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Archive for April, 2011

So, I am not just quoting a John Lennon song, but introducing the topic of my blog:  What if there was no hell?  My wife subscribes to Time magazine, and this was their cover story.  It is in regard to Rob Bell’s new book: ‘Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived’.  Now, full disclosure, I have not read the book, but I am a huge fan of Rob Bell.  Bell has a video on sex that might be the best discussion of God and sex that I have ever seen.  Although I have not read his newest book, I found the Time magazine article interesting.

In Bell’s book, according to Time magazine, he proposes the possibility that Jesus Christ died for everyone, both past and present and basically, a loving God would not condemn anyone to hell.  Rob Bell is an evangelical teacher and heads a church of

Not your typical pastor

about 7,000 and apparently his evangelical brethren went crazy at the mere thought of a lack of hell.  Now, I know that some of my readers are atheists, so the idea of no hell is not a difficult concept to swallow, but for many people it is unthinkable.  Why?  Well, if you grew up in the church as I did, the idea that there is no hell is just about as heresy as saying there is no heaven.  For many people, evangelism without hell is like physical trainers without fast food, they both would be out of a job.

I may have mentioned before, I am a Christian.  I am not perfect.  I have made many mistakes in my life, both big and small, but I must ask myself:  Would my beliefs change if I was convinced there was no hell?  My beliefs wouldn’t change at all, and I am not convinced they should, nor should evangelists around the globe.  It has been my experience that very few, if any, have converted to Christianity out of fear of hell.  I am not going to try to convince my readers that there is a hell, but I do believe that hell exists.  In my opinion, hell is where God is not.  Like Bell, I believe in a loving God, and in His love, I believe He will not force anyone to be with Him that does not want to be, and therefore, the existence of hell.

I believe in the redeeming power of Christ, both on Earth as well as after, but have a hard time believing that Ghandi is in hell. 

In hell? I dont think so.

Now, keep in mind, I am not a preacher.  I did not go to seminary, and simply put, I am no theologian, but I can read and I consider myself pretty smart.  Let me share with you two Bible verses that might indicate that things are not as simplistic as many people believe them to be (which is the heart of the problem: people want their beliefs and lives to be simple and certain, but to discuss this would require another blog).

In the book of Matthew, chapter 19 (23-24), Jesus tells his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven.  Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

If you google this passage, you will find a variety of different interpretations, but I want to give my simple take on this passage: Not everyone is getting in to heaven because they may be unwilling to do the things necessary to enter heaven.  We could argue at length what those ‘things’ might be, but I think Jesus is talking about those that put their trust and beliefs in non-God items, like money.  Again, it is just my opinion.

The second passage from the Bible I would like to share is from Luke 23:38-43 where we learn of a conversation among Jesus and two criminals being killed on the cross:

One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”  Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”  Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

The above passage from Luke would suggest that getting into heaven might be a little easier than that whole eye of the needle business.  The point I am trying to make is that many people are going to be surprised at who they see in heaven.  On the same token, many will be surprised at who is not in heaven.  One thing I am certain about, if there is a hell, I do not decide who will be there and who will not, and I am quite thankful for that.  As many churches remain stagnant or are losing members, churches like that of Bell are growing and doing well.  I don’t think churches should abandon their beliefs, as I believe Rob Bell is quite biblically sound, but I do think the church needs to have a more open door policy rather than behaving like an exclusive social club with dress code, passwords and secret handshakes.

At the end of the day, whether you are a believer in God, an atheist, or think we were planted here by aliens, isn’t it at least worth considering alternative ways of thinking?  If your beliefs can’t survive alternative ways of thinking; then do you really believe what you believe?  It’s something to think about.

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Last Friday, I got a vasectomy.  It went great, thanks for asking.  I was going to regale you with the details of the operation, including the moment I laughed out loud and the nurse asked what was wrong, but I might save that for another blog.  I do, however, want to tell you about the Dr.’s instructions I received for post-operation, specifically, the “Call immediately if you notice:” section.  I am to call the doctor if, my temp is above 100.6 (normal), unable to urinate (makes sense), drainage, redness or bruising greater than quarter-size at incision site (of course, standard warning signs), and swelling greater than softball size (WHAT!?!?!)

