Sunday, November 4, 2007

Manufactured Hand-Holding.

As I mentioned previously, I am enamored of the fine motion picture Once, and as such I've been intermittently visiting a particular online retailer to determine when this musical masterpiece will be available on DVD, or, as we say in the business, "DVD."

It's been awhile, but I finally discovered that the movie is scheduled to release on December 18, just four days after my birthday (but still in plenty of time for Christmas!). So I got all this information off my local online retailer's website, which, coincidentally, featured a still image of the DVD's cover, which caused me to simultaneously chuckle and sigh (or "chigh," if you will [which is not the same as this]).

I chuckled because studios are never subtle in their DVD packaging and have been known to misrepresent the content of a movie with a cover that told a different story than the one told in the actual picture. But I sighed because this cover (spoiler!) ruins part of the mystique of Once, suggesting romance when there was none...that we know of.

Compare the DVD cover (the first image) with the original movie poster (the second image) and you'll (hopefully) see what I mean.



In the DVD cover, we have the man and the woman in the same image from the poster, but lightened considerably. The dingy background of downtown Dublin now shines like a Hollywoodized Paris, France. Even Glen Hansard's jeans have been made bluer and fresher, as if he just pulled them out of the dryer after a rinse with Tide with Bleach. Notice also that Glen's gig bag has been replaced with something smaller, as if he's toting around a banjo in that thing.

But these things are minor quibbles. In the DVD image, Glen and co-star Marketa Irglova have been moved together and slightly jostled to suddenly appear as if they're holding hands. Ye gods! The (spoiler) whole point of the movie is that these two characters collide in a way where they might be in love, but never say it or act on it in any visible way! This is what makes Once such a treat to begin with, this complete denial of the formulaic story we expected.

Still, pointless Photoshop work aside, it is a fine film that I cannot recommend enough. Do yourself a favor and check it out, though I feel obligated to warn you that, since it takes place in Ireland, with Irish characters portrayed by Irish people, it does have copious amounts of swearing. They use the F-word like we say "extra cheese" in the States.

Boy, this post really fizzled out toward the end there, didn't it? Sorry--it's been awhile since I picked this "blog" thing back up.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

It's A Bean!

“Salutations!” said the voice.

Wilbur jumped to his feet. “Salu-what?” he cried.

“Salutations!” repeated the voice.

“What are they, and where are you?” screamed Wilbur. “Please, please, tell me where you are. And what are salutations?”

“Salutations are greetings,” said the voice. “When I say ‘salutations,’ it’s just my fancy way of saying hello or good morning. Actually, it’s a silly expression, and I am surprised that I used it at all. As for my whereabouts, that’s easy. Look up here in the corner of the doorway! Here I am. Look, I’m waving!”

At last Wilbur saw the creature that had spoken to him in such a kindly way. Stretched across the upper part of the doorway was a big spiderweb, and hanging from the top of the web, head down, was a large grey spider. She was about the size of a gumdrop. She had eight legs, and she was waving one of them at Wilbur in friendly greeting. “See me now?” she asked.

“Oh, yes indeed,” said Wilbur. “Yes indeed! How are you? Good morning. Salutations! Very pleased to meet you. What is your name, please? May I have your name?”

“My name,” said the spider, “is Charlotte.”

“Charlotte what?” asked Wilbur, eagerly.

“Charlotte A. Cavatica. But just call me Charlotte.”

“I think you’re beautiful,” said Wilbur.


--E.B. White, Charlotte’s Web

Wilbur is, of course, right.

Charlotte Anne Palmer (aka "The Bean") was born September 19, 2007. She's healthy, awesome, and all kinds of delightful. She also no longer resembles a bean.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Takin' A Blog Break.

I have a very good problem: I am crazy-busy. I'm finishing a book, then jumping right into work on another book, as well as a pair of proposals that my agent will be shopping.

Thus, I'm officially taking a break from the blog, and indeed from many of my internet-type pursuits for the next few weeks. In the meantime, peruse the links to the side.

See you in a little while...

Saturday, September 8, 2007

An Author's Lament.

Time.com recently ran a feature story entitled "Mother Teresa's Crisis of Faith." The article was the cover feature on the magazine's newsstand edition and carried the hilariously alarmist words The Secret Life of Mother Teresa with a dutifully mournful photograph of her craggy visage staring straight into the camera.

Content aside, the article concerned a new book to be released a couple of weeks later about some letters Mother Teresa had written. Apparently, she doubted her faith from time to time, thus creating the "secret life" brandished on the magazine (but, honestly, this just lets me know she was the real deal--only phonies never question their faith). It sounded like an intriguing book so, two days after the release date of September 4, I paid a visit to a nearby Big Box Retailer to thumb through the volume and see if it was worth purchasing.

I wasn't met with an enormous display of them, which I'd expected. Instead, I was walloped over the head by works from a former president and a former not-doctor-but-played-one-on-TV. Mother Teresa was nowhere to be found. I visited the customer service desk, inquired about the book, and was told that this particular Big Box Retailer was not carrying it--all the copies they were getting were special ordered.

My lament? If this woman, who is an actual historical figure, well on her way to legitimate sainthood, who was featured on the cover of Time magazine, and who has plenty of other good-selling books to her name...if this woman can't get retail shelf space, what kind of chance do I have?

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Writing Is Easy: Down With Stupid Verbs!

I've decided to create a new regular installment here at Dregs that I like to call "Writing Is Easy." I think someone else has something with that same name somewhere on the internet, but I like it, so I'm going to use it as well.

Each episode of "Writing Is Easy" will provide tips and/or advice on writing. I figure, since I do it professionally, I might be able to share a thing or two with you, the reader, though I will most likely use "Writing Is Easy" as a thinly disguised platform to rant about the degradation of our language.

Take, for example, today's exciting episode: Down With Stupid Verbs!

Lately, as I've read various and sundry "entertainment" style websites in an effort to keep up with newly released motion pictures, I've noticed the insidious creep of the word "pen." As a verb. Where it shouldn't be.

"Pen" has long been used as a verb, but it's only recently begun to bother my somewhat literal mind. For example, two days ago I read the phrase "So-and-So penned the screenplay." Now, the likelihood that So-and-So used an actual pen seems pretty low, so, in the interest of accuracy, it seems to me that the phrase should be "So-and-So keyboarded the screenplay."

See? Doesn't make sense when you look at it that way.

What's wrong with plain ol' "write" and its variations? Why didn't So-and-So "write" the screenplay? Because people think "write" is boring and want to go with something they propose to be fresher and edgier. It is the sad state of our exclamation mark culture, where people no longer want to communicate--they want to outshout the competition.

But I digress.

