Lars and the Real Girl

The film Lars and the Real Girl is one of the strongest proponents of the need for community I have seen in quite a while. For those who have yet to see it, Lars suffers from the delusion that his mail order, custom assembled, plastic doll is his girlfriend whom he’s in love with. Through the course of the movie you learn of “Bianca’s” past, which is startlingly like Lars’ because she actually “is” Lars. The part about the film that touched me the most was how Lars’ community: his brother and his brother’s wife, his coworkers and their spouses and friends and his church immediately respond with respect, kindness, tactfulness and love to Lars and his girlfriend, Bianca. This has deep application to our own lives, especially related to those in our community who are “strange” or have serious problems.
The need for community that goes above and beyond what is “normal” for it’s members is what the body of Christ should be. In the middle of the film, Lars brother Gus and his wife Karin, go to a meeting with a few of the members of their church to explain their and Lars’ situation. Nearly every one at the meeting has something to say about how Lars is acting ridiculous, crazy, or as something else all together. Interrupting one of the members tirades, the pastor says something like “I only have one thing to say, and I say it all the time: What would Jesus do?”

While seeming trite and rather comical at the moment, the pastor encapsulated the meaning of community as well as making it clear how each member should respond to Lars. Through the love that each member shares throughout the film, Lars begins to understand that he is loved, and the delusion fades.

What is it about love that is so hard for many of us to practice in community? How are we responding to those at the fringes (Lars and his church or coworkers), and those who are close (Lars and his brother.) What can we do to create a loving atmosphere for those who truly having something wrong with them? And how can we love ourselves to prevent things like that happening to us on small and large scales?

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Microsoft’s TV Ads: Take 2

Microsoft’s Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld have joined forces in an ad campaign for Windows. So far they’ve been humorous, and about essentially “nothing” just like Jerry’s old show. The most recent commercial can be found many places, but here’s one:

http://digg.com/tech_news/Second_Installment_of_Gates_And_Seinfield_Saga

On the same page, another digger had something rather funny to say about it:

“So Bill & Jerry went to live with the “common” folk. In the process, they bug everyone in the house with their presence. They make people adapt to their tastes rather than actually adapting to them. When they order out for Chinese they coast on their reputations and offer nothing of value back in exchange for the food. Finally, they are framed as thieves due to lack of security and assuming that everyone in the house is really honest.

This actually sounds more like Vista than I initially gave them credit for.”

Recording Steph

Today I spent some time with Steph Plant recording. We put down 14 demos of her songs plus three covers (Joanna Newsom, a song from the Lion King musical, and a Bjork cover) in about 3 hours. We did very good on time and made some decent demos (except for a clock on the wall that is, unforunately, pretty audible. Will note that for next time!) Hopefully later this week I’ll be able to work with Kelly as we didn’t get a chance this past Thursday or weekend.

I’ve been playing around with the layout of the website. I’m pretty poor at this web editing business, but know very well how to work around things. Maybe one day I’ll find time to learn how to do it (especially since I have the CS3 suite. It would make sense to put it to use.) Let me know your comments, and especially a way to make the twitter RSS in the top right look decent.

A few articles in this weeks Papyrus

Caitlin suckered my into coming up to the office, and then I was conned into writing a few articles. The first one is a review of one of Greenville local restaurants: La Hacienda Jalisco

This Ranch-styled restaurante serves up the finest traditional mexican cuisine this side of Juarez. You’ll feel like Clint Eastwood in “Two Mules for Sister Sara” with your ten-gallon hat and spurs (traditional garb not required.) Try the Burrito Ranchero, or the Chori Pollo (pronounced “Poe-Yo” you gringo!) and you’ll be begging for a siesta before you finish your chips!
La Hacienda Jalisco’s atmosphere is Mexico like you’ve never seen it: with a cobblestone carpet (that is a carpet with the appearance of granite!) Do you habla espanol? Try ordering your meal in Spanish to enrich your cross-cultural experience as the staff is fluent in the language of our neighbors to the south. Don’t like to wait? ¡No problemo! The Hacienda employs Speedy Gonzales, so your food is served fast.
What are you waiting for amigo? Get your trasero in gear and head over to the best mexican place in Greenville for a meal that is muy bueno.

I also wrote a news article about Google’s latest amazing and free product: Chrome.

Google out to polish the internet browser with Chrome

The company with the world’s most popular search engine has entered the realm of internet browsing with the open-source Chrome. Released on Tuesday, Google has attempted to reinvent the web experience for all by making a faster, more stable, and more secure web browser. Chrome implements several breakthrough designs including tabbed processing, an advanced Java Script engine, a smarter address bar, and a user defined home page with thumbnails of nine most visited pages, searches, and recently closed tabs.

“So why are we launching Google Chrome?” Google asks on it official blog. “Because we believe we can add value for users and, at the same time, help drive innovation on the web.” At first glance, Google Chrome is plain and simple with the bear minimum of buttons and controls. This was by design because to Google the browser is “only a tool to run… pages, sites and applications that make up the web.” Some of those applications, most prominently web searches, Google has on lock-down, though the company has others like Gmail, Calendar, and particularly word processing that present potential “malware” to mammoth Microsoft.

Microsoft, which claims 72% of the browser user base with Internet Explorer, is about to release IE8. Microsoft general manager of IE Dean Hachamovitch has claimed IE8 is better “for what people do every day again and again,” but it has already tested slower than Chrome. IE also comes pre-installed on all PCs shipped with Windows so it is in no way threatened by Chrome, but Google is not “out to get” IE, or Firefox, or any other browser.

