Monday, January 28, 2008

Thanks, Internet!

Before I put up this post, this was the sales rank for The High School Survival Guide:

After the post, my sales rank shot to the astonishing new level of:

Thank you! I couldn't have done it without you, internet!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

2007 Media Review: Bold Predictions For 2008.

[Concluding the media review with a look into the upcoming year...]

1) Fox Searchlight will unearth another breakout indie hit/awards favorite featuring a talented and as-of-yet unheard-of young lead actress in the title role who people will sort of recognize from a supporting part in a previous summer blockbuster. It will be packed with Quirky characters, and people will tell me how great "the writing" is, when, in actuality, they mean "the dialogue has words you don't hear every day." The success of the movie will be primarily spurred on by positive word-of-mouth, and a print/web marketing campaign that bludgeons the consumer with a singular bright color that plays an insignificant role in the actual movie.

2) The Dark Knight will surpass Titanic for overall awesomeness in box-office receipts. Christian Bale will then be swept into office of President by a groundswell of write-in votes, which will also overturn the Constitution to allow a Welshman to govern our fine nation.

3) No summer blockbuster for the next ten years will be able to achieve a crummier, more anticipation-deflating title than Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Thanks for wresting this one away from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, George Lucas. At least you kept it in the family.

4) The writers' strike will end the same day the rapture occurs. I have 2008 reasons this will happen in 2008.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

2007 Media Review: Top Concerts/Sporting Events.

[The last of the media review entries. Tomorrow will see my bold predictions for 2008. And now, to continue the running theme, I'm closing this sentence with an ellipsis...]

1) Boston Red Sox vs. Colorado Rockies, in Fenway Park, in June. Michelle and I enjoyed a World Series preview without knowing it would be a World Series preview. The Sox got creamed, by the way, but it was cool to see Curt Schilling on the actual mound, and to cheer every time former Tulsa Driller Troy Tulowitzki got on base. Also: the official team store across the street from the park is a sight to behold.

Um, that's only one:
Yep. I don't have time to take in concerts and/or sporting events; I'm assuming the stage productions of Annie and The Nutcracker that my daughter was in don't count.

Worst concert and/or sporting event:
See previous response.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

2007 Media Review: Top TV.

[The shortest post yet in my media review; I mainly divide my time 'twixt motion pictures, the written word, and my familia (and that's in reverse order)--not a lot of time left over for the television (and sports don't count). We'll cover concerts/sporting events tomorrow, and then my bold predictions for 2008 on Thursday. But now, let's go over 2007's...]

1) Lost [I thought about the season finale for days.]
2) The Office
3) 30 Rock
4) Planet Earth [I don't have cable, so we watched the DVDs, which feature the original British tones of BBC narrator David Attenborough. Me like.]
5) Did I mention Lost?

I don't watch much TV, so I don't have any other categories, so let's skip to the worst TV of 2007:
24. After such a great setup, it turned into a disappointment... again. I won't be watching in '08.

Monday, January 14, 2008

2007 Media Review: Top Music.

[Get those toes a-tappin' as the media review continues...]

1) Once: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova [In case you couldn't tell, I liked this movie.]
2) The Reminder, Feist [So many people put this on their review, and it almost made me not list it--but I have to be honest and say I probably have listened to no album in 2007 more than this one.]
3) Sky Blue Sky, Wilco [The best Eagles album released in '07. Ahem.]
4) The Trumpet Child, Over the Rhine [Cabaret is not dead; it just moved to Cincinnati.]
5) The Black and White Album, The Hives [No one does high-energy hubris rock better than them. I quote from the liner notes of this record: "W. Churchill says: 'Never before have The Hives done so much for so many.'"]

Let's just go ahead and make it a top 10:
In Rainbows, Radiohead
Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace, Foo Fighters
We Walked in Song, The Innocence Mission
Volta, Bjork [on the strength of "Earth Intruders" and "Declare Independence" alone.]
Give Yourself Away, Robbie Seay Band

Coolest musical invention of 2007:
The Reactable. Watch the Basic Demos and be amazed.
(Demo #1) (Demo #2)

2007's catchiest song:
"1 2 3 4", Feist

2007's catchiest song about terrorism:
"Tick Tick Boom", The Hives

Worst music of 2007:
I don't have time to listen to crap, so this would have to be pretty much any of the "performances" by "artists" (who the heck is Akon? and why was he on twice?) on the Wednesday night episodes of American Idol I was forced, much against my will, to endure.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

2007 Media Review: Top Movies.

[The madness continues, movie-style. Tomorrow: music. Until then, enjoy...]

