Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Goal setters

I took off early yesterday to celebrate my B-Day; we drove over to the airport and parked to let Silvi watch the jets land and take off. She stood on the roof of the car and clapped as the planes roared by. Then over to my parents for supper and ice cream cake.

I've already broken all my unwritten goals for this year, on purpose so that they won't be hanging over me. It's so annoying, this propensity to set goals for oneself on birthdays and on the eve of new years. Who likes to hang out with goal setters? Do goal setters ever "hang out" anyway?

I say, throw your stone as far as you can, then go and pick it up and throw it again. Pick a mountain top that's calling to you and start walking. And make sure to stop in all the villages along the way.

(P.S. If you are a surgeon or fighter pilot, please disregard this advice. Please, set goals. Thank you.)


Here are a few things I've enjoyed in the last week or so:

"How come Republicans and Democrats out here don't schmooze with each other?" Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, R-Calif., asked in a speech Monday at the National Press Club in Washington. The journalists in the audience had plenty of questions for the action-star-turned-politician, too.

New York Times syndicated columnist Thomas Friedman spoke about his ideas on green politics, as well as the war in Iraq, at an event last week in Minneapolis.

In a four-and-a-half-hour special, News War, FRONTLINE examines the political, cultural, legal, and economic forces challenging the news media today and how the press has reacted in turn. Through interviews with key figures in the print and electronic media over the past four decades -- and with unequaled, behind-the-scenes access to some of today's most important news organizations, FRONTLINE traces the recent history of American journalism, from the Nixon administration's attacks on the media to the post-Watergate popularity of the press, to the new challenges presented by the war on terror and other global forces now changing -- and challenging -- the role of the press in our society.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Snowed in

Got about a foot of snow over the weekend. Good weekend to rent a movie and watch the Oscars. (although I made it about an hour and decided to read instead. Melissa Etheridge for best song? Ouch!) We watched Lautlos, a German thriller about a hitman, and Stick It, a teenie-bopper film (very well done and stylistic) about a rebellious gymnast.

And, to quote the famous poet, Forrest Gump, "that's all I have to say about that."

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


Most of you know that I co-host a monthly documentary group called First Friday Films where we meet and discuss various cross-cultural films. Some of them address issues of faith, most are just glimpses into how the rest of the world thinks and lives. We often conduct phone interviews with the directors, and the group is able to ask questions and interact. Last month we had over a hundred people show up.

It is a good thing, this documentary group. I believe that it is affecting some of the attendees, and that they will be better people because of it. That said, it has always been a dream of mine to host a film group in a more intimate setting, addressing the Big Questions as well as matters of the heart. One idea is to present four films by one of my favorite directors, Nanni Moretti. His films are small stories that are largely autobiographical snapshots of his life and thoughts. I would present these four films, in this order: Caro Diario, Palombella Rossa, Aprile, and The Son's Room. I may go into more detail about this a little later.

There are another three films which I think make an incredible trilogy: Lost in Translation, The Girl in the Cafe and My First Mister. They each share a common thread: Two people (an older man and a younger woman) find friendship in the midst of deep, undefined loneliness. These three films, placed side-by-side, are powerful and possess the ability to turn anger (often at the root of loneliness) into sadness. And it is in sadness that we are finally true.

Perhaps one day...

Monday, February 19, 2007

Rabbi Heschel

"When I was young, I used to admire intelligent people; as I grow older, I admire kind people."

That's a famous quote from the late Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, one of my spiritual mentors. His book, God in Search of Man, helped me to better understand the difference between knowing and kneeling. Last night I started his work on The Prophets, and already I can't wait to find more time to spend with it. If you haven't read him, I highly recommend his earthy and "lived" perspective on life with God.

"The Greeks learned in order to comprehend. The Hebrews learned in order to revere. The modern man learns in order to use."

"God is not a hypothesis derived from logical assumptions... He is not something to be sought in the darkness with the light of reason. He is the light."

Friday, February 16, 2007

Throw your stone

"Treat your story as if a stone thrown into a still pool, coming to rest at the bottom. Then dive in after it." Mark Helprin, author of one of my favorite novels, A Soldier of the Great War, is credited with telling this piece of advice about writing to an audience member at a reading. In other words, know where you are going, then dive in.

