The Round of 16

If anyone is wondering why I've been largely absent from the internet for the last ten days, the World Cup is to blame. I'm probably violating a few copyright laws just by referring to it as the World Cup, not the FIFA World Cup, but oh well. At least it's not the Tostitos World Cup . . . yet!

Anyway, me and mine have been totally addicted to the pretty decent coverage on American television. Sure, there were a few too many mentions of the American team, but that's to be expected in this country. I'm sure the coverage in other countries focuses a lot of attention on their own national teams. At least the games are presented commercial-free, as God intended.

Speaking of God, the local church signs have been busy while I was lazing away. Here's one from a little while ago:

Honestly, I have to say that Jesus didn't die for me, but that's just nitpicking. Really, though, this seems like more of a spluttering response to some sort of blaspheme: "Jesus died for you, and you . . . you . . . ! How could you!" What is this mysterious sin that has so outraged the Message Board of God? Well, I don't want to spread rumors, but I think it has to do with a hooker in Vegas, ten thousand dollars, the Russian mob, and an emu.

Otherwise, if we take this sign at face value, it seems a bit in-your-face with its message of death: "Jesus died for you. OK. And you, too! And hey, you with the ice cream! He died for you, too, you ungrateful ingrate! Oh, you think you're smart, do you, buddy? Yeah? Well, Jesus friggin' died for you, too! Take that to the bank!" I mean, it's all well and good to have a familial blood sacrifice--who hasn't crucified an annoying cousin or too?--but to make it the center of your whole religion seems a bit macabre, no?

That's just me, I suppose.

Breaking the Code

So, Lauren and I went and saw The DaVinci Code last night. I have not read the book though Lauren has, but I enjoyed the film. I'm not going to say it was my favorite summer film so far--heck, even Poseidon was better, showing a real B-movie flair and some solid acting. Poseidon also had something else that DaVinci Code lacks: nail-biting tension. It'd be interesting to see how Wolfgang Peterson would have handled DaVinci Code. I have no interest in how Ron Howard would have done had he tried his hand at Poseidon!

The best part about The DaVinci Code? Sir Ian McKellen, who must now rank as one of our greatest living actors. The man brings gravitas to anything, even schlock. Let's face it, DaVinci Code ain't one of the all-time greats, but McKellen is riveting, as always. Tonight, we see more of him in X-Men: The Last Stand

Enough of that, then. Time for more church-sign goodness! Here's your latest news from on high:

There are some quick endings we can supply right off the cuff, of course: flattery will get you nowhere, or, alternatively, everywhere. But shouldn't we look outside the proverbial box for just what flattery is getting us? Perhaps it's just . . . getting us, in the same way that a bear might, were the bear enraged. "If you don't watch out, flattery will get you!"

It might also suggest a hero of the medieval church, St. Flattery, who lived, as you know, in 12th century England and was burned at the stake for excessive flatulence. That is, in truth, where the word comes from, though other sources might suggest differently. At any rate, St. Flattery is the patron of brewers and beaners--you may not have heard of the latter, but most medieval historians count beaners as some of the great craftsmen of the age, taken regular beans and molding them into a myriad of fart-inducing cocktails.

Saint Flattery is mostly lost in the foul-smelling mist of history, but occasionally his name makes an appearance in churches around the globe, usually near to his feast day (May 30th). Though in this image-and-smell-obsessed time his popularity has waned, still many a brewer takes a moment to Flatter himself--the phrase originally intended to indicate a prayer to St. Flattery--before embarking on a particularly daring triple-bok.

And remember: should you find yourself forced to "vent some plasma" (as we say in the uber-dork world), mutter a quick "Praise to Flattery," afterwards. He listens--and responds--to all those in need.

Long Time, No Blog

Apologies to those who feel that a blog should be updated more then once every few weeks. Slow-updating blogs are the kind that bug me the most when I read them, and I really intended that this would not be one of them. But the road to hell is paved with good intentions, as they say. Why do they say that, anyway? I mean, is it really such a terrible thing to have good intentions? I think the idea is that you need to actually follow up and do good things, not just think about doing them. In that spirit, I am updating my blog today. So there!

The delay has allowed me to grab a few new pictures for the amusement of you, the cynical masses. First of all, check this out:

Someone must have heard about killing their TV and decided it was necessary to exorcise the beast with a little lovin' from the axe. Interesting to me is the thickness of the glass in the screen, which is also obviously layered, and the (probably photosensitive) plastic-looking layer on the inside. I didn't want to come so close as to poke around inside the set, considering it's the sort of place where they disable televisions with sharp cutting tools.

