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April 2005 Archives

April 2, 2005

A Good Show


The surprise of the television season for me has been the Sci-Fi Channel's resurrection of Battlestar Galactica. I remember the cheesy 1970s version, which was more or less an attempt to cash in on the Star Wars craze. The current incarantion takes the central premise and main characters of the original and gives them a darker, more serious, and more realistic spin. The season-ending cliffhanger aired last night wrapped up a very strong batch of episodes.

April 10, 2005

Tiger, Tiger Burning Bright


I am at best a casual golf fan, but the final round of the 2005 Masters was a treat to watch: beautiful scenery, spectacular shot-making, dramatic tension, and the compelling storyline of Tiger Woods ending his drought in the majors. It looks like he'll be a force in the game once again for the foreseeable future.

April 11, 2005

Mmmmmm, Delicious


I sprung for an iSight webcam, which arrived today. Although the firewall arrangement here at Choate makes it problematic to use the A/V feature of iChat, I am using the camera with a program called Delicious Library, which catalogues books, CDs, and DVDs by reading the bar code on an item and matching it up with the Amazon.Com database. (It also does it for videogames, of which I own none.) A pretty nifty way to keep track of all the media I am swimming in.

Check it out here.

April 14, 2005

Tiger, Tiger Burning Bright II


I pre-ordered the new "Tiger" version of Mac OS X today. I got a good deal on it (education pricing was $69 instead of $129). I was going to wait until I ordered a new iBook later this spring to get the latest version of OS X as well as iLife '05, but since I want to install Tiger on my iMac as well, I figured I'd do the honest thing and pay for an additional copy of the software. The previews of the update I've seen are impressive, especially Dashboard and Spotlight. I am also hoping the new Sync engine will make it easier to keep the settings and data on my various computers (two iMacs at home, an eMac in the office, and soon an iBook to boot) consistent.

April 16, 2005

Under The Wire


My federal and state tax returns were delivered into the hands of the U. S. Postal Service at exactly 11:59 p.m. on the 15th--just making the deadline! The last couple of years I filed an extension request and completed the returns in the summer (usually right before the August deadline, of course), but I figured since my taxes take me no more than 90 minutes or so and I am expecting about $800 in refunds, I might as well get the paperwork in for the April deadline. I got hung up late Friday night finding stamps (in the era of electronic bill payments I almost never post personal mail anymore) and making copies of my returns (I scanned them on my home computer rather than running down to the office for a conventional photocopy), so I had only about 15 minutes left to get the stuff in the mail (in New Haven!) by the time my car left the Choate campus. I confess I hit about 85mph on Interstate 91 on my way down there, but I made it.

April 17, 2005

Digital Photography


I've been enjoying my new Canon 20D SLR camera. I took a lot of pics at yesterday's Choate/Exeter boys' tennis match. It was a spectacular early spring day, so I ended up snapping a few hundred shots--most of which I could delete without worrying about wasting film. Armed with a 1-gigabyte memory card and the ability to shoot bursts of up to 5 frames per second, I was bound to capture at least a handful of good action shots somewhere in the mix.

For a look at some additional photos, click here.

Digital Delivery For Nine Inch Nails Fans


Here's a first: Trent Reznor has made available his new single release in GarageBand format, so if you download it, you can manipulate the tracks yourself to create your own mix. Pretty cool. It's here. One cautionary note: you'll need the latest release, GarageBand 2.x (a.k.a. iLife '05), to access the song.

Save This Show


One of the few truly funny shows on TV right now is Arrested Development, which the critics love but the ratings don't seem to support. Watch this show, buy the first season DVD set, tell your uncle who works in the Fox programming department to keep this show around.

Season finale is tonight at 8:30.

The Real Deal


18-year-old Rafael Nadal of Spain won the Monte Carlo ATP Masters Series tournament today, signifying his arrival on the main stage of men's pro tennis. He showed glimpses of brilliance a couple weeks back in the Key Biscayne final, coming within two points of knocking off world #1 Roger Federer before losing in five sets. At this point, he's got to be considered one of the favorites to prevail at Roland Garros later this spring (especially since he handled Guillermo Coria--last season's king of clay--relatively easily in today's Monaco triumph).

