Day 175

Have you ever read a book and--from page one--been captivated by the author's prose? That's an experience I really enjoy! I bring this up because I'm reading a John Le Carré novel, and by the end of the first page I thought, "Wow, this man can write."

As I near the end, that opinion hasn't change. I think about other authors with whom I've had a similar experience--Cormac McCarthy, Herman Melville, Tim O'Brien, C.S. Lewis, Dave Eggers, Joseph O'Connor--and it makes me smile. And then there are the ones that grew on me--J.K. Rowling, James Joyce, Stanislaw Lem, Toni Morrison, Umberto Eco--and they also make me smile. And then I think of the ones that soured over time--Kurt Vonnegut, Elizabeth Kostovo--and I don't smile at all.

It is easy, for me at least, to get lost in the waves of a good novel, especially if it is the first time with that author. What are some authors that you liked right away (and maybe some others that grew on you over time, or ones that impressed you initially and then got annoying after a while)?

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 2/27/2007 10:18:00 AM, ,

Day 174-- It's a start....

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 2/26/2007 11:39:00 AM, ,

Day 173-- a short plug

My great friend Luke has kept his literary magazine under the radar for some time, but now it seems he's getting the word out. He and I discussed it months ago; frankly, I'd forgotten about it until the other day, and it was almost perfect how he brought it up again this weekend when he visited Beaver Falls.

Seems that it's going to be in PDF, since doing a print version will be cost prohibitive. He also needs submissions: submit, folks. I'm hoping to submit a short story; about what, I really don't know. I've grown fed-up with "serious literary fiction" of late, so I might take some of what I learned from Flannery O'Connor this month and create a character, let them breathe, and turn them loose on the page.

Back to the lit. mag--check the guidelines on the side and get to it. Luke has a pretty good idea for some grassroots promotion, so hopefully this thing will take off!

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 2/25/2007 11:35:00 PM, ,

Day 172-- on bookstores

Borders Inc. has a new CEO, George Jones. He's changing the company a lot (when he's not writing country mus--oh, different guy?). This morning, my manager at the bookstore was showing me some of the material they went over in a meeting last week, and it's been on my mind all morning.

Since I remember something in my contract about not divulging information blah blah blah, I'll leave many of the details out. But George Noncountry Jones is trying to steer the company into a more profitable place; and while all of the changes seem like they'll do this, many of them aren't good in any long-term way (and I don't mean long-term in the fiscal sense).

The report scared me, and not only because of the almost clinical and liberal use of lengthy acronyms and words like "execution" and "customer loyalty base." They want to move slightly away from in-store book sales and focus on some other areas ("embrace technology," using their language). They also want to encourage a more community-like atmosphere--this seemed great on paper, but it struck me as an artificial appeal to human needs. And in short, the company is focusing on its strengths, but in many ways becoming more alien and cold in their approach to everything.

The bells of localism and community are ringing, I hear, rousing me from my stupor. I keep thinking about The Bookstore I want to open some day. I keep thinking about what its strengths could be, its weaknesses. I keep thinking about who it would draw in. I keep thinking of how it could work, how it could fail. Opening a coffee shop in our community is an amazing thing, and one that really is taking off; but what would the response be to a probably-small bookstore? Maybe I should stop worrying and put trust in Whom trust should be given.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 2/24/2007 12:55:00 AM, ,

Day 171-- on proofreading

While I started editing culture.ish last week, I didn't officially start until today. Wait, not editing--that implies some sort of content control (which Chris x 2 seem to have down pat)--I'm the proofer. I skimmed over the content last week and made a few changes; I spent a good portion of today waist-deep in copy editing.

I really missed it, and I didn't realize it until now. As much as the time I spent working with the Cabinet shaped me, I have a lot of bad memories associated with the paper. Mind you, none of them are attached to people--I have nothing but praise to sing for my co-workers over the years. But the non-stop late late nights and sickness, the concussion I got, almost wrecking twice, problems with software and so on had marred the concept of copy editing by association. Silly me. This should not have been the case.

