Where you can read the relatively rational ramblings of a silly half-monkey, half-boy. This freak of nature is named Joel. He also responds to the name 'Bart Wang'.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Tonight's word

I discovered this brief but insightful interview with Stephen Colbert thanks to Pat. I like The Colbert Report. A lot. I always wondered how his wit was so well-informed when it came to God stuff. This interview explained much.

Sweet, sweet vacation...

That's right, Bill, I'm on holidays. Again. Dude, give me a break, it's been about a month and a half since I've had vacation. I finished work about two hours ago. It's been a stressful couple of weeks with work dealing me some challenging cases and then there was that whole stolen car dealie. Speaking of the car...

It's a write-off, apparently. The jerks that stole it broke the coat hanger clips in the back seat (one ripped out completely) and cut a small hole in the roof interior. The insurance company claimed that it would cost $2000 to replace that alone and $3200 in total for repairs (not including anything that was damaged in the engine). Today, I was told they would waive the deductible and would give me a whopping - are you ready for this? - $2964 for my car. No way, I say. To put it mildly, I'm anal retentive when it comes to automobile maintenance. I know I spend more than the average person because: A) I'm anal retentive, B) I don't know anything about cars, C) I can't do anything for myself, and D) I don't want to have my car die so I spend lots of cash to keep it in tip-top shape. I photocopied all the receipts since 2004 and sent them to the insurance company. Oh, and that amount they offered included my stereo and CD changer. They're cracked. I told her I expected $4000-5000. The car just passed 160,000km and it's a six-cylinder so it should have lasted another five-to-seven years. I could not find a car of comparable value/condition for $2500 (the amount they were offering before tax). DAMMIT! This sucks. I refuse to go into debt for a car and I don't think it's fair that I should suffer because I was robbed. That's why we pay insurance. And, given their response, this is why the insurance industry makes hand-over-fist in cash every year. My car was stolen and so is my money every month (in paying for insurance), evidently.

You may be wondering why I am not going to get the car repaired on my own. That was my first choice. My mechanic, however, recommended against it. He said that he has not seen many situations of stolen cars turning out well. We have no idea what else they did to the car and what condition the engine is in. Something could be seriously wrong and we wouldn't know until it was too late and I'd be up shit creek with only my arms to paddle. That's the way the saying goes, isn't it?

The thieving fools left their tools in my car. Did I mention that? I cleaned out my car of what was left yesterday, finding two of their flashlights, a pair of scissors and a screwdriver. Given that my job involves collecting evidence and since I watch a lot of C.S.I. and Law & Order: S.V.U., I thought these might be helpful in locating the criminals responsible. Did I mention it's my job to solve crimes? Apparently it is, since the officer involved (do you want her name and badge number because I have it) felt it was easier to just say, 'No known suspects'. Of course you don't know of any suspects because you made NO effort to look for evidence that would lead to a suspect. Am I pissed off? Damn straight.

A couple of you have told me you know people with cars for sale (privately or for a business). Thanks. I may be calling you for more information. And if you hear of any other options, let me know.

Tomorrow, we're heading up to the cottage in Barry's Bay for a week. Seven days of falling asleep on this very bed on which you see Laurie Castellani catching some shut-eye.
Something strange happens at the cottage. I cannot nap anywhere else in the world. I mean it - I am unable to sleep during the daylight hours if I am at home, in Mexico or wherever you want to suggest. But let me lie down on that single bed against the window with a book in my hands and I'll be conked out in a short period of time. It's really odd. And thoroughly enjoyable. Melanie works with a woman who not only knows where Barry's Bay is but has her own cottage there! For those who have visited, it's on the third lake (we stay on Trout Lake and there are culverts that connect it with two successive lakes). This woman told Melanie about a delicious treat in the little village of Wilno. They serve an all-you-can-eat buffet of authentic Polish food (pierogies, cabbage rolls, sausage and more) at the Wilno Tavern on the weekend. Guess who's fattening up this weekend?!? Yep, you guessed it. This guy...

