The continuing chronicle of Wesley's quest to be published; plus comments on popular culture, family life, and whatever else falls out of his head.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

November 23. The day before Thanksgiving. Cold wind blew in from the north and now the first snow of the year is sticking to the ground.

I don't mind the snow so much. It's expected, but around here the first big snow always means the same thing: The city government is never prepared for it, so traffic is nuts.

Add to that the fact that this is the day before Thanksgiving, where I-71 is a parking lot for 20 miles north of Porlaris, and you've got some seriously pissed off dads driving cars today and tomorrow.

Hopefully things will clear up tomorrow, but I'm not betting on it. I'm just happy I don't have to go home immediately. Carrie and I are actually heading south to my parents house for dinner tonight. On one hand the traffic should be substantially lighter. On the other hand, the snow may be considerably deeper, and accidents more commmon.

We shall see. We shall see.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Is It Really the Weather?

After my meeting with Maison the other day, I was in panic mode. I was depressed, despondent, paranoid. I wanted to curl up and cry. I stayed up until 3:30 this morning working on lyric-blocking so Maison could work on setting light cues this weekend.

But I'm not tired. I'm in a decent mood. Nothing really has changed, except for the fact that I woke up to sunshine this morning and the past several days have been dreary and darkly overcast all day.

I've known--or I guess I should say "I've assumed," since I don't have any emprical evidence backing me up--that gray weather affects my mood more extremely than it does most people. But to see it swing so far in less than 12 hours with no real change in circumstance other than the (semi-)completion of one project is surprising even to me. After just three hours of sleep, I'm in a pretty decent mood. Getting a little tired and yawny at this point, but that's to be expected.

But I'm not DEPRESSED. I'm not especially anxious or panicky.

The only thing I can presume is that God is taking the anxiety away from me. Because, honestly, there's no reason for me to NOT be anxious right now. I'm going to be getting a call from Maison later on today telling me that what I submitted to him is totally unacceptable, and I'll have to spend another twelve hours working on something new.

And I'm okay with that. I've given this anxiety back to God, and He's accepted it. I know others are praying for me, and that God will "Bless this mess."

Now I just have to get my hanging angels on board, fix the crucifixion and resurrection, and I'll be golden.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

I Corinthians 15:58

... be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.
The day after the meeting with Maison, and I'm still shaking. I'm panicking. I'm getting paranoid. I realize that I'm panicking and getting paranoid, and yet I'm unable to do anything to change that right now.

I need to give this over to God, this anxiety I now find myself in. I need to let him remind me that I'm not controlling this one, nor should I be. This needs to be where I stop and God takes over. Like Steve says, "Let go, and let God."

But, it'll be difficult. Realizing how much confusion there is going to be over the next couple of weeks. Long nights, crankiness and anger. The added rehearsals. The fact that we're still missing hanging angels. This all weighs heavily on my heart. I can give it up, but then I think about it again and my heart climbs into my throat. So, I guess I'll just have to give it up again. And keep doing that until I can let it go and stop worrying about it.

I guess.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Sky High

Will Stronghold, teenage son of the two most popular and powerful super-heroes on Earth, is welcomed to a floating high school for the sons and daughters of heroes on Earth. During orientation at Sky High, every incoming freshman is asked to demonstrate his or her power (everybody only gets one--this is important), and is immediately classified into one of two tracks--hero or sidekick. That's how class divisions are created: instead of jocks and nerds, we have heroes and sidekicks, who have lame powers like the ability to melt or turn into guinea pigs.With a concept like this, Sky High could have been a biting satire on high school. But, it is made under the Disney banner, so it is nothing more than well-intentioned fluff. But, as far as Disney movies go, this average but still very entertaining. I can see this becoming something of a cult hit for the pre-teen crowd on DVD this Christmas.


Last week Carrie and I were able to take part in a special screening of Zathura, mostly because the theatre in question is under fire from increased competition with a different theatre a few miles away in a larger shopping area.

This is a film I had wanted to see for some time, partly because it's directed by one of my favorite performers, Jon Favreau, but mostly because I wanted to see how it compared to Jumanji, which was released ten years ago.

In a nutshell, I think Jumanji is a noteably better movie, not just because of the presence of Robin Williams, Bonnie Hunt, Kirsten Dunst and David Alan Grier, but because the script is just more engaging. Both movies are based on books by Chris Van Allsburg, and Zathura the book actually mentions Jumanji in it.