Another stupid verb? "Google." I don't know why, but it annoys the heck out of me when I hear this used as a verb (and I hear it all the time). "Google" is a proper noun, not a verb. It can also be used as an adjective, which is how I use it: "I did a Google search on 'pomegranate juice,'" for example. I understand I'm kicking against the goads here, and that eventually I will be dragged kicking and screaming into Google-verb acceptability, but I'll fight it as long as I can. I shall not be a Google-verb Pod Person.

What about you, theoretical reader of my blog? Any verbs-that-aren't-really-verbs that stick in your craw? There's a whole comments section below just a-waitin' for your thoughts.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Fact: TV Makes Kids Stupider.

Don't believe me? Check out this article from Time.com, tantalizingly titled "Baby Einsteins: Not So Smart After All." I have to admit, we've plunked the tots down in front of those videos before, though I often failed to see the appeal. Still, if it was supposed to be, as Homer Simpson might put it, smartening them up, why not?

Oh, but we were wrong, says journalist Alice Park, who tosses out such tasty, guilt-inducing morsels as:

Led by Frederick Zimmerman and Dr. Dimitri Christakis, both at the University of Washington, the research team found that with every hour per day spent watching baby DVDs and videos, infants learned six to eight fewer new vocabulary words than babies who never watched the videos. These products had the strongest detrimental effect on babies 8 to 16 months old, the age at which language skills are starting to form. "The more videos they watched, the fewer words they knew," says Christakis. "These babies scored about 10% lower on language skills than infants who had not watched these videos."

...and...

Mounting evidence suggests that passive screen sucking not only doesn't help children learn, but could also set back their development. Last spring, Christakis and his colleagues found that by three months, 40% of babies are regular viewers of DVDs, videos or television; by the time they are two years old, almost 90% are spending two to three hours each day in front of a screen. Three studies have shown that watching television, even if it includes educational programming such as Sesame Street, delays language development.

...and, my favorite...

He and other experts worry that the proliferation of these products will continue to displace the one thing that babies need in the first months of life — face time with human beings. "Every interaction with your child is meaningful," says Christakis. "Time is precious in those early years, and the newborn is watching you, and learning from everything you do."

The only flaw I can find in the piece is that Park calls Sesame Street "educational," a claim I've found dubious ever since they introduced that stupid fairy character. She's cute, but I think she exists more to sell ancillary products than to teach my kids how to count to twenty. For a more incisive take on the whole business of that show, check out this flammably titled LA Times article: "Elmo Is An Evildoer."

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Two Years And Counting.

Today marks the second anniversary of our adoption process. Two years ago today we contacted Amani Baby Cottage for the first time to tell them we wanted to adopt from Uganda. Two years ago today we set out on this grand journey not knowing when it would be over. Two years.

We still didn't know who we were going to get; we told them we wanted a baby, and that we were pretty sure we wanted a boy (then-three-year-old Noah was certain, however--as we looked at their website gallery, he jumped up and down and said, "Let's buy a boy! Let's buy a boy!"). Little did we know that we would be saddled with a fifteen-month-old boy whom everyone said was the best kid in the orphanage, even though he didn't necessarily meet our parameters.

Two years. As I sit here thinking about it, writing about it, it seems almost like we've always been in the adoption process. We've had soaring highs, and crushing lows, and lots of median time in-between where we felt like we were simply treading water. And now, after two years, I go into Noah's room, and I see the extra bed we've had in there for 730 days or so, always ready to be filled at a moment's notice with his African brother, and I plead with God, "If you won't hear our prayers, please hear those of this little child who just wants his brother home. He just wants to buy a boy."

And in the meantime, we look forward to The Bean, and we carry on with our lives, and we contact our Congressmen and Senators and tug every possible governmental heartstring we can find, and we wait on God to move heaven and Earth and unite this family of ours.

Friday, August 3, 2007

How Many Colors Do You See?

According to this website, you see 16,777,216 colors in the above image, assuming your computer monitor settings allow it. Depending on your computer, you could be seeing as many as 16 million-plus colors...or just sixteen.

Careful. Don't get too mesmerized. You'll put your eye out.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Up Next For Me: Survival.

I just finished the final manuscript revision for The High School Survival Guide, coming in March 2008 from NavPress/TH1NK. The subtitle to the book is Making the Most of the Best Time of Your Life (So Far), and it's an all-encompassing compendium of advice for the high school student, touching on topics like studying, test-taking, dating, sex, dealing with family, the purpose of life, and various and sundry other issues the students of today face.

So far, everyone at the publisher is enthused about it and is rarin' to go on bringing it to press. I'm excited to be done with it, and now must endure that 6-9 month wait between the time I finish a book and the time it is released before I can get a bead on how it actually turned out.

You can bet I'll make the links available as soon as it's available for buyin'.

File Under: "You're Kidding, Right? This Is Some Kind Of Joke?"

From those crazy compilers over at Rotten Tomatoes comes this movie news:

Disney's turning Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs into a live-action action drama, and they just got the guy who helmed Constantine to direct it. And no, today is not April First.

The long-gestating project is working under the title of
Snow and the Seven, but The Hollywood Reporter indicates that this is only a temporary label. The project's been through a bunch of screenwriters, but Disney and new director Francis Lawrence seem ready to get production rolling early next year in China. (Yuen Woon-ping was hired to orchestrate the fight sequences!)

Our source provides a handy plot synopsis: "The story, a fantasy adventure, centers on a British girl being raised in 19th century Hong Kong. When she realizes her destiny is to conquer an evil force, she must prepare to fight by being trained by seven Shaolin monks."


So... yeah. My mind's so misshapen after those three paragraphs that I can't think of anything else to say. Am I alone in thinking this is a spectacularly bad idea? Sound off in the comments section.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

One Last Harry Post Before I'm Pottered Out. --or-- Yay, America!


Look at that cover. The image just to the right. Isn't it glorious? Mary Grand Pre has done a magnficent job with the covers to the Harry Potter novels, especially since she appropriately ditched the original goofy montage motif with the last three. Though Order of the Phoenix remains my favorite strict cover, I have to say that Deathly Hallows is my favorite complete jacket. The entire image that comprises the cover, spine, back cover, and front and back flaps is, in my humble opinion, masterful. Here it is, all by itself:


When it was released a few months ago, I and my friends debated what the image meant. Were Harry and Voldemort working together? They didn't seem to be fighting each other. What was coming at them out of the sky? How in the world were Harry and Voldemort working together to repel the unseen beast/person/object that was out of the frame of the picture? Who are those shadowy figures in the background--are they the Deathly Hallows? And did the curtains on either side mean anything? And finally: Why in the world did it look like Harry and Voldemort were working together? It whet our appetites for the final installment like nobody's business. Now that I've read the novel and understand that scene, I applaud it as a cover choice all the more; it's nothing short of brilliant artistry and marketing.

