Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
I've been learning a little about the Fresh Air Fund lately, and thought their cause is well worth mentioning as Christmas approaches. In essence, the FAF is a non-profit that arranges for low income, inner city NYC kids to enjoy summer vacations in locations outside the city.
Take a look.
Monday, December 08, 2008
I've been reading Dan Allender's excellent Leading with a Limp and posted some thoughts on leadership, exhaustion, busyness and retirement over at arieljvan.com.
If you haven't checked the book out yet, I highly recommend it.
Friday, December 05, 2008
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
Starting tomorrow (December 4) is the yearly Big 12-Pac 10 Hardwood Challenge, 2008-2009 edition. The prospect of seeing KU, Baylor, Oklahoma and Texas kick the snot out of some decent Pac 10 teams was enough to lure me out of temporary blogging retirement. Here's the schedule...
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Oklahoma State at Washington
UCLA at Texas
USC at Oklahoma
Friday, December 5, 2008
Arizona at Texas A&M
Saturday, December 6, 2008
Baylor at Washington State
Oregon State at Iowa State
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Kansas State at Oregon
Nebraska at Arizona State
California at Missouri
Outside the four-day series window
Colorado at Stanford (Sat., Nov. 29, 2008)
Kansas at Arizona (Tue., Dec. 23, 2008)
Texas Tech at Stanford (Sun., Dec. 28, 2008)
Yes, I like bragging on the Big 12--but realistically, Colorado, Texas A&M, Iowa State, Nebraska, and Kansas State will probably drop their games against Pac 10 foes. The Jayhawks have already waxed Washington in a November match-up, so count that as a go-ahead run in the unofficial tally.
Now, as a warm-up for March I'm going to pick the winners in the upcoming games. Agree or disagree in the comments...
Thursday's winners: Texas over UCLA, Oklahoma over USC, Oklahoma St over Washington.
Friday: Arizona over Texas A&M.
Saturday: Baylor over Washington State, Oregon State over Iowa State
Sunday: Oregon over Kansas St, Arizona St over Nebraska, Missouri over California
Outside the 4-day window: Stanford over Colorado, Kansas over Arizona, Texas Tech over Stanford.
Best game in the series: Texas vs UCLA - two Final Four caliber teams battle it out before the Longhorns' superior depth take over.
Big 12: 7
Pac 10: 5
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
I just noticed that Amazon has a ridiculous $5 MP3 album sale going on. This time around, they're bucking the typical "$5 Friday" trend and putting 50 albums on sale for Black Friday (instead of five).
Miss the Viva la Vida (Coldplay) or Narrow Stairs (Death Cab for Cutie) sales earlier this year? Now you can get another crack at 'em. Not to mention music by some other great bands: Radiohead, Fleet Foxes, TV On the Radio, Portishead, Vampire Weekend, Ra Ra Riot, The Walkmen, Shearwater, and REM.
A good half-dozen of the 50 albums on sale right now will be on my Top Ten Music list for 2008. Go take a look,...just keep in mind, you may have to restrain yourself.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
UPDATE: You can now view and download the official NCAA BRACKET 2009. And NCAA Bracket Predictions are now up.
Thanks to the good folks at ESPN, we can begin engaging in NCAA tournament speculation in November. KU comes in as a #6 seed, which will probably be about right...although if the young (very young) Jayhawks win some games down the road, their "national champion" braggin' rights could pull them higher.
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Early in the life of this blog, I posted pretty frequently about my founding premise and guiding principle: the idea that life is bittersweet, and some of the most revealing insights into the nature of our lives, and the goodness of Jesus Christ, emerge in those paradoxical moments when good and evil, pain and joy, dark and light, commingle.
I stand by all of that, and you can still read those posts, although I talk about a lot of other things these days. However, when I cracked Spectacular Sins by John Piper, I couldn't resist passing along this excerpt:
We are pushing our way through a blood-spattered life that makes us feel connected to the world and disconnected at the same time. We are here but not here. Love binds us to the tragic earth, and love binds us to the Treasure of heaven. Christians are strange. Our emotions are inexplicable in ordinary terms.
