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Sunday, February 26, 2012

And the warbling, multi-colored flying thing is a...

I must apologize to my visitors who have been led to believe that there would be significant entries at The Stream regarding the craft of writing. In my defense, this aptly-named blog is a reflection of where my head is at any given time - and - in no small amount driven by the time available to reflect (in writing) on what is rattling around in there.

Well, this one's for you!

            I bet ten people would have ten different names for this...

My thoughtline today has to do with naming conventions in a novel.

Can we assume that everyone in a novel has the same educational background? Naturally, the answer is, "That depends."

In the genre of fantasy when we, as authors, bring two separate civilizations together, there must - almost by default - be a continuing confusion and/or misunderstanding over the naming of even the most simple things. For example, as I watched the robins scamper around my backyard this morning, I thought about what I would call these orangy, red-breasted birds if I had not been to school and learned that 'robin' was indeed their name. Or if I did not have access to the Internet or books that presented our collective knowledge about them (and other bird species).

Likewise the blue jay, cardinal, sparrow, pigeon, woodpecker, and others that periodically show up in our neighborhood environment.

I'm writing a novel that brings together a generally Euro-medieval civilization with one based on our own native American culture, albeit from several hundred years ago. It is highly likely - concerning these two civilizations, separated historically by impassable geologic barriers and only brought together through the influence of a singular character - that Atrius and Raven (my two protagonists) would have completely different words for nearly everything.

So how do I overcome this obvious linguistic barrier? Should I let the omnipotent voice allow me to overlook this inconvenient truth? After all if (as in my world) one God created all things, is it not possible that all His peoples would call the things of His creation by the same name? Or perhaps I should just sprinkle in a few examples of correction/education as Atrius, whose land will play host during the majority of the first book, points out what his names are for various things.

This in turn will be the case for Raven as the second novel will pass through her land, albeit briefly, before both protagonists travel to yet a third culture where there will most certainly be different terminology. 

I should pause to note that in the first drafts of these novels, everyone does speak the same language. Differentiation is illustrated in some cases by syntax, and in others by cultural reference; but my thought at this stage is that coming up with three completely different languages would be impossible, with the only other choice being to (through some clever omnipotent touch) allow foreigners to understand each other's language as geographic barriers are breached.  

Do I look at this issue in a two-dimensional light? Or do I weave it into the narrative as another point of discussion for Raven who, after tiring of Atrius' (potential for) constant correction in the first book, will use it as a petard on which to hoist his ego as Atrius finds himself struggling to find a lexical anchor in the second book?

It is a small but nontheless key point of order that I am struggling to put together a solution for.

Ideas? Opinions? Advice?


Saturday, February 25, 2012


Un - a prefix meaning 'not' freely used as an English formative, giving negative or opposite force in adjectives and their derivative adverbs and nouns ( unfair; unfairly; unfairness; unfelt; unseen; unfitting; unformed; unheard-of; un-get-at-able ),  and less freely used in certain other nouns ( unrest; unemployment ).

The one I hear (and use) a lot is unbelievable: too dubious or improbable to be believed.

The outcome of a sports contest; the action of a person or persons; a comment someone makes; a new rule by the government; the cost of gasoline; the amount of money political candidates spend on campaigns; and on and on...

                                         Unbelievable = unfair?

At some point in recent history, Irish (one can assume) atheists took umbrage over the fact that a religious oath is required to be a judge or President of the Republic. 

What is unbelievable about that? The President of the United States is sworn in with a hand on a Bible. 

Let's say for the sake of argument that an atheist is elected President. Do they make a big deal about having to place their hand on a Bible or do they just do it and move on. After all, an atheist doesn't believe in any god; take the oath, ignore the symbolism; no one the wiser; the oath-taker doesn't care anyway. Right?

Atheists rail against overt demonstrations of religious faith in the public square. But really, what is the problem? This is America. Our constitution bars establishment of a state religion. If the atheists play along who gets hurt? Christians are happy because we get to worship our God; atheists (should be) happy because they tolerate the intrusion of what they believe is ridiculous faith-based ceremony, and then do what they want to do anyway.

Everyone wins.

Unless there is a sliver of doubt among atheists that teases them with the thought, 'What if there is a god? As unbelievable as I think the whole God thing is, perhaps if I tempt fate too often I might suffer some unknown, and unpleasant fate.' 

