Sunday, November 25, 2007

Thanksgiving addendum

Since Thursday I found two more things that I am truly thankful for. See, Friday Chrisy and the kids and I went shopping at Kohls and today we went to church. The latter brought about peace, and the former, well, didn't.

First, I'm so very thankful for my church, terranova. This morning the final song our church band played was "Folsom Prison Blues." I got to thinking . . . Hmmm, across this great nation of ours I wonder how many churches had somebody uttering the phrase, "I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die" from their stage?

Second, I'm thankful that I don't work retail.

And, why would my church play that Johnny Cash song? Who knows? Presumably just because Johnny Cash is evidence that there is a God.

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Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Passion of Uncle John

The poet who has most influenced my life is my uncle John Lynd. During my childhood and youth he would steer me toward art and romance.

In fact, when I was 20 years old, the Peter Weir film DEAD POETS SOCIETY was released and the very first time I saw it I immediately thought that the main character, John Keating, reminded me of John. That fictional teacher, played so well by Robin Williams, and my uncle John share the same values. Here is a quote from Keating in the movie:

"We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for."

Uncle John might not have said those exact words to me, but there is no question that those were the values he wanted to instill in me.

I thought I would share one of my favorite poems authored by my uncle.


Should the question ever be posed . . .

All I need
is my corner by the water
Let me feel the warm sun
on my back

Give me the sweet song
of a bird in Spring

Just leave me breathing
with someone to love by my side
I have so much

--John Lynd

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Friday, November 23, 2007

Make Something Day

Thanks to Jon Hall, I found out that today is Make Something Day. I decided to make jewelry box with Zoey. Here's some photos Chrisy took.

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Early Supporting Actor Standouts

It's time for my first Academy Awards post. Thus far in 2007 the only category that has crosed my mind is that of Best Actor in a Supporting Role. Without giving much thought to it, on four occasions I found myself sitting in a theater thinking, "This guy deserves a supporting actor nomination come Oscar time."

The first supporting actor to come to my attention was way back more toward the beginning of the year in Adrienne Shelly's film WAITRESS. Of all people it was 81 year old Andy Griffith playing a wonderful character, Old Joe, that knocked my socks off. Griffith's job as Joe is better than the film itself, but I'd be sad if Oscar overlooks Griffith come nomination time.

Not long after that, I saw Werner Herzog's great RESCUE DAWN. Playing Duane, the always fantastic Steve Zahn struck me as very deserving of recognition for his supporting work alongside Christian Bale. This is a heartbreaking film and I don't know what else to say except that Zahn nails it as this Vietnam prisoner of war. Truly, an exceptional performance.

Ben Foster was the next guy to blow me away in a supporting role. This guy really shined in James Mangold's fantastic remake of 3:10 TO YUMA. Foster plays Charlie Prince, a loyal member of outlaw Ben Wade's gang. The amazing thing is that it would be incredibly difficult to stand out next to Russell Crowe and Christian Bale, but Foster does. Actually, the acting is so all-around extraordinary in this film. The two leads left me speechless. Peter Fonda and the the kid who plays Bale's son, Logan Lerman were great too, as was Bale's wife, Gretchen Mol. It's a total acting film. Indeed, I'm going on record as saying that this is the best acting showcase film since GLENGARRY GLENROSS in 1992! As an ensemble, all the players delivered something I couldn't take my eyes off, every grin, each nuance, the subtle inflections, gave me joy, just like GLENGARRY GLENROSS did. The nomination better go to Ben Foster though. Incidentally, did you ever see Foster in the excellent film ALPHA DOG? Check it out.

Sean Penn's profound work of art INTO THE WILD brought the third necessary supporting actor nomination to my attention: Hal Holbrook. Like with Andy Griffith, it was such a thrill to see an old legend knock one out of the ballpark! Holbrook is 82 now and I remember him from movies in the 1970s mostly in things like ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN, CAPRICORN ONE, THE STAR CHAMBER, and THE FOG (four good movies by the way). But, also like Griffith, just being an old legend wouldn't be enough for me to gush over the performance. Holbrook's portrayal of Ron Franz in Penn's movie is deeply moving. In a movie like this, it's hard to deliver a magic moment because the whole movie is filled with them; however, Holbrook does it. Sitting on the mountain with Emile Hirsch, he speaks one of the movies most penetrating lines and he delivers it very effectively. A bit later there is a dialogue in a pick-up truck that has brought everybody I've talked to tears. Watch out for Hal Holbrook come Oscar time.

