Thursday, June 30, 2005

Enjoy this movie or your money back, guaranteed

My co-host, Darren Marlar, never does anything halfway. He has been blogging in earnest lately, and I love his humorous way with words.

Today, he's talking about the fact that in a rare marketing ploy, AMC movie theaters are guaranteeing your money back if you don't like Cinderella Man.

Darren's post is aptly titled "Pauly Shore Would Cease to Exist": "The power will be in OUR hands for a change - and then directors and producers would finally have a meeting and say to themselves, 'Hey, if we don't want to lose our mansions and limos, I think that perhaps we should think about coming out with movies people not only want to see, but will also enjoy while seeing.'"

Read the rest here.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

I answer the musical meme

OK, Marybeth has tagged me to do the musical meme, and as I said earlier, it's extremely difficult for me to encapsulate the vast spectrum that comprises my musical tastes. I love music almost as much as I love breathing, and I like the best of most musical genres. But I'm going to give it my best shot here:

Total volume of music files on my computer: N/A. The computer I use the majority of the time is not my own.

The last CD I bought was: The Phantom of the Opera movie soundtrack, as a surprise for my daughter (but knowing I'd get to listen too!)

Last acquired:
: My Radio 91 co-worker, Charmel, handed me Newsong's Live Worship & Rescue the other day. I haven't listened to it yet.

Five songs I listen to a lot, or that mean a lot to me:

OK, this was really, really hard, so I'm going to have to tack an addendum onto the list. But here's a shot (in no particular order):

~"And Can it Be," lyrics by Charles Wesley, music by Thomas Campbell. The powerful picture this hymn paints, and the spiritual import of its message, never fails to move me:
"Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
fast bound in sin and nature's night;
thine eye diffused a quickening ray;
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
my chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed thee.
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed thee."

"I woke, the dungeon flamed with light"--Wow. I love that.

~"The Hallelujah Chorus," by Georg Friedrich Handel. If this is only a fraction of the glory of angel choirs in heaven, I can't wait to hear them. Although this song is often trivialized in comedy, it's one of the most sublime pieces of music on this earth. Just about transports me to the heavenlies.

~"The Star Spangled Banner," by Francis Scott Key. Yeah, I don't care if the tune was originally a tavern song and it's ridiculously hard to sing. The very sound of it, anytime, anywhere, is pretty much guaranteed to choke me up with emotion and love of my flawed but beautiful and amazing country.

~God is God, by Steven Curtis Chapman

Perfectly captures the fear and uncertainty we as Christians will all face at one time or another,("when the questions without answers come and paralyze the dancer") but reassures with the knowledge Job gained through his tragedies--"God is God, and I am not. I can only see a part of the picture he's painting."

~"Submission," by C. Austin Miles and Mrs. R. R. Forman (circa 1934)

"Not what I wish to be, nor where I wish to go,
For who am I that I should choose my way?
The Lord shall choose for me,
'Tis better far, I know,
So let Him bid me go, or stay."

My late father's signature song, the one I often requested him to sing, and just remembering his beautiful voice singing it brings me to tears now.

And here's an addendum, which still by no means covers the gamut of my musical loves:
~If I Stand, by Rich Mullins

"So if I stand let me stand on the promise
That you will pull me through
And if I can't, let me fall on the grace
That first brought me to You
And if I sing let me sing for the joy
That has born in me these songs
And if I weep let it be as a man
Who is longing for his home"

Possibly my favorite Rich Mullins song. Simple, poetic, beautiful...says it all.

~"Where the Streets Have No Name," by U2
Haunting and majestic. Speaks to something deep inside my soul.

~That Kind of Love, by PFR
"Oh, where does that kind of love come from?
They say that it runs in His blood..."

I just love the symmetrical harmony and subdued but meaningful vibe of this song.

~"Rhapsody in Blue," by George Gershwin. I can remember lying on the floor as a child and listening to my parents' LP of this amazing concerto, and just getting lost in it. Beautiful, whimsical, cool, soaring, powerful, pretty...rhapsodic.

~"Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth," by Burlap to Cashmere. Three minutes of pure, exuberant joy!

~And just about anything from the voices of Larnelle Harris, James Ingram and James Taylor.

I know I'll think of more later, but this is the best I can do for now!

And hey, if you'd like me to tag you with this meme, let me know in my comments section.

And they said it wouldn't last....

John and Amelia Rocchio of Rhode Island have been married for 82 years.
John's 101, Amelia's 99.

The Rocchios say patience and understanding is the key to marriage success. And says John, "She would always cook something I loved. That was the reason at the end of the day I wanted to get home."

Never underestimate the power of a good home-cooked meal! :)

I've been tagged...

Marybeth has tagged me with a musical meme. Oh, my goodness, how to boil down the vast spectrum of my musical tastes? But I'll try later this morning.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Today is Favorite Columnist Day

James Lileks
Quote o' The Day:

"Splenda sounds like the name of one of the good witches of Oz -- perhaps the Good Witch of the Upper Northeast. But Splenda is your friend. At least until we find out in 20 years that it causes your flesh to suddenly slough off the bone, in which case there are going to be lawsuits galore. I mean, people want to be thin, but they don't want to be skeletons, the Olsen Twins notwithstanding; those girls appear to be auditioning for new careers as Walgreens' Halloween window decorations."--James Lileks

As part of our regular feature, "Holidays That Make You Go 'Hmm?'", Darren Marlar let me know that today is Favorite Columnist Day. Fittingly, Darren is the one who introduced me to the writings of James Lileks, who I would have to say is probably my favorite columnist.

Lileks has such a way with words, it makes me envious. But while I'm being envious, I'm laughing out loud. Granted, he's not the kind of columnist that generally provokes me to deep thought or action. He takes something quite ordinary, points out its silliness or incongruity, and makes me laugh--and that's worth a lot to me.

For example, who hasn't bemoaned the brevity of summertime? Lileks captured it perfectly for me the other day: "Summer is here, which means it's almost over. Or so it seems. The first day of summer always prompts some genial killjoy to hook his thumbs through his suspenders, rock back on his heels and say 'well, the days will get shorter now.' Until 1974 it was legal to punch that fellow in the snoot, you know. Under the Annoying Homespun Drivel Act of 1899, "Any such persons who shall dash the joy one feels upon beholding the glories of the equinox by noting the inevitable contraction of the day shall be subject to a brief thrashing about the nasal passages." The act was repealed in that touchy-feely post-Watergate reform period, but I'd like it reinstated. Summer is here, and right now it feels eternal."

The perfect gift for your blogging friends!

...or for yourself, for that matter! Jollyblogger is selling T-shirts that proclaim, "I think, therefore I blog." They look sharp, too!

Another Evie interview online!

Now Evie Tornquist Karlsson fans--and you are legion--can listen to an Evie interview. Aaron of talked with Evie last week, and downloaded the interview on his site. Check it out!

Despite the substantial demand for info about Evie and how to get ahold of her music, both in printed and recorded form, there's not a whole lot of information available online. It would really behoove Evie to start her own website. She obviously still has a lot fans!

You can also read my interview with Evie here.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Memories...pressed between the pages of my mind...

thoughts on movies and memories and sin-eaters...

I love it when movies serve not only to entertain, but to stimulate thought and discussion. Such was the case over the weekend when my sister-in-law and I watched The Final Cut, starring Robin Williams, Mira Sorvino and Jim Caviezel.

According to "Set in a world with memory implants, Robin Williams plays a cutter, someone with the power of final edit over people's recorded histories. His latest assignment is one that puts him in danger."

I found the movie fascinating on several levels. In the story, there are "anti-implant" protesters who picket at the "rememories"--memorial services where friends and loved ones gather to watch the person's life through that person's own eyes.

After all, one could never be quite sure if the person you're talking to has one of the "zoe implants." Isn't it a major invasion of privacy that everything YOU say and do with that person could end up on a screen at a rememory? Also, it's up to the cutter to discard unpleasant and ugly would be possible to delete so many things that a really bad person could be made to look good.

Another interesting fact the movie highlighted is how inaccurate our memories really are. Don't you wonder how many of your childhood memories may be hugely different from what actually happened? I mean, if you could go back and play the tape, would you find that many scenes YOU think you remember perfectly...many conversations you think you remember word-for-word...were quite different in reality?

Interestingly, Robin Williams as the cutter compares himself to what used to be called a "sin-eater." I first heard of sin-eaters when I read Francine Rivers' excellent novel, The Last Sin-Eater.

Here's the Wikipedia definition of the term:

"The sin-eater was (in British tradition) a person who, through ritual means and for material gain, would take on the sins of a dying person, thus absolving the dying of their sins while receiving the burden of the same. Traditionally, each village maintained its own sin-eater. The sin-eater would be brought to the dying person's bedside, and there either he or a relative would place a bit of bread on the breast of the dying. After praying and/or reciting the ritual, he would then remove the bread from the breast and eat it, the act of which would remove the sin from the dying and take it into himself."