                No, not that kind of punishment (image by D. Geister)


I can hear the outcry now. 

What do you think?


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

I'm ignorant

I pitched in with my two cents last night; and now I'm ignorant. I'm well over 100 laps through my own little Daytona 500 of life. So it came as a bit of a shock that at this stage of the race I'm considered ignorant.

Let me provide some context.

A young friend of mine, a bright and thoughtful individual, posted something on Facebook about atheists. I wasn't creeping on Facebook so I didn't catch on until late in the evening, and by the time I arrived at the discussion, there were over 120 comments.

Footnote: It should come as no surprise that any thread to do with religion (or the lack thereof) will generate significant (strong) opinions.

                  I hear these guys got into it, too...

I wish I could give you direct quotes and provide the full context but, alas, the thread has been removed. Perhaps my young friend decided that enough mud-slinging had been accomplished; or maybe the sheer weight of comments was threatening to crash his Facebook page. Who knows?

The crux of my ignorance seems to stem from a comment I made in jest concerning the formation of the universe, the earth and everything. Proponents of the Big Bang theory believe that a long time ago, our universe was in an extremely hot and dense state. Then we had some rapid expansion causing rapid cooling which allowed energy to be converted into various subatomic particles. And so on and so forth until, voila!, here we are.

         I think this sums it up nicely

In my rush to be pithy, I commented that the last time I checked, 0 x 0 = 0.

You would have thought I'd called Einstein a crackpot.

By my cleverly accurate but totally irellavent mathematical formula, I apparently set off the scientific equivalent of the Atheist alarm and one of the participants got all huffy about it and called me ignorant. Or at least posited that my inference was ignorant; assuming that my inference meant that it was impossible for the Big Bang theory to adequately account for the development of life as we know it.

We got off into all sorts of finger-pointing and counter-inferring and all that; well, he did because I didn't even check the thread again until I was getting ready for bed and by that time it was way too late for me to rustle up enough motivation to worry about it. So I issued a quick apology for my ignorance and went to sleep, figuring I'd visit the thread this morning and explain my position in more detail. But alas, the thread has disappeared faster than a gamma ray burst.

The thing I find most ironic about this entire series of events is that it was the participant on the science side of the aisle - whom I assume is an atheist - who resorted to name calling. Normally the Christians will get all defensive about people attacking the idea that God created the universe and everything in it. To paraphrase, name-calling is the last recourse of the weak minded.

So who is really ignorant here?

I don't know; what do you think?


Friday, February 17, 2012

This Nurhachi is a real small guy...

In the opening scene of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Indy saunters into Club Obi Wan, a swanky dinner club in 1935-era Shanghai. In the pocket of his white dinner jacket is a jade funerary urn containing the remains of Nurhachi, first emperor of the Qing dynasty...or so the story goes.

     Good things in small packages?

So what is our fixation with small things?

Well, back in 1951 the first commercially available, general purpose computer, the Ferranti 1, was delivered.

                           Can I fit this in my backpack?

Sixty-odd years later, we have the iconic iPhone...

        We don't need no stinkin' backpack!

I think this is a classic case of device creep. Technically, device creep refers to a situation where we need (or believe we need) more and more devices. In this case, the creep is the insatiable desire for smaller and smaller devices. We have migrated from building-sized devices to handheld devices in what is, from a cosmic time perspective, the blink of an eye.

What other amazing things have we humans accomplished in that time span? Landing a man on the moon comes to mind. Of course, not everything is getting smaller:

                                              Elevation, Holmes...

The Burj Khalifa in Dubai is a half-mile of modern skyscraper that is the tallest building in the world. For now.

How many Nurhachi's could we put in the Burj Khalifa? How many iPhones? We could even fit a fair number of Ferrantis in there as well. Not that we'd want to. No, we want things smaller, faster, cooler than they were before.

So what's next?

With the push for development of nanorobotics, is there any limit to what we can nano-size? Will the next generation's apps appear as icons on our retina, activated by the blink of an eye? Will all of the electronics and transmission capability of today's smart phones be embedded inside our bodies in the future?

The Internet is awash with fanciful stories of our ever-downsizing device creep. In fact, if some of the more technical sites are to be believed, eventually our device creep will lead to a future without devices. How ironic.