Maybe the change of scenery has something to do with it. Maybe it's that I've matured significantly (even in the past month, natch). Maybe it's that I'm more confident with myself. Maybe it's that I'm dealing primarily with content that interests me. Maybe maybe.

It's still dirty work, of course, and even moreso in this case. Many of the articles need to be a certain length, considering the space limitations with which we're operating. Paring down someone's review from 312 words to 175 smarts, especially when the writer has never written for a publication before. And I try to maintain their voice, not alienate them, encourage them, fix errors and make it readable with one fell swoop. Lord, help me.

But after I sent all of the revisions back--and remaining well aware that I'll dwell on what I missed or should've changed, this and that, here and there--I really think I'm going to love this.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 2/23/2007 05:10:00 PM, ,

Day 170-- Mystery & Manners: Occasional Prose

Before dying at age 39, Flannery O'Connor wrote two novels, a series of short stories and the occasional essay or book review. In comparison to many of her peers, this may seem minuscule. But output was so monumental in stature--in presence--that her exacting prose dwarfed the more prolific authors of the 20th century.
Compiled by two of her lifelong friends, Mystery & Manners collects many of the essays, lectures, articles and notes that O'Connor penned throughout her career. Some are presented as O'Connor penned them; others are spliced together from scattered notes she left laying about.

Mystery & Manners begins with "the King of the Birds," a wry account of peacock ownership. O'Connor was an avid peacock collector, and I think she wasn't entirely sure why. The rest of the book is broken up into sections based upon the type of essay: the fiction writer and their region; the fiction writer and the Christian faith; and writer and the teaching of English literature.

While much of the material in Mystery & Manners is a blur great writing and information, several things really hit home. One: O'Connor's absolute love for her community and region; one of the worse things a writer can do is ignore their region. One of her essays was an address to a writer's guild, and she ended up critiquing the students on their attempts to sound "universal," to try to remove the local flavor from their prose. Two: O'Connor--a traditional Catholic influenced by a very Protestant South--had an intense love for Christ and His reign and knew exactly what she needed to do as a writer to show Truth and the eternal in her prose. Her essays on why she writes, what she does to write and her thoughts on Christians and writer are vital for any believer who writes. There is no hyperbole in these statements. She spoke volumes in this area, and while I think a few of her theological points are off target, she hits the target so frequently that I literally had to set the book down from shaking so much from conviction, joy, empathy.

It's no secret that O'Connor is my favorite author, and Mystery & Manners serves as a great printed collection of her thoughts on faith, writing and her region.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 2/22/2007 11:31:00 AM, ,

Day 169-- on walking at night

I want to walk more at night. It's quiet, and College Hill is lovely enough that when the sun sets none of the charms slip away with the light. And it's walking, not running; when I jog I tend to think more about running than anything else. I want to be able to think, pray, watch what's happening around me, maybe listen to music.

I meant to start last night, but by the time I finished writing and figuring out a Crooked Fingers song on guitar, I was ready to sleep. So what needs to change? Well, mainly trying to do as much as I can before I work. I do not like getting up late, so to fulfill this desire I can probably just go walking as soon as I'm done with work. Another thing I'd like to see change is the current weather. Not that I hate it, but I can walk fine when it's warm or cold and snowy, but not when it's slushy and wetwetwet. I feel like everywhere I turn there's a Slip n' Slide waiting to launch me out into a dangerous intersection.

But regardless, it's time to start. If you see me playing air guitar in the distance like no one is watching, keep out of sight so I don't have awkwardly pretend I'm not.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 2/21/2007 12:45:00 PM, ,

Day 168

While watching TV shows on the Internet is not a new phenomenon, it is for me. After I showered this morning, I went downstairs to eat breakfast and read a bit. I then normally check my e-mail and poke around on some of the message boards/'blogs I frequent; in doing this, I saw Jack Bauer pointing a handgun at me from the corner of the screen, with menacing looking text commanding me to follow the link. I did.

