Thursday, November 1, 2012

Meeting Margaret


Did I happen to mention the time I met former Prime Minister of England Margaret Thatcher? No?

I am remiss.

So here’s how it went down. And, yes, this is a completely true story that really happened.

One day I was driving a delivery truck and had a little time to kill while waiting to be called back. With this particular job, I would deliver a package and, if it was fairly far away, they would have me wait to see if a pickup came in before heading back. It saved a lot of time and money, except when no pick up came in.

But I digress...

One day I had a little time to kill, so I stopped at a Border’s Bookstore. I liked this store. It was one of the early ones. It had the aroma of coffee and new books about it. One of the finer scents the human race has managed to manufacture over the centuries. And, as I was browsing around, I became aware of some Men in Black.


First I saw one, and then I saw another and another. Men in black suits, sun glasses and ties and white shirts with shiny black shoes. Just like Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones. But before that movie came out. My curiosity was immediately piqued, of course, so I looked around and noticed a line of people. I made the natural assumption that the Men in Black had something to do with it, so I joined the cue.

Just call me “Mr. Adventurous.”

Everyone was being really quiet. The place was in a real hush. It was a little odd, but I went with the flow and waiting silently with no idea of what we were waiting for. I figured I’d just get out of line if it turned out to be something stupid.

The line was long, winding around book shelves, so you couldn’t see where it ended. But then I could tell I was getting close because there were large stacks of books on the floor, hundreds of the same book. And just on the other side of the stacks, where you couldn’t quite see, was an author of some kind, signing books. I could see the signing table. I could see people at the table, but not the person signing. So I picked up one of the books on the big stack. It was Margaret Thatcher’s autobiography, the second part. Apparently the first part was a huge success, and now she was touring the States, signing copies of the second part. Here I was, about to meet Margaret Thatcher.

Why not...

Now, what brings this to mind is that I watched the movie called, “Iron Lady,” a few days ago, about Margaret Thatcher. Which is very good in it’s way, though it presents her in extremes in the sense that she is either old and suffering from dementia/Alzheimer's, or young and over zealous/naive, or middle aged and working too hard to be too tough for too much of the time. You would get the impression from the film that her entire 11 year stint in office was spent huddling away from either screaming, angry mobs trying to kill her, or screaming ecstatic mobs who were getting rich during the eighties, all of whom had nothing better to do but to bang on her car windows and scream every time she left the house.

Aside from these overdone tones, the exceedingly liberal Meryl Streep, of all people, does a superb job of playing the very conservative Margaret Thatcher. Meryl is a marvel to watch, let me tell you. That woman can act. She absolutely becomes Margaret Thatcher.

How do I know? Because I met Margaret Thatcher. Yes I did.

I walked up to the signing desk with my book in hand. I had nothing much to say because I knew very little about her at the time. But she was very quiet and nice and asked me how I was doing today. I said very well, thanks. And she signed the book and handed it back to me. I said, "thank you," and she said, very distinctively:

“Thenk Yewww.”

That was one seriously British woman, let me tell you. And Meryl Streep was the mirror image of her. It was uncanny.

I would be willing to show you the book to prove my story, but I gave it away, a long time ago, to a good friend who I thought would appreciate it.

So you’ll just have to trust me.

Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2012

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Who Can Understand It?

What’s going on? Why do people do the things they do? Why do I do the things I do? Why do I respond this way or that?

It seems to me, like it or not, that everyone has pieces of themselves they either can’t or won’t share with another human being. Even if you want to, when you’re willing to, there will be things you can’t share, because you don’t even know what’s going on yourself. Some things are unknowable. And these “unknowables” are what often lead us to the water, or the poison, we can choose to drink or leave behind.

Some people want to be “transparent” about their lives. They feel it’s false or fake in some way to hold anything back. But even if you managed, somehow, to totally reveal what you believe to be the “truth” of who you are, you would still be a mystery because you can’t even know yourself completely. How is anyone else going to know you that fully?

Don’t get me wrong. It’s worth trying, at least with some people. But it is futile in many ways and I think we need to admit that up front. We’re all just the tips of icebergs. There is a lot going on below the surface, and even a person who is amazingly dedicated to the art of self awareness and self revelation can be, I should say, “will be,” blind to their own motives and at least some of the realities that cause them to feel and eventually do what they do.

We feel things and then think things, and finally do things, because we have been convinced by some event in the past to respond that way. Sometimes, even long after the event itself is forgotten, the reaction lives on. We have been trained by experiences to respond, and our responses can tell us a lot about what’s going on underneath. But it’s like putting together a puzzle with missing and messed up pieces.

I guess you could say I believe in at least some aspects of behavioral psychology. But doesn’t it just make sense? In fact, I think it’s biblical.

Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?

To change this reality, to “understand” your heart, you would have to remember everything you ever did, every thing that ever happened to you, and also be able to measure and calculate a proper emotional response to all that information on the fly as you move through the day.

Let me know how that works out.

You can’t always “choose” your emotional responses to things, but you can “choose” what to do with it. Where do you let it take you? What do you do as a result? A lot of people want to believe they have no control, or responsibility, for what they choose to do, because they don’t always have control over the emotional responses that lead them to that action. But you can always choose. You are not a cyborg, an automaton, a robot, or a thoughtless animal. You are not. You are a human being.

