Tuesday, February 28, 2006

You Can Have your Peeps and Eat Them Too?

I read about this in Inc. Magazine of all places. But in 2003 apparently the world rejoiced when they saw the Peeps brand duck parade down the streets of New York. (The Peeps Marshmallow duck was there in celebration of it's 50th anniversary).

Apparently the CEO's of Just Born, Inc. (the makers of these lovely confectionaries) decided that people liked the peeps image. And people began asking for the rights to the image (of course, at a price).

Well...according to the peeps spring press release, it's 2005 product line was a success. (Apparently 2005 products like pens, bean bags, stationary and Easter Cards are returning).

But according to the website, these are the new products available this easter:

  • Novelty Toys, Arts and Crafts, and Activities products
  • Balloons – large and small inflatables for indoor and outdoor use
  • Books for kids – coloring, activity, and board books
  • PEEPS® book highlighting the pop culture phenomenon of the PEEPS® brand
  • Giftware – picture frames, vases, and planters
  • Outdoor d├ęcor – door signs, lawn signs, light sets, garden flags, and stakes
  • Novelty confection products
  • Kitchen goods – towels, pot holders, oven mitts, tablecloths, and placemats
  • Bath and beach towels
  • Apparel – T-shirts, hats, visors, loungewear, daywear, socks, and slippers
  • Stationery – notepad, pen, pad & pen set, pencil & eraser set, and stickers
  • Party goods – plates, napkins, greeting cards, and gift wrap
  • Jewelry – Italian gold charms at www.italiangoldcharms.com
  • Cosmetics – lip gloss, lip balm, and cosmetic sets
I was telling a teenagers at my school this today and his response: "I bet that makes Jesus really proud"

I've posted a picture of one of the lovely italian gold peeps charms available. Buy your own here. I also am really looking forward to my own peeps placemats, vases, gift wrap and lounge wear.

Mini-Update: Da Vinci Code & Name Collision

Da Vinci Code Delay? Fact or Fiction?
Totally seeing this whole thing as a publicity stunt...more people are talking about the da vinci code movie...and already on amazon.com Holy Blood, Holy Grail is ranked 9th in sales today. I'm sure Dell Publishing and the authors are pleased.

Enough Room for Two RC's? You Vote!
On this topic the polls are still open. I will close the polls by Friday...if you haven't voted, get your vote in on the name change. I also have a fun e-mail from "the other RC" I look forward to sharing.

Da Vinci Code Delay? Fact or Fiction?

There's been talk that Dan Brown's top selling novel The Da Vinci Code copied material from a 1984 non-fiction work called The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail. This claim is made by Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh. The legal case is due in London Courts next week. According to the Scotsman if the claim is upheld in court next week, Ron Howards film starring Tom Hanks could be drasticly delayed from it's May release date.

I have a hard time not comparing this to the situation with James Frey over A Million Little Pieces. I think this situation is very different, but it still draws into light what is true and what can you put into a work of writing. Frey said things were true that were actually false, where here Dan Brown is writing historical fiction using truth and facts, but manipulating them for his use. The frusteration to the Brown and Random House (Da Vinci Code's publishers) is that they claim that the facts expressed in the story are simply facts and not under the copy write protection. Baigent and Leigh must feel that it is more than just use of facts...or perhaps see this as a great opportunity for publicity.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Church Sign #13

True: I took the picture of this sign in January.
False: Seeing this sign made people from all over the world realize for the 1st time that the word Christ was in Christmas and they suddenly had a strange urge to go to church so they wouldn't feel guilty for opening up Christmas presents under their Christmas tree.

If you have your own sign you'd like to see posted...take a picture of it and e-mail it to strangeculture@gmail.com

Related Tags: ,

Media's Hate Relationship with The Corporation

I've been thinking today about our love/hate relationship with "the corporation," especially in the idea of media images. If we think about going shopping and spending our money we don't mind going to The Gap, running by Target to pick up some Colgate, and while we're there grabbing some Starbucks (why not, it's convinient, and you've worked hard walking all over in your Nike tennis Shoes).

But at the same time, think about film images of the corporation. Movies don't even try to talk about why corporations do bad things, they often allow us to assume that the corporation is simply out for the dollar of hard working consumers.

Here's a SHORT list of movies that assume the corporation is evil that have come out in this past year: Syriana, The Constant Gardner, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, yada, yada...and you're expecting me to just put "art films down," well I'll stop with those...how about Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Willy Wonka is out for your cold hard cash, scamming young children with commercial schemes and ploys) or how about the more blatant Fun with Dick and Jane?

There's even strong motivation of avarice multiple times in the movie King Kong. Can anyone venture to think of a movie where the corporation is considered a good thing?

On street corners we claim the importance of capitalism and competition, and at the same time at our dinner tables we also complain about some of the same things. The blog world is filled with protesters trying to take down this or that corporation because of their evil.

Is the corporation inherently evil? And why can't I think a film that supports the corporation?

Friday, February 24, 2006

Enough Room for Two RC's? You Vote!

So...I got a funny e-mail this morning.

How do you do!

I noticed your comment today on Barb Nicolosi's site, and did
adouble-take to see someone using the same blog moniker as myself!

