27 02 2010

For our writer’s group this morning, I put together the following brief “get to know me” bit.  It’s not meant to be totally historical, but hey, I took some liberties with the facts.

* * *

My childhood memories are a great source of strength to me.  Our family’s weekly routine often revolved around dictated means of labor and education, which only made it sort of like Soviet Russia.  I’m still grateful to my father for teaching me the value of sleep the way the USSR taught its citizens the value of currency – slow, methodical deprivation and devaluation.  My parents would force me to go to sleep while it was still light outside, thereby teaching me to resent sleep at its outset; then they would invariably wake we up mercilessly and abruptly each morning with implements ranging from nothing but their strident voices and latent disappointment in my sloth to ice cubes in my bed and drumming pots & pans (not bedpans).  Gorbachev himself couldn’t have decimated my ability to relax more effectively.

Actually, I’ve often thought most people had cause to be jealous of me.  I’ve got full British heritage on both sides of my family, I was born in Texas, and I was raised in the only part of California you don’t need to feel guilty or embarrassed about living in:  the Central Coast.  This means that I am fated to be a sardonic cowboy who takes a disproportionate amount of pride in his upbringing.  I’d compare myself to John Wayne, but he was tall, and good friends with one of our local magnates who would never let me get away with that.  Yeah, I know people.

I’ve had a general fascination with nicknames and shoes that hasn’t faded over the years.  While my dad chose to go the endearing route with nicknames like “Berto,” I had a soccer coach when I was 10 or so who nicknamed me the Tiny Terror.  I wasn’t particularly small at that age, but I was apparently terrifying to an above-average degree.  Whether the terror was implied to have stemmed from my stature or some other diminutive aspect of my person, I still can’t say.  I’d ask the coach, but he got arrested a couple of years later for inappropriate conduct with some young karate students he was training at his dojo.  I don’t use that nickname anymore.

I’ve been writing since I was around 15, but with mixed results.  While my metaphorical pen was enough to get me a degree in journalism (my actual pen broke during the application process), it wasn’t enough to resuscitate the news industry, which is apparently not as lucrative as I was led to believe by the articles I read in the paper right before I came to college.  Thankfully, I supplemented my ill-fated choice of a major with social and romantic exploits that wouldn’t fit on this page, only partially because they don’t exist.  I have mostly read, worked and played sports for the past five years – In other words, I’m a combination of Mary Bennett, Martin Eden, and A-Rod – without the steroids, luscious neck, or zombie-hunting skills.  I also enjoy studying our country’s presidents, for completely separate reasons that I am not required by law to enumerate.

For the past few months, I’ve worked at Makita USA, which provides people with power tools that we hope will need repairs or supplemental parts that we can sell, since we don’t really make any money by selling the tools themselves.  While my initial instincts suggested that hoping for the customer to be unsatisfied with what you sell them was an unsustainable business practice, first-hand experience with purchasing minutiae and a 40-hour work week have crushed any free will or desire to think more effectively than all the ice cubs and karate teachers in the world.  These days, I have learned to live by one motto: “The fanatic is one who can’t change his mind but won’t change the subject.”

So, let’s keep talking about me.


14 09 2009

Jon at SCL recently put up an amusing post about hugs. and I am going to voice some of my own, less amusing thoughts here.

When I was growing up, hugs among my peers were not that common.  I would hug my friends at the end of camp, my family on significant days, and other people I had not seen for a while or would not be seeing for a while.  I suppose I could just assume that my childhood was based on some Baby Boomer tradition of a man keeping his distance, but I prefer to think that I was raised fairly normally in this regard.  Hugs are something very special.  Really, I prefer the term “embrace” as it carries a bit more weighty of a connotation.  Because that is what you are doing.  You are embracing someone with your body, and they are (or should be) returning it.

Hugs today rarely carry this weight.