Oh, ok, no, that's Fred. I meant to say, 'Me. Sorry, Fred. Go listen to Fred sing. He's really great.

Well, I'm going to watch the aforementioned Law & Order:S.V.U. You have yourselves a wonderful week. Try not to get into too much trouble. Oh yeah, congratulations to my friend, Michelle (a.k.a. Taylor) and her partner, Kevin, on the birth of their new baby boy, Samuel. Michelle actually like the name 'Joel' but Kevin thought it would be too weird since we're friends. I think I've blazed a marvelous trail that little Joel would be blessed to follow. That's it, I'm referring to him as 'little Joel' and disregarding what his parents have decided. It's for his own good. Hahaha.

For some good ol' indie rock, visit My Old Kentucky Blog. It's crumbelievable. And they feature some new Pigeon John! This track, Higher?!, is pretty catchy.

Melanie's friend, Catherine, got this picture in a Cambodian dance club, if I recall correctly. Freaking hilarious.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

So tell me something I don't already know

I just discovered that I was linked to over at B.I.C. Blogs, a blog which links to other blogs maintained by folks that are involved with Brethren In Christ churches, of which I am. Thanks for finding me, Pat!

For those who haven't heard, my car was stolen on Wednesday night/Thursday morning. I worked really late on Wednesday on a bad case (kids with serious injuries caused by a parent) and didn't get home until 10:15PM. Of course, that was my last evening to spend with Melanie before she worked for two days and went camping with her family for four days. She made a delicious meal of ribs, garlic smashed potatoes and lemon zucchini. Are you drooling yet, Rod? She ate it alone. I ate mine the following evening alone. That was sad. Anyhow, at some point in that night, some unkind individuals decided to take my car without my permission. My neighbour told me the following day that her dog was freaking out around 2AM but she didn't know why. I bet I have an idea now.

It's a really odd feeling to walk out of your house and expect to find your vehicle where you left it, only it isn't there. I second- and third-guessed myself, wondering if I had somehow parked further down the street. When I called the police, they checked to see if it had been towed for some reason but it wasn't. I spent two hours of my morning calling the police and my insurance company. I missed an appointment at work. Luckily, I got a rental car within that time period and was able to go to work. Because I was busy, what had happened didn't really sink in until that night while laying in bed. I had this creepy, unsettling feeling, wondering if I had locked the door or what I would do if someone broke in. That's not right.

The update is that the police found my car, just over three kilometres away from our house. I haven't seen it yet but I've been told that the locks on the doors are broken and the ignition is wrecked. This is better than losing it completely because I've spent a lot of money maintaining that beast in the best condition (in terms of its engine) it can be for a 1995. And I'll still be able to say, 'I drive a Dodge Stratus!' like Will Ferrell did on SNL. Tomorrow, I'll call my insurance company and see what instructions they give me.

I haven't talked to this guy in quite a while in spite of multiple calls to his home. Sure, he called me back one but not since. Jon never called me back either, though I missed his birthday because I'm in the top five of worst friends ever and because he doesn't call back anyway.

I did sound today at church. It was only the second time I engaged in this task without the assistance of Mr. Mike Slack (a.k.a. Pants). It's so much easier without the drums. They had a great percussionist who played a djembe and another type of hand drum (like a box - maybe it was just a box). I think I did alright. I also got to expose the folks to some different music as I put together a CD of different stuff. Here's the tracklisting of the first of many such discs (I'm going to explore the possibility of having genre themes to warn people - particularly the older crowd - that they may hear things they to which they are not accustomed).

