I got a Bluetooth headset. Yeah you know, Bluetooth. The wireless earpiece that allows you to talk on your cell phone at all times instead of just most of the time. I got it because I spend about 30 hours a week driving, and since I'm driving other people's children, I figured I need to keep my hands on the steering wheel more often. Also, hands-free phone talking allows me to continue going about my business when I have to spend an hour or so on the phone listening to the problems of my female friends. Also it makes me look like a really cool electronic kind of cyborg robot man.

I was hesitant at first to make this step into the world of cell phone geeks, but when I saw the man on the earpiece package, and saw how the earpiece seems to have brought him to some state of transcendent, revelatory euphoria, I was convinced.

"Oh God yes..."

But enough of this. It's time for some serious scholarly study.


As I'm sitting here in a visit, in an official DSHS visit room equipped with a TV and a choice of three movies, one of which I am currently watching for the 3rd time in 3 days, I would like to offer you all an in-depth and insightful review of the classic Ivan Reitman film, Beethoven's 2nd, which is, of course, the sequel to the groundbreaking St. Bernard comedy from 1992, Beethoven. In the sequel, Reitman expands on the themes established in the original, such as "What is humanity's relationship to animals?" "What is a man's role in the modern family?" and "Is rape ok?"

With the opening shot, an extreme close-up of a dog's wet, black nose, Reitman establishes the tone for the rest of the film, which is...that it's...about a dog. We are soon reunited with the cast of the original film, the Newton Family, most notably the father, played by screen legend Charles Grodin in one of his most powerful and nuanced performances. We see that the titular St. Bernard, Beethoven, has settled into life with the Newtons, and he and Grodin--bitter enemies in the original film--have made peace with each other.

Charles Grodin. Giant steak. Amazing film.

Things seem to be going well in their idyllic suburban existence, but this sunny veneer hides a deep longing in our canine lead. We watch him wander through the park, observing various dog couples in love. In an unexpected statement against interracial relationships, Reitman shows us only dogs of the same breed together. Beethoven appears to buy into this status-quo prejudice, as he soon meets another St. Bernard and falls instantly in love.

Dog lingerie?

As the two dogs--who have just met--stand there slurping on each other like adult film veterans, a cheesy early-90's burgundy Mercedes pulls up, and we are introduced to the villain of the film: a snippy, tight-haired shark woman who for various unimportant reasons is out to steal Beethoven's new lover. We know she is the villain mainly because the camera slowly pans upward from her feet as she strides forward with thunderous brass reminiscent of the Star Wars "Empire" theme playing on the soundtrack. Also she has a New York accent, which indicates she is from The City, which in the Newtons' bright, Rockwellian suburbia, indicates "Otherness" and ultimately…evil. It's interesting to note that in the original Beethoven, one of the primary villains was also from New York, and also wealthy, a BMW-driving couple who planned to steal the Newtons' family business. There's a not-so-subtle theme here: Small Town VS Big City, family values VS personal ambition, Wood-Paneled family station wagon VS German luxury car. (Wood VS Evil..? *cough*)

So, events unfold, Beethoven and Beethoven's Bitch (this is actually her name as listed in the credits…no I'm kidding.) begin to romance each other, and soon, after an implied round of wild offscreen doggy sex, a litter of St. Bernard puppies is discovered. This is interesting because while the dog love affair is developing, it is intercut with simultaneous scenes of the eldest Newton daughter, Ryce, beginning an adolescent crush on the School Stud--

--who picks her up in his bitchin' Camaro and provides her with her first kiss. After receiving this kiss, Ryce (short for "Bryce"? Or alternate spelling of the popular 1990's girl's name, "Rice"? Which was actually short for "Stickyrice"?) staggers back into the house in a smiling daze, and collapses on her bed while a highly romantic R&B duet plays in the background.

The scene ends just before she starts masturbating furiously.

So, since there is clearly a parallel between Ryce's blossoming sexuality and Beethoven's torrid love affair, will Ryce soon be following the dogs' path and getting pregnant? Will the babies be human, or will she give violent birth to a litter of grotesque puppy-children in a nightmarish, Kafkaesque twist on the family film genre?

