Because life is a series of edits

Archive for the ‘Television’ Category

Things I Got to Do in January

In Calling, Church, Education, Family, Friends, Oklahoma City, Places, Television, Thought, TV, Young Ones on January 18, 2013 at 9:09 pm

I know the month is hardly over, but I'm not sure I'll have time to post again until February. In the meantime, here's a visual record of some things I got to do in January:

Sell an old car (our 1998 Delta 88 threw a rod and died a peaceful death in our driveway)


Buy a "new" car (meet "Victor the Volvo," a 23-year-old car whose official color is "wine")


Chronicle blatant church hypocrisy (best picture ever)


Take part in City Pres' first-ever leader retreat (I'm the one about to throw up on the right)

City Pres Leadership Training

Eat (and live to tell about it) at a place featured on Man vs. Food

Catfish Barn

Care for our first foster child (this 3-year-old was cute as a button)


Study with daughters at Starbucks (also known as caffeinated homeschooling)

Starbucks Studying

Launch a new school (The Academy) with friend and fellow Head of School, Nathan Carr

Craig Launching Academy

Nathan Launching Academy

All in a month's work…


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.

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.

Play a Man’s Game, But Will Men Will Show Up to Play?

In Humanity, Sports, Television on February 10, 2010 at 7:23 pm

Over the past few days, I've read several interpretations of this year's Super Bowl commercials, many in which men seemed chastised for not being "male enough." (I noticed the trend myself in real-time on Sunday, but hadn't had time to put down my thoughts until now.)

Personally, my reaction to the ads was positive, if for no other reason than that advertisers seemed to be targeting a demographic other than just the metro-sexual and hyper-sexual male types. Instead, this year's crop of commercials seemed aimed at the wimpy male type – the guy who, either outwardly or inwardly, has basically surrendered his masculinity to his more "feminine side" (if there is such a thing) and needs to buck up and be the man in the relationship (whatever relationship that happens to be).

The first ad toward this end was for Dockers and their call for a Pantsformation. What I took from it was the call to men (mostly slobbish, out-of-shape guys who take pride in their slobbish out-of-shapeness) to dress up a bit and, well, "wear the pants" of initiative in life:

Another one in this same vein was for This commercial applied the "buck up" theme to a particular male/female/sports relationship triangle in which a guy lets his girlfriend walk all over him when he would rather be watching the game. CBS sports anchor Jim Nantz's comment at the end: "Change outta that skirt, Jason." (Ironically, Nantz divorced his wife of 26 years last October, so I'm not sure his words and example are the best to follow concerning the aforementioned male/female/sports relationship triangle.)

Apparently, a lot of women had trouble with this next ad from Dodge, as it came off "ridiculously misogynist and hyper-masculine" in its portrayal of men's brooding anger at having to deal with women's demands before making "Man's Last Stand" and choosing to drive a Dodge Charger. While I'm no expert on the matter of misogyny, there does seem to be a fair amount of emasculation the men in the commercial are trying to withstand (albeit with a pretty shallow course of action in simply owning the car of their choice):

Perhaps the one spot I liked most was Dove Men+Care's "Journey to Comfort" ad. Though I have no plans to buy their product (sorry, Dove, but I feel comfortable enough in my own skin not to care that much about it), I could relate to the frenetic life documented in the commercial, as well as the sense of accomplishment that comes with having (so far) survived it.

Whereas the typical Super Bowl fare might (and did) include the typical
"cars, cash, and cuties" commercials, this year's collection seemed
more geared to appeal to a man's needs as much or more as his wants.
Though wrapped in humor, subtle acknowledgments of a man's desire for
purpose, respect, adventure, and success seemed to upstage the
normal bounty of commercials boasting of beer and babes.

The thing I take from all this is – newsflash! – there's some real confusion out there as to what true manhood entails, so much so that it's become a national joke during the biggest television event in the world. Have we really come to a point where men are so comfortable laughing at and thinking of themselves as mere "male wannabes" that advertisers have recognized a whole new market to target?

Cardinals in Seven

In Places & Spaces, Sports, Television on October 7, 2009 at 5:51 pm


The Major League Baseball playoffs officially begin today and the Cardinals are in the thick of the race. Unlike 2006 (when the Redbirds surprisingly won the World Series), I'm not concerned with the pitching; it's the hitting that worries me. I won't bore you with statistics, but let's just say we could improve in the offensive department.

Back in 2006, I wrote a post on baseball called The Most Wonderful Time of the Year. Here's an excerpt:

The joy of baseball in October is that, if and when we have a spare
moment (and can actually get the channel to come in), odds are there's
going to be a baseball game on, one that a whole lot of people here in
St. Louis (as well as throughout the country) are watching closely.
Call us nostalgic, but this takes us back to when such shared
experiences through one real-time medium made us feel more in touch
with others than we sometimes do now.

I still feel that way – even more so now that our local ESPN radio affiliate is carrying all the playoff games in addition to the Cardinals'. It's fun listening to different announcers broadcast from different cities for different teams. It feels like folks are paying a little more attention to the same thing, which in our highly-diversified media, doesn't happen all the time. It's one game at a time – best of five for the pennant, best of seven for the Series – and anyone who cares about baseball is watching or listening.

Personally, I'm hoping for a Cardinals/Yankees series, as these are the two most classic franchises in the game (yes, Red Sox and Cubs fans, you heard me). I hope it goes seven games, and I hope the Cardinals win. But even if they don't, as the weather chills and the leaves fall, watching a game or two, popcorn in hand, will be a most enjoyable way to spend an evening in October.

I'm saying Cardinals in seven. Care to make your prediction?