Wednesday, April 30, 2008

LA Times Festival of Books - 2008

This weekend was the annual Los Angeles Times Festival of Books down at UCLA. And I thought it was the perfect even to discuss around the watercooler this week.

I've been going every year since 2001, and I love it. In fact, it's the even I look forward to most in the spring.

It's billed as the largest book festival in the country. I don't know how they measure. All I know is, it really is huge. There are booths all over the campus, and keep in mind this is a huge campus. Okay, the booths are probably only on half, but it is quite large with hundreds of exhibitors.

As always, I went with my friends Angelique. We generally haunt the mystery bookstore booths, and this year was no exception. We got to catch up with old favorites Joanne Fluke and Laura Levine. In fact, I got Laura's latest, which isn't officially out for a month yet. Hailey Lind was there, so I got her second and third books signed. Fortunately, I ran into Lee Goldberg early on Saturday since I couldn't be there for his signing on Sunday. And I got to meet Deborah Turrell Atkinson. And if you are noticing a theme with some of the authors I've been reading lately, you'd be right. I always wind up with a list of books to get through before the festival.

In years past, the event has been so crowded it was hard to walk from one booth to another, much less browse a booth quickly. I might be wrong, but it seemed the festival was less crowded this year than normal. I'm guessing it was because of the heat. After a week in the high sixties, it started really heating up on Friday, and by Saturday and Sunday, it was in the high 90's. Believe me, it was hot! I took a water bottle with me and kept refilling it often.

The range of stuff you can find there is unreal. One booth was giving away free Bibles. And a couple rows down, you could get your free Koran for comparison. Yes, the self-publishers are there. And some authors get an entire booth to hawk their wears. Several travel bookstores show up. Borders is there. Barnes and Noble used to be there as well, but we haven't seen them for several years.

And they have panels on just about everything. Lots on mysteries, but some on biographies and autobiographies, true crime, modern culture, and Hollywood. To be honest, we normally don't attend the panels because we are too busy browsing the booths. The big name panels fill up fast. You should have seen the lines to hear Julie Andrews speak. If the free tickets were gone, I would have been tempted to go to that one myself.

And this isn't just for adults. There is a whole area dedicated to kids' books and authors. Bill Peet's son has been there for several years. And they have programs for the kids with speakers and popular characters. I don't know who was there this year, but Barney has been there in years past.

They even manage to keep the crazies to the side lines. The food service employees at UCLA seem to have an on-going issue with their pay, and once again they were out wandering around with their signs about how unfair they are being treated. But the back way to the student union (where we always go for a quiet, air conditioned lunch) is where to go if you want some good laughs. Angelique and I have dubbed it "Conspiracy Alley" and you've got just about everything there. Most of the people and their homemade signs are trying to point of the truth of what happened on 9/11. And there are the calls for impeachment. But I think I saw something about AIDS this year, too.

This year, I brought a lot of books with me to get signed and by lunch time I had seen most of those authors. So I took a trip to my car and dumped the books I no longer needed. My back is still thanking me.

Speaking of which, I was able to try out my new backpack. I love it. It looks like the right choice, and I'll be enjoying it for a long time to come.

Sunday, I went back after church to get another few autographs from authors who weren't there on Saturday. In fact, I got the inside scoop from Steve Hockensmith about his next book.

I can't believe it is over already. I'll start the countdown for next year now.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Word Association for April 27th

A day late, but here you go.

  1. Thug :: Criminal
  2. Slurp :: Drink
  3. Alley :: Dark
  4. Sweater vest :: Cold Weather
  5. Targeted :: Elimination
  6. Snazzy :: Dresser
  7. Oy! :: Unbelievable
  8. Jury duty :: Court
  9. Low fat :: Yogart
  10. Responsibility :: Job

Friday, April 25, 2008

Mini Review: The Elusive Mrs. Pollifax

Time for another mini review. This time, we're looking at a reread, The Elusive Mrs. Pollifax by Dorothy Gilman (link takes you to a full review.)