Apparently, this practice may have carried over into some remote parts of Appalachia, where the Rivers novel is set.

How sad that people were ignorant of the fact that Christ has already absorbed AND paid for all our sins on the cross--that the ultimtate sacrifice has already been made, and there is no need for a sin-eater.

Very intriguing stuff.

Speaking of movies and movie-related stuff...

What is up with Tom Cruise? Is the man imploding, or what?

First his erratic, sofa-jumping uber-glee over his romance with Katie Holmes, then losing his temper at a practical joker, then going off on Matt Lauer about Ritalin, psychiatry, etc. (See Tom Cruise: once aloof, now widely-spoofed.)
All I can say is, let this be a lesson to you. Don't pay a whole lot of attention to what movie stars say. Just because you're famous and get paid exorbitant amounts of money to pretend to be other people doesn't mean you have any special wisdom, credibility or gravitas. Certainly, don't vote based on their recommendations!

And in the why-don't-they-make-more-movies-like-that department...

While alone at my house for a few hours over the weekend, I caught most of You've Got Mail on cable, and was reminded of what a charming and enjoyable movie this was, and what a shame it is that they don't make very many movies like this.

Lighthearted, witty, warm romances, notably lacking in a lot of foul language, vulgarity and gratuitous sexual situations. Movies that make you laugh and empathize and even shed a little tear here and there. Why are they so rare?Hollywood, you're wondering why ticket sales are so dismal these days? GET A CLUE!!!

In my opinion, this was Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan at their best. Frankly, I'm disappointed that Tom Hanks is going to star in the movie version of "The DaVinci Code"...a movie I have absolutely no desire to see, by the way.

And I hope Meg Ryan finds her footing despite the fact that she's now past her ingenue status. Diane Keaton still manages to be cute and adorable on film; Meg could do it too.

Anyway, even though I can truly enjoy and appreciate what they do on screen, they're actors, people. They pretend for a living. They're entitled to their opinions, but we don't have to give those opinions any weight whatsoever.

Friday, June 24, 2005

It's my brother's birthday...

David turns 38 today. That is SO hard to believe. I can remember the day of his birth like it was yesterday. You see, David was probably my first major answer to prayer.

When I was a little girl, my parents were missionaries to Beirut, Lebanon. Of course, in those long-ago days, there were no video games, no cable television (actually, we didn't have a TV at all in Lebanon), no personal computers. So we made our own fun, and read a lot, and wrote a lot, and played board games, and listened to music endlessly, and made our own little plays and performed them for people... and that was probably great for us in the long run.

However, there came a point where my older sister Bev went back to the States to finish high school. My younger sister Lisa and I missed her terribly. So we covenanted that we would begin praying for another sibling. And we were specific about had to be a boy. We wanted a baby brother.

Despite our parents trying to gently discourage us in this prayer campaign--they hadn't really had any plans to expand the family--we persisted.

Whether God did a miracle, or my parents capitulated, or a combination of both, I've never been quite sure. But on June 24th, 1967, our baby brother came into the world, and I've loved him with a proprietary zeal ever since. Correctly or not, I've always felt like I helped pray him into existence.

Training Iraqi cops

Right now, my brother is in Iraq. This certainly helps keep my current prayer life active. David is there to help train Iraqi cops. Although I wish he wasn't there, I need to be supportive of him in this endeavor--he truly feels a commitment to the Iraqi people.

Being a private person and very sensitive to security concerns, David wouldn't want me to post his picture on this blog. I wish you could see how handsome he is. However, some time back, I did post something my brother wrote when he first arrived in the Middle East and was stationed in Amman, Jordan. In honor of his birthday, I'm going to re-post it. I do hope you'll read on...I think it's rather remarkable.

(originally posted September 22, 2004)

I'm proud of my younger brother David for many reasons. He's a former Marine, Desert Storm veteran, police officer, SWAT team leader...he seems to relish a kind of danger in his life that I would recoil from. Thankfully, though, there are people that are drawn to it,maybe even called to it...and I think he is one of those.

Still, I thought he had lost his mind recently when he signed up to go to Iraq for one year to train Iraqi police officers. Yes, the pay is more than good. But every time another news story about a beheaded American flashes on the TV screen, I physically flinch. I don't want my baby brother to become one of those news stories.

Here is where my belief in the sovereignty of God gets put to the test. Do I really believe that David's times are in God's hands? If so, he's just as safe in a war zone, with bullets flying, as he would be patrolling the streets of the small town in which he is a policeman.

So far, David hasn't made it to Iraq yet. An initial stopover in Jordan has dragged out, with the Iraqi police candidates being sent to him instead of him having to go to them in dangerous Iraq. I would like it just fine if he ended up spending the entire stint in Jordan, although that isn't likely.

Anyway...I said all that to say this. David sent me an e-mail today that I found extraordinary, even moving. He's always been a good writer, and this e-mail illustrates that, as well as giving a first-person report on the unique circumstances in which he finds himself.

David titled the e-mail "Shala," but I'm certain he means "InshaAllah," which is Arabic for "God willing." Please read on.

"Finished training another class of Iraqi cadets on the range today. The majority of them come to me with no shooting skills, no concept of the fundamentals of marksmanship and no experience with a pistol. Most of them understand the controls of the AK-47 assault rifle but not how to hit anyone that isnt standing right in front of them.

"They look at me with suspicion in thier eyes on the first day we meet. I have them for a week. Paul and Jeff, two Canadian Mounties, Ricky Don, a big Louisiana boy, that goes by the nickname 'Redneck' and I, begin to teach them the skills that will hopefully save their lives.

" They come to us with courage. All of them have risked death to come here and by taking this job having taken the most dangerous policing job in the world.

"Some of them were military and were on the other end of the gun in Desert Storm where I served as a Marine. These are the ones I seem to enjoy the most. Perhaps we have more in common. Military men the world over are not so different. Most of them take up this career out of a combination of desire for the safety of their families and communities and financial desparation. The same reasons I took this job.

"As I teach them and they realize that I am genuinely concerned about their success and their survival you begin to see their prejudice against Americans weaken and fade away. As their skills grow they begin to show respect and even appreciation for thier instructors.

"On the first day of shooting they are awful. I coach and train, break bad habits, yell, order pushups, and give correction. On the second day of shooting the marksmanship begins to improve and they begin to take pride in their abilities which are still sub par. I then stop pushing them to pass and teach them the subtle techniques that take them from being capable of qualifying to excellent marksmanship.

"On qualification day my students come to me to make sure I will be with them on the line. They all tell me that God willing they are going to shoot a perfect score for me.

"They are a tribal people and respect strength and a formidable teacher. They respect someone they can justifiably fear. This is why they so easily flock after Warlords and tribal leaders like children follow football players and Superheros.

"On qualification day I am no longer harsh or hard, I encourage and praise and advise and none of my students have ever shot the minimum qualification score, and most are either perfect or just shy. It is on this day that I experience job satisfaction, and the same students who once eyed me suspiciously express their heartfelt gratitude and their joy over having surpassed another obstacle. One which may save their lives.

"As they shake my hand and put their hands on their heart with huge smiles on their faces, I feel a sort of kinship with them as police officers. My prejudices also are difficult to hang on to as they become for a short time my children, my students in whom I am well pleased.

"And again the reality strikes me that within a year most of these smiling faces will have shed their blood in the sand in the most dangerous place in the world. 'Are you going to shoot a 50 for me today?' 'InshaAllah'( God Willing).

"May God help them, their families, their courageous hearts, their childlike attitudes, and may they live to see some kind of peace in thier homeland."--David

And my God keep bless you and keep you, my precious brother, and make His face to shine upon you.

And the happiest of birthdays to you, Davo! I love you!

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Please burn all existing copies of my junior high yearbook

Can you guess the celeb in this yearbook photo?

Darren Marlar and I chatted this morning about this 11-year-old Queens, NY girl whose parents are demanding that 200 yearbooks be recalled because they're unhappy with the way their daughter looks in her picture.

Hello??? Is ANYBODY happy with their sixth-grade yearbook photo?

When I was in junior high, I was absolutely hideous-looking. I just didn't know what to do with my kinky hair, excess poundage, erratic complexion and eyesight problem (the cat-eye glasses were NOT a good look for me.)

Actually, by high school, I had pulled myself together somewhat, and I don't think I'd be terribly embarrassed if someone unearthed my high school yearbooks. And I'd give a lot to look like I did in my college yearbooks.

But junior high? PLEASE, if you went to Vidor Junior High School in Vidor, Texas circa 1968-1970, BURN your yearbook! Or at least, get busy with a black magic marker on any pics of Cindy Garrett.