Did someone call the doctor after their testes swelled to the size of baseballs and get shunned?  “Sorry sir, baseball size is pretty normal.  We are very busy here at the doctor’s office.  Please don’t call unless they reach softball size.”  Who draws the line for when to see a doctor?  Three hour erection?  No problem.  Four hour erection, get to the hospital immediately.  Who drew this line?  I have had zero problems, but trust me; I was not going to wait beyond baseball size, or even tangerine, OK, plum size and that’s my final offer.  I’m just sayin …

My line.

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So, in approximately four hours, if all goes well, I will be infertile.  You might think that I am nervous, but I am not.  I am looking forward to never reproducing again.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids, I just wish I didn’t have so many of them.  It’s a subtle difference.  I love them, but they can drive me crazy.  There are three kids in the house, and I think it’s too much.  I think about my sister who has three kids and how she raised them by herself.  It is a wonder that she is still standing right now.  I have a friend with five kids.  You read that correctly, FIVE!  She seems happy too.  Go figure.  My sister-in-law has four kids and they all have allergies.  I am pretty sure I could take out their whole family with a peanut and a slice of bread.

I tell my students that it is a good thing that babies and kids are cute; otherwise their parents would have killed them a long time ago. 

At an early age my daughter was safe. So cute!

This may sound cruel, but is true.  If you are reading this and have kids, you know it to be true.  Kids are messy.  They do stupid things.  My son, Isaac has literally fallen down the steps head over heels three times.  He is so fast pace, he simply does not think before acting.  I am convinced he will have several broken bones before high school.  Kids are super needy.  They can’t feed themselves.  They don’t clean up after themselves and they are constantly asking for things.  Some of the young ones even poop and pee on themselves.  It is like having homeless people live in my house, except I am legally obligated to take care of them.  In four hours, I am done, and I figure I have about five more years before my daughter is independent.  Kids are independent around five or six, right?

Another fascinating aspect of my impending vasectomy is the reaction of my male friends.  It seems that every male of procreation age has at least thought about the procedure of a vasectomy.  It ranges from paralyzing fear to extreme misconceptions.  For example, I am confident that some people think my balls are going to be cut off.  Others think that the doctor is going to stick a big needle into my scrotum or worse, my penis.  Basically, the procedure is simple. 

—–Text Removed—–

I actually described the procedure in detail, but decided most of you would not care about it as much as I do.  If you do care about the anatomy of the male reproductive system, but do not want to do a google search on ‘testicle’ or ‘penis’; trust me, you REALLY REALLY do not want to do a google search with those terms, just google image search ‘vas deferens’.  What you get will be safe.

So, wish me luck and safety.  The procedure is not the issue, it will be the recovery.  I hope I will not add to the horror stories that I have heard about from other members of the ‘firing blanks’ club.  Nonetheless, I couldn’t be happier about losing my only super power, the ability to create life.  Anybody can make babies, it is the raising them job part that is seriously underpaid.

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There is one thing I am nervous about, my 3-year-old son’s height.  He is the worse height for this procedure.  He likes to punch.  I may have to tie his arms behind his back.  I’m just sayin …

My best friend for the next couple of days.

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So, I just finished watching the A-Team.  I loved it!  I know what you are thinking.  “Are you kidding me?  You are going to open up a movie blog with the A-Team! Seriously?”  You better believe it Fool!  I pity the fool that don’t like the A-Team. 

Did you know that Mr. T had a cartoon? I did.

That’s right, a Mr.T reference.  Do you know why I liked the movie, because when it comes to movies, I follow one simple rule: Pure Entertainment Value.

I don’t want life lessons, political messages, redeeming value, or even reality from my movies.  I want to be entertained.  And I am relatively easily entertained, so when I am disappointed by a movie, it pisses me off.  I am so easily entertained that a plot is not one of my requirements for a good movie.  For example, one of the greatest movies of all time is ‘Friday’ with Ice Cube and Chris Tucker.  You read it right, Ice Cube.  Basically you have two guys hanging out in LA.  One person owes someone else money and they are worried that they are going to be killed for a couple of hundred bucks.  Maybe you have to be from California to truly appreciate this movie, but trust me, it is a classic. 

