April 27, 2005


Connie’s out?! Our own Mayor McCheese?! Instead of “Sensitive” Scott?! How is this possible? Forget any other American Idol scandals that ABC might be “exposing” soon, the real scandal is the voting on this season’s show. It’ll be a lot less fun without him. (Sigh) Our cheese is gone; all that’s left now is the grease.

And Scotty boy is just too damn big to keep dodging these bullets.

April 26, 2005

-image-my advice for american idol

A few thoughts before live-blogging tonight.

About that Scott Savol, who keeps avoiding his just musical punishment: Look. I’m incapable of seeing him rightly or fairly, I suppose. I have no tolerance for abusers of any kind. Given his background, American Idol is the last thing his ego needs. The ego of an abuser knows no bounds and Scott certainly doesn’t need his fed in this overblown, surreal way. I don’t care how purty he sounds when he sings. It’s a character thing for me and his will only suffer further damage by this excessive attention. He needs to be ousted for his own good.

On a lighter note, I think the show needs to mix things up. It’s a bit of a yawnfest with the repetitiveness of 60’s music night, 70’s music night, movie song night. How about “Original Song Night”? Require the singers to try their hand at songwriting. Give ’em a few weeks to work on it, of course. Maybe some of them would find a career there. (Scott, for instance, could have a dandy future writing songs about the glories of love and such. Or how he just had to “slap da be-otch.”) At least, though, it would be forcing the singers to diversify a bit. Or how about “Original Lyrics Night”? Give them a melody and have them write lyrics only. Wouldn’t we tune in, even more rabid and bug-eyed, to see these train wrecks and hear Simon’s comments, sick, addicted puppies that we are?

“American Idol” is a Play-Doh Fun Factory of pop music, churning out creations of different shapes, sizes, and colors, but, poke ’em, squish ’em, and they’re all still made from the same stuff. These singers are not truly originals; they’re not multifaceted talents; they’re not talents with staying power, most likely. They sell their souls under the guise of a recording contract and then they’re groomed to belt out ballad after ghastly ballad, teaching all the little chillens about “loooovve.” Just like all the other pop singer/sages.

Well, I say make ’em do something different. Shake things up a bit. C’mon. Make ’em squirm for my entertainment.

That’s all I ask.

(Live blogging follows)

All right. “American Idol” about to begin. My comments will be shorter because I’m a messy typist and spend too much time fixing my typos.

Theme is “Songs from 2000 til now.” And tonight there are precious “Personal Profiles” of each singer. Oooh.

Up first is:

Carrie: (We learn her mom blubbers a lot and thinks Carrie’s “a good daughter.”) Singing something country. Mercifully, has smaller hair this week. I don’t know what to say. She’s good. But kind of off tonight for me. Randy: Wow. You returned to your country roots. Pitchwise, you never quite got on. Paula: Did sound a little bit ... (All right. Sue me. I stopped listening. Let’s just go with “Paula said something. No one listened.” Mmmkay?) Simon: Last week you were completely out of kilter. I think the people who vote for you will absolutely love you after that.

Bo: (We learn that he’s from Alabama and has a girlfriend. That might be right, but I don’t know, people. I was distracted by yet another sign of God’s love for me: The limited edition, dark chocolate Twix bar.) He’s in a psychedelic 60’s tunic and sunglasses, awful, awful sunglasses. He sounds rough to me. Bo, did you eat some dairy before you sang? You can tell me. I won’t tell. Audience goes crazy. I do like this guy. Randy: Yo, yo, yo. American Idol finally has a true rock star. Paula: The crowd loves you. You were incredible. Simon: You got your confidence back. But there is a downside: Do not wear the Lenny Kravitz sunglasses. (Did I not say they were awful?)

Vonzell: (We learn she has a voice teacher named Mrs. Billups. Aww. And she’s the baby of the family.) “I Turn to You,” Christina Aguilera. Which I think is rather a boring song. She looks cute. Nice hair. Okay. The song builds here, I guess. Ahhh—ahh-ahh-ahh-ahhh. “For the will to carry on, etc., I turn to you.” Then at the end, she squeaks “I love you , Daddy.” Randy: Yo, man, check it out. Most difficult song. Welcome to the dog pound. (I’m terribly uncool. This is a good place to be?) I’m proud of you. Paula: Not only did you nail the song, but you connected with the audience. It’s beautiful. Simon: It’s very loud in here. I have a horrible feeling it wasn’t as good as you thought.