1. Buddy Miller - There's A Higher Power
2. Johnny Cash - When The Roll Is Called Up Yonder
3. Jars Of Clay ft. The Blind Boys Of Alabama - Nothing But The Blood
4. Sarah Sadler - How Deep The Father's Love For Us
5. Sufjan Stevens - Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing (follow link for MP3)
6. The Innocence Mission - Christ Is My Hope
7. Chris Tomlin - How Great Is Our God
8. The Blind Boys Of Alabama - (Jesus Hits Like The) Atom Bomb
9. Stevie Wonder - Have A Talk With God
10. Sinead O'Connor - Thank You For Hearing Me
11. David Anderson - I Belong To You
12. The Innocence Mission - It Is Well With My Soul
13. Pedro The Lion - Be Thou My Vision (follow link for MP3)
14. Everybodyduck - Arms Of Love
15. Switchfoot - The Economy Of Mercy
16. U2 - Grace
17. Sixpence None The Richer & Jars Of Clay - With Every Breath
18. Shannon Stephens - I'll Be Glad (MP3)
19. The Innocence Mission - Beautiful Savior
20. Uncle Tupelo - No Depression
21. Switchfoot - Beautiful Letdown
22. Extreme - Hole Hearted

Does the last track stand out as not fitting in? Maybe. It's still a killer tune, though. I saw Krista Jefferson at church. Hi Krista! I'm updating, see?!?!

On the repeated recommendations of Krista's former school chum, Todd Brown, I rented, watched and thoroughly enjoyed Nightwatch. It is a Russian film that is not easily defined in one genre (though, science fiction and horror are the more obvious connections). It was incredibly well-produced and, from my limited experience with foreign films, excellently transferred to English. The subtitles were even involved in your visual experience. You'll have to watch it to see what I mean. Last night, I went to Josh's house and we rented The Family Guy movie. It was rough at parts but pretty funny.

It's only four more work days until Melanie and I leave for Barry's Bay, our annual trek north. And that's the beginning of two weeks without work for me! If we had more money, I'd fly down to Nashville and help Bill finish his damn show. That dude is all talk and no action. Hahahaha.

Look out, ladies of southern Ontario. After a brief jaunt into Arizona and Utah, Taxman is back and on the prowl. He won't maul you - unless you ask him nicely.

Further reading material.

Jesus Mean & Wild: The Unexpected Love Of An Untamable God (excerpt) by Mark Galli

Thursday, August 17, 2006

The kids love my rock & roll!

Bill has posted on multiple occasions about the odd searches that result in people hitting his website. Since I picked up that nifty counter, I can read some of the search words. Once, there was some search for something to do with lesbians. I'm pretty sure that guy didn't find what he was looking for on my blog. I guess the word 'hardcore' can trick some people. Anyhow, here are the current searches listed.

1. dave breukelaar (Google - Aug.2/06 8:54PM)
Dave, stop searching for yourself on the Web. I know you're seeing if I've posted those naked pictures yet. I haven't.

2. gospel ragamuffin review blog (MSN - Aug.3/06 6:25PM)

3. Agnieszka Tennant (Google - Aug.10/06 11:05PM)

4. vivaladel (Google - Aug.11/06 12:28PM)
The kids still love Blenderhead.

5. vivaladel (Google - Aug.13/06 12:09PM)
I think Matt Johnson's got a stalker.

6. song meaning for the widows in paradise, for the fatherless in ypsilanti (Ask Jeeves - Aug.13/06 12:45PM)
Sufjan is a genius. And I knew him when...

7. jonathan brotherton (Google - Aug.15/06 11:53AM)
Half of the grooviest rhythm section ever heard in an indie rock band.

8. Deckert English blog myspace com (Google - Aug.17/06 5:44PM)
Either Mr. Deckert heard I was copping his style and wanted to check it out for himself or Matt was searching for my blog. I wonder if Deckert is still alive.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

They call me 'Deckert' - Mr. Deckert

I think I posted pictures of my luscious beard before. Well, it's been gone for a few months. For a couple days before I shaved it off completely, I owned with what we Saltfleet Saracens know as the 'Deckert'. Maybe there's an actual term for this style of facial hair but we know it because of our English teacher who gave us plenty of hilarious lines over our five year high school careers (we had grade 13/OAC back in the day - we weren't dumb). Affectionatelly known as 'Stormin' Norman', his face was covered except for his chin. Check it.

I'm on my way to bed. Just after I finish listening to Cold Jordan by the Grateful Dead/New Riders Of The Purple Sage. This song is so getting played at church this fall.