I think it is a good piece of advice for life as well. Unfortunately, the water in the pool is often a bit murky, and so the stone often falls from sight and comes to rest in obscurity. We must have faith that the stone is there, waiting to be found. And dive.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Short stories

I've been sitting with my "novel" the last few nights (there are only five chapters so far, a long way from the twenty-two chapters I had planned). I started it nearly four years ago. It is loosely based on my experiences working with a charismatic organization in Seattle. It is also based on some of my childhood experiences overseas.

Over lunch, I spent an hour in Andre Dubus' world of short stories. (The father, not the son known for The House of Sand and Fog.) I spend at least a few lunch breaks a week at the chain bookstore down the street, wandering the aisles until something calls out to me. Dubus was a Catholic and one of the best American short story writers of the last century. The two stories I read over the bad cup of coffee pulled something within taut - kind of like tuning a guitar until the chord sings its proper note. These are the best kind of stories. Ones that remind us - "retune" us - to see the world as it actually is, not how we hope it to be.

I'll have to sit with my novel a bit more. It needs some tuning.

Two years

Two years ago today I posted my first blog. It still captures much of what I am about.

I love the way Nikos Kazantzakis writes with such passion. In The Fratracides he examines the constant battle to live in the midst of oppression. Greece is wracked by war, and the main character struggles to remain truely alive during the chaos around him.

How do we remain alive - completely alive - in the midst of the mundane? We, too, are at war, a war against losing our thirst for life. The desert often parches our lips, and we long for water. Like Father Yanaros in Kazantzakis' novel, we must struggle never to let go of the desire to be fully alive.

Christ says that if we drink of his water, our thirst will be quenched. Oh, if we could but grasp his cup with both hands and drink deeply.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


I blog a little erratically, so if you want to follow the ravings of an aspiring writer, fledgling filmmaker.... I've added a feature that allows you to get emails (in the right hand column) when I post a thought. (These email addresses are kept private, so I am told - no spam).

Monday, February 12, 2007

That's not my dad

James Denton, of Desperate Housewives fame, on the set.

James Denton with Annie and Silvi yesterday afternoon.

Friday, February 09, 2007


The company I work for tries to incorporate the latest innovative technology into our projects. I can't wait until we move in this direction. These displays use the same technology as the new Apple iPhone.


Tomorrow morning at 9:00 is Premiership football (soccer) down at Brit's Pub - Manchester United vs. Charlton. Should be a good game. I don't follow many sports other than soccer and tennis; no one else in my office knew that Federer won the Australian Open a few weeks ago. Monday morning meeting conversations are dominated with talk of the Vikings or the Twins or the Timberwolves. I do enjoy a good Packer's football game now and then, and a Twin's baseball game is only worth watching in person with an over-priced hotdog, but that's about as far as my involvement with mainstream sports goes.

Neville, Ronaldo and Rooney. Saturday morning 9:00. You know where I'll be.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007


I "confessed" my sins at Absolution-Online and here is what is required of me (I can only assume that I received such severe penance because I "confessed" that I am not part of The Catholic Church; either that or it was gluttony.)

May the Almighty God have mercy on you, and forgiving your sins, bring you to life everlasting. Amen.

May the Almighty and Merciful God grant you pardon, absolution, and remission of your sins.

Venial Sins

Recite 283 Hail Marys and 15 Our Fathers.

Mortal Sins

Consider the implications of what you have done. You must take all steps possible to undo what has been done, and make right what you have done wrong.

You should fast for 9 days. If this is too much to do at once due to the length of the fast, or infirmity, it is acceptable to break a fast into smaller sections. If you are unsure how long it is safe to fast for, consult a doctor.

If your sin also broke the law of the land in which you live, you must confess to the authorities.

I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

May the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the merits of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of all the Saints, what good you have done or what evil you have suffered be to you for the remission of your sins, growth in grace and the reward of everlasting life. Amen.

Surfing the web

There are some good ways to get some unique info on the web. One of them is called Stumble Upon, which allows you join a loose community of like minded websurfers who rate their favorite sites. I've found alot of good information there.

I also have a mirror website over at, where I've started a discussion group; it calls back my days at Antioch University. They are a unique, and fun, crowd at Zaadz.

Of course there's Youtube for a few wasted hours. I also joined Revver, where you can actually make some money with your videos. (I haven't uploaded any yet) And then there's Digg, another community that votes of favorite sites and information.

These days I've been researching Eastern Orthodoxy as well as doing a little work on my Narrow Ridge website. (which I hope to update soon)