What you, and I, actually do each day, each moment, is the product of your decisions. And decisions have consequences.

© LW Publishing 2011

Thursday, August 9, 2012


 There are many amazing things depending on you to realize they are amazing. In other words, if your eyes aren’t open to how amazing things are then nothing will seem amazing to you, which reveals, unfortunately, unfortunate things about your desire to learn and grow. It can reveal how much we take for granted. It can reveal arrogance and closed mindedness. I personally find a mind that can’t be amazed any more to be a little scary.

Consider: What does it take to amaze you? Do things have to explode? Does the world have to be a brand new circus everyday, putting on a show just for you in order to get some kind of response? Perhaps you aren’t seeing things that are right in front of you.

I certainly hope this is not the case. For anyone.

If you don’t know what I mean, I hope you figure it out. And to help people along, here are just a few examples of some amazing things a lot of people don’t seem to realize are amazing. Feel free to share some of yours if you are so inclined...

1. Bass players who sing lead vocals and play bass at the same time.

Guys like Sting and Geddy Lee. Paul McCartney. I seem to remember the guy from Thin Lizzy doing this as well. But it is fairly rare to see someone sing and play bass at the same time. Even more rare is the lead singer/bass player. You know why? Because it’s, like, stinkin’ impossible, that’s why. I have tried it. I can’t really play bass, but I definitely can’t sing lead vocals and play bass at the same time. Some players get away with it by basically playing root notes, plunk plunk plunk. Like Gene Simmons of Kiss. Not the same thing. I’m talking about guys who actually, really, genuinely play complex bass parts, peddling through the chords, while singing at the same time. I don’t know why it’s so impossible, but it is. More impossible than playing drums and singing, or playing accordion and singing, which is also very difficult, or so I’m told. But I’m telling you, if you see someone playing bass and singing lead vocals at the same time, be amazed. It is amazing. Probably the only thing more amazing would be a person playing a wind instrument and singing at the same time. I’ve honestly never seen that. I assume it's impossible, but what do I know? Still, if you see this kind of thing, bass guitars or otherwise, whether you realize it or not, you are witnessing something amazing.

2. Everyone’s kids.

Everyone thinks their own kids are amazing. And yet, to other people, they are just normal kids. Therefore, the inclination is to believe that the people with kids are biased and their kids are not actually amazing. But, in fact, the kids are amazing. All of them. Every single one. And if you don’t think so, it’s because you don’t get it. But that’s okay. You’re still amazing too.

3. Empty space.

Sure, seems boring, because it’s nothing. But if it’s nothing, then how is it still “there” in any way that makes sense? And if it wasn’t “there” what would be the difference between here and the “there” beyond the "there" of empty space? Some physicists argue, like Einstein did, that there is really no such thing as “empty” space because fields, such as gravity, fill all so-called “space,” including a vacuum, which is the ultimate empty space, I suppose. And I get what they are saying.

Kind of.

But that “space” is still there, isn’t it? In other words, the space is not, itself, the gravitational field that is “in” the space, right? Even if that empty space couldn’t exist without the forces acting on it and within it, what exactly is that thing that the gravitational field is occupying? Maybe it’s not technically empty, but it’s practically empty. And it’s space.

Perhaps we should call it empty space/time?

Okay. I seriously have no idea what I’m talking about anymore.

But I still think it’s amazing.

Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2012

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Date

She: So you don’t want children at all?

He: No.

Awkward pause.

She: (Looking down at her feet under the edge of the table.) And why not?

He: Do I need a reason?

Awkward pause.

He: (Slightly agitated.) Why would you bring a child into this world? Where we put children in striped shirts and bake them in ovens, like some sick reality TV version of a fairy tale? Why would you bring a child into this world when there’s nothing to live for anymore but a bigger, more impressive something or other?

She: (Looks him in the eyes.) So, why are you here?

He: That’s a good question.

Awkward pause.

She: What you’re saying doesn’t add up.

He: Yes, it does.

She: No. It doesn’t. You neglect the beautiful for the ugly. You see the dark without recognizing the light.

He: But the dark makes the light pointless.

Awkward pause.

She: You don’t really believe that?

He: Why not?

She: Because it’s the other way around. The light makes the dark pointless.

Awkward pause.

They finish the meal. They do not date again. Occasionally, over the years, they cross paths at the grocery store. They smile wanly and wave, but they have nothing to say.

© LW Publishing 2011

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Gastrointestinally Yours

And now, a word (or two) about farts.

Why farts? If you really need some meaningful rationale, then you should probably just move on and come back another day. MY reason is that I came across some things about farts that I thought were fascinating and, by nature, I like to share these things. Ya know.

For instance, I recently came across a flatulence based good news/bad news scenario involving mice. It was a string of articles written by different scientists about how human farts lower blood pressure in mice. It has something to do with the hydrogen sulfide in farts, which is the chemical that makes them especially stinky. The only thing is, if mice, or other creatures, breathe too many farts, it can begin to disfigure and mutate their sinus cavities.

Of course, this makes me wonder, automatically, how they gathered this data, and also how the carefully regulated use of farts might be beneficial to human beings suffering with high blood pressure. Also, what might occur due to an accidental overdose. I’m sure it has you wondering as well...

Go ahead. Let your mind wander. I’ll wait.

