Saturday, July 30, 2011

Monkeys bore me

When I was in middle school, I watched Star Trek: TNG. (That's The Next Generation for you non-nerds out there. [Who am I kidding? If you read this, you already knew that.]) I was a little more receptive to science fiction then because, key words, I was in middle school. I have no shame admitting that I enjoyed First Contact and rather recently watched The Undiscovered County, but I still contend that is a good stand alone movie. I have a variety of other embarrassing things that I liked when I was younger, like Magic the Gathering, for instance, but I'm sure your VHS tapes of Jem are not embarrassing at all.

I don't have any particular affinity towards Mark Wahlberg, or Marky Mark, as I was introduced to him initially. I thought he did a good job in The Departed, liked his cameo on SNL with Andy Samberg, and enjoyed I Heart Huckabees (I guess). I also saw his remake of Planet of the Apes, which I thought would be good if for no other reason Tim Burton's directorship. He's not my favorite director, but he did direct my favorite movie (Big Fish) and is responsible for the move that gave us both the lines, "Where does he get such wonderful toys?" and "This city needs an enema," so good on him.

Here's the thing: it was terrible. Beyond awful. I have had more entertaining haircuts. In the interest of full disclosure, though, I have never seen the originals. (I have seen the Simpsons Episode where Troy McClure gets a role in a PotA musical, though -- classic.) I have never seen Charleton Heston say, "Get your paws off me, you damned dirty apes!" I have seen Soylent Green though, which gave me everything I wanted as far as Heston one-liners go.

All this PotA talk is all well and good, but they've made another one. Rise of the Planet of the Apes. I know it's summer, and dumb, blockbuster movies come out in the summer, but I just didn't realize anybody liked this one enough to make a sequel. It is ten years later, I guess, but still.

Am I missing something? Is this movie series so good that modern remakes are worthwhile? Are the PotA originals worth my time? My time, after all is precious; I could be catching up with Jerrica Benton.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Everything is new all over again

A lot has been happening and changing in my life lately. New wife, new job, new city, new house, new kitchen knives, and a new dog (sort of). One thing I've learned through the course of all of this "newness" is that people like to pay a lot of attention to you. And you know what? It's awesome. Attention is fantastic; it's why people want to be famous, it's why girls where slutty clothes, it's why arsonists start fires. It's a little weird to start coming back down to earth, since my brother and his fiancee are taking the bar today and tomorrow and will be getting married in November, and it's their turn now. I'll have to think of something to steal the spotlight again once I get bored.

One thing that is missing from that new list is new church, because getting settled into a new place is hard. We had a pretty good thing going in Augusta, so we're looking for a group like that, we've tried four so far: First Baptist Charleston, Grace on the Ashley, East Cooper Baptist, and Ashley River Baptist. Nothing final yet, but it's something that I am starting to recognize that needs to happen sooner rather than later. I find it's much easier to lose focus (hey! is that a bird? [Actually the other day, a cardinal {not the Catholic dignitary} was hanging out on my porch. The new dog (sort of) didn't even notice.]) when you're not plugged in. Also, it's a grounding I could use after having four months of people solidly asking me what's next for such an exciting life. ("Well, after a few weeks in South America, I think we'll summer in Charleston.")

It's a reminder, really, that to be successful in Christianity, you can't really exist out there on your own. A lot of people feel that it's a personal matter better served in private, and while part of that is true, it's a self-deception to think that you can grow alone. You need to be plugged into a community, growing and struggling together with other people. I have been encouraged, though, that a lot more people at work than I was expecting to have asked me if I have found a church home yet. I haven't been reading or praying as much for a variety of reasons, but it just feels easier without being part of a church community. Just like my clothes get piled up on the floor a lot less often now that I have a wife living with me. I also watch a lot less Dirty Jobs.

Anyway, I am hoping for humility and discipline as we try to get settled, and to be a good leader for Dr. Sighted. Also, I am looking forward to eating really good Charleston food at church cookouts.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Harry whatter?

I like the news. I like a lot of things. I was listening to a podcast about news analysis (Slate Political Gabfest -- I don't typically agree with them and they are super pretentious but for some reason, I keep coming back) and one of the contributors, Emily Bazelon, made a comment that was pretty insipid that compared the debt ceiling resolution to an event in the Harry Potter series that most folks would call a "spoiler" and then denied responsibility for it.