In computing,
this is what we call a "namespace collision", and it's apotential source of confusion, as I also occasionally comment atBarb's. As a blogger, I've been posting since 9/22/2002 at the groupsite "Catholic Light" (http://catholiclight.stblogs.org/), and have aknown identity among "St. Blog's Parish" as a sysadmin for 15-20weblogs (see http://www.stblogs.org).

It seems silly for me to ask, but would it be troublesome for you tochange to some other handle, to avoid the potential for mistakenidentity?

By the way, congratulations on your site: you have a fine eye for blogmaterial!

Best wishes----RC

My Response this morning to him was...

Hey...RC...i don't read those blogs regularly...I'll consider the change...but if it's really bothering you, you can always feel the freedom to change as well.

But to be honest, it doesn't really bother me.

--RC of strangeculture.blogspot.com

But I feel a little goofy, b/c he has had the name for a long time...but the truth of the matter is I really don't think I'm going to be traveling to the same sites as the man who sent me this e-mail so we probably really won't collide with any regularity.

But now that I think about it, I'm not deeply connected to the name "RC" and would be willing to change...By leaving a comment (w/ a unique blogger ID) say whether or not you think I should change my blogger moniker.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Arctic Monkeys...I'm Totally Serious

Have you heard of the Arctic Monkeys? Your response: If your from the US, probably not. If your from the UK, who hasn't.

Exactly a month ago The Actic Monkeys released"Whatever People Say I am, That's What I'm Not," their first indie album in the UK. This became the fast selling debut-album in UK history (outselling the rest of the top 20 combined). (see BBC article, January 29 2006)

How'd they do that? Well, I first heard this story on NPR's program "All Things Considered" (that NPR story can be heard here, February 22 2006). They give credit to their grass roots efforts, namely handing out demo CDs when they performed...as a result, people put this music online. (Myspace anyone??)

I think that the song "I Bet You Look Good on the Dance Floor" is a lot of fun. You can listen to it online at their site and a bazillion other places online.

The CD was just released in the US and who knows how successful they'll be here...they definitly have a strong British sound with a lot of slang and themes of working class Britian (I can't help but think of movies like the Full Monty were I have to use subtitles).

The NPR story pulls out some lines from their song "A Certain Romance" that I think are really funny ("Over there there's broken bones/ There's only music, so that there's new ringtones/ And it doesn’t take no Sherlock Holmes/ To see it's a little different around here").

And today was the NME awards where once again The Arctic Monkeys made history as they are the first band ever to win the Best New Band award and then go on to win Best British Band award. (The song "I bet you look Good on the Dance Floor" also won the award for "best track") (from Reuters article).

Congrats to The Arctic Monkey...let's see how they do on this side of the pond.

(I highly recommend you listen to the NPR story it gives you a good taste of their sound)

Redesigning the Architecture of Time

"People who have learned to answer email on Sunday evenings also need to learn how to go to the movies on Monday afternoons. By redesigning the architecture of time, we can make room for work, leisure, and idleness."--Ricardo Sempler, president, Semco

From Fast Company's recently released book, The Rules of Business: 55 Essential Ideas to Help Smart People (and Organizations) Perform At Their Best

(quote found here)

Church Sign #12: To Bless or Not To Bless

Here's another church sign for you! What do you think they're saying here? Are perhaps they condemning America in the nicest way they know how to? Or maybe then there not being nice...

let's all go to SS and WOR there...I'm going to SS on Monday night at 9:45 or maybe Tuesday...hum? you want to join me?

Have your own sign? E-mail it to strangeculture@gmail.com to see it posted here.

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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The Coffee Shop Litmus Test (how high is your CSV?)

A good friend of mine often says that if guys worried that his new girlfriend or female acquaintance is all fluff then guys take that girl to a coffee shop. Why? Because in a coffee shop, he presented, you are forced to have conversation. And you may sit at your own private table and your Coffee Shop Value (CSV) is based on your ability to hold a respectable conversation.

There are individual CSV scores and group CSV scores. Two people with high individual CSV's may score low when combined. These strange emergent circumstances though are often rare, normally it's a low scored person that will bring down the combined score.

CSV scores are most largely evaluated by (1) Interesting topic starters (2) Unique thoughts (3) Good listening (4) Appropriate Transitions

In the past couple weeks I have been around a few conversations of note with in ear shot that include...
  • A group of white women in a book club discuss race relations, many of them from the perspective of being a teacher. The women shared whether or not they felt like they were racist for acknowledging that their white students out performed white students. The group had a high CSV until one woman started talking about her observations of black people at Walmart...from here the conversation degenerated. (CSV=62)
  • A group of downtown employees discussed how they were effected (and not effected) by a Walmart culture and whether there any way to combat the spreading of Walmart. This group had a decent CSV except for one woman who thought she was the Walmart expert, and one man who thought that people who shopped at Walmart were lazy for not going to the effort to shop at hipper locations. (CSV=57)
  • A group of three people were discussing whether they thought it was worth while for them to try to get a Green Party candidate on the Texas ballot even though that candidate would not have a chance. It was a very good conversation, especially as everyone was listening and had interesting thoughts about the value of such a venture. The transitions to real facts and ideas were fantastic. (CSV=83)
  • Two students study statistics...the profanity they use show a severe lack of intelligence...plus the filler conversation between T-scores and sample sizes is less than intelligent. (CSV=11)
  • A man and a woman talk about a dream to connect children to art class therapy. Both the man and the woman each have their own interesting storys but neither of them respond to the others story with more than a nod or an encouraging word, "Interesting," the woman says as the man talks about teaching handicap kids to draw upside down. Is that the best she can do...This woman has a low CSV, and his CSV is not high enough to recover, although his score is surely higher. (CSV=23)

