Because life is a series of edits

Archive for the ‘Pop Culture’ Category

Signing Off

In Calling, Family, Friends, Holidays, Humanity, Internet, Places & Spaces, Pop Culture, Thought on January 1, 2015 at 12:10 pm

That's All Folks

In news that you’ll only read here, Second Drafts – my blog home for the past ten years – is closing its doors, with no plans to be reopened or replaced. I’ll save you the self-serving explanations and simply say that, for a variety of reasons, it’s time to move on.

That said, let me leave you with a final “best of” collection from the past ten years. After writing nearly 1,000 posts, I’m including 30 of my more popular and personal favorite ones – a wide variety I’d love you to read just one more time. (To be sure, there are easily another 30 I would include if I gave myself permission, but enough about me, what do you think about me?)

One of the reasons I include these and perhaps not others has as much to do with the interaction (back when people actually responded to blog posts and not just the social media announcing them), so be sure to read the comments. (Of course, you’re always welcome to troll the archives for more as you like, but I imagine you have a life.)

While I will no longer be blogging here anymore, I’ll continue to contribute a periodic post to The Scholars Blog and City Presbyterian blog every six weeks or so. For better or for worse, I still feel I have thoughts and words to share, but it’s time to develop those in a different way and for a different audience. At least personally, my blogging days are done. It’s been a good run.

Whether you’ve been a long-time or recent reader, thanks for the gift of your interest and attention. I’ve never taken it for granted. Enjoy reading/re-reading the posts, and if you’d be so kind, leave me a comment below to say you did. Thank you.

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On Noah: A Letter to Darren Aronofsky

In Arts, Humanity, Movies, Pop Culture, Thought on April 4, 2014 at 12:00 pm

Dear Mr. Aronofsky,

Noah director, Darren Aronofsky

Noah director, Darren Aronofsky

I’m sure you’re up to your eyeballs right now after the opening weekend of your movie, Noah, but I wanted to write anyway. I saw your film earlier this week and have enjoyed thinking through much of it since. I rarely go to the theater for new movies (let alone so close to opening weekend), but this one seemed to make sense both for the visual spectacle of the story as well as the inevitable conversations it would generate. While I have not seen any of your previous films, I’m glad to have seen Noah.

I’m glad to have seen Noah for several reasons, the first being because – like you – it’s one of my favorite stories. I loved how you set the entire film under “the Creator” and that, regardless of whether they were for or against Him, the characters within the film lived with what seemed a constant awareness of this reality, as those in the Ancient World were much more apt to acknowledge than in our modern day. In addition, I appreciated how you did not qualify the story of the flood as merely a legend to be believed or dismissed, but treated it as factual in its occurrence, much like the Bible and multiple ancient texts do.

I imagine you may have taken some flack for choosing this story to tell, but I’m glad you did. I appreciated how you directed Russell Crowe in his portrayal of Noah as a watchful father to his sons and a loving husband to his wife in the first part of the film. You (with Mr. Crowe’s capable help) really teased out a tenderness and affection in the title role, much like I imagined God must have developed in the real Noah of the Bible. I’ve always tried to imagine what Noah must have felt like leading his family to build the ark, answering his critics for his bizarre actions while knowing what was coming, and wrestling with the guilt of surviving something that no one else living at the time (save his family) did. I was touched by Mr. Crowe’s portrayal of the emotion of all this in the beginning and at the end of the film – especially with Noah’s renewal of the covenant – and appreciated your direction in it.

As you might imagine, I do have some questions. Since the narrative in the Bible is only about 2,400 words (and none of them are Noah speaking), I’m curious what inspiration you turned to in order to flesh out your two-hour-and-twenty-minute movie. From my perspective, while there were plenty of curiosities, I felt that you generally kept with the main biblical story up until the flood, but even after the flood (and despite taking a pretty big narrative off-ramp before getting back on the main road of the story), I recognized your attempt to present a Noah laboring under the stress of so many years pursuing what He understood (or thought he understood) about God’s will. In fact, the scene toward the end of the film in which Noah lies drunk in his nakedness made more sense of that particular passage than I had ever seen before on the heels of all he had just been through.

