This world has a lot of crazy stuff in it...I am using this space to discuss politics, the arts, and life in general, and how things in our world are not hopeless, things are Bent, Not Broken

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

In The Park Home Run

I play softball on Tuesday nights in the summer. Its fun, its not super competitive, but there are definitely people there that care about winning. Is that ok? Is it ok to care about winning, and at the same time, know that winning is not the point. Not really the point anyway. It sure as heck seems like the point to me sometimes, but in retrospect, the morning after, I realize the point is sportsmanship, competition, fair play, may the best team win.

I can say all that on Wednesday morning, but on Tuesday night, when the other team is wiping the diamond with us, its hard to feel that. All this to say, I hit a home run last night for the first time. It was quite an experience, one that I have mixed feelings about. It was an in the park home run. For those of you who are not baseball, or in this case, softball fans, an in the park home run is not one that clears the fence, but a hit that stays inside, and I, the base runner, has to make it all the way around without being thrown out anywhere. I hit a monster of a ball to the outfield, and it made it past the outfielder. By the time the outfielder got to it, he kinda bobbled a little bit, and then the outfielder missed his relay in to the infield, so I motored all the way around and scored.

Was this a great play? Yes. Was this possible if the outfielder didn't commit an error, maybe. But the point was it got me pumped up, and it pumped up my team to see a guy like me make this big hit. I scored, and this brought us to within 11. Yup, thats right. With my home run, we were losing 13 to 2. So is this a bitter sweet victory? Perhaps. Will I stop telling people about the home run? No way. Because in that moment, I was a winner. I wasn't just a winner, I was THE winner. I beat there entire team. All of them against me, and I came out victorious. You can't hold me down, you can't hold me back, just don't pitch me inside. Bent, Not Broken.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

The Sun Also Rises

Its Saturday, May 14th, 2005, and its been quite a while since I have made an entry into the ole' blog. Extenuating circumstances has made it difficult to write, but I got up early, and left the house intentionally looking for a little extra time, so here I am.

As I left my bedroom this morning, I took a glance at my bookshelf and the title "The Sun Also Rises" by Hemmingway caught my eye. Now I must admit, I have yet to read this book. I bought it at a used book store because it was 15 cents, and I couldn't pass up a Hemmingway for 15 cents. I do enjoy reading, but I never seem to have the time required to consider reading a hobby.

In any case, it reminded me of an old addage that is constantly coming to the forefront of my thoughts lately. The sun will rise tomorrow. It will. It doesn't really matter what is happening today, how rough the night is, how hopeless the future appears, the sun will rise. A new beginning is just around the corner. I am very thankful for that. I am very thankful for time, for life, and for forgiveness from many sources.

Remember, the Sun Also Rises, no matter how dark the night is. Bent Not Broken.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Seeing Things From Another Angle

OK, OK, I know this sounds like a fairly philosophical title, with a lot under the surface, and many comments on our society's one sided viewpoints, but I assure you its not. I assure you that what you are about to read is not weighty, or intellectually draining in any way. So if you were worried about that, and considering moving on after the first paragraph, consider yourself safe from all strenuous thinking. In fact, you will probably be a little stupider by the time you finish this.

So have you ever lay on the floor of your office or place of business? My guess is probably not. Sure, you lay on the floor at home, you lay on the sand at the beach, but on the floor at work? I don't think so. Why not? Cause you have other things to be doing, thats why. Have you ever thought about trying? Trust me on this. Close your office door, wait until no one is coming, and flop yourself down.

What do you see? Well, first of all, you see the ceiling. How often do you look at the ceiling at work? Rarely I would bet. Its pretty cool. Little patterns you didn't know existed, little craftmenship marks from a skilled laborer who installed it. Sweet. What else do you see? Well, you see your furniture in a completely different way. When you look at a chair, do you ever look at the legs up close? Nope, at least I don't anyway. Hey look, I found a quarter! Hey look, I found a Cheeto! Long story short, you are now seeing things like you never have before. You are looking at the same things you have looked at everyday for the past, whatever, but you are now seeing sides of them you did not see before. You are now appreciating all the hardwork it took to build your chair, all the intricate details of your tile floors, or how dirty the side of your file cabinet is. Or maybe you, for the first time, are seeing faces in the patterns on your drop ceiling.