Dum de dum de dum dum dum.

I also discovered (though I didn’t take time to verify it) that the average human being farts around 14 times a day. But these articles didn’t say how much of that expulsion was during sleep. They also did NOT chronicle the average length of said farts, nor did they present the sonic pitch of the farts, which has a tremendous impact, I’m sure you know, on the actual volume of release per second of any given period of flatulence.

So, there’s my daily bit of info presented for the general good of humankind.

Better out than in I always say.

Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2011

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Suppose a Symposium

I came across some different Symposiums that you could choose to attend if you have the right credentials and were so inclined. You can look them up online if you’re interested. They’re easy to find. Here’s what’s happening: While the rest of us are going through the motions of everyday life, a select few are involved in these symposiums, hidden inside large, air conditioned buildings, snacking on bagels and small bottles of juice, while we drive by on our way to the grocery and such.

I like the word “symposium.” It just sounds fun. A symphony of discussion. People sitting around, talking about important subjects. And what do they talk about? You too could plan on attending the following symposiums:

The 4th International Animal By-Products Symposium

This one has such stimulating topics as, “Safety of composting euthanized animals as a means of disposal,” and “Research and public policy on carcass disposal and the direction of future research and resources.” It literally rings with excitement, don’t you think?

And then there’s...

The 26th Annual Symposium of the Protein Society.

And what do you get to talk about there? Um. Protein. According to the blurb, you will discuss a “balance between the high-value protein science topics you’ve come to expect at a Protein Society Symposium . . . as well as focusing on the trending areas of research and current developments in protein science.”

Leaves one literally aglow with anticipation, don’t you think? And you must be sure that you don’t miss out on...

The Symposium for Professional Wine Writers at Meadowood Napa Valley.

Sorry, but that’s the actual name. I suppose they had to differentiate themselves from all of the other wine writer symposiums going on in the vicinity But it’s a little hard to figure out what they’ll be talking about from their website. It is clear that they’ll be drinking a lot of wine, so I’m sure they’ll think it’s genius, whatever they talk about.

I’m thinking the comic book conventions need to wise up and get with the program. Something like...

The Symposium of International Comic and Pop Culture Aficionados for the Prevention of Name Calling and Presuppositional Cruel Clique Categorizing by Uninformed Others.

Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2011

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


I want everything to be simple, but almost nothing is. Perhaps nothing is. It’s hard to say.

I have doubts about simplicity. Complexity rules, to the point of being confused with chaos, which is, I believe, an illusion. The concept of chaos is just a clever way of saying, “I can’t figure this out. I don’t know how this works. This is too complicated. I can’t keep track of the variables.” To which I say, “Big surprise there.”

But I get why we’re attracted to the concept of chaos. It kind of gets us off the hook. It’s a rationale for being comfortable with our limitations.

But life certainly feels like chaos a lot of the time.

People say, “I’m a simple person.” But they aren’t. They like to think they are, especially when they don’t want to deal with the complications. We want to be simple so we won’t have to expend the energy. We get too tired or too lazy or too disinterested to keep track of the calculations. Or they’re just beyond us. So we over simplify, you know, pretty much everything.

It’s a survival thing.

But complexity finds us: when morality won’t let us go, when problems rise up that we can’t solve with trite platitudes, when the doctors says, “I need you to come back in for some more tests.” When the simple answers don’t offer any solace.

Let me tell you: there’s nothing simple about life. And certainly not death or dying. Or human beings. God help us, the things we can do if we aren’t held back by something better than ourselves. The complexities of evil and the human heart are uncountable, unknowable. At least by us. Our hearts can be very dark. Caves. Black holes. Deny it all you want.

But it’s not all darkness, is it? What about love? Love is an amazing thing. But it’s not simple either. It’s very, very complicated. Too bright and pure to keep our eyes on for too long. Too complex to appreciate like we should. But, you give and take what you can and try to make it through the day. See a smile and smile back. Try to keep your cool when things get ugly around you. Look up at the stars and wonder. In awe. There is love in that sky.

We are fearfully and wonderfully made, planted on this little, green circle of soil and stone and water. A world so stunningly complex it leaves us without enough adjectives to adequately describe it. On top of that, we are conscious. We think, because we are. We are alive, floating in an immense, unfathomable universe. Space and time and matter, bound together to form all that is, yet like a grain of sand in the hand of God.

But there is a mark on the map of the universe. You are here. Breathe.

© LW Publishing 2011

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Summer Sets: Ray Bradbury

 I just found out that author Ray Bradbury died yesterday. 91 years old! It makes me very sad. Like many people, I was brought more deeply into the world of reading by the work of Ray Bradbury. He was accessible, and yet artistic and deep in his way. He was creative and distinctive, and his writing made you feel a little more alive. Powerful stuff.

Ray seemed so young. Always. That was his beauty, I think. And it was the beauty he put into his writing, most of the time. Even the scary stuff.

It’s interesting how much attention his so called “sci-fi” writing brought him, when I don’t think he would have considered himself a sci-fi writer at all. He used science fantasy imagery to tell moral and psychological tales, but that’s pretty much the extent of the “science” in his fiction. He wrote for the sci-fi pulps and was attracted to the imagery, but he was always very different than the other writers of that genre. Not that there’s anything wrong with science fiction.. I think it’s great stuff. I guess my point is only that it isn’t very accurate to call Ray Bradbury a “sci-fi” writer. He was not in any way limited to a single genre.