Daaaamn!

And the best character with almost zero lines was Deebo (Daaaamn!!!!!).

One of the down side to having a little knowledge is being able to point out inaccuracies in movies.  For example, in the movie, Lion King, there is an opening scene where you see ants carrying leaves across a tree branch.  As far as I can tell, they are leaf cutter ants.  Leaf cutter ants can be found in South America, Central America, the Caribbean, shoot, you will even find them in the southern parts of the United States.  You know where you won’t find them? In Africa.

Found in many places EXCEPT Africa.

  King Kong?  I loved the movie, absolutely loved it.  However, the commercials made it out as if gorillas were dangerous man-eaters.  You know who has to fear gorillas?  Celery.  That’s right, they are vegetarians.  A common “evil” animal is the wolf.  Do you know how many people have been attacked by wolves?  Zero.  Nonetheless, we love movies where we are attacked by some crazy rabid, genetically created, radioactive, science experimental animal gone wrong.  To be honest, I love them too.  If I am ever watching TV and Godzilla comes on, I will have no choice but to watch it to the end of the movie.  To this day, I hate the fact that Godzilla has been vilified.  He’s just a radioactive monster trying to make it through the day.

They are already working on Godzilla 2012. Crazy!

Now no offense to Japan, and the problems that they are facing truly deserve prayer, and I encourage everyone reading this blog to donate to the Red Cross if they haven’t done so already.  But, is there another country that has embraced major tragedy more than Japan?  Just nine years after Hiroshima was bombed, the movie ‘Gohira’ was released.  Gohira, better known as Godzilla was created by American nuclear weapons testing.  It makes me wonder what the country will come up with after its latest tragedy.  One thing is for certain, radioactivity does not create giant monsters or super heroes.  Seriously, donate to the Red Cross.

Despite my knowledge, I don’t mind inaccuracies, because when I go to the movies I check my brain at the door.  Sometimes inaccuracies are crucial to making the movie work.  For example, one of my favorites from 2010, The Book of Eli. 

<<SPOILER ALERT>>

In ‘The Book of Eli’, the movie is set in a post-apocalyptic world in which Eli is protecting a sacred book that he must bring to the West where he believes there are people who will know what to do with the book.  Of course, along the way some bad guys try to take the book from him.  He helps a young girl and some serious ass-kicking takes place.  Has all the elements of PEV (Pure Entertainment Value).  But there is one serious problem.  In order to make the movie work, the movie must break one very clear reality rule.  You see Eli …,  wait for it …   wait for it …  wait for it …

is blind.

 You see in the movie, Eli carries around the sacred book which turns out to be the Bible.  The reality rule that is broken is the size of a braille bible.  The new King James Version of the braille bible was completed in the 80’s.  It is a 20 volume set that requires 76 inches of shelf space at least 12 inches high.

Try lugging this across country.

I forgive this reality rule ‘error’ because the movie just would not be as slick if Denzel Washington’s character was dragging along 20 braille volumes in a cart.  You now see why I must turn my brain off when I see movies.

As a biologist I struggle with movies like Jurassic Park.  You will never ever see a predator spend over an hour hunting/chasing a prey.  Stalking, maybe, but never chase as they do in most predator movies.  It uses too much energy.

One of my favorite movies of all time was remade in 2010, The Karate Kid.  First of all, the first Karate Kid did not need to be remade.  In general I am not a fan of remakes or sequels.  They are almost never as good as the original.  There are exceptions.  Toy Story 3 might be the best one.  Believe the hype, it is that good.  If I was more in touch with my feelings, I would have bawled like a baby.  If you are prone to tears, have a handkerchief ready when you watch it, trust me.  But Karate Kid (2010) sucked. 

