Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Inevitable Winter Weight Gain

Thanskgiving to Easter marks one of the most difficult periods of the year for me to maintain my weight. Our bodies crave comfort foods in the winter--foods like mashed potatoes, pasta, bread, creamy soups, fresh baked cookies, and so many other high-calorie foods.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune has an article on interval training that may be a good way to help fend off some of that inevitable winter weight gain. I've not tried this myself, but have read numerous articles over the years that have praised this method as the best way to get into and stay in shape.

There is an accompanying article with three interval training plans. I plan on beginning one this week!

There is another article arguing that weighing yourself daily helps keep your weight in check. There are some other good tips there as well as some good links.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Michael Jackson Goes Off the Deep End. Oh, Wait...

In all seriousness, Michael Jackson has sunk to a new low in blaming "the Jews" for his financial difficulties. Maybe it is more a result of his delusional Neverland Ranch.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Video Church Part II

Steve McCoy at Reformissionary has thoughts on video church at his blog. They are worth reading. I've written on video church before, you may recall.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Walk the Line

The Johnny Cash biopic, Walk the Line opens today. The reviews I've read are all positive--I'm pretty excited to see the film. Roger Ebert has an interesting article on the film's background. One of the most interesting things in the article is the revelation that Phoenix and Witherspoon's voices are the ones in the film--it is not Cash and Carter as many have assumed.

Reviews:

Roger Ebert Chicago Sun-Times

Colin Covert (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Russell Moore (Southern Baptist Theological Seminary)

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Kazakhstan: We Have No Sense of Humor

I first witnessed the hilarity of Sasha Baron Cohen's "Borat" character in England in 2000. Borat is a character used in "Da Ali G Show" to expose people at their worst. The show began in the UK and has now gained a foothold on HBO in the United States.

Kazakhstan, the home nation of the fictional "Borat" is threatening to sue Cohen to "prevent new pranks of the kind." I suppose it is natural for them to not appreciate the humor. It is unfortunate that they are taking him so seriously.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Deliverance

My parents have been cleaning out their house to make room for their stuff--and getting rid of the childhood belongings of my brother and I. In a recent delivery, my mom gave me a bag of books that I'd read in high school.

I'm embarrassed to divulge the titles of the books in the bag--with one exception. James Dickey's Deliverance was the one book in the stack worthy of keeping and re-reading. I'd read the novel in high school, not long afer watching the film adaptation done by John Boorman.

Dickey wrote the screenplay to the film, so it is very true to the novel, though there are a few key differences between them. The novel is more reflective and psychological--putting more flesh to the story than a two hour retelling can.

The novel is number forty-two on the Modern Library Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century. One of my life goals is to read every book on this list. (To this point I've read thirty-six of them.)

Deliverance is a short, rewarding, yet disturbing read. Perhaps you have heard of, or seen the film. It is a compelling story that will challenge your view of the law, human nature, guilt, and sin.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Live Wilco Album

My favorite band, Wilco, will release their first live album on Tuesday November 15th. You can listen to four of the tracks from the double album at their website.

If you have not yet listened to, or heard of Wilco, I strongly encourage you to listen to these four tracks. My introduction to Wilco was with Summerteeth, in 1999. Since then I have seen them live three times, purchased all their albums (including both Mermaid Avenue albums). I have also seen lead singer, Jeff Tweedy live at the Guthrie Theater.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

ESPN's MLB Power Rankings

ESPN.com has already released their power rankings for next season. Interestingly they have put Cleveland in the top spot above the World Series Champion White Sox. It is not a bad move. Considering how Cleveland played after May they are clearly a strong team with great balance. I don't think their current pitching staff has the quality of the White Sox, but their offense is more balanced and reliable.

The White Sox starting rotation will get stronger with Brandon McCarthy as their fifth starter. If they can get a year like this year from Garland, they'll be in the hunt for another pennant.

My hometown Twins are ranked 14th. They should have some money to spend, especially if they let Jacque Jones go. Joe Mays' huge contract will be off the books too. They need a power hitter in the middle of the lineup and more production from their infield before they will compete again. Let's hope it is this year. I am eager to see Jason Kubel in the outfield, though I expect his bat will be very rusty after losing this entire last season to injury.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Democratic Abuse

Nevada Senator Harry Reid invoked senate rule 21 which closes the senate to the public on Tuesday afternoon. Illinois Senator Dick Durbin seconded the motion. This is all that is required to essentially shut down the United States Senate.

Senator Reid grandstanded for several minutes about his fear for his family and for our country in light of high gas prices, the war on Iraq, and the Libby indictment before invoking the rule.

Democratic Senators claim that the move is meant to force GOP Senators to answer questions concerning pre-war intelligence. But the move is truly a political stunt, meant to put the GOP in an awkward position and to draw further attention to their anti-Bush cause.

It is difficult to not be cynical and see this as yet another maneuver that the Democrats can use to disrupt the business of the senate. Like their filibustering judicial nominees, this is an abuse of senate rules.

They claim that they have invoked rule 21 to ensure confidentiality regarding intelligence matters, but it is being used in such a way that "hijacks" the senate, as Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee stated in a press conference this afternoon.

The Democratic minority has again decided to have a temper tantrum on the floor of the United States Senate. Will the American people put up with this come the midterm elections in 2006?

The Brothers Karamazov: Complete

I finished reading The Brothers Karamazov this past weekend. It took me approximately two months to read it, which isn't bad considering how long it is and how little time I actually spend reading these days. (I have written on the book here and here.)

The book is not at all what I expected it to be. As I have stated before, I was somewhat familiar with the book and knew generally what to expect, particularly since I've also read Crime and Punishment. I was expecting more theology and less story.

The early chapters dealt with philosophy and religion and the latter portions of the book were story-driven and not as overtly philosophical. But that is not to say that the end is not provocative.

Like many well loved novels of the 19th century, The Brothers Karamazov is a long book that demands patience from the modern reader. Characters are developed slowly and thoroughly and the climax is slow in coming. But what a climax Dostoyevsky brings us!

The epigraph to the novel is from John 12:24 and summarizes the novel well: "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit." The novel is wonderfully constructed upon this single verse. If you haven't yet read the novel, I suggest you stop imagining all the Dosteyevsky could do with this verse and read the book.

Dostoyevsky challenges us to understand what is truly meant by Jesus when he speaks of a dead grain of wheat bearing much fruit. It is not something that modern readers will take lightly. It gets to the heart of God's sovereignty over creation and his mighty work in salvation.

What does it mean for that grain of wheat to die and remain alone? Is the fruit of that worth the grain of wheat perishing? These are questions that Dostoyevsky asks us. These questions are at the heart of Christian faith. For it is Christ, who was born into this world fully divine and fully human, suffered on the cross unto death, that by it he might give us eternal life.

The Christian believes that true life comes only through death. We die to sin and are born into Christ. Dostoyevsky understands this mystery and his novel fleshes it out and helps us understand the implications.

I highly commend The Brothers Karamazov to you. It is a provocative and rewarding novel--one that I will continue to ponder and reflect upon throughout my life.