Well, I lied to you. I genuinely hope you are not stupider, There is some real thinking involved here, but I thought if I saved it to the end you could think about stuff after you read, save you some energy having to do both at once. I invite you to lay on the floor of your office, and to lay on the floor of your mind, and try and see things from a different angle. To try and look at things in a way you had never seen them before, and to appreciate the hardwork you never thought of. On the same token, I invite you to see the filth on the side of the file cabinet too, and clean up what is dirty, now that you know its dirty. And most of all, I invite you to look up at the ceiling of your soul, and see the Face in the patterns of the stars in your mind.

Bent Not Broken.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Final Four

Who would have thunk it? Michigan State University is in the Final Four. For those of you who are not American, or if you are an American, and you have just lived under a rock for the last three weeks, the NCAA Division I College Basketball Tournament is culminating to an amazing end. We started with 64 teams, 65 actually, but the field has been narrowed to just 4.

I live in Lansing, MI, just 5 miles from Michigan State University, and I have bled green ever since I was a kid (both of my parents are Spartans), but this transends sports. I wish all of you could have been in the Lansing area when the season was starting, I wish you could have heard what all the critics were saying about the Michigan State Basketball team. "These guys won't win 20 games this year. This is the year of not talent, no heart, and definitely no Final Four."

Well great day in the morning. All of these comments were pretty tough, but the State faithful were tougher. So many people around here fired right back, "That's what they all say. There is something special about this group. We can't put our finger on it yet, but we are going to see something we have never seen before."

And we did! Coach Izzo had never beaten Coach K from Duke, and in fact MSU hadn't beaten Duke in 59 years! Michigan State knocked off Kentucky, coached by arguably the best coach in all of college basketball, Tubby Smith.

Obviously, I am a sports fan. I love the competition, I love the performance. I love college sports the most, because it isn't about money, its about the game. But even if you don't like sports, this is a situation we can all appreciate. The underdog. When they said it couldn't be done, it was done.

I would like to extend an invitation to the fair weather Spartan fans back into the fold. I know many of you gave up on the Spartans, and I am not happy about that, but here is your chance to come back. I speak for all of us when I say, "The road is rough. Sticking to what you believe means sacrifice, but sometimes it also means vindication. Come on back and be vindicated."

Bent Not Broken.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Flurries in March

As many of you may or may not know, I love the winter. I love the cold weather, I love the snow, I love being able to see my breath. There is something about the winter time that is oddly appealing, not only to my tempature core, but to my personality. Winter is a wonderful time of recharging, of recomittment.

All that being said, I must say, occasionally I do get a little peaved about snow flurries in late March. I mean, I know I live in Michigan, and its not like this is unexpected, but the time of transition between winter and spring is a time of anticipation. Nothing cuts through that anticipation like snow flurries. A couple of days ago it was warm enough to drive with the windows down. No more. Its cold again. Its not that cold, but since we are close to April, the balmy 37 degrees we are feeling outside feels frickin' freezin'.

But am I using this post to gripe about the weather? No, quite the opposite actually. I did all that verbal set-up for the following statement. "I am thankful for the flurries in March." I am thankful for the air I breath, for the roads I drive on. I am thankful for the commercials on TV, even the ones that bug the hell out of me, cause I live in a country where commercials for stuff like that are allowed on TV, and the government isn't telling what I can and can not watch, what I can and can not buy.

Flurries in March are a blessing. Perhaps not the warmest one, but a blessing just the same. If I have to choose between the inconvienience of some nippy winds and a few snowflakes on the ground, or a school shooting, or terrorist bombing or the loss of a loved one, I'll take the snow. Hell, I'll build you a snowman. Bent Not Broken.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Bucknell?