Anthony: (We learn that his parents will tape record any sound he makes. And dad says he’s a “dream maker.” Puh-leeze.) He’s going to sing Celine Dion and my head is going to explode. So I might be done here, needing my head for blogging and all. He’s sitting on the stage for the intimate effect. But I feel the need for a shower. Oh, song is “I Surrender.” Remember now, I think he’s musical Tofutti, so what do you want from me here? Oh, okay. Nice suit. Randy: Started a little rough for me. Low notes need work. Paula: I think it’s the first performance where there was a beginning, middle, and end. (As opposed to what, Paula?) Simon: You’re a very brave man. I personally hated it.

(Watch out, chippies. Constantine is next! *gasp*squeal* Don’t forget to breathe …)

Connie: (We learn that he’s Greek Orthodox and that his dad is Skeletor.) Already with the seductive lean into the camera. Ooh, yeah. Romance me, Mayor McCheese. He’s dressed all in bad boy black. He just did a wee kick, so watch out, Steven Tyler. Vocally, I just don’t know. Seems bizarro to me. Now he’s singing to the background singers, trying to get someone, anyone, on his side tonight. Smacks of desperation. Weird. Randy: Yo, yo, Constantine. You know I’m gonna keep it real wich’you. I felt like I was in a bar — high on performing, low on vocals. Paula: This was not my favorite song at all. But you are the one idol who does every genre effortlessly. Simon: (And I’ll bet Connie’s cheesy little butt is burning already because here comes the spank.) I think when you left your band, you crossed to the other side. It’s welcome to the dark side or something. You’re much better when you’re doing your crooner thing. (Ouchie, ouchie, ouchie. Connie thinks he’s a rocker.)

Andddd ….

Scott: (Will his profile mention the domestic abuse? Let’s listen, shall we? Hmm. Wow. It doesn’t. We learn that he’s “sensitive” and they “always thought he’d be a priest.” Also, “He’s had a lot of curve balls, but he’s hit them out of the park.” Really unfortunate choice of words, Ma.) His song is cloying, dreadful. I think he’s actually sweating syrup. And not only is he an abuser, but he could be the cause of abuse in others, because I just wanna slap him. Or someone. Awful. Way off-pitch in places. Criminally badddd … Randy: The song … that was your weakest performance in weeks. Paula: Song didn’t do you justice. Simon: I’d pack your suitcase tonight. (Let me help you, hon. I insist.) And ladies, I’d lock the door and hide; Scotty’s coming home.

No other predictions except:

Twix has a winner with this whole dark chocolate thing …

April 21, 2005

-image-ah, church

WordGirl over at Molten Thought has a nice, to-the-point post about something hard to find at church: simplicity.

While you’re there, look around. There’s always something interesting cookin’ up over there.

-image-we need to be aware

This today from the BBC:
Burma ‘used chemicals on rebels’

An international human rights group has accused the Burmese army of using chemical weapons in an attack on rebel groups in the country.

The incident is alleged to have taken place near Burma’s north-western border with Thailand in February.

The attack left Karen fighters vomiting blood and unable to walk, Christian Solidarity Worldwide says.

The group says it has evidence which suggests that chemical weapons were responsible for the men’s injuries.

‘Yellow vapour’

According to accounts from Karen fighters, who have been engaged in a long-running war with Burma’s military government, the attack took place just inside the Burmese border, around 16km (10 miles) from the Thai town of Mae Hong Son.

They claim that clouds of yellow vapour began pouring from shells fired at their positions and soon after this many of them felt sick, vomited blood and were unable to walk.

Some later suffered from blisters and acute diarrhoea.

The president of Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Australian physician Dr Martin Panter, has since flown to the area and examined five of the men.

He concluded that their symptoms are synonymous with exposure to some form of chemical attack.

The UK Foreign Office says that it is very concerned about the allegations and will be examining any evidence.

The Burmese Embassy in London has so far declined to comment.

You may be wondering why Christian Solidarity Worldwide is involved in this story. Read on. Let me tell you.

The tribe mentioned in this news article, the Karen, is no ordinary tribe. They are no ordinary people. They are courageous, steadfast, and, miraculously, in the midst of a heavily Buddhist Burma, a Christian tribe.

Last summer, I went on a missions trip to Thailand. Our group had an opportunity to send some people up to the border with Burma to visit the refugee camp where hundreds of thousands of Karen live in limbo, but still faithful, still joyful in the Lord. They can and do venture into Burma for food, but they risk rape, torture, death. They can’t live free in Thailand because of longstanding, complicated agreements between the governments of Thailand and Burma. Right now, they live in this muddy camp in the middle of the jungle. It’s called a refugee camp, but it’s no guaranteed safe haven. They’ve been attacked in the past by the Burmese army and, because of that, in the middle of the camp, hangs a large gong that is sounded whenever they are under threat. Unless things change for them, many, many will spend the remainder of their days there. One might imagine that constant fear and disabling depression would dominate these people, but they know a freedom that is not physical; they know profoundly, in ways we Westerners don’t, a true freedom in the Lord.

