Archives For culture

TLC, once the “Learning Channel,” is now a bastion of bizarre reality shows: My Strange Addiction, Naked and Afraid, (Animal/Alligator/Etc) Hoarders, etc.

How did they get there? What lead them to this place? Let’s take a walk down memory lane and see some of the titles which were considered, but later rejected, for some of their biggest hits:

Little People, Big Ego (Am I right?) But because that likely wouldn’t play in Poughkeepsie, they went with the more accessible (but banal) Little People, Big World. You be the judge.

Infinity Kids and Counting (Because they just keep coming). They of course settled on X Kids and Counting. And, yes, she delivered every one.

Jon and Kate Plus Hate (With a side of crazy). They settled on the more factual, but less zingy, Jon and Kate Plus E8ight. Somehow, yes, they thought the viewing audience needed the digit in addition to the word to know just how many kids we’re talking about here. Go figure.

My One Wife and Four Concubines (‘Cause he’s only married to the first one. D’oh). American test audiences just weren’t quite sure what a “concubine” was–so they went with My Five Wives. They’re polygamist and proud. And also crazy. Because, um, hello? PMS x 5? Based upon anecdote and experience, it seems that when ladies spend extended periods of time together their cycles get synchronized. Or in Brady Williams’s case, the one week every month where he just wants to die. You do the math.

What rejected TLC show titles have you heard of? Share below.

The Monuments Men

The Monuments Men is a new movie starring George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Bob Balaban, Jean Dujardin, Cate Blanchett, and Hugh Bonneville. Set during the waning days of World War II, it is the story of an unlikely platoon of men tasked with recovering, and restoring, works of art stolen by Hitler’s Nazi regime. Positioning itself as an epic among the likes of Saving Private Ryan, it is nevertheless a tale that takes place in smaller, quiet moments. Going in, we do not know much about the Monuments Men, other than they are scholars, professors, art historians, architects–men who love art. Despite this lack of back story, we learn who they are by what they do.

They characters are revealed by their respective actions. Though they wrestle with it, struggle to come to grips, each believes the mission is one worth dying for. That these monumental works are worth preserving. That by keeping culture alive they are keeping hope alive.

That by preserving history they are safeguarding the future.

Though it is somewhat disjointed at times, with abrupt tonal shifts, this movie brings home the high human cost of war. Not through the horrors of the concentration camp, but rather through small moments (a character hanging a painting in an empty apartment, never to be occupied again by the people who left it).

It is a journey worth taking.

Go see The Monuments Men.

Just Jesus

randomlychad  —  February 5, 2014 — 5 Comments

I didn’t see the Creation Debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham last night. It’s not that I wasn’t interested; rather, I was working. From what I’ve gathered about it, it doesn’t appear that any minds were changed.

Ham claims the authority of Scripture for his position, and Nye science. Thus questioning Ken Ham is akin to questioning God, and in questioning Bill Nye the Science Guy one risks the withering scorn of the scientific establishment.

Why are things always so rigidly dogmatic? So binary, so this–or that?

There’s no room for nuance. No room for debate, really.

Yet science and faith are not mutually exclusive. God gave us brains to use them. As Chesterton said, the “point of having an open mind is to close it again on something solid.” And chew!

If we believe that God is truth, then all truth is His truth. He doesn’t lie. If we observe that it takes light, well, light years to reach us it simply stands to reason that the universe is old. The further we look out into the universe the further back in time we’re looking.

I’m not threatened by this.

And neither is God.

God, in preparing a place for us, knew well in advance we would need fossil fuels…

But this is all really secondary. In fact, I don’t care what you believe about how we got here. I really don’t.

What’s important. What’s indeed number one with a bullet is what you make of Jesus, and what He did for all of us. Whether you want to be a theistic evolutionist, young earth creationist, old earth creationist, day-age creationist, proponent of the gap theory, intelligent designer, eater of bok choy, etc. it’s no skin off my back.

Because none of that is central.

What is is Jesus.

Just Jesus.

Your convictions about origins are not now, nor have they ever been, Gospel. Simply put, we have an enemy who loves nothing so much as to divide–to sow the seeds of discord–wherever and whenever he can.