In college, I saw (and reluctantly engaged in, on a few occasions) hugs occurring all over the place.  People would greet others with hugs when they happened to walk by between classes, when they met to study, when they saw each other in chapel, and so forth.  I got so sick of being coerced into returning hugs that I tried to develop an anti-hug demeanor:  Arms crossed, one foot in front of the other, body slightly askew from the person whom I was facing.  It communicates a sense of haste and business that tends to ward off the guy huggers, but I have yet to come up with a foolproof defense against the overzealous females.  (Please make jokes now)

Ok, yes, I can hear you.  “You are a cold, heartless !#!@$@# who has no affection for his friends.  I think hugs are great!  We should hug more people all the time! It’s a great way to get closer to each other, and I think it’s something we should make more of an effort to do!  Aren’t we supposed to great each other ‘with a holy kiss’ anyway?  What’s your problem with any sort of intimacy with your friends?”  -Hugger in Houston


You are the type of person I am trying to avoid touching.  Can I be blunt?  No?  Too bad.

I believe that a lot of people (Especially peopl in the 14-25 age range) use hugs to gain a false sense of intimacy with their friends.  While I’ve heard some people say that this is mostly true only in women, who naturally seek intimacy with their friends, and that men are merely following their lust for physical companionship,  I don’t believe so.  I think men and women like hugging everything in sight because it, their eyes, represents a level of intimacy that humans naturally desire.  As the stigma about physical contact in our culture are quickly wearing away, hugs have rushed in to fill the gap as a sort of innocent way of forming this bond.  Embracing someone is  something that should be reserved for people you love.  Pressing your body to theirs should signify that you see them as part of yourself.  Family, very close friends (and even these, only on select occasions) and lovers are the only ones who should be making this bold statement.  I don’t want to avoid hugging everyone because I don’t like everyone; rather, I want to avoid hugging everyone I like because of the few people that I love. I realize that this definition of love can make us uncomfortable, and that guys often cannot say this to each other in today’s hyper-sexual climate without incurring derision.  I want my embraces to communicate the love of Christ to those I care for.  Why do we need to dilute something as wonderful as a “hug” (you know I’m serious because I’m putting quotes around real words) just to pretend that we’re close to everyone in our lives?  I realize that some people may feel awkward not hugging someone they consider a friend, but here is the crux of my argument:  Friendship should be reinforced by actions for the other person instead of actions to each other.  Thisis not to say that one should never hug a friend or “buddy” who is in real need of consolation or love at the time, but simply that if one cannot feel close to a friend without hugging them, then you are probably nowhere near close enough to them to warrant a hug in the first place.  My philosophy of affection between casual friends is that if we can demonstrate care and love for each other before we begin to show our love in actions to each other, then such affection will carry with it the weight of true care and love rather than manufactured and hollow intimacy.

And hey, that holy kiss thing?  I’d much rather peck someone on the cheek than I would squish my body up against theirs.  I can gargle some mouthwash any time of day, but doing laundry costs $1.75 at this apartment.

Lyrically Superior

13 08 2009

These Frail Hands

Brave Saint Saturn


Written by Reese Roper

In this broken place where I was born
It seems there is no peace,
And the very soil that we walk upon
Is filled with tears that never cease,
And you can trace the scars of hopelessness
Like sweat upon the backs
Of all the outcast downtrodden,
Water slipped through cracks

Hold on,
Hold tight

And I am overwhelmed with grief,
to see such suffering,
For those who lack the voice to speak
For those of us left stuttering

May this not prevail,
Dear Lord, your love will never fail

And these frail hands,
They tremble as they pen perhaps their last
And these weak words,
Can never say what cannot be surpassed

When the concrete of the world
Becomes too cumbersome to lift,
And the cataracts of fear and doubt
Cloak truth beyond what we can sift
And darkness, darkness bleeds its way,
When crippling anguish clouds our sight,
The ghosts of dusk have bared their teeth,
Set their claws to bring the night

Hold on,
Hold tight

Darkness can’t perceive the light,
though lightlessness has chilled us numb,
And though its wings may cloud the skies,
The dark shall never overcome

Light of the world,
Your love, has never failed

And these frail hands,
They tremble as they pen perhaps their last
And these weak words,
Can never say what cannot be surpassed

I need your love,
And most of all I want to feel your peace,
I need your love,
Let everything that you are not decrease,

(Your love,
Your mercy,
Your light unending.
Your hope,
Your peace,
Your strength my heart is mending.)

Save me)

MC Defenseless

26 07 2009

Micah and I were in charge of “running the show” for Thatcher & Laura’s wedding reception this weekend.

