31.5.08

I'm Tired and It's Hot


The AC is on right now. We've got it down to 78 degrees, and it's 11 pm. During summers in Portland, 70 degrees is too hot to sleep in. I know this because when Don was out of town, I'd turn the AC down to 65 and get by just fine.

But besides that, Phoenix isn't too bad. It really is a dry heat. If it got Phoenix-hot in Nashville in the summer, the humidity would drive up gun prices. Here, the locals keep telling me it's not so bad.

There is much to tell you about, but here are some bits in the meantime:

- Mindy is fine. Currently, she is singing along, off-key mind you, to Mysteries of Life's cover of "That's How Strong My Love Is". She still watches the wedding video all the time, maybe to remind herself of the last joyous time she'll ever experience with me.

- My usual email account is all jacked up right now. If you want to get a hold of me, email me at this address.

- I'm eager to get Burnside up and running, but it's looking iffy for an issue tomorrow.

29.5.08

what's new?

You might be wondering where Jordan has been recently. I'll tell you where. He's been blogging for me at Prayers For Blowouts. I kidnapped him and duct-taped him down to a folding chair in my basement where he has been churning out sports-related posts like Warren Jeffs churns out creepy followers.

OK, that's not true. Jordan has been picking up his life and moving it 2 states away as far as I understand. So if the site has seemed weird to you recently, blame Aaron Donley. (but if it has seemed not-so-busy, blame everyone else.)

As for Jordan posting about sports, that might happen once in a while over at PFB now that I've announced that he and Chad Gibbs will be contributors from time to time there. Joining with them will be Jason Boyett and Jesse Carey, as well as two other mystery writers who will be revealed on Friday. (we will only reveal their names and not their naked bodies, so get your mind out of the gutter.)

In other news, Susan Isaacs is done with her book! Hooray!

Also, you can vote for my fake band name "There Was Corn in Egypt" here. (i need help too, I am getting killed by "Rawboned Donkey and the Saddlebags" right now)

and finally, LOST Season Final Tonight! WOOT! Who else is watching? Should be memorable, as always.

27.5.08

Effortlessly - A Love Story...


Finally the wedding night had arrived. He slid the silky negligee off each of her shoulders, first the right, with a shiver of excitement, then the left. With all of their longing now coming to sweet fruition, it fell to the floor effortlessly.

Like a baby mouse’s neck breaking in an industrial-sized rat trap. -It’s legs darting swiftly backwards in a grand seizure before dropping “effortlessly” against the cold cement of a long ago condemned Russian-owned meat processing plant...

She had been abandoned by her parents to live on the streets and had to sell whatever she could to stay alive, which usually meant herself. It was only Tyler’s gentle love for her that eventually proved all hope was not lost in her painful existence. Finding her beaten and thrown into an alleyway, Tyler looked into Elizabeth's eyes and somehow embraced the deep sense of abandonment as his own.

Like a wolf recognizing his own urine in the crotch of another wolf. The only explanation being that somehow this wolf had stooped directly on top of one of his 19 territory markers. But what are the chances??

Tyler picked her up effortlessly; as he had spent many years heaving rancid meat at the local processing plant before it was shut down. Elizabeth leaned into his jacket and let out a small “mouse-like” whimper as he tried to shelter her semi-unconscious body from the rain. “How could someone so beautiful be so forgotten in this world?” Tyler cried to himself.

Like an alzheimer’s patient who put a bag of popcorn in the microwave and forgot about it until the next time he tried to make some popcorn...

Now the day of their marriage had come. -The sweet refreshing winds of mid-April were blowing off the North Atlantic. The ceremony was filled with well wishers and loved ones of all variety. Afterwards the celebration was called the ‘party to end all parties.’ Well into the night, people of all races, creeds, and financial backgrounds drank deep of laughter and were filled.