Grandmother, widow, garden club member, and part time CIA agent is off again. This time, she's smuggling passports into Bulgaria in a bird's nest, I mean a hat that looks like a bird's nest. To complicate matters, she will be under the watchful eye of Bulgaria's tourist board at every turn. Can she meet her contact without arousing suspicion? And what other mischief might Mrs. Pollifax make while there?

The thing to remember about this series is that each book takes place around the time it was written. So the fact that this book was published in 1971 helps explain why Mrs. Pollifax is smuggling those passports. Bulgaria was still behind the Iron Curtain.

The books in this series are predictable and unrealistic. I freely admit that. But they are also so much fun I can't resist. Plus Mrs. Pollifax is a great characters who is fun to be around. And they are a great way to get a glimpse of another time and culture.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Thursday Threesome for April 24th

This week's edition is brought to us by found money and The Back Porch.

Onesome: The-- endless onslaught of junk snail mail: how much do you get each week? I'm thinking maybe we could use it as insulation in our houses...
You know, that's a good idea. Since I live in a condo, I'll be fully insulated 5 times over by the end of the year. Okay, so it isn't that bad, but I bet I get a dozen pieces a week. I seems like more, but some of those go to my roommates.

Twosome: Convenience of-- a quick in and out? Do you have a convenience store nearby that is really convenient for you?
There are several stores near me, but they are all located on major roads, so there is no such thing as quick in and out.

Threesome: Extra cash--? When you need some, where do you get it? ...the ATM? ..."write for over" at the store? What is this 'cash' thing you speak of ?
Always at the ATM. Helps me balance my banking a little better.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Thinking About Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed

This week around the water cooler, I want to discuss Ben Stein's documentary Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. No, it won't be a full on review. If you'd like my official review, head over to Epinions. Or just follow this link.

Instead, I'd like to talk about the reaction to it.

Frankly, the reaction has been very predictable to me. It seems to fall into the love it or hate it camp. Those who believe in Intelligent Design (or Creationism, and they aren't the same), like it. Those who hate ID and believe in Evolution hate it. And there's name calling on both sides. Frankly, it saddens me. Have we really sunk to the point where we can't discuss anything without yelling or name calling? Are we becoming more or less civilized.

The media certainly came out swinging against it. If you look up Google's reviews, the ones from the official media sources are all negative. Okay, so they might be classified as neutral by Google, but they really are negative. The only positive reviews are the ones they've picked up from Epinions.

And watching the reviews over there has certainly been an interesting thing. We've actually had people joining the site just to write reviews for or against.

I had read an article about the film before I saw it, but not any reviews. While watching it, I knew the part that the critics would jump all over, and I have been right. At one point, Stein takes on Social Darwinism and Eugenics and follows them down the path they ultimately lead to, the Holocaust. Frankly, taking this part out and allotting that time to fully develop the huge amount to data in the piece would have made everything stronger.

The other issue people are using to write off the film is Stein's emphasis on how life began. "Evolution doesn't try to explain how life began," they claim. Then that's a flaw with the theory, wouldn't you say? And considering that is exactly what Intelligent Design is trying to answer, it seems to me to be a major point that should be discussed.

Some people are crying foul because the documentary doesn't prove Evolution false. That wasn't the point. While he does get into that a little, the main point was that people are being blacklisted for even mentioning Intelligent Design. Didn't you get that from the title of the documentary? It was called Expelled, not Intelligently Designed.

And, of course, there are the arguments about how we can't have religion taught in the science classroom. Um, guess what. Atheism is a religion recognized by the US government. Not only the Supreme Court, but also the IRS for tax write off purposes. And you know what one of their major beliefs is? That's right, Evolution. So, we already have religion being taught in the classroom. The problem is, another religion wants to be taught along side, and the dominant religion is throwing a hissy fit over it.

I actually had one person today tell me that Christians had no right to claim they were being discriminated against since they had been oppressing others for the last 2000 years. I didn't realize that two wrongs now made a right. Glad to know things have changed.