I can think of lots of popular words and phrases that have the word "buck" in them. Well, maybe not lots, but at least a few. "Uncle Buck" (the popular John Candy movie), "Buckin' Bronco" "A Buck" (A popular american slang term for a dollar), and the list goes on and on. But not until last night had I ever heard this term with the suffix "nell" stuck on the end of it. Bucknell? Who the hell is Bucknell? I will tell you who Bucknell is. Bucknell is a little university with a 14 seed ranking in the NCAA basketball tournament with the impossible task of facing 4th seed Kansas in the opening round of play. Not only had I never heard of Bucknell, but I had placed a lot of faith in Kansas, one of my Final Four teams, so so as I waited for the start of the Michigan State game, I settled in to watch my beloved Jayhawks wamp another innocent NCAA tourney virgin. But...Bucknell? Wow. For those of you who watched the game, you saw a team in bright orange uniforms take control of the pace and rhythm of the game, and stun a Jayhawks team right out of te building and back on the plane. So what? Never stop believing in something if it is important to you. If there was ever a time, and if there was ever a place, that time is now, that place is here. I envy Bucknell. I envy the ability to be told, "You will NEVER beat these guys.", and smoke them like a cuban cigar. There is an old saying that goes, "When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade." This makes sense to me. But in the case of Bucknell, it is just too tame. It is just too passive. Bucknell didn't just avoid losing. They won. So when life gives you lemons, cut 'em in half and squeeze 'em in te eyes of Kansas. Bent Not Broken.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Major Disgrace for Baseball

I know it has been a while since my last entry, but sometimes when you feel uninspired, the worst thing you can do is force it. So I thought I would just sit on things for a little while and wait for something easy...something political...to write about. And low and behold, it happened this morning.

Damn Mark Maguire. That should be the title for this entry, but this is a family blog. I don't want to put a word in the title I wouldn't say outloud to my grandmother. Why it is ok to say in the context of the blog, I am not sure, but it is, ok? Get off my back!

Anyhoo, what was I saying? Oh yeah, damn you. Damn you Mark Maguire.

If you follow sporting news at all, you know that many of the beloved figures of Major League Baseball testified on Capitol Hill as to the use or non-use of steroids, and there prevalance in America's Past Time. When asked the really tough questions, Mark Maguire, after leaning over and talking to his attorney, refused to answer, and envoked his 5th amendment rights (the right of a testifying person to not incriminate themself). 5th amendment? 5th amendment?!? Give me a break.

This guy is not concerned about the court convicting him on a criminal charge on the illegal use of steroids. He is concerned about the court of public opinion handing down a sentence of disgrace to, what we thought anyway, a baseball legend.

Why? Why wouldn't you just fess up to your wrong doings and try and move the sport back in the right direction? Are you worried about someone taking your records away from you? It doesn't matter now anyway, because those records are always going to have an asterisk next to them. People are always going to say, "Well sure he hit all those home runs, but he could lift a VW over his head, and had the mood control of a colicky infant."

Pride. Why is it so easy to talk for 20 minutes about what we have done right, and so difficult to talk for 20 seconds about what we did wrong. Pride. Bent Not Broken.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Update: Law and Order Universe

I just wanted to log a quick entry as an update to my comments on the Law and Order universe from earlier. I really haven't changed my my on the way I feel about things, but I justed wanted to let my readers know that many of my friends have started coming up with other Law and Order spin offs that are quite funny, and if you are interested in them, please contact me, I have begun compling a list. Also, I am writing this as I watch/listen to a Law and Order Re-run on TNT at my friend Brad's house, and I have to admit, even though I have groused a lot about Law and Order, I am still a fan of the show, and I think it will go on for a long time. Long live Dick Wolf! Bent Not Broken.