The pictures of Nadal above I snapped in June of 2003 on an outer court at the All-England Club. The photo that follows is what he looks like today:

April 23, 2005

My Warhol Phase


The above "art" masterpiece was created by manipulating filters of a digital photograph in Macromedia Fireworks.

The Life Aquatic

Okay, so I didn't exactly run out and see this flick right when it came out at the tail end of last year. Wes Anderson's latest is about to come out on DVD next month, but I caught it on the big screen at the discount theater on a rainy Saturday night. It's typical of Anderson's other films: quirky, droll, and surprisingly engaging. Thumbs up.

April 24, 2005

Happy Anniversary!

I started this blog one year ago today. This is the 182nd entry, which means I have averaged just about a post every other day. Not bad. Of course, I tend to post in batches and then let the site lie fallow for up to a few weeks at a time. Maybe the sophomore year of this blogspace will be more consistent?

Quote Of The Day

"The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."

John Kenneth Gabraith

April 26, 2005

Wisdom Of The Ages

In an op-ed piece in the Los Angeles Times entitled "Jesus Was No GOP Lobbyist," Jack Hitt is spot on describing the twisted version of Chrsitianity currently enjoying center stage in our national political life:

How quickly it has all happened — that the media, particularly television, has convinced itself that Christianity is little more than a Republican political action committee. When the pope died, CNN's Wolf Blitzer introduced former Clinton aide Paul Begala and right-wing pundit Robert Novak this way: "Bob is a good Catholic; I'm not so sure about Paul Begala." At the bottom of the screen, CNN ran an informative factoid for the audience: "Many Catholic doctrines are conservative."

Broadcast media prefer to cast Christianity in the role of "right-wing values PAC" because it's so neat and tidy. They don't much like even to say the name Jesus on air because then we might have to talk about his ideas. "Evangelical Christianity" is much simpler because you can treat it as just another special-interest group, like the Teamsters or the neocons.

Leaders such as Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and James Dobson have used the media to redefine Christianity as the "Republican base" — all between commercials hawking family-values videotapes or pleading for more contributions.

Gosh, WWJD? It makes me wax nostalgic for the days when people wore those bracelets and asked the question, "What would Jesus do?" At least people said his name then and pondered his ideas, using the question as the beginning of an engaged moral debate. Few would have appreciated those bracelets as much as the man himself — Jesus, who preached a new way of thinking about religion. Instead of taking orders from temple chieftains, Jesus provoked his followers into thinking for themselves. His preferred media outlet? A literary genre called the parable. It's a style of Q&A wherein the teacher doesn't give the answer but challenges the listener with a half-finished story that forces him to think through to the answer by himself. The radical right has swapped out this genius preacher for some easy listening. They insist that everything will be fine if we just nail the Ten Commandments above every courthouse.

Curious. Jesus updated the Ten Commandments in his most famous speech, the Sermon on the Mount. In it, one finds the Eight Beatitudes. Why don't we ever hear about nailing those somewhere? Here's why: It's not simply the law in the Ten Commandments that attracts fundamentalists. Rather, it's the syntax. The authoritarianism of so many "Thou Shalt Nots."

The syntax of Jesus' Eight Beatitudes is not so easy (Blessed are the poor in spirit…. Blessed are the peacemakers). These words invite the kind of hard questions that Jesus loved to tweak his followers with. How are they blessed? And why? It's just like Jesus to leave us with questions instead of answers.

The Jesus who speaks in the Gospels is nothing like the fuming Republican Jesus I see on TV now. Jesus was a leader who understood that ambiguity and doubt are not to be feared but are, simply, facts of life that a great teacher exploits to guide his followers on their own paths toward conviction and belief.

