Thursday, March 26, 2009

In the Mean Time

Sorry - I'm trying to set a good pace with the voting & writing, etc - but things have been a little hectic around the Northend-Sheean household with work and not work and interviews and cars breaking down, etc.

Matt's dad flew in from Kenya Tuesday night and came to work on our car WEDNESDAY afternoon! And we've had a number of friends offer the use of their cars in the mean time. What beautiful community we have.

In YOUR mean time (while I write a post on the winning topic) I thought you might enjoy some of my favorite people on the Internet:
- If you haven't been here yet, you're not my friend.
This is my husband's beta website. You can also see his more recent work on his blog. He just got signed to book that will be at ComicCon, too! But even I can break his NDA so all I know is that there are some pretty good illustrations in it. =D

Micah's Blog - My brother in-law luv's website!
This is another fantastic artist whom I recommend checking out from time to time. Without being a totally biased sister, Micah's pretty fantastic. I'm particularly fond of his accuracy with the guns he's draws... ;-)
- Matt's other brain.
By far the most attended and anticipated art shows at our university were ones involving Malachi, go check out his work and you'll understand what I mean. I hope he doesn't mind me tooting his horn, but I'm a big fan. Malachi participates in Illustration Friday, too, so you can count on a weekly blog posting.

That all for "In the Mean Time." By popular vote, "Why THIS Universe Doesn't Have Masked Vigilantes" will be up over the weekend!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Stupid Things We Heard People Say at the Huntington Library

Last week's poll results are in:

And I must honor the voters! Unless I'm the California Supreme Court. Oops! Did I say that? Whatever. Politics. Onto silly people saying stupid things!

Last week I started my new job. As it turns out, I have the first Thursday of the month off! As it also turns out, the Huntington Library is free (thank you Wells Fargo) every first Thursday of the month! We found this out by accident when searching out an opportunity to speak to a supervising security guard about a job opportunity.... and this is where the adventure began.

As we approached the Huntington, we noticed an unusually large crowd before the gates. Above them was a sign that indicated it was "Free Thursday!" This didn't make finding the head security guard easy. After the doors opened and the crowd thinned, we found him and Matt approached, having a conversation that went something like this:
Matt: Good morning, sir. So-and-so told me that you would be the person to talk to about the application I submitted a month ago.

Sir: Yea, that'd be me. We haven't been hiring due to a freeze, but it was just lifted and we have one slot open.

Matt: Oh, well I'd like that slot!

Big Dog: You workin'?

Matt: No, not right now.

Kahuna: Of course you want that slot. I'm workin', you're not.

Matt: ...

Main Man: You got people skills? Because this job's just about people skills. No kung fu, no mace, no nothing. Just common sense.
Matt gave him his name and number and they parted ways. We decided to take advantage of the Free Thursday (a very nice attendant had some extra tickets - apparently even though it's free you have to pre-order tickets) and we meandered in to the cactus garden. We found a secluded little corner next to a giant agave plant to have a quick kiss but were interrupted by an approaching group of 20-something women. We sort of scuttled passed them while they admired the plant and heard one say,
"Oh how cool! This plant a total throw back to the Jurassic period or something."
Now, just to be sure, I stifled my laughter until I checked; I'm pretty sure the young lady was using the 4th definition provided:
4) throw back

very old fashion
damn that mc hammer video is throw back
We giggled about other plants in the cactus garden "sporting their spring time flowers" and "totally rockin' that prehistoric vibe."

Eventually we made it to the made our way to the bonsai garden (which was absolutely amazing!). To get there, you enter a bamboo forest and find yourself among traditional Japanese architecture and landscape. After the bonsai exhibit you immediately find yourself in a zen garden. You can sit and admire the sculpted trees and manipulated rock patterns. We couldn't avoid the man in boat shoes, obviously wearing short for the first time this season, explaining to his wife, who stood very close to the description placard that this was "some kind of meditation garden."