Allow me to share a bit more about the plight of these stalwart tribal Christians. This, from a letter I sent out before the trip last summer:

The mountains of northern Thailand and Burma are populated by diverse ethnic peoples who have lived in the region for hundreds, and in some cases, thousands of years. The tribes consider themselves non-Burman, since they come from regions as various as China, Mongolia, Cambodia, and India. They do not acknowledge the name “Myanmar,” seeing it as a form of ethnic cleansing. One tribe, known as the Karen (“ker-in”) has lived in these jungles for about 2,500 years. They are known as the “Christian tribe” because upwards of 40% are, indeed, Christians. It’s an astonishing number when you consider that over 85% of the Burmese population is Buddhist.

There’s a fascinating story I read recently about how the Karen people came to be so (comparatively) heavily evangelized. It seems that for generations before they were ever evangelized, the Karen passed poems amongst themselves that told of one creator God named “Y’wa” who made man and woman. The stories told of a man and a woman who lived in a garden and of a snake who gave the woman some forbidden fruit. The Karen also believe they once possessed a “Book” that told the truth about life. That book was lost, they say, but they believed that one day, a young man from across the seas would come and return it. So when Bible-bearing missionaries arrived in Burma in the 19th century, they were warmly welcomed and the message of Christ was embraced. Compellingly, I’ve also learned that there are those searching for the Jewish descendants of the Assyrian captivity who believe the Karen to be a remnant of the lost tribes of Israel. Just how did they know this story otherwise?

But now, the Karen are among the 4 million Christians in Burma who are part of the persecuted church worldwide. Persecution is both religious and political, extending to the Karen and other non-Burman peoples who’ve struggled for decades for autonomy from the Burmese “government” — really nothing more than a military junta known as the “State Peace and Development Council.” The SPDC sees the expression of even the most basic freedoms as a threat to “national unity”; therefore, any and all attempts at religious and political freedom are violently put down.

What’s happening in Burma does not receive much news coverage, a shameful omission since the current situation is one of the most brutal in the world. But I believe we need to be aware of what’s happening to our brothers and sisters in the Lord scattered across the globe. To that end, I will share with you.

(Be forewarned. Some of what follows will be graphic.)

Under present circumstances, the Burmese army routinely extorts tribal villages for food and money, two things they simply don’t have. Villagers are forced to become human minesweepers; men are sent into forced labor; villages, including churches, are systematically burned down; children are forced to become soldiers. Currently, there are approximately 70,000 children in the Burmese army against their will.

Villagers must take care not to be seen running through the jungle or they will be shot on sight. Once the men are removed from the villages as forced laborers, women and children — some as young as 5 — are raped, and frequently, gang raped. Many rape victims are then killed. Christian children are regularly taken from their villages and put into Buddhist monasteries to become monks. They never see their families again.

Additionally, the Burmese army has a terror squad known as the Sa Sa Sa which specializes in beheading villagers and mounting their heads on poles as a warning to others. Small babies have been taken and ground to death in rice pounders.

Even in the midst of these atrocities, the Karen and other tribal Christians remain faithful and courageous. They watch as their villages and churches are destroyed. They move and rebuild, move and rebuild, all with the knowledge that any new village, any new church, will likely be destroyed also. The Karen tribe has a tiny, ragtag, guerrilla force known as the Karen National Liberation Army that continues to do what it can to stave off the Burmese army — and there are small victories.

Just recently, in August 2003, a skirmish broke out between some Karen and Burmese soldiers. The Karen lost about 15 men, but the Burma Army’s losses were much greater, about 300 men. Later, the Karen soldiers said that the Burmese hadn’t even tried to dodge the barrage of gunfire coming their way. After the confrontation, the Karen went through the soldiers’ bags and found the reason why. The bags were full of amphetamines. The Burmese soldiers had been high. Astounding. (God’s ways are truly not our ways …)

A final story of the character and graciousness of the tribal Christians:

Several years ago, a group of missionaries traveled to visit some believers among the Shan (shawn) tribe. Two years after this first visit, they returned to the village, were welcomed like old, dear friends, and told how the villagers had longed for their return. They fellowshiped together, and as the missionaries were leaving, each received a small envelope from the villagers. As they opened them later, the missionaries discovered they had each been given 1000 Kyat (local currency) from these destitute believers. The villagers had nearly nothing but thought nothing of giving all they did have. They begged the missionaries to please return.

Here is a beautiful meditation composed by a Karen pastor:

They call us a displaced people,
But praise God; we are not misplaced.
They say they see no hope for our future,
But praise God; our future is as bright as the promises of God.
They say they see the life of our people as a misery,
But praise God; our life is a mystery.
For what they say is what they see,
And what they see is temporal.
But ours is the eternal.
All because we put ourselves
In the hands of the God we trust.

