’s a story that resonates too, perhaps not as much but just as powerfully:  the story of a man, tortured and faithful, who is ordered to betray God….by God himself!

As a writer of stories, I can only say…woah, that’s good.  I wish I had come up with that.  Built-in conflict, symbolism, oh man, the dramatic possibilities are endless.  To a skeptic like me, the Bible and the apocryphal books are a treasure trove of ideas and themes to steal from.  It’s like Greek myth, but more relevant to modern American society.  Steinbeck knew this, which is why he stole liberally from it for East of Eden.

Of course, I’m no Steinbeck, but I can recognize the concept..

I wonder, though, how true believers might be taking this new gospel.  Will they question a lifetime of belief  because of some crumbly Egyptian papyrus with a different spin on their theology?  Will they wonder why the Gospel of Judas never made it into the Bible as we know it?  Will they wonder about all the other gospels, the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Mary Magdalene, that never made it into the King James version?

If so, what will they think about the literal truth of the Bible then?

Thursday, April 06, 2006

The Trenteteuch

Wow, it’s Thursday already?  Time flies when you’re not paying attention.

I wish I could say that my first week of unemployment has been productive, but I must be honest.  I’ve been a lazy bastard.  I’ve been sleeping in, staying up late, generally taking my time in whatever I do.  Tuesday I reserved for the dishes.  The whole day, devoted to just doing dishes.  Everything else was optional.  If I got the dishes done, I was happy.

I exaggerate, but it’s not far from the truth.  I haven’t capitalized on my time off like I wanted to, but I suppose after eight years of having somewhere to be five days a week, a few days of sloth is to be expected.  It’s a transition of routine.  I’m going from a routine dictated by my work schedule to a routine dictated by me.  It’s an adjustment period, really, it is.

I have made some progress on the Max Beatty book.  Chapter 3, an important chapter, the last chapter in the trenteteuch.  Okay, so I made that word up, but I don’t think there’s an actual term for the first three chapters of a  book, which is what the trenteteuch is.  These first chapters are, by far, the most important chapters of any book, because readers need to be hooked by chapter three in order to keep reading, and not least because a publisher usually wants to see the first three chapters before they’ll publish it.  If a book doesn’t pick up steam until Chapter 4, you can bet your ass that before it hits galleys, Chapter 4 will become Chapter 1 and all the rest will be cut out.  It’s just part of the dynamic of the format.

Needless to say, I want to make sure I get it right before moving on.  Not perfect, mind you.  Just right.

Now, for the news:

Al Franken delivered this joke at a speech he made with Ann Coulter:
I’m Jewish. Thank you. I’m not an expert on the New Testament. But I know that if you cut out all the passages where Jesus talks about helping the poor, helping the least among us, if you literally took a pair of scissors and cut out all those passages, you’d have the perfect box to smuggle Rush Limbaugh’s drugs in.
Instapundit turned me onto charges that Al Franken, too, is guilty of plagiarism.  Um, bud…hate to tell you this, but stealing the phrase “a Harlem Globetrotters game” is not plagiarism.  Franken had the sense to put the concept into his own words.  Nothing wrong with that.  It’s called thinking.

Which is something the guys at the Corner refuse to do.  Look, fellas, the WMD angle is played out.  Even if Saddam had enough weaponized Anthrax to fling towards Israel with a coke spoon, does that make the trumped up WMD case any less bogus?  No.  There were a million and one reasons for war with Iraq.  WMD, absent similar actions on other rogue states with the same aspirations, was always the least persuasive.  Still is.

In today’s why bother category, the guys from System of a Down are on a crusade to get the United States government to formally recognize the Armenian genocide.  I don’t question their motives but I do question the worthiness of their cause.  Sounds kind of…pointless, to me.  So the government officially recognizes that it happened and shakes its head in apology?  What then?

Monday, April 03, 2006

Body Worlds

Yesterday I went to the Body Worlds 2 exhibit at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Body Worlds is the brainchild of Dr. Gunther Von Hagens, the German (mad?) scientist who developed the plastination process used to preserve the bodies. Judging from the blockbuster crowd at the museum, Von Hagens has hit a nerve.

If it were just cadavers, with all the anatomical parts splayed out and labeled, I doubt the reaction would be so intense. But these aren't your average cadavers or anatomical specimens. Many of them are grotesque statues, multilated people posed in unnatural stomach-churning ways. There's the skier, split down the middle so you can look up into his guts. The ballet dancer, skinned and spread open. There was one that was just guts suspended on wires. It was interesting, but disturbing.

Like something out of Hellraiser.

As scientifically valuable as it was, I couldn't get out of my mind the fact that they were real people, who had lived and died, and they were now in a museum, skinned and mutilated, as crowds of people were herded through to point and stare. (My nephew Scott found the preserved penises and testes an endless source of amusement.) It's enough to make you think twice about donating your body to science.