Was there another text or source that you were using? Did the emotion come out of your own past or experiences? Have you felt the kind of blinding psychopathic anger and confusion in your own spiritual journey that you depicted in the film’s abrupt departure from the biblical storyline? It was so different from the scriptural text that I couldn’t help but wonder what might be behind that particular diversion. Because of my own faith and familiarity with the story, I realize there are challenges in telling a story that the audience might already know (and I also realize it’s hard to dramatically top the flooding of the world), but it seemed to me you were going for something particularly deep and emotional in taking Noah’s character down such a cold and dark road of wrath before having him step back into the warmth and light of love. I would love to buy you a cup of coffee and hear more of your thought on that if and when you ever happen to be traveling through Oklahoma City.

As I don’t know you personally, I’m not sure how interested you are in some of the controversy your film has caused within the Christian community (not to mention the greater culture at large). While I’m sure the reviews and responses have helped the film’s bottom line, I have to believe that you are at least somewhat interested in what those of us who love the Bible think of your work. Has it been confusing for you when so many people who claim the same (or at least similar) beliefs have had such dissimilar responses to your film? I’m sorry for some of the hurtful things that have been said, as well as for any feelings of being misunderstood you may have as a result. People do strange things when they’re scared or threatened, and I don’t know why some of my fellow Christians have responded out of such blinding fear. (I often wish my fellow believers would get as riled up about some of the awful doctrine and artlessness we’ve put out in the name of “safe for the whole family,” but I digress.) Please forgive us.

I hope that through the preparation for and process of making the film you were able to grow in your understanding of the Creator God and His covenant commitment to mankind – a commitment that includes both a justice so passionate He was willing to destroy everything He had created in order to quell what we had done with it, yet a heart of so much love and mercy that He was not willing to give up on what He has always desired, namely that we would be His people and He would be our God. As mentioned earlier, I saw several glimpses of this recognition of that reality in your film, but I hope it was personal and not just cinematic for you in the midst of making it. Indeed, as scripture says,

The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for ‘In him we live and move and have our being.’

As I do for myself and others, I pray the truth of this passage will become more believable and beautiful in your life. The Creator God has given you much talent, Mr. Aronofsky, and I pray you do not let the world convince you that you are your gifts more than you are His child. The joy of the latter is what makes the endeavors of the former worth it. I hope you experience both in your life and art.



Keeping Track of Our Kids

In Family, Places, Pop Culture, Young Ones on November 4, 2012 at 9:33 am

Unattended Children

I snapped this picture in a coffee shop near Franklin, TN, last week (for a few pics from my trip, click here) because I thought it was a clever and diplomatic way to remind parents to keep track of their kids.

I wish I could be so clever and diplomatic. Unfortunately, this will be more bumbling and annoying instead.

Do you know where your kids are? I'm not talking about which
part of the house they're in or who they're staying overnight with this
weekend. I'm also not asking about where they should be or what they
should be able to do at this stage in their development (nothing diminishes our kids' humanity more than speaking of them in terms of "percentiles").

Honestly, I wonder if someone giving espresso and a free puppy to
our kids would be enough of a wake-up call to ask the question. How long until we noticed the smell and the barking?

The sign above made me think. Megan and I are to the point now (and
it is a glorious one) where we are comfortable leaving our 13-, 12-,
10-, and 9-year-old daughters unattended at home for short periods of
time. So far, no one's burned down the house, physically maimed another,
or run away thinking this was their one-and-only chance at freedom.

But we still have to attend their hearts and help them deal with things like disappointment, frustration, and anger. We know this because we still have to attend ours regarding the same things.

During this "fall back" weekend, why not invest your additional
hour by attending your child's heart (and not just their activities)?

Espresso and a free puppy are the least of our concerns.

Reunion Blogging

In Marriage, Places, Pop Culture, Thought on October 14, 2012 at 3:43 pm

So last night was the twentieth-year reunion for Megan's high school class of 1992. Seeing as how I grew up in a town where a good percentage of the class gets together every weekend at The Bucket anyway, I'm not much for the whole reunion gig. Still, I went and ended up posting these updates for anyone who enjoys such things more than I.

