Dluxe's World

Saturday, December 31

Boohbahs and The Art of Hippity Hop

I would like to state for the record that I find the Boohbahs terribly disturbing (Cadie got one for Christmas). They're weird looking to be sure... The worst thing is their little head. They have this little mouth-shaped depression in their face but there's no mouth. Almost like some torturous, evil intergallactic ruler (Xenu?) spackled over their food portals.


Plus, if you click on this link I'm sure you'll agree that Boohbahs are probably using psychic techniques to amass a child army that will one day throw off the tyranny of Parental Oppression. Then again, I might be exaggerating. Anyway, it's not my kid in that picture - so we don't have to worry just yet.

The funnest thing about break - I got to play in MLF's little project studio a couple days. I truly believe that, if I put my mind and summoned every ounce of soul/funk I could muster, I could be a chart-topping producer of rap loops. I am totally serious! It's a little known fact that I gots all kindsa flow...

Speaking of which, isn't the little groove-writing kid in the movie "Hustle and Flow" actually white? That's right, white meat kickin dirty beats, fools.

I'm bouncin' to the Bbuster to rent dat stizzle right now, dawgs...

Saturday, December 24

Wisdom from pop-culture...

Since we're spending tomorrow, Christmas Day, at church and running around with family, we decided to have our family 'gift day' today.

I had bought my lovely bride the new Switchfoot album... The lyrics of one tune ("Stars") kinda jumped out at me in a fresh way:

Maybe I've been the problem,
Maybe I'm the one to blame.

But even when I turn it off and blame myself
The outcome feels the same.
I've been thinking maybe I've been partly cloudy,
Maybe I'm the chance of rain,
And maybe I'm overcast
And maybe all my luck's washed down the drain...

Stars looking at a planet watching entropy and pain,
And maybe start to wonder how
The chaos in our lives could pass as sane.
Ive been thinking about the meaning of resistance,
Of a world beyond my own
And suddenly the infinite and penitent
Began to look like home.

I've been thinking 'bout everyone

everyone, you look so empty

... But when I look at the stars, I see someone else...

With all the hustle and the bustle of the holidays... With all the joy that we are supposedly surrounded by during this time of the year, it's amazing how empty and lonely and pointless it can seem.

But there *is* something else... More than that, a someone. And this holiday was supposed to remind us that someone stepped into history and walked here with us - showing us we're not alone, but we're loved and treasured deeply.

Take some time to think deeply and reconnect with what's at the core of the presents, meals, and distractions. You'll find you "... feel like yourself" but better!

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good... afternoon.

Wednesday, December 21

Pre-holiday miscellanies

Well, Christmas is almost upon us... Here's hoping that everyone is tolerating the hustle and bustle of the season well. Just in case no other post gets made, let me take this chance to with you all a very blessed CHRISTmas!

A few random bits:

1) First off, if you'd like to read a review of Narnia that reflects my opinions (stated below) but actually makes sense and is readable, try this on for size.

2) No matter what holiday you celebrate this season, I can't imagine that the college's choice of pictures for their 'holiday card' would inspire you. I like Andrew Wyeth and all, but his imagery doesn't exactly warm my heart. I'd say that, sadly, the actual image picked isn't online. But, trust me, I'm not that sad.

3) Snowflakes are cool. What's even cooler is that, for some reason, I just noticed this winter that sometimes you can see the 'shapes' of snowflakes with the naked eye. I think this new revelation is partly due to the fact that what I called snow growing up was mainly glorified sleet along with the fact that we usually fail to "stop to watch the roses".

4) I need a job where people just pay me a livable wage to tell them what I think about something. Way too much time this week has been spent discussing philosophy/theology with The Hearn via email. It's been fun, but not good for financial return.

Oh... And it you wanna brighten a gloomy day, why not whack a happy penguin for distance?

Saturday, December 17

1H - Pass - 2D - Pass - 7NT?

How come no one plays cards nowadays? Yes, yes, yes... I know that everyone and their cousin plays poker. That's not what I am talking about.