Monday, August 07, 2006

It's a beautiful day to be Canadian

Did you foreign devils (i.e., Americans) know that we have a bunch of holidays for no reason whatsoever? Well, I suppose it is probably balanced out by other days you have off that we don't (e.g. MLK Day). Anyhow, we're off today for a 'civic holiday'. Pretty sweet. We do crazy things like get naked and sit in boxes. At least, that is what my sister and I did back in the day. Woo nelly, those were good times. Hahahaha.

This weekend has been busy. On Friday, I went to play poker with friends from church. It was a charity fundraiser (we raised $250 plus four bags of groceries for a local food bank) and a good time was had by all.
On Saturday, I worked out with Taxman in the morning (he weighs about forty pounds less than me but equals or outlifts me in every exercise) and then went out with Josh & Amanda in the evening for Mexican food (I'm not a huge fan but it was pretty good) and a movie (Talladega Nights). The movie had some great lines but it dragged by the end, much like Nacho Libre.

Yesterday (that'd be Sunday), I threw Melanie a surprise early birthday party of one (i.e., me). She has repeatedly expressed her discontent with sharing her birthday season with Jesus (her's is one week before we celebrate His) so I decorated and did some fun stuff with her. We went out for a delicious brunch and then to an outdoor antique market. I gave her presents and then we watched a flick.

Melanie has been uncomfortable with the lack of movies we watch (I end up watching something shorter on TV like C.S.I. frequently) so we rented An Unfinished Life (good film) and The United States of Leland (not as good). The former had some interesting insights into forgiveness and the trials of life. The latter had a great score by Jeremy Enigk. Speaking of Jeremy, he's playing tonight in Toronto but I won't be there. Another great artist I let pass by.

Today, we watched the second movie in the afternoon after I cut the grass and tidied the yard a bit. I went and finally bought a Monster Cookie Blizzard from Dairy Queen. While I was pleased to have an employee who gave me plenty of toppings, she overdid it with the chocolate sauce. Egads, my teeth started to rock as I was eating it. Melanie stated that my suggestion of excessive chocolate was blasphemy.

What are you doing this evening? Aside from reading this kick-asser blog, of course. Darren & Larissa want us to start using the word 'offenton' instead of 'often'. I told him I would not do so but I would continue to use 'kick-asser' as an adjective akin to 'better' or 'more good'. You should do the same.

Finally, I leave you with two of my favourite pictures taken at my wedding almost two years ago. I found them again as I was trying to get that picture of Josh & Amanda. I always laugh when I see them. Jon and Josh are two of my best friends and both of them are hilarious (total babes, too). Anyhow, I'll let the pictures do the talking. Belanger, I'm sorry I forgot your birthday. Or should I just lie and say you were too drunk to remember that I called? I'll go with the honest answer, I suppose.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Jesus freaks out in the street, handing tickets out for God

Ever heard of a pastor who supports the separation of church and state? Oh, and isn't a nutbar? Let me introduce you to two. First, the teaching pastor of our church, Bruxy Cavey. Second, Gregory Boyd. I think I might have first read his most widely-known book, Letters From A Skeptic. What hooked me was his later work, God Of The Possible, which properly introduced me to the theological position known as open theism. I had been thinking thoughts for a couple years that were explained and expanded by Dr. Boyd. This dude is crazy smart. I have a few of his other books (Repenting Of Religion, Is God To Blame?, God At War) that I have yet to read and want to get more.

Dr. Boyd is the pastor of Woodland Hills Church in St. Paul, Minnesota. The church website features the sermons delivered each Sunday. I just decided to drop in after not having looked at it for some time and found an interesting article that was written about Dr. Boyd and the church by the New York Times. Boyd gave a sermon series called The Cross and The Sword before the last American election that sounds pretty radical (in both its senses used by Webster's and Bart Simpson) and Biblical. He pissed off a lot of church members (the NY Times article states that around 1000 people left the church) but, in my estimation, pleased God and assisted in facilitating the spiritual growth of many, many people. He's expanded on the sermons and written a book called The Myth Of A Christian Nation. I suggest you join me in downloading the sermons and reading the book at some point. I'm off to download and burn 'em.

