Category Archives: entertainment

Thankful #6 – #12

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Today’s list of blessings is comprised entirely of websites. What an amazing time we live in, with a world of information (and misinformation) right at our fingertips. With the aid of the internet, we can be either madly clicking paragons of productivity or ravaged wastrels lounging atop a throne of empty pizza boxes in our underwear. Either way, here are some of the websites I’m thankful for:

6. WebMD. How else could I find out all the things I didn’t know were wrong with me? By the way, today I either have mild wrist swelling caused by overuse or creeping bone cancer. Could be either, according to WebMD.

7. Google. It’s the search engine whose name became synonymous with searching for things on the internet. I’ve tried a number of others, but always come back to the megalith of internet construction. Not only is it the most comprehensive and useful, but the Google doodle occasionally provides hours of entertainment.

8. I Can Has Cheezburger. Life can be brutal, man. Some days, we get knocked down so many times that staying down starts to seem like the best option. On those days, I like to fill my brain up with cute hedgehog babies in teacups and puppies wearing tiny fedoras. I like to imagine that I live in a world where my cat has something clever and pithy to say about the mess  I left in the kitchen, and where every animal, from cow to platypus, is blessed with a rapier sharp sarcastic wit. Cheezburgers for everyone!

9. Lifehacker. This too-practical-to-be-believed website has tips and tricks for everything from making your own bicycle-powered battery to optimizing your Google searches. I just recently used it to find a good (and free) language learning app. No matter what you want to do (deseed a pomegranate, interview for a job, water your plants), Lifehacker has a tip for you! Never again will I have to suffer from excess pool noodle accumulation. Thanks,  Lifehacker!

10. Wikipedia. It’s exhaustive. It’s crowd-sourced. And it’s mostly accurate. To think, my parents had to spend $300 in 1995 for an actual printed set of World Book encyclopedias. It was out of date before we received it.  And it didn’t even have an entry for the Hollywood Freeway Chickens. Well-researched accounts of roving feral chicken bands living in the urban jungles of Southern California are exactly the sort of thing I look for in a good encyclopedia.

11. Craigslist. Buy stuff. Sell stuff. Even meet people (if you’re brave/crazy), and get a chuckle out of seeing the weirdness of humanity on full display.

12. The Marriage Bed. There’s a vicious rumor going around that Christians don’t like sex. I’m pretty sure I’ve debunked that idea at length in other posts, however, if you need more convincing, check out The Marriage Bed, a website that celebrates sex in the context of Christian marriage. There are general discussion boards that are open to click through, as well as boards that address more specific interests; those can be accessed by registering on the site and opting in to the boards you’d like to read. There is also a library of articles and helpful links. Whether you’re facing challenges in your sex life or are just looking for some new ideas, The Marriage Bed is a great resource!

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The Vampire and the Werewolf Should Be Friends

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Oh, the vampire and the werewolf should be friends!

Oh, the vampire and the werewolf should be friends!

One drinks blood and climbs tall trees,

The other barks and brings home fleas,

But that’s no reason why they can’t be friends!

Children of the night should stick together,

Children of the night should all be pals,

Werewolves take out the angry townsfolk,

Vampires won’t drink the werewolves’ gals!

I’d like to say a word for the vampires,

Who clearly didn’t choose their evil fates.

They always have the time,

And their manners are sublime.

It’s too bad that they’re such bad dinner dates!

And now in the defense of the werewolf,

To whom the moon is such a frightful bane:

She can live a normal life,

Maybe even be a wife,

But “that time of month” can really be a pain!

Children of the night should stick together,

Children of the night should all be pals,

Werewolves take out the angry townsfolk,

Vampires won’t drink the werewolves’ gals!

***

I might have taken a few liberties with the source material:

Summer Fun List

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I am blessed to have summers off from my job, so I can enjoy spending time with Katie and Caleb.  We’re saving up our family vacation time for Thanksgiving this year, so our summer adventures will have to be staged close to home.  To that end, we sat down with the kids the day after school ended to make a list of all the things we want to do this summer.  Everyone contributed, and all ideas were written down.  Here’s what we came up with.  I put little stars next to the things we’ve already done at least once this summer.  What’s on your summer fun list?