Sure, there were girls who escaped the dreaded "awkward age." I remember looking at Madeline Sanders and Angie Goynes and a few other pretty girls whose names now escape me, and enviously wondering why God allowed them to emerge from beautiful little kid-hood into beautiful adolescence with nary a pimple. It just wasn't fair.

So forgive me if I don't feel sorry for poor little Asheana Maihepat of Queens. Unattractive yearbook photos are something a lot of us deal with, even including some of the rich and famous.

Oh, the guy in the pic above is Bruce Springsteen. Doesn't look so cool there, does he? :) case you actually DO want to see your old yearbook photos, check out this site. And please let me know, in my comments section, if you were successful.

And Lynda or Linda Sims, if you're ever doing a Google search for yourself and you end up here, please contact me! You were the best friend ever back in those junior high years, but I've lost touch with you completely.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Frankly, my dear...

Yep, I watched most of the AFI 100 Greatest Movie Quotes of All Time. I'll admit, I'm something of a movie buff, and I agreed with most of the choices. I'm not even quibbling with the top quote--Rhett Butler's famous "Frankly, my dear" farewell to Scarlett O'Hara, even though it contains a word I never use.

A few observations, though:

--The movie with the most quotes cited was Casablanca, the classic love story featuring Humphrey Bogart and a luminously beautiful Ingrid Bergman:

#5--"Here's looking at you, kid."
#20--"Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."
#28--"Play it, Sam. Play 'As Time Goes By.'" (Frequently misquoted as "Play it again, Sam."
#32--"Round up the usual suspects."
#43--"We'll always have Paris."
#67--"Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine."

Now, my admission: I've never seen Casablanca.

I know, pummel me with wet noodles if you like. My daughter has seen it and loves it. I never had much of a desire to see the movie, but now I want to, along with several of the other movies that are quoted in the list.

But here's the problem: it's HARD to find those classic movies at the video store. And I don't necessarily have the patience or the funds to order them off the internet. I've been trying for ages to find "High Society," with Grace Kelly and Frank Sinatra.

One summer, my son Jonathan and I decided to try to find and watch several movies that are on many film critics' lists of all-time best movies. We succeeded in finding "Citizen Kane" and "Bladerunner." I think we ended up getting "Citizen Kane" at the library.

Blockbuster! Why don't you have a Classic Movie section? It's just downright annoying. I heard someone say the other day, in effect, "OK, we have the first season of 'Queer as Folk' on DVD, but classic movies are next to impossible to find?" What's up with that?!?

--What? NOTHING from "The Princess Bride"? I know The Princess Bride is comparatively recent, but hey, the list contained quotes from Titanic, Jerry Maguire, The Sixth Sense and When Harry Met Sally.

In my humble opinion, The Princess Bride has some of the best movie quotes ever.

C'mon, AFI people! What about "As you wish"? or "Inconceivable!" or "Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die!"

Yep, I found that omission disappointing. But even the head of the American Film Institute, Jean Pickering, realized the list would be controversial: ""Great movie quotes become part of our cultural vocabulary. When you consider that any phrase from American film is eligible, you realize this is our most subjective topic to date. We expect nothing less than a war of words as we reignite interest in classic American movies."

By the way, I loved Alison Strobel Morrow's comments on my blog:

"My favorite 'Princess Bride' line is: 'True love _is_ the greatest thing in the world! Except for a nice MLT--mutton, lettuce and tomato sandwich--when the mutton is nice and lean and the tomatoes are ripe...they're so perky, I love that.'

"Oh, and of course the wedding scene--'Mawage! Mawage is what bwings us toogevah tooday...' The family friend that did my wedding actually based his entire sermon on The Princess Bride because he knew it was one of my favorite movies, and started his sermon with that opening line. We were all cracking up--especially me and the girls in my bridal party, because we'd all quoted the entire scene while waiting in the bridal dressing room. Actually, his message was really good--his three points were 'as you wish' (serving each other in marriage), 'true love' (and what that really is), and 'inconceivable'(which is what God's love for us is). It was the first time he'd ever done a wedding and we told him he set the bar way too high and he'd better quit while he was ahead."

(By the way, Alison happens to be the daughter of Lee Strobel (The Case for Faith, The Case for Christ), and she is the author of a recently-released novel, Worlds Collide.)

On a totally different subject:

The fascination with Evie continues

It all started when a casual mention of Evie Tornquist Karlsson on my website opened the gates to a steady stream of hits from people wanting to find out what she's doing and where to get her music, lyrics, guitar tabs, what have you.

I decided if there was that much interest in the 70's Christian music icon, I'd try to track her down and do a radio interview with her. Which I did, and you can read the transcript here.

Well, that opened the floodgates for more inquiries about Evie. Where can I get her music? How can I get ahold of her? etc, etc.

Please don't ask me for Evie's e-mail address, because I honestly don't think she wanted me giving it out for all and sundry. However, I'm going to contact her again and strongly encourage her to develop her own website. Obviously, her music still holds huge appeal for a lot of people.

In the meantime:

Some Evie-related news!

A young man named Aaron, who heads Videos for the Family, will be interviewing Evie later this week and posting the interview on his website.

Also, he has gotten ahold of a limited quantity of "Songs for His Family," a cassette tape by Evie and the Karlssons. Aaron says they are never-used tapes, and he's selling them for 4.95 including shipping and handling. If you're one of the legions of Evie fans still out there, it's worth checking out.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Quote o' The Day

"There aren't very many 'Oprah picks' that I have liked. Although every one of them I've read have been beautifully written by writers of superb talent, they have also been stories that left me depressed when I finished them. I am a pragmatic person whose life has been touched by trials and tragedy. I don't need anyone to point out to me that life can be hard and unfair. But I am also a Christian who knows that God is just and righteous, and I have a Father who has given me many promises. My worldview is infused with hope because I stand on the Rock. That worldview infuses my books as well."--Author Robin Lee Hatcher

Baby-boomer reminiscing...

Remember reaching into a huge cooler of pop bottles chilling in ice-cold water? Remember taking a long swig of Coca-Cola that was so cold it had slivers of ice in it? Remember paying 20 cents a gallon for gasoline? Remember listening to top 40 AM radio?

If you do, you're probably a baby boomer.

My 101QFL cohost, Darren Marlar, gave me this quiz on the air this morning, and it was a nice little walk down Memory Lane:

Look at the items below. You'll know that you qualify as a true Baby Boomer if you remember...

1. "Cruising" on a Friday night, listening to the Top 40 on your AM radio.--(Oh, yeah! I don't even remember being aware of FM radio until I was a sophomore or junior in high school...and it definitely wasn't top 40.)

2. How much popcorn you made when you got that first microwave.

3. When there were only 3 TV channels -- and it was so hard to choose what to watch!--(At least you didn't need a remote!)

4. Where you were when JFK was shot...(or RFK)...(or MLK, Jr.)...

5. When the "Domino Theory" meant something other than planning to have pizza for dinner.

6. Who shot J.R.?

7. How scary it was to open that first Apple II...(or Tandy)...(or Commodore) add a card to increase the RAM from 16K all the way up to 64K.

8. When your teenage son or daughter first told you about the Internet.--(I'm on the young side for that one--my kids weren't teen-agers yet, but I remember when news stories were trumpeting the soon arrival of what they kept calling "the information superhighway.)

9. When the Beatles sang "I want to hold your hand" to Ed Sullivan.--(Yep.)

10. The unbelievable taste of good ol' Ripple wine.--(Have to pass on that one.)

11. How "neat" it was to hear the Beach Boys actually sing surfing music at the beach, on your transistor radio.--(Transistor radios! Loved 'em. My sister had one that looked exactly like a Coke can. My mom said she almost threw it away a million times, thinking it really was a Coke can.)

12. When you bought your first car that actually had seatbelts installed.--(Not really...I always remember seatbelts being there.)

13. When you said that you'd never trust anyone over 30.--(Nope...that was the "hippie" era. I was still pretty young then.)

14. What a TV test pattern looked like, when the channel went off the air at midnight.--(Yep, and the national anthem playing which meant it was time to go to bed. That was actually a good thing--a point at which you could NO LONGER WATCH TV.)

15. When we gave up trying to win "hearts and minds" and settled for "peace with honor".

16. When the price of gas jumped up to 50 cents per gallon.

17. When everybody did the "bump" in their leisure suits at the disco.--(I never frequented discos, but I sure do remember that era. Eeesh...leisure suits. How could we have ever thought those were cool? I bet they take hundreds of years to decompose in the landfills...)

18. Making love, not war, on your way to Woodstock in your flowered VW van.--(Again, too early for me.)

19. Watching the first man walk on the moon with "one small step..."--(Yep, I was glued to the (black and white) TV when that happened.)