We have always had devices; from the first wheel, to the first radio, to our precious iPhones. Are we ready to step into the next frontier? Are we ready to put aside our devices?

Honey, I'm hearing noises in my head.

What do you think they are?


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

What a dog

Over the last couple of weekends I've caught myself watching bits and pieces of the Westminster Dog Show. Apparently this is what happens after the NFL's Super Bowl is played. As many of you know, I love the real football and watch as much Premier League action as I can - but since most of that takes place in the early morning (games are played in England and I'm in the USA), there is a gaping hole in the sporting television landscape on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Basketball? Don't even go there.

So it was with interest this morning that I noted a champion had been crowned in the 136th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. I give you Ch Palacegarden Malachy:

                                       What on earth?


I'm a dog person. I love dogs! Really, I do. I bet if I visited Malachy's house, we'd be buddies. But best in show? Out of more than 2,000 purebred dogs, this little rascal smoked the pack?

I know a lot of folks out there love small dogs. I've got great friends who live and breath chihuahuas (fortunately they can't see me grinding my teeth as their little snookums incessantly barks like some sort of canine Ewok gone mad).

I will admit that I'm a large dog fan; I suppose it's what you're brought up to like. Growing up, my first dog - he was actually my grandmother's - was a Dachshund. I was in first grade when he bit me on the leg. I still have the scar.

Moving over to England to live with my Dad after 5th grade, saw a succession of big dogs including Afghan Hounds and Rhodesian Ridgebacks. Brett, our first Ridgeback was my partner in crime. I loved him like a brother even when I had to bathe the cow dung off of him. You see, he liked to get out of our yard and run across the lane to the pasture. Rolling in cow poo must be something really special in canine-land.

Suffice it to say I was hooked on big dogs.

Long-time followers of this blog will remember that we lost Dale, our German Shepherd in January of 2010. She lived to the ripe old age of 15 - old for her breed - and was the very best dog ever. Ever.

And there was a Shepherd in the mix at Westminster; GCH Babheim's Captain Crunch won best of group in the herding category.

                                  Now THAT'S a dog!

My lovely wife and I are still pondering a new dog for our new home. She loved Dale with all her heart but wasn't in love with the hair; so the jury is still out.

For me, there is no competition. Putting the quirky young Malachy up against Captain Crunch is no contest. Unless you're at Westminster.

What do you think?


Saturday, February 11, 2012

I'm gonna shoot your laptop

In a completely unscientific poll, the hands-down winner of most popular video among my Facebook friends this week featured a father at his wit's end; a father with a loaded .45 and a point to prove. According to one blogger, Tommy Jordan's video rebuttal to his daughter's lack of honor-thy-father-and-mother cred has garnered more than fifteen million views and is the single most trending topic on the entire Internet. That's pep!

Hannah, you've been grounded for this before...

Unless you've been under a rock - or placed into a medical coma - you have seen, or at least heard of, the video where a somewhat cowboy-ish looking Jordan sits in a chair and reads the text of an expletive-filled Facebook rant his 15 year-old daughter posted on her wall denigrating her parents.

Dad then proceeds to explain to the camera how the young lady's life will be noticeably less pleasant in the near future; apparently, this was not the first time she had acted out, and dear old dad had apparently reached critical velocity.

And in a scene that fathers everywhere have no doubt dreamed of emulating, Mr. Jordan unloads the clip - in a nice tight grouping - into the lid of the young lady's laptop.

Take that, Dell!

                 we're going to have to punish you

Some of the reactions I've read so far are:
  • Mr. Jordan is a complete moron and has no clue how to raise children
  • Mr. Jordan is a hero to parents everywhere
  • Mr. Jordan cut off his nose to spite his face (since he'd just spent $150 fixing his daughter's computer
The name-calling crowd centers their argument around young Hannah's need to retain her self-esteem. I'm not saying children don't need self-esteem, but it seems to me - after listening to Mr. Jordan's response - that he was trying to give her some. Personally, I don't think the problem is a lack of self-esteem, it's more about where the young lady needs to find it.

Children here and there seem to pick up the idea that it's important to be popular, well-liked, free to do (more or less) what they want to do, and other somewhat self-centered criteria. Which I guess makes some sort of sense; after all it is called self-esteem.