A little of a lot

There are some things in our day and age that astound me. Yes, the beauty of a flower, the miracle of child birth, all the junk, but I am talking about figures. Yes, figures. Not the figures of beautiful supermodels (while those can be amazing), but numeric figures. Consider the following; A ways back the appropriate governing bodies approved a request by President for 87 billion dollars in additional spending for the war in Iraq. I would like to first state that this commentary is in no way slanted one way or the other towards or against the war in Iraq. I do have views and opinions, but that is another dime for another day. Anyways, 87 billion dollars towards the war in Iraq. This is money that can not even be thought of in practical terms, simply theoretical. Do you realize what this means? This means that one percent of this money is 8.7 billion dollars. that means that 1/2 of one percent is 4.35 billion dollars. 1/10 of one percent is 870 million dollars. 1/100 of one percent is 8.7 million dollars. 1/1000 of one percent is 870,000 dollars. I considered writing our president a letter for a while. The letter would have read like this.

Dear President Bush,

I know you are a busy man, so I won't take up very much of your time. I had a little question regarding your spending bill to Iraq, you know, the 87 billion dollar one? I am sure that money is all going to very important things, but I had one little request. Do you think you guys would miss 1/1000 of 1 percent of that money? See, its the end if the year, and I am coming up a little short on some of my bills. Really, when you break it down, you would still have quite a bit of cash heading towards Iraq, I don't even think you would miss it. Have you ever went to cut the pie you bought at the grocery store, and stop saying, "Hey! There is 1/1000 of 1 percent of the pie missing!". Of course not. Hook me up Bush! I need your help!

Your Friendly Voting American Friend --

Chris

What do you think? Do you think it would take? I am not sure. Bent Not Broken.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Puddles

I know there is much debate in our society as to whether or not rain is a good thing. OK, so maybe there isn't debate over it, but there should be. I mean, I am torn between the benefits and the cost of this wettest form of precipitation. There are some that would say, "OOOH! I love the rain! It is so pretty! I love to fall asleep listening to the rain." And still others might say, "I hate the rain. I hate getting wet, I hate other things getting wet. Rain is an overall bad deal." And lastly, some might comment, "I am a plant. Rain is good." Well, the plant might not actually say that, but we all know in those little plant brains of there's, they're thinking it. Sneaky little guys.

Anyway, when it rains, no matter how much or how little, we are always left with the remnants of rain, puddles. Now puddles I like. Puddles are a gentle (or sometimes not so gentle) reminder of a big, powerful, subtle (or sometimes not so subtle) event that occured not too long ago. Puddles remind us that there are bigger things in this world besides us.

I even like trying to get across a really big, deep puddles. Makes me feel like I am on American Gladiators or something.

Long story short, without puddles we would have no reminder of the rain, nothing to keep us in check when we start to think, "I am bigger than this street. I am bigger than this city. I am bigger than everything." No you're not. The rain is way bigger than you. Heck, this puddle is just a little bit of rain, and its bigger than you.

Plus, a puddle is a great place for tadpoles to be born, and as any young boy will tell you, this world is a far better place because of tadpoles. Bent not Broken.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Books on a Shelf

Many in our country have gotten away from the idea of reading as a form of entertainment, as a form of personal entertainment. Reading is something that is now connected simply to text books, work related nausia, and maybe checking out a newspaper on the table next to you at the local Burger King.

But there are some in this world that lose themselves in books, and flood there brains with the stories that only books can give us. I think this is great. I wish I read more than I do. I am so obsessed with TV, movies, and video games, not to mention fish frys, poker night, playing with the band that I never get a chance to read all the books I think I should.

I want to take a second to talk about these few literary patriots. I want to focus specifically on what I like to call "trophy readers". These people read books, and then put them on the shelf, as a source of pride. The mount them on a bookshelf as a sportsman mounts a fish on the wall saying, "Look. Look what I read. I obviously am a smart one, I mean, look at all of that." People who just want to walk in there bedroom, look to the east and marvel in there literacy.

Are you a trophy reader? I have to admit, if I read as many books as I want to read, I would probably create a shrine to my ability too. Kinda vain huh? Bent Not Broken.

Why did the chicken cross the road?

I think you can tell a lot about a person by the way they cross the street. Now,I am not talking about crossing a country road on the way back from a barn dance at 3 in the morning, when the most you would see of any kind of traffic is a wandering bovine, or perhaps a drunken farmer, on a freewheeling tractor joyride. No way Jose'. I mean city, or at least relatively urban areas with lots of cars, lots of people, lots of places to go.

