Thursday, August 24, 2006
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
If you’ve watched his shows you probably had one of two reactions: a) God, I wish I was as smart and funny as these people, or b) What the *%&$ planet are these babbling idiots from?
The Pop View blog The newest show from Aaron Sorkin is Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, a one hour dramedy (drama + comedy) that goes behind the scenes of a SNL-like sketch comedy show. You can tell NBC feels pretty positive about this show - they've released the pilot (which won't air until September 18th) for rent through Netflix... and that's how Shari & I watched it earlier today. I found it enjoyable to watch... and a bit intriguing, as one of the characters is a committed Christian who, at least in the pilot, didn't come off as an insipid drip. (I've always appreciated Aaron Sorkin for writing/creating characters who had some kind of meaningful faith... the Jewish characters on Sports Night - who even hosted a seder that closed out an episode - or President Bartlett's struggles with God on The West Wing. Most of Hollywood just ignores religious faith.) With that said, I need to warn you that the show will air at 10 pm PST for a reason - it's PG-13 in content & language. Still, I'll be revving up the ol' VCR every Monday night... there really is nothing quite like Aaron Sorkin's writing. Dan: Is this one of those times when you say you don't want to talk about it, but you really do? Casey: No, but it's shaping up to be one of those times when I say I don't want to talk about it, but we end up talking about it anyway. Sports Night
Monday, August 21, 2006
Sunday, August 20, 2006
I want to want to pray - to be in conversation with You. I want to want what You want. I want be "leveled" by an intimate personal knowledge of Your presence, Your power & Your grace. But even as I pray that, I feel myself drifting. I feel the urge to slap my "honey-do" list down on the table for you, fold my arms & wait impatiently for you to pony up.
So I just throw myself into your arms - my sad excuse for a "prayer life", my messed-up desires, my fears of being found out to be "less spiritual" than I appear. I submit my heart & life to You - and ask you to break away the hardened gunk around my heart so that I can run to you.
I love you, Jesus. Help me love you more.
Amen. Soundtrack for this post: "All I Can Say" (David Crowder) This article originally appeared in the 8/10/06 issue of the Grapevine, the newsletter of NewLife Community Church.
Thursday, August 17, 2006
- WEDNESDAY - We got to play Ark - this time with my mom, Shari & Braeden, and me.
- THURSDAY - We took it easy today - going out for pizza, stopping by Northwest Rods & Restoration, stopping by the river to throw rocks in the water & watch a big cargo ship go by.
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
- SATURDAY - Mom wasn't feeling 100%, so instead of going to Mount St. Helens, we went to St. Helens, OR, which is a little town not too far from Mom & Dad. They were having an "Arts & Eats" festival downtown... Braeden got to make recycled art & have his face painted... and Dad & his partners won 1st place in their division of the car show.
- SUNDAY - Shari & I left the boys with Mom, Dad & Liz and drove to Ocean Shores, WA, for a night away. We ate some very good seafood. The weather wasn't very nice (it's was cold & foggy most of the time we were there) but we still got to walk on the beach & even found some sand dollars on Monday morning.
- MONDAY - As we were coming home, we stopped at the Christian Outlet store in Centralia, WA, and found some great stuff cheap. In a bit of publishing weirdness, I managed to buy a copy of a as-yet-unreleased book by a major author - it was a proof copy. (I hate to be so cryptic, but I've inquired w/the publisher about how to proceed - I'd like to review the book but I don't want to screw up their release schedule.)
- TUESDAY - We visited with Shari's cousin, Rachel, & her daughter, Josie. (Well, Shari & Braeden visited - Collin & I went shopping for Grandpa's birthday.
- WEDNESDAY - We went to visit my best friend from high school (hi, Keith!) and the guy who answered the door looked strangely familiar... which is as it should be, because he was another very close friend from high school (and elementary school), Jim Trerise! A wonderful surprise... I'll post more about it later.