But you know the height of irony? Some of those who have joined the site to write negative reviews of Expelled have also voted my review Not Helpful, which would essentially hide it from view. And the point of Expelled was that Evolutionists are doing all they can to silence anyone who doesn't believe as they do.

Thanks for proving our point.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

I've Just Got to Point This Out

I know, I know, I'm really late for April Fool's Day. Like four weeks. But I found this so funny I just had to share.

Back on April 1st, Think introducted several new items, all of which were jokes. My favorite was the Betamax to HD-DVD converter. Talk about the perfect match! I can't wait to get one for myself.

Follow the link and take a look at it. Be sure to read everything because there's some very funny stuff there.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Another Week Begins

I'd say there's no one defining event in my week if that's the best I can come up with for a title, wouldn't you?

I've continued to research cell phones. I have it narrowed down to Sprint or AT&T. I just can't decide between the two. But I plan to talk to my family about them this weekend.

And, thanks to a marathon writing session this weekend, I should hit 40 reviews at Epinions this month. I wrote 9 over the weekend. No wonder I feel like I'm out of words today.

And keep in mind that wasn't all I did this weekend. I finished a book Sunday and I went to a book signing on Saturday. My mom's cousin was in Glendale signing her novel that I helped her edit, so I went down there to visit and support her. I hadn't seen Marjorie in years, so it was nice to visit with her for a little while.

And I watched the pilot to Burn Notice. Not sure how I feel about the show, but I think I'll give a few episodes to grow on me before I write it off. And I went to two movies. Granted, I turned them both into reviews, so does that qualify or not?

Okay, so writing reviews was a lot of what I did this weekend.

And I got the great news last Thursday that I am definitely in for Ultimate Frisbee Summer League. Now I need to get into what passes for shape with me so I am ready come June. Of course, since I am running three mornings a week and walking another 3 mornings a week, I'd say I'm already well on my way. I can not wait for summer league to start!!!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Word Association For April 20th

Taken from here.

  1. Questioning :: Beliefs
  2. Immunity :: from Prosecution
  3. Online dating :: Scary
  4. Calcium :: Milk
  5. Dressing :: Stuffing
  6. Bucket :: Water
  7. Stain :: Removal
  8. Advanced :: Whiting
  9. Dramatic :: Scene
  10. Self-medication :: Dangerous

Friday, April 18, 2008

Mini Review: Primitive Secrets

Today's review is on Primitive Secrets by Deborah Turrell Atkinson. (Link will take you to a full review.)

Storm Kayama enters the law office where she works that Monday morning to find her "Uncle," adopted father, and founder of the firm dead at his death. Because of his age, most people assume it is a heart attack. But after Storm is attacked and her home broken into, it looks like murder. Was it a family squabble gone wrong? Or did something happen at work that lead to his death?

The book started pretty slowly, with details about Storm's personal life that I, frankly, didn't care about. Once the plot picked up, however, I really got into the book. The characters grew on me, and the mystery had several nice twists. The writing was rough at times (it is a first novel), but there were several scenes that really drew me in and had my heart racing.

And did I mention the setting is Hawaii? While I've never been (first trip planned next month), I really enjoyed a chance to pretend I was there for a few hours.

This book was worth reading. Just give it some time to get going.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Thursday Threesome for April 17th

This week's edition is brought to us by blender manufactorers and The Back Porch.

Onesome: Visualize-- Hmmm...How are you on maps and mapping? Are you one of those people who can translate the paper version to what you're seeing on the road? ...or do you rely on a 'trusy native guide' (or GPS unit) to get you around someplace you've never been?
If the map is detailed enough, I am usually okay with it. However, I use Google or Yahoo maps and just follow those directions 95% of the time.

Twosome: Whirled-- about in your head: did you ever have a phrase or song lyric you "just got wrong"? You know, like that Hendix "Kiss this guy" malapropism...
Absolutely. But do you think I can remember any of them right now? No....

Threesome: Peas-- porridge hot? Even though we're looking to the end of Winter (at least here in the Northern Hemisphere), what has been your favorite hot meal this past few months?
I've really enjoyed getting soup in the cafeteria on cold days more than normal this year.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Ollie Johnston: 1912-2008

Monday, Ollie Johnston died.