Do tanks tops belong in church?

Two in two days - you lucky sonuvaguns! This one isn't really mine but I wanted to toss it on here anyway. I read this Dear Abby column in the paper a few weeks back. Someone wrote in asking about proper attire for church. They printed four responses to the columnist's reply - two opposed and two supporting her view. Guess which ones I found angering?

DEAR ABBY: Can you please settle our question about what is proper attire for church? Are short shorts, tube tops and flip-flops suitable for a house of worship? -- DISMAYED IN MARYSVILLE, MICH.

DEAR DISMAYED: I was raised that a person should dress "respectfully" in the house of the Lord. That means fully shod and covered up enough so that it doesn't distract the other worshippers. However, dress codes have been greatly relaxed in recent decades. Each congregation has its own standards and, in the final analysis, it is up to the clergyperson and governing body to decide what is or is not appropriate.

DEAR ABBY: May I respond to your reply to "Dismayed in Marysville, Mich.," regarding attire in church? As a priest and pastor, I'm appalled at how some people come dressed for Sunday worship.

You said that "Dress codes have been greatly relaxed in recent decades," which I find to be inaccurate. What has become relaxed is the attitude, the respect and reverence people have for worship and church buildings. From brides walking down the aisle chewing gum to funeral pallbearers wearing tennis shoes, to members wearing flip-flops, shorts and tank tops on Sunday, the lack of respect and reverence to worship is disgusting.

These same people would never allow their children to play in a sporting event out of uniform, or apply for a job interview themselves dressed inappropriately. Sunday worship should be no different! -- PRIEST IN OHIO

DEAR PRIEST: I also said I was raised to believe people should dress "respectfully" in the house of the Lord -- and that means fully shod and covered up enough so it doesn't distract the other worshippers. However, reaction to my reply varied sharply. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: More important than what people are wearing is the reason for being in church in the first place. Maybe it would be better if we could all enter God's house blind. If we can't see what people are wearing, we can leave our judgments and prejudices outside and use the time to learn more about God's purpose for our lives. -- DIANA IN CEDAR RAPIDS, IOWA

DEAR ABBY: Satan wants to embarrass the church, so he sends people dressed any kind of disrespectful way. They'd be sent home from their jobs if they dressed like that. Women: Cover up! You are worth more than your skin. -- PASTOR'S WIFE IN ST. LOUIS

DEAR ABBY: That we worship is more important than what we wear. That letter reminded me of the story of the old cowboy who visited a new church in his jeans and boots. After the service, the pastor greeted him and remarked, "We enjoyed having you here today, but before you return, you should have a talk with God about proper attire in church."

The next week, the cowboy returned wearing the same clothes, so the pastor approached him again. "I thought I told you to speak with God about what to wear when you came here," he said. The cowboy responded, "I did. But he said he didn't know because he'd never set foot in here!" -- IOWA COWBOY

DEAR ABBY: My pastor says no one would consider dressing casually if they were going to be in the presence of our president or any other dignitary. Why would we consider anything less for our Lord? Makes perfect sense to me. -- BARBARA, MORGANTOWN, PA.

DEAR ABBY: I have seen people come to church straight from working in their yard, without changing or washing up. When I was a child living in the country, men came to work wearing overalls, but they were clean and, most of the time, new. Today, there is no excuse for slovenliness in public, much less in God's house. -- LILLIE IN SPRINGFIELD, MO.

DEAR ABBY: Church is where you go to give praise to the Lord, not check out what others are wearing. If "Dismayed" feels put out because someone isn't dressed the way she'd like, then maybe the services should be held at Macy's so she can feel more comfortable. -- MATTHEW IN PEORIA


It's ignorance like some of that above that keeps people from believing that maybe - just maybe - God is interested in more important things than their clothes, hair and odour. It's nice to know that the impoverished and homeless continue to be shunned and unwelcome in church. Jesus must be so proud that His people are following His message of segregation and self-righteousness. Oh, no, wait... Oh, that's right, He said the exact opposite of that. I always get those mixed up.