I’ve read a lot of Bradbury’s work. I have a whole shelf of novels and short story collections downstairs. Maybe a little more than a shelf. I don’t know. I’ve given some of it away. He started producing more novels in the latter part of his life, and they were pretty good. But they weren’t as read as his early works, even though they are just as good and maybe even better in some ways. There are even a few children’s books based on some of his stories. One of them glows in the dark. You can actually read it in the dark. Cool stuff.

Call me “trite,” but my favorite Ray Bradbury novel was Dandelion Wine, which I believe is a masterpiece. It’s not the Great American Novel, I think that title goes to The Grapes of Wrath, but it’s one of the great American novels, methinks. It’s a celebration of summer, a gathering of vignettes in the life of a young boy that are all held together by nostalgia and the notion that the (somewhat) innocent wonder of childhood can keep our eyes open to the profound nature of everyday life.

My favorite Bradbury short story is actually one that had none of the “rocket” or “sci-fi” trappings in it. It’s about the tragedy of racism. In fact, he wrote several stories, in the 1940s and 1950s, that dealt with racism in very interesting ways. But this one I like is called “The Great Black and White game.” He wrote it very early in his career, and it was later put in his short story anthology called “The Golden Apples of the Sun,” which is where I came across it. I read this in my late teens/early twenties, and it had a big impact on my idea of what makes a great story – all of the things it said without saying it. Powerful stuff.

I found an online publication of the story in an old magazine that has been scanned. It’s here if you want to read it:


It has the character “Douglas,” who is the main character in Dandelion Wine. In case you didn’t know, Ray’s middle name was Douglas. This seems to have been his way of putting himself, at least in part, into his writings. No one knows for sure how autobiographical a lot of things are, but when you're writing about feelings instead of facts, then it doesn't matter a lot anyway.

I wonder how many things he’s written that they will publish now that he’s gone. “Posthumous works,” they call them. Sounds creepy. And it’s a mixed bag. Sometimes it’s good, and sometimes it’s not. There are reasons that some things aren’t published. They simply weren’t good enough. They belong in a file somewhere. Michael Crichton’s Pirate Latitudes is a prime example of one that should have been kept quiet. But money talks.

Anyhow. Ray is gone and it makes me sad.

Summer will never be the same.

Peace to you.
© LW Publishing 2011

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Drink Coffee and Live

 A friend of mine sent me an article about the latest scientific research that shows how people who drink six or more cups of coffee a day have a definitive 10 percent increase in their ability to stay alive while others are not staying alive. That’s right. A clear decrease in overall mortality due to a constant consumption of the divinely provided beverage, el Cafe.

Um. But if you smoke. No deal. You throw it all away.

Of course, they didn’t say what kind of coffee these people were drinking. And it’s scary to think that people are living longer if they are drinking one of the major coffee brands, sold in large, coffin like cans, stale and tasteless. That stuff could kill a vulture. I wouldn’t want to live longer if it was only to drink that stuff.

If you could see my face right now you’d see a clear look of disdain as I contemplate drinking such offensive coffees for long periods of time. I mean, I can have a cup at someone’s house, I’m not a snob, but I try to avoid it whenever possible, not because I’m too good, but because it is too bad.

I ran out of good coffee a few weeks ago. I was too lazy to go to the store. My wife had a can of the “good” to the last drippy stuff. Seriously. It was stunning in its awfulness. I had forgotten how bad it is. Soooooo bad. It’s almost like they’re doing it on purpose.

Maybe someday I’ll post about how we’ve lost our taste for decent coffee. It is a historical fact, a tragedy really. A by-product of war and forgetfulness. But, for now, I leave you with this encouragement:

Don’t just drink coffee and live. DRINK GOOD COFFEE AND LIVE!

Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2011

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


 The dictionary defines “antsy” as: Restless. Fidgety.


This word, antsy, is how I feel a lot of the time. I feel antsy right now as I am typing this. I have a tendency toward antsiness. (And, yes, “antsiness” is a real word. Though I'm certainly not above making up words.)

I started wondering if the word means what it sounds like. What it feels like. It kind of feels like ants crawling on you. And, according to some online stuff, it does. It’s rooted in the phrase, “Ants in the pants.” Which people used to say about kids who couldn’t sit still.

I think there’s a game called Ants in the Pants. I remember playing it. I think our kids had it for a while years back.

Why do I feel so antsy all the time? I don’t know. Maybe I drink too much coffee. But, in fact, I feel more antsy when I have less coffee. Coffee settles me down. So maybe it’s caffeine withdrawal? I don’t think so. But you never know. And I don’t really care.

I actually get a lot done when I’m antsy. It makes me feel like I need to get things done. So I do.

Antsy = productive.

But I think it would be nice to be, you know, totally relaxed and calm. At least now and then. But I don’t feel that way very often. Hardly ever, to be honest.

I’m at peace. But I’m not relaxed. I’m antsy.

Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2011

Thursday, May 3, 2012


Why, oh why, do I like Jackie Chan movies so much?

I don’t know.

I just do.

They aren’t, technically speaking, good movies. I know that. I know a good movie when I see one. Jackie Chan movies don’t particularly qualify.