Moving on.

Sexual themes continue as we witness a frank discussion of human reproduction between Grodin's "father" character and his 5 year old daughter. While trying to distract him from noticing Beethoven's puppies, the daughter asks him the timeless question, "Where do babies come from?" Instead of simply telling her he'll explain it when she's older, he attempts to explain sex to his 5 year old daughter. To see Grodin squirm through this explanation, talking about "tadpoles" swimming up "rivers" to find mommy's "goldfish egg" is to watch an actor at the peak of his craft, especially when he is asked how the "tadpoles" get inside mommy and he replies dismissively, "They…well, they're in there. They're just in there."

As the convoluted plot progresses, we soon find the Newton Family vacationing in a forest cabin resort area. While taking Beethoven for a walk, Ryce stumbles upon another cabin, where School Stud--

--is hosting a massive Highschool Beer Drinking Party. He invites Ryce to join them, and when she hesitates, he says "Come onnnn." When she hesitates again, he tilts his head and just says "Come on" again. This convinces her. She ties Beethoven to the support pillar holding up the Beer Drinking Party Deck--foreshadowing alert!--and joins the party, where the sinful glamour of Beer is boldly underlined by several close-up shots of wild teenagers tilting their heads way back and dramatically flinging beer bottles to their lips.
It's impossible to miss the message here: these people are definitely drinking beer.

School Stud----tries to get Ryce to start drinking, but when she gets nervous and tries to leave, he instead invites her to come "take a look" at the bedroom. Sheltered from reality in her suburban Family Film world, Ryce hesitates only briefly. School Stud says "Come onnn." Ryce hesitates again, and School Stud says, "Come onnn," again. The second "Come onnn" is all Ryce needed, and she agrees to "take a look" at the bedroom. The film now once again proves itself to be a twisted fable drenched in aberrant sexuality. School Stud plants another kiss on Ryce's virgin lips, and says, "This is gonna be great!"

What is "this", ask all the grade-schoolers in the audience? What exactly is gonna be great? Rape, kids. Rape is going to be great.

Realizing that School Stud has sex in mind, Ryce retreats for the door, and finds it locked. School Stud flashes the key. Ryce demands he unlock the door. School stud pockets the key and tells her, "Relax. This (rape) is gonna be an experience you'll never forget!"

School Stud

While this is happening, the Beer Drinking Teenagers have been leaning over the deck pouring beer down on Beethoven, who is tied to the pole below. After drinking his fair share, Beethoven realizes he has reached his personal limit, and tries to escape the beer shower. With one mighty lunge, he rips the support pole out of the ground! The Beer Drinking Party Deck collapses! Upstairs, the floor suddenly drops out under School Rapist, and he topples backward into the lake below, emitting a blatant Stock Sound Effect scream--that weird, elongated howl you've heard in Mountain Dew commercials and various video games and cartoons, usually used when someone is being electrocuted or having their particles de-atomized.

Despite the epic climax of this scene, the film is far from over, but the remaining scenes involving county fairs and hotdog eating contests and the New York villains being peed on and toppled into pits of mud and then washed away down a raging river which cleans away all impurities from the world, leaving everything sunny and suburban and Family Friendly…..these scenes are not really necessary or noteworthy, so I will conclude this review here.

So what is the conclusion, then? What exactly are the messages Reitman is trying to convey in this film? As in all great art, the messages are not stated bluntly. They are woven delicately into the fabric of the narrative, to be discovered by the careful viewer, who must then extract them, ponder them, be changed by them. I will not try to tell you what these gems are, as each viewer will have his or her own interpretations, his or her own personal encounter with the vision presented here, but in my view, in my interpretation, the message is three-fold:

Interracial romance is an abomination. Honesty and family values will always triumph over wealthy people who live in New York. And teen rape is unacceptable.

With Beethoven's 2nd, Reitman has made a contribution to American Cinema that will not soon be forgotten, one that challenges our preconceptions about St. Bernards, and forces us to look at ourselves and our relationship to the world in a new light, especially when it comes to rape and our choices in new-car purchasing. History will remember this film as a landmark, not only in the St. Bernard Comedy genre, but in all film, everywhere, since the beginning of time.