You may not know the name, but you know his work. He was the last surviving member of Disney's Nine Old Men, a group of men who were responsible for advancing the art of animation at Disney's studio. Ollie himself worked on everything from short cartoons during the early 30's to The Rescuers and The Fox and the Hound. That's quite a resume.

Just think of some of those classic movies he helped bring to life. No, I'm not up enough on my animators to know which characters he worked on specifically. But his work contributed to such classics as Snow White, Fantasia, Pinocchio, Cinderella, Peter Pan, 101 Dalmatians, and The Jungle Book to name but a few. And those films would have been much less without the talents of Ollie.

Keep in mind that during that time, the Disney Studio was constantly changing and innovating. Go back and watch Snow White, then watch Peter Pan and The Jungle Book. The changes in technique and technology are remarkable.

Ollie had the pleasure of working for years with his best friend, Frank Thomas, another of the Nine Old Men. Together, they wrote a book on animation that is considered a standard in the field today.

He was 95. And no one lives forever. But I can't help feeling that an era has died with him. Now, none of the artists who helped make animation what it is today are alive. That's a piece of history that we can't get back. That's especially troubling now that hand drawn animation has all but fallen out of favor.

So, Ollie, thanks for the hours of enjoyment you and your contemporaries have given me. I will enjoy your rich legacy for the rest of my life.

This post is part of Watercooler Wednesday. Come join the fun.

Monday, April 14, 2008


That's what I spent my weekend doing. Doing stupidity? Okay. That doesn't sound quite right. Maybe the effects haven't worn off yet.


You see, I woke up Saturday morning with the realization that I was much closer to writing 40 reviews this month at Epinions then I thought. And since they are still offering the 10 4 10 promotion, I decided to go for it. Suddenly, instead of being 2/3 of the way to my goal for the month, I was only half.

So, having made this decision, how did I spend my Sunday afternoon? Reading the comment section on a blog about the latest Amazon reviewing scandal. And most of those comments were things we've heard a million times before. And yet I am still sitting there reading them. Yeah, that helps me make my goal.

And yes, there were other parts to my weekend.

Friday night I start out by attending the career Bible study. We were doing part two in a study on defeating sin. Two weeks ago, we covered Acknowledgement and Identity (ie. I am a child of the king, not a liar, etc.) So part two led us through Conviction, Community, and Continuation.

Saturday, I headed down to Mysteries to Die For for a book signing. Sounds like a fun debut. Hope to get to it soon. (Yeah, right. I have so many books screaming my name....) Then I went down to the pool and finished my book. Never did dive in because by the time I finished the wind was really blowing and I didn't want to get wet. I kinda wish I had jumped in earlier because it was absolutely wonderful mid-afternoon. Warm boardering on hot, but not too hot to lie in the sun and read.

That evening, I watched Hitch, which I really did enjoy.

Beside the time wasted on the internet, I did the usual Church in the morning and talking to my family Sunday. Then my Sunday School class had a get together in the evening. Since I didn't go to the church service and it went long, I was one of the first to get there. It was a blast just hanging out and making a fool out of myself trying to play Tennis on the Wii. Okay, so I was getting frustrated by the end since I couldn't return anything. I either need to get one and really practice or I need to stop playing computer games all together.

Finally, while talking to my family this weekend, I think I've decided to get a cell phone. When/if I do, I will then get rid of my land line. Despite how it looks, I really would like to get a cell phone, the issue has always been money. But cutting out my land line, I can save that money and apply it toward my cell phone. I'm hoping to get by with a cheap plan, but we'll see if that happens or not.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Word Association for April 13th

Taken from here.

  1. Silence :: is Golden
  2. Wall :: Ceiling
  3. Killed :: Murder
  4. Wishful :: Thinking
  5. Poodle :: Dog
  6. Sullen :: Tempermental
  7. Do not disturb :: Sleep
  8. Philadephia :: Pennsylvania
  9. Anticipation :: Event
  10. Sidewalk :: Street

Friday, April 11, 2008

On-Line Changes

Before I get to talking about my life, I have a public service announcement. Tomorrow, April 12th, is Drop Everything and Read day (in honor of Beverly Clearly). So I hope you plan some major reading time into your schedule.