By contrast, thank heavens we didn't have to deal with these dreary, bland, boring, borderline offensive covers of the UK versions of the book (across the pond, they have separate children's and adult editions):













Seriously. Seriously? The children's edition looks less like Harry Potter and more like Archie, Veronica, Jughead and the Big Bank Bust-up!, while the adult edition retains a certain understated dimestore paperback Michener/Crichton/Collins vibe, no?

Way to go, America (and Scholastic in particular). You got this one right by a mile.

Setting The Record Straight.

If you were to search the Amazon.com book section for my name, you would be faced with a list of imposters. Yes, my books are on there, thanks for buying, but there are a few other "Adam Palmers" that turn up with the search, most of whom aren't even really named "Adam Palmer." Anyway, all actual me-approved/-written books are listed in the topmost, left-hand column here at Dregs. Accept no substitutes!

Mainly, I just didn't want you guys thinking I'd written this compendium of sub-Letters from a Nut-style "hilarious" fake correspondence. I'm sure this gentleman is a nice guy, but he ain't me.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Harry Potter and the Spoiler-Free Blog Post + Go See Once.

Yesterday was a landmark day for me. I finished reading one of the best books of the year and then promptly saw one of the best movies of the year.

The book: I was expecting big things from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and it most definitely did not disappoint when all was said and done. Even though it read like a greatest hits album at times, with J.K. Rowling pointing out various quotes and objects we’ve heard and seen along the way, she wrapped up the story magnificently and in such a satisfying manner.

Now, she isn’t going to win any style awards anytime soon, that’s for sure. As a writer, I couldn’t help but read it wearing my Editor Cap, and seeing things like “Ron said sycophantically” sure made me cringe. However, the Potter universe has never been about groundbreaking prose along the lines of Michael Chabon or Susanna Clarke—Rowling excels at character and story, and both can be found in full force in the final book.

I’ve read reviews from fans saying it’s “the greatest book ever,” which... not even close. Let’s not get carried away. Yes, it’s the best Harry Potter book, and in terms of wrapping up the series, it’s masterful, but it ain’t Hemingway or Dostoevsky. Come on.

Then there are fans who are mad that JKR didn’t answer every question they ever had (to wit: What were James and Lily Potter’s occupations? Really? You’re obsessed with that?). These are people who would never be pleased unless Rowling had chucked narrative momentum out the window and cranked out a 2000-page compendium of every possible factoid in the Potter universe. Rumor has it, she’s planning on compiling an “encyclopedia” of just that. After she takes a break.

So, what did you think of the book? Have you read it? Will you? Do you think Harry Potter is of the devil? There’s a comments section a-waitin’ below for you. However, please refrain from posting anything close to a spoiler.

And now, the movie: When I first saw the trailer for Once, I had no idea what to expect. My interest was piqued, to be sure, but I couldn’t quite get a read on the movie, what it would be like. I’d heard it was a rethinking of the movie musical, where the songs really flowed in the narrative, sort of like an Irish Dancer in the Dark, but without the flashy numbers. These songs aren't happening in anyone's imagination, so there's no choreography or jazz-hands; just quiet, acoustic guitar/piano songs that sound like hearts breaking.

The soundtrack is magnificent; the movie is breathtaking. Yes, it’s about music, but it’s about more than just that. It’s about that mystical bond that music makes between people. There’s about a ten-minute sequence early in the film when Glen Hansard (of Irish band The Frames) shows Marketa Irglova (some Czech pianist who was seventeen at the time of filming) a song he wrote, teaches it to her in a shop that sells musical instruments. So he fumbles through the song, laughing at the silliness of it, then asks if she wants to give it a try. And when they sing and play? There’s as much, if not more, magic on the screen than in the very magical Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, playing next door.

It moved me.

You remember how, when you saw That Thing You Do!, you wanted to rush out and tell every musician you knew, or every person who’d ever been in a band, to go see it? This movie, while completely different, has the same effect. It is a wonder to behold, and if you love music, you will love it.

Do yourself a favor and see it. [NOTE: The movie was made on a shoestring budget and therefore has a very “indie” feel, with choppy editing and some bad sound in places. Also, since it was made in Ireland, where the F-word is often a substitute for the word “the,” it contains copious amounts of swearing. Just thought I’d warn you.]

Friday, July 20, 2007

This Is A Giant Tire.

This is not how large The Bean has become, but, to Michelle, it might as well be. The poor gal still has eight weeks of pregnancy left on the schedule, yet has untold number of people coming up to pat her belly and say, "Oh my. When are you due?" When she says, "Mid-September," they always give her that wincing look of pity people give when they feel bad for you. You know the one, like they're tasting spoiled tuna salad on the back of their tongue but are trying to be gracious to the five-year-old child who made the "snack" for them in the first place? That's the look.

I always tell Michelle, when asked "When are you due?," to look back at the person quizzically and say, "Due?" Alas, she has not, to date, done it.

Still, The Bean is on pace and doing well. Perhaps she'll roll right out of there when the time is right. And if she does, what with the other three biologicals, we'll have a complete matched set of tires, plus two spares!

And... perhaps I've carried the metaphor too far.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

A Tall Order.

(Sorry for the Entertainment Weekly/People Magazine-style headline there. I couldn't resist.)

So, I went to see Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix last night, and, as is my bent, I went to my moviegoing screen of choice, the fabulous IMAX theatre. Like the IMAX slogan, when it comes to movies, I like to "think big."

Actually, in addition to the bigger screen and the thumping sound system, the IMAX theatre costs a good two dollars more than the regular theatre, which tends to weed out text-messaging teenagers who are going to the movie strictly to kill time or hang out. They're going to save the extra couple of bucks to get something with ice and whipped cream at Starbucks afterward.

I saw the previous two Harry Potter pictures in the large IMAX format, and it was a treat both times, so I was really anticipating this release in the IMAX format. I diligently watched the teaser trailer months ago, then the full trailer a few weeks ago, and planned on checking out the film on opening weekend, if at all possible.

And then I heard the disastrous news: Warner Brothers was going to release the IMAX version of the movie with the last twenty minutes converted to 3D. They'd done the same thing with Superman Returns, and I heard from different sources that it was a mess. I wasn't thrilled that the studio had dampened my enthusiasm for the picture by forcing me to watch it in 3D if I wanted to watch it on my favorite screen.

Nevertheless, I decided that, if I was going to see 3D for myself, I might as well try it out now. I ventured to the theatre for the 7:45 showing, got there at 7:42, and saw it was sold out. On a Tuesday night. I decided to attend the 10:45 instead.