But I don’t care. I like them. Mostly because Jackie Chan is in them. And that’s all that seems to matter. The movie itself doesn’t have to be all that “good.”

Besides. I like lots of things that aren’t what you might call “good.” Which doesn’t exclude liking things that are good. I think it’s important to know the difference, but why be a snob about it? What good is that?

I like good coffee. I know good coffee. I drink good coffee. Most of the time. And I don’t understand why people drink bad coffee all the time and think that it’s good. That is a mystery to me. But, occasionally, I specifically, on purpose, have a mug of crappy, instant coffee. I couldn’t drink it all the time. It’s not really even coffee. I don’t know what it is. But, sometimes, I drink it for what it is. I make it really strong, and I like it.

Same kind of thing: I like good movies. I know a good movie from a bad one. Just like there are good novels and bad ones, there are good movies and bad ones. And everything in between. The point is, I know what makes Citizen Kane “good.” Lawrence of Arabia is my ultimate, all time favorite movie. Very few modern films come even close to the artistry of such films. They are, in every sense of the word, "art." They are masterpieces. The word “art” genuinely does apply to some movies and a lot of other things, and we can miss out, big time, if we don’t learn to appreciate the art of things.

But, occasionally, I’ll watch a Jackie Chan movie. And enjoy it.


Just. Because.

Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2011

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Time Toilets

I know, I know. I haven’t been posting all that often. I realize it and I’ve been thinking about it. It’s not that I don’t care. It’s not on purpose, these lapses in proclivity. It’s simply because I have been much involved in other things.

I’ve been taking the time to figure out how to be a good dad to three beautiful daughters who aren’t so little anymore. I’ve been teaching Bible teachers about teaching the Bible. I’ve been doing little things (sometimes very little) to try and be a better friend and brother. I’ve been exercising (go figure). I’ve been driving a campaign to raise funds to help my church get into a building. I’ve been helping out at my kid’s school. I’ve been doing some technical reading for work. All of this besides the normal, everyday doings.

I like to be productive. I have a kind of farmer mentality when it comes to that. So I’ve been shifting my priorities a bit to try and be more productive while, at the same time, trying to reduce the insanity in my life. This is very hard to do. You think?

It’s odd what becomes important to us so quickly. Things that didn’t even exist a few decades ago, and yet we think we can’t live without them. Time toilets.

The newest thing is “apps.” Everyone is talking about “apps.” To me, “apps” are this abstract thing that, in general, exist to steal your life away. Why do I think that? Because I see it happening to people all around me. Time is burned, very fast, very hot. Facebook has already done this. Computers have certainly done this for a long time now. All of these “time saving” devices are killing our time. And once it’s dead, it’s gone. Long gone. Shwoooosh.

Have you been pulled too far into the big empty of Angry Birds or Words with Friends or Youtube or Facebook? Not to mention video games and, of course, blogging? You've gotta watch out for that blogging.

The word “addicted” is being used more and more commonly to describe our use of this stuff. Do you remember when the idea of an addiction was always considered a negative thing? Now people say it and laugh. “I’m so addicted to World of Warcraft! Ha ha hardy har har. That’s, like, funny, right?” But the laugh has a nervous twitter in it that says: “Out of control here,” and the eyes suggest that there is doubt about something.

My kids doctor told me about how he’d just seen his first case of carpal tunnel syndrome in a pre teen. 11 years old, I think it was. All from texting and such. She will probably need surgery.


Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2011

Friday, April 20, 2012

What You See On the Side of the Road

So, last week, I was in the foothills of the North Carolina side of the Smoky Mountains. We were driving, following my brother in law on a road that basically takes you along the edge of the mountains, and we were a little confused about where we were, so we stopped for a minute on the side of the road to get our bearings. Maps were consulted, GPSes were explored, but they seemed more confused than we were.

(Side note: we found this funny thing with our new GPS on this trip. When it gets confused it starts mispronouncing road names, sort of blurring them, as if to avoid making any commitments that might get it into trouble. It sounds like Bill Murray in Caddyshack.)

So, anyway, we were sitting there and, just outside my window on the driver's side, I noticed that a spider had somehow gotten up onto the mirror. Not sure how it got there, but it was furiously making a web. And I do mean furiously. I’ve never seen a spider move so fast. It spun a web out from the rear view mirror to the corner of the window, then in another direction, then it cut back across, really fast. As I watched, I was wondering what I was going to do about this spider, if anything. But it didn’t care about me. It made a kind of triangle and filled it in very fast. It was amazing.

And then, I am not kidding you, or joshing you, or making any of this up: it carefully cut the web loose from the car and rode it like a kite on the wind away from the car toward some trees on the other side of the road. It was so small and almost transparent that I lost sight of it after a few yards, but it was headed in the right direction.

It was a flying spider.

Now. I don’t know about you but, to me, that is one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen. It was no accident. It happened fast and it happened on purpose. This spider knew EXACTLY what it was doing. I found a description online from an entomologist. They call this behavior “ballooning.” But they don’t seem amazed by it at all. As if spiders creating flying vehicles is just, you know, something akin to taking a pee or something.

To me, flying spiders are amazing. Pure and simple.

I think this is God’s way of laughing at our unbelief.

Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2011

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

John Carter and the Politics of Yesterday’s News

Yeah. It’s April. March is long gone.