-Isaac Marion, Burning Building Tribune

Cinephile's note: Ivan Reitman is not, in fact, the director of the film. Although the DVD box declares "Ivan Reitman presents…Beethoven's 2nd", and the credits open with "An Ivan Reitman film", the director is actually a man named Rod Daniel, whose name is listed in tiny print on an obscure corner of the movie box. Reitman is the Executive Producer, which, as I understand it, is mainly responsible for paying for the actors and cameras, and maybe bringing coffee to the set. One can only attempt to fathom why the man who is actually responsible for this masterpiece would allow himself to be hidden away in obscurity…


So um........hi!

I don't have the figures in front of me but I believe the last time I wrote anything here was...sometime shortly before the invention Just before rocks were invented. So, I figured it was time.

Is anyone still out there? Anyone still listening? Anyone still D.R.E?

I know one person who is.

And his name is D.R.E.

But nevermind, I digress, the important thing is that rocks were invented, and they can now be used for a variety of common household tasks, everything from stoning adulterers to stoning blasphemers. But nevermind, I digress. Let's talk about the scandalous allegations that have recently been made against me.

Allegations have recently been made against me suggesting that I have abandoned the Burning Building due to me acquiring a life. This is, of course, ridiculous, and frankly, I am outraged that it has even been suggested. The reasons for my long silence are complicated, involving a variety of factors including laziness, faulty web tools, inclimate weather, insecurity, JFK assassination, girlfriends, traffic jams, roadwork, Lincoln assassination, seismic activity, UFO sightings, attempted Reagan assassination, and laziness.

During this entire silence, however, I've been posting regular updates to my Myspace Blog, and also just thinking all kinds of funny things, which I think about in my head, and laugh, and then go about my day. Not much use to all you all, but well I sure enjoy them.

Anyway, now I've ironed out a few internetian difficulties, and I will be posting again on a pseudo-regular basis, on and on until the break of dawn.
(Applause signal, very large and bright. Man with gun stands nearby, pointing to signal.)

Since I know a large amount of you interweb-surfing kids are here because of a certain link on a certain website belonging to a certain band called Relient K, I think I will now talk about what it was like to be on tour with Relient K.

Yes, I was on tour with them. Technically. Kind of. I was on their tour bus. And while I was on their tour bus, they did start the tour bus's engine. So although the bus didn't actually move and thus I didn't do any actual touring, I still counts.

For the newcomers, let me explain a little. Unlikely as it may seem, given the chasm between our artistic styles and social scenes, I have a long-running long-distance relationship with Relient K's frontman, Mr. Matt Thiessen. Just how the hell do you pronounce that name, you ask? Well I've got the "Matt" part down, but I usually don't attempt the last name. But I do have his phone I guess I could just use his phone number, in combination with a telephone that I also have, to call him, and ask. Hm...

(Teenage girls of the World Wide Web: How much cash can I get for Matthew Thiessen's phone number? The bidding starts at 50 bucks. Email me. )

Oh, and In case you don't believe I have it...well here's a little sample, to tantalize you. It starts with the following numbers...the area code.


Kids, take that area code, that little piece of Matt, and smell it. Smell deep. Smell that? That's the smell of pop-punk-rock superstardom. And Ohio. And maybe a little B.O. (Stands for "body odor".)

Anyway, I have known this fellow for quite a few years now, mostly through this very website, and the emails that followed, and usually, when his band comes to Seattle I come out to the show, then hang out afterward on the bus, which, unfortunately, being a Christian rock band's tour bus, is not the pit of drugs and debauchery one might expect/hope for.