The movie, by the way, is fantastic. Many critics have said things like "the magic is gone," but that's far from the truth. It's still completely magical, and there's a sequence in this one that I feel is the most delightfully magical of the series. I absolutely loved it--they did a great job adapting the book for the screen and maintaining its deep feel.

But the last twenty minutes of the movie are in 3D, and it was, as I feared, a disaster. I can see the appeal of the 3D technology, because [SPOILER ALERT] seeing the kids riding thestrals, with the thestral head zooming out at the screen at me, was remarkably cool. However, in the picture, the camera does a slow pan past the thestral to rest on Harry, and in a normal setting, the thestral's head would dip out of frame, no big deal. Here, the thestral's head doesn't dip out of frame--it is quite suddenly lopped off, replaced by a thestral neck protruding out of the screen at me in glorious 3D.

Very disorienting.

Sadly, the format is apparently around to stay, as this movie had the highest-grossing opening weekend for an IMAX movie ever. And the climax of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince cries out for the same treatment, so I fear I may have to break my IMAX streak and see that movie in the regular theatre. What have we come to?

"It's Called An Illusion, Michael."

Ran across this fascinating tidbit yesterday on NASA's very-good-in-a-kinda-nerdy-way Astronomy Picture of the Day website. Check out the image below:


Would you believe that the two squares labeled "A" and "B" are the exact same shade of grey? Because they are. If you're like me, you probably already looked ahead a little bit and saw this proof:


These images were created by some guy named Edward H. Adelson, and were used by some other guy, apparently for some project at MIT. At least, that's where I got this explanation from:

"The first trick is based on local contrast. In shadow or not, a check that is lighter than its neighboring checks is probably lighter than average, and vice versa. In the figure, the light check in shadow is surrounded by darker checks. Thus, even though the check is physically dark, it is light when compared to its neighbors. The dark checks outside the shadow, conversely, are surrounded by lighter checks, so they look dark by comparison.

"A second trick is based on the fact that shadows often have soft edges, while paint boundaries (like the checks) often have sharp edges. The visual system tends to ignore gradual changes in light level, so that it can determine the color of the surfaces without being misled by shadows. In this figure, the shadow looks like a shadow, both because it is fuzzy and because the shadow casting object is visible."


So, I guess that means our eyeballs and brain are just screwy, eh? Not so, says the MIT dude:

"As with many so-called illusions, this effect really demonstrates the success rather than the failure of the visual system. The visual system is not very good at being a physical light meter, but that is not its purpose. The important task is to break the image information down into meaningful components, and thereby perceive the nature of the objects in view."

Call me fascinated. If you'd like further proof that the squares are indeed the same shade of grey, click here.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Debuting At #20 On The New York Times Best-Seller List.

Scraping into the top 20 for hardcover nonfiction. Way to go, Brian. I guess my sleepless nights really were worth it.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

A Good Idea.

If you're looking to kill some time this summer and you've already purchased/read Knuckle Sandwich, I highly recommend this here book pictured to the right, a little sequel from the very excellent Brothers Hafer called From Bad to Worse. Cleverly, this title ties in perfectly with the novel the preceded it, Bad Idea, also an excellent book in its own right.

I do hope I get some sort of title attribution for the sequel. When Bad Idea was released, I was handed a free copy by one of the Hafers at ICRS (boy, were we kindred spirits there, stranded among booths featuring Christian pirates and whatnot. Shudder.) and read almost the entire thing on the plane ride home. So entranced was I by it that I contributed an endorsement to the book that ended something along the lines of: "Here's hoping they have an even worse idea in the future."

Ahem.

Anyway, the Hafers are quality chaps (Jedd was kind enough to submit a delightful endorsement for Knuckle Sandwich that graces its inner pages) and both of their books are capital reads, especially for teenagers and young adults. You shan't go wrong!

But read my books first.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

An Assignment: Compare And Contrast.

I recently read two interviews on Entertainment Weekly's website with hyperkinetic director Michael Bay (most recent triumph: Transformers) and famously non-commercial German directer Werner Herzog (most soon-to-be-recent triumph: Rescue Dawn). Here's a sample from each:

Entertainment Weekly: I'm told [Executive Producer Steven Spielberg] worked a lot with the Transformers' screenwriters Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci to bring a certain innocent tone to the film. The motto seems to have been, ''It's about a boy and his car.''
Michael Bay: "Yeah. That was the hook to the movie. But I added a stronger military thing at the beginning to make...the stakes higher. But originally the tone was very suburbia. We kind of changed that and made it edgier. I like the idea of the suburbia. I specifically shot this a little bit more suburbia, meaning, like, I would never put actors at a Burger King, but it's what people do, you know what I mean? Or in [lead character Sam Witwicky's suburban] house. It's not a sexy house. But it's identifiable, and more accessible."

Entertainment Weekly: You did have some commercial success recently with the documentary Grizzly Man. But you were snubbed for an Oscar nomination for the movie, perhaps because you've alienated yourself from a lot of people in the documentary community for the liberties you take in your nonfiction films, like scripting lines for your subjects.
Werner Herzog: "That's okay. We need a new approach to reality. Cinéma vérité is basically the answer of the '60s and, in my opinion, just the accountant's truth. We are in a situation now where there is a huge onslaught on our notion of reality, from reality TV, virtual reality, the Internet, digital effects, Photoshop, WrestleMania — all these things pretending to be reality. Since the early '70s, I've been working towards a new form of dealing with reality, going for something that illuminates us, something that is like an ecstatic truth. Whatever departs from facts is wonderful. I'm not so much into facts."

Your assignment: Check out the complete interviews and find the similarities and (rather glaring) differences between these two very different directors. Post thoughts to the comments section. Links are as follows:
Michael Bay Note: this interview contains mild swearing.
Werner Herzog

Monday, July 9, 2007

The Latest On The Little Man.

As I mentioned in another post, our adoption has stalled in the Ugandan court system because of something like six little words in our ruling that need to be removed. We've been given a favorable ruling, but it contained wording that said, essentially, that we had to come back to Uganda in three years to finalize our adoption, and the US doesn't allow such conditions for adoptions. Until those words are removed, we're stuck in a (very long) holding pattern.

Well, we have some tangential good news. Because our entire case has been so screwy, the orphanage started taking their adoptions to another court located in Jinja, which is where the orphanage is located, instead of Kampala, which is the capital city of Uganda. So they had some favorable rulings through the Jinja court, which was good, but those rulings had the same wording ours did, which was bad.

Now in our case, we asked the judges to remove those words from the ruling, and they got very upset with us. In Jinja, however, the lawyer asked for the words to be removed, and the judge was kind about it and actually did it. So there are now two (I think--maybe three) adoptions going through. The rulings have been modified, and the kids are on their way home.