I've been watching "24" since the first season (memories of D.J. Shirey and I shouting at the television in the Pearce lounge...ah), but I haven't been able to keep up with this show this year. Work and the like, you know the drill. So I've been catching up on episodes every few weeks at my folks' house as I visit. Not today.

Today I went to the MySpace page and watching the two recent episodes I missed. In widescreen. And it looked awesome. With no commercials. And to make it even better, the episodes were good. All of the scoffing and jeering I did regarding TV on the web is gone, replaced by a healthy--if not total--appreciation. I still want to do the little bit of TV watching I do on the television, but if it comes down to it I won't pass up the webified versions.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 2/20/2007 01:29:00 PM, ,

Day 167-- catching up

-- I have a new proofreading job. Here's hoping I treat it better than this 'blog.
-- New idea for the 'blog: like Nick Hornby, I'm going to do a monthly review of what I read. I'll still do individual reviews, but I'll cover what I bought that month and what I read. This will include some of the books I choose not to review in depth (like theological books). It'll be fun!
-- The online role-playing game campaign in which I've taken part for the last year and a half is probably going to be wrapping up pretty soon. This hit me hard today. I've invested a lot of time and creative juice into this, and it was worth it; some, most that read this even, may not understand that emotions I have regarding this, but it's basically like creating a character in a novel and spending a lot of time thinking and writing about them, watching them grow on the page. Letting go is hard.
-- After spending a significant amount of time walking around downtown Pittsburgh this past weekend, I've decided to do this more often. It's a great place--I have a big gift certificate to use on the various theaters in the Cultural District (and no one to go with, boo hoo); there are wonderful restaurants galore; great museums; etc. So, the next time some I have a free day....

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 2/19/2007 11:39:00 PM, ,

Day 166-- reflections from the weekend

Jubilee was good. Crazy, yes; but good nonetheless. I shan't talk about this aspect, but I was twice challenged this weekend, both regarding aspects of my life on which I thought I had a fair--if not firm--grasp. God can shake some things loose if He wants, I'm oft reminded.

1). I wasn't able to find much time to read this weekend (and when I did find time I ended up dozing off on couches or chairs in the hotel lobby). I did manage to read a few essays out of Flannery O'Connor's Mystery & Manners collection. Compiled from many of her writings after her death, Mystery & Manners is really wonderful. In three essays on fiction writing, O'Connor managed to completely deconstruct how I view my writing. Not a bad feat for someone that's been dead for almost half a century. I'm not questioning why I should be writing, since she had a very capital-T True concept of why a Christian should write, but I'm questioning the 'hows' quite a bit. Maybe more than quite a bit. And I've absolutely questioning some of my basic assumptions about writing. I'll probably be reflecting on this for a while.

2). Since I want to be involved heavily with coffee for the next few years (at the least), it was a shock to have the entire foundation I've built my learning upon uprooted and cast into the river, bobbing down the Ohio toward the Mississippi and the Gulf and then who knows where. A few Very Knowledgeable People were able to show the BFC&T Command Structure some things at Jubilee. Let's just say I have a lot of learning to do. But I'm so happy this happened! I want to be able to make the best coffee that I can, not only for the customers' sake, but for God as well. And darn it, if I need to relearn some things--no matter how seemingly trivial or drastic they may be--I shall do it.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 2/18/2007 09:16:00 PM, ,

Day 165

So I've heard of digging your automobile out of the snow, but digging it in...(and then back out again six hours later)?

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 2/18/2007 09:10:00 PM, ,

Day 164-- Jubilee

I'll be at the Jubilee conference in Pittsburgh this weekend, volunteering at the Hearts and Minds book table.