Monday, August 14, 2006
- ANTIKE - I've only played this once (and that game ended prematurely), but I really liked the rondel mechanic.
- BLUE MOON CITY - haven't played it
- CAYLUS - haven't played it... I'm afraid that it's going win, though.
- DAS ENDE DES TRIUMVIRATS - haven't played it
- HACIENDA - liked my one playing of this, but it wasn't compelling enough for me to buy it
- INDONESIA - haven't played it
- JENSEITS VON THEBEN - I've played this twice and would gladly buy a copy if I could afford it... an amazing design that fully captures the them... this is my personal pick that I'd like to win (it probably won't).
- MYKERINOS - haven't played it
- RAILROAD TYCOON - haven't played it
- THURN & TAXIS - my one playing left me impressed - I'd like to play it again. (Short review: a gamer-y Ticket To Ride.)
- UM KRONE & KRAGEN - nifty game that crosses M:tG and dice rolling... I don't think this one has a snowball's chance, though.
- ATON - haven't played... looks VERY abstract
- BLOKUS DUO (also called Travel Blokus) - a really nice 2 player version of Blokus... won't win.
- PUNCT - haven't played
- TWILIGHT STRUGGLE - haven't played... has a good chance at winning as it takes the We The People card-driven wargame system and layers on the Cold War theme. (A shorter playing time doesn't hurt, either.)
- WAR OF THE RING: BATTLES OF THE THIRD AGE - it's an expansion to a game I haven't played
Saturday, August 12, 2006
- THURSDAY - Braeden & I got to hang out at Dad's new shop/business... Northwest Rods & Restorations. Marty, one of Dad's partners, gave Braeden the royal treatment - he got to go into the paint booth, see how the metal roller/cutter worked, and even sit in Marty's speedboat. And Marty & Raymond replaced the bumper on the Honda - it looks perfect.
- THURSDAY - picked up Liz from the airport, then went shopping for replacement makeup & haircare products. (Liz was caught in the carry-on rules change following the terrorist threats in England.)
- FRIDAY -w drove over to the Columbia Gorge & looked at waterfalls - Wahkeena Falls is esp. beautiful.
- FRIDAY - Braeden & I hiked from Wahkeena Falls to Multnomah Falls (about a 1/2 mile) on our own... it was a great father/son adventure. We found a waterfall & a cave... and we saw 2 trains go by on the tracks next to the trail, which was pretty cool.
Friday, August 11, 2006
- The Apples Project - that's right, kids, the "Son of Apples Project" is getting ready to get underway. I'll be blogging my way through the results starting in mid-September. (BTW, Rick Thornquist, if you're reading this, e-mail me already, eh?!) But with the Geek down, it's a bit tougher to compile the nomination lists for the participants.
- My Gulf Games reports - because I like linking to game names & so on, I'm on hold with finishing my Gulf Games posts. So you guys will just have to wait a little longer.
- Information About Insel der Schmuggler - Now THIS is what the Geek is for... Braeden & I bought this Haba game on Tuesday. Unfortunately, the game was missing what the component list called "a white smuggler's die". Based on descriptions in the rules & pictures on the box, I think the missing die is a 1-1-2-2-3-3 die... but there's no way to check easily without the Geek. (It is important to note that Haba customer service responded to my e-mail asking for a die within 3-4 hours - EXCELLENT!)
Thursday, August 10, 2006
- MONDAY - having the pool to ourselves at the hotel... Collin is now jumping off the edge of the pool from a standing position!
- MONDAY - eating at Luigi's Pizza & Pasta in Red Bluff, CA, for dinner... excellent greasy/gooey pizza & out of this world fried cheese. Shari compared it to Mama's Pizza in Ft Worth, TX, which is a high compliment.
