Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Top Ten Rejected Horror Movie Titles

10. Thursday the 16th
9. Nightmare on Sesame Street
8. Hairy Movie 4
7. I Am Not Completely Aware of What You Did Last Summer, But I Have Heard Things and I Suspect That You Are a Trouble Maker and We Need to Have a Talk When Your Father Gets Home
6. Thanksgiving
5. The Blair Sandwich Project
4. Poultrygeist
3. Rosie O’Donnell Home Movies
2. Dead Palm
1. Smell Raiser

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Columbo - Doughnut Scene

It wouldn't be Halloween without something frightening from Jamie Lee Curtis.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Top Fifteen Reasons Dogs Bite Their Owners

Did you know that incidents of canine attacks upon their owners are dramatically higher in October? Scientists are at a loss as to why, but I have my own theories. Here are the top fifteen reasons why dog-on-owner attacks increase during the month of October.













Saturday, October 27, 2007

8 Weeks & Counting

Okay. Most of you know this already, but I guess my references to the topic on this blog have been somewhat cryptic. So, here are the major points of the story as I know them to be.

Kendra and I observed our 15th anniversary in August by going on a little trip. The kids spent part of that time with her brother Danny (truly one of the best guys in the world) and part of the time with my folks who took them to Sea World. Now let me preface this by pointing out that my Dad is in great shape. At 76 he can do more pushups and probably more sit-ups than I. He works as hard now as he ever has. If six months ago anyone had expected him to go on a 20 mile hike he could have delivered. At Sea World, however, he could barely get around he was so worn out. He went to the doctor and a few weeks later they called saying he was severely anemic and needed a transfusion immediately. Dad has always been a skeptic and did not want their blood-bank blood and instead wanted 200 proof Val Juice. I have not been a blood donor in the past (something that has changed) so I had to be typed and screened. In fact, I left ACU Welcome Week chapel early one day after getting to sing with Brandon and Stephen to go to the blood center for that purpose. That delay may have been a great thing, however, because during that time my step-brother had a chance to review the results of the initial tests revealing the “anemia” and was disturbed by what he saw. He did not think it was anemia and thought Dad should get to a hematologist immediately. This was a great catch that bought us very valuable time that would otherwise have been wasted chasing the first and most severe in what has become a long line of either incorrect or uncertain diagnoses.

The hematologist agreed that what he saw was not consistent with anemia and instead felt with a 90% degree of certainty that we were looking at leukemia. (As alarming as that was to hear, I have learned once again that things like are relative and we would later come to hope for leukemia.) Word came back a week or two later, however, saying that it was, in fact, Stage Four T-Cell Lymphoma. Dad decided to go to M.D. Anderson for possible treatment and advice. At this point, however, he was cleared to go ahead with the blood transfusion to help with his red-cell count, which was dramatically low.

The expertise of those at M.D. Anderson, easily thought to be one of the top five cancer research and treatment centers in the world provided a glimmer of hope. To be honest, it was a little bit touch-and-go as to whether or not Dad would even agree to go there. His last memory of the place was from about 35 years ago when my Mom was there as a cancer patient. The surroundings were void of warmth and pleasantry and any good memories; Mom’s body succumbed to the disease. Take that into account combined with the fact that Dad has lost my sister Vicki to cancer as well and going through the individual hells each of them went through did not exactly make him eager to follow suit. Thankfully, however, he eventually agreed to go that route.

Family plans for Thanksgiving quickly switched to Abilene but beyond that we seemed a little paralyzed by the news. Except for Colleen, my step-mom. She charged on, shaking her fist at this un-seen enemy, volunteering for a tour of duty on the front lines of this battle and any to come in this war. I truly wish I had a more public forum than this blog to tell anyone who would listen just how thankful I am for her. She is fiercely loyal, frighteningly intelligent, unbelievably patient, and down-right classy. She just retired this summer from ACU (sorta) and has really thrown herself into this new role with an even greater degree of determination. She has been my conduit of information during their trips to Houston. She and her iPhone have served to be my eyes and ears to what’s going on when I can’t be present. She is awesome.