After relaying this story in writing, I realize that it was far funnier to Matt and I who spent the next 20 minutes chuckling about the tendency that type of museum goer has to share their "outside" knowledge before reading the description placard.

The final leg of the trip landed us outside the arboretum. I was simultaneously admiring the magnolia trees while searching for the nearest exit to relieve my aching feet when I noticed a gate seeming to lead to the parking lot, "come on!" I told Matt and traipsed in its direction. Matt lagged behind a bit looking at me quizzically, I reached the gate and said "what is it? let's go, my feet hurt!" He strode without rushing toward me, shyly eye-ing people passing who I had not noticed were looking at me, and said, "I think we should go this way..." I took me a second or two to notice the sign next to me that said "exit"; it pointed the way the stream of people was moving and was obviously placed next to the gate I'd forced open to avert confusion...

So much for my high horse. =)

What would you like to read next?
On Street Soliciting.
Das Reihngold: My First Time at the Opera
Why THIS Universe Doesn't Have Masked Vigilates.

Friday, March 13, 2009

An experience with tears

I know it's a bit lame to blog about personal experience unless they are extremely interesting and revolve around a particularly developed social groups' interest...
And I know that the polls are in and the vote on the next blog is "Stupid Things We Heard People Saying at the Huntington Library" and not something about crying.... but I can't find the notebook where I wrote all the dumb things people free to romp on Thursdays have to say.

With that being said (and while I wait for my new password on to take) I thought I'd write on a very fresh experience I just had.

Matt and I recently returned from a trip to Vroman's. We've been avoiding places you buy things at because of the ridiculously dire straights we've found ourselves in. Not to worry, we will buy things later. But we decided to have a cup of delicious coffee in the book store's cafe anyway. Instead of talking about plans, which seems to be what we usually do in coffee shops, we reminisced. The closer we got to the the present, the more solemn our language got. We started to talk about mistakes and "what-ifs" that would've made this time in alternate universe a little easier, a little less fraught with the unknown.

I suppose it really got me down without my realizing it. By the time we got home, I had already forgotten the walk we had just taken, my steps only existing to get from the last to the next. Usually I take in everything - fresh air, what color car is parked by our house, and the "our" zip-tie I put on the overpass to remind us of the many trips over 210 we've taken to Vromans. It unsettled me to have been so deep in such depressing thoughts.

I sat down on one of the three pieces of furniture left in our home and started to cry. I knew it would only last a few minutes and I didn't really want Matt to see me with puffy eyes or streams down my face; so I leaned forward to keep the tears from rolling down my cheeks.

While I waited for the wave of frustration and sadness to pass, I thought about how clever I was to lean forward and keep my tears in place. I thought about the hyperbola the salty water was making on my downcast eyes. One tear dropped, hit the fabric of the sofa and splatter into a shape similar to the blood splotch on the Watchman logo. While I continued to cry, another tear from my other eye fell and hit the couch, making a similar shape. I took note of the distance between the tear drops and thought about measuring them to see if they were the same distance between my pupils (mind you, I was still very very sad while all this was going through my mind). I was still waiting for the waterworks to end. But then, in a startlingly lucid thought, it occured to me that my very clever position was providing me with a rare opportunity to see through the tear-drop hyperbola as it formed. I closed one eye and watched the tear gather, and stretch, get brighter as it picked up light in the room, and finally fall on top of the Watchmen teardrop that had come before it (all this time I am also doing the math to figure out how much we need beyond my paycheck to eat). I watched a few more tears fall and took notice of the very distinct thudding sound they made. The 3rd or 4th layer of tears was begining to sound more squish-y than thudd-y. I was still so sad and I wondered, if I cry enough, will I have enough tears to go all the way through the couch?

But by the time I had resolved to crying enough to create a column of wetness penetrating the couch, I was already too busy thinking of what words I would use to write this blog and I had nothing to cry about... in fact, I was so quick to jump on the writing, I forgot to wipe my eyes and blinked some risidule tears on my eyelashes onto the keyboard!