Now keep in mind, I am a HUGE fan of Karate Kid (1984).  My fantasy football team’s name is CobraKai, and has been for years.  “Sweep the leg” and “wax on, wax off” are still very quotable.  So, understand that my review of this movie is highly biased.  That being said, Karate Kid (2010) blows.  I am all for supporting the family, but Jaden Smith would not have “won” this role had it not been for his dad, Will Smith.  Now, I am a huge Will Smith fan, but even I know that Smith has the acting range of a grape in a painting of a fruit basket.  So, instead of just randomly trashing this movie, I have decided to break it down like a preview of a football game, position by position.  To my surprise, and possibly yours, KK 2010 does not lose every battle.  Let’s start with the most obvious positions:

SPOILER ALERT!!!! (Like it matters)

Daniel Larusso (Ralph Macchio) Vs Dre Parker (Jaden Smith):  Both are bad actors and Macchio has finally entered the death throws of his acting career by being the next one-hit wonder to be on Dancing with the Stars.  Jaden will get more work, but that has more to do with his parents than ability.  This is still no contest, Daniel beats Dre every time.

Come on Man!! You were the Karate Kid! Now this. Sad.

Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita) vs Mr. Han (Jackie Chan):  Please, not even close.  Mr. Miyagi by a landslide.

Ali (Elisabeth Shue) vs Meiying (Wenwen Han):  Here is the problem that I have always had with the character Ali.  Was there ever a more awkward looking couple than Daniel and Ali in The Karate Kid?  Ali was like twice Daniel’s size.  They defined mismatch.  For this reason, and this reason alone, slight favor to Meiying.

Bad Boys Johnny (Billy Zabka) vs Cheng (Zhenwei Wang):  There are few characters that are type cast for good reason as Zabka was as a teenage bad boy.  Who played a spoiled Arian nation looking kid better than Zabka?  That being said, Wang nailed the Cheng role in KK 2010.  And his Kung Fu was strong (despite the name of the movie).  So, it pains me, and may surprise you, but ever so slight edge goes to Cheng.

Winning Move – Crane versus Cobra:  Can you think of a better ending to a movie than Daniel’s crane kick to win the tournament?  Has any move been more duplicated?  It was the 80’s version of the slow motion back bending Matrix move, and just about as duplicated.  Furthermore, I believed that Daniel could have learned that move.  A kid brand new to Kung Fu learns a Cobra move that takes masters decades to learn.  I don’t think so.  No Contest – Crane kick wins.

Overall the movie is more of a cover than a remake.  If you watch both movies close together, you will notice that many of the lines are not changed.  How lazy can you get?  And despite that everyone is clearly practicing Kung Fu, they don’t change the title of the movie.  It’s a cover, maybe at best, an homage, but mainly a cover and have you ever heard a good cover that was even close to as good as the original?  There are a few, but if you are honest with yourself, how many cover albums do you own? Exactly.

So, let me end this rather lengthy blog with my Top Ten Movies of 2010.  Keep in mind that I did not see all the movies of 2010, so if you have recommendations, please do not hesitate to comment and I will see them and modify my list if necessary.  Also, don’t forget, Pure Entertainment Value.

#10 The A-Team – It’s just a fun movie and stayed true to the TV series.  So, if you liked the Tv series, you will love this movie.  Only one fatal flaw, no Mr. T cameo.  Oh well.
# 9 Alice in Wonderland – As remakes go, well done.
# 8 Get Him to the Greek – Puffy’s role in this movie is down right hilarious.  This goes in my went above expectations category.  Only one other movie on this list pleasantly surprised me more than this movie.
# 7 Red – Think Ocean’s 11, but with lots and lots of guns.
# 6 Hot Tub Time Machine – This movie is truly an homage to 80’s movies.  I was excited to see it and it did not disappoint.
# 5 Book of Eli – Although I try to avoid redeeming value in movies as well as my blog, this one had a little redeeming value.  It did not distract from the butt whoopins galore, however.  “that’s not a knife.  THIS is a knife.”  Not from the movie, but you get it if you have seen it.
# 4 Toy Story 3 – Nice way to say farewell to some excellent children characters.  Bring your hankee.
# 3 How to Train your Dragon – Fun Fun Fun movie.  Best animated film of the year in my opinion.  I can and have watched many times.
# 2 The Other Guys – Biggest surprise of the year.  It went well above and beyond my expectations.  It forever has me thinking of lions and tuna differently.  Must See!
# 1 Inception – Maybe the most intelligent movie of the decade.  I had to turn my brain on for this movie, but it was worth it.

