News (actual news)

Couldn’t get the mower started today.  I couldn’t get it started yesterday either.  It turned over and over, but just wouldn’t hit.  I figured it was a spark plug thing, so I just pushed the front (yesterday) hoping I could take care of it today.  Alas, even after I changed the plug, it wouldn’t crank.  I wonder if there’s too much oil.

Needless to say, I’m tired after pushing and bagging the back yard.  Any suggestions?

The Braves are heading in to the 11th as Venters just threw his 4th closing K: 6 up, 6 down!  Even with the excitment of a tied up game, and the anticipation of game 2 of the NBA finals tonight, I’m still worn out.

On another note, I can’t tell if I’ve bought in to hype or if I’m rightfully alert concerning the oil spill’s effect in Orange Beach, Alabama.  The news makes it sound like the whole place smells like oil, and the beaches are littered with oil and dead birds.  While I know that’s probably juiced up, the only counter-voice comes from the Gulf Shores/Orange Beach crowd who are saying that while they are affected, it’s all still vacation-worthy.  The GS/OB front has a little more credibility because they’re posting daily videos from the actual beaches which show people in the water on the same day you view them.


What to do.  Both of my problems may stem from too much oil.


Lately this has turned into a bit of a sports related blog. I hope that doesn’t turn anyone off.  It’s a bit heavy on my mind, though.  It’s nice to have a sport be the deep issue.

After a nine straight game win streak, the Braves are in a bit of a slump tonight with Kawakami giving up four runs (so far) in the first two innings of this late game against the Dodgers.  L.A. is becoming a quickly hated town for me.  Maybe it’s a little east coast/west coast rivalry, but I really don’t like anything Los Angeles right now.

A little bit of a subject change – – let me recommend a book called Crazy Love.  I don’t know if it’s the book itself or the timing of the book, but there’s a lot of timely information in it.

In the wake of a massive movement to make the Christian’s life a cakewalk of grace as a crutch, it’s nice to see a man like Chan center the off-kilter back to a place where love is proven instead of assumed.  I’m not talking about the falsehood of works-based religion that requires a confession booth for forgiveness.  And I’m certainly not talking about living as if anything we do requires God to save us.  I’m talking about calling love like it is.

The over-arching illustration of Jesus’ relationship to the church (and therefore the Christian) is in bride/groom terminology.  So the only thing I know how to relate is through the relationship I have with my wife.  No one would say that my actions toward Karen are the reasons she loves me.  In fact, it would be widely assumed that my actions toward Karen prove my love for her (a love that already exists).  She doesn’t love me because of my actions; instead she further confirms my love for her by my actions.  She knows I’m sincere in the very thing she knows is true because my actions coincide with my declaration.

Why should it be any different with God?

Read Crazy Love to find out a little more of what I’m talking about. 

Caveat: if you were raised in church (no matter which version of Christianity it may be), ignore the first three chapters.  They’ll turn you off.

I’m not sure what my next book will be.  I’ve tried to go back and forth (one for one) between fiction and non-fiction.  I have a lot of Grisham to catch up on.  With the momentum I have in the non-secular works, I don’t know if I should ride that or not.  This is the very reason readers should keep a queue.  I’ll keep you updated.

Lastly, if you get the chance, you should give a restaurant called Old Chicago a chance.  The food is INSANE and the beer is just as celebrated.  You’ll find out a little more about what they call the World Beer Tour when you go, so I won’t bore you with the details.  I wussed my way through a few light beers at the beginning, but I’ve finally started to see the beauty of the storied brewing processes by braching out a bit. 

It’s near impossible to carry any valid conversation about light beer.  They really do all taste about the same.  It’s the adventure into the full-bodied that initiates the connoisseur.  The Sweaty Betty, of the Boulder Brewing Company, is a bit smoky and barrel-flavored for me, but I followed it with a Dos Perros from Yazoo out of Nashville, and that was well worth the money.  Of course, all of this only applies to domestics.  The closest to good (in comparison to non-American beer) that I’ve come across is Nut Brown Ale from the Bluegrass Brewing Company out of Louisville, KY.  It holds a minimal lead over the Lawnmower of the Dogfish Head Ale House that I had in the D.C. area.

As far as lights go, I just recently made the move from Michelob Ultra to Miller Lite.  The small .4 carb increase is well-worth the taste improvement.  In terms of full-throttles, I still haven’t found a challenger for a good Guiness Stout or really any Belgian brew (e.g. Fat Tire).

We only go to Old Chicago every now and then (twice a month, maybe), so it’ll be difficult to make this a constant discussion.  Any beer I drink away from there is going to be light (without apology) because I don’t want to weight 200 lbs.  As I encounter new goods, I’ll let you know.