The next trip to M.D. Anderson was one wherein I thought we would learn the roadmap of treatments ahead and perhaps even begin those treatments. However, rather than treat him the doctors told him they were pretty sure it was not lymphoma but was instead leukemia (again). This was actually good news, though. Leukemia has a much better life expectancy and quality. It was encouraging although they said the strain he had was so rare they didn’t know much about it and would both treat and study him. Dad was told to say goodbye to the lymphoma specialist and report back in a week or two to the leukemia doctors. Then last Friday a somewhat disturbing call came in suggesting he should return and visit both. This odd sense of security that comes along with assumptions of mutual exclusivity seemed suddenly at risk. Could it actually be both?

Today the answer came during yet another trip to Houston. It was not leukemia. Lymphoma or some variation thereof is again the diagnosis du jour. While Colleen made it sound as though they still did not seem exactly confident in that, they do seem sure it is not leukemia. Whatever it is, I just want them to start treating him. Because this is what we know by the numbers:

It’s been eight weeks since this started.

He’s had at least three transfusions.

His red cell count continues to nose-dive; today down to 7.

There’ve been three trips to Houston, M.D. Anderson.

There will be 13 of us together for Thanksgiving. It should be 17 or 18, but stupid things can occur even in the oddest of times.

We are either on our 5th diagnosis or have returned to our 3rd.

Zero treatments have been administered.

And that’s it for now. Now you may understand why I have seemed a little moody or bitter lately. Why I am struggling to stay positive but still think it is important to try. Why I am disappointed in some people and so impressed with others. And why I’ll give some more updates later.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

I had to run in to the office pretty late last night so as I drove home I got to enjoy the spirit of the season as I drove by all of the homes decorated for…


When did it become such a popular idea to put up Halloween lights and temporary graveyards and errant witches who have unfortunately flown into trees all over town and gory depictions of who knows what?

(Grumpy old curmudgeon alert)

In my day all we did to decorate for Halloween was put out a Jack-O-Lantern. And we liked it! We LOVED it! We’d spend hours carving faces into these gourds using our neighbor little Jimmy Hornback for our model because through some freak of nature he actually had a nose and two eyes shaped like triangles and had a stem growing out of the top of his head. And little Jimmy would get all traumatized when just as soon as we had created this perfect likeness we would reach inside the top of the head and start scooping out the innards of the orange orb that so closely resembled our jaundiced and diminutive-yet large-headed neighbor. He’d run home crying and we would know that we had captured a piece of the spirit of the holiday by freaking out a small child. Then to top it off we would go around honing our extortion skills by begging for candy that would eventually rot our teeth until our smiles resembled that of the aforementioned Hornback spawn while promising harm to health and/or property should our demands go unheeded. We didn’t care that we were setting in motion for generations to come the idea that begging and entitlement bore no shame. That’s the way we liked it. We LOVED it!

Now where was I?

Oh yeah. Halloween decorations. So last night I’m driving across town and I am amazed at how many huge blow up decorations honoring Halloween adorn the lawns of the wealthy and the lower to middle class alike. These are people who have decided that yep, they gotta have these mammoth decorations even though their deflated condition during the daytime makes it appear that their front yard was the gathering spot for a bunch of streakers who have not yet returned for the brightly colored jogging suits they left scattered about the lawn.

I saw one house last night that went all out. They had the inflatables, the makeshift graveyard, the pumpkins, the spiderwebs, the ghosts hanging from trees, the witch who had run into the telephone pole and of course the skeleton festooned with Christmas lights riding a bicycle. I suppose that was a celebration of Halloween. The only other thing I could come up with was maybe Festivus unless there really is a holiday that simultaneously honors Halloween, Christmas and the Tour de France.

Anyway, while I do enjoy the part of Halloween that is essentially panhandling from your neighbors, I do not understand any celebration of gore or evil. It appears to me that the world is plenty evil already and any gore is too much. I will never for the life of me (or for the death of me if you prefer the macabre) understand the attraction of movies or stories that glorify such things. I think that is the essence of a twisted mentality.

That having been said, I think there are times when it is okay to get a little scared. A great source of healthy fright may be a roller coaster, the price figures on a gas pump or a ride in a Chicago taxi with a cab driver who is clearly foreign but probably not from Mars like he said.

