Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Craig and I officially became homeowners last week on Friday. Like, whoa. I'm not sure what to say. I really like my new house. I can't move in until mid-August. But it's still my house.

Send on the housewarming gifts!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Will The Real Joker Please Stand Up

I take it back. A while ago I was horrified that Heath Ledger was going to play the Joker in the new Batman flick. You see, I am a purist. I expect an exceptional person to play the Joker. His character is the most complex and well done villain in comics -- my personal opinion. I worry that an unworthy actor would make a mess out of the character. Let me list some actors who I think would do a bad job as the Joker: Johnny Depp, Anthony Hopkins (even when he was young), Ben Kingsley, and Daniel Day-Lewis. Essentially, I didn't think anyone could play the Joker and do him justice.

Boy, was I wrong. I am always willing to admit when I discover that I am wrong. First, of course, I have to discover that I'm wrong, then I'll admit. Heath Ledger (RIP) made the best Joker ever set to film. I eat my words now. The Joker he played was very much as I would think he would be if he were a real person. He lies constantly, his ideas are bizarre, grotesque, crazy and random. He is the extreme of Batman's madness and the perfect enemy for the Dark Knight. He is a force of nature -- a stroke of genius. As a comics partial geek I was impressed.

It's nice to have a film director take Batman seriously for a change. That's what Christopher Nolan has done in these two movies. I am sad that he will have to recast the Joker for the next movie. He may not find someone who can play the part so well as Ledger did. On the other hand, I hope he does put the Joker in the next movie. The Joker is as necessary to Batman as the cape and the batarangs. The Dark Knight is truly the best in the franchise so far. They didn't eliminate the Joker nor go into a lengthy origin story for him. I think it was a wise move and I've got my eye out for what Nolan will do next. If he destroys the Penguin like that idiot Tim Burton (I consider Batman Returns to be Burton's greatest cinematic error) I'm gonna have a few choice words for him. . .

Anyways. Go see the movie. It's worth it.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A Different Perspective

The combination of politics and psychology in this psychiatrist's opinion fascinates me. I have long wondered about the public hatred for GWB. Not that I approve of much of his actions as president. However, I have legitimate complaints. I don't sit around talking about how he looks like a monkey. Nor do I actually hate him. I merely disagree with some of his policies. As a young voter I also have enough memory to know that a lot of Bush's actions gain precedent from the actions of his predecessors (Reagan, Bush the elder, Clinton) believe it or not.

Of course, the articles talks about a lot more than the general animosity against George W. Bush. It's quite interesting even if I don't understand all of it.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

What Does This Mean?

As I kid I was taught that I have a destiny and I am going to fulfill that someday. It's a rather simplistic notion as I look back upon it. I never questioned the idea. Frankly, I doubt a lot of kids would question such a notion. You lean on adults to tell you how the world is. If they tell you the world is what it is not, well, who are you to know the difference? The more I think about it, however, the more I believe the destiny doctrine -- I coin the phrase -- is both naive and destructive. It places an expectation in a person that one should wait for the appropriate moment to react to a particular event. An event that you will somehow recognize because God is going to shoot down a light from heaven to let you know about it. Or something like that. Not that God cannot come and get you if you walk away from your calling. I am not contradicting that idea. There are far too many biblical examples for me to knock down the fact that God does call people to specific purposes.

However, not everybody gets a burning bush. You might notice that the people who get those moments are the most reactive rather than proactive people in the whole Bible. I mean, look at Moses. He tried to help his brethren, ended up committing murder, tried to cover it up, and ran off into the desert to hide from it. He had no plans to return and rescue his people. How do you get through to someone who reacts to his calling with fear? Burn a bush and yell at him. Sounds good to me.