If I may be so bold (as the ragged, penniless church planter complimenting the famous man): John Piper gets bittersweetness. And Spectacular Sins is shaping up to be a spectacular book.
Monday, November 03, 2008
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Thursday, October 16, 2008
I was in the first audience to see this movie at a screening last night 10/15/08 in NYC. I knew nothing about the book or the movie coming into this.
This was the most amazing movie I have seen in a long time. It's very intense and the audience were literally on the edge of their seats from the beginning to the end. The desperate hopelessness was palpable from the screen. Even the men were sniffling at some point. Some of the scenes were disturbing and violent but not gratuitously so, they were necessary to move the story along. All the actors in the movie needs to get an Oscar. This should win for best movie.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
This would be the real Sherlock Holmes movie with Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, and action sequences--as opposed to the Will Ferrell version that's also supposedly in production.
In the photos at Ain't it Cool News, Downey, Jr. looks like a fit, trim Holmes in vintage clothing. Law looks more like a shotgun-toting assassin (Road to Perdition) than the Watson you usually visualize.
HT: Commercial Real Estate in Memphis & Our Galaxy
Monday, October 13, 2008
However, I'm not pirating, I'm just buying from DRM-free sources like Amazon.
Friday, October 10, 2008
...and Asher will still think it's hilarious.
X-posted on arieljvan.com
Scout.com reports: Robinson is ranked by Scout.com as the #20 player in America, and the #7 PF. Robinson had recently narrowed his college decision down to two schools - Kansas and Memphis.
It's over. Thomas Robinson gave Bill Self's Jayhawks a verbal commitment to play his basketball at KU. Robinson, a 6-8 power forward from Brewster Academy in New Hampshire, is the first commitment in KU's 2009 class.
Robinson is ranked by Scout.com as the #20 player in America, and the #7 PF. Robinson had recently narrowed his college decision down to two schools - Kansas and Memphis.
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
This disc is nothing like you'd imagine. Not even almost. I've been over it again and again looking for some cause, some reason, anything, that would compel a band with this much unfiltered creativity and kinetic energy-- a band without even the slightest suggestion of tear-stained poetry or bedroom catharsis-- to fall victim to the worst possible Vagrant Records clichés. I can't find it. All I know is that when I press play, and this disc whirrs to life, it inexplicably sheds its crybaby façade and becomes... sort of infinite.This is the kind of album that will more than reward your $2 risk.
The University Daily Kansan has a well-written piece on Phase 2 of the KU-Memphis battle. As you know, the Jayhawks pulled out an amazing comeback victory to take home the NCAA title this March. Now Bill Self and John Calipari are going head-to-head for the nation's top recruits:
And here we thought Kansas had beaten Memphis.
John Calipari might like to remind us that, through the national championship game was certainly a momentous victory, it was also only a battle. The war, he might say, is far from over.
It looks like fictionalized John Calipari is right.
Monday, October 06, 2008
If you're not familiar with Rogue Wave, you should know they're on the same label as The Shins, and share that band's knack for melodious hooks and instrumental variety, but with a grittier approach. These free MP3s from a MySpace session are a decent introduction. My favorite RW album is probably Descended Like Vultures.
Thursday, October 02, 2008
Here's your chance to prep for 2009 March Madness.
HT: Rush the Court
Monday, September 29, 2008
I know some of you people just can't get enough books, that you're bibliophiles, to the extent that you have wooden doors propped up on piles of books in your homes, serving as tables. That's why I thought I should mention that I reviewed The Cure by Harry Kraus over at arieljvan.com.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
This was at the sweet nature center in Jefferson City.
Friday, September 26, 2008
Did you know that nonprofits now compete head-to-head online for funding? The International Medical Corps is currently taking part in one such showdown, and I'm impressed with what they do: save malnourished children around the world.