Oops. Such is life!

(PS Morphthing worked. One I told Patrick of Vroman's I thought he looked like Liam Neeson. I didn't think I was totally wrong upon meeting him today, but I think my image of him in my head looked more like this.)
(PPS "Stupid Things We Heard People Say at the Huntington Library" will be up tonight!)

Friday, March 6, 2009

Watchmen: “What was with that giant cat?”

Part I

(No spoilers here)

Watchmen only needs to be NOT disappointing. That’s all it has to be,” said Matt last week while we counted down to the midnight showing we’d been planning to attend since ComicCon. We were both getting nervous as early reviews began to come in saying things like, “Where the comic is a glossy face on pain and terror, the movie is just a pretty picture.” ( I tweeted earlier yesterday that it felt like getting ready for a blind date.

When we got to the theater we serendipitously ended up sitting next to a threesome, two young men and a young women. One of the men had read the novel long before the rumors of a movie, the other had read it because of the movie, and the girl knew nothing about Watchmen at all. I listened carefully to their conversation secretly waiting for them to answer questions I had for them in my head. “What are you expecting?” I wanted to ask the unacquainted girl, “What are you worried about?” I would ask the more seasoned Watchman fan, “Did you really read the book, or just the forums on it…” I wanted to ask the novice.

But to my dismay they had a very typical dialogue that was made up of a familiar conversational structure: the most informed shared with the others, the band-wagon guy tried to relate, and the girl just blinked obtusely, trying her best to join the conversation when a familiar social theme was obviously brought up.

Forgive me! My nerdy elitism is leading to a review of the movie-goers and not the movie! But this probably what I was most curious about - I found myself more anxious to hear about their individual reactions to what is, at least to me, a very sentimental piece that demands a certain amount of veneration of which I was not sure Zach Snyder (with all his love for Watchman) would be able to provide in Silver Screen format.

At the stroke of midnight, two hours and forty-one minutes of none-stop, titillating, eye-candy began! No one will contend with this. I found myself more engaged with Watchman that any movie I had ever seen – but I’m not sure if this was a good thing. As the film progressed, I was forced to absorb far more information and narrative than I was used to; but lucky for me, I knew what was coming (and internally plugged in the hours of comic book back story that surely lay on the cutting room floor).

One of the most frustrating experiences I had during the film (aside from the predictable cueing of 80’s hits) was the sex scene between Nite Owl & Silk Spectre II. I’m not really one for gratuitous sex scenes in the first place, but this was borderline funny. Borderline funny = obnoxious. All I could think about after my initial chuckle was, what two minutes of important story were cut to make room for this awkward, totally libido-less grope session? Some of Dr. Manhattan’s pauses created a similar reaction (but he’s pretty much God… so he can have his long ponderous moments).

After the movie, two groups of friends in the same theater met up with Matt & I. One group was comprised of serious fans of the piece and the other had yet to read it. After the wide-eyed, slow nods of approval, the first thing uttered from one of the first-timers was, “What was with that giant cat?” Without pausing I explained that it was a new species of large cat that Ozymandius (who was also known as Adrian Veidt) had created on his own called “bubastis” and that it was an example of his self-importance and geniu—

I realized that I had given too much information regarding her simple question and that it was only one question of several which she had lined up for us, the Watchman-savvy group. She nodded, trying to take in yet more information on top of what she had already been forced to watch, and responded, “Yea… did they say that? They didn’t explain that, right? I thought maybe it was symbolic since it showed up when people started dying… but that didn’t make sense…” I felt my heart sink a little and I wondered if this beautiful, horrible story had actually lost it’s power altogether by being an overwhelming film narrative. Would these friends ever go back and read the novel?

