1, 2, 3, 4

1. This song is awesome.

2. Feist is awesome.

3. This video is especially awesome. It’s one continuous, unbroken shot with enough choreography to give Debbie Allen an aneurysm. There’s no editing. No CGI. And apparently no limit to the twists, turns, and loop-the-loops the camera can perform. Watch carefully and be amazed that they could pull this off in one take.

4. I’ve come to a discouraging realization about why people argue. I’m talking about all arguments from personal bickering and lively discussions to online debates or legal proceedings. We (and by we I mean society) don’t argue to defend the things we believe in. We’re not upholding the ideals on which our lives are founded. We aren’t being loyal to our besmirched friends. We aren’t nudging our verbal combatants toward some altruistic point of development. When a statement or idea offends us or just strikes us as untrue, what compels us to rebut? We’re defending ourselves and attacking others.

I’ll leave the collective we for now. I like being right. I hate being wrong. I really don’t think I’m alone in this. I admit, I like proving other people wrong. It is one of life’s great guilty pleasures to show that the Wrong people are, in fact, wrong. I really don’t care about the topic. Sure, there are topics I care about more than others, but if I’m honest with myself, the thing that’s most important to me about the topics I hold dear is the simple fact that I care. If the voice of God were to call down from Heaven and say, “The Democrats have it right,” or “The designated hitter really was a good idea,” to me the great personal tragedy would not be the years of unwise policy and unnecessary pitcher at bats. No, no, the horror of it all would be recognizing that all these years I had been wrong.

Being wrong feels bad. Being right feels okay. Proving other people wrong feels the best of all. That’s what every argument boils down to. I’m convinced. And it’s so easy, because being wrong is what we do best! There will never be any shortage of wrongness in this world. That’s the reason there are so many books. Every self-help book ever written can be summed up in four words: “You’re wrong. Ha ha.”

Here’s where it gets real good. You have a limited array of options. You could disagree with me and tell me how I’m wrong. You could tell me that arguments are great opportunities for drawing people together in a common quest for truth, a journey toward righteousness along the path of enlightenment. You could shoot down any number of my observations and conclusions. You could prove me wrong. (Feels good, doesn’t it?)

Or you could disagree with me and internalize it. You won’t fall for my little trap. Maybe you’ve already stopped reading, I don’t know. But deep inside you know that this argument is so ridiculous, I’m such a blathering idiot, that continuing the discussion is in and of itself an insipid exercise in futility. By not commenting, you’re doing the right thing. And I’m sooo wrong. (Mmmmm.)

I guess another option would be that you see my point, but you see it from a far less cynical point of view. The opportunity is there to argue with good intentions and avoid the pitfalls of self-serving egotistical rhetoric. If we can all humbly, honestly discuss matters (including this very topic) we can arrive at a higher plane of understanding. Oh, wouldn’t that just feel good for all of us? (Especially the delightful admission of Adam’s wrongness. Tricky, huh?)

Your only other option, as I see it (maybe I’m wrong, and wouldn’t that just tickle you) is to agree with me. Grab a firm hold of the concept of total human depravity. Realize that everybody is utterly, completely, thoroughly wrong. About everything. The good feeling of that one might subside when you realize that you’re included in that group; that the only person who was ever really right died for our wrongness; that the Word of God is not a reminder of how right we are but of how wrong; that even our understanding of the Bible is tempered by habitual wrongness; that the illumination of the Holy Spirit seems to be in constant struggle against our willful love for personally generated rightness that is the most wrong thing about us; that being right is never of ourselves.

Never mind. I’ll just sit over here being wrong and enjoy the video.

December 13, 2007 question

“Wild Thing” was written by Chip Taylor, younger brother of Jon Voight, uncle of actress Angelina Jolie and her actor brother James Haven and brother-in-law to actress Marcheline Bertand. The last name they could have all gone by if they so chose is Voight, but you know how these things go. Here’s who knew:

Heather M (the M stands for Makes a Keen Observation About How Every Woman Brad Pitt Is Involved With Suddenly Loses All Traces Of Body Fat Not Located In Their Lips)

And now for some Christmas trivia. Here’s today’s question:

What kingdom was founded on Christmas Day in the year 1000? (In the year one thousaaaaaaaand)

December 12, 2007 question

The Grinch has termites in his smile. I guess you could say he also has them in his teeth. Here’s who has seen them up close:

Paul C (the C stands for Christmas Is Cancelled)

Now on to a quick story out of the football world. Over the last year and a half, Bobby Petrino has signed contracts totalling 20 years of alleged commitment to three, count ’em, three different football teams. It started with a 10-year contract extension at Louisville, followed six months later by a 5-year contract with the Atlanta Falcons. Now, eleven months later, he’s jumped ship yet again back to the college ranks, having just agreed to a 5-year contract at the University of Arkansas.