Here's a quick explanation of why your vote matters:
Chosen out of 1,190 projects, “Saving the Lives of Malnourished Children” is now eligible to receive up to $1.5 million in funding. The project with the most votes receives $1.5 million, 2nd receives $500,000, 3rd $300,000, and 4th and 5th $100,000. The funding – made possible by your votes – would bring a vital lifeline to hungry and malnourished children around the world.
So, take a minute and vote. I did. You have about 72 hours.
It's been a frenetic, crazy week, thus the lack of posts. However, I just saw something that gave me such a large rush of adrenalin that I have to mention it. (And, uh, no, it's not this album's cover art.) You can download the latest album from Sigur Rós for $5.
If you're not tracking, Sigur Rós is the Icelandic "slow-motion," post-rock group that has earned accolades from critics while impressing fans with passionate, brilliant live performances. If you're looking for some kind of comparison, Radiohead is probably the closest you'll come...but in Icelandic. Although the latest album does include a song in English.
Med sud I eyrum vid spilum endalaust may not be the top album from Sigur Rós (it's still being debated, OF COURSE) but for $5, you can't go wrong. Deal good through Monday.
Monday, September 22, 2008
This will be old news for some of you, but through today you can download Wilco's indie classic, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, for $5.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
I have to think Canada had one of the more exciting moments in its history when the Kansas Jayhawks visited to play 3 games back in August. Seth Davis recaps the trip and gives us an idea of who the major players on KU's young 2008-2009 team will be.
I was probably one of the few die-hards who watched these games via streaming video online. The match against Carleton actually had a big-time atmosphere. This Jayhawk squad is inexperienced, but they have the talent to do some damage. I think they'll emerge as contenders a little ways into the season and play a couple tournament games at least.
Incidentally, I kind of want these Jayhawk T-Mac kicks.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Awhile ago we had some friends of ours over and went all out to make them feel at home. I pulled out my pro-grade burr grinder and espresso machine and made some killer cappuccinos.
Lindsay brought out a shockingly tasty dessert. Then we regaled our guests with scintillating conversation, the kind Dale Carnegie can only dream about (we do this ever so often--you know, when the mood takes us).
After the evening was over, my friend was like, "Dude, you guys are great hosts." And I was all, "Hey, anytime, I love making espresso and talking..." And then he said, "Actually, it's your kids. They're so much fun."
So there you go. We give Aidan and Asher most of the credit for successful hospitality in the Vanderhorst home.
Monday, September 15, 2008
I just read Pitchfork's favorable review, then grabbed this part-Radiohead, part-Coldplay album from Elbow. For $2, I'll gamble on a Brit band that's sure to be better than Snow Patrol. (24 hours only.)
Anybody else playing this one?
Friday, September 12, 2008
Just when we were about to throw him out, Aidan agreed to start pulling his weight around the place.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Amazon is selling the classic Death Cab for Cutie album, We Have the Facts and We're Voting Yes, for $1.99. We've had this one for years and it still gets play-time (had it on last week). The deal is good for 24 hours. Vintage DCFC.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
I just came across a brand new site that looks promising, and seems to have a pretty decent stable of writers. The current line-up is highlighted by a great article, "Superhero Nation." Do you agree with this?
Entertainment Weekly’s Chris Nashawaty complained that superheroes have ruined summer movies, blaming Spider-Man’s success and Hollywood’s propensity to exploit same with more of the same. “No superhero was too minor or crappy to be pulled out of the mothballs, tarted up, slapped on the ass, and turned into a bloated summer movie,” he wrote.
Culture11 writer Frank Pine doesn't. Another bit:
More people will likely be moved and affected by Batman’s moral hand wringing than will be swayed by the overt didacticism of a movie like Lions for Lambs. In part, that’s because the politics of superhero movies, rather than being preachy and partisan, emerge in plot points that drive narrative rather than as windy dialogue in artsy films easily dismissed by moviegoers with dissenting views, critics and couch potatoes alike.