Do you know people with a high or low CSV? And how come we forgot how to just talk in other environments. Is anywhere else just talking a waste of time?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Updates: Miss America, Bubble movie, Kanye West, Survivor, etc.

Here are some updates (largely based on questions or comments I have received):

Post Secret
This site...#3 on technorati's top 100 blogs....updates with new post secrets every Sunday...it's such an intriguing site.

Tootsie Roll Licks
I wanted to share this link as an update to my tootsie roll pop post. Click here to see a Lick-o-Meter which you can purchase for only 6.99 (not including shipping and handling).

Will Miss America Be My Friend?
Miss America, Jennifer Berry has not accepted my invitation to be friends on facebook, which is really sad. Monica Pang, on the other hand did accept my request to be friends as I mentioned in this post. Monica Pang is the real Miss America to me. (Here's my post from when Monica Pang accepted my friendship)

Soderberg's Stirring Up Some "Bubble" Trouble
How did Bubble end up doing in the theaters? Well it only opened on 32 screens (not a lot, but for an independent film...it's alright. It showed at all the Landmark theaters only...the ones that Todd Wagner owns. So far it's grossed just over 145,000 dollars domestically (according to boxofficemojo.com). But that doesn't seem too bad with only a 1.6 million dollar budget...I imagine it should at least come close to breaking even with DVD sales and rentals, not to mention broadcast. Mark Cuban, Todd Wagner, and Steven Soderberg seem to have the money to play around anyways...and this seems like small dough for a little experimentation.

Kanye West just doing his thing & Further thoughts on Kanye West as Jesus
For all his controversy creating...he seemed a little sad after his lack of love at the Grammys. Here's a funny link about Kanye requesting a revised edition of the Bible, including him as a character.

Survivor 12- Panama - Exile Island Prediction
I originally said, before the first episode that I thought Aras, Bruce, Bobby & Sally would be in the final four...so far, I don't see how that combination could ever happen...but all four of those contenders are still in...Not a lot of hope for Sally, but Bruce is still doing great. I commented that I thought Tina would be a crazy character, and I am really sad she was voted off the first episode. I also said Misti didn't have a chance...third week...she's gone...we'll see how I do with my pre-show predictions as this season progresses.

Conflicting Opinions in the Church Sign World
Nicole never commented further about my comment to her, although I let her know on the post that she referenced me in that I was displaying our exchange on my blog.

Petition to Ban Paradise Now
Last Wednesday the petition had 12,267 signatures...less than a week later, the petition is up to 24,624 petitions. Obviously there are people who are offended by this documentary. (Also the comments I have received so far on this post are very unique)

I appreciate being linked on The McElroy Family Experience & getting a comment on my church signs on the blog A Worthy Message.

What I learned about living a missional life from Genghis Blues

The power of trully loving people and the culture they live in can have an immense effect. Few examples about this power of loving people is more clear than in the documentary Genghis Blues (1999).

Let me explain.

In this film, Paul Pena, is a blind musician most famous for writing the song "Jet Airliner" with Steve Miller band, although he has performed and played with many famous bands through out the decades.

Pena discovers a unique sound on his short wave radio which he later identifies as Tuvan Throat Singing (native to the people of Tuva). He loves the sound and discovers that he wants to learn everything he can about throat singing and the Tuvan people. (Tuva is located in outer Mongolia).

Pena begins to learn how to throat sing on his own (throat singing involves isolating two or more notes at the same time on your vocal chords) as well as begin learning fundamentals of the Tuvan culture and their language. He begins to develop a strange love for these people. Even learning their language stems out of a developed love for their culture, because it requires him first to learn Russian because there is no English translations directly into Tuvan.

It is in the vein of this shear dedication and fascination that teaches him to love the people of Tuva, their culture, and their language before he even meets one Tuvan. Yet in time, he does travel to Tuva, in time to participate in their annual throat singing competition, as the first even non-Tuvan to compete.

The people of Tuva receive Pena with great praise and respect, even nicknaming him Earthquake for the deep quality of his throat singing. The people here are deeply attracted to this old blind man because he has gone to so much effort to deeply love them. The people desire nothing more than to spend time with Pena, to integrate them into their culture, and listen to anything that Pena has to say to them.

Pena made a lasting impression on the people of Tuva, even in a very short trip. I think people have a lot to learn about how to impact a culture through genuine love of the people, and a desire to integrate into their cultural landscape.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Church Sign #11: James "I feel God" Brown

A favorite church sign of mine...You got love it when on there permanent sign they display the pastors name as James "I feel God" Brown.