So what the heck was Tommy "Clint Eastwood" Jordan trying to do? Torpedo his daughter's chances of leading a productive, well-adjusted life?

Shoot no! (In my opinion) He was trying to teach her self-esteem. You heard me right. Stay with me...

You may have noticed I didn't embed the video...frankly I didn't think I needed to - just Google 'Tommy Jordan' and it will probably be the first search result you get. But go and listen to it then ask yourself, what's wrong with a mom and dad trying to teach their daughter that it's important to help out around the house, appreciate the things she receives from her parents, be polite, know the value of hard work and to understand the value proposition of working to pay for some of the bells and whistles that go along with being a teenager in high school?

If you're a parent (and even if you're not) ask yourself, of the choices below, which would be the best foundation on which to base a young person's self-esteem:
  1. A totally superficial platform of popularity, perceived hipness, needing to have stuff that 'everyone else' has, living in your parent's home but not having any thought or desire to acknowledge in any way the (willing) sacrifices they've made to give you things they didn't have at your age, and finally the belief that it's okay to swear at your parents like the antagonist in an R-rated coming-of-age film?
  2. Or, growing up knowing that the best things in life are those that you've worked hard to achieve, having at least a rudimentary understanding of how hard it can be as a parent to be provider, teacher, CEO, counsellor, cook, bottle-washer and driver, based on the sure knowledge that, if nothing else, mom and dad love you unconditionally - even when they have to make hard and terribly unpopular decisions?
You know, I used to be a teenager - there were times that mom did not let me have my way. There were times that I didn't get things that I wanted. I was pretty slow, so it took me awhile to figure out that if I got a job, I could make some money and be able to buy a few of those things myself. And after joining the military at 18, making it through basic training and technical school, buying my first car, getting my own place, paying my own bills, I realized life wasn't so easy. Mom had done a pretty darn good job, after all.

So, with all due respect to the touchy-feely folks, I take my hat off to Mr. Jordan. With the assumption that he and Mrs. Jordan don't physically or verbally abuse Hannah, but are just trying to teach her the hard lessons of life the best way they know how - I say, "Good for you!"

And to our boys, I say, "Be glad your mother and I didn't have enough extra money - or a loaded .45 - when you were in high school and mouthing off. Because I'll tell you for true - it's a distinct possibility that I would've shot your laptop.

Love, Dad.


Friday, February 10, 2012

Literary Review: The Scroll

Regular visitors to The Stream will recall that I have, from time to time, posted book reviews on this blog. They might further note that I have a fondness for historical fiction - of the action-packed variety - in the vein of Clive Cussler's Dirk Pitt novels as well as my new favorite, David Wood's Dane Maddock adventures.

I've recently signed on to participate in a blogging for books program with WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing (that's a mouthful). Now, before everyone gets all excited that I've gone and landed a paying writing gig, it ain't like that. It's more of a quid pro quo arrangement where the publisher makes novels available for me to read at no cost and I, in turn, write a review. If I honestly and sincerely believe the book I read is bad, WMP will still accept my review. Obviously, I need to be professional about it but there is no sense that WMP is forcing me to write a positive review, no matter what.

                                              If it's bad, it's bad...

I wanted to make sure I was clear on all that since this is my first review for WMP, but now the story is the thing!

The Scroll - available in hard cover, paperback and Kindle versions from Amazon, and paperback & Nook versions from Barnes and Noble - is a good book.

As you might imagine, a novel written by a couple of guys who have collectively written somewhere in the neighborhood of 66 fiction and non-fiction books is well written, well researched and an enjoyable read.

The Scroll is built on the premise of an adventure - call it a treasure hunt if you will - centered around the Copper Scroll. The Copper Scroll is a real object and is, in fact, one of the famed Dead Sea Scrolls. Found in Cave 3 near Khirbet Qumran (West Bank), and designated as 3Q15, it differs from the rest of the Dead Sea Scrolls in that it is written on copper, not parchment or papyrus.

