On the Death of Matthew Crawley

There is something about season three of Downton Abbey that I really liked.Something dark.I preferred it to season two: I found the war, albeit historically important and a perfect ending to season one, rather distracting and flimsily tethered together. Although I did cry for the sentimental ending.I still think season one was almost perfect.I didn't cry when I intuited that Matthew was going to die nor when the thick fake blood massaged his ear and face and confirmed his … [Read more...]

Beyoncé and My Legs

I started shaving my legs in high school, from the calf down, to get my ankles taped. By the time I was in college, I went all the way up.In men’s rugby, shorts are too long if you can’t genuflect and urinate discretely---through your leg hole. If you’re an inside forward (numbers one through five), you need to be sure your shorts are snug; that way, the binding in the scrum is tight.I played on the wing my freshman year and eventually found my way inside to flanker. I never needed super … [Read more...]

A Tale of Three Cubicles (full length)

Part OneI was first assigned to the beam-cutting station, but I asked to be reassigned. I wanted to weld. It seemed honorable and I wanted to be somebody. But I guess no ones asks to be a welder once they get to the cutting stations. I was given the materials: gloves, sleeves, apron, mask. I needed boots. No tennis shoes. I don't recall the details or the exact time, but I passed an initial inspection of some kind. I was first assigned to be a go-fer, which sucked. I took naps and wasted a … [Read more...]

A Tale of Three Cubicles, Epilogue

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Part I Part II Part IIII was destined for the collar. Everyone seemed to see that, and believe it, too. Fr. O'Malley, the priest who converted my father and baptized me, would take me out for a steak dinner sometimes. He'd always say, "When you're a priest, you can eat steak everyday." That stuck. I love to eat. I felt obligated to say that I wanted to be a priest when I grew up. Not sure why, but I knew there was no firefighting in my future. I was a devout and precise altar server … [Read more...]

Les Miz Sux: In Defense of Lisa Hendey’s Mom

Lisa Hendey's mother is exactly right: the latest film adaptation of Les Misérables is terribly depressing.It is a depressingly cheap and sterile substitute for a classic, beautiful story. It's opportunistic, cast in serviceable plastic celebrities, and overwrought to compensate for the vividly clear failures of the cast. It surely wins every time for its literary content, obviously, but it fails miserably on its many demerits as visual and performance art.Again: the depressing parts abou … [Read more...]

In Praise of Cigarettes

I begin with a generous pinch of finely cut tobacco, cradled inside a creased, rectangular sheet of paper, with a thin stripe of glue affixed to the outer edge that faces me. A tiny tobacco envelope. I massage back-and-forth between thumbs and forefingers until the tobacco shrinks into a tight cylindrical bundle. Roll, pinch, roll some more. Stop. Lick and press to seal; shape and trim; flame and light. Inhale, ingest, exhale."But cigarettes are disgusting!""Don't you know cigarettes are … [Read more...]

New Year’s Eve

I spent New Year's Eve with a buddy from college. We weren't super close while enrolled, but we knew each other. He was a little older and I had a bad reputation. We somehow ended up in the Twin Cities afterwards and became good friends. I sang and played at his wedding, we recorded music together and played terrible golf at a nine-hole course. He's a genius or something --- understands how things work and can replicate that sense of things in craftwork, computation, and the fine arts. He … [Read more...]

Would you subscribe to an e-mail? Should you pay for it?**

In the early nineties, my Father started a non-profit organization to support our family's ministry. Missionary Ark for Families. It was our sole source of income for six or seven years in Lorain, Ohio and Reynosa, Mexico. My Mom and Dad would put together a monthly newsletter and send it out, with pictures and some stories and updates. We received monthly donations by mail. While living in Mexico we had a post office box in Hidalgo, Texas, just over the border. I loved to go to there to raid … [Read more...]

Education, The Craft of Desire

There is a universal and inextricable relationship between desire and belief.This relationship contains and reveals the natural, religious, and erotic order of things.It is no surprise, then, that New Atheists are today's fiercest defenders of religious belief in their evangelical zeal, straw-man debates, and group therapy sessions. Echo chambers.No, I'm not going to spell this out to the predictably irritable vigilantes out there.I simply want to point out two well-known facts … [Read more...]

When a Roman Catholic Reads About Rob Bell, What Does He See?

A few years ago, while I was in graduate school, I sang and played guitar for the contemporary services at Peace Lutheran Church in Gahanna, Ohio. After being there for nearly a year, the assistant pastor introduced me to Rob Bell. He gave me a copy of Velvet Elvis and told me I could keep it if I gave him a full report. (A review. The same thing that got me to read this book.) He wanted to know what I thought. I did my duty. Pencil in hand, I worked through the whole book in an hour and a half. … [Read more...]


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