- TUESDAY - hiking around Lassen Volcanic National Park... best moment (which I didn't see): Braeden slipped on the snow, then knocked Shari Jo down
- TUESDAY - shopping at the Funagain Games storefront in Ashland, OR. Prices are discounted by 20%, you don't have to pay shipping, and there's no sales tax. Amazingly enough, all we bought was the Haba game INSEL DER SCHMUGGLER (which is a lot of fun)
- WEDNESDAY - Braeden & I played GlowGolf (indoor golf under black lights) at the Gateway Mall in Eugene.
- WEDNESDAY - seeing my mom & dad... it's great to be with them
Sunday, August 06, 2006
- a. two teenage girls gossping about who did what Saturday night
- b. the "Kill the Beast!" scene from Beauty & the Beast... or, if your tastes run more to old Hollywood, the villagers pursuing Frankenstein's monster into the windmill
- c. one more chance to dredge up the anti-Semitic brouha that surrounded the release of The Passion of the Christ
- d. all of the above
- Covering the Sins of Mel Gibson (from GetReligion - a blog/site that focuses on media coverage of religious issues)
- Mel Gibson Sins, Confesses, Repents (this & the following links are from FilmChat - a blog by Peter Chattaway)
- The Mel Gibson Controversy, Part Deux
- Mel Gibson Asks the Jewish Community For Help
- Time For A 2nd Look At The Passion?
- Reporting the Mel Gibson Arrest (from Retrieving the Tradition - a blog that mixes pop culture commentary & outlines from church history doctoral work... and this time, manages to put a rather nifty Daily Show clip from YouTube)
So... welcome back. Let me break down what I've been thinking into easy to argue with bite-size pieces.
DUI (Driving Under the Influence)
I can not adequately express to you how much I hate drunk people driving. When I was in high school theater, one of the best actors I've ever met managed to ruin not only his own life but the life of his best friend in a drunk driving hood-surfing stunt. I've got a family member who is lucky he didn't kill himself (or someone else) last fall when he crashed into a highway median. The son of one of my church members is currently facing real jail time for a DUI accident that put someone else in the hospital.
So Mel does NOT get a pass on the drunk driving charge with me. The man is wealthy enough to have someone drive him around - yank his license. You lose the right to operate a motor vehicle when you do so under the influence of a substance that impairs your ability to operate said vehicle safely - in other words, when you threaten the safety of the rest of the community with the ripple effect of your own choices.
(For those interested, I've talked more about my Biblical perspective on alcohol in the post Say it With Me: "Non-Binding Resolution.)Words Mean Something
Language has power - it helps define the tone & direction of a conversation. The words you choose frame the terms of a debate & predispose your listeners to a particular mindset. (Not to open a second can of worms, but take the difference between the use of "anti-abortion" and "pro-life" in newspaper coverage - same position, wildly different connotations. Try using "anti-fetus" instead of "pro-choice" and see what happens in the editorial column. I repeat: I'm not trying to start an abortion debate here... simply pointing out the power of the rightly or wrongly chosen word.) Thus, to make racist statements (regardless of what race they impugn) is not simply to be morally wrong, but also carries with it the devastating power of language. If you are able to define your opponent in crass & dehumanizing terms (example: the tendency of white Southerners to call all African-American men "boy", no matter what their age), you take an important step toward marginalizing them. So, Mel's outburst is not only Biblically wrong (1 Peter 3:10) but also brings the danger of redefining the role of a racial minority in our society. Be it the drunken ravings of a Hollywood director, the overwrought speechs of a neo-Nazi hatemonger, or the late-night bull session musings of a college student, you are fooling with powerful junk when you stereotype a group of people. BTW, I've focused here on the racial nature of Mr. Gibson's remarks - but he also managed to make lewd & sexist comments as well. Much of the same logic applies... Owning Your Own Crap With all that said, I want to be very clear that I am amazed, stunned, and a bit in awe of the response from Mel Gibson. In a world where victimization & blame are commonplace, someone who says: I am a public person, and when I say something, either articulated and thought out, or blurted out in