So I think this bodes well for us, in that I can't foresee the high court, who holds our case, wanting to be outdone by a lower court. Of course, I'm thinking logically, which is a mistake when it comes to the Ugandan government. These people love their children, to be sure, but have a difficult time seeing that it would be better for the orphans to be united with their families.

Please keep praying for our adoption. Pray that God would change the hearts of these judges. And pray against child trafficking, which is suddenly very rampant in East Africa, which is causing a lot of these judges to take extra caution in their rulings. And if you think about it, pray for the plane ticket(s) we'll eventually need to purchase to go pick up the little man once our adoption has been granted.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Not Your Typical Beach Reads (But Worthy Of Your Time This Summer).

Michael Chabon has long been one of my favorite authors, ever since I read his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay. So it was with great anticipation that I looked forward to his latest alternate history tale, the genre-bending The Yiddish Policemen's Union.

Though the delicious plot speeds up to the point where it starts to run off the rails in the final pages, Chabon is still an immaculate writer who knows exactly how to use his copious grasp of the language both to dazzle readers with amazing passages and to deepen his characters. He's so good that we the readers don't even realize what he's doing. Consider the following, lifted from page 2:

"According to doctors, therapists, and his ex-wife, Landsman drinks to medicate himself, tuning the tubes and crystals of his moods with a crude hammer of hundred-proof plum brandy. But the truth is that Landsman has only two moods: working and dead...When there is crime to fight, Landsman tears around Sitka like a man with his pant leg caught on a rocket. It's like there's a film score playing behind him, heavy on the castanets. The problem comes in the hours when he isn't working, when his thoughts start blowing out the open window of his brain like pages from a blotter. Sometimes it takes a heavy paperweight to pin them down."

I mean, come on. It goes on like that page after page after page, with passages veritably screaming to be read aloud. My wife got so tired of me tugging on her sleeve and saying, "You gotta hear this."

If you can only read one book this summer, please make it Knuckle Sandwich, which is, in fact, your typical beach read. But if you want something that makes my book look like fiction along the lines of Danny and the Dinosaur, you'll do well to investigate Chabon's latest. (Note: This book is intended for adult readers only. There are no sex scenes, but there is some violence, and a few bouts of swearing. Also, the book is written in present tense, which originally felt a little off-putting to me, though I got used to it a few chapters in.)

Another book that doesn't really gel with beach reading but that is worth your time is Save Me From Myself by Brian "Head" Welch. I had the privilege of working on this spiritual memoir and found Brian to be truly, genuinely in love with Jesus. He isn't flaky like so many celebrity Christians are--he's legit, and he's very determined to stay that way. He was great to work with, and I think writing the book helped him exorcise a lot of demons from his past.

At first I thought it would be a pretty high-concept paycheck for me, but the more I worked with Brian, the more I developed a passion for telling his story. It can seriously change lives, and for that, I feel really proud for the work I did on the book. It's a definite recommendation for anyone who is or was a Korn fan, or for anyone who wants a sneak peek into the world of rock-and-roll stardom and all it isn't cracked up to be.

And I'd be lying if I didn't say working on this book was the perfect primer for Knuckle Sandwich. But I gathered you guys had already figured that out.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

I Smell A (Quite Lovely) Rat.


This summer has already included the shockingly good Spider-Man 3 and also the surprisingly hilarious Ocean's Thirteen, and while those pictures pretty much met my expectations, I had really high hopes for Ratatouille. I expected a certain awesomeness, what with it being a Pixar picture and being written/directed by the ever-brilliant Brad Bird (he wrote and directed The Incredibles, which is not just one of my favorite animated films, but one of my favorite films ever).

Every Sunday night in our house is Family Movie Night, where we cook up a pizza and sit down to watch something together. Lately, we've been working our way through the fantastic series Planet Earth, but we decided this weekend to take the fam out for Ratatouille. I cannot begin to articulate how delightful the movie turned out. It's moving, it's thoughtful, it's elegant, it's funny, it's inventive, and it contains absolutely zero jokes about flatulence, bodily fluids, or someone getting kicked in the crotch.

Thirty minutes into it, my five-year-old son leaned over to his fifteen-year-old sister and asked her, "Ask Daddy if we can buy this movie on DVD." When it was over, my eight-year-old daughter said (I quote roughly), "I. Loved. That movie." In fact, she later told me that, when we got the DVD, she didn't want to watch it too much because (again, rough quote), "If you watch really special things like that too often, they become, you know, common."

Nevertheless, we'll see it again. I hope you see it for the first time soon.

Up next? Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Rescue Dawn, The Simpsons Movie, and the other summer movie I've been salivating over, The Bourne Ultimatum, which has a newly released trailer.

So, what do you guys think? Favorite summer movie thus far? Biggest surprise? Biggest disappointment? Most anticipated? Sound off in the comments section.

Yay, summer!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Bean Is A... Beannette!

If I had a photo, I'd post it here. However, we have unearthed a magnificent fact: The Bean is indeed a girl, or "gel" as they like to call them in the UK.

At this point, The Bean is 15 inches long from head to heel, and is scheduled to be released on September 17, just a few days before Good Luck Chuck and Resident Evil: Extinction. Time will tell, but I believe The Bean will have a greater box office impact in the long run.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Now Available For Your Reading Pleasure: Knuckle Sandwich.


It has been released! Amazon.com has it! You can start the purchasing procedure by clicking right here! Be the first on your block to tell everyone how awesome this book Knuckle Sandwich is! Goes great with Kosher Dill Pickle Chips and a Grape Soda! If you like it, say something nice about it! If you don't, please keep it to yourself! I'll do better next time! I'm tired of exclamation marks so I'm going to end this post!

How I Made $150 At A Michael W. Smith Concert: A Tutorial.

Boy, the time slips away. If anyone read this, they would be clamoring--clamoring, I say!--for updates. But, as this blog is read, apparently, only by me, my agent, and that crazy cat over at Miscellaneous Creativity, the Clamor Klaxon has not sounded at Dregs HQ.

Nevertheless, I promised a story long ago, so a story I shall deliver!

So Michelle and I got free tickets to see one Mr. Michael W. Smith at a megachurch here in Tulsa, where I happen to lurk. He supposedly wanted to meet with some of the area worship leaders, a title which we can claim, for some purposes of his own design, and, since the tickets were free, we decided to take him up on it.

We did this for two reasons and two reasons only:
Reason #1: to say we met Michael W. Smith because, hey, we could.
Reason #2: to give him a copy of my book Knuckle Sandwich in the hopes that he would say something nice about it.