20. When Carnaby Street came to Main Street, and everyone wore mini-skirts and platform shoes.

How many of those items do you remember?

Add up your score and compare with the grade levels below:

16 - 20 remembered: You qualify as a true Baby Boomer -- you were there and remember it all.

11 - 15 remembered: You're probably old enough, but they say that "memory is one of the first things to go..."

6 - 10 remembered: It's nice to have you youngsters join us here today.

Less than 6 remembered: Either you're real young or you once were a friend of Timothy Leary's -- wasn't he the one who said "If you remember the '60's, then you weren't really there?"

I have a few to add to the list

Remember when every girl wore their hair long, straight and parted down the middle? You could look at your high school yearbook and it would be rows and rows of girls with that look (except for the black girls, whose Afros were so big they sometimes didn't fit in the picture.)

With my naturally curly hair, oh what pains I took to obtain that look. I spent every night with my hair in a pony-tail on top of my head, rolled into two enormous rollers bigger than orange juice cans.

Remember, years earlier than that (circa 1968, '69) when everyone wore fishnet hose? The really cool girls had different colored ones to match with every outfit.

Remember when yarn ribbons were the must-have accessory for hair?

Remember Dippity-do?

Did you have a crush on either of the guys on Alias Smith and Jones? (Read about my crush on Pete Duel.)

Which Monkee did you think was the cutest?

Got any to add to the list?

Monday, June 20, 2005

We need compassion for "the least of these"

David Gibbs III

Do you have a proper heart and spirit towards those that the Bible calls "the least of these"? Whether it's a senior citizen, a disabled person, a young child--do we as a nation have the compassionate heart of God? --David Gibbs III

"Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."--Matthew 25:40

[UPDATE: You can now listen to my interview with David Gibbs III.]

After interviewing Schindler family attorney David Gibbs III (read the transcript of the interview here, with audio to come), I was able to hear Gibbs speak at my church yesterday morning.

I came away with a heart re-dedicated to having compassion on what the Bible calls "the least of these"--the preborn, children, the disabled, the aged, the poverty-stricken, the people who can't "contribute" to society. If we as Christians don't care about "the least of these," then who will?

Gibbs' account of Terri Schiavo's slow dehydration death was eloquent, but factual and straightforward, unembroidered with intentional sentimentalism or maudlin calls for pity. Still, it moved me deeply.

He spoke of being in the room with Mary Schindler the very last time she was able to see her daughter before she died. Before he left the room, Gibbs said he stood at the foot of her bed and said, "Terri, I'm sorry. We did everything we could." Knowing Terri probably couldn't grasp what he was saying, he still felt it had to be said.

Gibbs believes God has blessed our nation heretofore because we had a heart of compassion that God could bless. But everywhere we see evidence of that changing.

We as Christians must have a heart for the weak and the voiceless. We must, as Gibbs says, adopt the heart of God for "the least of these" in our communities.

On a lighter note...

Although normally I'm a fiction freak, I'm actually reading a nonfiction book and really enjoying it!

Currently on my nightstand is Faithful Women and Their Extraordinary God, by Noel Piper. (Noel is the wife of John Piper of Desiring God ministries.) I've just finished the first chapter, about Sarah Edwards, wife of Jonathan Edwards. What a remarkable woman!

I'm sure it's testimony in large part to Sarah's mothering and guidance that the couple's descendants accomplished such great things.

This from

"In 1900, A. E. Winship studied what happened to 1,400 descendants of Jonathan and Sarah by the year 1900. He found they included 13 college presidents, 65 professors, 100 lawyers and a dean of a law school, 30 judges, 66 physicians and a dean of a medical school, and 80 holders of public office, including three US Senators, mayors of three large cities, governors of three states, a Vice-President of the United States, and a controller of the United States Treasury. They had written over 135 books and edited eighteen journals and periodicals. Many had entered the ministry. Over 100 were missionaries and others were on mission boards." Wow.

I look forward to reading more of this book, and to interviewing Noel Piper for my radio show.

Friday, June 17, 2005

It's almost Father's Day, but I'm feeling a surge of motherlove

It's almost Father's Day, and since I won't be blogging this weekend, I wanted to take this opportunity to wish a wonderful day to all of you dads who take an active, loving, nurturing and guiding part in your children's lives. May God richly bless you and may your tribe increase!

Last year I wrote a small tribute to my husband, who is a terrific dad. How I treasure him as a husband and father--he is a wonderful gift from God.

Before my own father passed away in July 2004, I wrote this tribute to him. He was a loving dad too, and I miss him so very much.

However...not to take anything away from fatherhood, but I'm feeling a strong surge of motherlove right now.

Maybe it's because it's the time of year when youngsters are graduating from high school and college. Major turning points in their lives, and in the lives of their mothers. My own daughter--who happens to be my youngest-- graduated from high school a few weeks ago, and although she doesn't have any immediate plans to leave home, I can't help but be struck with the signficance of this milestone. The days of the empty nest are looming.

I've noticed in recent weeks that other blogging moms are experiencing similar emotions.

Katy has rendered me emotional, blogging about her son--the baby of the family--finally leaving the nest, here and here.

I especially love her parting words to her son: "Kev, you'll get married one day and then you'll have your first child. You'll turn around 25 years later and the last one will be walking out the door, and it will feel so strange to you. Because you'll still remember exactly how you felt the first time you brought a new baby home from the hospital, when all of life was ahead of you. Life goes really fast, babe..."

Truer words were never spoken, Katy.

struggles with sending her daughter to a secular college. Like all of us moms, she ultimately has to leave the matter in God's hands.

WallyMom expresses beautifully and emotionally what many moms are feeling during the summer before their children go off to college.

She writes: "Suddenly, I want desperately to go backwards - to those days when he woke me up too early and followed me into the bathroom too often and asked too many questions and bothered me all day long. At least I was a participant in his life. Now I'm not sure who I am to him. He won't need me like before and so I have to redefine my role. I'll always be his mom, but have I now gone from all-knowing provider to the recipient of obligitory phone calls?"

Wow...been there, felt that.

Several weeks ago, when my daughter graduated from high school, my son and his wife came up from Texas, and my younger son was home from college. It was one of those rare occasions when all my children were under one roof, and I savored it. I love my children so strongly and so deeply, it's sometimes painful. How wonderful to know that there's Someone who loves them even more than I do. Even more wonderful, that someone is loving and sovereign and has a unique plan for their lives!

Happy Father's Day, everyone. Have a blessed weekend.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

My interview with Schindler family attorney David Gibbs III

David Gibbs III

[NOTE: You can also listen to this interview by clicking here:]

"Will America learn its lesson from this case? Has this become the Roe v Wade for mercy killing, for assisted suicide? Can senior citizens be warehoused and killed? can disabled people have their life ended?... has Terri's case now opened it up in America where life will be that disposable? Or will it be the shocking wake-up call that I believe it should be, where once again as a nation innocent life will be properly protected."--David Gibbs III

David Gibbs III of the Christian Law Association has represented the family of Terri Schindler Schiavo since 2003. I was able to interview David for my radio show, "Weekend Rockford." Following is a transcript of our interview.

[NOTE: David Gibbs III will be speaking this coming Sunday morning, June 19th, at 11 AM Berean Baptist Church, 5626 Safford Road in Rockford.]

CINDY: For several weeks this past winter and early spring, the nation was captivated by the story of Terri Schindler Schiavo. No matter where one stood on this young woman's fate, most people had a strong opinion one way or ther other on the case. Terri Schiavo died on March 31st after her feeding tube was removed, and after prolonged efforts by her family to intervene on her behalf. My guest today is the attorney who represents Terri's family in this case--he is attorney David Gibbs the third. David, welcome to Weekend Rockford--I'm privileged to have you as my guest.

DAVID: Cindy, I'm honored to be with you, and it was my privilege to stand for the life of Terri Schiavo as her family so diligently and so boldly stood for for her right to live.

CINDY: David, you've once again been in the news in recent days, as Terri Schiavo's autopsy results have been released. And I understand that the Schindlers have released a statement to the media concerning those results...can you share that with us?

DAVID: Oh, absolutely. We need to remember that the IME, the independent medical examiner, is looking at a dead body, a corpse, and trying to evaluate by looking at what is there and essentially, we understood as the Schindler family and as the legal team that Terri was brain-injured. And he has confirmed in that report that indeed she was significantly brain-injured.

But that does not eliminate some of the questions that still remain as to what caused her injuries, and certainly what we would call the larger moral or legal issues still remain.

The IME said clearly that Terri was not terminal, and what that means is she was not going to die because of her brain-injured condition, her disability; she had no living will, she'd put nothing in writing as to her wishes; her heart was remarkably strong and would have continued for many years; and that the immediate cause of death was this brutal dehydration that Terri was taken, where she had no hydration, no nourishment, and died over those period of days.