I learned a lot and had a lot of unforgettable experiences during my time on tour with Relient K, before I got tired and went home and went to bed, but probably the most incredible thing of all was learning that you are not allowed to poop on the tour bus. Not a joke. Apparently poop causes major problems for the bus' plumbing system which the driver then has to deal with, so there are hefty fines for, you know...pooping. Peeing is fine, pee all you want, hell pee all night long, but if anyone poops--oh man, hell hath no fury like a tour bus pooped on.
So, unless I missed some crucial point, what this means is that these guys have to "hold it" for the entire tour. Some people may complain about how much money and luxury is handed over to rock stars, but think of the endurance and self-control this must take! To hold your poop for sooo long! I would say rock stars deserve every penny they make. So next time you attend a show and you see Matt squinting his eyes shut and grimacing as he plays a wicked guitar riff on any one of his many hit singles, remember that he's not just getting caught up in the power of the music--he has to shit like a race-horse!

That's all the news I have for now. Check back several times a day for more! I need to get my daily hits up by about 3 digits, then I can quit my job and devote the rest of my life to training my beloved lobsters.

Honestly, I think that I am a very good lobster trainer, possibly the best there is right now. I have years of experience. I know how to bind their claws with rubber bands. I know what temperature of water they prefer. I know how to love them. I know how to show them love, and that, above all, is what makes me a great lobster trainer, and what makes my lobsters win nearly every match in the semi-legal, closed-claw lobster fights hosted at my apartment nearly every tuesday.

Don't you know that lobsters are creatures of love? That is why they fight so fiercely! If you understand this, perhaps we can be friends, or even more than friends, if you can love the way lobsters love.


Here I am in a visit, and we are watching the classic film that started the entire animals-that-play-professional-sports-with-humans genre, Disney's Air Bud.

Air Bud's doggy cage has just fallen off the back of the beat up truck that his owner, an evil clown, is driving. Air Bud is trapped in the cage in the middle of the road. A semi-truck drives by, honks angrily at Air Bud, who is a dog, trapped in a dog cage in the middle of the road. I think the driver of the truck is thinking:

Driver: Hmm hmm, truckin' truckin', gotta keep truckin', deliver the loads, truck truck truck--oh my God! There's a dog trapped in a cage in the middle of the road!
(Honks) "Get out of the f---in' road you g-d---mn dog-trapped-in-a-cage!"
(To himself, under breath) I can't believe how careless and irresponsible dogs-trapped-in-a-cage are getting these days! Well anyway, back to truckin'. Trucktrucktruck…

Next, a family SUV approaches. The SUV hits Air Bud's cage. The road is a long, straight highway, so the SUV has been approaching the cage directly, with full visibility, for at least a mile, but they just barely screech to a stop, and hit the cage. I'm sorry. But this movie, Disney's Air Bud, is just not very believable.

So, for the last couple weeks, I have been suffering with a horrible sore throat, although calling it a sore throat is a little like calling a gunshot wound an "owie". It's the kind of thing where each and every act of swallowing becomes a major event requiring psychological preparation, the signing of waivers, various licenses and city permits, and is then performed under adult supervision by professionals on a closed course. Basically it hurts really bad. Eventually it becomes clear that this is Strep Throat. So eventually, after nearly two weeks of enduring the pain with a manful jut of the chin, I finally give in and go to a place called the Minute Clinic. Minute Clinic is a medical office inside a QFC. They actually have a menu of various checkups and procedures they do, with prices for everything listed right there, like actual services you buy instead of some mysterious and secretive process whose cost you can never know but must simply assume will make you very poor for a while. Here, you just walk into this little office, tell them what's wrong, they check it out, and they give you medicine. Very nice to see medical help demystified like this. Anyway, I go in, they check me out, and I'm prescribed a bottle of Penicillin.

Penicillin! Isn't that cool? Isn't Penicillin like, the first medicine ever invented? It sounds so draconian! I mean this stuff is so classic it doesn't even have a cool logo and slogan to go with it on TV ads. Neat!

Oh, and of course, as I was in the Clinic I thought to myself, huh, it doesn't hurt quite as much as before. And before I'd even taken the first dose, I was starting to feel better, and today, after just three pills from a 20 pill bottle, the pain is almost gone. So basically, I just wasted 80 dollars on a doctor visit, and basically, the Strep was just waiting for my spirit to break and then it says to me, "There, go to the doctor. See, that wasn't so hard was it? I just wanted to teach you humility. If you would have just stopped being such a stubborn baby and gone in earlier I would have left your throat weeks ago. Now give the man all your money!"