In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that I was involved in a couple of haunted houses in college. But the room I was involved in each time was easily the most scary without being gory or evil (a little mean, perhaps, but not evil). What we did was have a pitch black room for the people to walk through with the help of a guide dressed as a crash test dummy. Nino and I got to be dummies (no cracks about type-casting). Once they were in the middle of the room, the front end of an old Chrysler mounted on a shopping cart would be thrust at them just as high-intensity headlights and a very loud air horn would simultaneously glare and blare and bear down on unsuspecting saps who seemed somewhat shocked by the occurrence. I remember more than once having to shut down the haunted house to repair walls knocked down when people collapsed or tried to escape the ’72 Chrysler that somehow found its way into an old gymnasium. But again, that’s how we liked it. We LOVED it! And it was 99% free of gore and violence. (The 1% accounts for the time I got punched in the face by a lady who got a little carried away).

Ahh. Good times.

Friday, October 12, 2007

That's Enough

Frankly, it would be a bit of a waste of time for me to pretend I haven’t been holding a lot of anger lately. Stress begins to do that to you. These forces around you keep pressing and pounding on you until before you realize it you’re just mad. Perhaps it is actually mutated frustration, but I got to a point where I just realized I always felt mad. It’s hard to let a good mad go. I’m so good at it. Give me a nice plant for my office and it will die before you get the thank you note (Just kidding. I don’t send thank you notes). But I can nurse a good mad or a grudge until it has grown healthy enough to be a vacation destination for guys named Jack.

I don’t think I’ve been mad at any one person. I mean sure, at times it has seemed like some of the people I was closest to distanced themselves from me just when I probably needed them most, but I honestly don’t think I was mad at them. It’s tough to have a friend going through a dark time so the easiest way to handle it is to back off. In almost every case, I’m cool with that. In fact, I probably prefer it if it means I would have to open up to someone otherwise. Who can adapt to that kind of weird and inconsistent logic?

I’m pretty sure I’m not mad at God either. I was discussing a lot of this with Him the other night and I think that I concluded that no matter what happens to me, other people have had it worse. The world is a rough place for so many people. Sure, I have lost family members to cancer, but there are people living in places on this planet at this very moment who have seen their entire families massacred or sadly, who may be about to. But getting mad at God about it only adds insult to the injury he feels as He grieves those situations as well. And in the final analysis, if all we have to thank Him for is the hope that overwhelms matters such as these- the hope that comes through the assurance of His salvation- I gotta say- that’s enough. It’s enough to get mad and still praise Him. It’s enough to know that even when we may feel the world has deserted us and even God seems conspicuously silent, He remains… and He remains faithful. It’s enough to know He hates the suffering on this earth enough to overcome it through suffering of His own.

That’s plenty, really.

That’s enough.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Saturday, October 06, 2007

So, I've listened to a few speakers this weekend talking about a closer relationship with God- listening for Him to reveal to you some path or some emphasis for your life. I've heard people insist that they know He speaks to them. Sure, there have been times that I feel like an experience was probably enhanced by the Spirit (often during worship) and even times when I felt nudged away from my own desires and toward something more noble. But more often than not I feel more like the people in the AT&T mobile commercials wondering if the call has been dropped or perhaps God has gotten so offended by me that He has decided to clam up. I dunno... maybe I'm more like Calvin that these people- but I'm working on it.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Dove Onslaught

I know this is a little shocking, and at its core just another marketing tool, but I have daughters and this scares me to death. Steven Curtis Chapman nailed it when he wrote this song:

I can see the tears filling your eyes
And I know where they're coming from.
They're coming from a heart that's broken in two
By what you don't see:
The person in the mirror doesn't look like a magazine,
Oh but when I look at you it's clear to me-
That I can see the fingerprints of God-
When I look at you.
And I can see the fingerprints of God-
And I know it's true:
You're a masterpiece that all creation quietly applauds
And you're covered with the fingerprints of God.

Never has there been and never again will there be another you,
Fashioned by God's hand and perfectly planned to be just who you are.
And what He's been creating since the first beat of your heart,
Is a living, breathing priceless work of art.
And I can see the fingerprints of God
When I look at you
And I can see the fingerprints of God
And I know it's true:
You're a masterpiece that all creation quietly applauds
And your covered with the fingerprints of God.

Just look at you...
You're a wonder in the making.
Oh, and God's not through.
In fact, He's just getting started!
And I can see the fingerprints of God
When I look at you
And I can see the fingerprints of God
And I know it's true.
You're a masterpiece that all creation quietly applauds.
And you're covered with the fingerprints of God.