Friday, May 28, 2010

Life with Hurley and Ben on the Island


By Anthony Clark, aka Nedroid

Interesting Things

Interesting things happen to people all the time. This much we know. But interesting things never happen to us. Or so we think. We're so preoccupied with other people's interesting things that we fail to see our own.

Or maybe we fear interesting things. It's certainly not normal. We make no time in our schedules or routines for interesting things. Of course, we cannot predict when something interesting is going to happen; therefore, we don't plan for them. But they do occur. I hear about interesting things all the time. From people like you.

Today the metro stop I usually get off on when I go to work did not smell like its usual urine-sweat-rotten sandwich self. Today it smelled like lilac. Lilac! I even stopped and looked around to see where it was coming from. The usual homeless people were curled up asleep near the ventilation grates - probably wasn't them. The sing-songy man who hands out the Express might have been drenched in the sweet scent of lilac, but I doubt it. It just was.

Have you ever smelled lilac? It's a smell that conjures up everything good that has ever happened in your life. Ever. Every exciting, loving, beautiful, magnificent thing that has ever happened to you in your entire life comes to the forefront when you smell lilac.

Unexplained lilac. Interesting.

Anyway, I also got a free Coke with my lunch today.

Godspeed. Good luck. Go Bears.
JC

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Blur

I don't usually like racing games, but this commercial for Blur makes me laugh every time I watch it. Check it out!

The Curious Eel

Finally, it's a day that leaves me wet with sweat after walking only three blocks. Finally, thoughts of jumping in a pool are invading my mind. Finally, the women don't care when I stare at their shiny, bare legs. Just kidding - I don't stare and the women do care.

It's summertime. I can't even remember the last time it snowed... must have been years ago...

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Lost: Unanswered Questions

SPOILERS! Obviously, don't watch if you haven't watched the series, but intend to.

"The End"

An EXCELLENT article by Jeff Jensen of Entertainment Weekly about Lost and the finale. LINK

Make sure you spare a few minutes to read all seven parts of this wonderful write-up. I was going to copy it straight to my blog, but it's too long. If you watched Lost definitely do not miss reading this. I'm not kidding - don't skip this.

Electro-Automatic Words n' Stuff

My Annotated Morning Story:

  • Sitting on the train.
  • Reading A Game of Thrones on my Kindle.
  • Get knocked on the head with a big purse as a woman passed by.
  • Looked at woman and noticed a friendly smile on her face.
  • Decided not to get angry.
  • Continued to read A Game of Thrones on my Kindle.
Moral of the story: The Kindle kicks ass! A Game of Thrones only cost me $4 and I didn't have to go to a store to get it. I highly recommend an eReader. Kindle, Nook, whatever. The Sony eReader seems to be gaining popularity because I have seen three of them in the wild in the last week.

I read a few "real" books over the last couple weeks and it felt weird and awkward. I even tried reading a real book while standing on the train with disastrous results (like dominoes we toppled!)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Spread generously.

Of course yes is good, too. This world probably needs more yes.

The Power of No

I finally said no to someone this morning. "No, I can't do that favor for you today because I have a lot of work to do." Boom. It felt great! True, I will do some work this afternoon, but I am always the first person people ask for favors because I'm the nicest fucking man in the world! Dammit.

Seriously, I kick a lot of ass. But I think people sometimes take advantage of my willingness to be such an awesome person. Not today, Bucko! No!

Make your own sandwich!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Found the Hatch



Lost is gone. I am sad. Last night's finale was a beautiful and poetic ending to a series that always had me guessing and speculating and philosophizing. I spent so much time on the internet reading other people's theories. I am truly going to miss the mystery.

As the end of the episode approached, I kept looking at the clock and thinking, "It's almost over. This mystical, magical piece of my life is almost over."

We go through life wishing for and demanding answers to all the riddles and puzzles, but when they finally come we realize that life is about the search and not the solution.

Now more than ever I miss that feeling I got in the pit of my stomach when the Hatch was discovered. I doubt TV will ever be able to make me feel that way again. Until it does.

Goodbye Lost.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

RDR

Oh my. Red Dead Redemption is one of the best games I have played in very long time. Now I just need to figure out where I can get some strep throat so I can stay home and play.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Bet

Balloons in the sky - I don't care who you are or what you're doing, you will always stop to look at them.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

It happens.

I exited the wrong side of the metro stop and ended up in Nationals Park. Then I exited the wrong side of another metro stop and ended up at a Five Guys burger joint. Then I saw a girl almost get hit by a car because she was trying to flag a taxi. Then I saw a homeless man lying face down in the park surrounded by Mallard ducks. Then I walked down a street I never walked down before and discovered an ice cream shop.