Not long after I saw INTO THE WILD, Tony Gilroy's MICHAEL CLAYTON starring George Clooney brought my attention to yet another terrific supporting role. This is just a Doah thing, but I actually didn't want to admit that this guy deserves the nomination because it seems like everybody has been praising him way too much since 2002's INTO THE BEDROOM. Nevertheless, Tom Wilkinson deserves a supporting actor Oscar nomination for his turn as Arthur Edens in MICHAEL CLAYTON. Wilkinson is so good that his performance reminds me of Peter Finch's Howard Beale in the classic NETWORK. Except, as MICHAEL CLAYTON moves along, you realize that Wilkinson's Arthur Edens isn't as "crazy" as Howard Beale was at all. Seriously, Wikinson is note perfect in this film.

Now I am not under any illusions that these five men will be the actual five supporting actor nominations months from now. I know there are some really good movies coming out between now and the first of January. This is merely my attempt to bring your attention to five noteworthy performances. Keep in mind that this is not a list of my favorite films this year. In addition, not all the films mentioned here are of equal caliber either. RESCUE DAWN is miles apart from WAITRESS and INTO THE WILD is a far better film than MICHAEL CLAYTON. Also, there are other early 2007 releases I like better than a few of these movies. For example, David Fincher's ZODIAC is a far better film than WAITRESS; yet, nobody stood out to me in that film the way the aforementioned actors do. If you're looking for movies to rent, you won't go wrong watching these five outstanding performances.

I can tell you one thing, come Sunday, February 24, 2008, the Supporting Actor category is going to be the one that is too close to call.

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Thursday, November 22, 2007


thanksgiving - noun. An act of giving thanks, especially to God.

"He who has the Son has life."
--1 John 5:12

Thank you so much Abba God for life.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Godspeed Danny

That's a picture of "Phantom" Dan Federici and his boss, Bruce Springsteen. Federici is Springsteen's organ player and, as you can see, he often plays the accordion. The story came out today that Danny Federici is taking a leave of absence from The E Street Band. The news is that he has melanoma. Chrisy sort of got a chuckle out of the fact that I prayed for Danny's cancer at dinner tonight, like I know the guy or something. The fact is Danny has been a huge part of The E Street Band and The E Street Band has been a huge part of my life. I mean come on, Mojo magazine once said that The E Street Band was "perhaps the greatest backing band in the history of rock 'n' roll" and I've been listening to these guys since I was 11 years old. As I wrote in Glory Days, back when I was a sophomore, I saw them perform four times in one week.

Speaking of fans like himself and me, in his book, "It Ain't No Sin To Be Glad You're Alive: The Promise of Bruce Springsteen," political writer, Eric Alterman wrote this:

"The discovery of the invisible church of Springsteen fandom has provided them with a means to face perhaps the most important spiritual void in postmodern American life: our lack of an authentic language of the heart and of a genuine community with whom it can be shared. No wonder so many fans speak of their first exposure to Springsteen as a kind of supernatural event."

The fact is, Danny is part of that community Alterman wrote about. I for one will keep on praying for Danny's speedy and full recovery.

I'm so very thankful that just three weeks ago my sons were able to see the full legendary E Street Band in concert, Danny included. Being that there are nine members and Danny himself had been playing with Bruce for more than 40 years, taking my sons to see them was never something I took for granted would happen. But it did and it was very cool.

If you're at all interested in seeing the "walk off" after Danny's most recent show in Boston last Monday night, I've posted it below. Danny is the one Bruce is huggin' on. This was really quite touching.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Man, I just can't help it, gotta talk Springsteen. Listening to the album DARKNESS ON THE EDGE OF TOWN this morning and the opening track is so amazing. I just want to tell you all that I really feel these lyrics:

"I don't give a damn,
for the same old played out scenes,
I don't give a damn,
for just the in betweens,
Honey, I want the heart, I want the soul,
I want control right now
Talk about a dream,
try to make it real
You wake up in the night,
with a fear so real,
Spend your life waiting,
for a moment that just don't come,
Well, don't waste your time waiting"

--Bruce Springsteen's "Badlands"

Those are some great lyrics! But, let me tell you something: If you like Rock 'n' Roll, you would be hard pressed to find more of a quad-shot-powerhouse of rock than the first four songs off DARKNESS ON THE EDGE OF TOWN. After those four songs knock you in the gut then you get pure poetry.