Another interesting difference is that the Copper Scroll is not a literary work - it is a list of locations where gold, silver and other precious items are buried. I don't know what all is noted on the real Copper Scroll, but in the novel The Scroll, it lists the hiding places of important artifacts from the Hebrew Temple. Imagine, if you will, the turmoil that would take place in Israel if even some of the original articles from the Temple - i.e. the Table of the Presence, the Altar of Incense, the Temple Treasury, the Gold Lampstand, etc. were found, intact, today.

Anyone with any biblical knowledge at all can well guess at the importance to both Judaism and Christianity if these items were found - not to mention Muslims, whose holy shrine sits atop the alleged location of the 2nd Temple.

                            Artists rendering of the second Temple

Okay, let's recap: In one of the most volatile cities on earth (Jerusalem) where Jews, Christians and Muslims all lay claim to incredibly important holy sites, invaluable objects are found which could, theoretically, motivate the building of the prophesied third Temple. And this in the midst of a modern powder keg of religious contention and ever-present threat of terrorism or even outright war.

I think Dr. Jeffrey and Mr. Gansky have the conflict in their story covered pretty well.

The characterization of The Scroll is well laid out with the protagonist, biblical archaeologist Dr. David Chambers, dealing with multiple conflicts of his own in addition to the nerve-wracking task of finding the lost temple artifacts. Another key member of the cast is Chambers' love interest, Dr. Amber Rodgers, who also seems to have a budding relationship with another member of the archaeological team. There are mysterious benefactors, menacing Israeli security agents, politicians with questionable motives...all very effectively blended into the tale.

I don't really want to go into too much detail. For one thing, obviously, I don't want to give too much away. But also because a couple of the plot twists and turns are fairly easy to figure out as you go along, so I don't want to make it any easier for you to unravel.

Technically The Scroll is a solid novel. Composition, grammar, usage - all the boring stuff - is well put together. there is depth - at least to the primary characters; and new characters are introduced with good pacing and purpose.  And although I am a Christian (which should come as no surprise to my readers) I do believe The Scroll is an enjoyable read for anyone. Some of the more pointed moments in the book might be a little uncomfortable to a secular reader but not to a degree that I believe will detract from their enjoyment of the tale.

On a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest, I give The Scroll a solid 4 stars.

If you like your adventure fast-paced, intelligent and interspersed with eye-popping historical authenticity, The Scroll is definitely for you.



In order to comply with FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that WaterBrook Multnomah Publishers (WMP) provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes. I would personally like to state that, to my knowledge, WMP does not restrict my review submissions based on whether I submit a negative or positive opinion, and that this is as fair and unbiased a review of The Scroll as I can present after reading the novel from front to back. As someone with limited time to read and review books, I will state that I do as much as I can in advance to determine if the novel I choose to review will be - at least - something I find interesting to read.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Believe it or not!

I grew up (mostly) in the USA. I remember mom always received the daily newspaper. Of course, I was only interested in the comics (and later the sports). One strip that always seemed to be in our paper was Ripley's Believe it or Not!

I'm not sure I'd put those bullet-resistant bottles to the test!

Later in life - in several iterations - Ripley's even became a TV show. 

Like bacon, Jack Palance makes everything better...

Robert Ripley's creation debuted in 1918 in the New York Globe and featured unusual sports facts. Later, Ripley expanded into all sorts of, well, unbelievable information.

But today's blog isn't a treatise on Ripley's Believe it or Not - except from the standpoint that Ripley challenged us to believe things that were, at the time, unbelievable.

I have recently begun an association with a publishing house that supplies access to free (temporary, and mostly electronic) copies of books. I can browse through their library of shiny, new novels and pick one to read. What's the catch? The catch is, I have to write a book review.

Spoiler alert! All my book reviews will also be blog entries!!

My debut novel - the one I'm reading first - is entitled The Scroll.

Click the link above to view/purchase your copy from Amazon!

This isn't the review blog so you'll just have to come back for that, but to give you a taste, here's the teaser line from Amazon:
One last dig. One final descent into the twisted tunnels of ancient Jerusalem. Will the truth be found among the treasures that lie beneath the holy city?

Suffice it to say, I'm having some fun reading this.

One of the story lines in the novel has the protagonist questioning his belief in the truth of the Bible; and he abandons his faith in God. As this is worked out on the pages, I began thinking about the greater context of that thought. That's how (and when) I started thinking about the concept and phraseology that Ripley employed to entice readers and later, viewers, to enjoy his tantalizing tales of the unknown, unusual and unbelievable.