I love to play cards - bridge, spades, hearts, 'knock' rummy... Real card games. One of the coolest memories of my deep childhood is that every other Friday night for as long as I could remember was my parent's 'Card Night'. My folks would clear off the kitchen table, my grandparents would stop in, and they'd play rubber bridge until all hours of the night.

I was fascinated by it all. As I got older, the grown ups would let me stand around the table while they played. Anyone out there who knows the first thing about bridge will tell you it's not really a game that a n00b can appreciate viewing. But watching got me hooked... Not just the on the cardplay, but on the atmosphere - just sitting around playing a game and chatting about life.

Later, when I finally convinced my folks to teach me to play I realized that I loved this stuff... A game like bridge has so many levels to think through, not to mention the variability inherent in the practically infinite 4-handed deals. Awesome! It's like intellectual crack!

My father told stories of playing bridge in college and so I eagerly looked forward to finding a few penny games and earning my stripes when I arrived @ UD. Sadly, it seems that no one else my age plays bridge. The best I could do was occasionally cut into one (single, sporadic, pathetically weak) spades game. Not quite the student center full of several ongoing games with people cutting in and out that had filled my geeky dreams. Either my father exaggerated or it really was different 'back then'.

Yes, there was penny-poker of various kinds, too. But since the $$ aspect of poker is critical, playing for less than a soda's worth of cash makes poker about as interesting as doing laundry with your winnings. Somehow pleasant, and yet empty.

Now, whenever I sit here in the kitchen with my laptop to check email or blog, I'm staring straight across the room at a deck of cards. Still in the box - unused.

So, would someone out there (preferably a couple) learn to play cards? I'll make sure we open our house to play with you. Especially if you learn bridge or spades.

Oh! Letting Eva and I win wouldn't hurt either...

Thursday, December 15

Into the Wardrobe...

People who know me are well aware that I have an opinion on just about everything... If there's something I don't have an opinion about, just gimme a second to collect my thoughts and I'll pontificate. A friend likened me, potential physical likeness aside, to the John Goodman's character in 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' who possesses the gift of gab.

Though I love to talk, I really am a person who likes to think things through... With that in mind, I'm now two days removed from seeing "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" for the first time... And facing a strong likelihood that I'll be seeing it again tonight. I finally feel like I've processed the movie enough to post something that resembles a fair reaction to it.

I really enjoyed the movie. Initially, I was disappointed by the movie. However, the more I talk about the movie with people (like my awesome wife) and think about it, the less I really feel that way. In fact, on talking about in on the drive home I started to really want to see it again.

I'll start with the things I liked, since they are increasingly trumping the bad in my head... First off, the casting of the children was wonderful. They perfectly fit the molds I had setup in my head for Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy. I think it's safe to say that Lucy's wide-eyed wonder was the absolute best part of the film.

The faithfulness to the book was everything for which a fan could ask. In fact, the places where the movie deviated (setting up Edmund's betrayal, for instance) improved on/augmented the book. Good stuff.

And the emotions were there: You smiled and wondered with Lucy, gritted your teeth at Edmund, and cried for Aslan at the Stone Table. Ok... I cried, anyway.

My gripes, though they have softened some, still hold: For starters, I personally think Liam Neeson was the wrong voice for Aslan. It's hard to think of a voice that would've been perfect, but something sounding more 'expansive' was needed. (And, much like expecting Neo to say 'Dude', I kept expecting to hear Aslan summon the Force.)

Though I thought this was a fantastic augmentation of the book, my other big gripe was that Susan and Peter were a little too mean to Edmund for too long. In the book, Edmund is a punk who Peter/Susan put in his place. In contrast, the treatment of Edmund in the movie made Peter/Susan seem far less noble than they should've been. When Edmund turned, you almost said something like "Well, what do you expect?"...

Lastly, the special FX just seemed a little rough at times... Perhaps the timeline was too ambitious? Just seemed like the last bit of 'tightening' never happened and things seemed a little rough. (Here's a good article on this view)

On the balance, the weight is solidly in favor of the movie. In fact, I'm very excited about the prospect of going to see it again. I can't say that I felt that way after the initial disappointment from any of the Star Wars prequels.