Have your own church sign you'd like to see poster? e-mail it to me at strangeculture@gmail.com

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Disapointed in Constant Gardner's poor BAFTA performance

When the British Academy of Film Awards (the BAFTAs) announced their nominations I was very excited to see that The Constant Gardner had 10 nominations, more than any other movie (Crash and Brokeback Mountain each had 9 nominations)...(you can read a nomination article here)

Yet this weekend, in the awards, The Constant Gardner stunk...only winning one award, for editing. Here's a good summary of this year's award show here).

Here's a list of the main award winners:
BEST FILM: Brokeback Mountain
BEST BRITISH FILM: Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
BEST DIRECTOR: Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain
BEST ACTOR: Philip S. Hoffman, Capote
BEST ACTRESS: Reese Witherspoon, Walk the Line
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Jake Gyllenhaal, Brokeback Mountain

To be the most surprising wins were that Jake Gyllenhall won supporting (over 2 Clooney nods and 2 crash nods)...also Thandie Newton's win is surprising to me...I kind of figured Michelle Williams would win.

George W. Bush Coloring Page Looks like Jesus

George Bush loves the little children, all the children of the world...the
Iraqi's and Afghans, the Kurds and Mexicans...George Bush loves the little
children of the world.

Check out this coloring page (from www.whitehouse.gov/kids) ... this coloring page looks like George Bush came out of a Jesus coloring book.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Church Sign #10: October English Class in February???

Maybe, it's just me, but this sign says English classes are starting in October...ummm...Dude, it's February.

Have a church sign near you? E-mail it to strangeculture@gmail.com

Related Tags: ,

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Sign #9 (Catch Prophet Ira 3 nights in a row)

Is this a person or a new revised version of the bible?

I gotta say, I'm really disappointed that I missed seeing the Prophet...I'm Pro Ira..."Ira! Ira!"

See a sign you want to see featured here? E-mail it to strangeculture@gmail.com

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Petition to Ban Paradise Now

I recently heard of the website petitiononline.com which has tons of online petitions on the site...everything from "Save Rocky" (a pit bull that Ontario has ordered euthenized) to "Brian is the Coolest" (a petition to the world to let everyone know some random guy named Brian Moore is the coolest person in the world).

Well, a very strong and active petition on the board is for the Revokation of the Paradise Now Oscar Nomination. Paradise Now is about two Muslim men that are childhood friends who are chosen for a suicide bombing mission in Tel Aviv.

The film's controversy largely stems from Jewish people who are disgusted from the sympathy and understanding given to Muslim suicide bombers.

The petition for the films dis-nomination comes from a mother of a woman who's son was killed on a bus by a suicide bomber.

Her letter is a very moving piece and contains some interesting points and emotion. Here is an interesting and thoughtful except to perhaps give some perspective on her part...

What makes this movie award-worthy? Would the people that awarded this
movie the Golden Globe do the same if the movie was about young people from
Saudi Arabia who learn how to fly airplanes in the USA and then use Islamic
rituals to prepare themselves for their holy mission, crashing their airplanes
into the Twin Towers in New York City? Would this movie get an award then?

This movie tries to say that suicide murder is legitimate when you feel you
have exhausted all other means. But a suicide murderer who boards a bus kills 15
or 20 innocent people, so how about a suicide murderer who walks into a city
with a biological bomb and kills 10,000 people or 100,000 people? Is that still
legitimate? Where does one draw the line?

But I have to say, that I think this petition perhaps only serves to create more controversy which will only expand the audience, and give it more attention (not less).

Currently 12,267 have signed this online petition.

Sign #8 (from bobhyatt.typepad.com)

A friend e-mailed me a link to this picture from bob.blog. Some signs are goofy or totally irrelevant, but this is a horrible church sign. Slap those people with a fish.

If you have your own sign you want posted, e-mail it to strangeculture@gmail.com

Somehow Media Can Change the World

2 totally different projects - some similarities - some differences - with the same basic belief: "Somehow Media Can Change the World"

I found out about this first one after I watched the award winning documentary Born into Brothels. Brothels tells the story of Zana Briski who went to pohograph in the red light district of Calcutta, India. As a result of her challenges she faced capturing the city (largely because of the illegal activity), she begins to teach the children born of prostitutes to take pictures. She trains the kids, provides them with all the tools they need. And from there she tries to manipulate as many opportunities for these kids that she can to get them out of the brothels. One of the primary things she does is sell the children's pictures world wide and passes the money on to the kids.

Out of this has formed a small organization called Kids with Cameras. This group that manage this group is not really interested in rapid expansion, but keeping their mission pure as Zana's vision is expanded as they are now trying to set up workshops in Haiti, Jerusalem & Cairo.

Similarly, but definitly differently, I heard of a company in the February issue of Fast Company called Witness. Witness is co-founded by Peter Gabriel and it's goal is to strengthen local activist by providing activist & human rights groups with equipment and training to capture their message on film.

I think both of these concepts are very interesting, and if nothing less exciting to see how people who want to change the world see how they can use media, even it's rawest forms to capture something powerful in a visual way. This is how they are changing the world.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Sign #7 (Exercise!)