An ice cream shop! So close to work! This changes everything!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Red Dead Redemption



Red Dead Redemption came out today. Go to Metacritic and see several video game reviewers drool over it. I plan on buying it this Friday. If you see me on Friday don't bother me because I will be either rushing out to buy it or rushing back home to play it. I might get Chinese for lunch, but that's it! I am very much looking forward to this supposed masterpiece.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Saturday, May 15, 2010

"Creating Environments"

Welcome to another episode of Adventures in Spirituality!

If you are a normal reader here at Capitol J you know that I am on a spiritual journey. I have taken the path of Christianity and have been searching my soul for the/my true meaning of God. Lynette and I began going to a church near us that was very welcoming and friendly, but it suddenly reminded us why we stopped attending church. And it had nothing to do with God. Understandably, churches serve as a symbolic location for people to commune with and celebrate God. But the "God" in the churches I attended in my life often required me to undergo a series of obstacles (figuratively) to get to God. The rituals and hymns and robotic rote prayers pushed me further away from God, which is obviously NOT the intent of churches, but (if I can be honest) it made me uncomfortable in its cult-like participation.

I am a firm believer that God should be celebrated or worshiped everywhere. And so we took the advice of our dear friend Joe Portnoy and visited his church (NCC). Here's the catch: They meet in local movie theaters. At first, I was skeptical. How can a movie theater be a holy place? But we went and were very, very surprised. First of all, it's in a movie theater! I cannot think of a less intimidating, less alienating environment. The comfort level was high. Second, I have never been surrounded by a more passionate, God seeking group of people. The positive energy was overflowing. Third, their use of technology impressed the heck out of me. It's refreshing to find this level of creative motivation as we seek to be closer to God. "It's orthodox in doctrine, but a little unorthodox in practice. The message is sacred, but the methods are not"(from Pastor Batterson). And, fourth, it was an hour of actual study and interpretation of the Bible. Never in my life have I listened to the sermon of someone like Pastor Mark Batterson and felt as inspired and close to God.

Coincidentally, Pastor Mark posted this on his blog today:

From the blog Evotional by Mark Batterson, Pastor at National Community Church:

"One of my jobs as a leader is to create environments that facilitate what it is that God wants to do in people's lives. I'm anenvironmental engineer of sorts. We work hard at NCC to create environments where people can explore Christianity in a safe and creative environment. And we care about details like the brightness of lights and volume of sound. We care about the video quality andgraphic creativity. Those may seem like ancillary issues, but they aren't. Aesthetics are important. Did you know that 12 chapters in the book of Exodus are devoted to the aesthetics of the tabernacle? If aesthetics aren't important then why is God so meticulous in picking thecolors of the curtains or the recipe for the incense.

If the Holy Spirit doesn't show up all of our aesthetic efforts are a waste of time. But that doesn't excuse us. It's not either/or. It's both/and. We've got to create environments that remove distractions. We've got to create environments that cultivate creativity. We've got to do our part and then let God do His part.

We have a simple goal at NCC: remove all sociological and methodological obstacles that would get in the way of people getting to the cross. We recognize that the Holy Spirit is the one who draws people to Jesus. But we need to stay out of the way instead of getting in the way. I'm afraid that sometimes people are offended by our methodologies and we don't give them a chance to be offended by the cross."

Friday, May 14, 2010

Music Appreciation: The Cure

In anticipation of The Cure's re-release of the 20th anniversary of the best piece of music ever created on planet Earth in all of time (Disintegration), we're going to enjoy this:

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Man on the Train

This afternoon I was coming home on the train when I was confronted with an unusual situation. I was in the front car one hour before rush hour, which meant the car was mostly empty. I had almost the whole train to myself. Then at the Pentagon stop a large man came aboard and sat down next to me. Often the train is full and sitting next to large people is part of the game. But this afternoon the train was empty and this large man sat next to me.

I spent a few moments trying to figure out if this man was toying with me. I looked around to ensure that there were empty seats all around. But then I made a decision. I stayed in the seat with this large man pressed up against me. And we rode all the way home squished together in an empty train. A few stops before I got off I realized he was asleep. And I thought maybe this man just needs someone to sit next to. Maybe this man is weary or lonely. Maybe he is distraught or afraid. I ignored my initial thought to get up and move and stayed with him.

Coincidentally, we got off at the same stop. And when the doors opened this man stepped out and waved goodbye to the train operator. I noticed that this man was intellectually disabled. I don't know if it would've made a difference to him if I had moved to a different seat. But then again maybe it made a difference that I didn't.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

From Desiderata

By Max Ehrmann, 1927

(Second stanza)
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
And listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant,
They too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
They are vexations to the spirit.