I have never seen a Harry Potter movie, so while I didn't previously know the outcome of the matter that came up, it didn't really spoil the issue for me, either. The biggest reason is because Harry Potter is a book for children. There is a saying in the Sighted household, mostly said by Dr. Sighted, when things like American Idol, Daniel Radcliffe or flowers appear as a commercial on the ol' television: "You're lucky to have me," because she typically has no interest in any of them and knows I am grateful. Show her a novelty lunch box in the shape of an elephant, though, and her aloof distance from children's tastes vanishes. And she's right, too.

The sadistic inappropriateness of spoiling a big movie series notwithstanding, I notice it is a little strange to have just watched a cultural phenomenon roll by on the outside. I imagine this is how rednecks felt after disco was over. What happens next? Will people finally stop dressing up with lightning bolts on their foreheads? (That is like 85% of what I know about the franchise.)

I occasionally find myself hung up in tv series or something trying to escape, but cannot, because the story is unfinished. (Although, I did try to watch Firefly or Serenity or whatever the show is on Netflix and wanted to force myself to finish it but abandoned ship [get it?] after like 6 episodes. I have a rule: any new show gets 5 episodes, which is why I was the only person in the country to watch the entire series of Teachers.) How liberated do the people caught in JK Rowlings's orbit feel? I do feel a sense of relief after football season is over, even though I love it, because I get to have Saturdays back. What will these Potter fans do with all this found time? (Do Harry Potter fans have a slick nickname like Gleeks or Trekkies?) I'm pretty sure that people who obsess over things are pretty reasonable when it comes to moving on, so it shouldn't be an issue. I'd ask my doctor, but she just doesn't care. (Can my wife be my doctor?)

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

The Fall is Becoming My Favorite Season

I am watching my first Braves game of the season in HD. I've caught a little better than half a dozen, probably, and not a one of them has been in HD, because of the move and how my beloved tv (let's call her "Trudy") has been in storage. Dr Sighted's tv, a might 13 incher, made me pine for the apple of my tv watching eye. Baseball is fine, and the Braves are doing very well considering they are in the same division as the best team in baseball, but it just doesn't measure up to the fall sports, sadly. Fall is when the best tv events happen, namely, football season resumes (Go Clemson!), which, as far as television experience goes, is like soy sports.

Summer used to be my favorite of the seasons, because I like warm weather and there was no school. Now that I'm married and adult and what not, it's still good, since long days mean more time for barbecuing and warm water for beach going (I haven't been in so long, though, that I'm not sure it would recognize me anymore -- it's the one with the sand, right?), the school benefits don't really apply as much and my youthful resilience to the heat requires me to drink a lot more water and change my shirt a lot more often. Fortunately for me, my sweat smells like cinnamon, so it's more a comfort issue for me than a smell one.

Another thing that comes up in the fall is Psych. Dr. Sighted has turned me on to the this program, and it is the flagship of the USA shows, which, I'm pretty sure, are all exactly the same. They found their formula and they are sticking to it with Law & Order like consistency. Psych, White Collar, Burn Notice, Suits, Covert Affairs, and Royal Pains are all exactly the same show in different contexts. I've gotten in arguments with people in my life over this, so I feel like the guy in Mystery Men trying to convince William H Macy that Greg Kinnear really is Captain Amazing. Yes, I just reference Mystery Men.

Here's the premise: the main character has some sort of outlandish skill that is not quite superhuman although still wildly unrealistic, but just specialized enough to make him excellent in a specific niche but also has a somewhat (or very) troubled past that is probably not his fault that causes him to be an outsider in the community where that very skill would ordinarily permit him to excel. He has a loyal but confrontational cadre of friends who stick with him through thick and thin, lives in a place with an odd frequency of circumstances where his skill is useful, and there is a minor celebrity who somehow is part of the action (Psych - Corbin Bernson. White Collar - Tiffani Amber Thiessen (your Amber will always be in my heart, Tiffani. [Also, Dr. Sighted asked, "Is that Kelly Kapowski? Her face looks fat." when we watched an episode. Yes. Yes that is Kelly Kapowski and shut your mouth.] Covert Affairs - Piper Perabo. Burn Notice - Bruce Campbell, although it causes me actual physical pain to call him a minor celebrity.). There are, inevitably remarkable opportunities for witty quips, charming romantic plotlines, and temptations that try to push our hero off the straight and narrow but he (or she) always chooses the right path.