Ah...you got to love signs like this...you know someone thought that they were being cute.

If you have a sign you've seen that you want post it...take a picture of it and e-mail it to me at strangeculture@gmail.com

Monday, February 13, 2006

"Sign" #6: Be Kind Bus

Okay, so it's not a sign in front of a church, just a message from an undesignated person/church. It has happy Christian messages on it like "Forgive," (in green with the high quality stick people and in blue on the hood) "Romans 10:9," etc.

I think this is so funny...just an ugly abandoned postive-propoganda vehicle on the side of the road.

If you have a sign you've seen that you want post it...take a picture of it and e-mail it to me at strangeculture@gmail.com

Geriatric Indiana Jones

Stay tuned...Harrison Ford has realized that he is not that great of an actor and decided that in order to get some credit and return in the spotlight, Indiana Jones 4 is the way to go.

(Harrison Ford is probably still mad he didn't get a shot to try out for the part of Anikan Skywalker in the newest trilogy of Star Wars).

Actually, an article in the Seattle Times today talks about how Harrison Ford is "crusading" for Indiana Jones 4 to press along to come out in 2007.

And yes, Ford is to play Indiana Jones...no word yet on whether Sean Connery will play his dad...and the story takes place after WWII.

Maybe Ford could break out of the nursing home and travel with his grandson to go beat up some Iraqies.

(note: I remember watching What Lies Beneath about 5 years ago and realizing...wow Harrison Ford is getting older...he's either 63 or 64 years old now.)

Friday, February 10, 2006

Conflicting Opinions in the Church Sign World

Meet Nicole. Nicole has a blog called As My World Turns - A Conservative Mom in her "Right" Mind.

Nicole has recently begun posting some massive lists of "Church Sign Wisdom." Today she posted her forth edition of sign wisdom with a personal update in which she made a comment directed towards me. But before we get to that...let's back track...

You see I visited this site a few days ago and made a comment on one of her post...Church Sign Wisdom Part 3. In this post she listed 125 different church sign "slogans" per se.

These include such nuggets of wisdom as:
264. The wages of sin is death – quit before payday!
283. GOD gives and forgives; men get and forget
300. The cross is God's way of making a plus sign out of a minus
301. The vitamin good for friendship is "B1"
309. When the trumpet sounds we’re outta here!
352. At the heart of sin is the letter "I"
372. Heavenly Forecast: Reign forever!

If this touch you heart...Nicole's blog is for you.

But you see I thought this was all a little crazy so I posted a little comment on this blog saying...

Do you think putting a witty phrase on a sign does anyone any good...does this
encourage us to live our lives differently...or do they just make Christian
laugh and turn non-believers away from experiencing authentic relationships and
truth from people?

Nicole did not appreciate this comment. How do I know...well, as I mentioned, she directed some comments toward me in her forth sign wisdom post.

Nicole says in the post (along with church sign 376-475)...
Ok, so I'm putting up another set of church signs. And seriously, person who
disparages the signs by saying drivel like Do you think putting a witty phrase
on a sign does anyone any good...does this encourage us to live our lives
differently...or do they just make Christian laught and turn non-believers away
from experiencing authentic relationships and truth from people? you know who
you are...does it really matter in the scope of things? You don't like them,
don't read them. Others enjoy them as I do. They are wise, catchy little sayings
that anyone who cared to could take to heart and learn from them. It's not a
topic for discussion b/c this is my blog and I will continue to post them b/c I
enjoy them and I like the sayings. If you think they're lame like you stated
previously, you don't have to come back and keep reading them, but if you do
read them, I don't want to hear anything from you how you don't like them b/c it
was your choice to read them in the first place. SIGH.

Perhaps Nicole doesn't really care about people comments on her blog unless they stroke her ego and tell her how wonderful she is? Hum, kind of seems like a not very productive forum for discussion at all...my comment was really not so harsh.

Church Sign #5 (We Don't Want To Hear Your Complaints)

This signs kind of funny to me. You can see that there is dirt around the sign as it appears they are doing some new work around the premises including landscaping.

Yet, if it rains...they don't want people to complain about the mud in the park lot...so even though the meaning of this sign could go different ways...I think they're just telling people at their church..."Don't Complain."

If you have a sign you've seen that you want post it...take a picture of it and e-mail it to me at strangeculture@gmail.com

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Church to Build Community Swimming Pool

I know I've posted some pretty bad, interesting, and unique church signs, there's got to be other ways for churches to send a message and meet a community need. The blog ChurchMarketingSucks.com posted a very interesting post about one churches future plans.

A 4-year-old, 2000 member church, Harvest Church, in Billings, Montana a $4 million pool.

The community has tried to pass 3 bond measures and were unable to get the pool built with out any luck, so the church is ponying up the money to (as Pastor Vern Streeter says in the Billings Gazette) to "help achieve harvest's goal of making it relevant to people's lives."