For instance, I live in Lansing, Michigan, and downtown Lansing there is a bank that I frequent quite often. Depending on the day, there are limited amounts of parking spaces, so I forced to walk the streets of the Capital City and cross many of them. I have observed in my days of walking, many street crossing styles that dictate a personality to a tee. You may think this is a caddy way to look at life,but honestly, what else do we have to do?

OK, so today I saw a classic example of what I like to call frantic skipping man. This guy, obviously not concerned with the effeminate style of his walk, is focused solely on his destination, and will skip his little heart out to get there. By observing these behaviors, we see this man is focused, unconcerned with outward appearance, and has a general fear of getting hit by cars.

Lets also not forget the hippie, dressed in a lot of homemade clothes, walking down the left hand turn lane of a busy street instead of the sidewalk. Some may think, "Now this guy REALLY doesn't care what other people think!" But I would say the opposite. Judging by his blatant disregard for the rules of our street crossing culture, I would guess he is doing all of this BECAUSE everyone can see him. He is a rule breaker, not because he wants to be different, but because he desperately wants to be noticed by everyone, and consequently, in his own wierd little way, be accepted by everyone.

There are many other lane travelers that we could talk about, but I will end with "up tight business woman who thinks she is more important than everyone else", crossing even when she has the all important red hand. Carrying a heavy briefcase in one hand, and a trendy cell phone in the other, she thinks that her walking needs are far more important than anyone else's driving needs. This woman is occasionally hit by cars, but rightfully so. Not to say I condone hit and run, but we all know the person I am talking about. She is far to concerned with her self to worry about anyone else. And when she does take the time to consider the issues, the lives, the goings on of other people, it is simply to compare to herself to them, making her feel better about life, or worse about life, and ordering another apple-tini either way.

Don't let this article get you down! There are so many times we cross the street without even thinking about what we are doing. But beware, cause I may be watching, and you may find yourself the subject of another installment of Bent Not Broken.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

What in the World?

I am beginning to wonder when TV executives are going to pony up the idea of an All Law and Order, All the Time network. Goodness sakes, how many Law and Order spin offs can we possibly come up with? NBC is starting to run out of actors to portray people in these shows. I am waiting with baited breath for the time that the pool of serious television actors has been exhausted, and the only alternative for Law And Order Part 9 is an explosive touch and go relationship between two law partners played by Carrot Top and Garrison Kiehler (from the popular radio program "prairie Home Companion"), with occasional cameo performances by Jerry Seinfeld.

Before this gets too out of hand, lets take a second and examine our current situation.

1. Law and Order: (The original series)
2. Law and Order: Special Victims Unit
3. Law and Order: Criminal Intent
4. Law and Order: Crime and Punishment
5. Law and Order: Trial by Jury

Wowza! Let me take this time to suggest the next five Law and Order Chapters, as they might appear in the hilarious world of Chris...

6. Law and Order: Big Beautiful Women
7. Law and Order: Gay or Straight?
8. Law and Disorder: The Criminal Court System of Circus Clowns
9. Law and Order: Animal Magnetism (God only knows what this is going to be about)
10. Law and Order: Amish Justice

Now I would like to go on record as saying these ideas are the sole intellectual property of me, and so if these end up on NBC, heads will roll.

With the fifth edition of Law and Order, a suspicion I have had all along is slowly coming true. Dick Wolf (the last name you see in the credits of EVERY law and order show, the creator, the Arcitect of the Law and Order Matrix) is now the most powerful individual in the world. Real lawyers are writing him letters asking for advice. President Bush has named him as a member of the Axis of Evil. Richard Branson (Oh excuse me, Sir Richard Branson) is delivering pizza to this guy. Long story short, if the Law and Order secret service agents come to your door to recruit you to be an actor on the new show, claim that you gave at the office, and shut the door before they can get a foot in.