We did not do this in order to make $150. I cannot stress this enough.

Okay, so we get to the concert, and it turns out that the "Meet 'n' Greet," as they like to call it (yes, the concert organizers swallow the "and" so that it misses the "a" and "d" entirely, leaving only those apostrophes as residuals), is to take place a half-hour before the concert. Good thing we got there early. The whole procedure involves a pair of actual tickets and a pair of fibrous stickers that you attach to your person as proof that you belong backstage.

We slapped on the stickers and headed toward the unmarked door where we were to be ushered backstage along with other worship leaders from our area. When we got to the door, however, we were told the proceedings would be delayed fifteen minutes or so. Having no intention of attending the concert (we had, oddly enough, a worship meeting at church that night to attend), Michelle leaned over to me and said, "Bro, we gotta get rid of these tickets."

First things first: I had to autograph the book for Michael. I wrote: "Michael--Thanks for reading! And thanks for all you do. Love, [random circly thing I draw that indicates my signature]"

Then, it was off to the Will-Call window in the hopes of getting rid of our tickets. As we approached the line, we ran into a friend standing in it and had the following exchange:

Me: What are you doing here?
Friend: Hoping to go to the concert.
Me: You need tickets?
Friend: Yeah.
Me: How many?
Friend: Two.
Me: [Taking tickets out of my pocket] Here you go. We got these free 'cause we're supposedly VIPs and aren't going to use them. You can have them. They're probably good seats.
Friend: [Fishing money out of his wallet] Here. Let me pay you for them.
Me: [Looking at Michelle, wondering if we should take the money]: Nah.
Friend: [Forcing money into my hand]: I already budgeted. Here. Fifty dollars. They're twenty-five apiece.
Me: [Taking money awkwardly]: Okay. Thanks!
Friend: [Walking away happily]: Thank you!

So, that's 33.33% of our earnings for the night, boom, just like that.

As I pocket our fast cash, a dude with semi-slicked-back hair and one of those shiny shirts with a fiery design that people wear at the World Series of Poker walked up to us. He pointed at the fibrous sticker affixed to my chest.

Dude: You guys have those Meet 'n' Greet passes? (Yes, he swallowed the "and," too.)
Me: [Wondering what he's getting at] Yeah. (I turned it up at the very end to make it question-ish, but not enough to merit a complete question mark in print.)
Dude: You're gonna meet Michael?
Me: Yeah.
Dude: [Producing a manilla folder with writing on it and a small Sharpie marker attached to it with string] Would you mind getting something signed for me? I'll give you a hundred bucks.
Me: [Looking at Michelle and communicating wordlessly with her]. Sure thing.

So there you go. We took the guy's item (it was a photo of him and Michael W. Smith, blown up to 8x10 size) backstage, got Michael to sign it, and brought it back out to him for a pocket-sized portrait of Benjamin Franklin.

Not bad for a night's work, eh?

Oh, and we got to meet Michael W. Smith and get a copy of his new worship song on CD. He really would like for us to perform it at our church. No word yet on how much it's worth to him.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Happy Birthday, Sterling.


Nothing's changed on the adoption front, but I thought everyone would enjoy this photo of the little man. He turns three today. We were originally hoping to have him home before this day hit--we wanted to celebrate with him--but now we're just going to have to change that. Perhaps we should start hoping he's home before he turns four.

Monday, May 14, 2007

The Wushy-Cushy.

Noah, my five-year-old son, recently traded in a bunch of Incredible Pizza tickets for an item so hilariously awesome in its sheer guy-ness that I had to share.

He calls it the "Wushy-Cushy."

The Wushy-Cushy is a balloon-like device, often made of rubber, but in Noah's case, made of green plastic cloth-like material. He demonstrated it for me immediately by blowing into it to inflate it about halfway. He then, right there in the middle of Incredible Pizza, placed it on the floor and proceeded to sit on it.

It looked kind of like this:

Of course, it was hilarious. Flatulence noises always are.

But what struck me especially dumb was Noah's innate desire to simulate the sound of passing gas. I have not instructed him in this. Neither has Michelle. This incident has simply placed in me a deep-rooted knowledge that the males of our species are genetically predisposed to laughing hysterically at fart noises, which is perhaps why such sounds pervade so many of the so-called comedies on display at the nearest cinema.

Of course, Noah laughs because he's only five.

These Are Cantaloupes.


So, The Bean is roughly the size of a cantaloupe, and is starting to develop its teeth, even though the teeth won't push through the gums until after it's born.

Also, The Bean is still an "it," as we had an ultrasound and couldn't get a clear image either way as to its gender. The Bean is not very cooperative in that respect; it adores mystery and abhors technology. It's very cantankerous even when the doctor and/or nurses attempt that monthly ritual of finding the fetal heart tones.

However, we're attempting to find an excuse to have another ultrasound done in a few weeks so we can know. Michelle and I personally don't care about finding out whether The Bean is a brother or sister for the other kiddos, but they care immensely. Mainly, they're all hoping for a boy, and if it's a girl, we want to give them plenty of time to get used to the idea before it's born. I'd hate for the first thing they say about their new baby sister to be "Aw, man!"

So, until then, slice up some cantaloupe, the perfect summer treat!

Monday, May 7, 2007

Out To Book.

Been awhile since I've posted, and it's going to be a little longer. I'm working on yet another book, which I'm supposed to finish up by tomorrow. Hopefully I'll be back on soon to post about the following: the gender of The Bean, how I made $150 at the Michael W. Smith concert, and my son's new fascination with the "wushy-cushy."

Until then!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Bears. Beets. Battlestar Galactica.

If you don't watch The Office, you probably won't understand this right away, but hopefully you'll find it as darn funny as I do. This is actual comedy, unlike the dreck mentioned in my last post.

Divorce Is Hilarious.

So there's this new Toyota commercial on TV where a husband and wife are in an apparent divorce settlement hearing. You know, standard spacious, clean law office, lots of burnished surfaces. Everyone's very highfalutin' and "metro," if people are still using that word. And they're very dignified over who gets what. The house? That's you. The kid? Yes, over there.

Then the lawyer or mediator or whomever holds up the keys to the Toyota. And that's when they start to argue. They both dive for the key. Because they both want the Toyota! They want it so bad! Who cares about that other crap?! The Toyota is everything to us!

There's another commercial for some financial planning company that features an "interview" with two "real women" in a sort of "impromptu" style. They're sitting in front of, like, a barn and they're just riffing about how one of them is a real plan-ahead type of gal and the other one is more spur of the moment, and they're chatting like friends, and one of them planned her wedding for ten thousand years, and the other one got married thirty seconds after meeting the guy, and...

...wait for it...

