20 April 2014

He is Risen!

Easter is the holiest of days in Christendom. It is a day awash in hope and peace. It is a day of gratitude. I know He lives. And because of Him, we will live again. What an amazing gift!


Enjoy this reminder of His unmatched sacrifice and love.

19 April 2014

Bestsellers

I've never hidden my love of the written word from anyone and I've certainly promoted it here in the Den. I unashamedly love books. The thought of a world without books does not sit well with me. I was an English major who focused on literature, after all! Books tell so much about us - who we are, what drives us, what scares us, what inspires us. This is why a review of the best-selling books since the year I was born is utterly disturbing.

As the three of you who have held on and been reading the Den for more than ten seconds may recall, I put together a couple of posts about the music and movies that have made it to #1 atop their respective best-selling lists since the year I was born. I've made a couple of attempts to do the same for books but as the font of all things true on the Interwebs, Wikipedia, has pointed out, that is a nearly impossible task. So I took a look at the list of best-selling books from the New York Times and Publishers's Weekly and it revealed it's not been pretty on us for a long, long time. I'll spare you the year-by-year blowback, but I'll give you some lowhighlights:

  • 1966 - "Valley of the Dolls" Jacqueline Susann - Arguably, a roman a clef about the treatment of women in the celebrity industry. What is not arguable? That it's an awful book. Not an auspicious best-seller for the year I made my debut.
  • 1970 - "Love Story" Erich Segal - Love means never, ever, ever making anyone read this or see the movie version
  • 1972/73 - "Jonathan Livingston Seagull" Richard Bach - A seagull seeking a happy life. Seriously. How messed up was our culture when this became an inspiration?
  • The rest of the 70's were historical fiction best-sellers, offering a modicum of redemption for 1970, 72, and 73
  • The 80's - Well, two of the best-sellers were spawned by movies, not the reverse (1982 - "E.T" / 1983 - "Return of the Jedi Storybook") which is never a good sign. The 80's also thrust three Stephen King books upon us. The decade closed out, in 1988 and 1989, with two books from Tom Clancy, causing airport booksellers all manner of joy and countless numbers of aircraft cleaners learned to read English as a result of the number of his books left in the seat back pocket in front of you.
  • 1991 - "Scarlett: A Sequel to Gone With The Wind" Alexandra Ripley - An homage to a gentler (ha!) time when a nation sought to unite itself after a horrific civil war and a region struggled to figure out how to go on without slavery. Seriously? This chapter in our nation's history needed to be romanticized even further?
  • 1993 - "The Bridges of Madison County" Robert James Waller - Because adultery is OK when set against the pastoral covered bridges of the midwestern United States
  • The 90's - Just call it the Decade of Grisham. Six years in a row on the best-seller list with six different novels. He essentially printed money. Once again, airport booksellers hit the jackpot.
  • The 00's - Two years of Dan Brown and his "Da Vinci Code" and two years of the horror that is Stephanie Meyer and her "Twilight" series book-ended the best-seller lists. See what I told you? Utterly disturbing.
  • 2012 - "50 Shades of Grey" E.L. James - Making sadomasochism safe for commuter reading! How was this not one of the seven signs of the Apocalypse?
  • 2013 - "Diary of A Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck" Jeff Kinney - Was this some kind of curative balm to repel the 2012 best seller? What is wrong with us, people?
There you have it. In a thousand years or two, when, if 1968's "Planet of the Apes" taught us anything, the apes are condemning our train-wreck society, these lists will be key evidence against us. This is why I read non-fiction. I'm reading four books right now, Sous Chef, Young Money, The Hour of Peril, and The Bully Pulpit. Books like these make me excited to read more. I'm delighted to report that the Baby Awesome, my grandson, appears to have caught the reading bug as well.
He's reading!

Our Lady of Awesome was forced to hide one of his favorite books from him and now that he's mobile, he figured out where it was. Once found, he started reading it right where it was hidden. Like I said, awesome.