6:43 pm: In Owasso for @MeganDunham's twenty year high school reunion. I'll be the one spiking the punch and dancing on tables.

7:40 pm: Arrived at reunion w/ worst of rain – clothes
drenched. Good news: someone just turned on disco ball by flipping
"atmosphere" switch. #phew

7:42 pm: Third Bryan Adams song in 25 minutes. Long live 1992. #reunionliveblogging

7:48 pm: Can't handle pressure of accompanying former Miss Owasso High School (@MeganDunham) to reunion. Room spinning; must sit down.

8:05 pm: Food disappointment: promised "heavy hors
d'oeuvres" turns out to be something in crock pot, plate of Ritz
crackers. #reunionliveblogging

8:08 pm: Still dripping from deluge outside. Hoping party pic gal has "Anti-Wet Rat" filter in Photoshop. #reunionliveblogging

8:16 pm: That awkward moment when the reunion emcee
tries to yell over the crowd and forgets that the Best of the Early 90s
CD is still playing.

8:21 pm: That awkward moment when emcee instructs everyone in attendance to vote for sexiest male/female present. #reunionliveblogging

8:33 pm:
The scene of the crime…a step up from The Bucket in Griggsville (but only a step).

8:49 pm: Can't remember the last time I was around this many 38-year-olds all in one room. #reunionliveblogging

8:58 pm: Almost two hours into inane conversation. Bring on Wayne's World imitations, Kurt Cobain lip sync contest. #reunionliveblogging

Queen and Court
9:02 pm: Former Miss Owasso High School and her court (actually these were just people at our table – I have no idea who they are).

9:12 pm: Program highlight of evening so far: 1992
yearbook. I honestly can't remember the last time I had this kind of
fun. #reunionliveblogging

9:16 pm: Finally: someone remembered an hour-and-a-half after turning it off for the drunk emcee that there had been music in 1992.

Joe Don
9:19 pm: Had absolutely no idea that Megan had gone to school with a young Joe Don Baker. #reunionliveblogging

9:33 pm: Pseudo-theological reunion thought: glad we're
going to have work to do in new heavens, new earth. I couldn't take an
eternity of mingling.

9:43 pm: Possibly most unfortunate thing of the
evening: only being able to make out bass line (and nothing more) to
Prince's "Purple Rain." #sad

10:24 pm: Drunk emcee nowhere to be found, so party
over. Probably catch pneumonia from three hours of sitting in wet
clothes. Thanks for reading.

No Longer A Slave to Fashion

In Pop Culture, Thought on August 26, 2012 at 3:16 pm

Star Spangled CraigMy 1976 modeling start in trendy patriotic wear, combined with my mid-80's experimentation in Miami casual wear, led to a fashion-despite-finances struggle through the latter part of the 90's and 00's. However, beginning in my mid-thirties and now into my forties, I can safely say without guilt or shame that I am no longer a slave to fashion.

Apparently, this does not surprise anyone but me. You see, I always thought of myself as a decent dresser ("decent" defined as things matching), but I'm coming to realize that I've turned into that guy who says he just doesn't care about keeping up with the latest styles not because I really don't, but because I'm simply too clueless to understand what they are anymore.

Jeans are a good example of my not picking up the ringing clue phone. Apparently, my light blue acid wash jeans – though perfectly functional and comfortable – are beyond suspect now; in a word, they are "out." I first wondered about this say, oh, ten years ago, when mine were the lightest color in any room, but now I know that jeans can't just be jeans anymore, particularly since the introduction a few years ago of the so-called "skinny jeans," which I have neither desire nor ability to wear.

A few weeks ago, my mother sent me a bunch of my dad's old short-sleeved shirts that he wasn't wearing. Mom has done this a few times in the past decade, and while conventional wisdom says I should be appalled to even think about wearing my father's clothes, I confess I appreciated the shirts and never once balked at wearing them. In fact, this latest bunch are nice enough (at least in my mind) that I'm happily getting rid of some from previous batches because I just don't need so many.