So, Wednesday was day of big changes, or at least potential changes, in my on-line life.

First, Garrett announced he was moving on from Garrett has been the community liaison almost the entire time the site has existed. Definitely the entire time I've been on it. He's been a big help to me with various issues, and I'm really going to miss having him around. Plus I've gotten to meet him a few times, which was lots of fun. Fortunately, he's still going to be active at the site. But his quick replies to my e-mails were always welcome.

Then Cathy announced she was taking a break from Jix. I really do hope it is short and only temporary. She's been a friend in the Trixie community since about the time it really got started. I can't imagine not having her around the site any more.

At least I did get some good news on Wednesday. I've moved up the Summer League waiting list. I'm now #1. Since I've got six weeks or so, odds are that someone will drop out, move to Men's league or we'll get another woman or two. I should make it.

And the good news kept coming on Thursday. I got the Top Reviewer recognition at Epinions. So now I'm a triple threat with TR's in all three media categories. It's funny. I thought books and movies would be easy and I'd probably never get music. But I got music before I got books. I'd pretty much figured by now I'd never get it, so I'm thrilled!

Boy, the weather sure has warmed up today. After my post Monday, it cooled off a little. But today has to be in the 80's. I've had my window open all afternoon, wishing I were outside. It's supposed to be even nicer tomorrow. Sounds like the perfect day to head down to the pool and read for a while. After I go to a book signing, that is. Hey, I think book signings count toward Drop Everything and Read day, too, don't you?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Thursday Threesome for Apriil 10th

Yep. It's that time of the week again. Brought to us this week by Stacks and Stacks and The Back Porch.

Onesome: Kitchen- What's your favorite room at your place? Do you migrate towards the kitchen, or prefer to cozy up in the living room? ...or do you prefer the patio? ...or even the back porch !?
For a while, I never left my bedroom. Now, I seem to spend lots of time in the living room. Of course, that's where my computer is, so that's most of it.

Twosome: Gadget- What's your favorite gadget type item and why?
I have always loved a potato peeler. It works, yet isn't dangerous to use. And it makes the job so easy.

Threesome: Store- What's your favorite store to browse, even if you never actually buy anything there?
It used to be the Disney Store, but it's not as fun as it used to be. Now it's any bookstore.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Mini Review - Feint of Art

Just last night, I finished Feint of Art by Hailey Lind. I loved it.

Annie Kincaid runs a faux finishing studio in San Francisco, but in her past she has learned how to forge paintings. And that past is why ex-boyfriend Ernst Petttigrew asks her to authenticate a painting at the Brock Museum where he works. Annie quickly identifies it as the work of Anton, a friend of her grandfather who is an art forger. And within an hour, a museum guard is dead and Ernst is missing.

Meanwhile, the local market has been flooded with fake sketches by Old Masters, all Anton's work. Can Annie track down Anton? Who is behind is all?

This book is FUN! It's more a caper then a traditional mystery, but the plot never gets too far fetched. It's got several twists. The ending left a couple things for us to figure out, but they are fairly obvious, so it wasn't too much of a stretch.

The characters were wonderful as well. I especially loved Annie habit of nicknaming everyone she didn't know well. Those nicknames often gave us such a great picture of the character.

And Annie has a great sense of humor. I was laughing pretty hard during one particular scene.

I'm so glad I too a friend's advice and read this debut.

This review is part of this week's Watercooler Wednesday. Come join the fun.

(As always, the link in the first paragraph will take you to my full review of the book at

Monday, April 07, 2008

Was That Warm Weather I Felt?

For the first week of April, our weather sure has been cool. We're talking low to mid 60's. Today, it actually felt warm enough to open my window for a couple hours in the afternoon. Ah, fresh air!

I have been on a major buying binge recently. Specifically Saturday.

