Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Tuesday, December 31, 2002 3:37 pm

Best and worst make-out cars

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 3:37 pm

Apparently a pseudonymous, and somewhat, um, enthusiastic blonde in Nebraska has offered her assessments. Because her assessments appeared to have a helluva lot more to do with who was driving the cars than the cars themselves, I’ll spare you the link and just give you her list.

The Best
1. Cadillac stretch limo
2. Buick Skylark convertible
3. Mercedes
4. Trans Am
5. Camaro

The Worst
5. MG Midget
4. VW Jetta
3. Volvo
2. Any pickup truck
1. Any van

As a parent and as the owner of both a van and a Volvo, I’m delighted to see our familial transportation ranking so low in this floozy’s esteem. And as the former owner of a Buick Skylark (1975 model, which I think was about as big as they ever got, except maybe for the ’72s), albeit not a convertible, I can say, without elaboration, that on this point, at least, said floozy knows whereof she speaks.

That said, I think this list leaves much to be desired, and I invite your comments.

This story could’ve been so sad …

Filed under: Y'all go read this — Lex @ 3:08 pm

… but in the hands of a master like Gene Weingarten, it’s funny and even has a happy ending of sorts. Go read it.

(Thanks to Nancy Nall for the link.)

Monday, December 30, 2002 4:02 pm

Dancing whistling in the dark

Filed under: Religion — Lex @ 4:02 pm

This past summer I was privileged to lead a discussion group at my church on the book “Whistling in the Dark: A Doubter’s Dictionary,” by the theologian Fredrick Buechner. I have always been a little puzzled not only about how common doubt is in Christianity but also about how unwilling most Christian communities are to discuss it. It’s like the elephant over in the corner that nobody talks about. And for good reason: A lot of Christians try to deny the existence of doubt or to put the blame for doubt on the doubter: If you doubt, then you must not be trying hard enough to shed yourself of whatever pride, vanity or other flaw is preventing you from believing. (At least one of those people spoke up, albeit very politely, in this very session I was moderating.) This is so even though orthodox Christianity — and particularly the more conservative manifestations of it, which get most of the media attention — seems to demand of its adherents belief in a number of things that are literally unbelievable, in the sense that millions of people simply cannot accept them no matter how hard they want to and try to.

Other than Buechner, the first published account I’d stumbled across that attempted in any way to wrestle with this conundrum turned out also to be the first blog I’ve come across that purports to be written by a Christian minister. It’s called “Real Live Preacher,” and it’s like nothing you’d probably expect from a Protestant pastor with a blog. Here’s a sample:

Turns out Christianity is an Eastern religion. The earliest Christians were Hebrews. Semites. People of the East. They did not know how to separate mind from body. They were holistic before holistic was cool.

In our world we have separated mind from body to our great loss. Here a man may betray his wife and neglect his children, but say he loves them “down inside”.

B——-. There is no “down inside.” Love is something you do, not something you feel.

Likewise, we think having faith means being convinced God exists in the same way we are convinced a chair exists. People who cannot be completely convinced of God’s existence think faith is impossible for them.

Not so. People who doubt can have great faith because faith is something you do, not something you think. In fact, the greater your doubt the more heroic your faith.

I learned that it doesn’t matter in the least that I be convinced of God’s existence. Whether or not God exists is none of my business, really. What do I know of existence? I don’t even know how the VCR works.

What does matter is whether or not I am faithful. I think faithful is a hell of a good word. It still has some of its original shine. It still calls us to action.

Once I stumbled upon this very old truth, I prayed the most honest prayer of my life:

“God, I don’t have great faith, but I can be faithful. My belief in you may be seasonal, but my faithfulness will not. I will follow in the way of Christ. I will act as though my life and the lives of others matter. I will love.

I have no greater gift to offer than my life. Take it.”

That’s it. I pushed all my chips across the table. The preacher bet it all. Why? Because the idea that there is a God who cares for us busts my heart wide open. Because I pushed reason as far as it can go but I wanted to go farther still. Because I wanted to, and… well… I just wanted to.

I’m an idiot and out of my mind, and I don’t care who knows it. Sue me.