Strep Throat you jerk.

Finally, I went and checked out my new house today. I'm moving out of downtown, into Ballard. I'm pretty excited about it. In some ways it's a downgrade from my current place, but it's going to be a different style of living. I went in the bathroom and took the ceremonial First Shit, and the place felt like home.

Keep Moving!

In a letter to his son, the genius wrote; Life is like riding a bicycle, to keep your balance you have to keep moving.
Life is about movement and growth, adventure and anticipation, faithfully moving forward. Einstein belived in a Deity that created a world guided by rhythyms and patterns. To stand still is to resist that creative force. Einstein's image is a reminder to yes, move; but move at the pace of a bicycle. Look around, breathe, enjoy the sights, feel the breeze on your skin, propel yourself forward using your God given power, strength, and creativity. Look at the picture again and notice how happy this brilliant man looks as he enjoys one of the simple pleasures of life.

Monday Morning!

On a Monday morning in April we hopefully anticipate a spring day. The reality is cold and gray with no warmth or sunshine in the foreseeable forecast. It is a morning made for a black and white video of the Mamas and the Papas singing "Monday. Monday". Click here.

Holy Fools!

Sarah Dylan Breuer begins her Easter weekend blog entry with the following;

There's a Franciscan fourfold blessing that I have long loved, the fourth blessing of which is this:
May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you really can make a difference in this world, so that you are able, with God's grace, to do what others claim cannot be done.

Her words got me thinking about the Holy Fools who first stumbled upon that empty tomb. I am grateful for the fool hardiness of those throughout history since that first century who have courageously proclaimed that Christ's life and death has made a profound difference in their lives. I am grateful for the foolish proclamation of Easter; "He is Risen!" Risen, Alive, Making a Difference, Today, Right Now, Right Here, in the chaos of the world and in the messiness of my life and yours. Happy Easter! May we all be blessed to be foolish enough to make a difference.

Maundy Thursday

I just returned from attending Maundy Thursday service. It was the first time in 24 years that I was not the one officiating, speaking, inviting, distributing, and blessing. It was the first time in 24 years that I did not celebrate this night with others sitting around candlelit tables. It was the first time in over two decades that I did not spend this night surrounded by those I know well. I sat in a pew amongst strangers; the person up front did things differently. Yet, when I took the bread in my hands, when I sipped from the cup, I felt connected. Connected to the Divine, connected to Christ, connected to the strangers in that room, and connected to those whom I have served with in the past. It is a mystery how that happens. I am grateful for that mystery.

The Hurt of Holy Week

On this cold and gray Maundy Thursday, I have been listening to and watching Johnny Cash's music video of "Hurt". His voice echoes with the same loneliness and longing that I hear in Jesus' words at the Garden of Gethsemane. In both cases, the words come from men not afraid to ask themselves and God the hard questions. "Has my life been worthwhile?" "Have I done what was expected of me?" You can watch this powerful video by clicking this link. here.


It's a generally known stereotype that really beautiful women--not just "hey she's cute", but "daaaamn"--usually have problems. The general wisdom is that a lifetime of being obsessed over for their appearance causes all sorts of issues, and the fact that they're able to skate through life on the strength of their looks alone makes them neglect to develop a personality.

What do we think about this? Is this true?

I know there's at least a couple such beauties on my friends list. What's your take on this? Are you shallow/crazy/vacuous? Come on, you can tell me, just say "Yes Isaac, I am utterly empty inside. But look how pert my breasts are!"

For the rest of you, maybe you know someone who falls into this category, who qualifies as "stunning". What are they like? Are they mindless? Are they damaged? And what's their phone number?

Put on a Happy Face!

Here's two of the happiest faces I know. Oldest granddaughter, Kaylyn, 14, with youngest grandchild, Jena, 4 months. The photo reminds me of the old saying; "Smile and the whole world will smile with you". The joy reflected in these faces sure make me smile.