And then it hits me: I have not just turned into my father; I have gladly accepted his hand-me-downs. Somewhere Don Johnson is rolling over in his white sport coat.

Last week, one of my staff came to me with an envelope that had my name on it. She explained that she had recently come into some money from a business venture and had prayed how God would have her tithe and give part of it. Thinking she was giving toward our school, I thanked her for her gift and asked if she would like it applied to our scholarship fund or capital campaign. Perhaps somewhat embarrassed, she simply said I would know when I opened the card, which I did.

Inside was a $200 gift card in my name to The Men's Wearhouse. Was this a gift or a hint? Somewhere Philip Michael Thomas's hair just straightened.

This afternoon, I was at the Penn Square Mall, which happens to have a Men's Wearhouse store. Thinking back, I realized that the last time I bought clothes was four to five years ago – about my standard – in St. Louis, the experience of which actually included a pretty cool story (along with some good used clothes). Heading into the store here in OKC, I found (or he found me) Dan the Sales Guy, a sharp-dressed man in his early 50s who was very kind and very happy to make suggestions in answer to my asking the best way to spend $200 at his store.

I learned a couple of things from Dan: pleated pants are out; the smaller the pattern on a tie, the more formal it is considered; and The Men's Wearhouse and I have different opinions of what "fun" ties are (the store's idea of a plaid print as "mixing it up" didn't seem to compare with the Looney Tunes tie I own). Dan also seemed to hint that wearing plain white shirts (even with ties) was not all that hip anymore, but I can't bring myself to believe that, particularly when I own several white shirts and wear ties with them all the time.

Fortunately for me, the store was in its last week of a two-for-one sale, but even taking that into account, I was amazed at how fast $200 went. Dan helped me pick out two pairs of pants (flat in the front instead of pleated…ahem), two button-down shirts, and two ties, all of which mixed and matched together. I picked out two more ties that I liked and thought would be a good addition to my wardrobe, but while Dan was impressed with my choices, my taste was beyond what I could afford ($60 for a tie – even for two if you applied the sale) just seemed ridiculous to my school teacher sensibilities.

I asked Dan if he could tell I was no slave to fashion. He responded with a laugh and a grin, saying he had pegged me as such when I walked in and just hoped that the "trendy" clothes I was buying from him today would make it five years until my next spending spree. I assured him they would, took his card, and told him to put me down for a follow-up review in 2017.

Until then, I'll hang onto my dad's old shirts, sort through ties I've been wearing since the late 80's, and cull a few (but only a few) pairs of pants I bought back in the mid-90s. Surely pleats, floral print ties, and acid wash jeans will return at some point in my lifetime.

And when they do, I'll be ready for them.

Pulled Over & Waiting Here in Tornado Alley

In Nature, Places, Pop Culture on April 14, 2012 at 1:27 pm


So we're supposed to get major storms and other various and sundry severe weather this weekend, beginning mid-to-late afternoon today and throughout the evening tonight. Always one to completely underestimate the power of nature, I have been pacing around all morning trying to figure out how to speed things up and get there. I've thought about jumping in the old Delta 88 and driving around looking for one, or even standing out in the middle of my cul-de-sac with a sign reading "Do your worst!" directed at any apporaching mesocyclones.

In my brazen ignorance, I've subjected my family to a not-so-bad-B-movie called Tornado Valley (my personal tornado favorite, Twister, is not available for streaming) and an old NOVA documentary on the F5 that hit Moore in 1999. I've downloaded a couple of tornado alert apps on my phone and even thought about chanting some old high school cheers from back in the day (ironically, we were the "Tornadoes" at Griggsville High, but that's as close to seeing any as I've come).

For all you Okies out there, what do you do while you sit around and wait to get blown away? I'd like to start a list to get me through the rest of the day…after which you may never hear from me again. Ideas?