These days, some folks put on and take off spirituality like a seasonal wardrobe. They try on one belief system and wear it for a time, then, when things don't go well or they don't get a good feeling from their faith, that belief system is dropped until another one catches their eye...and so on.

Alternately, you have folks who will not believe in anything unless they see hard evidence of its unquestionable existence. I bet Mr. Ripley could relate. Therein lies the crux - and quandary - of Christianity.

If I can ask you to take a single step of faith - to consider, even for a moment, that the books of the Bible are accurate. What would that mean? It would mean, for example, that the story of the Exodus is true. Sure, we may never know the exact details or perhaps even the exact route the Israelites took out of Egypt, although there has been some extremely interesting activity in this particular area for some time now. But that's all for another blog as well!

If we believe, or at least assume for the moment, that the events portrayed in the Bible are true, then that changes the entire paradigm of belief and yes, even faith.

Because with that one small step of faith, we can no longer deny God's existence because - for one thing - He tangibly appeared to the Hebrews as they fled Egypt:

The LORD went ahead of them. He guided them during the day with a pillar of cloud, and he provided light at night with a pillar of fire. [Exodus 13:21]

The Israelites had real, live - right before my eyes - proof of God's existence. The pillars of fire and cloud, the parting of the sea, the crossing on dry land, manna, quail, water from the rock, and on and on and on throughout scripture. In the New Testament, there are several places where the Apostles strive to remind us; John and Paul both reiterate that they are not just making this up, that they have seen and touched Jesus with their own eyes and their own hands.

Modern folks tend to get all caught up in the details - dogma, apologetics, scientific evidence, etc. without considering the fact that we have a relatively simple choice: Believe it, or not!

Have you asked yourself what you believe, lately?


Monday, February 6, 2012

I'm in trouble

I know it already. Any time a man decides to comment on women's issues, he's in trouble. I could've just not written this blog. It was almost like I was compelled to write it. So here goes...
                         I wonder how long I'll be in here...

NPR's Morning Edition was doing its usual great job of informing me on the way to work this morning. As I pulled into the parking lot at work, I heard this quote:

"We kind of got caught up in the moment," she says. "[We] woke up in the morning and decided that we needed to go get Plan B, because neither of us were ready for any sort of pregnancy."

Why couldn't I have gotten to work a few minutes earlier? I would've been blissfully unaware of this segment on Morning Edition and my burgeoning readership would have my vanilla commentary on last night's Super Bowl and commercials as their impression-of-X-du-jour.

But no; I had to catch this little hand-grenade of a quote before turning off my engine.

Let me fire the first salvo in my totally emotion-based response; then we'll see where this goes.

                   I'm sure I'll get it from all sides for this one...

I have to hand it to the unnamed college boyfriend. There is an awful lot of we in that quote up there which, I suspect, had a lot to do with an emotion named relief. I remember my younger days and the thought of being a father back then terrified me. Life was too much fun; who wanted to end all that and settle down?

But the real meat and potatoes of what got to me - deep down inside - was when she said, "...because neither of us were ready for any sort of pregnancy."

Say what?

Any sort of pregnancy? For a college-educated woman, I have to believe that was a total non sequitur.

Of course, the real gist of why this is roiling around in my gut since this morning is that old moral compass pointing its accusing little finger at our society's acceptance of, for lack of a better phrase, the let's not have a baby now philosophy.

Technically speaking, the Plan B pill isn't abortion as, if the rest of the article is to be believed, it prevents fertilization of the egg which prevents conception.

What it is, is a Get Out of Jail Free card.

Knowing the human proclivity toward ready, fire, aim! I'm sure the pharmaceutical manufacturers had no doubt that they could sell a passel of these Plan B pills. Ahem, in the name of preventing all types of unwanted pregnancies of course, and contributing to a better society through emergency family planning.

Now I'm not saying people shouldn't be allowed a do-over once and while; in this case as long as they have the $50 - $90 it costs for the plan B pill. I guess another thing is that otherwise educated folk, like the young lady interviewed by NPR, allow themselves the freedom to goof without having to suffer the consequences. As she said in the interview, "We kind of got caught up in the moment."