Like the 3,005 lungs aboard the Titanic drank deep of the North Atlantic and were filled when the mighty ship sank to a watery grave on April 15, 1912… -An odd number of lungs, as one man aboard the vessel was born ‘uni-lung,’ a hereditary condition which, by sheer mathematics alone caused him to yawn twice as fast…

The two embraced in sweet love, and would go on to tirelessly help save the indigenous grey wolf population from extinction through their next 50 years of marital bliss. -But not before putting a bag of popcorn in the microwave that night and forgetting it, then finding it the next morning. Looking at each other with the microwave door open, they smiled and guessed they had been too “busy” to remember.

Like an alzheimer’s patient who put a popcorn bag in the microwave, then deciding to have sex, said to himself, “Forget about it...”

It was love.

Like how the uni-lunged man loved showing off his incredible yawning speed at a party on deck just moments before the tragedy…


The End

Like the semi-romantic death Tyler and Elizabeth will both face in exactly 50 years...



The End Addendum - How they died...

Finding themselves lost in the indigenous wilderness on a chilly mid-April night, neither Tyler, stricken with severe arthritis from his time spent at the meat processing plant, nor Elizabeth, having by then severe alzheimers, could muster the effort to continue.

Like a baby mouse in a rat trap reaching for a nearby kernel of popcorn but at the same time feeling the rapid onset of paralysis…

By sheer chance they laid down in one of a pack of grey wolves’ 19 territory marker locations… It was there that, holding each other for the last time, each of them stared into the eyes of their true love until they finally entered eternity -together, effortlessly.

Like the ease at which the encircling wolves ravaged their bodies. -The very same wolves who were later caught and shipped to Russia for meat aboard an ill-fated freighter which would crash and sink to a watery grave, causing the 25 wolf lungs to fill with the icy waters of the North Atlantic... –An odd number, as one of them was born uni-lung, a hereditary condition which, by sheer mathematics alone caused it to howl twice as fast.


23.5.08

summer

My favorite thing about summer, and one of my favorite things about life in general, are flowy summer dresses.

I'm sure all the fellas can back me up on this one. There's just something about a pretty girl in a flowy skirt on a summer day that speaks to all that's right about God's creation.

Here's the lovely Susan Tedeschi doing sweet justice to my favorite Bob Dylan song.


You can hear the studio version here if you'd like:





Bring on the sun.

17.5.08

Truly Supporting the Troops

I received this notice from Burnside contributor Bryan Catherman the other day, and I thought I'd post it here.
I'm passionate about issues effecting military veterans, especially veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars.

Over the past couple of days, Congress has squabbled over fixing the outdated Montgomery GI Bill, a program to help soldiers get an education. Some of our Congressmen and women don't want to update the outdated program because soldiers may leave the military for better options.

I've also recently learn the hard way that the VA Home Loan program, designed to help soldiers purchase a home, has ratcheted down it's policies such that it's more difficult for a Veteran to use a VA program than conventional or FHA home loan programs, the same programs non-veterans use to purchase homes. (The VA loan does not give soldiers any money, it's only a guarantee from the US Government covering a portion of the loan should the veteran default.)

But the issue I'm most passionate about is the funding, destigmatization, and making mental health programs available for returning veterans. I'm a veteran of the Iraq War and I've used these services. I believe this program saved my marriage, family, career, and even my life. I'd like to invite you to listen to a personal essay about my observations from within the VA mental health clinic.

If you'd like to learn more about how you can truly "support the troops," visit IAVA.org. I belong to this organization and strongly believe in the work we're doing. I hope my recorded essay encourages you to do more than simply say you "support the troops."

Brave Rifles!
Bryan Catherman
Iraq War Veteran

14.5.08

You're practically there!

I've got some great friends. Don took loads of footage at the wedding, and spliced some of the best bits over Obadiah Parker's cover of "Hey Ya!".


Notable Burnsider appearances:

2:37 - Burnside designer Dave Allen talking to the old man, who announced dinner was served by hammering his xylophone.

2:45 - Penny and Dave Carothers talking to the xylophone guy. I love Penny's arm placement...that's grace, folks!

3:05 - Don's only appearance.

Also, at the end, that's my brother, Tyler, dancing rather well with Mindy.