It's brilliant, really. Psych does feel a little bit different, but I can't quite tell how; it might be just that I like it better. I also don't know why I don't like them all with the same enthusiasm I do Psych and Burn Notice (or even the Mentalist, for that matter, which is basically the same show as Psych except less funny, two years later, and more Australian). So, if you like lawyer shows, there's Suits. If you like doctor shows, there's Royal Pains. If you like spy shows, you have a choice! Still no engineer show, so far. Closest thing is White Collar, with a suave, handsome gentleman using only his wits to solve interesting problems. Was that convincing? Oh well. By the way, did the find the pineapple?

Sunday, July 03, 2011


So, this morning, I wanted to take in a piece of Charleston history when I went to church. I headed to First Baptist Charleston, because it's 4th of July weekend and this church predates the country. (The preacher casually mentioned that this church donated its treasury to the Revolution. The American Revolution. The one that started in 1775.) The subject of the sermon was Christian liberty (with the primary citation of Romans 14:1-4), which is never an easy topic to cover, since one thing that people love to do, Christians or not, is to remind themselves that they're better than everyone else. (You think I am unable to button my own pants? Well, at least I don't wear spray deodorant.)

He mentioned the usual historical examples that we all laugh about as adorably out of date now, like dancing and playing cards and makeup and whatever. (I do kind of wonder how many of the average church goers ever obeyed those things; but back then, there was no World Series of Poker on tv, so I guess the temptation was a little easier to take. On the other hand, if Maverick is any representation of reality, then poker was way more awesome in the 19th Century.) Baptists aren't nearly as anti-dance in our platform as we used to be. One of the other things, though, that always comes up for Christians in general and Baptists in particular is the booze.

It is an true and actual struggle for Christians (or, at least, ones I know) because we have those very concepts shown in Romans 14, but we also have 1 Corinthians 6:12. I am "permitted" to eat Doritos and chocolate chips for breakfast everyday, but that doesn't mean it's a good idea. I personally am rather fond of craft beers and fancy whiskeys (note the "e" in whiskey). Today's message, where the preacher says that "strong drink" is never ok, made me think. If I have a single barrel bourbon in my pantry, am I abusing that liberty? Is it more ok if I don't drink often, or ever to excess? Or is this rationalizing in the way that people just say that the prohibition on sex outside of marriage is an anachronism, because they just want to do it? Christianity is hard.

I don't know the answer. There is scripture that can be used to justify both sides. I think the thing we know for sure is that abuse of alcohol is clearly bad, in the same way that abusing credit, dancing, cheeseburgers or football could be -- if it interferes with your ability to live your life and maintain your relationships (especially with Christ) then it's bad. I also think culture is important; if there is a problem where makeup indicates something un-Christian, then setting oneself apart by not wearing makeup might be a worthwhile thing for a church to urge. But we can't lose sight of the why, since we can do something stupid repeatedly for no real reason, just because we always have, like watch the newer Star Wars movies.

Back to the Old...

Hey everyone, I have an announcement: I am going to stop keeping up Fear and Trembling in Augusta because I no longer live there. I was also never an especially big fan of Hunter S. Thompson. My wife (!) and I just moved to Charleston, SC, and the other blog just doesn't seem appropriate any longer. Dr. Sighted is starting residency, so hopefully I will have more time to keep up this space. I am also no longer writing for a paper or preparing Sunday School lessons, so I need to write somehow, right? I will also rescind my earlier promise of no politics in this space -- my vision for the future is that any topic is fair game here, from movies, to politics, my favorite chilis, religious themes (like in Fear and Trembling) but with a little less formality. I promise there will still be jokes, but I cannot promise they will still be funny.

I also noticed that I have a giant pile of spam comments, and some posts are more popular than others. This one has 35 comments on it, which is slightly higher than my previous high of like 4. I'm pretty sure I would have to post on some sort of controversy like we should execute all double parkers by hanging. I don't know if the uptick in spammers is representative of a an uptick in traffic, which would be swell, (I did notice an upswing in followers -- Hello new folks) but it's still troubling. It might require me to activate some sort of interceptor to keep odzwyki from posting about about how to buy pharmaceuticals from China in weird broken English. My favorite is the insincere flattery (is there any other kind?) about how smart and great my blog is -- while I love having my ego stroked, when they say "I imagine you have a excellent information in particular while dealings with these kinds of topics" it kind of takes some of the vim out of it when it's not actually whether they can read it, let alone did. But why my blog? How many of you readers are out there?

Let me know with comments. Coherent is preferable, but not technically required.