...neither one of those marriages worked out! Ha! Double Ha! Oh, broken homes are so the awesomest thing that ever happened to comedy. And commercials. I know if I'm ever thinking about buying a product, I always look to the manufacturer with the highest divorced-to-married rate among its employees. Because that stuff? That is Comedy Gold.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

These Are Sweet Potatoes.


So, mangoes are slightly smaller than sweet potatoes, you know. Anyway, The Bean is about the size of a large sweet potato, and is looking more and more like an actual person every day. Plus, as an extra, extra bonus feature, Michelle is feeling The Bean's activity. I felt it just the other day, too, but it was like being kicked by a feather.

Of course, as time wears on, The Bean will make more of a ruckus, and Michelle will be super-tired of those prenatal aerobics that fetuses tend to engage in. But for now, we're just enjoying it.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

The Question.

Emma, my seven-year-old, delayed bedtime the other night with a question.

"Dad," she said, "I have a question."

I wanted to be the dutiful dad, but I was a little perturbed that she'd rolled out of bed--she was supposed to be asleep. Nevertheless: "Shoot."

"Well, I don't know exactly? What the question is?" She talks like that sometimes, turning her words up at the ends of phrases, so it sounds like a bunch of questions. I'm sincerely hoping she grows out of it.

"You don't know what the question is?" I said. "Like, you don't know how to ask it?"

"Right. Like my mind? Can't think of the right words?"

"Why don't you just use whatever words come to mind," I said, "and we'll figure it out from there."

No go. She literally did not have the words to express her question. All she could say was, "It's about mankind." Oh, and this: "It's like my heart? Is asking the question? And my mind? Can't figure it out." She brushed her hair out of her face. "It does have to do with God, though."

I decided to offer a suggestion. "Is it, like, about the meaning of life?"

She moved her hand like she was waving off the suggestion. "Well, kinda. But..." and here she trailed off, and I wished her forehead was transparent, because I could tell her brain was working overtime to express whatever feelings she was feeling. "I just... my mind? Can't get any rest."

I sent her back to bed, and she continued to ruminate on the question for the rest of the night. Dutifully, I went upstairs to tuck her in, and this is when things got a little crazy.

"Maybe you'll figure out your question while you're sleeping," I offered.

She smiled. "I hope. It's like my heart is asking the question and my brain isn't following. Like I've been digging in the dirt, and I hit, like, a hard thing? Like cement or something? And I've been digging with a shovel? So I need to, you know, change tools."

Now it was my turn to smile. "What does that mean?"

"I just have to go back to the beginning and figure out what pieces of the puzzle I do know, then use those to figure out the question."

Did I mention she's seven?

Boy, I felt hopeless, as a father. I desperately wanted her to be able to articulate this question, but I couldn't figure out how. Fortunately, I didn't try to force anything--at least I had that much going for me. I just let her know that God was giving her that question, and that he would help her figure out what it was in due time.

I left the room to check on her brother, then came back for a little more spiritual discussion. "Dad," she said, "I figured out something. The puzzle pieces? Those are, like, memory verses, and other parts of God's word. And the cement? That's, like, the devil? And sin? So that's how I can figure out the question."

You know what I said? "Emma, someday very soon, you're going to be teaching me."

She had two other things, though: "Dad, when I do figure out the question?" And here she smiled so big--I wish you could've seen it--"I'm going to tell everyone around me."

The other thing: "I know why God's doing this. Because I'm going to be a missionary..." (A quick aside: Emma has known, since the age of five, that she's going to be a missionary. We trust her.) "... and so God is teaching me how to, you know, follow him when it's hard? Because that's what missionaries have to do."

I have no doubt that Emma and God are pretty tight. It will serve her well in her missions efforts.

And in that moment, I also had no doubt about God's love for me. Because I had such a swell of boundless love in my heart for my daughter, and the thought struck me: I love my daughter this much, and it's impossible for me to love her more than God, so he must love her even more, though I can't even comprehend that amount of love. And if he loves her that way, he must love me that way.

The thing about our spiritual conversation that really struck me was the way Emma was able to share The Question, to participate in The Question--that same Question we all have, in one way or another. The Question of God, and the way our hearts, whether we know it or not, are always on the lookout for Him. And sometimes we find Him with our hearts but mislabel Him with our brains, calling Him "knowledge" or "the delicacy of a feather" or "a crimson sunset" or "a '67 Mustang."

So let's bring this whole story home: What is your Question? Do you even know you're asking?

Friday, April 6, 2007

These Are Mangoes.


So, The Bean is now slightly larger than your average large mango. And I'm fast running out of foodstuffs to compare it to.

For those of you interested, we shall know The Bean's gender on April 23. I'll try to post as soon as we find out.

Also, mangoes are really good for you, especially as a combatant against viruses. If you have anything viral, bump up your mango intake and you'll knock it right on out. This message brought to you by the National Council of Mango-Related Health Solutions, dedicated to your Mango Health Needs.

Early Reviews Of Knuckle Sandwich.

So, the book doesn't come out for another two-plus months or so, but already I'm getting some love from the blogosphere. Kinda nice to hear people say things like:

"All too often, characters' spiritual journeys feel contrived. Palmer's ring with veritable honesty."

and

"I love where Adam Palmer and other writers are taking Christian fiction." [Registration required to read review]

I'm a little bit blown away, to be honest. You know, you write these books in a vacuum, hoping that they'll have their intended effect on the reader, but you never really know how they'll be accepted until they get out there--and by then there's nothing you can do about it.

Anyway, my thanks to Ane Mulligan and Jamie Driggers, respectively, for their kind words about Knuckle Sandwich. Here's hoping there are many more to come.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

This Is Not The Bean.


Went to the zoo the other day to see the new baby chimp that was born there back in February. We spent maybe fifteen minutes in the chimp enclosure, just watching the little girl taking a nap on her mommy's tummy. There wasn't much to see, but we stuck it out, and then decided to head over to the polar bear.

Fortunately, I looked over my shoulder on our way out the door and saw the mom raising the baby up to clean its face. We rushed back in and spent the next five minutes watching this miracle of nature lived out in front of us. Michelle even snapped the awesome photo I posted above.

If you live in the Tulsa area, I highly recommend heading out to the zoo and seeing the chimp before it gets old and boring and regular-size. Also, stop by the lion enclosure. If you roar at the male lion--with conviction, mind you--it'll roar back. Trust me, it works.

Don't roar at the chimps. They don't like that.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Friday, March 30, 2007

Knuckle Sandwich Update.


POW!
ZOWIE!