Thanks so much to Don for putting that together. That's a labor of love.

Fact #46

A couple friends and I were having some Ninkasi IPAs outside of Kay's Bar in Sellwood last night, and a previous patron had left an empty pack of Camels leaning against the ashtray. Apparently, Camels now come with slips of paper called "Blend IQ"...little facts on the tobacco growing process. I, for one, applaud RJ Reynolds for their role in educating America.

But I was somewhat flummoxed by the actual stated fact.
Fact #46

A big factor in how tobacco tastes is what part of the stalk it comes from. We use leaves from the top, middle and bottom of the plant for the best tasting Camels possible.
It may seem a strange boast, but perhaps if RJ Reynolds employees had been crossing the Great Plains along the Oregon Trail, the buffalo would still roam free and proud.

13.5.08

Good grief



3 Great Deals

I wanted to take a second and give y'all a heads up to 3 pretty good deals going on right now on the interwebs.

First, you can support Jordan and Mindy's upcoming move to Arizona by purchasing this outdated Arizona Diamondbacks jersey. It's black, purple, and ugly, and it can be yours for only $77.00!! Throw in a few bucks for shipping and handling, and I can't think of a better way to blow a hundred bucks. (wait, yes I can...)

Second, you can read author Jim Palmer's PFB Sports Survey responses over at Prayers For Blowouts FOR FREE when you subscribe to the PFB feed!!! What a deal! (feed subscription optional...not valid in Hawaii, Idaho, or Peru...see flyer in Sunday's paper for details.)

Third, (and really this is the only good deal of the bunch) author Jason Boyett is selling copies of his "Pocket Guide to the Bible" at a very discounted rate. He's only charging $6.99 per book! - or cheaper if you buy a bunch for a small group or a graduating high school class or an entire cell block. He's even signing copies of the book he mails out! This signature alone is worth more than seven bucks. (I mean, if you ever happen to find one of his uncashed checks lying round, you will be able to easily forge his signature and laugh all the way to the bank, or from the bank, as it were.) Take a look at Jason's site and consider picking up a copy of two of the book...he's holding a bunch of them right now and his arms are getting tired. Not to mention it's a smart and funny read...but don't just take my word for it. (Like Jason says on his site, you might want to give your youth pastor a heads up on this one...makes for great small group fodder or graduation gifts.)

12.5.08

Burnside Endorses: Linen Pants

I am notoriously concerned with comfort over style, which is why I wear Chacos year round and still frequently adorn myself in my old Army PT shirts, armpit holes and all.

Mindy, on the other hand, enjoys treating me like some sort of dress-up doll. She buys me button-up shirts with starched collars. Sometimes she makes me wear slacks instead of jeans. It's like living under Tito.

That said, you can imagine my delight when, while wandering the streets of Playa Del Carmen, my eyes alighted onto a vision in white: linen pants. In the oppressive swelter, they seemed cottony cool. I pictured myself strutting the streets of Phoenix, the scorching sunbeams clattering harmlessly off my billowy legs. I marveled at the drawstring...no more belts! I tried them on, and felt I could dance for days.

What's more, linen pants are classy! The pair I bought have a nice crease down the middle of each leg. That's fashion, my friend.

To recap: linen pants are great for warm weather, Mindy is happy because I look snazzy, and I feel like I'm wearing pajamas.

Of course, linen pants aren't quite perfect. I wore them on the trip back from Mexico, and they were perfect clothes for flying. Upon arrival in Portland, however, I felt like a moron...the only person in the city wearing white pajama bottoms.

One more minor reason to look forward to Phoenix.

The World's Best Sports Media Guy

A while back, I spent a year traveling with Don Miller to his speaking engagements around the country. It was an amazing experience. I went to towns I'd never seen and met people who've become friends, including many Burnside contributors.

One person I was honored to meet was Ernie Johnson. Don spoke at his church near Atlanta, and Ernie later had us over for lunch with his family. He was, unequivocally, one of the most kind and humble people I've ever met. We spent a total of two hours with Ernie, his wife, his son and two daughters, but it remains one of the most memorable occasions of that year. His family was so charming, and they made me feel like an old family friend.