Wilkepedia identifies the following two kinds of smiles.
The "Duchenne smile", after the researcher
Guillaume Duchenne, is the most studied, and involves the movement of both the zygomaticus major muscle near the mouth and the orbicularis oculi muscle near the eyes. It is believed that the Duchenne smile is only produced as an involuntary response to genuine emotion, and is therefore what one could call the "genuine" smile. Due to the involvement of the muscle near the eyes, it is sometimes said that one can tell whether or not a smile is "real" by whether or not it "reaches the eyes". (Notice Kaylyn and Jenna's eyes.)

The "Pan American smile", on the other hand, is the voluntary smile involving only the
zygomaticus major muscle to show politeness; for example, by a flight attendant on the former airline of the same name. Considered "insincere", this type of smile has also been called the "Professional Smile" by David Foster Wallace in his comedic short story A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again".

Judas, Jesus, and Holy Week

The following is a response I wrote to a post on "Westcoast Chuck's Blog" regarding an article by Elaine Pagel in Salon.
I’ve always appreciated Elaine Pagel’s work because she raises important questions that are challenging and thought provoking. Author and Pastor Frederick Buechner has written that “doubts are the ants in the pants of faith, they keep it alive and moving”. I believe the same can be said of questions about Jesus and the Gospels. What I have always found appealing about the Christian faith is that the story of Jesus is not neat, simple, and without contradictions. The four Gospels differ quite significantly in their telling of the events leading up to Jesus’ death and the aftermath. Each gospel was written by a different author, at a different time in history, to a unique audience in unique circumstances. Therefore the focus and approach to the telling of the story varies. What is convincing, for me, is the common theme and conclusions that the writers share. Biblical scholars and creative minds alike have pondered Judas’ motives and relationship with Jesus. The telling of the events leave plenty of room for this kind of supposition. Did Judas do it for the money? Was he a member of the Zealot party, committed to overthrowing the Romans, and was he impatient with Jesus’ methods and message? Was he Jesus' closest friend and simply following Jesus’ instructions? Look at how the relationship between Jesus and Judas is portrayed in “Jesus Christ, Superstar”. Human relationships and events are complicated and messy. Jesus, fully human and fully divine, carried out his mission in the midst of that same messiness. The message of Holy Week and Easter that resonates in the four Gospels is that Jesus represents a God who cares, who is willing to suffer in the same ways that we suffer, who forgives, and who promises something beyond this earthly life. For over 2000 years this message has been studied, critiqued, attacked, and laughed at but continues to bring hope to those of us who choose to believe.


Bought a rug at IKEA. When I got home, I had to weave it myself.

Homeless guy holding a sign, it says, "Broke, cold, and ugly." And you know what? He was.

In line at Taco Bell. A guy in a suit holding a big cardboard box comes running across the street in the rain. Runs through the landscaping bushes, runs up to my car. I roll down the window, and right there, through my car window, in the rain, he starts trying to sell me a roll-out floor-mat piano. He's carrying this huge box of them. He's desperate. Look man, he says, 40 bucks, and I'll throw in another one free. Ok 20 bucks. 10 bucks!

But…I don't want a roll-out floor-mat piano.

I tell the guy this. I tell him I don't have anywhere to put it, I tell him I don't have a budget for such posh luxuries as roll-out floor-mat pianos. Finally he leaves.

But now, looking back, in retrospect…I should have bought that thing.
Now, with the benefit of hindsight, I want that roll-out floor-mat piano like I've never wanted anything in my life. Why is this always how I make my choices?

So here I am at work, sitting on the sloping sides of the huge fountain in Seattle Center. Twenty or so jets of water arc fifty feet into the air, rising and falling in time to the soothing new-age music that emanates from the ring of speakers surrounding the fountain. The sun is high and bright, making rainbows in the mist, the breeze is soft and warm like breath, and I'm sitting here watching two of my kids frolic in the spray. Sometimes I love my job.

At the end of the Rainbow!

Follow the rainbow to the pot of gold. April Fools, it turns out to be beer.