I had my quiet time this morning, read out of Hebrews and it was good, but on this Tuesday morning God used this Springsteen album to touch my soul more than anything else. I'm so thankful that God knit me together in such a way that music really touches my soul.

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Rock 'n' Roll High School

Here is a story that ran on Sunday. What a great idea. I mean, I've said it before, "If anything is going to save the planet it's rock and Roll." That photo is Steven with my kids and me. For those of you who don't know, Mr. Van Zandt a.k.a. "Little Steven" is one of Bruce Springsteen's guitarists in The E Street Band. By the way, he's a really nice guy. I for one would love to teach this curriculum. Go Stevie!

November 11, 2007

Van Zandt rolls out plan for rock in schools
By Mary Beth Marklein, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON — Steven Van Zandt says rock 'n' roll saved his life. Now he wants to return the favor.

The E Street Band guitarist and Sopranos star began sowing the seeds five years ago with the launch of Little Steven's Underground Garage, an internationally broadcast weekly radio show that celebrates his favorite genre — garage rock, a sound that evokes images of teens practicing in somebody's parents' suburban garage.

Last year, he created the non-profit Rock and Roll Forever Foundation as a vehicle to preserve the music that so shaped his life.

Monday, he will unveil the foundation's first project: a middle- and high-school curriculum designed to introduce a new generation of teens to the music. He planned to make the announcement in the nation's capital, where he is playing two concerts with Bruce Springsteen and the other E Streeters.

Anyone attending the sold-out Springsteen shows might question the notion that rock 'n' roll is endangered. And never mind that The Sopranos skillfully wove rock music into its story line, right down to the last moments of the final episode.

But in a backstage interview before Sunday's show and in an earlier phone interview, Van Zandt said "traditional, straight-ahead rock 'n' roll" doesn't get the airplay or attention it did when he was coming of age in the 1960s.

"If the Rolling Stones came out today, there's nobody that would play them," except perhaps his own radio program.

Van Zandt, 56, says rock 'n' roll is "not informing the culture on an hourly basis as it did when we grew up. It just doesn't resonate with the same degree of depth." And, he says, "It's not so easy to hear new rock 'n' roll on a regular basis."

That's where Little Steven's Rock and Roll High School fits in. The project, being created in partnership with education publisher Scholastic's InSchool division, is still in development.

The plan is to distribute a 40-chapter curriculum, including teachers' guide, lesson plans, DVDs, CDs and Web-based resources, free, beginning with the 2008-09 academic year, to the nation's 30,000 or so middle and high schools.

With this effort, Van Zandt joins a long line of artists who are rallying to keep music education from falling through the cracks, a victim of school budget cuts and the national focus on math and reading. Paul McCartney, Quincy Jones and John Mayer, for example, in recent years have promoted efforts to put musical instruments into the hands of schoolchildren.

Van Zandt strikes a different note. He wants to explore the cultural and historic impact of rock, beginning with pioneers such as Little Richard and Elvis Presley, through soul music, early girl groups, the British invasion, the psychedelic period and ending with today's newer groups.

"We're trying to reach everybody, whether a musician, a rock 'n' roll fan or not. We're going to make a case that this art form is so interesting that you will be absolutely compelled to listen to it, and maybe even learn how to play it."

Van Zandt says he borrowed his title from the Ramones' 1979 movie Rock 'n' Roll High School, in part because "it suggests the eternal teenager in all of us."

Some might wonder whether teachers and principals will welcome a course that takes its name from a film in which a punk rock group blows up a high school. But it is endorsed by the National Association for Music Education, a non-profit whose 130,000 members include teachers, college faculty and researchers. Under a federal grant, the group developed national standards for music.

And he is working with Scholastic to ensure course materials meet national education standards, so it could be used not only in music classes but also for humanities or social studies courses.

Van Zandt "is committed to not only making this something that kids will be excited about but also making it something that teachers and administrators can get behind," says Ann Amstutz Hayes, a Scholastic vice president.

Van Zandt will create and edit the content, and he plans to ask rock journalists and musicians to contribute. A quick peek at topics he expects to address:

•Rock as social commentary. The lesson might begin with Woody Guthrie, include The Beatles' Taxman and Revolution, Jefferson Airplane's Volunteers, and today's hip-hop.

•Rock's influences. A discussion of Procol Harum, say, and The Byrds' Mr. Tambourine Man will lead to an exploration of works by Johann Sebastian Bach.

• Rock as "the great equalizer." Van Zandt says it is perhaps the only art form where races, classes and genders find common ground. "It's going to be a liberating thing for black kids to know they invented rock 'n' roll."