"Moral shame"

And so, what the IME put forward really doesn't erase, in our opinion, the the moral shame of what happened--that the quality of a person's life became the basis for which it could be ended. And to think that in this country if we say someone's blind or brain-injured that we would allow them to be put to death, it just seems so barbaric and so heartless that as a nation there is still not an outcry that Terri, a woman that was not terminal, was killed in such an unbelievable fashion.

CINDY: Most of the mainstream media is trumpeting that the results vindicate her husband's belief that she should have been allowed to die. I'd like to quote conservative Christian blogger La Shawn Barber, who I think sums up what a lot of Americans are feeling right now. "For me, the whole tragedy surrounding Terri and the people who wanted her dead didn’t hinge on how severely brain-damaged she was. She was alive and wasn’t on life support, and her husband’s credibility was extremely low, too low to trust his assertion that Terri wanted to die if ever severely brain-damaged. Forget about what you’d want if you were ever in the same condition. Take yourselves out of the equation.

"The way they killed her was appalling, and I was angry for a long time afterward. (and she goes on to say). The doctor-induced starvation was immoral."

Unanswered questions

David, Terri's parents, the Schindlers, say there are still a lot of unanswered questions. What are some of those unanswered questions?

DAVID: Well, one of the major unanswered questions is how did Terri's condition happen? What occurred back in 1990? Terri was a healthy 26-year-old girl--she collapsed--the IME said her brain injury was caused from lack of blood flow, lack of oxygen to the brain over a protracted time period. And some leading theories were kind of ruled out by the medical examiner's report. Many people had said it was bulimia, an eating disorder, some had said it was a heart attack, and the medical examiner said there is no evidence--matter of fact, in his opinion, the evidence rules out the bulimia, rules out the heart attack, and so, one of the leading questions that for any parent, any family, is very troubling, is what happened to Terri that night?

Michael Schiavo, the husband in 1990, has given so many inconsistent statements that it leaves people wondering what occurred.

For example, he said to the medical examiner, he said to "Larry King Live", that Terri collapsed at 4:30 in the morning. Well then, 911 wasn't called till 5:40 in the morning--that's an hour and 10 minutes. Seventy minutes went by, if these reports are believable, where Terri is in this collapsed condition, and getting no care, no assistance, and certainly if blood isn't flowing to a person's brain, not just every minute, but literally every second counts. And the family would just like to understand, why are these time discrepancies? What actually caused Terri's condition? And so, in a measure, by ruling out the eating disorder, by ruling out the heart attack, the medical examiner may have raised more questions than his report actually answers.

CINDY: So what's the next step for the Schindlers? Are they going to challenge this in any way legally?

DAVID: Well, the medical examiner's report is put forward by the government, and what they do, is they lay out, this is what we've found. The medical examiner said it is an open investigation--if there's new evidence or things that come forward, he would gladly re-review his findings. And so, in all of that, we are hoping that possibly Mr. Schiavo or somone would step forward and give us more of an indication what happened that night.

Focusing on Terri's legacy

The Schindlers themselves are wanting to focus at this point on Terri's legacy. They stood as a loving mother and father would--I mean, you need to understand, even though she was 41, Terri was their daughter. They loved her more than life itself, they had to watch her, and I was in the room with them, literally be dehydrated to death. And the medical examiner was pretty clear that it was not a pretty dehydration, that it was very severe and very unpleasant. And here the family had to watch that, and they had fought so hard for Terri's life. But now their focus is "OK, Terri paid this incredible sacrifice, she's now in eternity, she's now at peace, but what can we do to make sure no other family, no other patient, no other person, whether disabled, senior citizen, or whoever, has to undergo this barbaric death that Terri underwent."

And so they're really wanting to focus on seeing laws changed nationwide, seeing the heart and mind of Americans changed, where people would once again have that compassion for someone like Terri.

Where do we go from here?

CINDY: On your Christian Law Association website, you have an article titled "Where do we go from here?" that analyzes some things we should learn from the Terri Schiavo case. What are some things that should be done legally to insure that tragedies like this don't happen again?

DAVID: Well, number one, I think our nation needs to decide that we are once again gonna err on the side of always protecting innocent life. I appreciate President Bush yesterday issuing a statement saying in a sense, he was glad they had stood for Terri, and that you always want to err on the side of life. And in this nation, I think it's important that we realize it's a crime, for example, to starve a dog or a cat to death. It's something our constitution will not allow to happen to a convicted mass murderer.

But here, Terri Schiavo wasn't an animal, she was a woman, and she wasn't a convicted mass murder, she was an innocent disabled woman. And in a sense she caught a little gap in our law where others were allowed to come in and say, Her life doesn't matter, and we will dispose of her in this manner.

And so, I think we need to be looking at, in our law, will we put adequate protection for the disabled? will we make sure that once again innocent life is protected as it was intended by our founding fathers?

And we need to remember, too, Terri Schiavo never put anything in writing. You cannot, in a will, leave your refrigerator orally to a person after you die. Something as simple as a piece of personal property cannot transfer unless there is something in writing. But, unbelievably, weak hearsay oral statements will allow someone to be put to death. And I think we need to see the law raise the standard to say we will always err on the side of life unless there is some kind of clear document where people have made informed choices.

In this case, we really believe Terri would have wanted to live. I can't imagine she would want her family to go through what she had to have them watch; I can't imagine she would want to go through the brutally painful dehydration that was described by the medical examiner.

CINDY: Let's back up a bit, David... how did you personally come to be involved in the Terri Schiavo case?

DAVID: Bob and Mary Schindler walked into my office in the year 2003 and said, "Mr. Gibbs, is there anything you can do? Our lawyers have told us everything is exhausted, there's nothing that can be done, and they are going to kill our daughter."

And I had read a little bit in the media--it hadn't quite caught the attention back then that it caught in 2005--but basically, I thought Terri was brain dead. I didn't understand she was just brain-injured, that all she needed was food and water, that the level of her disability was the reason why the husband was moving to have her killed. Then I was shocked to find out that the husband had moved on with another woman and had been living with her for almost 10 years--I mean, the more I heard, the more unbelievable it became.

Then I went to see Terri. And in seeing Terri, it was quite remarkable to me how animated she was, how excited she was to see her parents, how she would laugh, how she would cry. And as I looked at Terri, I said, "Clearly, this woman, while disabled--we don't dispute that--is a life worth saving, is a life worth living."

And we watched the Florida legislature pass what would become Terri's Law; we had the joy of handing that document to Mary Schindler on the night it became law, and literally at that point Terri's life was spared for a couple of years. And then we had the privilege of serving through March 31st, 2005 as their lead counsel, and we have continued to help serve the family at this point in helping them establish what will Terri's legacy be.

And in a sense will America, Cindy, learn its lesson from this case? Has this become the Roe v Wade for mercy killing, for assisted suicide? Can senior citizens be warehoused and killed? can disabled people have their life ended? Well, we would certainly hope not. And historically that's been prohibited in America. But has Terri's case now opened it up in America where life will be that disposable? Or will it be the shocking wake-up call that I believe it should be, where once again as a nation innocent life will be properly protected.

CINDY: Many people commented on the fact that Terri's case was a very tragic moment in our nation's history, even a turning point of sorts. This quote is from the Christian Law Association website: "If the law is not changed, the case of Schindler v. Schiavo has the potential to become (as you said) the Roe v. Wade of mercy killing, allowing senior citizens and disabled people nationwide to be killed, and allowing family members “the choice” to eliminate inconvenient life at both ends of the spectrum." That sounds pretty ominous, but we've all heard about the slippery slope... Are you worried, David, about the future, in the light of what happened with Terri?

DAVID: No question. If we don't, basically, stop the insanity, I fear for my children. I fear someday for my grandchildren. What kind of America will we be handing them?

You need to understand, you look in history, and people say, how could the Nazis in Germany do the horrible things that they did? It didn't start one day with them saying, "Let's take millions of people, and because they're Jewish or because they're unpopular, let's go ahead and have them slaughtered." It began with a slippery slope where the government began to decide who could live, who could die, who mattered, who was valuable, and when you start getting into that type of analysis, it's a very scary slippery slope.

The worldwide media was very enamored with the Terri Schiavo case; as many people know, it went around the globe. But the international media had an interesting question. They said, "We understand this woman is disabled, is being starved to death, and the President and the Congress tried to stop it, but here's our question: By what moral authority--America's over in Iraq for human rights; America stopped Afghanistan because of their terrorism and abuses; America stopped the Nazis in Germany back in World War II, all based on it was the morally right thing to do. Now here's the quesiton: By what moral authority does America allow Terri Schiavo to ie this barbaric death?"

The answer, Cindy, is quite obvious: there is no moral authority. This is absolutely insane that a disabled woman whose family wants to take care of her is literally is put to death before her eyes.