I know, I know.

Nothing major went awry, but my favorite moment was this:

The wedding coordinator’s husband comes up to me after the reception has started, and asks if we have any karaoke planned.  I told him no, we do not, sorry.  He then asks if there is a keyboard or something like that.  I say, a little more hesitantly, that I know of no musical implements other than the sanctuary piano.  I then ask him if I can help him with something, and he informs me that, oh, it’s no big deal, but he figured he could sing a number for the bride and groom for them on this special day.


I actually considered, for the briefest instant, suggesting to him some other way of honoring my friends.  The look on their faces when this random guy started to serenade them would have been better than any gift.  Any gift for me, at least.  They probably would’ve been really annoyed.

Made a 90s playlist today.  All is well.


14 06 2009

I wanted to see her on Friday

To take a trip to Because

To eat crunchy food in the crunchy sunlight

While enjoying the savory breeze,

And we did.

Fridays are best served crunchy

Though butter makes them more acute

But they are still great

And the waitress may have outdone the sunshine today.

Talking to her means severance

But not from anything static and motionless

Because motion, whether centrifugal or reactionary,

Is the only way bodies gravitate.

I came back the next morning

But the waitress was gone,

So she did not serve me tea.

Although I have discovered

That waitresses make great mothers

But terrible wives

Contrary to

My prejudices.

There he is

25 05 2009

I haven’t seen Norm Macdonald around lately, but apparently he made an appearance at a Bob Saget roast last year.  Enjoy some of it, below.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Restive Contentment

23 05 2009

I fulfilled my goal of pinting with BU profs last night.  To be sure, it was a little less than a complete victory, but it still counts!

* * *

I think I missed Torrey graduation because of work yesterday.  And by “think” I mean “it didn’t occur to me until one of the kids asked about a ring then I sat there and said to myself, ‘oh, I guess I won’t be there today.’ ”  Eh.

* * *

I love hoisting.  Anything, really.  Hoisting is just too fun.j


16 05 2009
  • Where is Lou when you need her?
  • I accidentally smiled when Andrew back talked the other day and used the phrase “double superlative” in his retort.
  • I haven’t done anything spontaneous for about four or six days.  Time’s a-comin’…
  • I miss missing the days before my nights and weekends were busy with the play.  Still not my world, but it offers its share of somethings.
  • Why doesn’t anyone does care about American history the same way Mom and I do?
  • Benjamin Franklin was not as much of a womanizer as he is perceived.  At least, the whole “girlfriends in France” thing is a bit exaggerated.  I’ll tell you all about sometime.  Then we’ll get married.
  • I’m so glad I’m not graduating this year.  Aren’t you?
  • I love my sisters.

What are you doing these days?

23 03 2009

I had a few awesome conversations this past weekend.  I also had one or two of the so-so conversations that we all dread.  For your convenience, I’ve listed a few basic tactics you can use to respond to the dreaded catching-up conversations we all face.  I’ve tried all of them, and there are certainly some that I have forgotten to add.  Either way, it’s well worth your time to peruse the list.  My time, I mean.