Some interesting observations from the Gazette article:
  • The churches plan to build the pool has delayed its plan to build a new sanctuary.
  • Swimmers will pay a gate fee comparable to those at other Billings pools, and the church will staff and maintain the facility.
  • The church scrapped plans for an indoor pool after research indicated it would lose money. Harvest hopes to break even with an outdoor facility.
  • "It's very important people understand this is a Yellowstone County pool. This is a Montana pool," Streeter said. "It's not a church pool. You don't have to be baptized in it before you can swim in it."
  • Harvest is sending a church representative to Washington, D.C., to research obtaining federal grant money, and Streeter is planning a follow-up trip in early 2005.

Church Sign #4 (Pleasant View???)

Check out the pleasant view at Pleasantview Baptist Church! This is a lovely sign with one the most beautiful signs I have ever seen.

If you have a sign you've seen that you want post it...take a picture of it and e-mail it to me at strangeculture@gmail.com

When You Get an E-mail to Take Out the Trash

The online world is complete...there's everything you've ever wanted online. I ran across this web page in a little blurb in Kiplinger's, the personal finance magazine.

There's a website, chorebuster.net, where you can create an account and it will generate and equitable chore list for the people in your house based upon the chores that you enter...it will even mail your chores to you!

Any one want to try this out and tell me how it goes??

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Church Sign #3 (Wrong Kind of Sign)

If you ask me this is the wrong kind of sign...it does not inspire me to be a better person or attend their church.

If you have a sign you've seen that you want post it...take a picture of it and e-mail it to me at strangeculture@gmail.com

Why The Grammy Awards Aren't My Thing

I love film awards, especially Academy Awards...but now the Grammy Awards (on tonight)...they are a beast...there's too many categories...and so when all is said and done, the only thing interesting about the award itself is that it's interesting to see the Lauryn Hill, the Nora Jones, or the Kanye West who walk away at the end of the show with a handful of awards.

Some of my favorite categories of the 108 superfluous awards...

Category 55 - Best Southern, Country, or Bluegrass Gospel Album
not to be confused with...
Category 56 - Best Traditional Soul Gospel Album
Category 57 - Best Contemporary Soul Gospel Album and...
Category 58 - Best Gospel Choir Or Chorus Album

Or how about these catagories?
Category 93 - Best Surround Sound Album
Category 97 - Best Orchestral Performance
Category 103 - Best Small Ensemble Performance (with or without Conductor)
Category 74 - Best Polka Album
Category 76 - Best Spoken Word Album For Children
Category 78 - Best Comedy Album
Category 44 - Best New Age Album

and last (but not least) 2 personal favorite, catagories 87 & 88...
Category 87 - Best Boxed Or Special Limited Edition Package
Category 88 - Best Album Notes

You can explore the ridiculous list here on your own. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Meet Ben Bernanke

Check out these two pictures...they're images of the new Federal Reserve Chairman, Ben Bernanke, sworn in yesterday to replace Alan Greenspan who has finished his 14 year term. The picture on the left of Bernanke is from his Princeton web page, the one below is his Federal Reserve bio picture from the Federal Reserve website.

He looks like an Economic teacher to me in the picture on the left...I bet if it was a full body picture he'd be wearing white tennis shoes, white socks and old khaki pants...but he cleaned up okay for the federal reserve, but I bet he prefers his white tennis shoes.

According to Inc. magazine Bernanke is setting an explicit inflation goal and de-emphasizing the consumer-price index. He also promises to make recommendations on taxes and spending proposals as Greenspan did with Bush's tax cuts.

Church Sign #2

Last week my wife saw this sign and it read "Under New Management. Jesus in Charge."

But this sign, I had to read a couple times to even get what it said. I definitinitly could have used some punctuation.

If you have your own sign you would like posted e-mail it to strangeculture@gmail.com

Monday, February 06, 2006

Worst Picks of 2005: Critics vs. Viewers

Earlier today I posted the critics composite list of the worst films of 2005. This is obviously the critics take, and only accounting for critics who made lists like this.

But I had a hard time putting Sin City on the list...because even though I haven't seen it, I knew people would disagree with it.

On the internet movie database (imdb.com) Sin City has a score of 8.4 out of 10 from viewers making it according to imdb.com the #69th best movie of all time...like I said...haven't seen it, but I've got to say that seems a little high.

As for the bottom 5 let's see how they stack up with IMDb voters.

1. Stealth 4.7/10 (6,187 votes)
2. Alone in the Dark 2.2/10 (6,954 votes) #20 on the bottom 100
3. Elizabethtown 6.4/10 (5, 861 votes)
4. Dukes of Hazzard 4.6/10 (8,269 votes)
5. Elektra 5.1/10 (9,330 votes)

Like I said, haven't seen any of these, but I gotta say I'm going to have to go with the imdb.com and guess that when it really comes down to it...Alone in the Dark has got to be worse that Stealth...

Also from 2005 according to imdb.com...
In the Mix 1.9/10 (1,844 votes) #7 worse movie of all time
The Honeymooners 2.0 (1,983) #9 worse movie of all time
Son of the Mask 2.1 (3,746 votes) #13 worse
Get Rich or Die Tryin' 2.3/10 (4,924) #27 worse
The Gospel 2.8/10 (693 votes) #60 worse
Yours, Mine and Ours 2.8/10 (969 votes) #65
The Fog 3.1/10 (3546 votes) #89

I gotta say I trust imdb.com for the evaluating of what's the worst of the worst.