a moment of insanity, my words carry weight in the public arena. As a result, I must assume personal responsibility for my words and apologize directly to those who have been hurt and offended by those words. ...is either seriously over the edge - or, just maybe, is walking to the beat of a different drummer. Just maybe, what Mel says he believes (a devout Catholic faith) and how he deals with his addictions & stupidity are connected. Let me say this once again, in case some of you haven't been reading carefully - no apology/plea for forgiveness should take away the legal consequences of Mel Gibson's actions. In the same vein, however, no series of actions, no matter how stupid and/or reprehensible, should take away the possibility of forgiveness & grace. Forgiving someone does not mean you ignore their sin against you; it does not mean that you pretend they never did anything wrong. It is not a whitewash or a cover-up. It does not mean that you agree with and/or tolerate the actions of the person you forgive. But it does mean that you choose to go beyond the hurt, past the incident(s), and see each person as created by God & in need of grace. Forgiveness has nothing to do with forgetting... A wounded person cannot--indeed, should not--think that a faded memory can provide an expiation of the past. To forgive, one must remember the past, put it into perspective, and move beyond it. Without remembrance, no wound can be transcended." Beverly Flanigan
So What? I end most of my sermons with a final point - "So what? Why should all of this stuff I've said this morning concern us at all?" (This is a particularly important question in church, where some of us have gotten used to intaking information rather than asking God for transformation.) For my friends who are religiously and/or culturally Jewish, I ask you to forgive in a way that honors your faith. What Mr. Gibson ranted about is hurtful & wrong... and specifically aimed at your cultural/ethnic background. I do not in any way want to minimize the pain... yet I don't want you to minimize the tradition you come from, either - the tradition that is at the root of my own Christian faith. For my friends who are female, Mr. Gibson's remarks are no surprise to you. You have endured years of leers, catcalls, and outright lewd remarks. If not, you live on a deserted island alone(yes, thank you, Dept. of Redundancy Department.) I urge you to forgive as well - not just Mel Gibson, but others who choose to objectify you. At the same time, please remember that forgiveness does not require you to just "stand there & take it" - you are created by God in His image (Genesis 1:27) and do not deserve to be treated as the sum total of your body parts. For my friends who are followers of Christ, we need to process our emotions Biblically & thoughtfully. In the process of acknowledging repentance, we should not undercut justice. In the process of calling for justice, we should not ignore mercy. A lot of deep thoughts spent on the guy who made Lethal Weapon 3, right?! A final note: I am leaving on vacation tomorrow - and will not actually see the blog and/or the comments until Wednesday. Please keep the discussion civil & on-topic. (I feel like I'm "Dad-in-training"... "Don't make me come back there!" He he he...)
Saturday, August 05, 2006
Thursday, August 03, 2006
- die w/hand grasping token - A TO Z
- die w/dog & moles who look like they have mop-top haircuts - BUDDEL BANDE
- multi-colored 10 sided die - CRANIUM HOOPLA
- long black die w/pink circle - DROPS & CO (it's supposed to be a licorice stick, thematically)
- die w/cloud & flying carpet guy - FLYING CARPET (duh!)
- die w/X and what looks like a fraction - FURY OF DRACULA (this one was esp. tricky)
- die w/bat wing - IN TEUFEL'S KUCHE
- die w/identical blobs that look vaguely like a fat guy preaching - MYSTERY OF THE ABBEY
- die w/briefcase, walking person & person holding rope - NIZZA
- 8-sided die with a not-so-Hidden Mickey - DISNEY SCENE-IT
- die w/castles & ship - SETTLERS: CITIES & KNIGHTS
Thanks for playing... how'd you do?
Anyway, voting is open to supporting members of the site or someone who's willing to plunk down 20 GeekGold (the currency of the site). Nominations are being taken in 6 categories over the next month, to be followed by voting using some method called "ranked pairs" in September. (The image I get when I hear that phrase is a pair of twin brothers who do LARP's and have trouble remembering to shower - but that's my problem.) The games nominated must be published in 2005 or 2006... and you can nominate games in more than one category.