(Third stanza)
If you compare yourself to others you may become vain or bitter;
For always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

(Eighth stanza)
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe, no less than trees and the stars;
You have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
No doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Good

I tried to help a guy who was attempting to use the escalator in a wheelchair. You heard me... Wheelchair. Escalator. He declined my help and gave me a look like I was trying to sell him my day-old feces.

On to my next charitable task!

Monday, May 10, 2010

LBP2!

What would you do if you could turn invisible?

When confronted with this age-old question, I don't recall ever declaring that I would use my new power for good. Initial thoughts were always ways in which I could see naked women. (I'm a man - I like naked women - sue me.) Next, if there was time (because I'm not sure looking at naked women would ever get tiresome), I'd steal some money or do something that would result in making me rich.

I suppose I thought about doing something for our military that would "win the war," etc. But those actions were always self-serving. Who doesn't want a ticker tape parade held in their honor? In a way, even though I was servicing my ego, those militaristic actions would "do good." Maybe. I guess it depends on your definition of "good" when it comes to world affairs.

But what if I decided to DO GOOD with my power of invisibility? How would I do that? Without breaking any laws. Is it possible? I suppose I could patrol busy intersections and push people out of the way of buses. Or keep people from jumping off bridges by sneaking up on them. What else could I do? After I look at naked women, of course.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Friday's Journey

On my way to meet a pastor for lunch I crossed paths with a lizard, a man dressed as Spiderman, and two little girls yelling "Hi" from a third story window. It sounds like the makings of an epic modern day Odyssey...

Holy Sandwich (and coffee maybe)

Having lunch today with a preacher. We'll probably end up talking about stamp collecting or bicycles. I've never had this type of opportunity where I felt unafraid or unashamed to ask questions regarding Christianity and church and the whole God thing with a minister. In my past, ministers were always older, stodgy men who made me feel like I wasn't allowed to tell the other children that Santa was really my dad in a costume.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

From Mars!

Microbial Fossils.

One more time... Say it with me:

Microbial Fossils.

It's such a fun pair of words to say!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Celestial Metro

I'm moving through life differently nowadays. I ain't gonna rush no more. Unless the train is RIGHT THERE, but after I get on... There's a smile on my face and the tiny details I once used to judge every poor soul who crossed my path are slowly fading away. Because I'm learning (somehow) that the clothes do not make the man. Maybe we were wrong - maybe this IS in fact your father's Oldsmobile.

As I grappled with my new questions about life I had to figure out what the whole praying thing was all about. Because if I'm nothing here at Capitol J at least I am honest. And if I pursue Christianity I'm gonna have to figure it out. Praying.

No one can deny the effect praying has on a person. Whether you believe those effects are emotions or feelings triggered by a chemical reaction in the brain, OR that there is some sort of positive life force coursing through this material world (Chi) that praying people are tapping into, OR that God hears prayers and answers back in subtle ways, the effects of praying is DOING SOMETHING to people.

I won't lie, I believe in some sort of karmic energy that rewards me when I take care of my body. Exercising makes me feel good and then good things start happening in my life. Superstitious? Maybe. The Butterfly Effect? Maybe. Either way, I believe something beyond the physical, visible world is at work.

So this morning, while on the train (which I ran up the stairs to catch!) I prayed. I closed my eyes and prayed to God. It was a short, simple prayer. I wasn't my usual eloquent self, but I got my point across. At this point in my spiritual journey I'm throwing these prayers out there based on faith alone, like notes tied to balloons, or a message in a bottle.

When I was finished praying something interesting happened. This may or may not be slightly embellished for dramatic effect, but three different people sitting across from me looked directly into my eyes and smiled. Smiled! On the train! The same train where we knock over little old ladies for that prized open seat!

And then - and then I turned my head and looked out the window. We were crossing over the Potomac and the reflection of the sky in the dirty, dirty water shocked me with its beauty. I looked up and (I shit you not) rays of sunshine were piercing the dark clouds just like they do in the movies when something Heavenly happens!

And suddenly I felt like Roddy Piper in the movie They Live. In it he finds these secret magical sunglasses which give him the ability to see the aliens who live among us. Christians and anyone who believed in God, etc. were always like aliens to me and I lived my life among them. And now I feel like I got the reverse magic sunglasses which allows me to see the humans underneath.

If you don't know me by now, know this: I believe in symbolism. Without it we're a drab bunch. Everything we do in life, no matter how insignificant or trivial, symbolizes who we are. In that sense, we practically wear our hearts on our sleeves.

And that's my story for the day. Good luck, Godspeed, Go Bears.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Woman vs Immovable Object

There's a woman standing at the fax machine refusing to believe it doesn't work. She's thinking, "I works every other time, it should work now." Failure is not an option. She's been trying to fax the same document for the last fifteen minutes. I admire her patience and cool demeanor...

And it worked! The fax went through! I fear the precedent this event has set. I should get back to work.