I don’t agree with this guy on every last theological point he makes, but I think he’s worth reading because he’ll make Christianity understandable to many people who’ve never been able to wrap themselves around it and because he treats respectfully the hard questions and the people who ask them. I ran into people like him during the three years I covered religion for the N&R during the late 1990s, and doing so was one of the finest perks of the job.

Now, go ye and do likewise.

They really do grow up so fast

Filed under: Victoria — Lex @ 3:04 pm

One of the presents Victoria got for Christmas was an Old Navy knapsack from our goddaughter, Tiny E, who’s now in first grade and is, therefore, the font of all wisdom, at least if you’re 4 1/2 like V. On the same day, we were over at Southpoint Mall in Durham, God help us, when Ann saw a pink alarm clock somewhere — Pottery Barn Kids, if I recall correctly — that she just had to get for V.

Between those two items, V. transformed, literally overnight last night, from a little girl who couldn’t be bothered to get up to go to school (i.e., day care) in the mornings to one who set her own alarm clock, got up on her own and got dressed on her own, correctly, with no parental input, all before breakfast. “She’s all ready for kindergarten,” Ann announced cheerily. Well, maybe so, but I’m not.

Friday, December 20, 2002 1:17 pm

Scrappleface is not God …

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 1:17 pm

… but he clearly knows Him pretty well.

Such a bargain!

Filed under: Weird — Lex @ 1:03 pm

The Associated Press is reporting that two Air Force T-37 training jets collided today but that all three pilots are OK and one plane even managed to land.

That’s unexpectedly great news. The good outcome, I mean. But what caught my attention was the last sentence: The aging T-37s first entered service in 1956 and cost about $167,000 each. What, in 1956 dollars? That’s less than a used Lamborghini will run you.


Thursday, December 19, 2002 10:06 pm

And one of the shepherds was actually the Wolf-Man

Filed under: Fun,Victoria — Lex @ 10:06 pm

This has probably happened many times to people with more parenting experience than I’ve got, but today marked the first time this has happened to anyone I know: At my daughter’s choir rehearsal this afternoon for the Christmas Eve service, one of the kids sang that the Wise Men brought the baby Jesus gifts of gold, Frankenstein and myrrh.

(2007 pro-wrestling/comic-book update: What sort of team, or archrivals, would Jesus and the Frankenstein monster have made?) 

Wednesday, December 18, 2002 4:24 pm

A specter haunts the shores of Lake Erie …

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 4:24 pm

… and it is The Beast of Buffalo, who brings us The 50 Most Loathsome People in America. Definitely for adults only and definitely on target: I couldn’t find a single person who disagreed with his choice for No. 1, and his description of White House spokesman Ari Fleischer alone is worth the price of (free) admission.

Just in case you’d ever wondered what horse rectum tastes like …

Filed under: Weird — Lex @ 10:13 am

… sportscaster Vai Sikahema of Philadelphia’s WCAU-TV is glad to tell you: ” … awful. Fatty. Chewy. Tasteless.”

Tuesday, December 17, 2002 3:07 pm


Filed under: Salute! — Lex @ 3:07 pm

Regarding the past weekend’s social glut at our house, major props to neighbors Fred and Sandra Gregory, who bailed us out with the loan of a bottle of Worcestershire, which enabled Ann to finish her awesome hot crab dip just as the first guest was walking in the door. (We’d had to toss our sauce, along with a bunch of other stuff, after the ice storm.)

Because everyone needs some sometimes …

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 3:06 pm

… (at least, I think they do, but then I’m a cat person), here are some cute little kittens.

Limping toward the close of the year

Filed under: Why, yes, I AM a bad parent. Why do you ask? — Lex @ 3:02 pm

Blogging has been lighter than usual the past few days because we just staggered through an action-packed weekend. My mom and stepdad came up Friday night for a birthday dinner in her honor and spent the night. Good time had by all, including kids. Went to Chapel Hill Saturday for goddaughter Tiny E’s seventh birthday party. More good times, if by good times, you mean, “Fifteen sugar-fueled, screaming first-grade girls running through the house at high speed and high volume.” We came back afterward just in time to leave the kids with a sitter and go out to dinner. But there was no movie playing that we really wanted to see and started early enough so that we could be home before midnight, even though we went to dinner at 5:15. So we went shopping instead — and those of you who know me well know I am all about the shopping — and went home.