A Dispatch from January

In Books, Calling, Church, Education, Family, Movies, Oklahoma City, Places, Pop Culture, Sports, Television, TV, Veritas, Young Ones on January 21, 2012 at 8:03 am

I have over 150 "have-to-answer" emails in my inbox, so it would seem a good time to work on the blog. (I'll just think of this as a warm-up rather than a put-off. Note: If you're waiting on an email from me, it will come today). Some items of late to mark the days:

I just finished two books, both with a financial theme: The Price of Everything, a parable of economic emergent order, by Russell Roberts, and The Third Conversion, a "novelette" by R. Scott Rodin about fundraising as ministry and not just money. The first book is a very readable text that our seniors are reading in Economics; the second is a more semi-hokey series of conversations between a seasoned fundraiser and his up-and-coming protege.

While recovering from my first kidney stone surgery, I found myself with some time to actually watch a few things on Netflix via the iPad. I'd heard of Joss Whedon's Firefly series (only one season of 15 episodes, capped off for resolution by the movie, Serenity) and enjoyed this "space western" well enough. I also had time for a few Shakespeare films (Kenneth Branaugh's Henry V and Patrick Stewart in Macbeth were excellent), which were fun and novel to watch.

There's been a lot of "launching" going on this January. A week ago, City Pres got off the ground with our first official worship service (I helped serve the Lord's Supper) and our Tuesday night CityGroup started back up; this past week, we kicked off our Veritas capital campaign and website, which we hope will come to first fruition in early March; and I've  enjoyed getting back in the classroom twice a week teaching the second semester of our senior American History course (two very different but engaging texts: A Patriot's History of the United States by Larry Schwiekart and Michaell Allen and A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn).

Other highlights so far this month: 70-degree weather, my four capitalist daughters selling three (and counting) enormous boxes worth of chocolate for their homeschool band program, Megan clearing off and cleaning my desk (she loves me), NFL football playoffs (which is really the only time I'm interested enough to watch), the daily newspaper in my driveway, cold milk on hand, and people who call me "friend".

Okay. Guess it's time to deal with email, to which I say (in my best British accent): "Do your worst!" Thanks for reading.

Trip the Light Fantastic (But Label It First?)

In Pop Culture on September 14, 2011 at 2:25 pm

Light Switch I saw this in a church this past weekend and was so amused (among other things) that I had to snap a picture.

What's the rationale here? Had someone at some point in the past mistaken this light switch for something else? Was someone a bit paranoid and afraid someone would in the future?

Now don't get me wrong: I like label-making as much as the next guy (or perhaps more accurately, girl), but I can't for the life of me come up with a justifiable reason for this one.

Let's just say that if one feels the need to literally label a light switch, metaphorically mustering the creativity to flip it is probably the least of one's concerns.

I suppose it's better than labeling people, but come on. We can do better, people.

Seinfeld on Cell Phones

In Pop Culture, Technology, Thought on May 15, 2011 at 7:13 pm

Portable-cell-phone-boothI've been out of the cell phone world (or rather, cell phones have been out of mine) for six years and here are some reasons why.

For better or worse, however, I'm back in the market because of my new role starting in June, so if anyone has any helpful recommendations, comparison links, or best deal sites for me, send them my way.

In the meantime, I'll enjoy my last three weeks of non-cellular existence while constructing a portable phone booth similar to the one pictured here.

Random Schmada

In Pop Culture on February 23, 2011 at 12:55 pm

Saw a sign in Barnes & Noble the other night for what must be a particularly interesting book genre: "New Teenage Paranormal Romance." Seriously?

My friend, Katie, sent me this link, as she knows what I think of shallow small groups.

Funniest thing my 12-year-old daughter has said in a while as to how she was feeling about a particular issue: "Well, Dad, I'm kind of half-and-half. You could pour me in coffee."

Funny (or sad) thing my 10-year-old daughter said after stepping up a level in her fiction reading: "I expected them to kill animals, not people. All my books have happy endings."

Deep thought (via Philosoraptor): "Doesn't expecting the unexpected make the unexpected become the expected?" Still thinking on that one.

Hoping the temps in the seventies of last week come back next week when we're actually supposed to start playing spring baseball. Brrr.

That's all.