Well, this post has been quite the hodge podge of topics.  I’ll try to categorize it as best I can.

Okay, here’s all I’m going to say.  The Celtics may be a little aged on the whole, but they are not old.  I have no idea what I watched last night.  The only explanation I can give relies on psychology.  You try going to an event as epic as what last night was, then imagine you’re the one with everything to prove, then imagine that everyone in the room is going to “boo” everything you do.  On top of that, imagine not being able to look in any direction without seeing Hollywood stardom, all while having spent a freaking week in LA listening to Zen Master Phil’ trying to get in your head.

Excuses? Yes.  Should they have pulled it out?  Yes.  I wouldn’t be so hard on them had Reggie Miller not single-handedly handed the Knicks their butts in a similar situation.  However, Reggie could carry the team.  Remember, no member of the Celtics has been the leading scorer two nights in a row.  They actually hold the league record on that.  So a team that is used to being just that–a team–had no idea what to do when Kobe and Pau started putting up Pippen/Jordan numbers.

In summary, stats aren’t in Boston’s favor right now.  The winner of game one wins the series 73% of the time.  Still, people buy lottery tickets in spite of far worse odds.  Boston, slow down.  Set up.  Don’t rush the shots.  Get physical (you can recover when the season’s over).  Get technicals (just not Perkins).  Get in their heads.  Let Rondo run the grace plays, let Garnett shoot from the left of the key.  Use the whole team!!!  Last night marks the first time that starting lineup has ever been beaten.  You bought in to the hype last night.  START SELLING SOME OF YOUR OWN!!!

While what I’m about to tell you isn’t the “possible big news” I referred to in an earlier post, it is news of decent proportion.

While I was at the Prairie Home Companion performance (refer to post “My Prairie Home Companion”) at the Ryman, I ran in to an old friend, Brian Wiersma of Vocal Union. The other day he and I calculated that we’ve known each other for roughly twelve years. He’d brought his father-in-law to the same Keillor performance and fate caused a collision behind the lower level pews in front of one of Porter Wagoner’s rhinestone suits. In passing I mentioned to Brian that if they ever needed anyone to do sub-in work, give me a call. Over the years I’ve had the pleasure of being the guy groups like that call when one of their regular performers is unavailable. I’ve done that for groups like Acappella, Watershed Worship, and even Valor (though I was actually a member of Valor at one point—well—two points).

A few weeks later I get an e-mail through YouTube that instead of a sub’, they needed someone to be a full-on member. To make a long story (that doesn’t even need to be long) short, I am now a member of Vocal Union. You can check out their—actually—our website at If you’re in the Nashville area toward the end of June, I’ll debut on the Wednesday night of Acafest on LipscombUniversity’s campus.

The upcoming show I’m doing in Huntsville is set with two of my favorite performers by my side: Brian Randolph, of AVB fame, and Paul David Kennamer, of Valor. I’m sorry it has to be a private event. I’d love to see the whole world there. This isn’t a VU show.

On another note, it would be a perfect world if the Celtics and the Braves were both making good runs. Alas, it has only been the Braves of late. Last night was a perfect storm of injury and emotion in Game five of the Eastern Conference Playoffs as Kendrick Perkins drew two technicals (both of which were rescinded today, though they won’t replay the second half of the last game), Big Baby and Marquis Daniels both left with concussions, Rasheed Wallace sat out with back spasms, and Rajon Rondo looked like his leg may have been bothering him again. While the stats are in their favor (no team has ever lost a series with a 3-0 lead in the history of the NBA), health is not. All they have to do is win one more game to hit the big show, and their best shot may be tomorrow night since they’ll be back home at TD Garden. After last night, however, they may be staring at Goliath despite the home court advantage. Luckily, Perkins won’t be suspended as per the multiple technicals rule, but rest assured the refs will be keeping a keen eye on him. Also, unless Glen Davis and Wallace are both cleared, they’ll have to throw in someone with less experience to guard Dwight Howard. I still have high hopes for them since the main four—Pierce, Garnett, Allen, and Rondo—will be in the lineup with no issues. The depth will be what you should watch. Can they count on the ten man bench to seal it up and face the winner of the Phoenix/LA series? Will they suffer the same fate as their city’s other team, the Bruins?