Google’s main purpose in creating Chrome is to make the web better for everyone by encouraging innovation by means of competition. And, in typical Google fashion, the project is completely free and open source so other companies, like Microsoft and Mozilla, can apply their ideas to their own browsers; thereby creating a better web experience for all. And for those of us who do not understand techy-speak, the whole project is explained in a comic book found at google.com/chrome.

By taking products that usual cost money, making them better, then releasing them for free and turning a profit, Google is a company that stands alone in the marketplace, and there has yet to be anything it has put it hands on that hasn’t turned to gold, or in this case, chrome.

Sources:
Google Official Blog
The Age
Google Chrome Comic Book
Google Apps

Recent work

Hello all,
Here’s a quick life update.

– Started the new school year, looking to travel. College fairs and High School visits mostly in St. Louis, though some in the Quad Cities in northern Illinois, and Iowa.
– I recorded vocals for Dear Future last weekend. Brandon and Paul came down and lent their pipes to one of their new songs. They have a new EP in the works that sounds pretty promising. It seems a little down-tempo to the last one, but I think it’ll turn out pretty mature.
– I began work with Kelly Latimore last week as well. I’m very excited about this. Kelly is probably the most underrated artist currently residing in Greenville. We’re not sure exactly where to go yet, but we demoed several songs and should have a bit more direction next meeting on Thursday. I can’t wait to really develop his songs and get him a very good sounding EP/LP.
– Sunday night I watched the wonderful Steph Plant perform at Greenville’s bed and breakfast Chartreuse. Steph is probably the best singer I have ever heard in my life in person, if not ever. I’m still pretty foggy on where to take her music as I’ve never heard her perform with any other accompaniment except her guitar or mountain dulcimer. While her music would be beautiful as is, I’d like to see where we could take it. She does share similarities with Regina Spektor, and her music is primarily piano and Regina, though a few songs are more produced. Regina also has a bit more of a pop feel, which lends itself to beats and such other glitter.
– Lastly, there may be a very interested development with me and the studios here in Greenville. More on that when more is known.

That is all until the future is here.

Faith, Peter & an intentionality

Matthew 14:22-33 (NRSV)

22 Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. 23And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them. 25And early in the morning he came walking towards them on the lake. 26But when the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified, saying, ‘It is a ghost!’ And they cried out in fear. 27But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, ‘Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.’

28 Peter answered him, ‘Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.’ 29He said, ‘Come.’ So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came towards Jesus. 30But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ 31Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, ‘You of little faith, why did you doubt?’ 32When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33And those in the boat worshipped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’

This story from Matthew’s gospel has always struck me as slightly confusing and idiotic on the part of the disciple Peter. Skin pruning underneath their clothes from the raid, exhausted, and thinking they would die, the disciples see the image of Jesus walking to them over the crashing waves. I can imagine them rubbing their eyes, thinking themselves absolutely crazy by the intense rain and wind. I can see the first disciple, maybe Nathanial or Bartholemew, one of the faceless disciple we all but never see in any of the gospels simply stare and point at the ghoul approaching their boat. While one the more noteworthy and prestigious of these bumbling fools, maybe one of the sons of thunder, shouts something that is unintelligible to the rest of the crew, but he keeps shouting it nonetheless. It isn’t until the third repeat that the collective hears “a ghost! a ghost, don’t you see? it is a ghost!” With water running down their beards like a stream, and with skin pale they stand still as though they have seen their own death marching towards them. If you were to hear each man’s cry, you would hear calling to himself. What you would not hear is faith.

Faith is and can be very many things, but most of all it is how we react to the world, to life, to tragedy. Do we respond in despair, do we respond in faith. Do we internalize the problems way face, do we cry out for help. Later in the passage, the rock that came from a pebble, Peter see the ghost as the man they have been following these several, seemingly countless years. Peter runs to the edge of the boat and leans forward shouting at the top of his lungs “Jesus? Jesus? Let me come out to you! If it’s you, command me to come!” Jesus responds “come” and Peter renches his garment off and steps onto the waves as though dry land. I do not believe Peter to have been ignorant that he was in the middle of the sea when he stepped off the boat. I can imagine Peter’s face light up as he feels the muscles in his legs push against the normally infirm waves. His delight to be able to run to his teacher over the water unlike any fisherman, or man before.

But there is something interesting that happens as he gets closer to Jesus. The water cannot hold a man of Peter’s weight. Peter begins to sink, and his eyes widen, and his mouth opens. Like the disciples earlier on the boat, Peter is given an opportunity to react to his present circumstances. If Peter continues to sink, he knows that he will drown. Now Peter is a fisherman. He is good swimmer, but the storm is strong. The reality is this storm could kill Peter. Peter’s reaction to this reality is faith, for he cries out not to himself but to his Lord to save him. He says what we all say when we respond in faith “Lord, save me!” And we can imagine Christ pulling Peter from the waves, and walking him back to the boat before calming the storm.

Not to overlook the fact that Jesus says to Peter “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” surley Peter began to see how his walking on the water was not in accord with his daily dealings with the liquid. And there is the idea that he began to look down at himself and not towards Christ and began to sink. But at the same time I believe the sinking is representative of the unexpected turmoil that will follow our lives, and Peter’s reaction should be representative of ours. It is our crying out “Lord, save me!” that is faith.

You always ask questions that you already know the answer to had you only taken the time to think

But I love it when you answer your own question
I love seeing the light flash in your eyes
The sudden realization
“Oh”

$1.50

You’d probably do about anything for a buck-fifty
Is that what you’re trying to tell me, bud?
Nobody gives a ____ about what you’re saying
Perhaps we should display the qualifications of a refill, so everyone knows beyond doubt whether they’re entitled one
You ____head
You have to be kidding me
You’re probably the guy who asks for a discount because you’re “such a good customer”
What are you gonna use that buck-fifty on man?
Ha, that’s right
You have a point
Another three refills
You ____head