I don’t think I even have to comment on how lowly and despicable that track record is. If my spit could reach Arkansas, I’d be expectorating in his general direction right about now. Here’s today’s question (and, yes, it’s completely unrelated . . . I just had to get that off my chest):

The younger brother of what actor composed the song “Wild Thing,” recorded by the Troggs? Hint: this actor is part of an acting family with at least three names you might know, and none of them share the same last name.

It happened

Every year I have that moment when Christmas really hits me. The legendary True Meaning peeks out from behind the pine trees and greets me face to face. Of course at that very moment my rifle jams up, my video camera won’t work, my Acme True Meaning Trap misfires . . . you pick the clumsy metaphor of your choice. Long story short, I can’t capture the moment. I guess that’s why they call them moments. They’re so very . . . momentary.

But in that moment, the Christmas season starts for me, because the significance of the biggest step down in history really sinks in. And it makes me happy that it’s Christmas.

This year, the True Meaning staged a two-pronged attack. The first campaign came from Russia, as I was writing a mini biography about one of my best and dearest friends. She has quite a story of how God swept her out of the Union formerly known as Soviet and brought her to the Land of the Free, the Home of the Brave, and the World of the Redeemed. That got me a little sensitive. And it reminded me of how personally God chases down each one of us. He didn’t come down to Earth just to save the world; He came to save me.

Then punch number 2 landed. I heard a guy in chapel retelling the story of his liver transplant. The thing with liver transplants (okay, there’s not just one thing, they’re really complicated and dangerous) is that a living donor runs a serious risk of no longer living. And that was one reality this guy couldn’t handle at the time. He could come to terms with his own mortality, but he couldn’t handle the thought of any of his loved ones dying in an attempt to save him. Obviously he got over that little hang up, because he wasn’t dead at the time of this chapel. The point is, a voluntary brush with death on your behalf is a truly humbling gesture (not one of those fake humbling gestures that actually inflate your ego). Someone volunteers to die for you, you get a little choked up.

I got a little choked up. The birth of Christ meant a little bit more to me, now. He came down to this planet we ruined, and He did so with the knowledge, not that He might die, but that He would. And we didn’t have a chance to refuse. Had I that chance, that little window in time in which I could have said, “No, Jesus, don’t do it,” well . . . it’s a moot point. He didn’t ask.

Well, those events got me in the Christmas spirit. It’s a good feeling. I wish the same for you. Merry Christmas.

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December 10, 2007 question

This is the way December plays out. I’m sorry. Here you all sit waiting for glory for knowing your longitude (the right answer) from your latitude (the wrong answer), and I just make you wait.

Unfortunately, it’s not coming. The list is too long, and time is too short. I only received one wrong guess. It’s crazy . . . we just had a week with one 50/50 question that only one person got right and another 50/50 question that only one person got wrong. That’s crazy. But I won’t cancel Christmas, or trivia, just because of the craziness and the extended lapses of productivity. Here’s today’s question:

According to the Christmas special song, the Grinch had termites in his what?

Merry Christmas

It’s been a little bit too long since we put anything on here, so I just wanted to say Merry Christmas to anyone and everyone. And I want to say something else . . .

I’ve been hearing a lot of talk about the excess of Christmas. People spend, spend, spend, and celebrate, celebrate, celebrate, all at the expense (so I’m told) of the true meaning of Christmas. But I gotta confess . . . I disagree. Whether anyone at Target will admit it as they’re snowblowing a path through the mounds of cash blocking the way to their Happy Holidays vault, this season is all about Christ. His birth was awesome. To celebrate, people spend. They decorate. They give ridiculously expensive gifts in front of lavishly adorned fake and/or dead trees. They wear silly clothes. And I got news for you . . . that ain’t an American custom. That’s Old Testament, baby.