So, there's a $.10 take on a $150m movie. That and an extra dollar will get you two Apple Pies at McDonalds. After all, there's tax here in Vermont.

Oh... One last thing, here's the best article on the web regarding the 'correct ordering' of the Narnia books. For my part, I'm a 'publicationist' at heart.

Monday, December 12


It's always good when you can laugh at someone else's expense... During today's uber-kickoff event for the project I serve at work, the Budget Officer fervently began to recite the bullet points on one of his slides. One of them happened to indicate that his office would be responsible for the production of 'year-end yodels'.

If only that were true... It would make my job *so* much more entertaining.

Tomorrow (Tuesday) is the day that several of us are heading to see the Chronicles of Narnia. I am super-geeked about the movie! My addiction was heightened a little today when I stumbled across a 9 min teaser of the film over at NarniaWeb... If this is representative of the movie *at all*, I dunno what some people are griping about.

The negative reviews I've seen tend to focus on one or two common themes... In some cases, the movie's "religious overtone might cause questions from some younger viewers". First off, it's loose allegory at best. I think the books, and I would suppose the movie as well, stand on their own as works of fantasy. Besides that: If you're so uncomfortable answering questions from a little one re: some spiritual implications in a movie, I would suspect that your personal 'theology' might be the problem... Not a movie. Part of what makes these stories so great is the layers of the onion that you can peel back and find something new to chew on...

And yes - I know that in this case the onion gets bigger (cf The Last Battle).

Anyhow... The second gripe is that the story is a little too 'childlike' to match up against Lord of the Rings. Huh. Could that be because they are children's books? Tolkien was going for something very different.

For my part, that's part of my reasoning to see the films... The books were dear parts of my childhood. Combine my continued 'childlike-ness' with the allegory that lies underneath and my brain will have plenty to chew on. The biggest *problem* is that I tear up reading the books (stop laughing)... Part of the reason I keep watching the trailer over and over is to hopefully de-sensitize the water works before tomorrow night.

Nothing is funnier or more pathetic than a 300lb guy crying at a kid's movie. Actually, the fact that I get choked-up over Bill Pullman's "go kill the aliens" speech in Independence Day might trump that on further review.

Sunday, December 11

Making memories and getting chills

Last night, we had our ABF Christmas party... I could spend a huge amount of time describing all the hilarity that went on. Since tales of parties are always less funny when re-told, I'll simply say you should've been there. Nothing more fun than watching grown men and women try to convince one another why the Palm-tree ornamented toilet seat would be a perfect addition to *your* house and not theirs.

It's funny how each of these little soirees has left me with a different memory that carries forward. And it's also funny how sharing, even in the patently silly, can draw people together. We've been awful blessed to fall in with this lot of people. Toilet seats, bad 80s cinema*, and all.

We share humor, but there is a special thing about making good music together. I can still recall clearly the best bands, the best shows, and all the people (their hoots, hollers, and laughter) involved from when I was gigging.

Had another of those moments this morning during our pre-church rehearsal. We were running a song (Amy Grant's Breath of Heaven) that we had rehearsed briefly Wednesday night. This just happened to be one of those weeks when three of the best musicians we've ever had were on the stage, and all were involved in this tune.

The first 'take' was pure magic... Give you chills, make you tear up, leave you just shaking your head kinda magic. And it is permanently etched in my memory.

You wanna know what's even cooler? Any player will tell you there are these sublime moments where you are on the moutaintop one night, one set, or one take and then desperately trying to break out of mediocrity the next run... Struggling to make it up to the summit one more time.

These three managed to repeat the 'awesomeness' for both actual services.

That's God's grace in action through ppl's talents. I wish I could attribute it to my masterful page turning, but I think that'd be false. After all, during the magic take at rehearsal I flipped the pages upside down.

Pardon me, I've got to put that song on repeat in iTunes.

(*No matter what "The J-Man" (r)(C) says...)

Friday, December 9

Good week inturrupted

Funny how in a moment a mountain of good things can crumple.