In Zathura, Jonah Bobo and Josh Hutcherson play young brothers who, with their teen sister, are staying with their divorced father in a creaky old house one weekend. While the father is away on business, they find an old, outer space-themed, tin wind-up game called Zathura. As they play the game, they discover that their home has been transported into outer space itself, complete with meteor showers, renegade robots, lost astronauts and evil aliens that eat on human flesh.

Even though I enjoyed the movie, there was something about it that bugged me, and it wasn't until I read Roger Ebert's review that it hit me: There is never any real sense of danger here. I never felt that there was a possibility that they might not get home, or that anything might happen to them. In addition, I really just didn't care that much for the characters in the same way that I did in Jumanji.

Ultimately, this movie since this movie is opening a week before Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, it will probably tank at the box office, and that is too bad, because it is a decent movie, and entertaining enough. But the audience it is aiming for will all be going to see Goblet of Fire instead.

The 40 Year-Old Virgin

Steve Carrell is a lot more talented than you think he is.

He's stolen movies from Jim Carrey and Will Ferrell, and now he gets his chance to shine in a movie he co-wrote and produced, The 40 Year-Old Virgin.

Andy is a nice guy with a safe job at an electronics store, who lives quietly with his hobbies.

Oh, yeah, and he's never had sex.

Once his friends at the electronics store find out, they make it their job to get him laid. However, they're really more of a messed up Greek chorus, watching Andy but giving all the wrong advice. All they're really doing is living vicariously through him.

Something peculiar about the movie is that much of the action and comedy going on doesn't even really involve Andy as other characters have short scenes to shine in the electronics store, and minor characters intereact with one another and have more distinct voices than you would normally see in this kind of movie. I have to wonder if this was originally pitched as a sitcom, because that's how it feels at times.

Either way, this was well worth the money, and I have the feeling it will do very well on DVD.

LCT Blues

This past Sunday, I attended a meeting of the LCT Directors. That's capitalized because it wasn't just the directors of certain scenes or songs, but people like Rick Barlow and Randy Kettering, directors of paticular ministries within LCT.

Let's step back. Way back in September, I had Lisa reserve the sanctuary for my rehearsals from 1PM - 7PM most every Sunday because of the number of songs we're doing this year and the limited number of Sundays we have with which to do them. Those days were reserved, they were mine.

Now, I find out two weeks ago that Randy, having not reserved the room at all, told the choir and orchestra that they would be rehearsing there for two hours this week and next, 3-5PM. Obviously, we can't both be in there, and before the meeting, if you had asked me I would have told you that there was no way that he was going to take my slots.

When that time came, however, I changed my mind. I could rationalize it and say that I remembered that the cast aren't the only ones who need to rehearse, and Randy's team doesn't deserve to suffer for his error, or that I simply felt the need to share with everyone for the best. But the fact of the matter was I chickened out. WHen push came to shove, I folded like a house of cards in the face of the Director of Music and Media Ministries.

And last night we got the first of the backlash, as someone kept Carrie on the phone complaining for ten minutes about the changes and how they are being affected by them.

Now, while I do believe the things above, about the need to make a compromise so everyone can get their time in the sanctuary, I am not looking forward to today, where I'm afraid Carrie and I will be accosted by everyone who's being put out by these changes. I'm more concerned about Carrie than myself, because women naturally tend to drift to her, and they will complain more about the changes. Guys come to me, and they generally just want clarification, not the need to vent. Women complain and whine, and Carrie doesn't handle stuff like that well. So, I'm going to ask Carrie to defer all questions she gets to me, and hopefully they'll accept the answers I give them.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Yay for Days Off!

I have today off. And by "off" I mean I only have two appointments, a meeting and a handful of chores to do before it gets dark tonight.

1. Vist with the urologist up at Grady Memorial Hospital, to figure out why I'm bleeding, and what it may mean.

2. Meeting with Stacy Householder and Liz Gates about costuming for Jesus during LCT.

3. Appointment with Dr. Blank to have my teeth cleaned

4. Fix the lawn tractor's tire so we can use it tomorrow (this one, out of all of them, I am looking the least forward to because it's cold out there today and this will take longer than I think it will).