Honorable mentions that you might be surprised by:  Tooth Fairy (Good family movie.  Laughed more than I would have predicted.); Easy A (Smart movie and if you have teenage kids, you should watch it, possibly own it.) and finally She’s Out of My League (I thought it was cute.  It was formulaic, but did not apologize for it.  If you are ever bored one weekend, rent it.)

Maybe my longest blog to date.  I hope you have made it this far.  If so, thank you.  I welcome your comments, especially on movies that you think was a travesty to not be on my Top Ten 2010 Movie List.

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I have two major movie research projects I would conduct if I had the time.  The first is to determine exactly what is the probability that a minority character making through a movie alive?  Especially if the character is a black man.  Often, he is the first to go, like in Jurassic Park.  I see it so often, I am convinced it happens with great regularity.

Secondly, did Walt Disney hate women?  Snow White (drugged and witch killed); Dumbo (Mother locked up); Bambi (mother shot by hunter); Cinderella (Evil sisters and step-mom); Peter Pan (no mothers for pirate boys); Sleeping Beauty (Woman turns into dragon and killed with sword); 101 Dalmatians (Cruella Deville); Fox and the Hound (Mother fox is killed by hunter); The Little Mermaid (No mom, and evil octopus woman); Beauty and the Beast (Belle did not have a mom); Aladdin (Princess, King, NO Queen); The Lion King (despite the fact that female lions do all the hunting and teach the young to hunt, who teaches Simba to hunt?  Mufasa.  Male lions don’t do jack.); Tangled (Evil woman who locks girl away in a tower)  Is this a pattern?  I’m just sayin …

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So, I have decided that there is no proper way to ask a woman in a grocery store if she is a stripper or not.

I have also decided that strippers do most of their shopping between 4 and 5 and nine times out of ten are dragging a kid in tow.  I can’t prove this (see above), but I believe it to be true.

I went to the nicest Walmart I have ever seen today.  The people were still ghetto.  I am convinced that Walmart has an ugly requirement.  Not a single good-looking person was working there, NOT ONE.

If I sold sweats, especially crushed velvet sweats outside a Walmart, I would make a killing.

Taco Bell was sued this year because it was claimed that their “beef” burritos only contained approximately 35% beef.  Taco Bell responded by stating that their “beef” burritos are actually 88% beef.  I don’t have a problem with their burritos only being 88% beef, what bugs me is the fact that they refuse to tell the American public what the remaining 12% contains.  The only thing they will state are spices.  I haven’t eaten at Taco Bell since, and won’t till I find out what that 12% contains.  I eat hot dogs for Pete’s sake, I’m not picky, I just want to know what it is.

April first is taken seriously in my house.  The trick last year was my son getting my wife to come running in response to him yelling that he broke his leg.  Very funny.  This year, my son brought home a pink slip.  The pink slip stated that he disrespected the lunch ladies.  Leah said to me, “Has Brett talked to you?  It’s not good.”  I gave Brett a stern talking to for a full minute before he broke and said “April Fools!”  My wife began busting out laughing.  Not as funny this year.

I just read an article that surveyed hundreds of business people asking if it was OK for women to cry at work. More men than women said it was OK.  Women stated that crying made the women appear unstable.  This is further evidence that women are vindictive, evil creatures.

Marriage is interesting.  It is clearly religious, yet most people desire to get married, including atheist and non-traditional relationships, such as homosexuals, and this in spite of the obstacles in front of them.  What is it about marriage?  It is clearly more cultural than religious.  It is one of the few traditions that if you do not participate in it could be awkward.  Nonetheless, I wish the best to my buddy, Nick who is marrying a wonderful lady, Laura tomorrow.  Good luck you guys!  No jokes, just best wishes.

My wife is very excited about attending the wedding tomorrow.  She asked me if I was excited.  I said no.  She did not understand why I wasn’t excited for the wedding.  I only had one response, “Cause I’m a guy.”  There better be an open bar.

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Sorry for the long lag between blogs.  If I could blog everyday, I would.  I’m just sayin …

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