I took the kids to church on Sunday while Ann prepared to have her staff over for a little get-together, which was delightful. After that, we braced for Victoria’s Christmas party, delayed from last weekend because of the ice storm. Nineteen toddlers, plus one 9-year-old brother, showed up, as did Santa Claus (actually a co-worker in costume). For the record, 4 is the perfect age for kids to interact with Santa: They’re old enough not to be intimidated yet still young enough to be enthusiastic. All in all, it was good times, if by good times you mean, “Nineteen sugar-fueled, screaming 4-year-olds running laps around the first floor of the house.” Fortunately, there were adult beverages, and, yes, I had a large one.

While tending to various party-host duties, I overheard a number of conversations, the most interesting of which — and this isn’t saying much — went something like this (some identifying details withheld):

Dad1: Where’s (your wife)?

Dad2: She took (younger daughter) over to a session meeting at the church.

Dad1: Session?

Dad2: Yeah. You know, the elders of the church. Hey, you’re a (denomination), too. They’ve got a session at (your church).

Dad1: Yeah. OK. Just that around my house, “session” means something entirely different, and it is NOT something you take the kids to.

Well, OK, then.

Ann finished her course last week and is class-free ’til late January, if by “class-free” you mean “going to Europe for two weeks in January for a global-management credit and totally leaving me with the kids.” (Actually, I volunteered to stay, not least because we can’t afford to send both of us; besides, I’d get no academic credit.) And now that Sunday’s parties are over, we get to coast the rest of the way into the holidays, if, by “coast,” you mean “obtain appropriate gift for spouse and take the kids to shop for presents for spouse also.”

It’s crunch time at work — our already-early production schedule moves up even farther during the holidays — so I’m a blaze of editing activity this week. The good side is, next week and the following week I’ll have more time to twiddle my thumbs as we return to a regular schedule, if, by “twiddle my thumbs,” I mean “edit one or 1 1/2 days’ worth of copy per day instead of 2 to 2 1/2 days’ worth per day.” Wasn’t it Socrates who insisted on defining one’s terms? Or maybe it was Trent Lott. Whichever.

Saturday, December 14, 2002 10:18 pm

Not that I’m obsessing …

Filed under: Weird — Lex @ 10:18 pm

… but this thing Justice Scalia has about burning crosses in the bedroom has got me going. Also, it’s been a long time since Blog on the Run featured a quiz, so here’s one:

What’s your favorite thing to burn in the bedroom?
Your candle at both ends
Calories, if you know what I mean and I think you do
Free polls from

Friday, December 13, 2002 3:56 pm

Only if you’re a married couple

Filed under: Weird — Lex @ 3:56 pm

During arguments Wednesday before the Supreme Court on the constitutionality of Virginia’s state law banning cross-burning, Justice Antonin Scalia asserted, “Surely one can burn a cross in the sanctity of one’s bedroom.”

Thursday, December 12, 2002 4:57 pm

Tips for drinking in bars …

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 4:57 pm

… courtesy of Sarah B. Since I’ve had no use for them since my daughter was born and am unlikely to be able to use them in the forseeable future, I’m passing them on to you. Enjoy. I found No. 5 particularly relevant and helpful: “No matter how punk rock it may seem to everyone at the table at that moment, you will all regret waking up covered in Sharpie.”

Wednesday, December 11, 2002 4:23 pm

“Make your e-mail program your … “

I’ve been on the real Internet for almost a decade and online to various degrees for longer than that. One result is that I get a freakin’ TON of e-mail. You might as well, and if you do, Amish Tech Support has some suggestions on how to manage it.

Just in case you’re thinking about writing a book …

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 11:01 am

… be aware that the experience could be fatal, at least according to still-breathing author Anne Lamott. In her first column for since mid-1999, when she left to write her most recent book, she has this to say about Michiko Kakutani, a New York Times book critic:

I secretly believe that if Michiko Kakutani likes your work, it means you are a real writer, and you will be happy and wealthy and stable forever. The one little problem with Michiko, though, is that if she doesn’t like your book, she will kill you — cut your head off with a surgical knife, and play hacky-sack with it until she grows bored.