The upside is that Carrie is spending time with the girls tonight, so I will, eventually, have some time to myself this afternoon and evening, where I can either write a little bit, or read if I want to. I'm also thinking about heading down to the bargain theatre sometime today and checking out The 40 Year Old Virgin or Serenity. Perhaps both.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Avoiding Work

I'm home, supposedly working on stuff for LCT. But really I'm poking around the internet, eating more ice cream than I'm supposed to and listening to old TV themes like Sanford & Son.

I'm really beginning to hate Christmas and LCT. And I hadn't enjoyed LCT for a while before I took this on. I've got three songs to map out, and I've basically got tonight to do it. I'm not especially worried, as all three are very simple, but I'm reticent to actually buckle down and get the work done.

I recognize that I'm sabotaging myself, but I'm unwilling to do anything about it.

Proof that I have officially left the major demographic:

My wife and I stopped by Wendy's the other day, and the kid at the drive-thru window had both cheeks and the back of his neck pierced.

His neck!

I can't even begin to understand that one. Other piercings, where you can see them in the mirror, I may not always like, but I can understand--but the neck?!?

What am I missing?

Monday, November 07, 2005

Batman: Under the Hood

Writer: Judd WinnickArtist: Doug MahnkePublisher: DC ComicsThis story arc and the resulting TPB supposedly re-introduces two unused characters to the Batman corner of the DC universe: The Red Hood a previous identity of the Joker, and Jason Todd, more commonly known as Robin II. Roman Sidonis, The Black Mask, has recently clawed his way to become the underworld kingpin in Gotham. But there is a new player on the scene, the Red Hood. At first, it seems the Hood is simply trying to carve out a small piece of Black Mask's territory, but then he sets his sites higher, highjacking 100 pounds of kryptonite Black Mask is trafficking, and wiping out much of the street muscle with lethal force.Meanwhile, Batman, still reeling from losing another Robin, Stephanie Brown, has pushed the rest of his 'soldiers' out of Gotham, allowing only a young woman, Onyx to work in 'his' city. A third Robin, the original--now Nightwing--attempts to dig deeper into Batman's issues by joining him on patrol, but is ineffective in changing Batman's mood. When Batman crosses the Red Hood, Batman immediately recognizes something about his fighting style that reminds him of Jason Todd, and he begins to investigate the possibility that Todd might still be alive.I enjoyed this more than I thought I would. I have not been a huge fan of Winnick's work for DC. He tends to hang onto pet concepts and themes after their usefulness--Onyx is a secondary character from Winnick's Green Arrow, for example. And, while, whether this new Red Hood is still under speculation, Winnick has created a character and new situation in Gotham that really piques my interest.Mahnke's artwork is serviceable but not spectacular. Since I hadn't read these stories in monthly format, my only exposure to the look of the Red Hood was through Matt Wagner's covers, where the Red Hood's mask does not have any features. Inside, however, Mahnke puts two whited eye-holes for the mask, which I found took a lot of the visual appeal of the character away.

Super Un-size Me

Dr. Gnade said I had to lose weight. He didn't specify how much, just 'a lot.'

Carrie wants to put me on a diet. This one may work out a little better than the others have because I have to do it for myself, not just to make her happy (not that making her happy isn't of a primary importance to me... ).

So, over the past week I've been thinking about diets and dieting and proper exercise, and I've come up with a couple ideas that may be able to help.

First things first, cut out fast food junk altogether. That means if I have to eat at McDonald's or Burger King or Wendy's, avoid the burgers and fries at all costs. They now offer plenty of salads or other alternatives. So I can go to places like Subway or Quiznos or even Taco Bell as long as I don't get soft drinks. They are right out.

If/when I do find myself staring at a value meal, make sure it's the smallest one there. That means no 'Biggie', 'Super' or 'King' size meals. Small size, hello and thank you very much. Petite size. Wee size.

And here's an idea--starting tomorrow, take the stairs. I work on the seventh floor. I'm only 35. I SHOULD be able to make that trip once or twice a day without much effort. Since I haven't been to the gym in months (which is the next step), this will do in a pinch--just walk the seven flights instead of hitting the elevator.

And, of course, when I get home tonight, I'll pack my workout clothes up and hit the gym tomorrow. Just to get on the treadmill for a half-hour and sit in the sauna for an extra fifteen minutes should do wonders for me.