Hey. It happens, right? In fact, with the young lady in question it apparently happened twice. But perhaps more concerning is how she lifts up Plan B as some sort of, dare I say it, right, in the quote, "I can't even describe how important it was," she says. "It's an important option for girls at that age to have because ... things happen."

So there we have it. Technically, Plan B is not abortion because the effect happens prior to fertilization. But it's disturbing that we want to engineer willpower, self-control and, yes, morality out of the equation of life.

As a man, I believe men should be responsible enough to step back when, in the young lady's words, people are getting caught up in the moment. It takes two, of course. But I'm not laying this one off on women. Young men have a need to be every bit as responsible as young women.

Should Plan B be available over the counter to men and women over 18? As much as I think it sets a dangerous precedent, in America the answer should be yes.

Should Plan B be available over the counter to young men and women under 18? Not without a parent or legal guardian's consent.

That's what I think - how about you?


Sunday, February 5, 2012

Eli and the Beanstalk

I'm a sports fan and a writer. I sit at home or at work after a big game and want a recap of the action on the Internet right after the game. Trying to do something like that gives me a whole new respect for journalists who have to put out a meaningful, accurate article immediately after an event.

The Super Bowl is over. Eli Manning and the Giants beat Tom Brady and the Patriots...again. I have to say that this is one of the best Super Bowls I've watched in years - the game was literally a nail-biter. Eli Manning, the Giants quarterback scored a nice trophy and an even nicer looking centennial edition Corvette convertible as the MVP.

New England led for most of the second half after taking the lead 10-9 at the end of the first half on a Tom Brady touchdown pass to Aaron Hernandez (which was cool, because Hernandez played his college ball at Florida).

But the Giants hung in there and played their hearts out. With 3:45 left and 88 yards to go for a touchdown, the Giants got the ball back, needing at least a field goal to take the lead. On the first play of the drive, Manningham made a stupendous catch down the sideline as Manning dropped a beautiful ball in over his shoulder for a 38 yard gain. Honestly? I think that was the play of the game.

Building off of that, the Giants completed two more passes – one each to Manningham and Nicks to get inside the Patriots 30 yard line.
With 1st and goal at the Patriots 7, New England called time-out with a minute and twenty-four seconds left. Trying to run out the clock, Manning handed off to Bradshaw, who had a hole big enough to drive a (Chevy) truck through and was so surprised, he couldn't kneel before he crossed the goal line – thus running out the clock. As a result, the Patriots got the ball back with 57 seconds left and the Giants leading 21-17; to win the game was simple - New England needed a touchdown.

It didn't happen.

I think we'll see more of the Patriots in the future but for now, the Giants and Eli Manning, who won this Super Bowl in what is called the House That Peyton Built (in reference to Eli's brother Peyton and the stellar career he's had at the Indianapolis Colts and their home: Lucas Oil Stadium), are champions.

Of course, it wouldn't be the Super Bowl without the commercials.

I know I missed a few of them, but I counted roughly eighty (80) commercials. A thirty-second slot on this year's Super Bowl cost in the neighborhood of $3.5 million. If I'm doing the math right, that's a whopping $280 million in commercial revenue alone. But enough about that, let's get to the ads.

My votes for the top three 2012 Super Bowl commercials:

1. Matthew Broderick's Day Off: A clever play off of Broderick's iconic role in the 1986 film Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Matthew (and the viewer) would really rather call in sick and drive their Honda CRV.

2. Doritos - There were a couple of very good commercials from Doritos - the snack my doctor says I can't eat anymore (high sodium, don't you know). But I picked this one because, well, I'm a dog person.

3. With over eighty commercials to choose from, it's hard to pick just three but the one that really stood out for the number three spot was an ad that Chevrolet called, "Joy." Basically, the owner of a new Chevy Sonic is going for a drive and the local insect population wants to go for a (joy) ride, too. this one got me, ahem, right in the thorax...

Of course, there were a lot of terrible commercials, too. And a lot of commercials that were good, but would never get me to buy their products...if I could figure out what they were selling. With my top three picks, it's crystal clear what each company is selling; the ads are very creative and well produced. And of course, they're all least to me.

But that's the beauty of this thing we call Super Bowl commercials: everyone has their own opinions. I'd love to hear yours!

What do you think?