I can't believe this is the third year that I've done this! I vividly remember much from last year, and I'm staggered that it was a year ago. The late-night set-up, the conference, the tear-down, discussing books with Sarah Carleton, dozing off in a chair while reading Don DeLillo's Underworld, wondering when Olivia Warren would greet the world, talking coffee with Larry Bourgeois, running around Pittsburgh with the Richards and Warrens looking for food (and digging into pizza in a posh hotel room), watching Scott C. steal an acoustic guitar away from a pack of college kids and noodle Bedhead songs, chatting with Gideon Strauss at the book table, Scott calling me to tell me that he was standing behind Pauly Shore in the Hilton check-in line, seeing Pauly Shore make a fool of himself in the hotel pub, grouping with the rest of the RPs at the back of the main conference room during a few CCM songs, learning much from Byron Borger (a man who continues to be an inspiration to me), wandering around the parking garage in a hobbled attempt to find my car, hanging out with Jeff Robinson and some other Geneva kids on the GC floor. And hundreds--thousands--of college and post-college Christians furthering to live their faith in every aspect of their lives.

And these are just a few of the memories. Here's to a thousand more.

(I might not post again until this upcoming Sunday; if that happens, I'll make up for the day missed.)

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 2/16/2007 01:06:00 AM, ,

Day 163-- Spoon River Anthology

When released in 1915, the Spoon River Anthology was enormously successful; the first edition made more money for Edgar Lee Masters and his publisher than any previous poetry collection in America. But while Masters remained a prolific poet, novelist and biographer his entire life, the Anthology is often the only work for which he is remembered.

The Spoon River Anthology was--and is, in many ways--a unique work. It's a collection of 244 free-verse poems, all told from the perspective of the inhabitants of the Spoon River cemetery. In other words, the poems are the epitaphs from the point of view of dead. Many of the characters are based off of real people, much like Spoon River is a fictional representation of several Midwest towns. Many of the characters are connected; for instance, the three poems of Tom Merritt, Mrs. Merritt and Elmar Karr all show their points of view in Karr's love affair with Mrs. Merritt, eventually resulting in the murder of Tom. The poems are sometimes about the deaths of the narrators, or ruminations on their lives; some are filled with lament, some joy, some indifference.

The frank subject matter and satirical content caused a fair amount of controversy at the time, but the poems about cheating spouses and slovenly public officials are balanced nicely by the poems that celebrate life, faith and love. Masters was no fan of any sort of organized religion, government or business, but he doesn't paint in broad strokes in his poems; as much as he lampoons the behavior of some Christians, he equally leans toward kind, tender verse. Elmar Karr, for instance, finds Christ and the forgiveness of a church congregation at the end of his poem.

Still, the Anthology is far from perfect. Some poems run on too long, some are too short, and in the end there are just too many of them. And some are clumsy in execution. To make it worse, the collection is capped off with the Spooniad--part of an epic poem written by the town's poet--and a bloated, play-like Epilogue. Even the praising introduction to my volume admits that Masters went a little too far.

But it's ambitious, and in addition to the volume's historical significance, many of the poems stand well on their own. One of the best ways to experience the collection is aurally--folk musician Richard Buckner did an album called the Hill, a major abridgement that condenses the work into a single 30-minute track set to music.

The Spoon River Project
The Spoon River Anthology Online
Review of Buckner's the Hill

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 2/15/2007 08:24:00 AM, ,

Day 162-- on Christians, the arts, criticism, and a whole lot more

Not a lot to write on my part; this is going to turn into a linkfest shortly.

Here's the situation: one of the film critics that posts on the Arts & Faith forum recently reviewed the film the Last Sin Eater. The Last Sin Eater is based off of the book of the same name by Francine Rivers, a Christian novelist. I've not seen the film or read the novel, so I'll refrain from judging it.

The film critic, however, gave the movie a so-so review in his article for Christianity Today's online media hub. The filmmakers didn't like this. Director Michael Landon Jr. made some choice comments about the review on a Christian talk show. A producer sent a very snarky e-mail to the reviewer. And the radio show host is now posting--at least in my opinion--antagonistic comments on the reviewer's 'blog (as well as the 'blog of another critic and A&F poster).