Power to the People (and the imdb.com voters)

Critics Rankings of the Worst Films in 2005

There's a lot of critics who do top 10 list...but you know...most of those critics go and see a lot of movies, because we want to see previews of every movie in our newspapers every friday (and reviews for bad movies can sometimes be fun to write).

A fun website, moviecitynews.com, combines different critics to create a composite top list and a composite worst list. The list was made with over 30 critics bottom 10 list.

Fortunatly, I've only seen 1 of the bottom 21 films (Bewitched...which I thought was somewhat entertaining), perhaps you've seen more of these worse films. (You can check out the complete list here)

20 & 21. The Fog & Sin City (tie)
19. A Sound of Thunder
18. Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl
17. Kingdom of Heaven
16. The Man
15. The Wedding Date
14. The Brothers Grimm
13. The Pacifer
12. Bewitched
11. The Island
10. Diary of a Mad Black Woman
9. XXX: State of the Union
8. Fantastic Four
7. Be Cool
6. Duece Bigalo 2: European Gigalo
5. Elektra
4. The Dukes of Hazzard
3. Elizabeth Town
2. Alone in the Dark
1. Stealth

Church Sign #1 (The New Series)

Today is the first of what I hope to be a long series of Church Signs. Believe me they get better, but this was a sign that was put in light of the Superbowl this past weekend.

If you have your own sign you would like posted e-mail it to strangeculture@gmail.com

Friday, February 03, 2006

Students Talk About the Biggest Problem in the World

I asked some students to write about what they saw as the biggest problem in the world. What was the cause of the problem. Could the problem be solved, if not why. And if yes, how.

Here are there answers. There is a lot to respond to in there answers. Or perhaps you would like to suggest your own thought on the biggest problem as you see it.
(typos were left to allow for greater authenicity in their responses)

  • "The biggest problem in the world today is organized religion, because throughout history it has started wars and been used to justify everything from genocide to slavery. Religion causes people to become intolerant and judge people based on things like sexual orientation. The solution to this problem is to create peace among religions. by creating peace among religions there will be peace among nations. I don't think religion should be done away with. It think it just needs to change." - Ross, 17
  • "The biggest problem in the world today is not not beliving in good and/or god or gods, but not being saved. What caused this problem? Well many things. TV promotes youth to actdo things on TV, alot of people live for themselves, and not for Gods will. These is only 2 solutions. One is, try to spred the word of God as best we can, and try to make it work. And the second is that God/Jesus comes to earth again, but when that happens its the end of the world...we for the saved people. The other biggest problem is GAYS! What caused this problem? Its hard to say, you're not born gay because God wouldnt do that, gays make him sick to his stomach. The solution is put all the gays on an island. We'll name the island: Gayland." - Nash, 16
  • "I think the biggest problem in the world is teenagers not going to college. The reason that cause this is drugs, and there is always a solution to everything. The solution is say no to Drugs." -John, 16
  • "I think the biggest problem in the world today has to be general stupidity. If you watch T.V. like the news, or even being around total strangers, it is hard to imagine that we all one people. I think the cause isn't related to Drugs nor any other kind of brain washing technec, but is us as a peoples fault. The ignorance is ridicules. We need to learn to love each other, and follow are own paths." -Timothy, 16
  • "There are a lot of problems in the world today. I am not sure what I would consider to be the biggest. The threat of war is always a big concern because there's always disagreement and radical thinkers, which probably plays a big part in the cause of wars. I would probably say the possibility of Iran getting nuclear wapons might be a problem. I don't know much about that situation, but I can only just guess that it could be a problem." - Tim, 17
  • "The biggest problem in the world today is how countries don't always get along with eachother. It hink that the problem got caused by a country being jealous of another country because their way of life was better and they had more freedom. I don't think there is a solution to this problem because not everyone is going to get along and people are always going to heate other countries because their way of life is different and they might be jealous of the things that they don't have." - Eliza, 16
  • "The biggest problems is the fact that no one gets along anymore. I think what caused that problem is that other countrys are jealous of us so they want to make us the worst country and thinking were unfair. I think they could be a solution to it is that people could look past what we have and they dont have and juding my money instead of asking for help to get what we have." - Kaylynn, 16
  • "The biggest problem in the world today is the War in Iraq. It is such a problem because there is no reason the American tropps should be there. Most of them dont even know why they are there. Many things has cause this problem, not just the President. I can understand America for getting mad about 9/11. but they did what they wanted to do in Iraq. so they should leave. The solution woulb be to not have the whole army over seas when it doesn't need to be there." -Eric, 16.

Note: Some of these responses come from the same students in the blog post: Understanding Disdain for America.

On Documentaries: Story, Interest, & Connection

This past week I watched Word Wars, documentary about obsessed scrabble players, many of which don't have job and simply travel around from tournament to tournament taking vitamin supplements, doing Tai Chi, gambing on scrabble games, and hoping to win the big 25,000 dollar prize at the national competion.