  1. *Jamm’s yogurt
  2. Manito Park
  3. go to the movies
  4. swimming
  5. play in the sprinkler
  6. *water gun fight
  7. *playground at the park
  8. Skate Plaza
  9. *video games
  10. *library
  11. *Red Robin
  12. set up the hammock
  13. hiking with the Kleins
  14. *Fun Fridays
  15. disc golf
  16. picnic
  17. July 4th at the Rudes’
  18. *walk to PetCo and look at animals
  19. BBQ
  20. Coeur d’Alene Museum
  21. Bible sports camp
  22. boardwalk at the Resort
  23. sushi
  24. *play at the Taylors’
  25. baking day
  26. cooking day
  27. go to the beach

 

Dear Santa

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Dear Santa Claus,

I know October is a little early to be sending you my wish list, but some of the items I’m requesting this year are slightly more difficult to lay hands on than the typical iPod/pony/Red Rider BB gun sort of loot you usually deal.  In fact, you might have to open a research and development department in your operation to accommodate a few of these requests, but I promise you that the improvement in overall recipient satisfaction would be more than worth it.  I foresee a 42% increase in your milk and cookie haul just over the first five years.  As a heavy consumer of science fiction, I am plagued by a growing awareness that human achievement, despite recent advancements, is still lagging significantly behind our imaginations.  In short, I’m tired of waiting for transporter technology to arrive.

And so, without further ado, here is my 2010 Christmas Wish List:

1. Star Trek food replicator.  No recipes.  No shopping trips.  No chopping or braising or marinating for eight hours.  Just press a button or speak to a computer, and “voila!”:  fine cuisine made in the tradition of the planet of your choice.

2.  Jet pack. Even the kids have their own jet packs on The Jetsons.  They’re like the skateboards of the future.  If you give me one, Santa, I promise to wear a helmet and to resist the temptation to laugh smugly at the people stuck in traffic hundreds of feet below me.

3. Room of Requirement. Ever since Neville first stumbled into the Room of Requirement while looking for a clandestine meeting place for Dumbledore’s Army, I have been imagining all of the uses to which I could put my own psychically transforming room.  Guests pop in while you’re knee-deep in unfolded laundry?  No problem!  Bundle it all up and toss it into the Room of Requirement.  (You don’t even need to do laundry, come to think of it: just ask the Room of Requirement to turn into a giant closet filled with clean clothes and wear something new every day!)  Need a place to hide from the kids, who haven’t stopped arguing since they got home from school?  The Room of Requirement becomes a relaxing spa, complete with clawfoot bathtub, candles, and soundproof walls to block the sound of the Lego war breaking out in the hallway.  I need one, Santa!

4.  TARDIS. The Doctor’s Time and Relative Dimensions In Space ship can travel to anywhere…and any time.  I’d use it to travel back to ten p.m. Sunday night so I could get an extra night’s sleep in preparation for Mondays.   I would also go back to fifth grade and stop myself from getting that truly horrendous bowl haircut.  And I’d go to Scotland.  You know, just to listen to the people talk.

5.  R2-D2. Sharing your home with this small blue droid would be a little like having a pet.  A pet that doesn’t shed, doesn’t pee on the carpet, and can interface with all your electronic gadgets.  Plus he’s adorable.  And, Santa, I promise to love him and walk him and feed him.  What does he eat, anyway?

Well, that’s it.  My whole list.  I think you’ll agree that it’s not unreasonable to have high expectations in this age of technological wonders.  I mean, look around at all the smartphones and Blu-ray players and tell me that we can’t figure out a way to beam ourselves to another planet (or at the very least from Coeur d’Alene to Snellville!)  I have every confidence that your elves are up to the task.   Just don’t tell Steve Jobs what you’re working on.  He’ll find a way to link it to iTunes and stick a DRM on it.

That’s Why the Lady Likes to Camp

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To camp out in the wilds of Idaho in the summertime is to step out of the stream of time and immerse yourself in the cool green light of a wood that hasn’t changed much since settlers first raised their stone chimneys on the banks of the Coeur d’Alene River two hundred years ago.  If the weather cooperates, you can hike on sun-dappled paths, catch out wildlife as it startles and skitters away at the sound of your approach, and toss stones into the creek chattering over its rocky bed.

We just returned from a four day camp out with Paul’s Dad and his wife, Yvie, in the beautiful Shoshone area, where we did all of those things and more.   Dad drove up on Thursday morning to set up camp ahead of our arrival.  Paul and I slept in a tent, but we were grateful for the presence of Dad and Yvie’s camper, without which we would have been digging our own latrine, a decidedly unromantic endeavor, best left unmentioned in Walden-esque rhapsodies about the beauty of the woods.  The kids slept in the camper, too, which gave the two of us some appreciated privacy and room to stretch out in our little four-man dome tent.