And, he says, "Only sports really equals it in terms of the empowerment of the typical blue-collar, working-class kid."

That was certainly the case for Van Zandt, who says he barely graduated high school. "Coming from the suburbs of New Jersey and getting famous seemed very much like an impossible dream" to him and his bandmates, he says. "And

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Monday, November 12, 2007

Voluntary Servitude

Here's another quote from "On Being A Christian" by Hans Kung that I really wanted to share. I'm yearning to dialogue with somebody about it. In this section Kung is talking about the potential for us humans to transcend technological evolutive humanism:

"In both cases man--as individual and as society--remains incapable of mastering his world, because he tries to cope with everything except himself. As he seems to be gaining the whole world, he is threatened with the loss of his own soul: in routine, bustling activity, endless talk, in disorientation and futility. This has little to do with the wickedness of man or of particular individuals. It is the legal constraints of the technocratic society itself, as we have seen, which threaten to crush man's personal dignity, freedom, and responsibility."

This paragraph is so full of thought that I can only begin to touch the surface of what I think it means to me. First, when I read it, I think about the notion of even the possibility of transcending the prevalent thought or way of life in our society. To transcend is to "exist above and independent of" something. If I was to exist above and independent of this technological way of life/thinking, then clearly, it would only be acomplished by focusing on God. However, as the author points out, all the accomplishments of technology haven't helped us acheive this goal. Instead, technology has distracted us from focusing on the real project: ourselves.

How about you? Has Tivo/DRVs, iPods, cell phones, PCs and Macs helped you come closer to being the person you want to be? When I read the quote again and see "endless talk" I think of how I my cell phone has turned me into a prisoner. How did we ever survive a 25 minute drive without somebody being able to break the silence or interrupt the song I was lost in? When I look at the word "futility" I totally think of e-mail. At times I feel it is completely futile to ever get though everything in my in-box. Is what I really need another inspirational e-mail? Maybe true inspiration awaits not in a chain-letter, but in a lingering conversation while straddling the boundary of my and my neighbor's yards?

Proving Kung's point is the fact that I am blogging about this condition we find ourselves in. You are reading my thoughts on a computer! If Kung was wrong about this technocratic society, you and I might find ourselves discoursing about such matters over coffee and pie. As a substitute, we run to our Facebooks, Myspaces, and blogs in hallow attempts to make a human and truly meaningful connection. Meanwhile, many of the relationships that matter most are fractured or at least not all they could be. Crushed personal dignity, freedom, and responsibility indeed!

If you are looking for true insight, get off my blog and turn off your iPhone. Crack open your Bible or go for a hike with your spouse, children, or friend. Well, enough of this, I need to bustle off to the store.

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

Living Proof

"Well now on a summer night in a dusky room
Come a little piece of the Lord's undying light
Crying like he swallowed the fiery moon
In his mother's arms it was all the beauty I could take
Like the missing words to some prayer that I could never make
In a world so hard and dirty so fouled and confused
Searching for a little bit of God's mercy
I found living proof."

--Bruce Springsteen's "Living Proof"

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Saturday, November 10, 2007

Livin' the Lyric

"I'm tired of waitin' for tomorrow to come
Or that train to come roarin' 'round the bend
I got a new suit of clothes a pretty red rose
And a woman I can call my friend
These are better days baby
Yeah there's better days shining through
These are better days baby
Better days with a girl like you."

--Bruce Springsteen's "Better Days"

I'm happy. I'm in love. Life is good.

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Thursday, November 08, 2007

The Full Extent

I've been basking in John 13:1-17 since Sunday. I've literally read those seventeen verses in the Bible eight times in the last five days. I have to thank my pastor, John, for teaching on it Sunday and for throwing out the challenge to live in it this week. It's working. The guy is onto something. I'm finding it very effective to dwell on the same chunk of scripture daily.

John 13:1-17 is found under the heading, "Jesus Washes His Disciples' Feet" and it's so full of wisdom. Each day something different has jumped out at me, spoken to me.

I think my first thought was, "Man, it's scary, I am so like Peter." The dude is so all-or-nothing. When Jesus begins to wash their feet, at first Peter says, "No. You shall never wash my feet." Jesus then responds, "Unless I wash you, you have no part with me." Instead of saying what a normal person would say, Peter jumps to the extreme. My wife would say, "Okay, wash my feet Lord." However, Peter says what I would say: "Then Lord, not just my feet, but my hands and my head as well." So extreme! It's scary though, would I have denied Jesus as Peter later does in John 18? I hope not. At any rate, knowing full well that Peter would deny him three times, Jesus still tells him, "you are clean" in verse 10. Peter didn't need a bath, only a foot wash. Ultimately, this story makes me think of Jesus' amazing forgiveness, compassion, and acceptance because of how he reinstates Peter in the 21st chapter of John. But I digress.

