19.5.09

We're trying something new

I'm thinking of shutting down Well-done, Please and A Rough Cut and combining them into Brian On. It's not doing exactly what I want it to do, but I think it is a lot cleaner and perhaps a little more elegant. Blogger has been great, but I think I'm ready for a change. (All the old stuff has been copied over there... "Classic Brian" I think they call it.)

Thoughts? Comments? Old war stories?

18.5.09

Congratulations!




What did you do yesterday afternoon? Hmmph. That's nice. What did I do? Oh not much. I just SAVED HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION, that's all.

A scant 12 minutes before 14:00 hours, I got a call from my friend Chris at the Baptist Building. He was doing sound for a the commencement ceremony for LPA (Lighthouse Preparatory Academy, a local Christian school, and NOT Little People of America). They had rented out our ballroom (how many Baptist organizations can say they have a ballroom?) and there was a problem. One of the five graduates (it's the school's first year... give them a break!) had forgotten his diploma folder thing at home and had nothing to walk with!

Normally this wouldn't seem like the end of the world but they were panicking and in need of a diploma. Chris called on the off chance that I had one in my office downstairs. I did not, but I had my OBU folder upstairs and needed to run to the office anyway, so I sprinted out the door and raced to save Graduation (while still obeying all posted speed limits, thank you very much).

I got there just as Pomp and Circumstance began pomping and circumstancing and handed the folder to "Daniel" and helpfully suggested he turn it backwards so the gold foil stamp "OKLAHOMA BAPTIST UNIVERSITY" didn't show. It turns out that I actually know Daniel. He's the score keeper at Sunday Night Hockey. It's a small world after all.

Since there were only five graduates and I figured it would be pretty short, I went ahead and stayed for the ceremony. Plus they had cake! In case you were wondering, no, there was no photo montage set to Good Riddance. There was, however, a off-key duet of Friends are Friends Forever.

And that, boys and girls, is the story of how Uncle Brian's OBU diploma graduated high school.

7.5.09

Average

On the radio this morning, they announced that in the 32-country listening area, unemployment was above average in 16 of those counties. Isn't that exactly what you would expect, recession or not? Isn't that what "average" means?

5.5.09

30x30

I’ve been inspired by the 30x30 list on Leslie’s blog. 26 and 11/12ths years old is is kind of late to begin working on such a list... this is the kind of thing I should have done at 20. It’s interesting, however, to note that as I look through this list, only four or five of these would have even remotely interested the 20-year-old Brian. What will I think of this list at 40? Probably whatever Obama wants me to think, but that's neither here nor there.

Thirty goals is a lot, and I’m just letting you know right here and now there’s very very little chance that I will even pursue a lot of these. To hit that 30 quota, I had to add a few wild cards. Also, I added up the potential costs of these and it looks like reaching for the stars will cost approximately $18,536, not including the $200,000 government R&D grant I intend to use for #10. But hey, you never know when I might stumble across a couple garbage bags full of free money.

Maybe I should just add ten more goals and give myself until 40.

1. Set foot on all seven continents
This has been my thing for a while now, although I don’t remember when I decided to make it a stated “goal.” It's also going to be the one I am going to consciously work towards the most. It’s going to be a stretch to hit Australia, Asia and Antarctica in just 3 years + 1 month. Anyone want to come with?

2. Go a year without drinking Dr Pepper
I’m four months and five days into this one, which is a real achievement considering I average probably two a day for the past 15 years or so. I’ve been relying on the crutch Diet Dr Pepper, and I’ve actually grown to like it. But things are all hunky dory. Sometimes I lay awake at night wondering if I will “recognize” Dr Pepper eight months from now. What if I don’t like it anymore? What if it doesn't like me? This makes me sad.

3. Go a month drinking only water
This wouldn’t be too hard at all. In fact, I’m starting today.

4. Take a road trip in an RV

Anybody want to sign up?

5. Take I-40 from the Pacific to the Atlantic
Maybe this could be done in conjunction with #4?

6. See all 100 movies in the AFI Top 100 (sadly, I’ve only seen 29)
However, I am going to skip #83: Titanic. It is my goal to die never having seen it. Also on my list of movies to (finally) see: The Goonies, Newsies, Hoosiers, and Bedknobs and Broomsticks.

7. Read a book by Ayn Rand
What's it going to be? Atlas Shrugged or The Fountainhead? Place your bets!

8. Be debt-free
OK “debt-free, except for my house.” I’m pretty close on this one too. I should be there by the end of the year.