Something I noticed: One of the big stories in the month of March was how the John Carter movie was somehow predetermined to be the biggest box office flop in history. Even Disney, the company that released it, made a prediction that it was going to dig a financial hole of about 200 million dollars. Why did they say that during the first week of release? Why predict your own disaster? What can be gained from that? It’s like they were trying to wreck their own film!

Of course, that was all in March. Which might as well be a thousand years ago. You will notice that no one is really talking about John Carter anymore. It’s yesterday’s news. But here’s what they aren’t saying in April: John Carter is nowhere near the biggest box office flop of all time. In fact, it did amazingly well overseas and has more than earned back it’s production budget. And by the time the DVD and Blu-ray releases are rolled out, it will probably not be a loss at all. It won’t make piles of money for the company, but it’s not going to sink the company either. And yet, people were saying, way back in March, as if it were a done deal, that this movie was absolutely sure to be the biggest flop in history.

There was clearly something malicious going on in the media. I don’t know why. I don’t know what encouraged the behavior, but it was weird. Was it an anti Disney thing? It was almost like what happens during elections, where people are told what to think, and then they simply submit to it. No one likes negative advertising, right? So why is there so much negative advertising during elections? Because it works. And, strangely, it worked to crush John Carter in a very similar way. Some media whoevers seem to have purposefully misled people about the film with what amounts to a lie. And no one is talking about it. Like no one talks about all the lies the politicians say during a campaign. They can say anything, but once the campaign is over, no one goes back to assess what they said and hold them accountable. Nobody cares.

Making John Carter was always going to be a bit of a risk because the source material has pretty much gone out of the popular culture. But Star Wars and all of the movies that have resulted from the Star Wars phenomenon over the years – every one of those films owes a lot to the John Carter novels. John Carter was there first. In the end, it was a risk that didn’t pay out like they wanted. But what’s life, or art, without some risk?

I asked a few people if they had seen the movie. They said, “No.” And then they would add something to the “no” along the lines of: “I heard that movie was horrible. It’s lost so much money!” I found this response strange. Since when does the average person decide how good a movie is by rumors of the first week’s box office? What is going on? All kinds of great movies didn’t make a lot at the box office! In every case where someone told me they heard it was “horrible” they had not heard it from someone who had actually seen the movie. It was just rumor, based on the contagious news reports, based on articles, which were driven by assumptions. And, oddly enough, reinforced by Disney itself. Very, very strange.

I am one of those people who ignored the negative hype and went to see the movie. What I discovered is what I expected to see. John Carter is a fun, entertaining movie that captures the sense of the original novels (which most of the critics seemed to be completely ignorant of), without succumbing to the archaic things that make those novels hard to read today. Some people aren’t going to like it, especially if they aren’t partial to sci fi or fantasy, but most people will. It is an adventure story, which is what it is supposed to be. The effects are good and some are even groundbreaking. The acting is loose and fun. The characters could have been a bit more sympathetic, but you still care about them. The humor is broad, on purpose. Except for one scene near the beginning with some crude dialogue, it is a relatively clean film with general appeal. The opening sequence seems kind of tacked on, probably because they felt like it took too long to get to Mars. I see why they did it, but I would have preferred the movie to start after the opening. Whatever. It’s not a big thing. It does a good job of combining a simple love story with an action scenario. It’s old school enough to be fun, but new school enough to be interesting.

And there is a battle scene at the center of the film that simultaneously reveals John Carter’s motivations that is crafted by the director into a truly moving sequence. That short section of the film was worth the price of admission for me. Most of the men I’ve talked to who have seen it agree that it stirs an odd set of emotions. The juxtaposition of violence and rage, blended with tragedy and sadness, all to make a point about what moves men, in particular, to risk their lives and care for others – it shows why the director, Andrew Stanton, is such a great artist.

I know. I know. It’s mostly gone from theaters. Who cares. If you want to just see a movie for fun and you don’t hate sci fi or fantasy films, then you are likely to enjoy it. Go see it in a theater if you can because it is a big screen movie for sure. If you think it stinks, fine, but make that decision by seeing the film, not by listening to negative hype, and certainly not by reviewing box office returns and rumors.

Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2011

Saturday, April 7, 2012


Happy Easter.

How about a thoughtful Easter?


Jesus is alive.




He’s alive.

Right now.

He died. Then he rose from the dead.

He came back to life.


He’s still alive.

Wherever “Heaven” is, he’s there, getting it ready for new arrivals.

He is physically, really, genuinely alive.

Waiting with open arms.

Acts 2:24  But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.

© LW Publishing 2011

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


I often have an extremely difficult time focusing on one thing at a time. In fact, it’s almost impossible for me to do. Well. Not impossible. But, not very easy.

One reason for that is because my life is filled with interruptions. My interruptions have interruptions. And those interruptions have even more. And you hope you don’t lose the thing you were doing at first, which you do. And it can be troubling.

Then, there’s just the fact that I have a hard time focusing on one thing at a time, even though I know I’d get things done much faster. Or, I think I would. But I do get a lot done. Maybe too much? In fact, that might be a problem too.

Well. Maybe not. But...