Why wouldn't the judge see Terri?

CINDY: David, you mentioned that you were able to be with Terri even as she was dying. One question that's been asked about the case, is why couldn't the judge have gone and witnessed for himself the situation with Terri?

DAVID: Oh, Cindy, a great question, and one that I was complaining, and raising, and arguing--and I felt that the judge--now you've got to understand, this is the man that holds Terri's life in his hands--never took the time to see Terri. She's the object of the whole litigation, she's the number one piece of evidence. Why wouldn't the judge take the time to, just with his own eyes, go look at Terri?

Why wouldn't the judge say, "Look, bring Terri to court." Terri could have been in a wheelchair and taken to court every time there was a hearing.

But in a sense, the judge walled himself off from Terri, and I think he just didn't want to have to see her as some of these decisions were made. I believe if he watched her interact with her mother, if he watched her enjoy listening to music, if he watched the Terri Schiavo that I saw, I believe there would have been no way he would allow her to be put to death in the manner she was.

And clearly, after they removed the food and water and she began into the severe dehydration process, that was an incredibly shocking and immensely sad thing to observe, to literally watch an otherwise healthy person being being dehydrated to death. And I think if he'd've seen what the the results of his court rulings were, that would certainly have an impact to possibly change his mind.

CINDY: One of the things the autopsy revealed was that Terri was blind. Does that surprise you?

DAVID: Well, no it does not, because clearly Terri had visual impairment. We knew that.

Terri could not see as well as we thought or hoped or wished she could. And again, the medical examiner is saying, from his review of her brain at the moment of her death, she was blind, that there was no way that she was seeing.

Clearly, Terri recognized people. And so, whether that was done through some very limited vision that was later lost, or whether she had an attuned sense of hearing, or sense of smell, or presence, I don't know. but I did watch Terri clearly recognize her mother and father; I watched her laugh, I watched her cry, she indicated pain. And again, not that her level of life or her quality of life should be the determination as to whether she should live or die, but clearly, Terri was very much alive.

And I think the medical examiner's report might be overstated in the popular media. They're kind of saying, "Well, she was pretty brain-injured, so it's OK to kill her." And I think we need to be careful that we don't make that moral leap.

Terri was dehydrated to death before our eyes as a nation. The moral shame of that is not erased because of her level of disability. I think it's irresponsible and in a measure heartless to say, just because someone's disabled, just because someone is in an injured condition, that it's now OK to kill them.

"We need a heart check"

And I think that we need to, in a sense, have a heart check, and say "What has happened to the compassion in our nation?"

CINDY: David, what can Christians do to combat this culture of death that seems to be holding sway in our nation right now?

DAVID: Well, number one, I think coming back to the heart issue, is to do a personal heart check. Do you have a proper heart and spirit towards those that the Bible calls "the least of these"? Whether it's a senior citizen, a disabled person, a young child--do we as a nation have the compassionate heart of God?
Number two, we certainly need to pray; and number three, I believe we need to see the laws and the policies all across our land change to what our founding father intended: the protection of innocent life.

Go here for more information on the Christian Law Association, and here for more on the ramifications of the Terri Schiavo case.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Weird Thought of the Day

My son Jonathan

"With all the zombie movies out these days, I wonder if someday the advance of cosmetic surgey will render the genre implausible. Like the corpses emerge from the cemetary to be greated by the billboard: 'Undead? decayed flesh? sagging and distorted facial features? - Dr. James A. Plastic Surgeon will fix you right up!'"--my son Jonathan

Yes, I'm glad to see that my son Jonathan has returned to blogging after a lengthy hiatus. I'm not going to nag him, but I hope he'll blog more frequently now, because (being totally unbiased and impartial of course), I consider him extremely talented and interesting. :)

Disjointed Wednesday ramblings...

USA Today has an article today about Christian evangelicals getting involved in political issues other than abortion and same sex marriage--i.e, global warming, religious persecution, prison rape, world hunger, Sudan, etc.

Interestingly, this branching out into other areas of activism finds members of the evangelical right sometimes pulling in the same direction as liberal groups like the ACLU.

As long as we avoid being "unequally yoked," I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing to sometimes be on the same page as such groups. In my view, it helps dispel the image we conservative Christians sometimes have of being uncaring and uncompassionate. My goodness! Of all people, Christians should be known for their compassion.

Quoting from Susan Page's article: "Evangelicals' engagement on a wider range of issues and their willingness to forge surprising coalitions reflect the growing maturity and sophistication of the most powerful emerging force in American politics today. And while the alliances formed on, say, the Sudan aren't likely to change anyone's mind when the topic turns to abortion or same-sex marriage, they could help moderate the bitter tone of the nation's politics."

Interesting stuff.

The Christian Carnival is up...

This week's Christian Carnival is up at Daddypundit. There's some great fodder for reading and pondering there.

Now, if you're a blogger and you haven't latched on to the Christian Carnival yet, it's simply a showcase of posts from the past week. It's hosted by a different blogger every week, but based at the Wittenberg Gate.

Entering one of your own posts in the Carnival is very easy. In fact, I go the really easy route by using this handy Carnival Submit Form. You can actually use this handy form to submit posts to any of several such "carnivals" and blog showcases.

The benefit to you as a blogger is getting your blog known and thereby increasing readership. I've always thought, why take the time to blog if no one is going to read it?

On a related note, major blogging diva La Shawn Barber mentioned on her blog today that she's thinking of writing an e-book about blogging: "A lot of readers ask how/why I started blogging, how I built a readership, etc. I’m thinking of writing an e-book and selling it on the site. There’s a market for it, I know a little about it, I’m self-employed, and I need the cash!:)"

Go for it, La Shawn...I think that's a great idea!

I'll be interviewing David Gibbs III later this morning...

Gibbs was the attorney for the parents of Terri Schindler Schiavo.

Coincidentally, Terri's autopsy results are expected to be released later today.

Does anyone have a question they'd like me to ask Gibbs? Post it in my comments section if you will.

UPDATE: 9:00 AM Central: I've just been informed that David Gibbs III is postponing his interview with me today because of the release of Terri Schiavo's autopsy results later this morning. He's hoping to reschedule for tomorrow morning. This is almost better for me newswise, because I'll be able to get his reaction to the release of the autopsy results.

Gibbs will be speaking at my church, Berean Baptist of Rockford, this coming Sunday.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

My interview with Lisa Samson

I just had the pleasure of interviewing one of my favorite authors, the delightful Lisa Samson, for my radio show, "Weekend Rockford." Here are some excerpts from that interview.--CS

CINDY: A few years ago, I read a book that I really consider to be a breakthrough in Christian fiction. The characters were real, with real problems and real responses, but despite the lack of candy-coating, it had a humorous charm and hopeful grace that made me sorry to see the book end. That book was The Church Ladies, and the author was Lisa Samson. Lisa had written several books before The Church Ladies and has written several more afterward, and she has remained on the short list of my favorite authors. Most recently, Lisa has written Club Sandwich. And I'm delighted to have her as my guest today on Weekend Rockford. Lisa, welcome!

LISA: Oh, thanks for having me, Cindy, it's always a pleasure.

CINDY: Before we get into talking about Club Sandwich, tell us a little about yourself and how you got into writing. I think you've told me before that you never had great dreams to be a writer?

LISA: No, no. Well first of all, I am married, I've been married for 17 years to Will, and we have three children; Ty, who is 15, Jake's 11, and Gwynnie is 8. And you know, that's my primary role in life: wife and mother. And I got into writing because I had read a book that I found interesting, and I said, "Oh, I think I'll just write a book," and I did.

And that ended up being "The Highlander and His Lady," which was published two years later. Which was, just such a NOT typical story, and obviously God just had something for me to do and was providing the way to do it, and so I'm very blessed to have had a path like that. But, no, I never really was the person who was writing stories since they were five, and keeping a diary, and all that--

CINDY: Like me! And I should hate you for that (laughing), because
you're like Lana Turner supposedly getting hired right off the soda shop stool...

LISA: (laughing) That's right, and you know, the thing about it is, I think God knows my weakness of my ego and my pride, and if He had given me an area that I really was self-invested in, I think I would have had a real problem doing it for Him. So He just gave me something out of the blue so that I couldn't give any credit to myself whatsoever (laughs.)

CINDY: Before you wrote "The Church Ladies," you were known mostly for your historical fiction. My daughter and I still both love the Shades of Eternity series. But church ladies marked a change for you in your focus and even in your style, didn't it?

LISA: Oh, absolutely.

how did that come about?

LISA: Well, that type of writing is really what really flows out me naturally. The other, just pretty basic storytelling, historical fiction. You know, I used to read historical fiction, and you know, I just didn't think think of anything else to write. I started getting into reading more women's fiction and contemporary fiction and so I started kind of trying my hand at that just on my own, and that just flowed out of me, that was my natural voice.