But going back to Thursday, I bought an iPod. Yes, my first one. I got a 2GB shuffle. Fortunately, I had it shipped to work because it arrived this morning. So I charged it up and loaded some songs and took it to the fitness center on my lunch hour. I'd say I liked having music to listen to while I worked out except it was kinda distracting, too. But I'm sure I'll get used to it. It didn't seem to want to shuffle at first, but once I got it going, it seems to be okay.

And Saturday I went hog wild. I started out at Mervyn's where I bought some clothes. They were having a great sale, so I got some more work pants, a couple work shirts, a new belt, and new shoes. Stuff I've needed for quite some time.

Then I went over to Target and bought a new backpack. I've needed a new packback for forever and a day. This one has lots more room and several pockets for better organization. I can't wait to use it. I'm still using my old one to carry my workout clothes in during the week. And for the beach. At least for now. The great things is, I was able to use a gift card I had for Target that paid for about half of this backpack.

Finally, I bought some new towels. Two of the three sets I've been using I've had since I moved down here, so about 10 years. Kohl's was having a great sale on them, so I bought some. I'm not thrilled with the colors (I prefer the solid colors that I had over the pastels I bought), but I'm sure I'll get used to them.

Once they stop shedding, that is. Boy, they gave off so much lent when I washed them up. I think I'll be covered in lint for the next month myself.

As if that wasn't enough, Disney always releases lots of pins on the first Sunday of the month, including a "free with purchase" pin. Since I have half of the current cycle of free with purchase pins, I headed down and bought some pins. I had decided to start collecting the villains series they are releasing this year, but they didn't have any of the last two villains. I'm either going to have to go to ebay or get 10 of the 12. Bummer.

So I think I've overspent my budget for the next month. And I've got the LA Times Festival of Books coming up in two and a half weeks.

Speaking of which, I really need to get some reading done before then, too. Yikes!

But I blew it today. It was the first day to sign up for ultimate Frisbee summer league. They are doing the parallel leagues this year again, and I want to be in co ed. I had planned to sign up first thing, but completely forgot until I got the e-mail this afternoon announcing that they were full. But I knew they would have a waiting list, so I quickly went and signed up and then e-mailed the commissioner. He e-mailed me back letting me know I was second on the waiting list. Odds are that two men will have to drop out or two more women will sign up, so I should be good. I sure hope so because I will be bummed if I don't get in. I love that every summer. And I think the guys in the men's league will just be too competitive for me.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Word Association for April 6th

Well, I tried to do this last week, but the site seemed to be down. But it's back this week!

  1. Nutritious :: Vitamins
  2. Graduate :: Degree
  3. Tonight! :: Now!
  4. Located :: Here
  5. Weapon :: Murder
  6. Jumper :: Suicide
  7. Collectibles :: Pins (Hey, I bought Disney Pins today, what did you expect me to say?)
  8. Dennis :: the Mennace
  9. Hostile :: Takeover
  10. Vivid :: Imagination

Friday, April 04, 2008

Mini Review: A Tisket, a Tasket, a Fancy Stolen Casket

My second book for 2008's Spring Reading Thing is A Tisket, a Tasket, a Fancy Stolen Casket by Fran Rizer. It was only okay.

The story centers around Callie Parrish who lives in a small town in South Carolina. She works at a mortuary preparing corpses for their viewings. And when she's preparing Bobby Saxon, she finds part of a hyperdermic needle in his neck. Since he died of an accidental drowning (supposedly), that raises red flags. Even weirder, his coffin is stolen that night. What's going on?

The mystery itself is good. Not outstanding, but interesting enough to keep me turning pages. I did guess the killer early on, but I wasn't 100% certain until near the end.

My problem was with the characters. Callie's brothers and father are sexist pigs. Callie's best friend Jane is blind, and I thought that might make things interesting. Jane also lies to get her way and works at a 900 sex number. So in other words, I really couldn't stand her.

I'm not saying I wouldn't return to the series, but it won't be my first choice.