9. Learn to enjoy salad

Even though I don’t enjoy it, I can eat a salad to be sociable (provided it’s drowning in ranch). I still have a hard time with the physical manipulation of the fork, knife and lettuce. It just doesn’t want to work for me!

10. Develop a recipe for Brian’s Famous _______
Chili? Barbecue sauce? Chicken potpie? Hummus? Artisan bread? Gumbo? Gazpacho? A “house” salad dressing? What does the world need? I need some suggestions!

11. See Paul McCartney in concert
I've knocked our Queen, Paul Simon and it's looking like Brian Wilson is going to happen this Fall. Sir Paul McCartney is all that's left.

12. Write a scholarly white paper on Christian journalism
I’ve been collecting a lot of resources. Now I just need a thesis.

13. Get my credit score above 800
I already have really good credit, but I think it’d be awesome to crack that upper echelon. Although now that I think about it, what good is a good credit rating if intend to live without debt?

14. Help a stranger on the side of the road change a tire
Is it weird that I enjoy changing tires?

15. Beat Mario I, II and III on the NES
I’ve beaten I, and come really close on III.

16. Organize all the papers from OBU I have stuffed in boxes in my garage.
I'll need to set aside like, an entire week.

17. Hear Handel’s Messiah live

And He shall reign forever and ever,
King of kings! and Lord of lords!
And He shall reign forever and ever,
King of kings! and Lord of lords!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Hallelujah!

18. Go without a ticket for a moving violation
I’m very proud of my perfect driving record. The two tint tickets don’t count.

19. Ride in a hot-air balloon
I have a slight fear of heights, but I just think this would be really cool.

20. Permanently learn the correct usage for who/whom
I look it up every time it comes up but some reason can never remember it.

21. Permanently learn the correct definitions for tornado "warnings” and tornado "watches”
I can never remember which is worse. I've consulted with America's Weather Man (and my Facebook friend), the one and only Gary England and he tells us:

Warning:
A forecast issued when severe weather has developed, is already occurring and reported, or is detected on radar. Warnings state a particular hazard or imminent danger, such as tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, flash and river floods, winter storms, heavy snows, etc.

Watch:
A forecast issued well in advance of a severe weather event to alert the public of the possibility of a particular hazard, such as tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, flash and river floods, winter storms, or heavy snows.

In my mind, a watch would mean "we're watching the tornado head straight for you" and a warning would mean there is a general warning that a tornado may occur. But it's the opposite. Now, knowing that I have this problem, you'd think it'd be easy for me to simply remember that it's the opposite of my first gut reaction. You'd be wrong.

22. Obtain an International Driver’s License
It's only $15! Isn't that awesome?

23. Vote in a primary election
Aug. 3, 2010, here I come!

24. Finally man up and eat a lobster
Bleh

25. Finally man up and eat some sushi
Bleh

26. Lose 15 percent of my body weight
This really shouldn’t be that hard.

27. Read through the entire Bible
I’ve started this countless times and I’ve probably hit 97 percent of it piecemeal, but I want to do in an orderly, accountable fashion.

28. Learn to identify the cuts of chicken on the buffet
Shut up, OK? Just shut up. I don’t know why I can never tell which is the dark meat and which is the white, I just can’t. OK? Telling me, "just get one of the breast peices" doesn't help me. I must have been sick that day in school. And someone pass the white meat.

29. Buy (and maintain the website at) a URL
I owned www.baconcheeseburger.org (yes, .org) from 2005 to 2006, but that was before I started blogging. Plus, GoDaddy’s commercials have turned me off of the whole buy your own URL thing.

30. Unspoken
:-)

1.5.09

Mail Call

It's not all that unexpected that I find a postcard in my mail box when I get home from work. In the last six months or so, I've gotten about 150 postcards from 45 counties on six continents (and a dozen or so states). Wow, that's a lot. I need to slow down.

But what was awaiting me today? This (click to make larger):How cool is that? Way to go, Kelly!

23.4.09

I Wonder What Would Happen If...

... the cable news shows began using auto-tune, just like Kanye?

A Classic

I know this is just about the oldest joke in the book, but it's still funny. Couldn't you just eat him up?

Google Maps Typography

20.4.09

Oh Noes!

Back when I was a young journalist and full of pluck (a three-and-a-half week stretch in 1999), I really enjoyed CNN. I liked the news ticker that crawled across the bottom of the screen and for some reason I was really impressed by Larry King. The idea that you didn't have wait until 10:02 that night to learn of the goings on of the world was still pretty novel and I was impressed that they were able to go steady, 24 hours a day. As the news industry as progressed, CNN.com has become of many sites I hit to stay informed. But CNN is beginning to abuse the privilege.