The problem there is getting to bed ON TIME. I have enough trouble getting to sleep as it is, especially if I snack late in the evening. I had that problem last night. Carrie went to bed at 9, and I had some potato chips. And then I had a bowl of ice cream. Then, with all that salt and sugar coarsing through my syste, SURPISE! I had trouble getting to sleep, thus had difficulty waking up, and getting a start on the day.

THEREFORE, no more snacking after 10 PM. Period.

AND... here's the big one... WATER. LOTS of water. PLENTY of water. Verging on OVERHYDRATION of water. Basically, drink 16-20 ounces of water BEFORE every meal, and BEFORE I start snacking on anything. This way, I'm well on the way to getting a full stomach to begin with, and any food I eat will be digested that much faster.

A lot of the above is based on willpower, but the water thing is more of a discipline issue. I have trouble with willpower, but discipline is easier for me. The last semi-successful diet (because I did lose a lot of weight, and kept it off for a while before eventually gaining it back) I was on was pretty simple: The only snack I allowed myself was microwavable popcorn. That was it. Nothing else really special, I just cut out any other kinds of snacks/desserts.

I think if I can drink a big glass of water before every meal or snack, and make that a healthy habit, I will be well on the way to getting a lot of this midsection off. If I can learn to stop eating a couple hours before bedtime, that will be a second large step. Finally, I personally thinking cutting out soda will be a HUGE development in losing weight.

Here's to tomorrow. - NFL - Cheerleaders charged after alleged sexual escapade

I just thought this was an awesome, sordid little story, especially considering how a lot of women reacted after the Vikings boating incident a couple months back. The fact that one of the top sports stories this morning is this cheerleader brawl just makes me all warm inside. - NFL - Cheerleaders charged after alleged sexual escapade

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

It's a Bird...

So, I've been thinking a lot about writing again recently. This is for several reasons. Not the least of which is the fact that Nanowrimo started again yesterday, and again I am not participating. Nanowrimo is the reason I was able to finish a novel in the first place, and it doesn't seem right that I can't participate in it again because of my newfound authority for LCT.

Regardless, I'm really getting the itch to write again, and I'm thinking about Superman specifically. Over at Newsarama (I say this because I'm not actually reading Superman comics as they come out but in collections) people are saying that Superman has become a real puss over the past 5-10 years or so. I can't say as I disagree with them. When he was created, he was a hero to the oppressed, overturning crooked politicians and being really progressive in his pre-pubescent politics. By the fifties, however, all the rough edges had been polished off the character, and he was dealing with five diffferent types of Kryptonite and having his powers messed with every other issue. It was a low point for super-hero comics, and both he and Batman had fallen into high camp wackiness. The difference was that Batman was able to return to his more brutal beginnings in the 70s, while Superman became the Big Blue Boyscout, and he never really recovered. It's to the point where writers don't want to touch him because he's so hard to get a handle on.

But what if he was returned to his progressive roots? What if we were reminded that he's an investigative journalist as well as a superhero? That's what I've been thinking about. For me--and maybe this is just because "my" Superman is the one in Man of Steel--Superman isn't the last survivor from an alien superculture, for a Kansas farmboy who's trying to help the world the best way he knows how.

So I've been thinking about what I'm going to do after LCT, maybe in January, is sit down and bang out a Superman novel in a month. I think I could do that. Might even be fun.

Message Bored

Work can be such a bother.

I find myself avoiding my job more and more and posting at all the time, even after work at home. Honestly, I recognize that it's getting bad. Here I am, a man in his mid-thirties, competing for the attention of other middle-aged men, and when I'm not mentioned in the Popularity threads that pop up every so often, I get jealous. For that matter, this afternoon I seriously considered creating an alias to post under, just so's I could act like a jerk and get some attention. How pathetic is that.

Speaking of pathetic... Carrie and I flipped on 'The Biggest Loser' for a few minutes tonight--and I'm bigger than the smallest guy was at the BEGINNING of the competition. That's not good. Especially when Dr. Gnade warned me very strenuously about my weight. With my family's history of heart condition, my elevated blood pressure and especially cholesterol, he was very adamant about me losing weight again.

I suppose I'll get back to the gym and hit the treadmill again.

288. Geez.