Will you please pray for these brothers and sisters?



Anwar, not.


April 19, 2005

-image-habemus copum

There’s a motorcycle cop hiding out under a tree on our street. Somehow, I don’t believe he’s blessing people.

Um, that’s all.

I really just wanted to say “habemus copum.”

April 18, 2005

-image-cream on

All right. Everybody warm up yer voices:


mi mi mi mi mi ….

Hmm. Bored? Okay. Here’s something my beloved voice coach Waddad Saba would make me do:

louie-ahh, louie-ahh, louie-ahh, louie-ahh, louie-ahh, louie-ahh, louie-ahh, lou—eee–ahhhh

(Oh. Sorry. Start at the top of the scale — each “louie-ahh” is sung on one note — work your way down the scale with each one. Try it again. I’ll wait ….)

Okay. Now we’re ready to join hands and hearts and voices as we sing the most loathsome song ever written — BUT all for a good cause. Ready?

Tomorrow, tomorrow

I love ya, tomorrow

You’re always a daaaay awaaaay!

Why am I subjecting you to this horror, you ask? You come by my blog quite innocent and unsuspecting, you say? You assume you won’t be musically assaulted, you protest? Well, I’m sorry if I’ve violated some sacred, bloggy trust, but you just may be verrry happy and burst into that damnable song all over again when I tell you that:


I’m not kidding wich’you. I would never kid about ice cream.

But …… any of you Captain Skeptismos can go over to Ben and Jerry’s for the blessed, creamy truth.

(Uh, that’s April 19th, noon to 8 p.m.)

UPDATE: Just got my freebie! Scoops are small, but yummy nevertheless. Here’s the trick: Ask for a cup — slightly bigger scoop — then ask for the cone on top of the scoop, like a jack-in-the-box. Ta- dah! One must strategize, you know. Also, the impudent young fellow in front of me was slurping his ice cream cone while going back for seconds — which, apparently, is not frowned upon. They are offering a choice of about half a dozen flavors, not the whole menu, which, thankfully, makes the indecisive less so. Line goes fast since ain’t nobody payin’!

So my review? Cool, creamy goodness worth the short wait.

Cream on.

April 15, 2005

-image-who’s up for a quiz?

Because I don’t want you getting all depressed that you’re not gonna be the next Pope, here’s something far more attainable for you: What Christian Theologian Are You?

Of course, they’re all dead, but let’s not quibble over details.

(And you know that part of the movie “Castaway” where Tom Hanks cries out to nobody, “I ….. HAVE MADE …. FIRE!!” while dancing his little jig of joy? Well, that was me you heard just now, crying out, “I …… HAVE FINALLY FIGURED OUT …. HOW TO PASTE THESE BLASTED THINGIES TO MY BLOG!!!” And no, you don’t get to see the dance I did, but you can witness said beautiful, blasted thingy below):

You are Augustine!
You love to study tough issues and don’t mind it if you lose sleep over them. Everyone loves you and wants to talk to you and hear your views, you even get things like “nice debating with you.” Yep, you are super smart, even if you are still trying to figure it all out. You’re also very honest, something people admire, even when you do stupid things.

“Everyone loves you”

hahahahahahahahaaaaaaaaaa …….

(cough *gulp* gasp*)

hahahahahahahaaaaaaa ……….

April 14, 2005

-image-AI results

UPDATE: Well, I was spot on in my bottom 3 prediction: Nadia, Bo, and Scott. However, how-evah, in a truly sucky turn of events, Nadia the Nubian Princess went home — I’m sure because of that wonky song choice of hers. And I never even got to ask her how she gets her hair to do that thing it does. Drat.

And Scott, Mr. “I-Think-I-Rock”-Domestic-Abuser? He survived to beat again.

(Oops. Of course I meant “to bless us with his song” again. Yes, I’m sure that’s it ….)

Fingers crossed for “Muskrat Love” as his song next week.

(C’mon, Scotty, sing it reeeal sweeet for me: “Nibblin’ on bacon, Chewin’ on cheeeese ….”)

April 13, 2005

-image-thai new year

Hey, peeps. Be sure to check out my friend Adam’s blog, Itsara, for his great story on the Thai New Year celebration Songkran — or as Adam puts it: “The world’s biggest water fight.” He’s got some really wonderful photos of all the goings-on.

After our missions trip to Chiang Mai last year working with some orphanages, he and wife Cindy answered the definitive call of God on their lives to move to Thailand and, ultimately, build and run a Christian orphanage of their own. They just took the plunge, moving to lovely, quirky Chiang Mai on March 31st. They’re definitely in the adjustment phase, but seem to be doing well.

Go check out all his posts about this move and keep them in your prayers, will you?

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