First, the good: The lecture on Wednesday was 'off the hook'... As I suspected, I think I understood the first ten words before everything started to sound like the Charlie Brown teacher soundtrack. Michael noted that I "nodded thoughtfully" periodically. Of course, I was doing that consciously so people weren't thinking, "Who's that lost guy in the second row?".

The rest of the week was good, though busy... This morning, we awoke to nice blanket of snow. It was beautiful. The downside, at least initially, was that I was not aware the snow was going to start last (Thursday) night. So I got a late jump on the way out to work.

About two miles from my house, I was rounding a rather tight turn... As I came around, there was a pickup turning - in my lane - right at me. A quick snatch of the wheel to the right left me facing a parked car with no way to stop... In one crunch, a happy, blissful week came to a grinding halt. My front, passenger-side quarter panel glanced off the parked car, crunching the cheap, plastic bumper of my high-class Hyundai Elantra.

Thankfully, no one was hurt excluding my pride and wallet. The other car had no disfiguration - just a couple small scratches along the part of the bumper that wrapped around the driver's side, rear quarter panel. I'm sure that my car, however, has a few hundred $$s worth of damage. I'm 90% certain it's driveable as is (which I hope to verify with my mechanic friend in the morning). So at least we *should* be able to delay the repair.

Where this money is going to come from, at any time, is completely beyond me. One thing for sure, I won't have to relive by bad car shopping experience from the other day. After all, you need money to buy a car.

Unless anyone wants an overpriced, slightly marred Hyundai Elantra? Only $65,000... Offer ends soon. Why drive a snazzy, new Euro import when you can drive a dented, crappy Korean import?

Monday, December 5

Good times shopping

As I mentioned yesterday, we set out this morning on our annual Guy's Christmas Shopping roadtrip. Riding in the car with four guys seemed to call back to memory all the crazy car trips from my college days... I imagine it did something similar for the others.

At least we *acted* like it did.

I'm such a terrible shopper. I tend to have a hard time looking at something and thinking, "That's perfect for so-and-so!"... If someone has expressed an interest in a particular thing, I *love* buying things for people. But I'm not a hugely material person by nature so it's hard to just associate ppl and 'stuff'.

I think I did better this year - probably due to the fact that the family has had their Christmas lists up for a while. And when I refer to 'the family', I mainly mean my wife. A 4 year-old boy fixated on anything fast, powerful, or loud and a 1 year-old daughter are easy to shop for. Besides, the grandparents are likely to flood them with stuff anyway.

Now, if only I hadn't gotten hurried this morning... Maybe I would've remembered to re-look at E's list and *remember* a thing or two while I was out.

Highlights of the upcoming week? Well, I'm getting to go to a biochem lecture on Wednesday given by a great friend prepping for his PhD defense. Should be fun (though I insist I'll actually understand "Good afternoon..." and that's about it). I should mention he informed me this picture was taken during an office 70s party. Though I hadn't really noticed at first, it explains the shirt.

This weekend is slated to be our Sunday school class (sorry, ABF) Christmas party. That is always good for a laugh or 231.

Sunday, December 4

Milo comes through again...

"I drive a 1994 Toyota Corolla with 146,000 miles on it. I love it, personally. You have not seen comedy until you've seen my 1994 Toyota with a hubcap missing and the passenger side window duct-taped shut parked between Allen Iverson's Bentley and Chris Webber's tricked-out Suburban." - Brian Smith, former 76ers radio/publicity guy (aka Chunk, Milo)

Sometimes when you ask people about their cars, you learn funny things. Seems that he's taken to presenting his humorous musings via AOLIM nowadays instead of updating his blog.

Tomorrow is our annual Guy's Christmas Shopping Day... Truthfully, it amounts to an excuse for a couple of us to go out, buy a couple Christmas presents (in that purposeful, guy shopping kinda way), and then go catch a movie and eat out with the balance of a day. Such a deal! For me, the highlight has been lunch at the Olive Garden. While this probably sounds about as exciting as sitting in traffic to my Delaware homies, remember that we live in the middle of nowhere.

At our budget-level, the Olive Garden is not only high-class cuisine but also an event requiring 1.25 hours of travel and weeks of anticipation. Quit laughing.

