Southern California Culture

Having recently spent some time in southern California, I can attest to the fact that it has a culture all its own. The temperate climate seems to breed a people that are by-and-large very laid back and friendly (except on the ubiquitous freeways–which one, if one wishes to get anywhere, cannot avoid).

More than the love Californians bear for their weather, the beach, the surf, the ocean, they seem to love two things:

Their Pho.

And their smiles.

As my wife and motored around, taking in the sights, smelling the briny air (and exhaust), what we noticed more than anything else was:

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Pho. Vietnamese noodle bowl.

These Pho (pronounced “fuh”) joints seemed to be as plentiful (if not more so) as Circle-Ks in Phoenix. There was literally one on every corner. There was Pho Huang, Pho To Chau, and Pho King.

Almost as ubiquitous were the dental offices. We passed one which advertised “Open 7 days a week, 365 days a year.” Californians seem to love their teeth so much that going to the dentist on Thanksgiving, or Christmas, is a priority.

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Look at those choppers!

It became a joke as we drove from Anaheim to Huntington Beach: “Look, Hon! A dentist’s office! Look another Pho joint! Pho Dim Sum Big Doc!”

The preponderance of these two types of establishments leads me to conclude that Californians love nothing more than to sink their pretty pearly whites into big, steaming bowls of Pho.

Pass the Siracha! But don’t forget to brush!

Dean Koontz–Evangelist of Hope

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I’m a fan of well-crafted stories. If you know anything about his writing process, nobody spends more time crafting books than Dean Koontz. Seriously. His process–continually revising a page until it’s just right, then moving onto the next–would drive me crazy. But it works for him. Some accuse him of being formulaic, of being inferior to King. That may be.

There’s no discounting his success. The numbers don’t lie. And when he’s hot, he’s hot. Witness: Watchers, Strangers, Intensity, Lightning, and Odd Thomas. (My friend, Ricky Anderson stayed up into the wee hours last night reading Odd).

In my estimation, there’s more to Koontz’s success than just adrenaline-laced plots that keep the reader turning pages (as welcome as that is). No, it’s his characters. They feel like real people–people facing insane situations overwhelming odds, and yet somehow holding onto hope. These people could be you, me, or the neighbor down the block. And his villains are more, or less, than human. Their motivations are real, and they never see themselves as villains. Like Satan, Koontz’s villains usually see themselves as the aggrieved, misunderstood, party. Thus they are justified in their own eyes.

Like most Catholic writers I’ve read, Koontz isn’t afraid to let his villains be villains. Thus he portrays evil as it is. And thus the light of hope, of the protagonists, shines out all the more brightly in contrast. That is what I love about Koontz: he is an eternal optimist: no matter how dark, how bad things get, there’s always hope. Good will triumph on the end. (Now this is not say that his good guys aren’t flawed people–they are. They overcome these shortcomings, confront themselves, and the darkness in their own hearts).

The genius of Koontz is that, while not writing sermons, his work is infused with his faith stamped upon every page. His is the voice of one calling us out of the darkness into the light. It will, like life itself, be a bumpy ride. If you know any of his personal story–raised in poverty with an abusive, alcoholic father–you know that Dean is an overcome. He doesn’t see himself (or his characters for that matter) as a victim of circumstance.

By extension, he is calling us into the same life. We are not victims of circumstance unless we choose to be. We, like the people of which he writes, can overcome whatever life throws at us.

In this way, Mr. Koontz is an evangelist.
An evangelist of hope.

Have you read any Dean Koontz? What are your favorites?

Son of God (Official Trailer)

I know I posted the GMA trailer yesterday, but this is the official trailer on YouTube (which was under embargo until today).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Hsl5UG9O_c&feature=youtu.be

Are you going to see Son of God? How did you feel about the Bible miniseries?

Share in the comments.

Son of God (Official Trailer)

I know I posted the GMA trailer yesterday, but this is the official trailer on YouTube (which was under embargo until today).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Hsl5UG9O_c&feature=youtu.be

Are you going to see Son of God? How did you feel about the Bible miniseries?

Share in the comments.

Son of God–Exclusive Trailer

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The trailer for the upcoming Son of God movie from Mark Burnett and Roma Downey premiered today on Good Morning America. The following is a link to that exclusive trailer:

http://gma.yahoo.com/video/exclusive-first-look-son-god-114908407.html?format=embed&player_autoplay=false

Are you planning on seeing Son of God when it premieres in February?

Comment for a chance to win:

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