The filmmakers and radio show host feel that the film and book should be above criticism because it delivers the gospel message (or, if not above criticism, above most criticism). The reviewers don't agree. The comments of the 'blogs are filled with some good dialogue about a Christian's role in the arts, the nature of art, and--though it's not explicitly named--common grace in regards to the arts. It's worth reading, especially if you're interested in how we're to express the eternal in film, literature, and so on.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 2/14/2007 12:10:00 PM, ,

Day 161-- Housekeeping vs. the Dirt

Nick Hornby--author of High Fidelity, About a Boy and Fever Pitch--likes to read. Hornby likes to read so much that he writes about it monthly in the Believer, a literary magazine put together by publishing house McSweeney's.

Housekeeping vs. the Dirt is a collection of 14 book review columns, and the sequel to his first collection, the Polysyllabic Spree. Each month, Hornby lists the books he bought and the books he read. He may not read the same books he bought that month; in fact, he may not ever read some of the books he bought. The Believer staff also told Hornby not to write negative reviews about books. As a loophole, Hornby can write something like "Anonymous comedy/thriller" in his Books Read chart and then proceed to bash it, or list it and not review it at all.

Hornby's reviews are especially interesting because he's a madcap writer. The reviews don't hold to any format; he says what he wants, when he wants, how he wants. He's frequently funny, usually insightful, and possesses an eclectic taste in books. He spent one month reading as much Truman Capote as he could; he spent another trying to figure out why he can't understand science fiction; he spent another being freaked out by the Motley Crue biography the Dirt.

Hornby's wit and writing style help make the collection work, but he quite reflective about some of the books he reads. One of the best examples is how he absorbed Marilynne Robinson's Gilead, one of my favorite novels. Hornby--"an atheist living in a godless country"--was awed by Robinson's novel; "...for the first time I understood the point of Christianity..." Hornby's gentle description of his reading process is heartwarming.

I also think that reading these sorts of books (not like there are that many, though) helps introduce me to new authors. The essays are interspersed with blurbs from new books that Hornby loved. Two were so good I'm making a point of getting them eventually.

So Hornby made me a fan, and solely by reading.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 2/13/2007 05:02:00 PM, ,

Day 160-- on Ayn Rand

I'll give Rand this: she was occasionally capable of interesting social insight and some fair turns of phrase.

Other than that, blah. What good Rand may produce is usually drown in overwrought prose, muddled philosophy, ironic blunders, uncomfortable sex and ultimately a selfish, shallow and unredemptive worldview. And Rand books still sell--I read a figure that estimates 500K copies sold a year. I sell many copies to teenage girls at my bookstore job.

And this, in a sense, is probably why Amy Benfer wrote this incredibly accurate essay. Not only does it shine a light on many of Rand's flaws, but it A) re-affirms my conviction to never finish a Rand novel, and B) makes me laugh a lot. And if this isn't weight enough, check out some Rand facts here. Blah. Blah!

(Yes, while I've not read a Rand book, I've read enough segments to make an informed opinion. And her first name rhymes with 'mine.')

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 2/12/2007 11:21:00 PM, ,

Day 159

So let's say that you're involved in helping bring some bands to play at a college. Keeping in mind that college students can be apathetic, how do you draw them in? If your answers is "just use posters," it doesn't count. How do you spread word and build interest?

I would love some feedback on this. I have a few answers that I'm batting around, but I'm curious to hear from any reader. The, um, hypothetical bands in question aren't finalized, but we're (uh, I mean the hypothetical organizers) are drawing from a pool of very well-regarded artists.

So, again, how do you boost interest in the event?

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 2/11/2007 09:34:00 PM, ,

Day 158-- note to self

Dear Jason,

You may rarely get sick, but when it does finally happen it's a doozy.

Here's to scrambling for antibiotics on the Lord's Day.


the future Jason

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 2/10/2007 11:31:00 PM, ,

Day 157

Two fun things:

1) Ghosting through Geneva's campus bookstore, digging through the eclectic selection of clearance books, looking through the stacks and stacks of classroom texts and trying to find cool books at used prices. This is especially fun since I'm alum and--at least in theory--have no reason to look at texts reserved for class.