On another note, PatL totally geeked me out today by showing me her iPod Nano. I don't know what I was expecting the Nano-pods to look like... I have a 'full size' iPod, and it's not exactly a big device. But Pat's Nano was so tiny it was sickening. Geek envy abounded... My envy was worsened by the fact that my own iPod mysteriously discharged over the last couple days leaving me tuneless on the way to church.

I imagine accidentally leaving it on in my pocket, shuffling happily through my 4.6 days worth of music, didn't help.

Saturday, December 3

On Desperation

My wife is off shopping today with some of her friends. While this would've left me alone with the kids, my mother-in-law called to ask if the kids could play at her house and help her hang Christmas decorations.

Since this meant I could run errands unencumbered, I took her up on the offer.

So, we're in the market for a new ride and I used the free time to visit some local dealers. I made the mistake of stopping into one local dealer who is notorious for the 'hard sell, bad service' approach that gives car salespeople such a stunning reputation. Right up there with Injury Attorney.

Anyway, I was practically assaulted on the lot by the sales manager... The guy, literally, stepped in front of my van (forcing me to stomp on the brakes) to 'say hi' and offer any help. I swerved around him with a half hearted wave. I made the mistake of getting out of my car simply to check the price of a vehicle. Out of nowhere, an overly perky voice squealed over my should, "HI!"... I was trapped.

The bubbly young lady, Miranda, had closed me into the row of cars - standing between me and my chariot. She was wearing a sweater that fit in a manner which implied that she either:
1) Had no money to buy new clothes since she began 'blossoming'
2) Concluded that she was, in fact, selling more than just fine automotive products from the Chrylser motor company.

Remember, I live in New England and it was cold and windy today. People just don't walk around here partly clothed without an agenda or a supply chain issue.

As she stood shivering there, asking me if there was "was a deal she could make which would ensure I drove a car off the lot that day" I began to realize exactly how amusing this situation could be... I just needed a new perspective. I decided to make the most of the situation. My witty reply - "Well, I will be driving a car off the lot today..." Pausing to watch her eyes light up before adding - "I drove that van here, and I suppose it'll get me home!".

Miranda was not impressed.

To her credit, she politely asked at this point if she could give me her card in case I came back later. I agreed, suddenly guilty for my little quip at her expense. I walked into the showroom, grabbed the card, thanked her, and turned to leave.

If you thought the deperate part has happened in my story, you'd be wrong... But here it comes. As I'm halfway back to the van, a guy about my height and weight comes sprinting out after me hollering "WAIT!!! WAIT!!!".... Shocked at the sight of someone like myself running (and risking heart attack, stroke, or at least a nasty sprain), I paused and waited for him to arrive.

Sometime later - you know, catching your breath takes a long time - he managed to squeak out that he wanted to ask me if I was ok. Apparently, he informed me, Miranda just started and I was her first customer. He wanted to make sure I had gotten the service I expected. He went on to tell me that Miranda told him she was afraid she "*bleeped* up" with me.

Fascinating. Anyway, I assured the kindly, portly jogger that I was quite fine and well served by Miranda.

"Yeah, I know... She's easy on the eyes you know... Ain't she?" he added, slugging me in the arm.

Again, how nice. I thanked him for his concern and started (again) to return to my car. Before I could even take a step, the 300lb Carl Lewis grabbed my should and spun me around. At this point, I was about ready to slug someone...

"Hey listen... I'm glad you found out what you needed. But, if you do come back and need a car just ask for me instead (Todd)."

What about Miranda? She was helping me out, right?

"Well, oh... Well, see... I'll make sure that any commission I make on selling you a car gets split with her. But you can just deal with me alone and I'll take care of the money later."

And that, my friends is the living definition of 'classy' if ever I saw it. The funniest part?? I went across to a different lot run by the same dealership (to look at vans). As I was leaving guess who were departing together for a bite to eat - stopping to wave furiously and ask me how it was going? Yep.

"Todd offered to take me out to dinner and help me out since I'm new... Isn't that sweet??" gushed Miranda from the passenger seat.

Surely. A match made in heaven.