Then, maybe in the last paragraph, she’ll pour acid on it.

The Times has not reviewed Lamott’s new book at this writing. That might be a good thing.

Tuesday, December 10, 2002 4:29 pm

Of COURSE I’m not British, y’damn fool. I’m Scottish.

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 4:29 pm

Nope, you don’t have a drop of english blood in your body. In fact, you’re probably American ;) Y’know that little island next to France? Y’know…Europe? No? Ohwell. We love you really – have a cucumber sandwich!
How British are you?

this quiz was made by alanna

Monday, December 9, 2002 6:32 pm

Greetings from Ice Station Zebra!

Filed under: Odds 'n' ends — Lex @ 6:32 pm

Well, the family and I were among the ice storm refugees you’ve been hearing about on TV. We lost power at 7:07 Thursday morning. Ann stayed home with the kids while I worked. We spent Thursday night in a hotel before heading on Friday up to Ann’s mom’s in Roanoke to spend the weekend. Roanoke got even more snow than we did, but no ice, and power was plentiful.

The kids were delighted to see Granny again, and vice versa. I was happy to see her as well, but equally glad to see that she’d been cooking in advance of our arrival. Ponder this: For Friday-night supper, I had: chicken, green beans, fried apples, sweet potatoes, bread AND two helpings of Strawberry Delight. And what, you might ask, is Strawberry Delight? It’s kinda like strawberry shortcake, but instead of angel-food cake on the bottom you slice a bunch of Hostess Twinkies lengthwise and lay them cream side up as a foundation. I will say in my own defense that I passed on the hot apple pie a la mode, but then, to gain more than 8 pounds in one weekend would be unseemly, no?

We got our power back sometime late Saturday and returned home Sunday. Victoria and Ann went to see Greensboro Ballet’s “The Nutcracker,” preceded by a “tea party” with cast members. V. thoroughly enjoyed it. I spent the afternoon alternately entertaining Hooper and cataloging and dumping the contents of our fridge/freezer. Sigh. We had to toss hundreds of dollars’ worth of food; the list ran two 2 1/2 pages, two columns per page, single-spaced. Part of the problem, if problem it be, is that Ann is an accomplished cook, so along with the frozen dinners went some interesting ingredients, such as a 5-ounce can of paprika and not one but two, count ’em, two 3-ounce bottles of capers. The list of the lost also includes, but is not limited to:

  • A pound of fresh shrimp.
  • A pound of frozen shrimp.
  • Five ounces of frozen cocktail shrimp.
  • Various-sized containers/volumes of: sliced mild cheddar, grated Parmesan, grated Romano, shredded Parmesan, shredded Romano, sliced American, sliced Muenster, sliced Provolone. Also, a 3.3-ounce container of Roquefort.
  • Nine — nine! — containers of frozen daiquiri mix.

    The only survivors were three bottles of water, a bottle of a particular brand of Polish vodka we keep on hand for visits by my ex-boss in New York, near-empty bottles of Dr Pepper and Diet Coke, and three bottles of Samuel Adams Light beer.

    All of which I suspect I’ll need before the Tree Problem is dealt with. The Bradford pear in the front yard dropped a branch onto the house. It bent a gutter but narrowly missed causing more severe damage — it easily could’ve blown through windows in the living room, dining room or both. The south end of the thing is big enough that I’ll need some major chain saw help in getting rid of it, but it could’ve been much, much worse.

    On Saturday we crossed the city line from Roanoke to Vinton to watch its Christmas parade, which had been postponed from Wednesday night. A number of marching bands had had to cancel their participation, but the Virginia Tech Hightie Tighties (I wouldn’t make that up) came and looked darned sharp. Hooper was thrilled with all the trucks, particularly the fire truck on which Santa rode — not because he’s clear yet on Santa’s significance, but because it was the longest freakin’ fire truck he’d ever seen. He was almost as thrilled with the keychain given him by a Roanoke Transit Authority employee who was in the parade because it had a picture of a bus on it.