Crazy outfits, endless parades of valuable gifts, strange rituals you just can’t explain the meaning behind . . . sounds like a Tabernacle dedication to me. That weird stuff is just how people celebrate God. Granted, your heart is supposed to be in the right place, but you know what? The holiday isn’t about my heart. It’s about Jesus. You let me worry about the condition of my heart, and keep going overboard with the celebrating of Christmas. Don’t wait for me to be holy before you start making a big deal out of the birth of Christ.

Someone, somewhere is asking how any of it relates to the story of Christ’s birth, and to you I say this: He’s the only reason we’re doing it. What does cake have to do with me being born? What does a tail being pinned to a donkey’s hindquarters have to do with me being born? (Don’t answer that.) What does candle blowing, invite sending, gift opening, wish making, butt spanking, happy-birthday-song-copyright infringing, card writing, face stuffing, and pole dancing (don’t ask) have to do with anyone anywhere being born? It’s fun, that’s what. When something cool happens, having fun is a great way to celebrate. However you decide to show it, that’s the perfect way for you.

People who are out of touch with Jesus celebrate His birth by celebrating in an out-of-touch way, and it’s wonderful. Atheists celebrate by being extra obstinate when people say Christmas . . . it’s their way of saying, “We have to bring something to the party.” Thank you, Atheists. Pious people celebrate by being extra sanctimonious. It’s fantastic . . . everyone’s true colors come out during Christmas. The ultimate display of who you choose to be comes shining through at Christmas. It’s kind of like the rocks and trees of your personality crying out to praise Him. None of this would be possible without Jesus. Without Him, nothing that was made would be made. When it comes to celebrating Jesus, there can be no excess. Everything’s mere existence bears testimony to His redemptive power.

So don’t tell anyone they’re celebrating Christmas wrong. Just let people pour their ridiculously priced perfume on His feet and wipe it off with their hair. Yeah, it’s weird, but He’s worth it.

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December 6, 2007 question

What is happening to trivia? Either I’m sending you three messages or none . . . get your act together, me!

I’m sorry you had to witness me losing my temper with myself. Hopefully you won’t lose yours when you learn that only Norris knew that Georgia has the most land area of any state east of the Mississippi, or that I have to give special credit to Neil for guessing tricky Alaska, which could technically be interpreted as a state east of the Mississippi since part of it extends so far West it becomes East again. But since Georgia is larger than the part of Alaska that extends beyond 180 degrees latitude . . . or is it longitude? Looks like I got myself a question. Here goes nothing:

If an armadillo travels due East with no variation North or South, which changes: its latitude or its longitude?

December 4, 2007 question

Believe it or not, the entire statement yesterday was true. Comiskey really did make his players launder their own uniforms, they didn’t really do it very often, and people really did start calling them the Black Sox before they were crooks. Even if the socks didn’t, the name fit quite well after they threw the World Series. What is even harder to believe is that Karen H (the H stands for How Well You Know Me) was the only one who suspected I would trick you in that way. I guess it’s easier to believe that only one person was willing to guess that I’d say something true. Be that as it may, I can’t decide if I’m offended or disappointed.

Here’s today’s question:

Not including water area, what is the largest U.S. state (by area) east of the Mississippi River?

December 3, 2007 question

Ah, winter time, when the trivia nights are longer, the trivia glory a bit duller, and the trivia questions covered in hoary powder that is either a cold morning frost or just a bunch of dust. Whichever, here’s the answer to the last question I asked you: Universal Product Code, and here is the list of brilliant people who knew:

For those non-UPC readers out there, that translates to Heidi, Nancy K (the K stands for Kmart), Charles, Steve J (the J stands for JC Penny), Micaela, Reg, Karen H (the H stands for Hook’s Drug Store), Konrad, Steve T (the T stands for T. J. Maxx), Paul C (the C stands for Cafe Cou Rouge). For those UPC readers out there, I know, it doesn’t really.

And a brief note on the news that Senator Larry Craig has 8 new male accusers. If there isn’t a headline somewhere in this country reading “Eight Men Out,” I declare myself extremely disappointed in the state of American journalism. Here’s today’s question:

True or False: Charles Comiskey, the longtime owner of the Chicago White Sox and former pro baseball player and manager, was so budget-conscious that he required his players to launder their own uniforms, which led to their perennially dirty wardrobes and the nickname “the Black Sox.”

If any part of that is false, answer false–bonus points if you can tell me which part is false. Of course, if it’s all true, answer true.