Here is a quote from Jesus that you almost never hear: "What do you think?" It's right there in the Bible. Jesus asks this question all the time.

One parable Jesus taught was this one, from Matthew: "What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, 'Son, go and work in the vineyard today.' And he answered, 'I will not,' but afterward he changed his mind and went. And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, 'I go, sir,' but did not go." Jesus' disciples all strenuously raised their hands. They knew the answer! The first son was the most virtuous!

Whereupon Jesus (whose sense of humor is underrated) replied: "Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you."

What does that parable mean? Frankly, I am not sure. I have my own thoughts, but they all feel tentative, and I can only hope I'm right. Jesus doesn't accuse his disciples of being wrong; he just mocks the easiness of their quick answer.

Taken as a whole, it's not a parable with a clear and right answer. None of them are, and that is the point. You have to sort of toss it around in your head, think about people you've dealt with who've said one thing and done another, and then try to come to some answer. Chances are that few will agree in their interpretations, an outcome that is rhetorically so sly. Jesus makes you work through your own doubt and hesitation to arrive at an answer that becomes the very foundation of your own certainty.

This guy's good, isn't he?

But that Jesus is nowhere to be found on our televisions or in our newsweeklies. Ironically, mass-market Christians rarely cite or emphasize the living Jesus, the Jesus who speaks. They like their Christ dead. Or nearly dead, as in Mel Gibson's movie. In that film, the entire Sermon on the Mount — the most important words Jesus spoke — is relegated to a few seconds of flashback.

Yet the living Jesus always finds a way of getting past the money-changers, doesn't he? Every generation produces a Jesus to suit its own purposes. How fitting that in the Age of Information our broadcasters have marketed a Jesus so narrowly defined that he resembles little more than a lobbyist loitering outside Tom DeLay's office hoping for a few minutes of the great man's time.

But these people always underestimate the actual words that Jesus spoke. They are right there in the Gospels for those willing to hear Jesus, rather than rely upon videotape salesmen to re-interpret him as a furious political hack. The living Jesus will come again. It's the other meaning of being reborn.

For the source, click here.

April 27, 2005

New From The Boss


Bruce Springsteen's new album has been released as a DualDisc, which I read as the recording industry's efforts to keep consumers buying discs in the era of downloads. The premise is that one side is a traditional CD, while the other is a DVD with video "extras." Of course, this format is much harder to duplicate that conventional CDs (or DVDs, for that matter).

On first listen, the album is pretty good. It's acoustic solo Bruce, in the vein of Nebraska and The Ghost of Tom Joad.

April 28, 2005

Batman Begins Trailer


In the category of pretty cool coming attractions, I present this.

April 29, 2005

An Enjoyable Diversion


Sydney Pollack's new film The Interpreter is an entertaining entry in the political thriller/mystery genre. This is set in and around the U.N. headquarters in New York and features Nicole Kidman and Sean Penn.

Mac OS X 10.4

Test driving the new Mac OS--Tiger--right now. It arrived right on schedule this morning via FedEx. Spotlight and Dashboard are the highlights so far.



I've been listening to the 1991 release Achtung Baby extensively while driving the past week or so, no doubt in anticipation of seeing U2 in concert in late May. This album still stands up as an absolutely TREMENDOUS collection of songs: "Zoo Station," "Even Better Than The Real Thing," "One," "Until The End Of The World," "Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses," "The Fly," "Mysterious Ways," "Tryin' To Throw Your Arms Around The World," and "Ultraviolet (Light My Way)" stand out. Most artists would be thrilled to have one or two songs as good on any one album.

April 30, 2005

Eagerly Anticipated Return


Tomorrow night, May 1, the Griffin clan returns to television in new episodes. Fox canceled Family Guy a couple of years back, only to reverse the decision in light of through-the-roof DVD sales and rerun ratings on cable.

About April 2005

This page contains all entries posted to As Far As You Know in April 2005. They are listed from oldest to newest.

March 2005 is the previous archive.

May 2005 is the next archive.

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