1) Once [I have nothing but love in my heart for a movie that does absolutely nothing wrong and everything right. All musicians should watch this film, and be amazed, and then depressed that no song you ever write will be as good as "Falling Slowly."]
2) No Country for Old Men [This time, all the critics were right. The comments section below is waiting for you if you didn't "get" the ending.]
3) Ratatouille [Brad Bird is turning into one of my favorite directors. No movie in '07 delighted me more.]
4) The Bourne Ultimatum [Literally everyone put this movie on their very diverse list. If Paul Greengrass and Matt Damon keep making these, I'll keep seeing them.]
5) Rescue Dawn [Whew. I'm tired. And suddenly hungry.]

Almost there, but not quite:
Zodiac [It was actually a toss-up between this and Rescue Dawn for the #5 slot.]
A Mighty Heart
The TV Set
No End in Sight
Spider-Man 3
The Simpsons Movie
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
The Kingdom

Movies that might've made the top 5, if I'd seen them:
There Will Be Blood [Hurry up and come to Tulsa, movie! This is the only film here that I yearn--yearn!--to see on opening weekend. Everything else will do on DVD.]
Into the Wild
I'm Not There
Michael Clayton
Across the Universe
The Darjeeling Limited
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
In the Shadow of the Moon
The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters
Into Great Silence
[A 3-hour-long documentary on silent monks. What's not to like?]

Movies that threatened to be brilliant, then shot themselves in the foot in the last act:
Sunshine [contemplative and stunning, it cheesed out by becoming, essentially, a monster movie. This is hands-down the most frustrating cop-out of '07, even though it almost redeemed itself in the last five minutes. What a waste.]
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (IMAX 3-D version) [never again will I take in a movie not meant to be 3-D in the first place. It ceased being about the story and became about the very jarring spectacle.]

Movies that received much critical acclaim and that all my friends told me were great but that I cannot muster any enthusiasm for:
Juno [The only one on this list I've seen. It tried way too hard to be Quirky(TM). Wes Anderson should sue for copyright infringement.]
Atonement [Epic + Romance + Period Piece = I won't see it anytime soon.]
The Kite Runner [I know, I know: I'm a horrible human being.]
Away from Her
Lars and the Real Girl
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Best fight scene featuring Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner:
The Kingdom

Worst fight scene featuring Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner:

Worst movie of the year by a mile (and possibly of the decade), which is quite a feat, because this year gave us Evan Almighty and Bratz:
Transformers [I was expecting big, dumb fun; it gave me two out of three.]

Saturday, January 12, 2008

2007 Media Review: Top Books.

[Note: Some friends of mine and I have an ongoing annual ritual. Every year, we email each other lists of our top five entries in five different media: books, movies, television, music, and concerts/sporting events (we also include the "worst" entry of the year). This year, I'm sharing my list with the internet! I'll post the lists daily over the next four days (I hope), starting with the...]

1) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, J.K. Rowling [This is less for the book itself ("Ron said sycophantically." Really? Fire your editor, J.K.) and more for all it stood for. I loved the way she wrapped up the series, character- and plotwise. Writingwise, not so much.]
2) God on Mute: Engaging the Silence of Unanswered Prayer, Pete Greig [The best Jesus book I read this year]
3) The Yiddish Policemen's Union, Michael Chabon [He makes my writing sound like Pat the Bunny, though he needs to retire the words "acrid" and "tang" for the next couple of books.]
4)I Am America (And So Can You!), Stephen Colbert [Hilarious from start to finish; definitely a deserving winner of the Stephen T. Colbert Award For Literary Excellence. The audiobook is awesome as well, and available from the Tulsa City-County Library. (A note, however: it does contain some mildly coarse language and subject matter.)]
5) Are We Rome? The Fall of an Empire and the Fate of America, Cullen Murphy [Semi-political book thrown in for flavor. Fascinating read.]