As always, you can read my full review by following the link in the first paragraph.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Thursday Threesome for April 3rd

This week's Thursday Threesome is brought to us by summertime fun and The Back Porch.

Onesome- State: What state (or territory) do you live in? Have you lived in any other(s)? Where would you like to live? And as a bonus: Any idea what year your state became a state?
I live in California. (Shocking, I know.) I've always lived in California and really have no plans to leave. I really don't know where I'd want to live. We have mild winters and no humidity. Sounds about perfect to me.
I think we became a state in the early 1850's, but I'm not sure. And I even took California history in college.

Twosome- Fair: Or amusement parks: Did you enjoy them as a kid? What was your favorite ride? How do you feel about them now? Ready to go wander around one again, sampling funnel cakes and corn dogs and riding rides until you're sick? ...or would you rather just enjoy the entertainment or stay home and avoid the crowds?
I love amusement parks. I'll go on anything from scary rollercoasters to tame kiddie rides and love them all. In fact, I am planning to get a pass to Magic Mountain again this year.

Threesome- And Rodeo: Have you ever been to or watched a rodeo on TV? Did you enjoy it or consider it a barbaric spectacle? If you liked it, what was your favorite event? Ever tempted to race barrels or ride a bull yourself?
I've watched parts of rodeo's on TV and always wondered what the appeal was. Not that I thought it was barbaric. But I don't enjoy watching a sport to see someone fall and have to dash to safety so they don't get trampled to death.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Eli Stone and Teen Sex

I have a feeling that most of my Water Cooler Wednesday posts will be light and fun. But every so often, I do intend to take a hard look at our culture's entertainment from a logical and Biblical perspective. Today is one such day.

When Lost returned at the end of January, it was pared with new show Eli Stone. Starved for new TV, I started watching it. Of course, it helped that I Victor Garber was one of the cast. I've been a huge fan since his days on Alias. It only took me an episode or two to warm to the quirky show.

The basic premise is that Eli Stone is a lawyer for a prestigious firm in San Francisco. He's engaged to the boss's daughter. Things are looking great until he starts getting visions. While his brother quickly diagnosis him with an inoperable brain aneurism, these visions seem to be more then that. They are actually guiding him on the cases he should take and how he can win them. Unfortunately, he never knows when they will come, like while in a meeting or even in court. The show is a fun mix of humor and legal drama. And, since Eli's acupuncturist thinks that these visions might be from God, there is even a little bit on faith mixed in for good measure.

The one thing I knew going in was that some of the court cases handled might bother me. And I wasn't a fan of the week the sub-plot involved two lesbians fighting over custody of their unborn child since the one carrying the child had refound her Christian faith. But I actually liked the ending, and it made me think that they might present an even hand in the future.

That was before this last week's episode. It centered around a teen who was expelled from school for playing George Michael's song "I Want Your Sex" during a school assembly about abstinence. She was blaming the fact that the school was teaching nothing but abstinence for several friends' pregnancies and STD's. The principal's only response was, "If we teach anything else, we loose government funding for sex ed." Fortunately, the episode ended happily when George Michael agreed to do a benefit concert for the school.

Oh, where do I even begin?

Let's start with the fact that these are teens we are talking about. The laws vary from state to state about what constitutes statutory rape, but according to the official laws on the books, sex for anyone under 18 is discouraged if not illegal. I know it was at one time here in California. So why are we encouraging teens to break the law? We've got huge ad campaigns up about drugs, smoking, and alcohol. Why is this law different?

More then anything else, this comes down to self-control. Remember, we are not animals but humans. We have a brain. We have conscience thought. We can choose to give in or choose to show restraint. I know it isn't a popular topic in our culture today, but everyone needs more self-control. And I'm not just talking about sex here. Overeating is a matter of self-control. Lack of exercise? Self-control. The previously mentioned illegal drugs and alcohol? Self-control. I'll freely admit I don't have nearly the level of self-control I need. But that's at least a place to start.