One thing I like about recording music is that you get to put on a pair of headphones. You have to wear them to record. You get your playback through the headphones, add in what you’re playing at the moment, and it all plays out for you in those headphones. I finally got four matching pair. I didn’t realize the importance of this until we were mixing the Christmas recording. We were sitting around, four people listening, making comments, and I realized we were hearing four very different mixes because the headphones didn’t match.


And while I was putting some things away, I was distracted from the task as I was leafing through a little note pad my youngest daughter had been using to draw pictures in. We’ve discovered she’s quite the little artist. But, anyway, on one of the pages was written the following:

“I have a nice family. I have a mom and a dad. I have 2 good sisters. A very, very good family!”

The exclamation point at the end was a drawn one. It was very, very large and filled in with ink.

So, I guess what I’m saying is: sometimes the interruptions are the thing.

Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2011

Thursday, March 1, 2012


I write songs and stories. I’ve written a lot of them over the years. But, occasionally, I get what is commonly called “writer’s block.” The ideas just don’t materialize, and it can be a long time between. If I wrote these things for a living this could be unnerving. But I don’t really let it bother me too much.

But I still wonder why it happens. What causes the creative juices to dry up? What causes them to flow? You think you know sometimes, but it’s really hard to say.

I recently had a long stretch of no songs. Six or seven months. Don’t know why. Wasn’t sure what to do about it. Would I ever write another one? But there were no ideas, no sounds ringing in my head, no nothing. Then, last week, I had a vague idea. I could hear something going on. Think of it like this: you hear a song off in the distance, not clearly, but you think you might recognize it, so you try to move closer to it to figure out what it is. That’s what it’s like, except it’s in your head. And this is where learning the craft of song writing helps. If you have some tools, some skill with chord progressions and melodic structure, you can use those things to trace a path and get where you need to go.

I put a few things down on the recorder. They were very clunky and forced. Horrible really. And then I gave up because it just wasn’t working. I went to work on some other things. Checking emails. Making some calls. Reading the Bible and another book I’ve been reading about leadership. Working on some ideas for teaching. And then, boom, I had a song, almost complete, words and music. I had to trim it a bit and hammer it out a bit, but it came together really fast and seems to work. We played it last Sunday and it clicked pretty well.

Now, I know I must have set my brain in the right direction by hammering on some things ahead of time. But this shift from no ideas at all, to writing things that aren’t working, and then having something that does seem to work just rising up like a bubble out of the water: it’s something I can’t explain. It’s like gears falling into place. It makes me think of one of those games where you set it up and the marble rolls through the thing, around the curves and such, and how you have to set it up right or the marble doesn’t make it all the way to the end. So you keep at it until you finally have a flow that works.

It’s kind of weird and inscrutable, but wonderful. It happens to me, I experience it, but I find it really hard to articulate. As you have just seen.

Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2011

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Nothing To Say

I have nothing to say today, but don’t think for a moment that will stop me from saying it. I mean, people with nothing to say say things all the time. In fact, you can’t seem to shut them up. The harder you try, the more they apparently have to say. They keep saying nothing, over and over again, sometimes for weeks, months, even years. It’s amazing how much people can say without really saying much of anything. And how much listening can happen as a result. Listening that seems like it’s important, which falsely, and even destructively, affirms the one saying nothing, but in the end it doesn’t take anyone anywhere. Why? Because listening to nothing is just that. But I do admire the effort, and the confidence, and the passion, in a strange way, of those who can say so little with so much.

But I will say this:

Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2011

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Fringe Benefits

I was watching an episode of Fringe. During this episode (from the second season) there was a piece of dialogue that clarified for me why I like the show so much, and how absolutely, astonishingly brave the people who do this show are.

One character says:

“Why are shape shifting soldiers from another universe stealing frozen heads?”

To which the other character responded:

“The most likely explanation we can think of is that they’re looking for a specific head.”

Um. Wow.

And what’s sooooo nutty about this is how perfectly these bizarre lines are delivered and crafted into one of the weirdest (and best) shows in TV history.

How did the actor even get through these lines without laughing at the audacity of it? How do you even say “...shape shifting soldiers” without flubbing the line 20 times? Go ahead, try to say it five times fast. It’s a serious tongue twister. It’s funny. It’s sci fi. It’s nutty. And yet it completely works in the context of the show. The actors pull it off.

Stunning. Simply stunning.

Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2011

Thursday, February 2, 2012

It Drive Me Crazy

I’ve been watching Jack Bauer, on the TV show “24." He keeps saying, “Nukuler materials.” It’s almost ruined the show for me, but I’m trying to let it go because it’s so completely great otherwise. I have to wonder: Is he mispronouncing it on purpose? Is it an oversight? (And how exactly does that well worn word even make sense? “Oversight?” Isn’t it a lack of oversight that’s the problem? How many people over sighted it?) Presidents Carter, Clinton and George W. Bush all commonly made the same mistake. The presidents of the United States of America. If this keeps up, the dictionaries will give up and say it’s okay.

It drive me crazy.

And I’m really starting to wonder what it would be like to get a shopping cart at the grocery store that isn’t broken and deformed in some way. What do I get? Broken squeaky wheels. Carts that pull to one side or the other, causing me to keep almost running into people and shelves. Handles that are broken and disfigured and bite into your hand as you push the cart. I went grocery shopping this week, and the wheel on my cart made so much noise, AFTER it was half full, too late to change it without a big hassle. So everyone, and I mean everyone in the store, stared at me while I did my shopping. Kind of like a one man parade.