Ernie also has the distinction of the highest approval score on Deadspin's Media Approval Ratings. While it might not be as cherished as his two Emmys, being universally loved by notoriously snarky Deadspin readers was probably more difficult to attain. He's even friends with Chuck D, for pete's sake.

It's inspiring to know there are such great men of God out there, especially guys like Ernie who use their influence and personality to change lives. But really, all that was an excuse to show you this clip.



P.S. For Ernie's take on sports (and a little bit of faith), be sure to check out his Sports Survey answers over at Prayers For Blowouts on May 20th. You can head there now to see Survey answers from Brian McLaren, Tony Jones, the Internet Monk, and more.

10.5.08

Viva Portland!

Mindy and I are back from our honeymoon in Mexico. It didn't start out well, but in the end it was spectacular. The city of Playa Del Carmen...I strongly recommend it. Much better than an all-inclusive resort.

I hope to share more about the wedding at a later date, including an amazing video Don took of the proceedings, but I thought I'd post our slideshow first. It was put together by my friend James. I'm a sucker for wedding slideshows...I've known the songs I wanted to use for at least two years. Maybe I'm being a little self-indulgent here, but I'd like to introduce you to Mindy, you know?



Mindy's section is Natalie Merchant's "Wonder". There were songs that fit better musically, but the theme of the song is dear to Mindy, since her life is a similar miracle. She was born with a congenital heart defect, and wasn't supposed to live more than two years. My favorite part is around the 2:04 mark, when we hit Mindy's extremely awkward years. Mine were neatly glossed over.

The second two songs are "For Jack Tymon" by Scott Miller and the Commonwealth and a cover of Otis Redding's "That's How Strong My Love Is" by Mysteries of Life.

9.5.08

7.5.08

Journey Through the Tenth Grade (continued from page 1)

As soon as your mother is out of site you begin to walk in the opposite direction of the school. You are not sure where you are going, but at least you are not sitting in class learning. After a few blocks the neighborhood begins to look less desirable, and the walls are covered with graffiti. You are startled when a group of young men round the corner and start making hand gestures towards you.

“What are you doing on our turf?” one of them asks.

“And why are you wearing that red shirt?” asks another.

“This is my school uniform,” you say.

They make you take off your shirt, and relentlessly question you about a rival gang you know nothing about.

“Just let me go home,” you beg.

“Ok,” the leader says. “But first you have to pass the test.”

“Sure,” you say. “Anything.”

“Alright,” says the leader. “Take this knife and go stab that old woman.”

“What? No way.”

“Do it now, or we kill you.”

You take the knife and walk towards the old women. When you get close you pull the knife and she begins to scream. Out of nowhere a cop tackles you and puts you in handcuffs. You are arrested for attempted murder and spend the next twenty five years in prison.

The End

So we saw Iron Man Friday night.............




I liked it. It was funny, lots of stuff blew up, and then more stuff blew up.

And for the record I'm not a comic book guy. Never owned a single comic in my life*. So I didn't know anything about Iron Man going in. I soon learned like Batman, his only superpower seems to be disposable income.

On the list of comic book movies I've seen, I'd rank it behind Spider Man 1 and 2, but ahead of Spider Man 3, and ahead of the new Superman, but probably tied with Batman Begins.

So, my question to you dear reader is this. If you could have a superpower, what would it be?

1. Ability to fly
2. X-ray vision
3. Ability to turn green
4. Disposable income
5. Ability to shoot spider webs from your wrist
6. Look good in tights
7. Ability to talk to sea life
8. Anything else you can think of


* And please don't think I'm trying to avoid the nerd label by saying I'm not a comic book guy. I'm very much a nerd, just not a comic book nerd I guess.

4.5.08

Journey Through the Tenth Grade (continued from page 71)

“Sure,” you say. And hand Jason the rest of your chocolate bar.