Turn off the TV. Go read a book, my friends.

18 April 2014

Because of Him

It's Good Friday, one of the holiest days in Christendom.

Because of what I believe happened on this day to Him on the sacrificial cross, regret becomes relief. Grief becomes peace.
Because of Him, I can start again, again, and again. Because of Him, I can have a clean slate.
Because of Him, I have hope that I can be a better man.

http://youtu.be/_S3TI4bYerU

Because of Him, we can all have hope. 

12 April 2014

My MacGyver Moment Fail

The tool part is true - the rest, lies.
Some of you may be familiar with the American television show, MacGyver, that ran from the mid-80's to the early 90's. I don't recall watching it when it aired and I know it more for the relentless mocking it has deservedly earned at the hands of the brilliant writers of The Simpsons. All I know from that is foolish is he who dares badmouth MacGyver in the presence of Homer's she-hag sisters-in-law, Patty and Selma, and that the Mac is pretty good with a paper clip, duct tape and a Swiss Army knife. I had an opportunity to go all MacGyver this afternoon and it was an epic FAIL.

Here's how it all went down, and by down I mean horribly wrong. With the house to myself today and the sun shining with warm temps (60 degrees is warm here in Connecticutistan), I decided to sit out on our back deck, read a book, and soak up some sun. Since our back deck is nicely hidden from our neighbors, I didn't feel too bad in taking off my shirt to soak up some of that sun. Leaving my phone inside, I read and enjoyed the sun for about an hour when I decided to head back in. Alas, it was not to be. I was locked out. The door to our deck has a nasty habit of locking itself. I am not the first person to have suffered this ignominious fate. The Boy and the stunningly patient and mighty fine SML had to call friends to come and get them released from the perch that is our deck. Just a week ago, we had kids over who got locked out as well. So it wasn't like this was a first, except for the fact that I was all alone, sans a phone and a shirt.

Inspired by the tales of the MacGyver character I'd heard, I set to free myself. I was missing some of his tools, i.e. duct tape and paper clips, but I was not to be deterred. I bound some twigs together to see if I could jimmy open the lock. FAIL. I took off my belt to see if could use a part of it to twist the lock. FAIL. I tried getting the screens off the back windows to then force one of the windows open. FAIL. As the minutes ticked by, I began to ponder the jump off the back deck. Four, count 'em, four times, I climbed over the rail and got set to make the leap. Each time I did that my inner voice was screaming, 'Don't do it! Don't do it!' I mean what was I thinking? I mean, I guess I could have started plucking the hideous white chest hairs I've sprouted and crafted some kind of rope, right? I'm sure that's what this tool MacGyver would have done. I quickly dismissed that stupid idea and I listened to that voice of warning. I mean let's face it, I'm no stuntman. I envisioned myself making the leap, breaking my ankle and then having to crawl my way to the house...no good was coming from that. Then I tried to break the glass on the door. Yeah, it was that desperate. Turns out our dual-pane, environmentally-friendly windows are built to take a beating. It didn't break. I'd been outside about three hours at this point and shade had overtaken the deck. I began to ponder at what point do I start screaming like a little girl for help?

Then I heard it - the sweet sound of my neighbor's riding lawn mower coming around the corner! There he was and in an instant, the quest for some kind of ridiculous MacGyver-esque escape was quashed. With a very quick shout out to him with my garage code, he was inside my house and unlocking my back door and I was free, free at last! I was never so glad to hear the roar of that riding mower and I'm sure he was never so glad that I threw my shirt back on as soon as I got in the house.




I'm feeling a lot more MacGruber after this afternoon's little escapade. So what have I learned today? Here's a recap:

  • Always check that stupid lock on the back door before closing that door
  • Keep your phone with you, dude!
  • You can't go all MacGyver if you have nothing on you
  • And by all that's holy, keep your shirt on!