  1. The Brush Pass:  Named after the staple tactic of CIA and Google agents everywhere, this method involves subtle but clear communication of the desire to remain silent.  No real interaction or conversation is desired or even prudent, and a quick “not much, just working and hanging out” usually fits the bill.  If the person making conversation persists in their search for details, you may have to move on to a different tactic.
  2. The Norm MacDonald:  Needing no real explanation of its title, this approach usually has the effect (ala Dirty Work ) of completely repulsing any decent person through an outlandish and abhorrent claim.  For instance, “Where are you working now?”  “I work at the baby meat processing plant.”  “The…what?”  “I kill and process children for mass consumption.  I love it and can’t imagine doing anything else.”   If your aggressor insists of laughing this tactic off, you will then need to move on to yet another step.
  3. The Chuck Norris:  While actually punching and kicking people has a good success rate, this one is a little more metaphorical.  One must karate chop the annoying conversationalist with umistakable hints about how painful this conversation has grown to you.  “Do you enjoy your job at the…”baby processing plant” ha ha ha?”  “Yes.  I do.  It’s the only place where I know I won’t have to waste time making small talk with random people all day.”  Then you just stare them down and continue to answer any further questions with an increasingly painful delay.  Which leads me to…
  4. The Deep Blue:  Just like a chess computer, you must know your move before the opponent has finished their part of the conversation.  The greatest part of this strategy, however, is that you can use your preparedness to pretend like answering their questions is extremely difficult for you.  Four to six seconds of blank staring before firing off an intentionally labored response can really weaken their defenses.  Just make sure that you don’t overact, as some simian-types may mistake your pauses for thoughtful intervals, and be flattered by your intense effort to come up with worthy conversation fodder.  However, if they insist on carrying the conversation despite your signals, you will have to launch the peacekeeper missile of conversational tactics…
  5. The iPhone:  You know who they are.  They’re always looking something up, checking their email, or updating their status on the Facebook.  While we all resent these obnoxious people for their mindless tapping and sliding, the basic principles of the iPhone forcefield are there for the taking.  Simply put, one must always show blatantly greater interest in anything at one’s disposal other than the conversation partner.  If you have some change, not-so-surreptitiously jingle it and inspect the quarters for interesting state mottos.  If you have shoelaces, immediately un-tie and re-tie both of them.  Read any inscriptions or food labels in your immediate vicinity and check any accessible clothing labels (yours or not) for possibly intriguing combinations of cashmere and polyester.  While the offender will undoubtedly be insulted by your ostensibly rude behavior, they will think their time too valuable to be wasted on someone as petty as you.  In other words, mission accomplished.

Slipping Away

7 03 2009

There have been a few times over the past couple of months when I have started thinking about something and wanted to write down my thoughts while I my interest was still piqued.  This is often the place I use for those instances, but I have grown a little lazy lately, and I regret that I cannot quite recall all the things that I have been wanting to write about.  Perhaps a good writer will bolt to the nearest computer (or typewriter if you’re pretentious or Cory) to record their thoughts rather than let things like work and distance prevent them from doing so.  I’m forced to admit, however, that I am quite a ways from being capable of casting off my responsibilities and appointments for the sake of a boon.  I only wrote boon because I heard Stephen Fry say it on Jeeves and Wooster the other day.  I have all four season of it, by the way, in case you are ever interested in watching it.  I haven’t found anyone besides my brother who really seems to enjoy it for the reason I do, but I have watched it with admittedly few people, so I think that there is still time for that particular group of people to expand.

That does bring to mind the term “hipster” that I heard someone use on Friday.  While I am familiar with the term, I haven’t really thought about it too much beyond what it connotes.  I realized, though, that I have known a lot of hipsters.  A lot of the people I spent time with in college were budding hipsters, and the term “Christian hipster” definitely describes an even more frightening majority of them.  While Stuff White People Like has provided me with a checklist that is almost eerily comprehensive when it comes to a lot of these people, the mere fact that these groups are so easy to categorize is more than enough for me to be able to reflect on those times with a smile.  After all, I remember being distinctly interested in some of of those things at various points over the last five years.  Here’s an extemporaneous list of the traits on one or both sites that I personally saw adopted by friends of mine:

*Note — I’m not saying these traits are necessarily disingenuous, just that they all seemed to be frequently adopted by people that I knew.  After all, who could say anything negative about someone who likes Wendell Berry?

  • Pipes
  • Moleskine Notebooks
  • Hummus
  • The Pope
  • Bicycles
  • Poetry Readings
  • Flasks
  • Vegan/Vegetarianism
  • Tattoos
  • Being Faux-Catholic
  • Piercings
  • Wendell Berry
  • Coffee
  • Whole Foods and Grocery Co-ops
  • Appearing to Enjoy Classical Music
  • Sufjan Stevens
  • The Idea of Soccer
  • Girls with Bangs
  • Vintage
  • Wine
  • Microbreweries
  • Wes Anderson Movies  (I just finished The Darjeeling Limited no more than thirty minutes ago)
  • Making You Feel Bad about Not Going Outside
  • Snowboarding
  • Marathons
  • Despising Christian Music
  • Not Having a TV
  • The Daily Show/Colbert Report
  • Sushi

The funniest thing about Hipsters, as Brett notes, is that they all hate labels.  This makes such a candid list that much more perfect, really.  SHRUG!