How I love waking up to the sound of birds calling to each other as the sun comes up!  The angry chipmunk squeaking madly at us from a perch right outside our tent?  Not so much.

With four glorious days stretched out before us, we tramped through the woods, roasted marshmallows over the campfire, and spent hours slung comfortably in camp chairs, reading or chatting while we watched the kids play with sticks and bugs.  Dad took us in turns for long rides on the ATV, which was, for me, the highlight of the trip!  We covered miles of logging roads and emerged from the tree line to a lookout point that allowed us an unfettered view of legions of mountains marching away into the horizon.  It was on one of these excursions that Dad and I ran across a family of elk crossing the trail, including a baby.  They are so big up close!  It was close to twilight, and many animals are moving around at that time of day.  We also frightened a rabbit, which ran down the road in front of us for several yards before it got its bearings and darted off into the undergrowth.  The strangest forest-dwelling creature we came across was a fat, orange tabby cat, preening and lying at leisure in a bed of leafy green plants, far from the nearest campsite.  How did he come to be there?  And how had he survived the brutality of life in the wilds without becoming a meal for a hungry cougar?  He was so clearly the ruler of his forest kingdom, I was tempted to make up stories about him.

On our second day, Dad took me out on the ATV while everyone was drowsing in the late afternoon sun.  We were on a mission: huckleberries, enough to add to the pancake batter for huckleberry flapjacks the next morning.  They grow pretty high up on the mountain, and it took us a while to locate a few bushes that had escaped the scavenging of bears and birds.  At last, however, we found a good patch, and set to picking.  When we rode back into camp with our “haul” (maybe two cups of berries, all told), it felt like we were ancient hunters, returning with a hunk of mammoth suspended between us on a pole.  The tribe cheered.

One thing we didn’t do for four days: shower.  Sweat, dust, and grime coated us in layers, and every day my hair looked more like a modern art sculpture.  On the plus side, I couldn’t feel the itching of my many mosquito bites through all of that dirt.  Also, I didn’t have to shave my legs; and isn’t that what camping is all about?

We came home Sunday afternoon and raced for the showers.  It felt SO good to get clean (even if it did cause my mosquito bites to flare into life).  I spent today washing the campfire smoke out of our clothes.  All the leftover food has been put away, and all the pictures have been downloaded from the camera.  All that’s left now is to soak in the memories.  I think they might even keep me warm this December when we’re buried under several feet of snow.

Twilight: New Moon

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I think it’s fair to say that I mainly liked the first Twilight movie on behalf of the book, which was a thoroughly entertaining read. Though the key elements were there, and I enjoyed the book-turned-movie-lover’s experience of seeing events that had previously been confined inside my head playing out on the big screen, I left the theater thinking, “They could have done more with that.”

Not so with New Moon. With its new director, its heady special effects, and its improved performances by almost every member of the cast, it was easily ten times better than its predecessor.

I went to see it Saturday with the group of friends who went with me to see the first movie, and we were all of the same opinion: more like this one, please!

The vamps were vampier, the wolves were as big as horses, and Kristen Stewart delighted the world by revealing that laughing and smiling are a part of her acting repertoire after all. As the action swept through Forks and across the world to Volterra, Italy, the scope of the story widened, too; heartbreak, longing, jealousy, self-sacrifice, forgiveness: the full range of human emotion coming to bear on these not-exactly-human characters. In its own inartful way, the Twilight series touches chords that are common to each of us.

Critics have gripes, lots of them, but the fans don’t seem to share them. All the opening night midnight showings at our local theater (there were six of them, I think) were sold out days ahead of time, and the crowds just keep on coming. Stephenie Meyer must be doing something right.

Yeah, the Twilight books are fluffy. They are, in parts, cheesier than the queso dip at our last girls’ sleepover. But they’re also charming and endearing and oh, so entertaining.

Go see New Moon. I recommend attending with a gaggle of girls as part of the total Twilight experience. The gasps and giggles and sniffles of emotion are at least as diverting as what’s going on up on the screen. And if you can’t find a whole gaggle, just take me. I’m already looking forward to seeing it again.

(Go Team Edward!)

Ode To Joy

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There are days during every NaBloPoMo when a busy schedule or a lackadaisical funk* prevents one from posting the long, brilliant, insightful but entertaining post that one would otherwise contribute to the daily blogging effort.