Their top story has the following, earth-shattering headline: 21 polo horses die in South Florida! Now, I like horsies just as much as the next guy (they taste delicious!) but by what stretch of the imagination is this the most important news item of the day? I guess it's only right that a far less important story like Iran to allow appeal for US journalist convicted as spy be listed 13th on the page.

Come on, Ted Turner. Snap out of it.

19.4.09

Were there Pan Flutes and Accordions?? Yes. There were Pan Flutes and Accordions.

Last night I trekked to St. Louis’s FABULOUS FOX THEATRE* to see one of my favorite artists of all-time, the one and only Paul Simon. He was worth the 150-mile drive, even if I had to sit there for 113 minutes before he even came on stage and I didn’t get home until 2:31 this morning.

The event was actually the 21st Annual Bob Costas Benefit for the children’s cancer wing at a local hospital. I’ve never been to a benefit like this before, and was surprised to see about half the crowd in tuxes and prom dresses. I at least wore a sport coat, so I was far from the most underdressed. If you’re going to expect people to suit up for a concert, you need to make that clear on the tickets.

The FABULOUS FOX THEATRE is pretty cool. You really should take a look at the architecture and d├ęcor. I've been to some pretty awesome theaters across the world, but the Fox takes the cake. If I lived in the STL, I'd be there every weekend.

Bob Costas emceed, and he’s actually a funny guy. “There are so many kids that need our help, and Madonna can’t adopt them all.” Also a winner: "This economy is rough on everyone and people are being let go all the time. I don’t know if you remember, but it used to be Simon AND Garfunkel.” Not a winner: All three Sarah Palin jokes. I get it. She likes to shoot things and can see Russia from her front porch.

The first “act” was comedian Robert Klein. I’m told he’s a very famous and influential comedian. I may be exposing myself as very un-hip, but I didn’t think he was funny. Comic ballads to colonoscopies just don’t seem that cutting edge. The short sports announcer with the great hair did much better.

His set lasted an hour, then we had an intermission and I promise you 35 full minutes of thanking sponsors. But it’s hard to complain because some kid is across town dying of leukemia. Finally Paul Simon came on at exactly 9:53. Way to go, Walten Family Dentistry, for being a Silver Circle Sponsor! Next time I'm stuck in St. Louis and need a filling, I'm calling you!

I love Paul Simon. The second album I ever bought with my own money was Simon and Garfunkel’s Sounds of Silence (the first was the soundtrack to Cocktail. Don’t judge me, you know you love Kokomo) and I’ve been a fan ever since. I like they way he speaks his words as he sings them. I also am a fan of his later, post-Garkfunkel solo work, but to a slightly lesser extent. But come on, who doesn’t love the music video to Call Me Al? The world could use a few more Chevy Chase cameos.

A lot of people merely shout lyrics in tune but not Paul Simon. He lays the words down very carefully. I also really respect that he is a singer/songwriter. I’m not going to knock the artist that only sings another’s songs, but it takes a special person to cover every single angle of the process. He is 68 years old, but his voice is as strong, clear and smooth as ever. Backed up by his nine-man band, he sounded great. You can tell he truly loves making music.

He is also a very, very little man.

The set list (not in order):

Slip Sliding Away
Graceland
Gumboots
Crazy Love
Diamonds on the Souls of Her Shoes
Still Crazy After All These Years
Call Me Al
The Boy in the Bubble
From the S&G era:
Mrs. Robinson
Sounds of Silence
The Only Living Boy in New York
Me and Julio Down by the School Yard
The Boxer

The S&G tracks were pretty freaking awesome, even if they weren’t note-for-one the same as the original recordings. S&G bread and butter was (were?) their delicate harmonies and Simon had to rearrange a lot of the songs to fit one vocalist. I sang along to try to help him out, but I’m no Art Garfunkel. I just don’t have the hair.

He didn’t play everything I wanted to hear, but beggars can’t be choosers. I would have loved to have heard 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover, Cecelia, Scarborough Fair and Bridge Over Troubled Waters. Oh well, you can’t win ‘em all.

So I tick off another box on my See Before I (of They) Die List. I got Queen a few years ago in Chicago and I’m planning on seeing Brian Wilson in NJ this fall. If Paul McCartney will just go on tour one more time, I can rest easy.

Oh, interesting tidbit: and there was a blind woman next to me. Her dog just slept at her feet the whole time. I guess he just wasn't music lover.

*It kills me that people/institutions get this wrong: theatRE is an art form. TheatER is a building.