Yeah, you could accuse me of being a sucker for superhero movies, and I wouldn't argue too vehemently.
The servant who knows what his master wants and ignores it, or insolently does whatever he pleases, will be thoroughly thrashed. But if he does a poor job through ignorance, he'll get off with a slap on the hand. Great gifts mean great responsibilities; greater gifts, greater responsibilities! - Luke 12:47, The Message
Not a difficult to tease out as The Dark Knight, but we can appreciate obvious truths too, right?
Monday, September 08, 2008
This comic from xkcd is undoubtedly a gateway drug for Memento, one of impressive early films from the director of The Dark Knight, Chris Nolan. Think stream of consciousness, first person narration, bursts of violence and short term memory loss (no IHOP though). It's actually a great movie.
For those of you interested in the theology/church planting aspect of our lives, I have a September update posted.
It had been a long morning, and Mom hadn't been on her best behavior. Nevertheless, Asher thought about accepting the peace offering.
This from /film:
Not so great news for 24 fans. EW is reporting that production of the new season of 24 will shut down for more than two weeks so that the series writers can “reshape the upcoming season’s creative direction”. Howard Gordon admits that they “just couldn’t get this direction to work,” so they “found another one” and “wound up retooling it.” Last season was lackluster by every account, and a production shutdown is never a good sign, especially considering this season was already postponed an entire year (partly due to the writers strike). You would think that with all the extra time, they would have figured everything out…
And if that doesn’t sound bad enough, Michael Ausiello reports that Elisha Cuthbert has signed on to reprise her role as Jack Bauer’s incredibly stupid and annoying daughter.
In my opinion, the first three seasons of 24 were stellar, edge-of-your-seat tv, but it was downhill from there. Lindsay and I borrowed season 5, and we've been watching it for about six months now (sorry, Brad and Christine). Which should tell you everything you need to know.
As well, /film is right on about Jack's daughter. We wince whenever she comes onscreen, and her role has been totally extraneous since season 2. With "untouchable" passes so hard to come by on this show, why Kim has been awarded one is absolutely mind-boggling.
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
Tuesday, September 02, 2008
I've long been a fan of Frederick Buechner (Godric, Whistling in the Dark, Book of Bebb, etc.), who I consider one of America's greatest living authors, and a guy who could have been mentioned in the same breath as Jack Kerouac and Norman Mailer if things had gone a little differently.
The Yellow Leaves is a different kind of book for Buechner, who writes fantastic novels and vivid, imaginative theology. Rather than a full-length work, this one is a collection of short pieces and poems--and may well be the last book Buechner publishes, as he's pretty advanced in years.
As I read the intro, where Buechner explains that he hasn't had the wherewithal to put a longer volume together for some time, I wondered if The Yellow Leaves would convey the same weight, the same gritty lyricism, as earlier works. The short answer is yes.
I imagine that when one writes as prolifically and for as many years as Frederick Buechner, the job becomes increasingly autobiographical, and that's certainly the case here, as he puts down recollections of old friends, early adventures, and extended family--but with color, wisdom, and sympathy that gradually erase any idea of The Yellow Leaves being an afterthought.
The book is sometimes wistful, as Buechner gently probes the "what ifs" of his journey, but the primary note he strikes is one of well-aged love. The Yellow Leaves is a memoir through a camera lens, portraits captured by a man who carefully observed and kindly engaged the various lives that brushed against his, regardless of whether they were cripples or sophisticates, warm or austere.
**1/2 out of *** Well worth your time.
Monday, September 01, 2008
I'd never try to tell you that the Christian faith isn't strange. We are flesh-and-blood people made by an invisible God. We worship a murdered immortal. We're guided today by a very wise Ghost. But the alien qualities of this faith is an argument for its divine origins, not weird human inventiveness.
The story Jesus wrote is stranger and more beautiful than anything in Tolkien, Wells, or any of a hundred genre-breaking authors.