On the other hand, consider Jesus's parable of the talents. Nowhere does it say the master explained in excruciating detail what each servant should do with his money. It just says he gave them the money and went on a journey. He expected them to use the money to produce more money. Maybe the idea of an explicit destiny is incorrect.
A calling is different from an absolute destiny. A calling allows for free will. Destiny doctrine is fatalistic. It even suggests you cannot accomplish your work until you receive that explicit voice of God. It does not take into account that things change as you live your life. If you go along waiting for that epiphany I doubt it will ever come. You have to make a decision to follow a dream. You have to develop yourself and continue to make positive changes. You cannot hide away expecting your opportunities to walk up to you and ask if you are ready to join the game. Destiny doctrine is a rigid teaching that I have heard at many evangelical churches. I think it's a human response to a human idea. We want to believe that our lives have a purpose. Yes, they do. But it's okay to make that purpose happen.

In the end I am talking about myself here. I have taken a circuitous route to reach the place where I am. The truth is, I will never have a fulfilled life until I make the decision to pursue the interests that I really enjoy. I will never be content until I give up the idea that somewhere out there my fate is waiting to grab me by the throat and pull me into the right path. Frankly, I need to remind myself that proactive is better than reactive. One might say, proactive is the new reactive -- for me, at least.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Citizens Of Blank

One of my college professors used to give short soliloquies on how we should not identify ourselves as citizens of any particular nation. He said we should be "citizens of the world." I remember thinking, "What does that even mean?" every time he said that. My student evaluations reflected my confusion on the subject. As I ruminate, I remember that the idea of being a "citizen of the world" and not of any one particular country has become old hat. At least, since I was a kid. The term itself is so vague that I do not think I can actually define it in a blog post. I can, however, diss it to my heart's content.

I am not here to point out why any particular country is better than any other country. I like my country best because it's where I was born. I am a part of my nation. I am invested in its political process, its laws, and its people. I speak the language primarily spoken here. I discuss and debate values based upon a common upbringing with those around me. In some senses, my childhood was not very common. I do not understand the desire to go out and make another country's culture into my own culture. This has become a popular practice of late. I am not sure why; although, Allen Bloom had a lot to say about that. I am interested in learning about other cultures. Sometimes other cultures annoy me -- I notice only the children of Mexican descent trying to sit on my parked car when I look out the window, for example. Sometimes my own culture annoys me -- hugs are practically illegal here. At the same time, I respect other cultures for what they are and only make value judgments based on obvious moral wrongs (e.g. human sacrifice). I also appreciate many of the distinctly American notions that we bat around on an everyday basis.

One of the things I love about my nation is private property laws. In the U.S. we get a lot of crap thrown at us for being "materialistic." But that is part of what we are. Frankly, we started this country because we got fed up with paying taxes. We like our stuff and we don't like other people trying to take it away from us. That's not really a problem. I mean, buying a house is a right of passage to adulthood. I'm fine with that. I just bought a home and will move into it within the next two months. I'm stoked. I plan to make sure it's secure and well maintained. You know why? Because it's my house. My own property. It's important to me.

That's really the bottom line of why I care about the country where I was born and the place I have made for myself in my own community. It is mine. I have moved from place to place a lot. I have finally found a good place to call my home. I like it because it belongs to me. I want to make my community a better place because it's a part of my life. I appreciate many things about my country including the rule of law and the right to vote.

Today was chosen to be a day of remembrance and celebration. It's not a day to remember all the things I hate about my country or all the horrible things my government has done. It's a day to remember what I value about my country and why I will continue to work for its betterment. It's a day to remember that I am a citizen of the United States of America and that does have meaning. It gives me a sense of identity that being a "world citizen" never could. I know who I am based partly on the fact that I live in this place and I comply with its rules. I try to change the rules I disagree with, yes. And I appreciate the fact that I am free to work against the laws that disrupt my moral code. I appreciate the fact that I can go out and suggest everybody vote for a guy just because I agree with his principles -- and even though I always knew he would never win. I really love my country.

I am not a citizen of meaninglessness. I am a citizen of the US. Now, for some fireworks . . .