“Thank you,” he says, and swallows it in one gulp.

---

Third period literature is uneventful, and soon you are dressing out for gym. The weather is perfect outside, so your class meets outside on the football field. You dominate the game of two-hand touch football, scoring two touchdowns, and showing class by not spiking the ball after either of them.

---

At twenty minutes till three the coach blows his whistle and everyone goes inside the locker room to shower and change. You quickly shower off, and change back into your school clothes. Sitting in the locker room, you wait for the last bell to ring so you can meet Jason for your ride home. Just then, you notice Robby, Zeke, and Pepe` loitering suspiciously behind a row of lockers. You walk over to make sure your new friends have not relapsed and started smoking again. When you see that they have not, you ask, “What’s going on guys?”

“Nothing,” they say in unison.

“Seriously, what are you guys doing?”

“You promise you won’t tell?” Zeke asks.

“Yes, tell me what is going on,” You say.

“Take a look at this,” Robby says, pointing towards a hole in the wall. “That hole leads all the way to the girls shower.”

If you decide to become a pervert and watch the girls shower, turn to page 12. If you decide to scold your new friends and tell them they should respect women, turn to page 11.

1.5.08

Glimpses; pages from my journal - V (final)


Journal entry

My birthday.

Location: Hallway mirror, nose pressed against glass. 3:15 a.m.

Hey brain. Do you think I have an annoying twitch? Because people have been telling me lately that I do, and I’m beginning to think they may have a point. Anyway, I’m just writing to tell you don’t give it up. For better or worse, it’s become ‘me’ you know? Great call on the new personality by the way. Turns out Big Ted is a friggin' Mozart on the spoons. And if you see Silly Pete in there tell him I call a rematch on Twister. Now, to put a bug your ear regarding the “Dame Judi Dench” dreams: how about a little less "Dame" and little more "Dench"? (If you know what I’m talking about.) Seriously though brain, just exactly what post-decapitation facial expressions can I count on you to reliably produce should such an event take place? Because if/when, I’d prefer sort of a wincing “Oooo!” Or a sassy, “No you di'int!” -And only a “Who farted?!” if someone actually did. As you know I’ve got a reputation to uphold. Hey brain that reminds me! I bet you don’t know what I’m getting you for your birthday. A new pillow. Yes, I know the motorcycle helmet has a crack in it. Geez, you can really ruin everything sometimes you know that? But seriously, if I may my good brain, a word on paint fumes: Yes? No? You tell me. Because I feel like I’ve been getting mixed signals lately. Also just a friendly reminder; two weeks notice on the dementia onset, please. As we’ve discussed at length, I’d like to pre-cut some tennis balls for my walker... Happy birthday buddy. Happy birthday.

Journey Through the Tenth Grade (continued from page 13)

“No thanks,” you say. “Drugs are for losers.”

You leave the ladies room and look for Jason. He is still in the sporting goods store, and doesn’t believe your story about the drug girl. Jason buys a new pair of Nikes and then drives you to your house. You sit at the kitchen table and do your homework until it is time to meet Julie Anne. The coffee shop is only three blocks from your house, so you make the walk in ten minutes. Julie Anne is already seated at a table in the back, she apparently forgot her books.

---

“Did you forget your books?” you ask.

“We can both use yours,” she says, then motions for you to sit next to her. You pull up a chair and ask her to work problem number twelve.

“Do we have to do this?” she asks.

“Ok,” you say. “How about number eight?”

“No,” she says. “Do we have to study?”

“I thought that is why we were –”

“Listen,” she says. “My parents will not be home until nine. Why don’t we go back to my house and study there?”

“But we are already here, why would we want to go –”

You shut up when Julie Anne grabs your hand. She slowly caresses your fingers and pouts at you with her full, red lips. Your heart begins to race, and sweat beads form on your forehead.

“Can’t we just go?” she asks.

If you decide to go with Julie Anne back to her parents house to “study”, turn to page 18. If you decide to study at the coffee shop, and then invite Julie Anne to your Bible study, turn to page 17.