2) Slipping into McCartney Library--students and workers looking sidelong because they know I'm not one of their own--down the stairs into the basement archival/periodical/media realm, to the lonely, oddly silent hall reserved for restrooms and bookshelves housing "BOOKS FOR SALE," my Sketchers squeaking against linoleum, scanning spines for unlikely finds.

Today yielded nothing; who is to say that next week won't?

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 2/09/2007 01:27:00 PM, ,

Day 156

Greg sent me an e-mail with a link to this. Very, very interesting, and worth reading.

I had to drive (or, pre-age 16, have my parents drive) to church almost my entire life; the driving aspect was something I never liked. I am blessed that this is no longer the case, since my church is a ten minute or less walk from my home.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 2/08/2007 11:46:00 AM, ,

Day 155-- on smiling, and some good reasons to

I get a lot of enjoyment from the four block trek between my house and my workplace. I walked home late tonight; after closing up the shop, I watched "Lost" with a small group of friends. Some of us lingered and chatted about childrens' books and corny jokes and encountering people at Wal-Mart. So, after we called it a night, I made sure I had my gloves on and my hood snug and I headed home.

It's not uncommon for me to pray when I walk. On the way home tonight, I thanked God for splendor of His creation that I often take for granted, for friends and family that love me despite my pride and selfishness, for the trials in my life that ultimately end up glorifying God, for community and the selflessness of many within, for the cloud-punctuated blue sky that compliments the snow so well, for the written word, for grace, salvation, redemption and resurrection.

And I was smiling, laughing with joy. I've met some that think there isn't enough to smile about. I think--maybe--that way in the past. I'm sure I may think that again in the future. But as I walked home tonight, streetlights forging a selective path on the snow-blanketed sidewalks, I understood that no matter how cynical or jaded I may feel, there is never any shortage of things to be thankful or smile about.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 2/08/2007 01:13:00 AM, ,

Day 154-- on a book club idea

After a failed (crashed, burned, still smoldering) attempt at an online book discussion, I'm ready for another go-around. But with a real, live, sit-down-and-talk type of book club.

Since I live around lots of people who read, this shouldn't be too hard. I'm thinking of something casual, but still focused enough. And--to steal the small group mantra we toss around a lot at church--I would want the club to be something that I would shift my schedule around for.

It wouldn't have to be something as structured as the standard book club affair ("everyone buy the book, read such and such chapter this week..."); passing a sole copy of something around and getting together at a coffee shop (coughBFC&TCo.ugh) to chat about it for a bit seems like an awesome thing to do.

Ooo! And it can be fiction! And people that don't get to read much (I have a few of you in mind) can join, with not a lot of time commitment! This will work! I want it to work!

Will you help make it work?

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 2/06/2007 11:09:00 PM, ,

Day 153-- misc.

-I have an article in the new issue of culture.ish.
-There's a great thread concerning "new atheism" on the Arts & Faith forum (registration is required, but free). It starts on a critique of some of new atheism literature, but eventually shifts into a civil dialogue between a group of believers and a non-believer. It's a very good read.
-My friend Stacey alerted me to a great article on Flannery O'Connor in the New York Times. Any Flannery is good, but I had a good time reading this!
-My car died on Sunday, but--thanks to my parents--is purring once again. I like Pepperpot (that's its name), and I'm glad to have it back.
-Pray for my brother, if you can; he's going through rough times (emotionally) with his job and life in general.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 2/05/2007 11:32:00 PM, ,

Day 152-- on why I need to memorize the Elements of Style

My slightly-worn copy of the Elements of Style sits next to me. It's not worn enough, I fear. The Elements of Style was a writing style book created by Cornell professor William Strunk Jr.; he used the book for his classes, and it gained a fair reputation among the students that had him. One was E.B. White, editor of the New Yorker and author to several childrens' classics (notably Charlotte's Web and Stuart Little). White revised and added considerably to the Strunk's tiny manual; the result a writing guide that's not only educational and well-regarded, but also a fun read.