The really odd part, however, came later in the day, when I walked down another street not a block from where this picture was taken and came across a nearly identical TV, still intact, sitting by the side of the road. Coincidence is a strange phenomenon, nichtwar?

That little snippet of German, by the way, is my homage to the Weltmeisterschaft. I've seen parts of six matches, even large parts in some cases, but have yet to see a goal. Doesn't matter much, though, because the most exciting game so far--Trinidad & Tobago vs. the Netherlands--ended in a scoreless tie. Go T&T!

Hold that thought! I took a break while writing this entry, and caught just a minute of the Japan-Australia match; enough time to see the Aussies tie it up, 1-1. Now, as I track the live NYTimes World Cup blog, I see that Australia scored twice more, finishing the match 3-1! I should have stayed put and watched the final five minutes. Now, that's an exciting end to a game!

But Devon, you say, I don't even like soccer! Where's the newest, most exciting church sign? Right here:

Now, this is esoteric. In case you didn't click for the larger version, they didn't misspell "standing," just smushed the "i" and "n" really close together. So, one mystery is solved. The rest of it, however, seems to defy explanation.

Taken at face value, it seems a harsh rebuke to any long-distance runners who happen to pass by this sign. Since I have to believe that to be a pretty small group (indeed, one rapidly approaching zero), there must be a deeper meaning. Perhaps we are all long-distance runners in a race to meet our maker. Good Christians that we are, we have to keep moving, keep a few steps ahead of sin, keep running, running, running, always running. If we stop, even for a moment, we'll get smacked upside the head by death, sin, damnation, and all-around hurtin'.

Alternatively, the long-distance runner is God Himself, taking a breather from the never-ending race of creation. After all, it's been six thousand to six billion years, give or take and depending on your feelings regarding creation/formation of the universe and etc., and God's been running his damn ass off that whole time. And for what? For a bunch of stupid monkeys who can barely see straight and are always killing each other? Apparently. So can you really blame the Big Guy for taking a breather, maybe wondering if this is all really worth it? Maybe we'd all be better off if God spent more time on Regulus Prime, which is altogether a better, prettier world, populated mostly by dolphins and emus, which we all know are God's favorites anyway. He could just stop by once a decade or so, smite a few folks here on Earth, eat a burger (of course He likes burgers) and then duck out again.

I'm thinking that this is the best version of our little story. But you know what? I haven't the faintest clue what this sign is talking about. That doesn't seem like the best approach to this whole church sign thing, luring people into the sermon because they're scratching their heads and muttering, "WTF?" Give me a hint, and I might be more inclined to check out your pitch.

Working, Day Eleven

Yep, still at the grindstone here in Tribune fantasy land. Normally, when working a weekend shift, we get comp time during the following week; because of some stuff going on here at the office, I'm shifting my full day to Monday, half day off tomorrow. This actually works out well, since Lauren will be home Sunday night.Anyway, I'm sure no one really cares about that. Let me tell you, though, that's a lot of days to work without one single day off. Starts to wear on you, to the point where thinking becomes kinda burdensome. For instance, right now I'm just sitting here, my mind oozing slowly onto the floor. I hope no one slips on it, or anything.

Here's another deep message from the higher powers:

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm all for exercise. I even do some of it on occasion, and I know I should do more of it, but we don't want to go down that torturous road of verbiage. But I thought that walking with God was more of a metaphorical thing, you know? Are these good folks telling me that at their church, people actually get to stroll with the Big Guy? All right, I'll stop being purposefully dense and admit that it's a clever turn of phrase. I just want to point out for the record that walking with God doesn't have to be a form of exercise.

Indeed, or slothful brothers and sisters, though probably sinning or something, are still walking with God. Or, you know, waddling with him. Rolling ineffectually around on the floor like obscene parodies of newborn children. Something like that. And what about the disabled, and those unable to walk? Surely they aren't excluded from His love because of their lack of ambulation! And may I take a moment here to praise the English language for having words like "ambulation." That rocks! Rock on English!

So, getting back to the sign: If you want God by your side, just tell him so! You don't have to get your lazy ass off the couch. But if you did, maybe you'd get a girlfriend and move our of your parents' basement!