On days like that, I find that the muppets are my go-to guys.

*Lackadaisical Funk is a great name for a rock band.

Awake and Alive!

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Skillet did, as advertised, rock my face off.

It’s going to be a little difficult blogging without a face, I’ll admit, but it’s a small price to pay for last night’s totally staggering concert!

Skillet has been one of our favorite bands for a long time, so when my good friend Alyson told us they were coming to Spokane, we ran right out and bought tickets, even though the concert was still six months away!  That gave us just enough time to find a sitter who didn’t mind watching the kids for the eight hours it takes to drive to Spokane, stand in line, find good seats, and jump up and down to four hours of pure, unadulterated awesome.

Our friend Amy came with us, and while standing in line we bumped into another friend, Carrie, who was there with her daughter.    Here’s Paul waiting patiently with the other Panheads for the doors to open:

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Skillet headlined the Awake and Alive Tour (named after a song on their new album), but they shared the stage with three other bands: The Letter Black, Decyfer Down, and Hawk Nelson.  I’d never heard of The Letter Black; they opened the show with a fifteen minute set that thoroughly tested out the power of the amps scattered around the auditorium and showed off the athleticism of the very spunky lead singer, Sarah Anthony (in fact, Paul leaned over to me about halfway through their first song to inform me that he was pretty sure the petite vocalist with the Sarah Connor muscles could kick his butt.)

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Decyfer Down was up next, and I was almost as excited for their performance as for Skillet’s.  After rocking one of my favorite songs, “Ride With Me”, frontman TJ Harris dialed it back from the edge a bit with an acoustic rendition of “Best I Can” that showed off his grit-and-honey voice in a way that the album recording doesn’t quite do it.  I wish they had played longer.

Hawk Nelson was a fun surprise for me.  We don’t own any of their CDs, and their upbeat, pop punk style makes them, as their lead singer puts it, sort of the “odd band out” of the tour, but their showmanship was amazing. Right around the time I found myself belting out “Friend Like That”, I realized that I knew a lot of their songs from the radio.  They played for about an hour, skillfully working the crowd into a finely tuned frenzy before clearing the stage to make way for the biggest set of the night.  It took several minutes for the tech crew to set up the pyrotechnics and hydraulics; the vibration of three thousand people bathed in anticipation was nearly tangible.

And then, at last, it was time.

Skillet!

They were amazing!

Okay, “amazing” doesn’t really cut it, but I don’t have enough ten cent words or exclamation points to put you in my seat as the whole auditorium thrummed and shook with the thunder of heart-rending guitar riffs and three thousand people sang together at the top of our lungs, beating the air with a single wild thought.  My barbaric yawp was lost in the glorious noise and all of us were dancing, jumping, fists pumping to the throbbing, relentless rhythm of the drumbeat that went on and on.

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I can’t describe how it felt to stand in that press of humanity, all praising God with passion and abandon.  In between songs, artists shared their faith, their stories of struggle, their victories in Jesus Christ–and in the audience, we roared our agreement and approval.  It was a night of declaration.

I took some video on my iPhone, but that poor little microphone didn’t stand a chance against the wave of bass that washed over everything, so it didn’t turn out.  As soon as I got home, I looked everywhere on YouTube for a clip of the beginning of “Comatose”, because I just had to show you the violinist.  In case you didn’t get the memo: the violin is officially an instrument of ROCK!  This video was shot by someone in the audience the night before our concert.  It’s a little shaky, but you’ll get the idea.  Watch the violinist; he was an animal!

The crowd went wild (of course), there was an encore (of course), and none of my favorites was left unsung.  When the last note of the last song finally sounded, I was hot, sweaty, deaf, and completely exhausted, with a crick in my neck to remind me that headbangers over thirty should probably consider taking it a little easier on the upswing.  Wrung out and happy, we poured ourselves into the car, turned up the radio, and made our way back to Coeur d’Alene.

We didn’t get home until well after midnight (picking up the sleeping kiddos from Grandpa & Grandma’s house on our way), but even at that late hour, it was hard to get to sleep with all that adrenaline still coursing around in my veins.  I woke up this morning with last night’s songs still ringing in my ears, and wished devoutly that I could go out tonight and do it all over again.

I guess I’ll just have to content myself with John Cooper’s promise to come back to Spokane on their next tour.  He said that next time they’d book the Arena.  Good move.  That will give us a lot more dancing room.