I love John 13:16 where Jesus says, "I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master." Very clear here. Jesus is my master, I am his servant. If he will wash feet, I am called to serve like that. Ironically, it is only in throwing on a towel, lowering myself, and serving that I can be raised up to Christ's level. Verse 17 says it all, "Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them." In Matthew 20:27 Christ also says, "whoever wants to be first must be your slave." The paradigm is shifted.

Another line that really teaches me something is found in verse three: "Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God." The profundity of this statement is staggering! It's bad enough that Peter would soon deny Jesus, but on top of that, Christ knew that Judas would totally betray his master. The devil is at work. Christ's followers are weak. Moreover, he's about to die a gruesome death. Yet, none of that matters because Jesus clearly knows who is in control: "the Father had put all things under his power." All things! On top of that, Jesus is firm in his identity: "he had come from God and was returning to God." God's son! Man, if I could just not falter on these two beliefs I would be such a better person. One, God is in control. Two, I am a child of God.

Finally, the title of this post comes from the first verse. It reads, "Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love." The phrase "full extent of his love" has been haunting me and refining me all week. I even went to the dictionary and found this:

full - holding or having as much as the limits will allow

extent - the range or scope of something

Before he died Jesus made sure he showed his friends the full extent of his love. Wow! It's one thing for me to say "I love you" to my wife, I can say that I love my kids, but do my actions actually show all that my limits will allow? What would that even look like to show them the entire scope of my love? If I'm honest, it's not just what I would need to do in order to accomplish this; rather, there are things I need to not do. I need to not speak in sarcastic tones, I need to not grumble, and I need to not be selfish. Rest assured, I need to serve as well, but, for me, this statement, "full extent of his love," finds God whispering to me that I must discard some defense mechanisms as well.

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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Care to Comment?

I'm reading this book right now, "On Being A Christian" by Hans Kung. It's not a "easy" read, very wordy and lofty, but it's stuff I love, text-bookish, heavy on history and philosophy. The book was written in German. It makes me wish I was back in college and discussing this with a group of peers. There's always a section that comes up that I have to reread two or three or five times. Kung must be the Dennis Miller of German theology! I love the guy.

Here is an example of one of those sections and I'd love to hear what you think of this one-sentence-paragraph:

"Might it not therefore help us to take a longer and more discerning view of day-to-day party politics and thus to get rid of many rigidly held opinions, to be less surprised by young people who merely seem to be worse than ever before, to remain open-minded and not entirely without hope for a new future, so that we can get away from the false alternatives and polarizations of modern society into which we are frequently unwillingly drawn and which present us with numerous unnecessary conflicts?"

If you didn't notice, that is an interrogative sentence.

My answer is a resounding: "Yes."

There are three or four nuggets in there that I can really get behind: (1) Get rid of rigidly held opinions. Yes! (2) Young people only MERELY SEEM to be worse than ever before. I love youth and they're not any more screwed up than I was. Reminds me of the Paul Harvey quote, "In times like these it's good to remember that there have always been times like these!" (3) We must remain open-minded (yes, even as Christians) and we must never lose hope for the future. (4) Polarizations are false and they really do draw me into unnecessary conflicts. I don't want to waste any more time on unnecessary conflicts.

Wow, talk about a juicy and fully-loaded paragraph. Love it! Well, hope one of you comment on the Kung quote.

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Sunday, November 04, 2007

Chorus of the Day

"This train
Carries saints and sinners
This train
Carries losers and winners
This Train
Carries whores and gamblers
This Train
Carries lost souls
This Train
Dreams will not be thwarted
This Train
Faith will be rewarded
This Train
Hear the steel wheels singin'
This Train
Bells of freedom ringin'"

--Bruce Springsteen's "Land of Hope and Dreams"

Are you aboard? I am! Free indeed.

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Saturday, November 03, 2007

Lyric of the Day

"There's a dark cloud rising from the desert floor
I packed my bags and I'm heading straight into the storm
Gonna be a twister to blow everything down
That ain't got the faith to stand its ground"

--Bruce Springsteen's "The Promised Land"

My bags are packed, and, yes, I've got the faith to stand.

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