It was a fun documentary from the sense that I like Scrabble and these people are freaks. But, of all the "contest" documentaries I've seen this is my least favorite. The reason is, I think a good contest documentary isn't just about the contest, or even the people involved, it's about larger themes.

My favorite "contest" documentary is Spellbound because while it is about the national spelling bee in my eyes it is really about parents and family. You watch the film and it's not just about getting to know the select kids, it's about the ways in which their parents encourage them, prod them, and praise them. There are surprise things to learn about life in the process. I don't know if this was the film makers original intentions, but it is obvious this is how they eventually ended up telling the story (just in the same way Mad Hot Ballroom has side themes about children's perceptions of the opposite sex and marriage at the age of 10).

A documentary is valuable if it tells an important story, one your very interested in, or one that connects to you in a way that helps you understand the world.

Word Wars did not do any of these three things. Documentaries like Control Room told me an important story. Super-size Me told me something I was interested in. And Spellbound or even Genghis Blues connected with me in a way that helped me understand the world.

On a similar but different note, I am very excited to see the documentary that just won at Sundance film festival (awards where given January 28th). The Grand Jury prize and the Audience award went to a film called God Grew Tired of Us: The Story of the Lost Boys of Sudan. This movie looks like a really important documentary and a story some of us are familiar with. Plus I love movies, books, etc. that deal with the themes of Africa, then can help us understand what is really going on in Africa, especially sub-Saharan Africa.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

This Year's Academy Award Disconnect

If you feel like you and the general public are disconnected from the Academy Awards this year, there's fact to back that feeling up...

Here's some figures (courtesy of boxofficemojo.com a favorite website of mine).

In 1999 the 5 best picture nominees had made an aggregate 521 million dollars prior to the nominations.

In 2000 the 5 best pictures had made $471.3 million prior to nominations.
In 2001...$484.3 million
In 2002...$486.8 million
In 2003...$637.9 million
In 2004...$205.2 million
In 2005 (this year)...$185.5 million

I'm not making a general trend that the academy is disconnected...in fact, in many ways I think the nominations are on par with the films that are out this year...and these films, like in the past will receive a boost...

last year pre-nomination, the films of 2004 were at 205.2 million pre nomination and ended up 344.8 million by the time the awards came around...but...

not everyone wants to sit through Good Night, and Good Luck or Brokeback Mountain this year...Crash has come and gone and not too many people caught it in the theaters...it too was dark...Munich is dark...and Capote...well it's dark too.

I love Capote and Good Night and Good Luck and I imagine in the weeks ahead more people will see them (and Brokeback Mountain has already seen a significant increase in it's box office grosses since Tuesday)...but I want to let you know, there is reason for you not to feel disconnected from the awards at this point.

But Capote is expanding to 800 more theaters this weekend, Brokeback is expanding up to 2000 theaters, Munich's picking up more theaters this weekend to...more people will talk about these movies (just as more people talked about Million Dollar Baby when it came out last year and received mega-award attention).

Hibernation for Humans

Maybe, this is old news, but I was reading a column on groundhogs day today and it was talking about how Groundhogs day is really a lot more about hibernation then it is about seeing a shadow.

The article discusses how hibernation is a lot more like being dead then sleeping, and than it takes the turn...and begins to discuss how hibernation is something that science is trying to tailor so that humans would have the ability to hibernate.

Here's some of that text from the msn article.
Wouldn't it be great if humans could hibernate? They might ...

In fact, NASA is looking into it. Hibernation might be a
way to send a crew of astronauts to another solar system--a journey that could
take centuries.

Doctors are also interested. They'd like to be able
to hibernate a single organ. It would be a way to preserve a heart or a kidney
for transplantation.

The United States Army is the most interested
of all. No, they're not looking for a weapon that could put the enemy out for
the winter. Rather, they think hibernation might be useful for transporting
wounded soldiers from battlefields to hospitals.

And that day might
be close. Thanks to army-funded research, scientists at the University of
Minnesota have identified the hibernation gene. What this gene does is produce
an enzyme, and what this enzyme does is switch the body over from burning
carbohydrates to burning fat. Long-term human hibernation, the kind we'd need
for space travel, is still a long way off, according to Dr. Matthew Andrews, a
leader in hibernation research. But the technology for short-term human
hibernation? Coming soon.

I don't think I want anyone to hibernate me!?!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Survivor 12- Panama - Exile Island Prediction

Today I want to predict who will win the next season of Survivor: Exile Island. These are my prediction with out seeing a single episode.

By far the craziest survivor contender this year by bios is the one for Tina. She's nothing like the original Tina that won a few years back, and her craziness is not just her hair.

I think I'm going to like Bruce, and Ruth Marie.

Now, Misty...she's an SMU girl, and an engineer...and I just don't think she's going to make it.

There seems to be a lot of soccer players and performer-type this year...

I don't think Shane, Terry or Cirie have a chance.

I think that the winner of Survivor 12 - Panama - Exile Island will be Aras, Bruce, Bobby or Sally...in fact, I'll say right now, they'll be the final 4...and in the end Bruce Kenagai (pictured above) will win.

You can check out all the contestants at: http://www.cbs.com/primetime/survivor12/meet.shtml