He gets us majoring in the minors, while Jesus stands off to the side weeping because, somewhere along the way He and the Gospel, have been forgotten. It’s rampant throughout the world, but easily identifiable:

When, and where, ever we are more committed to an idealogy over and above the Gospel we’re missing it.

As for me, just give me Jesus.

How about you?

'Dysfunction Junction: Cold Spring NY Photowalk' photo (c) 2010, Nick Harris - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

I don’t want you getting the wrong idea–I wasn’t beaten as a child. The spankings I got, I earned (helping your buddy try to burn down his grandmother’s garage, anyone?). I wasn’t a battered child, but I’ve got come to the conclusion that abuse is never just physical.

There are psychological, and emotional, abuses, too. And if I was abused, it was in this way:

I was ignored. One of my earliest memories is being told to go away, relax, unwind, watch T.V. And then later, when she checked on me, my mother was aghast to find me drinking a beer in front of Sesame Street. Why? “Because it wat daddy do.”

When I fell, got hurt, got a boo-boo, there was precious little soothing; instead, I was indoctrinated with the mantra “I’m alright.” Even though I most decidedly was not alright. They say the lessons learned earliest go the deepest.
And are hardest to overcome. I’ve been alright far too many times when I shouldn’t have been. Been okay in places I never should have been…

If my mother’s chiefest failing was practiced indifference–emotional diffidence, my dad’s was indifference followed by the bitter wash of sarcastic chasers. I would go from being ignored to verbally masticated, spit out, left to put myself back together…

And I had to be alright.

After their inevitable divorce, the neglect only deepened. My mom, of course, didn’t share her pain; instead, losing herself in work, she hoped (I think) to give others something she couldn’t give herself: an intact family.

And my dad? Our relationship was as defined in the divorce decree: I saw him twice a year. His second wife hated my brother and I…

Divorce touches millions of families. And my life, seen from the outside, may have appeared to be, while perhaps less than ideal, a privileged one. I was white, lived in Scottsdale, had a roof, clothes  food. In short, the basics.

It has taken me years to pin down just exactly what I didn’t have:

A sense of love.

Part and parcel with growing up latchkey was, I guess, a sense of parental guilt. There were precious few boundaries, and even fewer consequences. I was left to my own devices, to indulge in whatever I wanted.

It’s a wonder I just got into smoking, and not drugs. My interest in porn was labelled “healthy curiosity.” If my childhood was defined by anything, it was these three things:

Neglect

Pornography

And Stephen King

I turned inward because there was nowhere else to go, no one to go to. My mom eventually had a live-in boyfriend, who’s example, and idea of culture, consisted of pizza, cigarettes, and “martoonis” in front of the T.V. This was my exemplar of manhood.

I wanted to escape, but had nowhere else to go. My dad didn’t want me, my mom was too busy, and this is “white privilege?”

None of this was talked about. I had to navigate a broken family, adolescence, on my own.

Habits developed then have not always been conducive now to  building healthy attachments. I’m almost 45 years old, and still bitter about what I didn’t have. Why couldn’t I have a normal, loving family? Why don’t I have meaningful relationships with my parents, brother, etc?

For years, as a growing Christian, I thought it was my job to put up, shut up, keep the peace. I allowed so many unhealthy things to happen, so many hurts to go unaddressed. I want to let my parents off the hook, say they did the best they could…

But I don’t believe it.

That’s why I want so much to be done with them. I can’t seem to get past the things which they’ve done, or I’ve done in relation to them. I want to say there’s too much water under the bridge. I don’t feel listened to.

I want to be done, but can’t. Because…

Because God.

He’s the God of second, third, thirty-third, and seventy-times-time chances.

Because He’s given me chance after chance, though I’ve blown it time and time again, I can do no less. I have to try.

If there’s a lesson I’ve learned in life, it’s this: the things we like least in others are usually the things which dislike about ourselves. That hurts to admit.

I’m not perfect (far from it), and neither are they. They dealt with their own demons, as I’ve dealt with mine.

God help me, I’m willing to try.

That’s the best I can do.

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:

image

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.

image

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!