I had Strunk & White (a jargonish shorthand for the book) with me in college. I wish I had used it more. I think I drifted through it a few times, never giving it enough thought. I knew it was a valuable tool, but scoffed at actually relying on it! I even remember when--in a Cabinet issue listing the staff's favorite books--Evie listed Strunk & White as a pick. She had the right idea.

This book is invaluable. I've always struggled with grammar, so it never hurts to skim the pages covering grammatical rules. But the real value is in Strunk & White's take on stylistic guidelines. I've been slowly poking my way through the book over the past month (it's a tiny book), absorbing rules, chastising myself. A good summation of this part is "omit needless words." I use many needless words. I realize that all most writers have unique aspects in their craft, and Will and E.B. adhere to the "if it works, it works" maxim. But, after thinking about my writing over the years, I can't say it's always worked for me. I need to edit. I need to hone, whittle, sharpen. Reading over some of the mess I've made in the past, I realize that I really have no clue what I'm saying. This is because of frequent, rambling sentences that need more TLC. And I ain't talking 'bout the R&B band.

I'm really trying to be God-honoring with my writing; I know that doesn't mean I have to joylessly pound out AP-style sentences, but that also doesn't mean I should be carelessly tossing words out.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 2/04/2007 08:23:00 PM, ,

Day 151

This past week a friend lovingly pointed out a few quirks with my personality that, frankly, could pose some problems down the road. I'm not sure if 'quirk' or 'personality' are entirely apt, since it's fixable problem. And maybe problem isn't the right word either.

Whatever. And I'm glad they did. It was something I had feared about myself, but never was entirely sure what to do since no one ever said anything and I was too sheepish to ask. My friend's words acted as the second opinion that I need--wanted, for years wanting--and it was frankly hard to take. But I needed it.

And if the remainder of my week was any indication, it really helped. I wasn't even actively thinking about acting different (or being different, in reality), but I just felt happier. Genuinely happier. I won't sling around overly emotionalized "Jesus talk," but I really feel like God has shown me some things in the past week and started healing several festering wounds I've had in my heart for over a decade.

So I might be smiling more these days. I think it's going to last; not that I put on an act before when I was happy, but if I seem happy for "no reason," maybe I'm just happy to be happy!

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 2/03/2007 09:48:00 PM, ,

Day 150-- on rediscovering music

I enjoy finding music that I liked a lot but--for whatever reason--let slip from my memory. In a sense, this is on par with discovering wonderful new music.

I was humming a tune the other day and couldn't peg it; after a while, I realized it was a Damien Jurado tune from his "rock" album I Break Chairs. I hadn't listened to that record in, like, two years. So I popped it in, and in 40 or less minutes, was completely blown away by a set of songs that I completely forgot existed.

That flood that accompanies this is sublime, the wash of memories and harmonies that etch the same smile on my face that I wore the first time I heard these songs.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 2/03/2007 12:09:00 AM, ,

Day 149-- on movies that make me cry (thanks, Brett)

Stolen from my comrade in arms.

-Cinema Paradiso (during the "cut footage" scene, I can't control myself)
-Children of Men (based off of one viewing...don't know if it would happen again)
-Gunga Din (for those that haven't heard of it, it's one of the best-regarded "pure" Hollywood adventure movies...the ending is a great example of brotherly love and respect that I weep and weep and weep)
-Grave of the Fireflies (<---definitely the winner)
-Raiders of the Lost Ark (Hey, I was seven and the Nazis' faces were melting. You would cry too.)
-My mom and I were definitely bawling at the end of the Sixth Sense a few years ago.

Lots more...can't think of them all.

As a bonus, BOOKS that make me cry:

-Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson
-The Road, by Cormac McCarthy
-the Old and New Testaments

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 2/01/2007 11:40:00 PM, ,