Honorable Mentions:
Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light
Bambi vs. Godzilla
, David Mamet
From Bad to Worse, Todd & Jedd Hafer
Save Me From Myself, Brian "Head" Welch

Books from past years that would've been on this list if I'd read them in that year instead of 2007:
What is the What? The Autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng, Dave Eggers (2006) [You owe it to yourself to read this heart-rending account of one of the Lost Boys of the Sudan.]
The Areas of my Expertise, John Hodgman (2005) [smartly funny writing from the guy who plays "PC" in the Apple commercials. It had me with its half-page essay: "When Writing, Please Avoid These Failed Palindromes."]
The Road, Cormac McCarthy (2006) [I don't know how this was an Oprah book club selection, but I thank the person who fooled her into backing one of the most brilliant--but bleak--character studies I've possibly ever read. Makes Children of Men look like The Wizard of Oz.]
Fear and Trembling, Soren Kierkegaard (1843) [I don't even remember my top books from 1843.]

Book that should've been on everyone else's top 5 list:
Knuckle Sandwich, Adam Palmer

Worst book of 2007:
The Almost Moon, Alice Sebold. [I actually didn't read any severely horrible books, but out of all the best-sellers and whatnot that get premium placement at big-box retailers, this is surely a letdown. I didn't jump on The Lovely Bones bandwagon, so I didn't expect much from this one, and it failed even to meet those low expectations. Skip it.]

Monday, January 7, 2008

Humility On Sale: 49 Cents.

So, the family and I were at Mardel, our local Christian bookstore, when I decided to see if I could find any of my books there. I uncovered Mooch and Knuckle Sandwich in the "Teen Fiction" section (though they aren't, technically written to or about teenagers), but they were both faced out, with their very appealing covers prominent, so I couldn't make too much of a stink.

Feeling good, I headed toward the register and was brought low when I noticed Cracking Da Vinci's Code: Student Edition on a clearance rack. For 90% off. Total price? 49 cents.

The life of the published author...

Greatest T-Shirt Ever.

The geniuses at Glarkware have done it again. First there was Good Grammar Costs Nothing, and now this. If only they didn't cost so much.

[Note: there is a bit of PG-13 language on the Glarkware site. Browse at your own risk.]

Friday, January 4, 2008

Closing The Door.

(This is the full text of an email I sent most of my family and friends earlier today. If you didn't receive it, it's probably because I didn't think of you as I hurriedly assigned email addresses to it. Apologies. It wasn't an intentional slight.)

It is with a heavy heart and a devastated spirit that I write to you today. After months of prayer, counsel, soul-searching, and flat-out arguments with God, Michelle and I have decided to withdraw our adoption case and end that particular part of our lives. The longer we hold on to him, the more it becomes obvious that nothing's going to change in our case, and the more we endanger his chance of being adopted by someone else.

In the African system, once a child becomes five years old, he is pretty much destined to be an orphan for the rest of his life. Sterling is just about a year and a half away from that, and we don’t want to hold on to him at the expense of seeing him go to another family. We love him too much to keep him an orphan.

This has been a long time coming. The writing has been on the wall for months now, but we've refused to admit it or acknowledge it. In retrospect, that refusal has come out of fear rather than faith--we've been too emotionally tied to Sterling for too long, and were thus blinded to the truth and deaf to the voice of God. The reflexive action is to say, "But, but, but..." We've said that a million times. But we know we've done all that we can feasibly do, and the obstacles and roadblocks are still in place. There really is no more we can do at this point, and there hasn't been for some time, so at long last, we've finally come to a place of bewildered, shell-shocked peace and made the difficult decision we knew had to be made.

Still, there's an exhaustive relief to it. This has been a door in our lives that has been open for a long time, so it's painfully nice to be able to close that door and move on in whatever direction God would have us. No, it is not the conclusion we've been hoping for the last two and a half years, but it's a conclusion, and that is sufficient.

And in the end, we remain God's. We don't know why things shook out the way they did, we don't know why God called us to this task only to have it fall apart time and again. We don't know what we're going to tell our children, who have grown up for the last two and a half years talking about their brother Sterling. All we know is that God is faithful, that he is good, that he loves us, and that he loves Sterling more than we do. That boy is too, too precious to remain an orphan, and he's been watching all his friends at the orphanage get adopted out from underneath him. Now he is free to find a family; it just won't be ours.

Thank you so much for walking down this road with us in whatever capacity you did. Thank you for prayers, words of encouragement, financial blessings, and the countless other ways you supported the Palmer Tribe in the midst of our time as Sterling's family. It's going to take some time, grieving this loss, but we're confident that we'll come through the other side of it more in love with Jesus and more in love with each other. It's just the way God works.

May God extend his grace and peace to you in a tangible way today,

--Adam (and Michelle)