So, I finally said, "You know what? I just need to write the way God made me to write." And I think I learned a lot along the way, but this was really the way He had programmed me to do what He had called me to do, and so it's a much more natural voice for me.

And I just decided, you know, I'm not like making a million dollars a year doiing the historical, so
I might as well not make a million dollars doing the other (laughs). It wasn't very lucrative at that time, and,you know it still beats mcDonald's, but that's about it (laughs heartily). So at least I get some kind of satisfaction out of it.

CINDY: Your writing is full of so many observations about daily things,....I'll read something that you wrote and I'll think, "Yeah! I've thought that very same thing before." And I love some of the descriptives phrases that you use, like, "that's as wrong as low-rise jeans on Hillary Clinton" (LISA laughs) Things like that just make me laugh out loud. Are you constantly on the alert for these kinds of observations to use them in your writing?

LISA: You know what, I'm not. Usually they just pop out of me when I'm writing. Every once in a while some kind of metaphor or image will come to my mind about something and I'll jot it down. But I've gotta admit, I am terrible when it comes to jotting things down. I know writers should always do that, and I don't, and it's awful. I would probably be so much better if I was just disciplined in that area, but I'm not, so I just have to go with whatever hits me while I'm writing. It's TERRIBLE! (laughing).

CINDY: Well, it works--whatever you're doing, it works, and it just strikes a chord and relates very well with your reader. Let's talk about your latest book, Club Sandwich, from Waterbrook Press. Lisa, I'll admit I'm not done with the book yet...I am more than halfway through it, though, and so far I'm loving it. What is this book about?

LISA: This book is about Ivy Schneider, and she is a caregiver, and she's stuck between generations. She has an ailing mother as well as children that she's still busy raising--her youngest is around three in this book. And so,
it deals with the trials that you go through when you're stuck in this situation.

It was something I lived for four years with my own mother. And when I started to take care of her, she had just started to decline then, so it wasn't any real major caregiving at that point, only the tug, when you feel like you're just in a tug of youngest was nine months old at the time, so it was quite a journey. And it was the most difficult thing I've ever done in my entire life.

And so, I wanted to write Club Sandwich, because I thought this was something I had lived through and I could address probably more authentically than anything else I had ever written. But I had to decide that I wanted to bleed across the page, and I did, a lot of experiences... while I changed them some what, were pretty much something I had gone through. I did try to change the siblings quite a bit from my own siblings, because I didn't want to lose my family (laughing)

CINDY: I figured that, because from reading your blog I know that you're crazy about your sisters.. And that's another thing that strikes a chord with me. My father just passed away a year ago, after a long illness in which he declined mentally, so much of what you write about in the book, I could really relate to.

How do you get the ideas for your characters, Lisa? I know that's often hard for a writer to explain...can you sort of clue us in on how that takes place?

LISA: Well, you know, different things for different books. Really, every once in a while a character will jump into my head fully developed. One character that did that was Poppy Frasier from The Church Ladies.and also
also Charmaine from Songbird, and she was in the Church Ladies as well...those two jumped into my head fully developed.

I usually get through about half of writing the book before I really know who my character is going to be. Ivy was very hard to define, for some reason, and I guess it was because she shared so many of my thoughts about such tender issues that I guess I was just kind of afraid to find out who she really was.

Another character that was very hard to define was Lark, who was in a book called "Women's Intuition." In fact, she changed completely from the first draft--when I went back, I changed her character completely from one character to another. She was this tiny, scared agoraphobic type person, and when she started out, she was this
heroically built, big, blustery jazz singer.

CINDY: WOW! (laughing)

LISA: It just wasn't working, so I had to go back and change it completely. I mean, you know, I just threw out the first out the first sixty pages of the novel I'm working on, and started fresh. So, you know, 'm not afraid to just go back and do major surgery.

CINDY: You know, these books--The Church Ladies, Women's Intuition, Tiger Lillie, and Club Sandwich---these are the kinds of books that you could hand to someone who doesn't know Christ and they could read the book and
totally enjoy it, but there still is that message in there of Christ. How important is it to you that your readers come away with an affirmation, or re-affirmation of faith in God?

LISA: You know, this answer's gonna surprise you...not very.

CINDY: Really?

LISA: Right. I think that what is going to happen in a heart is going to happen through the Holy Spirit. My books...I really am one of those crazy artists that are trying to tell an authentic story. And I believe truth is of God, and I just put the truth out there...and let God do the rest.

Y'know, because people are going to come to a story, and they are going to find what they want to in it, whether it's their affirmation in Christ--I can't make that happen for somebody. I can't prepare their heart, and I can't do any of that. All I can do is write the best story I can, with the elements that I feel like I know something about, that I can portray authentically, and hopefully have an element of faith in there, because that naturally flows from me...

CINDY: Exactly, yeah.

LISA: And if that touches the heart of the reader, then great. If it doesn't, then you know what? That's OK too... I jsut leave it up to Him, and I'm not trying to manipulate what I do to "sell Jesus" to anybody. I'm trying to do what God's created me to do, and let Him take the ball and run with it.

CINDY: And it's working, it's working very well.

You're living an adventure right uprooted completely from Baltimore to Kentucky, and why is that?

LISA: Well, we decided it was just time to get busy (laughs). And God has really just been gracious in showing us that this was the move He had for our family. And what we've done, we've moved to urban Lexington, Kentucky, which, believe me, is not like moving to urban Baltimore or New York City. Y'know, this is a very gentle little town. But we moved to one of the less-developed sections, and we're just trying to see what it's like to live as Jesus here on the streets.

CINDY: That's awesome.

LISA: We moved in about two weeks ago, and we are with a group of committed believers, and we're living in intentional community, which means we've all moved to this area of the city to try and do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God in whatever way God brings the opportunities. And you know, we've only been here a couple of weeks, so I'll have to report to you and tell you what's going on with it.

If anyone wants to find out about this journey with our family, they can always go my website, which is and click on "blog," and that will bring you to my writing blog, which is called "Author Intrusion," and on that blog you can find my family blog on this journey, and that's called "Streets with Dwellings," which is a reference to Isaiah 58, which God used to really call our family '

CINDY: Speaking of the future, what can we expect next from Lisa Samson?

LISA: Lisa Samson (laughing) is writing a book called "Travels with My Uncle." And this character you have seen before in The Church Ladies; her name was India, and she was a music minister at an Episcopal Church and she rode around in a lady-bug-painted VW beetle. She's the main character of this book, and she has been wounded by the church, and she is going to go cross country with her uncle on a trip, and he is dying of cancer, so it's sort of his last hurrah and her healing.

And so they meet a lot of crazy people, as you'd expect, along the way. And so, hopefully it's a story of healing, and what we can do when we allow the Holy Spirit to use us instead of closing all those bad things in a suitcase and taking them with us wherever we go (laughs).

CINDY: Lisa, bless you as you and your husband and your family as you minister...and just keep on writing those great books, we love 'em.

LISA: Thank you so much, Cindy.

Monday, June 13, 2005

My blog has a British accent today...

OK, I'm an Angophile. Maybe it all goes back to when I went to a British school when I was a missionary kid in Beirut, Lebanon back in the mid-60's (Manor House School), but I'm irresistably drawn to many British things. Also, my fantasy vacation would involve chiefly Ireland and Scotland, but also England. It's been a lifelong dream of mine.

So naturally I latched onto this list (hat tip to The Crusty Curmudgeon, via Rebecca), of the United Kingdom's Most Popular Novels.

Charlotte Bronte, author of Jane Eyre

(By the way, my favorite novel of all time is Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte, and anyone who reads this blog knows what a big Chronicles of Narnia fan I am.)

Note that the books on the list aren't all necessarily British, just beloved by British readers. I've bolded the ones that I've read. I did great on the top 50, but struck out almost completely on the last half. See how well you do.