Bent, not broken.

Jeopardy Re-runs

Does watching a Jeopardy re-run make me a cheater? Honestly, I don't really remember seeing this particular episode, but I do remember the guy who is the champion right now, so chances are I did see this at one point. I knew a lot of the answers. But I usually know a lot of the answers. Again, I ask; does this make me a cheater? I hope not. I thoroughly enjoy watching this show when I can feel good about the number of questions I get right. Where did American Game shows go? Have you noticed there are close to NO GAME SHOWS? What happened to "Let's Make Deal", or even "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?"? I mean, we have the three main stays left. We have Jeopardy!, Wheel of Fortune, and the day time classic, "The Price is Right". At this juncture in our country's history, the unique idea of the Game Show has been replaced with Fear Factor, Survivor, and Who Wants to Marry My Dad. Wow. Need I even mention "The Simple Life", or even more amazing cable acess "The Surreal Life"? Now granted, I find these shows entertaining, some more than others, and I would like to go on record as saying the 2nd season of "The Surreal Life", featuring the antics of Flavor Flav was one of the more entertaining TV moments of my adult life, but honestly, what would Alec Trebek say? Bent Not Broken.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

The 10 commandments

Have you heard the recent hullabaloo concerning the Ten Commandments, and there display in government buildings? I find this issue fascinating, as it is eternally complicated. Many people consider this issue cut and dry, simply a question of the seperation of Church and State. I believe it to be a little grittier than that, however. The heart of this debate lies in whether or not you consider the Ten Commandments to be a religious article. There are many who consider this set of golden rules to be an adaptation of common sense and good humanity. These people argue that these directions are simply a community consensus of how things ought to be. Because of this idea, people would not consider this a violation of the seperation of Church and State. But how could this be? What these Ten Commandment fans don't say in public, and probably don't even say to each other, is that these are texts from biblical writers. Did we forget about this? Regardless of who you are, what you believe, and how you feel about this issue, there are certain facts that we must acknowledge if we hope to look at this issue with any clarity. First of all, the Ten Commandments are a biblical text taken from the Christian and Jewish text known as the Old Testament. Secondly, there is very clear declaration in our governmental language that prohibits the combination or religion and goverment, and even more so, the endorsement of a religion, or religion in general, by the goverment. Why is this? Because our country is founded on the freedom to make a choice. Whether that is a choice on where to live, what to eat, who to marry, or to to worship, that choice it fundamental to the freedom of all Americans. Therefore, the display of the Ten Commandments CAN NOT be displayed in such a way that it even appears to be endorsed my a government body. Now, don't get me wrong. I am a Christian. I believe in God. I believe that the Ten Commandments are true, and applicable to my life. But does that mean the goverment should tell me this? No. Many of the people in a twist about this are Christians, or Atheists, and have a heart felt, emotional reaction to this conversation. Before you close the book on the way you feel about this, consider the following; What if the government wanted to display a monument to the Buddist 8 principles of Enlightenment? Would you Ten Commandment supporters be OK with this? Oh you wouldn't? Why not? Because your goverment would be endorsing a religous view that isn't yours? Welcome to the world of everyone else. Bent Not Broken.

Auto Plant Closing

Recently, A GM assembly plant here in Lansing announced it was closing a car assembly plant is closing. I understand the nature of economics, and if I was in a position of deciding whether or not a plant would close, I can't say I would do anything different. Life will go on. However, there are people that are losing jobs that have no where to go. People that have been there for 40 years. Do I think it is terrible that these people won't have options? Yes. Do I believe that it is GM's responsibility to care for each other these people. Maybe, to a point anyway. GM is a business, not a set of grandparents.

Inagural Post

Well, here we are. The first post of my new blog, "Bent Not Broken". I am happy to bring all of my readers a spin on the world as it plays through my eyes. I have a great belief that things in this world are far from beyond repair. That our lives, that our world, that our day to day activities are are Bent, Not Broken. I hope all who read this can find a thread of commonality between my ramblings and your own lives, and am looking forward to some stimulating conversation.