How’s THAT for a cover, eh? Knuckle Sandwich is my second novel, soon to be released through TH1NK fiction, and I have to say, I'm much more pleased with this one than with Mooch. Not that "Mooch" was bad or anything, but I feel like this one is funnier, fresher, and more emotionally connective than the last.

Anyway, any purchases would be welcome and, if you like it, your honest opinion on Amazon.com would be welcome as well. And of course, feel free to offer feedback here at Dregs.

KERSPLAT!

The Sterling Saga Continues.


As many of you know, Sterling is the African orphan whom we are adopting. We've been in the process of getting the lad for over a year now, and the story, long and convoluted as it has been, comes down to this: a month ago we got word from the Ugandan courts that they had ruled in our favor and granted us guardianship.

Now, this sounds well and good, but there's a hitch. In their ruling, the judges insisted that we come back to Uganda in three years to complete the adoption. We're fine with that (I guess), but the US isn't. Apparently, according to US International Adoption Policy, that won't fly. So the US isn't granting a visa to the little man, which means he can't come home.

So what can we do? We're appealing to the judges to reword their ruling, omitting the clause about completing the adoption in Uganda. Our lawyer presented this to two of the three judges on Wednesday, and was severely rebuffed, to the point of being threatened with a revocation of her license.

Yikes.

Anyway, our whole adoption hinges on these judges changing their ruling. If they don't, we won't be able to bring the little man home for another year and a half. If they do, we're good to go.

We should hear something soon. Until then, pray.

These Are Oranges.



The Bean is no longer a bean, but is now an orange. However, since we've taken such a shine to the name "The Bean," we are still referring to The Bean as "The Bean." Anyway, The Bean is roughly the size of an orange, and has all sorts of crazy stuff going on. Within a month, we should be able to determine whether The Bean is a lad or a lass. Hopefully I'll have posted again before that occurs...

Monday, February 5, 2007

These Are Beans.


So, last week it was rice. This week: beans.

The Bean is roughly one centimeter in length, and yet has started developing its major organs, has all its appendages, and... (drum roll, please) ...will develop its boy/girl parts this week.

Meaning: either it will be a boy or it will be a girl. It won't have both parts. Most likely. (Boy, that came out wrong.)

Anyway, The Bean is doing well, and so is The Bean's Mother. Though not so much when people rub her tummy with glee and claim she is already showing. This tends not to go over so well. Please refrain.

And now, to close with the obvious joke: Rice, beans--no wonder my wife is craving so much Mexican food!

Ahem.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Nothing Worse Than “Nothing Worse”

I heard a commercial on the radio that started out something like this:

"There's nothing worse than getting a call from a loved one telling you their car has broken down on the side of the road."

Yes. There is nothing worse than that. It's worse than getting a call from a loved one telling you they're in the hospital. Or on their deathbed.

Terrorism, poverty, hunger, raw sewage flowing into the Ganges River—these things all pale in comparison to my loved one being temporarily inconvenienced to the point of calling me to pick them up.

Advertising language has gotten so extreme that it has now officially rounded the corner of ridiculousness. Gordman's tells me they provide "savings [I] deserve." Deserve! I must have them! The savings are not optional!

Ken Smith wrote a marvelous book called Junk English a few years ago that I consider mandatory reading for anyone even tangentially involved in the advertising industry (which I am). It tackles this whole extremity issue with merciless hilarity. Also recommended along the same lines is Lynne Truss's Eats, Shoots & Leaves, the zero tolerance guide to punctuation.

And meanwhile, back to our "nothing worse" scenario: millions of people in this world would love to have an automobile, a paved road to drive it on, and enough consistent electricity to charge the cell phone they don't yet own. But those are pipe dreams—their real hearts are set on just having clean water, and even that's a long way off.

One more recommendation. The Progress Paradox is another excellent book that helped change my perspective on the world in which we live. I highly recommend it.

Okay, I think that finishes my rant. Thanks for reading it. I can think of nothing worse than it going ignored.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

This Is Rice.


But you already knew that. Still. Pick a grain and look at it.

Just one.

Got it? Now, imagine this: That grain of rice is the same size as the baby currently residing in my wife's tummy.

Did I forget to mention we were pregnant? It's a surprise, to be sure, but it's still awesome.

Anyway, the Rice (as we call it, for now) has tiny appendages and a heartbeat at this point. Crazy, crazy stuff.

Suddenly, I'm hungry for some side dishes.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Blah, Blah, Blah Oscars...

I guess I have to write something about the Academy Award Nominations, seeing as how I'm big on those crazy movin' pictures they show down there at the cinema house. Although this year, I'm not really too interested in how the Oscars shake out, if only because I'm finding, as I get older, that my tastes and Oscar's are starting to diverge.

Take, for example, United 93, which, in my opinion, was the best film of the year. Nominated for directing and editing, the picture was shut out of the Best Picture nominees, while the "quirky(tm)" picture "Little Miss Sunshine" got in. (Full disclosure: I haven't seen the picture, but the trailer was enough to turn me off of it. Remember how, like, ten years ago, indie films actually felt independent and not like they were going down some Indie Cred Checklist?) I don't know.

I do know this: I'm not one of those people that says, "How come [such-and-such] wasn't nominated? Or [this guy] and [that guy] and [that other guy] and [you know, that guy with the thing]? Explain that, Academy!" I never understand this type of rant, wherein the author lists a good two hundred thousand other names and wonders why those people weren't nominated. Um... perhaps because they only take five nominees per category (mostly)? Just a thought.

Anyway, if you're itching to see an Oscar-nominated picture, my suggestion is to go catch Children of Men while it's still in theatres. It's easily one of the best pictures of the year, and, out of what I've seen, it's the most thought-provoking picture still playing in theatres.

Oh, my other best film of the year, tied with United 93? The Fountain. Just see it, okay? Then we'll talk about it.

"Super" Bowl

First, let me say this: I am neither a fan nor an anti-fan of the Indianapolis Colts or the Chicago Bears. I'm sorta "meh" about both teams--they both have quality guys on their teams, but I never really root for either of them.

So, when these two teams made it into the Big Game, I found myself, for the first time since the Bucs/Raiders matchup of '02, not really caring about the Super Bowl and completely unsure as to whether I would watch it.

Still, it'd be cool for Tony Dungy to win, both for how much of a class act he is, and with how much personal hell he's gone through over the past year. So I guess that means a half-hearted, unenthusiastic "Go Colts" goes out to them from me. There you go.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Mandatory Reading

Picked up this little nugget last week, and it has not disappointed me yet:



For those of you who may be uninitiated, Susanna Clarke wrote Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, which, along with Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, is quite possibly the best book I've read in the past ten years or so. This little collection of short stories is a good entrance into the world and writing style of the 600-plus page world of Strangeites and Norrellites. Highly recommended.