Ten Things

In Pop Culture on February 7, 2011 at 7:07 pm

Ten things for my ten readers:

  1. I'm back from my 40-day blogging hiatus. It was good. Hope you missed me.
  2. I'm back on Facebook in an info-only capacity. I nuked my wall, but you can still message me.
  3. I'm not really back on Twitter yet. I like it better than Facebook, but only if there's a purpose (and right now there isn't).
  4. I'm clean-shaven. The beard looked okay, but I felt like I was hiding in plain sight.
  5. I'm two pages away from finishing up a writing journal I started over six years ago. It was a big book, but it shouldn't have taken that long to fill it.
  6. I'm still reading the Old Testament prophets and listening for the love of God for his people in his call to repentance. This was the section of the Bible that I started reading during my 40 days and I'm glad to still be listening.
  7. I'm also still reading Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, but I'm only halfway through its 1,000 pages. When I need a break, I pick up one of six others I've started since the beginning of 2011.
  8. I'm sick of snow days. Yes, you read that correctly. Bring on Spring.
  9. I'm still very much in love with my wife and glad she'll kiss me again since I shaved.
  10. I'm glad to be 40 and grateful to be alive.

More to come…


In Pop Culture on December 27, 2010 at 9:30 pm


In 40 days, I turn 40 years old. While I don't have any mid-life crisis planned, I do want to mark the occasion of officially arriving at middle age (though I may have already passed the midpoint – according to the CIA World Factbook, the expected life expectancy for males in the United States is 75.78 years).

Towards that end, I'm shutting things down on Facebook, Twitter, and here on the blog during this time. I'm going to spend my extra time reading the Bible, praying, and writing about what God may have should he grant me another 40 years. I also hope to lose some weight, grow a beard, and pursue any other such end-of-thirties craziness I come up with (as you can see, the list is nearly on the verge of insanity as it is).

Growing older is not something I fear; actually, it's something I embrace. I've been thinking about this 40-day period for the past year-and-a-half, and it's nice that it's finally here.

So, until I'm older and wiser (and, by God's grace, gray-er), pray Psalm 27:8 for me:

"You have said, 'Seek my face.'
    My heart says to you,
        'Your face, LORD, do I seek.'"


The Biggest Curriculum Film Stretch Contest

In Education, Pop Culture, Television, Westminster on December 15, 2010 at 10:48 am

Film small

It's finals week, and let's be honest: teachers can only grade so much for so long before they start to get a little loopy. That said, here are the entries for a little contest my fellow colleagues and I created via email in between proctoring/grading exams (you'll notice the entries got shorter as the contest went one, presumably as tests were turned in).


In the spirit of having very little to do while kids are taking a test, I’d like to announce the first ever Biggest Curriculum Film Stretch Contest. The idea is to incorporate into your curriculum a movie that, let’s face it, has SOOOOO little to do with the topic at hand that it’s almost laughable, but there’s enough in common so that you could almost, almost make a rational argument to show it.

In other words, if you taught at a public school and had tenure and wanted to read a magazine for a week, what would you show?

I’ll start. When I was student teaching, I was asked to teach a sociology unit on aging. I had never had a sociology class. I knew nothing. I needed something to teach for the whole week. I showed Cocoon.

Beat that.


History: In order to understand the tensions inherent in two competing superpowers leading us to the cold war, I give you…Top Gun.

English: In order to understand how to appropriately structure paragraphs and give students a reason for learning how to write, I believe it would be appropriate to show the entire first and second seasons of Murder She Wrote.

Chemistry: In order to understand the science of life, we shall embark upon an entire quarter viewing of Sex and the City.

Counseling: In order to understand multiple personality disorder in psychology, we would watch Me, Myself and Irene.

Math: For a unit on Consumer Math and Personal Finance, I would show Gossip Girl.

Physics: As an application of the mathematics behind physics, I would show the entire Battlestar Galactica series.

History: I would pick the following movies for my unit on Westward Expansion (because why make it a week when you can make it a whole semester?). In order to explain the development of railroads out west with immigrants I would show Shanghai Noon starring Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson. Have to deal with the mistreatment of Native Americans, so I would knock out Avatar and would also for sure show Pocahontas. Sticking with the Westward expansion theme, we finish it off with Wild Wild West.