    Another big linguistic breakthrough for Hooper this weekend: He now correctly answers questions of the “Who is … ?” variety with an enthusiastic “Me!” Although he’d been using “Mine!” for weeks, primarily as shorthand for “Loving father, please give me my drool cloth and/or teddy bear this very instant!,” the “Me!” was new. I’m also training him to respond, “Idaman!” when I ask him, “Who’s the man?”

    But I’d settle for “Me!” postCountTB(‘85751402’);

  • Thursday, December 5, 2002 5:19 pm

    From the mouths of babes …

    Filed under: Why, yes, I AM a bad parent. Why do you ask? — Lex @ 5:19 pm

    My daughter, now almost 4 1/2, has had a friend named Alex in her day-care class ever since she started going there shortly after her first birthday. We think the world of Alex, and his parents think the world of V., and we’ve had dinner together as families not only at our respective houses but also at a local Italian restaurant. All four parents have joked about the possibility that Alex and V. could get married someday, so we were particularly tickled to overhear this exchange while we were awaiting our meals at the restaurant the other day:

    Alex: Victoria, will you marry me?

    Victoria (giggling): I will if you don’t be silly!

    Wednesday, December 4, 2002 9:59 am


    Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 9:59 am

    Illinois, with two big men down low to UNC’s zero, had no trouble beating the Tar Heels. I think the Heels might’ve stood a chance against a single big guy by letting him have his points while shutting down everyone else (and perhaps keeping the ball out of the post), but against two, with no Heel taller than 6-8 and the Illini capable of running with the Heels, it was a lost cause.

    Still, the young Heels have served notice that they’re going to be tough to beat otherwise. Interestingly, one team against which they’ll match up well is archrival Duke, which lacks a dominating post player.

    Tuesday, December 3, 2002 3:00 pm


    Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 3:00 pm

    I refer, of course, to the UNC men’s basketball team, which, a year after going 8-20, is now 5-0 and, after winning the preseason NIT, ranked 12th nationally. Carolina plays Illinois tonight in the ACC/Big 10 challenge, but because it doesn’t tip off until 9:30 or thereabouts, I doubt I’ll catch the 2nd half. Oh, well. Go, Heels!

    Monday, December 2, 2002 11:53 am

    Hope you had a good Thanksgiving

    Filed under: Fun,Odds 'n' ends — Lex @ 11:53 am

    We did, albeit a busy one. We had Ann’s mom and our friends Mark and Margaret and their daughters Eleanor and Audrey staying with us from Wednesday to Sunday, and our friends Susan and Herb and their daughters Abigail and Camille spent most of Thanksgiving Day with us as well. So instead of two kids in the house, we had four to six pretty much all weekend. Oddly enough, after an initial adjustment period, I pretty much didn’t notice the additional noise.

    The meal was awesome — Ann’s turkey, ham and shrimp; our friends’ veggies and Ann’s mom’s desserts, which included — count ’em, chocolate chocolate cake, applesauce cake, bourbon pecan pie and … well, I forget the fourth one. I never got much past the chocolate chocolate cake.

    Friday, of course, was the Shopping Day, so I stayed home with the kids while all the other adults shopped. They pretty much entertained themselves, although not for periods so extended taht I was able to get any actual work done around the house. Later that afternoon, Mark, Eleanor, Victoria and I went to see “Santa Clause 2,” which was fun for the kids — Victoria wants to see it again — and not terribly tedious for the grownups. (Slight spoiler: A couple of lines of dialogue might give your older, quicker toddlers the idea that there’s no such thing as Santa Claus, so go at your own risk.) My favorite part was finding out at the end that the Sandman was played by Michael Dorn, perhaps best known as the guy who plays Lt. Cdr. Worf in the “Star Trek: Next Gen” series.

    Saturday was more shopping, along with eating a bunch of leftovers. And on Sunday, I even got to watch the first and fourth quarters of the Panthers’ win over the Cleveland Browns (more on which anon). So it was a fine weekend, not even marred by the fact that I had a dentist appointment this morning: no cavities. Woohoo!

    Last night Ann asked Victoria what she thought the best part of the weekend was. Wednesday night, she said, because she hadn’t known Granny was going to be there then, and she came home from school and there Granny was!

    Granny, of course, found that her favorite part of the weekend as well.

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