The U.K.'s Best-Loved Novels

1. The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien
2. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
3. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman
4. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, JK Rowling
6. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
7. Winnie the Pooh, AA Milne
8. Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell
9. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis
10. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë
11. Catch-22, Joseph Heller
12. Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë
13. Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks
14. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
15. The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
16. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
17. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
18. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
19. Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres
20. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
21. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
22. Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone, JK Rowling
23. Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, JK Rowling
24. Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, JK Rowling
25. The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien
26. Tess Of The D'Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy
27. Middlemarch, George Eliot
28. A Prayer For Owen Meany, John Irving
29. The Grapes Of Wrath, John Steinbeck
30. Alice's Adventures In Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
31. The Story Of Tracy Beaker, Jacqueline Wilson
32. One Hundred Years Of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez
33. The Pillars Of The Earth, Ken Follett
34. David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
35. Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
36. Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
37. A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute
38. Persuasion, Jane Austen
39. Dune, Frank Herbert
40. Emma, Jane Austen
41. Anne Of Green Gables, LM Montgomery
42. Watership Down, Richard Adams
43. The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald
44. The Count Of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
45. Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
46. Animal Farm, George Orwell
47. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
48. Far From The Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy
49. Goodnight Mister Tom, Michelle Magorian
50. The Shell Seekers, Rosamunde Pilcher

Next 51 - 100 (I've read only three of these):

51. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
52. Of Mice And Men, John Steinbeck
53. The Stand, Stephen King
54. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
55. A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth
56. The BFG, Roald Dahl
57. Swallows And Amazons, Arthur Ransome
58. Black Beauty, Anna Sewell
59. Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer
60. Crime And Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
61. Noughts And Crosses, Malorie Blackman
62. Memoirs Of A Geisha, Arthur Golden
63. A Tale Of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
64. The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCollough
65. Mort, Terry Pratchett
66. The Magic Faraway Tree, Enid Blyton--no, but I've read many Enid Blytoon books and loved 'em67. The Magus, John Fowles
68. Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
69. Guards! Guards!, Terry Pratchett
70. Lord Of The Flies, William Golding
71. Perfume, Patrick Süskind
72. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Robert Tressell
73. Night Watch, Terry Pratchett
74. Matilda, Roald Dahl
75. Bridget Jones's Diary, Helen Fielding
76. The Secret History, Donna Tartt
77. The Woman In White, Wilkie Collins
78. Ulysses, James Joyce
79. Bleak House, Charles Dickens
80. Double Act, Jacqueline Wilson
81. The Twits, Roald Dahl
82. I Capture The Castle, Dodie Smith
83. Holes, Louis Sachar
84. Gormenghast, Mervyn Peake
85. The God Of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
86. Vicky Angel, Jacqueline Wilson
87. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
88. Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
89. Magician, Raymond E Feist
90. On The Road, Jack Kerouac
91. The Godfather, Mario Puzo
92. The Clan Of The Cave Bear, Jean M Auel
93. The Colour Of Magic, Terry Pratchett
94. The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
95. Katherine, Anya Seton
96. Kane And Abel, Jeffrey Archer
97. Love In The Time Of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez
98. Girls In Love, Jacqueline Wilson
99. The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot
100. Midnight's Children, Salman Rushdie

Speaking of British...Adrian Warnock reports some big things at the Blogdom of God...

Adrian Warnock, who heads the Blogdom of God, (of which my blog is a member)tells us that a "MAJOR exciting development in the Blogdom of God Alliance" is in the offing later this week.

Says Adrian, "This development should really enable us to work together as Christian blogs of all flavours."

Adrian (who bills himself as "British Christian Blogger Psychiatrist Preacher Husband & Dad"), has one of the most well-read Christian blogs with his Adrian Warnock's UK Evangelical Blog.

And from the sublime to the ridiculous...

When it's not being potty-themed and potty-mouthed, I find British humor uniquely hilarious. It's just the way they word things. Although I can't recommend it as family-friendly, I have been laughing up a storm at my son's DVDs of The Office.

My sister Bev tells me Are You Being Served? is hilarious too, although I haven't had a chance to see that one.

I didn't care for the Mr. Bean movie, but I've gotten some great laughs out of his TV stuff.

And Monty Python, at its best, is sidesplitting. Here is one of their funniest skits ever.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Hey, come on, he apologized!

I never said I admired Russell Crowe for his personal life--I just love him as an actor.

But, to his credit, Crowe has apologized for the temper tantrum he threw--and the phone he threw at a New York City hotel employee.

Appearing on David Letterman, Crowe called the incident "possibly the most shameful situation I've ever gotten myself into in my life" and said he's tried to apologize to the hotel employee, but can't reach him on the phone.

Hey, Russell's intentions were good--he was just trying to be a good husband. He was having difficulty getting ahold of his wife, Danielle Spencer, to let her know he was behaving: "I'm trying to fulfill my basic obligations to my wife, who needs to know that I'm at home, I'm in bed, I haven't had too much to drink and, primarily important, that I'm alone."

He blamed the outburst on loneliness and jet lag.

Well, he's issued a nice mea culpa. I'm inclined to extend some grace to him, maybe because he IS one of my favorite actors...but he needs to get that anger under control.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Are jokes going the way of the buffalo?

Back in the early 60's (I think), the New York Times declared that God was dead. Well, they were wrong about that, and maybe they're wrong about their latest declaration that the joke has died.

Yes, the time-honored tradition of joke-telling, if you can believe the New York Times, is done. Gone. Dead. Out of style.

I read this in the Rockford Register Star this morning, so it must be true, right?

According to the article (the only place I was able to find it on the internet was here):

"The joke has died, the New York Times says. To tell a joke at a party or the office, the comics tell the Times, is to mark oneself out of touch or craving attention.

"The joke died quietly without obituaries or mourning. And no one is quite sure what killed it.

"Was it the Internet, ADD or, as comics cite, political correctness? Academics who have been conducting a postmortem have one consensus that most jokes are meanspirited, and young people are not as comfortable offending someone.

"Another theory is young people's short attention span. Yet another reason may be that old style jokes were a guy thing..."

Well, I'm certainly not sorry to say good-bye to obscene or mean-spirited jokes. But the joke itself, at its best, is an art form and one of the small pleasures in life.

If we now have such short attention spans that we can't take thirty seconds to listen to a well-told joke, then that's pretty sad.

One of the features my radio co-host, Darren Marlar, starts the day off with on the air is his "Way Too Early in the Morning Even After Two Cups of Coffee Joke of the Day." I often get a great guffaw out of these jokes.

There are even websites, like the, that will e-mail you a joke a day. Why not? It's a long sight better than a lot of the junk you have to wade through in your inbox every morning.

I've gotten phone calls from my sisters or my son expressly for the purpose of telling me a funny joke they just had to pass along, and vice versa. My husband will often call his best friend just to share a joke.

I'll admit, not everyone is good at joke-telling. I myself don't count it as one of my talents. I'll often forget the punchline or pertinent details leading up to it.

I probably get that from my dad. He wasn't the greatest teller of jokes, but he loved telling them and had a ton of them in his repertoire. And you know what? Some of my favorite memories of my dad are about his jokes. Even the corny ones.

Jokes are a necessary part of life. As the Bible says, "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine" (Proverbs 17:22) Most of us could use a good laugh.

Anyway, the New York Times, as I mentioned earlier, has been wrong before.

So, keep 'em clean and keep 'em amiable, but keep the jokes coming.

And as an added little bonus, I give you this one:

Three comedians are shooting the breeze at the back of a nightclub after a late gig. They’ve heard one another’s material so much, they’ve reached the point where they don’t need to say the jokes anymore to amuse each other – they just need to refer to each joke by a number. "Number 37!" cracks the first comic, and the others break up. "Number 53!" says the second guy, and they howl. Finally, it’s the third comic’s turn. "44!" he quips. He gets nothing. Crickets. "What?" he asks, "Isn’t 44 funny?" "Sure, it’s usually hilarious," they answer. "But the way you tell it…"


Why I like Sue Grafton's Kinsey Millhone series...

Thanks to everyone who responded in my comments section about what they're reading now.

Carrie tells me that she just started Sue Grafton's "A is for Alibi," and she mentions on her blog that she was hooked from page one.

Well, Carrie, expect to be hooked on down through the alphabet series, all the way to the most recent, "R is for Ricochet," which I just finished.

Ashley asks:
"How do Sue Grafton's alphabetical mysteries compare to Mary Higgins Clark's mysteries? I love MHC, and my curiosity has been piqued by SG's interesting titles, but I haven't read any of them."

How do I explain the appeal of the Kinsey Millhone books?

Kinsey, by the way, is the 30-something female private investigator who is the main character in the series.

In trying to analyze why I like these books so much, I've decided that, even though Grafton's a great storyteller, much of the appeal is that we get to know and like Kinsey so well.

We know what she likes to eat and that she moans with delight over a quarter pounder with cheese; we know that she's pretty faithful about forcing herself to jog every morning; we know that she's woefully lax about girly stuff like make-up and clothes, but that she's undeniably feminine; we know that she's curious to the point of nosey, that she adores her elderly landlord, and that her childhood as an orphan, raised by an aunt, affects all her relationships and/or lack of them.

Reading a Kinsey Millhone book, the enjoyment of living in Kinsey's world propels me forward every bit as much as the mystery does. And I'm always sorry to see the book come to an end.

I've read a lot of Mary Higgins Clark books, and really liked them, but the Grafton books are a different type of book. Yes, there's mystery and suspense, but the stories are all told from Kinsey's point of view, with Kinsey's personality and the details of her life permeating everything.
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