Elective: All we’d do is watch Sesame Street – it has nothing to do with what I’m teaching, but it’s age appropriate and uses lot and LOTS of pictures. In the afternoon it would be Barney…if my kids aren't taking their afternoon naps already.

Western Civ: Regarding the insurrection in Iraq and Afghanistan and how to end it using teenagers with bows, arrows and .22 caliber rifles, we would watch Red Dawn.

Math: Concerning angles and vectors, we would watch Bend It Like Beckham.

Biology: Concerning stupidity and genetic disorders, we would also watch Bend It Like Beckham.

Western Civ: For a unit on what it would be like to drive across Kansas seven consecutive times, we would watch Ghandi.

Industrial Arts/Driver's Ed: BJ and the Bear.

Outdoor Education: Cliffhanger.

History: Concerning Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSS), Rambo I & II.

Life Skills: For education in tolerance and understanding how to be more culturally sensitive, we would watch The Smurf Movie.

Ethics: In order to understand the nuances of ethical casuistry in 1980’s rural Idaho, we will immerse ourselves in the world of Napoleon Dynamite, watching the film on Monday and Tuesday, using block day to study the film’s climactic “dance of redemption,” and then choreographing our own versions for an assembly performance on Friday. (Optional weekend event: awkward junior high-esque dance in overly-streamered gymnasium).

Staff Development: For professional development for summer seminar teachers, we would watch Meatballs.

Counseling: For a look at what happens when you fail all your classes, we would watch Summer School (starring Mark Harmon).

History: For greater understanding of the long-term effects of the Treaty of Versailles, we would watch Die Hard (ticked off Germans).

Physics: For greater understanding of velocity, gravity, and combustion, we would also watch Die Hard (ticked off criminals).

Life Skills: I’d do a unit on how broken father and son relationships can be healed by aliens invading earth, a la War of the Worlds.

What say you? Any you would add? Any you've sat through as a student? Feel free to add your own curriculum suggestions as part of the online version of our contest.

A Night in the Life

In Calling, Pop Culture, Westminster on November 15, 2010 at 9:08 pm

So I’m lying on the couch trying to finish up a lesson plan for tomorrow morning, when an email from one of my students drops into my inbox:

“Mr. Dunham, I was wondering if you knew where in the New Testament Paul talks about the church dealing with a man sleeping with his mother? Thank you.”

Chuckling at the brief and bizarre nature of the request, I write back:

“A little random, but okay. 1 Corinthians 5:1-2 describes the offense.”

The response:

“Thank you so much. I need it for an essay I am doing on Woody Allen.”

Just a night in the life of your friendly neighborhood Bible teacher…

Veggies Gone Wild

In Family, Pop Culture, Young Ones on October 1, 2010 at 7:38 am


Once again, Megan won free tickets ("Golden Circle seating," no less!) to yet another "live" show, this time a performance of the Veggie Tales Sing Yourself Silly Tour. For the entire night, we were bombarded with oversized vegetables singing silly songs. We also took part in a special "meet and greet" with Bob and Larry (or two imposters with actual arms and legs who looked like Bob and Larry) during which I was able to tell them how much I loved their work (or something).

Meet and Greet
Who says I don't have a life?

Half-Pint Conversations

In Pop Culture, Young Ones on September 28, 2010 at 6:23 pm

Here are a few recent conversations with my four daughters for your amusement:


11-year-old: Dad, have you seen my shoes?

Me: You lost your shoes again? I'm going to staple your shoes to your feet.

11-year-old: Cool!

Me: (sighs)


Me: Which episode of Alfred Hitchcock are we ready to watch?

10-year-old: We last watched "The Two Sisters."

6-year-old: No we didn't.

10-year-old: Yes we did. That was the one in which the woman killed her father with the ax, remember?

6-year-old: Oh yeah.

Me: (cringes)


Me: Girls, when you close the shower curtain, you have to make sure you pull it all the way to the wall like this. (demonstrates by pulling top curtain corner)

8-year-old: But, Dad, it's harder for us.

Me: Why's that?

8-year-old: We're little.

Me: Oh yeah.


6-year-old: Dad?

Me: Yes?

6-year-old: If the moon is full, can it overflow?

Me: (???)