It drive me crazy.

And what is it with girls and what they tell me are called “bobby pins” all over the house? They look like this:

Let me tell you, they are everywhere. Every where this is a there, there seems to be one of these things taking up space. It’s like a plague. I can’t vacuum the floor without them getting into the brush, making loud clacking noises, tearing up the vacuum. I can’t walk through the house barefoot without them digging into my feet. They appear in the washer and the dryer. Click click click. Caught up in rugs. Hugging the edges of the wall on the floor. Evvvv-ry-where.

It drive me crazy.

It just do.

© LW Publishing 2011

Thursday, January 26, 2012


Okay. I’m a little ashamed to admit it. But there are some books I haven’t finished. Books that are supposed to be “classics,” part of the pantheon of supposed greats. And yet, I’ve found them very hard to finish. I keep trying. I hit a page or two every few months or years. I don’t get rid of them. In fact, they sit on the shelf, mocking me with their density and agonizingly slow prose. They baffle me with the fact that there are people out there who believe these are great books. I agree that they are incredibly complex, and they work to tackle questions about identity, faith, free will (or the lack there of), and the nature of good and evil, and so on. I get it. I can see that much in short order as I’m slugging my way through them. But I just haven’t been able to appreciate these books. Or finish them. Or, sadly, even really want to finish them. For instance:

Moby Dick.

If you haven’t read it, then you don’t know that there are large sections of this book that completely abandon the narrative and focus on details of whales and the whaling trade that are more appropriate for an entry in an encyclopedia than a “novel.” At least in my opinion. If it were done as a movie, then the screen would go black for long periods of time while a voice read information to you about whales from an encyclopedia. Yep. Time to go get some popcorn.

To be honest, as I read Moby Dick, I feel like I’m simply being toyed with by an intellectual who likes to make other people feel stupid. The imagery and symbolism are everywhere, with no real clues or keys as to what any of it is supposed to mean. And, in fact, it’s hard to care anyway. At least that's how it reads for me. So I haven’t finished it, and I’m not sure I ever will. But I will try. And hopefully I’ll eventually get what all the hub bub is about.

And then there is Ulysses, by James Joyce.

Ah yes. I have my obligatory English major copy of Ulysses. I found it for a quarter in hard back years ago and began working my way through it. And almost from the very beginning I was asking myself, “Why?” Why are you reading this? It is purposely obtuse and distant. It is more like an experiment of a novel than a genuine attempt at trying to write something anyone would actually want to read.” Sort of like Shyamalan’s “Lady in the Water” was an experimental film, about film and story telling, that is interesting and even entertaining for people who are into the craft side of those things, but it fails miserably to actually be a meaningful film in it’s own right. It’s too clever for it’s own good, so it ends up being kind of stupid, if that makes any sense. And it’s all in spite of Paul Giamatti, who is always great.

I have never met anyone who finished Ulysses. And it's telling that there are lots of "guides" available for a tidy sum to help you make any sense of the book as you read it. Please. I know some people have finished it, and they are the ones writing the books, trying to explain to the rest of us why it’s a good book. But it’s frankly just too much work.

And there are others as well. I’m still picking my way, page at a time, through a history of the Civil War. It’s good. But too much detail. It’s like reading an encyclopedia. Melville would have loved it, I’m sure.

Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2011

Thursday, January 19, 2012

By the Numbers

 If you point at something, a dog will have a hard time realizing you are pointing to something. Have you ever noticed that? The dog keeps looking at your hand. They have a hard time making the connection between your pointing hand and the thing you are pointing at. The thing you really want them to see. They have a hard time making the mental jump.

So, math, science, and even religion. Sometimes it makes me feel like a dog.

We have to remember that numbers are a  language, not a reality. And so is language.

Sometimes I think people forget this. As if numbers and words are the things they describe. It’s like saying the word “elephant” is an elephant.

But behind those equations and syllables are a reality that the equations and phrases can only point to. A reality that exists. And who really knows how much of the reality is not adequately described by the expressions? Just consider the weakness of the word “love.” Does it even come close?

Of course not.

Language, whether letters or numbers, is only a pointing hand. And we need to keep that in mind when it comes to math and science and faith. They are pointing to things. If you forget that you are only looking at the hand, if you start thinking that the hand is the thing, then you miss the point.

Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2011

Monday, January 9, 2012


Wow. Almost forgot about the blog thing.

I’ve been so active.

Does that word work? “Active?” It doesn’t really work, but I’m a little tired of the word “busy.” Everyone says they are “busy.” It can mean anything. Watching TV. Playing video games for hours on end. Whatever leaves us out of time is what makes us busy. “I’ve been so busy.”

Doing what?

I don’t know about you, but I haven’t been playing video games or goofing around. I’ve been active. Which, it dawns on me, is a word often used for old people who aren’t bed ridden.


I’ve been doing stuff on the house, accomplishing the holiday festivities, gearing things up for the coming year by getting new calenders going and plans in place. I have seen a few movies to try to relax.

Drinking coffee.

There’s just so much to do these days.

And I don’t think it’s going to let up for quite a while. But I’m okay with that. I like being...

Non sedentary?

Peace to you.

© LW Publishing 2011