As for the Braves, they’ve rallied pleasantly lately. After last night’s win at Florida, they’ve moved to 2.5 games behind the Phillies (a huge improvement from when they were below .500 and last in the NL East. If they finish Florida well enough, and Philadelphia has another game against the Mets like the one they had last night, then they’ll get the chance to make more full-game standing improvement when they host the Phillies Monday through Wednesday. The only issue, standings-wise, comes with the fact that while Atlanta deals with ½ game movements as they face Pittsburg again this weekend, Philadelphia will get more full-game chances as they travel to Florida. Chipper’s obliques are probably bothering him more than he’ll let on, but with Heyward making such an amazing first-year run alongside Prado, I look for a win tonight and a 2-1 series win over Pittsburg. The next three pitchers should be Hanson, Lowe, and Medlen.

I’ll try to post a couple pictures Monday as Karen and I will be sitting behind the dugout on the Braves side at the Ted on Monday. I’m going to the game to see the Braves, obviously, but Karen’s going to see the Beach Boys in hopes that John Stamos will be drumming with them. She’ll say she’s there for the Braves, too.

As for Lost, 24, American Idol, and Dancing With the Stars, I’ll have to post more later. Actually, I probably won’t post anything about AI and DWTS. No one on AI was worth our time, and DWTS was finished the moment Nicole walked onto the floor in episode one. Lost and 24, however, are completely different stories. I feel like I’ve lost a few friends. Let me marinate in my mourning for a bit, and I’ll catch you at the next stage of grieving.

This may merit a decrease in the obesity of this state’s name?! Think of vowels as vegetables and consonants as junk food. The new spelling would be quite the balance.

Quick, which is bigger?  10 or 11

If you said 11, you’re so right.

If you had to pick, would you rather be penalized $10k or $11k?

Did you say $10k?  Me, too.

How many dead is worse?  10 or 11

Yup, 11 is worse.

Now, let me ask about parenting. 

Would any of these things be proper punishments:

– punishing your child for lying by lying to her/him?

– punishing your child for drinking by becoming a drunkard?

I guess the list could go on.

What I think I see here is a small pattern.  If we’re faced with the horrid decision between 10 bad things and 11, we’d choose 10, and it would be ludicrous to punish a child for a transgression by exemplifying the very transgression.

Let me add this, I totally agree with you.  I’d much rather have 10 and I wouldn’t dare inflict punishment by doing that for which I’m punishing.  I think I’m a logical being (at least my Dad thinks so), and although I am no parent, I have two of the best.

“What’s the point?” said the reader.

I thought you’d never ask:

I find neither logic nor pleasure in the fact that America is still so arcane in its belief in the death penalty.  There is no retribution.  Nothing is corrected.  No wrong has been erased. 

In this case, instead of 10 dead, there are 11, and we chose it by not stopping this infantile method of supposed recompense.  We have punished a killer by becoming killers, willingly.

Fine, fine example.  God is not pleased.

I guess I knew it was coming, I just didn’t know it would be so soon.  Rumors of the supposed fear of assassination flew around like cluster flies.  I don’t have a clue how many times I had to hear it.

The fear is that since Obama in not only black but also has a nominal reminiscence to Islam he will somehow be the target of extremist violence.  Of course, that fear is seldom voiced prior to a heated conversation about Roe v. Wade or Prop 8.  No, it mostly comes after discussion hits an impasse and the Obama dissenter suddenly feels extreme compassion and fears for Obama’s life. 

It seems like the same voices crying this caveat, however, are the same ones who like to flaunt our military power as if it were invincible.  Emotions fly all over the faux claim that Dems are going to cut military and weaken our ability to stand as a world power.  (Didn’t Republicans vote to send troops to war, but cut off their funding?

Here’s the connection: Back in February, our Navy did something quite spectacular.  With amazing precision, the sailors destroyed a speeding satellite.  They calculated and executed.  It was spectacular.

Did we need a missile for that?  I don’t know.  Was it a misuse of tax dollars?  Not sure.  Was it a message to the world?  Absolutely.  It said, “Go ahead, try us.  We dare you.”  Our military skill has increased far beyond the pace of mainstream technology and has set the standard for the rest of the world’s armed forces.

If we can shut down a speeding missile with pin-point accuracy, don’t you think we can stop a redneck or and extremist?  All a Tennessee and Arkansas duo had to do was talk about it and they were thwarted with brute force.

Those who would attempt to remind us of the past presidential assassination attempts, let me remind you of a major difference between the Kennedy/Reagan/et al security teams: they are all pre-9/11.  I couldn’t even take a bottle of water to ESPN’s College GameDay at Vanderbilt!  The security detail for the presidential debates began weeks and weeks ahead of time, all for a few hours of appearances.

My advice: use the confidence that you’ve held in our military in all applications.  If we can stop a speeding satellite with one missile, we can surely stop a few backwoods extremists with an entire Secret Service security detail.