Hell on The Hill

In Places, Places & Spaces, Pop Culture on July 31, 2010 at 9:38 am

A month or so ago, Megan and I had dinner at an Italian restaurant on The Hill. We parked in front of this large corner lot full of beautiful green grass with a sign in its center across the street. Maybe I grew up loving one too many of Gary Larson's Far Side cartoons, but surely this is what Hell is and will be like (among other awful and unspeakable things).



So I’ve Been Thinking Lately…

In Pop Culture on June 21, 2010 at 9:30 pm

…that the rhythm of the chain clanging against the hub of our bedroom ceiling fan is the exact rhythm of the song "Jellicle Cats" from the musical, Cats.

…that I have never understood (nor could I explain) the idea of "the whole is more than the sum of its parts" (and no, I'm not looking for anyone's particular interpretation).

…that if anyone wants a preview of an over-taxed, lousy-serviced, bureaucratic nightmare of America, look no further: it's here in Missouri (and now playing daily at the DMV).

…that I don't trust the chlorine to do its job in the community pool, but have no desire to discover what's really going on (ignorance – though potentially life-threatening – is bliss).

…that my readers might appreciate more actual content, so I'll try to work on that.

Helping Dad (or Anybody Else) Get Organized

In Family, Pop Culture on June 16, 2010 at 2:01 pm

The Levenger catalog arrived yesterday. For those (like myself) slightly affected by OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder), such a collection of "tools for serious readers" can be hugely tempting. Unfortunately, for those (like myself) more than slightly affected with the other OCD (obsolete cash deposits), alas, the organizational options must be relegated to little more than inspiration. Sigh.

While I like Levenger's stuff (so much so that I even read the owner's book, The Little Guide to Your Well-Read Life, when it came out five years ago – it was okay), I don't understand why it all has to be so  expensive; even in this particular "Senational Summer Sale" catalog, their idea and my idea of a discount (even a 70% discount) were just too different to justify whipping out the credit card and placing an order.

The only thing I've ever actually purchased from Levenger are personalized notecards (which I still like, but even then, they were on sale and Megan found some sweet discount that applied as well). Still, as I've been organizing my desk, books, and files this week, as well as setting some new goals for the next 2-5 years, here are a few items that caught my eye and at least helped inspire my efforts this morning:

Carousel Bookshelf Carousel
Revolving Bookshelf
– I'd love to have about four of these scattered throughout the house. Or (better idea), put all four on top of each other stacked in a corner and have a really cool floor-to-ceiling carousel of books to pick from! Yes!

Lap Desk Lap
Desk (with Cubby)
– I like the look of this, but I especially like the little cubby/compartment that the desk surface covers (apparently, there are magnets that hold the lid down so all your stuff doesn't fly out). A good alternative to having to sit at a desk or table to hand-write something (for those of us who still do that kind of thing).

Blotter Margin Pad Margin Pad – Even though I don't have a desktop computer, I really like the size, look, and design of this little blotter pad. Oh, and it can be monogrammed (whatever).

Concept PadConcept Pad – When I used to spend a lot more time at the same desk day in/day out, I had one of these. I'd usually make it about a week on the same piece of paper, but then reveled at the Friday re-write for the next week, leaving off everything crossed out that I had accomplished. Visual progress – loved it.

Repertoire Notebooks
Repertoire Notebooks – I think these notebooks are pretty nifty, especially because of the varying pad sizes, black elastic bands, and golf pencils in their own loops. Also, the pad for the largest one is set up like the margin pad above, and the cover colors are nice, too.

So, there you have it: one of my rare (very rare – I don't even have a category for stuff like this) product posts. Levenger should give me a commission (or at least four Carousel Bookshelves to stack on top of each other), don't you think? Maybe these or other items will spur you on to new levels of organization, or maybe you'll find something cool for Father's Day (just remembered it's this weekend).

Anybody got any other links and/or ideas that you've found helpful in organizing your life? I could use some more inspiration (as I'm sure others could as well).

Perspective: Life Without Limbs

In Pop Culture on June 13, 2010 at 5:53 pm

Check out the Life Without Limbs website as well.