I won't try & influence your vote - oh, who am I kidding? If I can sway some of you... ok, a couple of you... ok, one of you! - then my existence will be justified for the next fifteen minutes or so.
Here's the games I'm nominating:
Gamers' Game [1 slot left]
- Antike - I liked my one playing of this thoughtful Civ-lite game.
- Aqua Romana - A very good blending of Metro tile-laying & Traumfabrik scoring with enough "look-ahead" to give you some room to plan.
- Beowulf - The Legend - Chris Farrell has convinced me.
- China - I'm a huge fan of Web of Power... and was surprised at how the changes actually seem to work pretty well.
- Cleopatra and the Society of Architects - Stunning production (probably the best this year) and interesting gameplay... I think this one will be respected more in 18 months than it is now.
- Descent: Journeys in the Dark - I'm not sure which category to put this one in... it's not exactly a "family game" but I don't see it having a snowball's chance in a very warm place of winning this category, either. Still, it needs to be nominated & recognized.
- Elasund: The First City of Catan - Simply put, Catan for people who've always wanted to be able to tear down the other guy's stuff.
- Fury of Dracula - Excellent re-imagining of a classic GW game.
- Nexus Ops - A Risk-like multiplayer wargame that doesn't actually encourage "turtling" (the practice of players amassing huge armies without attacking anyone else, waiting for somebody else to start the battle royale... in many of these games, the first person to attack will lose the game)
- Palazzo - A very nice auction game that I think was unfairly overlooked.
- Shadows over Camelot - It's losing a bit of the shine after 4-5 playings, but it is still a nifty semi-cooperative game concept with great production.
- Thurn and Taxis - Winner of the German Game of the Year (Spiel des Jahres) for 2006... a gamer-y Ticket To Ride-ish romp with some nice moments.
- Um Krone und Kragen - Short review... Magic: the Gathering with dice. The game Knights wanted to be.
- Vegas Showdown - Take an American theme (Las Vegas casino building) and add elements from Amun-Re and The Princes of Florence... shake well and enjoy.
2 Player (Non-wargame) [6 slots left]
- Attacktix Battle Figure Game (Star Wars) - Yeah, this is probably a stretch... it can be played multiplayer & it has the word "battle" in the title. But I just want to make sure someone takes note of this brilliant kids toy/game.
- Descent: Journeys in the Dark - While I haven't played it 2 player, it would work just fine that way.
- Elasund: The First City of Catan - Remember, this is Catan for people who want to be mean to each other... even if it's just the two of you.
- Fjords - I'm not sure why I can see the way the pieces fit together easier than other people, but I can. A nice Carcassonne-ish tile-layer with a different (Nim-like) scoring system.
- Lord of the Rings - The Confrontation: Deluxe Edition - The original game was great and the new version has niftier production & lots of added ways to play.
- Pizza Box Football - Beer & pretzels football game that is ergonomically well-designed & loads of fun to play.
- Travel Blokus - Blokus was unwieldy as a 2 player game - not any more. This works like a charm.
- Um Krone und Kragen - M:tG w/dice, remember? Revs up nicely with 2 players.
- Zig-Zag - A real-time memory racing game that will play with more players but is quite fun with just two.
Wargame [11 slots left]
- Attacktix Battle Figure Game (Star Wars) - It's not chit pushing, but any game where you fire projectile weapons deserves to be called a wargame.
- Descent: Journeys in the Dark - Hey, you fight in this one... a lot!
- Nexus Ops - Another choice guaranteed to infuriate "real" wargamers.
- Wings of War - Watch Your Back! - Very nice WW1 air combat game that uses cards as miniatures... the more people playing, the more fun it is!