Then there's the issue of whose job sex education is. Guess what, it isn't the job of the schools. That's right, it is the parent's job to teach their kids about sex. And if they should use whatever they this is appropriate. I especially loved the part where the school principal was so upset about loosing money for sex ed and not being able to teach anything. When we have students who can't read or write or do math, why are we spending time and money on any form of sex ed, abstinence included?

And, frankly, I'd like to know what kind of abstinence education the school is providing. If it amounted to "Don't have sex," then I agree they weren't doing their job. (Yes, we are going to pretend it is their job, even though it isn't.) Why not discuss the consequences of sex. Like pregnancy and STD's. And I love the fact that everyone's solution is to hand out condoms. Guess what folks, those don’t always work. I think sharing some information about how little those really protect would open a few eyes. I know they opened mine.

Now, I'm not naïve enough to think this would convince everyone. In fact, I know it wouldn't. But if we held them to a standard and explained why, it would get through to some. And if we really had their best interests at heart, wouldn't we want to discuss what would truly be best for them.

Because we haven't even gotten to the emotional impact yet. And that's something that you can't protect against no matter how much you try to do. God designed sex to be a wonderful thing between a husband and wife. It is the ultimate act of intimacy. And when you throw that out the window and bounce around from partner to partner, it is going to be hard on everyone. Even in a committed relationship without the benefit of marriage, it is going to be emotionally harmful.

When I was in public school, I suffered through an AIDS awareness week. Frankly, what we did was a joke. In my history class (yes, history), we watched the infamous "how to put on a condom" video that uses a banana. And in my chemistry class, we use chemistry to show how quickly AIDS can spread. Everyone in class was given a test tube. One of us was "infected" with something that would make the liquid turn red when mixed with another chemical. This represented AIDS. The rest of us had water. We then had to mix our test tube content with three other people. After that, our teacher added the chemical and we saw how many people's test tube turned red. Once we knew who lived and who "died", the teacher took an infected tube and poured it "into" another test tube with plastic wrap in it to show how a condom kept you safe. As I sat there not saying a word, all I could think was "And if you didn't mix things together at all, the clean test tube would definitely stay that way." No, I didn't actually speak up. I should have, but I didn't.

So, given all this, why do adults not try to protect teens? My theory is because they know they would be hypocrites if they said "Do as I saw and not as I do." They can get away with it with smoking and drinking because there are laws in place that make it illegal for someone under a certain age to partake. I'm probably wrong about the statutory rape laws. Or maybe it is because they aren't enforced. But teens are smart enough to recognize "This is okay for me to do but not for you" as the crock it is. And since adults don't want to show any restraint in this area, they aren't going to try to set a good example for kids.

But let's be honest. "Recreational" sex is not better for anyone (no matter what age they are) then smoking or excessive drinking.

It's funny that this should be on my mind this week since Mike Janke posted something in a similar vein as well. His take on it is well worth reading. And I freely admit I stole a couple points from him. He always points things out in terms I hadn't thought of, and I love reading his blog for that reason.

So, rant aside, will I keep watching Eli Stone? (You know, the show that started this rant?) Yes, for now. I do like the characters and am interested to see where they take things, especially their thoughts about faith. But if they continue with episodes that are thinly disguised liberal agenda lectures, then I will stop watching. I have better things to do with my time then be fed lies.

(And as a reminder, this week Water Cooler Wednesday is offer a chance to win an iPod shuffle if you do a post. So if you enter, tell them I sent you.)

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Major Life Changes

You will never believe what I got in the mail yesterday? My check for $1million finally came in. I thought about complaining about the lack of interest, but decided I could deal with just having an even million dollars.

Naturally, the first thing today was come into work and demand a raise. Which they gave me without any hesitation. Next, I paid off my condo and put it on the market so I could move to a better house. I'm thinking a mansion somewhere where I really have to commute to work.

I also increased my roommate's rent since I don't need it any more.

Meanwhile, I am going back to a simplistic lifestyle, which means I am selling off all my books and movies. I will be deleting all my reviews at Amazon and Epinions and burning my Trixie Belden books.

What, you don't believe a word I am saying? Good.

April Fool!