Light/Party [5 slots left]
- Ca$h'n Gun$ - A hoot of a game that's simple enough for non-gamers, esp. those who loved heist movies.
- Diamant - It may take 2 minutes to explain the rules to this very simple push-your-luck game... and it will play with up to 8 people.
- Du Balai - Probably a stretch for this category - but it works best with more players.
- Maus nach Haus - Silly "let's get this party started" flicking game - supposedly for children but beloved by adults.
- Nacht der Magier - Another "let's get this party started" game... added bonus: you can play it in the dark!
- Parlay - Poker meets word game... fun ensues.
- That's Life! - Dice game that is easier to teach while playing... and is at it's best with 5-6 players.
- Tsuro - Like Metro, except that it only takes 10 minutes to play and wil play with 8 people.
- You Must Be an Idiot! - The only trivia game on the list... best played with people who don't know you (if you're good at Trivial Pursuit).
- Zig-Zag - Another stretch... but could work as a "let's get started" filler.
Kids' Game [7 slots left]
- Attacktix Battle Figure Game (Star Wars) - Basically, I considered games for this category if my 5 year old son likes them... and Attacktix totally qualifies.
- Cranium Bumparena - Well-designed pachinko-ish game that's cheaper than you'd expect for all the stuff you get in the box.
- Du Balai - French memory/real-time/racing game that comes packaged in a box that looks like a book.
- Giro Galoppo - A mean racing game with nice wooden bits from Selecta... was nominated for Kinderspiel SdJ 2006.
- Hide & Seek Safari - An electronic version of the old game "Hot & Cold"... strangely addictive to small children.
- Maus nach Haus - Who'd have thought you get this much game out of a wooden ring & 16 wooden mice?
- Nacht der Magier - It glows in the dark - nuff said. (Also nominated for Kinderspiel SdJ 2006.)
- Tier auf Tier - A stacking game for kids - stack wooden animals on the back of a wooden crocodile.
Family Game [0 slots left]
- Aqua Romana - It has some meat on it... but is simple enough to teach your mom.
- Ark - Great card placement game that needs player aids but is quite enjoyable to play.
- Ca$h'n Gun$ - Well, it depends on your family, but it's light & funny & fast.
- Clue DVD Game - For my money, the best implementation of Clue ever.
- Control Nut! - A smart trick-taking game self-published by James Miller.
- Diamant - Easy enough for kids, fun enough for adults.
- Dragonriders - A botched up English rules translation, underweight pieces & provision for 6 players (when the game should be limited to 2-4 players) sadly have doomed this very good game to the compost heap. It deserves much better press than it's received. (Try weighting the bases with stick-on magnetic stuff... and check out the rules corrections on the Geek... this is a neat game!)
- Ice Cream - Impossible to explain the rules to non-gamers... but they figure it out just fine after one round. Braeden can play and have fun with adults... and the adults have fun, too. A really nice design from my friend, Joe Huber.
- Nottingham - I'd heard iffy responses to the newest Uwe Rosenberg game... but we had great fun with it at Gulf Games. As usual for Uwe, it's a card game that doesn't work quite like any other card game you've played.
- Parlay - Let's review: Poker + word game = fun.
- Pickomino - A simple dice game that non-gamers love... which has a lot more probability calculations in it than any of them realize.
- Rum & Pirates - Another unfairly maligned game - needs to be played with a lightness of spirit & a willingness to risk. (Still, there are good tactical decisions to be made admist all the singing of "Yo Ho Yo Ho" and the incessant cry of "Arrgghh!")
- That's Life! - Another push-your-luck dice game that is insanely easy to teach to new players.
- Um Krone und Kragen - Great for husbands & wives... as you never get a roll you can't use in some way.
- Vegas Showdown - It's a training game for meatier auction & tile placement games.
Chances are you disagreed with me on something... or have a suggestion for something I missed. Fire away - but just don't ask me to nominate Caylus... I haven't played it yet!