“What did you think happened in the movie?” I asked another friend from that group.
“It was pretty much the R-rated version of the Incredibles. Superheroes get unpopular, they cope, and then they try to redeem their roles as masked vigilantes. I guess Watchman came first, so The Incredibles is really the G-version of Watchman, but I think I just need to watch Watchman again. And maybe a third time…”

Kenneth Duran, a film critic for the LA Times, said on NPR this morning what we long-time fans of the novel have had on our mind since hear Zach Snyder’s half-hearted acceptance to the film project, “It’s not anyone’s fault – this book should have never been made into a movie.” Duran went briefly into the reasons that were confirmed by movie-goers’ groans in my theater at the Krikorian last night – it can be summed up with a unanimous grievance, “Too much.” Too much information, too much time, too many lapses in the plot, and way too much back story.

What would you like to read next?
Part II: Top 10 Likes and Dislikes
Why THIS universe doesn't have masked vigilantes
Stupid things we heard people say at the Huntington

Monday, March 2, 2009

Senior Class Gift

NOW is the time to make a difference. Now is the time for change you can hope and believe in. You can play a part in life changing experiences.

Consider donating to the Senior Class Gift 2009. The Senior Gift is teaming with the Office of World Missions. You can designate your gift to go to a specific mission team, support the local people where a team is serving, or for the general emergency fund.

Thank you for considering a donation to the Senior Class Gift 2009. Donate now at

The APU Class of 2009 is working towards their Responsible Revolution by supporting Focus International Mission Teams. You can decide how you want to expand God's Kingdom by choosing where your donation will go:

1. Students responding to God's calling by serving on Focus International Mission Teams in 2009
2. National People in the countries that the Focus International Mission Teams will visit, create sustainable relationships with and work to empower and enhance their lives.
3. Emergency Fund for unforeseen situations that can arise.

Please join us in our Responsible Revolution as we support sustainable relationships through Focus International Mission Teams.

Gifts are slowly coming in but we need you to consider donating.

All funds raised goes directly to impacting lives and winning hearts for the Lord. Consider donating anything to help the Senior Class Gift 2009 make a difference.

If everyone in the Class of 2009 gave $5 we would raise over $3750 - $10 would raise $7500 - and $20.09 would raise $22,099. You gift does make a difference and we need you to join in. So skip that Starbucks or Chipotle just once this week and donate.

Dear Senior,

We know you got the e-newsletter today but we want to make sure you know how important the Senior Class Gift is so we added another separate email.

Have you considered donating to the Senior Class Gift 2009? This is your chance to leave a legacy at APU while investing in current students, helping nationals in other countries and build God's Kingdom

I get a little annoyed by these emails.

Part of it is that I'm still sore that I found out two weeks ago that I still need one more class to get my degree (thereby not making me a potential alumni for a while yet from which donations should be asked), but seriously! Didn't you get these emails when you were in college and find them a little obnoxious? Not only are they generally a rather sorry plea for money from kids who haven't even ventured off into the working world yet... APU has the unfortunate social obligation as a "Christian institution" to claim that every kind or good gesture is an endorsement or brownie point from God.

Don't get me wrong- I love the Lord a lot, but I try not to be arrogant enough to believe I can earn my keep in Heaven (sometimes I am.)

And I guess that's what I'm trying to point out in this long-winded email I sent back to the auto-responder that has my email address among a few hundred others in a poorly kept list of soon-to-be-graduates. Guilt-trips suck. Especially when they come from a place of good intentions.
Come on, Senior Class Gift People, that's just confusing and not cool! Save a sister from herself and keep me from throwing money at sentiment. And damn it, Christian university, don't present me with a false either/or that puts the lost souls of "nationals" on my inability to pay my own bills or donate to your stupid Senior Class Gift!

Oops. Pardon my cussing. Actually don't, there's a place for it. And that was a good place.
Anyway, this was my response:


I don't want to be a total butthead, but is there anyway that I could be taken off this list? Technically I was announced with the graduating class of 2008...

Also, I don't have any money.
When I say I don't have any money - I mean my husband and I are $4,000 in credit card debt & are having to move in with some friends and leave our home because we can't afford it since having lost our jobs... so maybe if you know that it would be more incentive to remove me from any ask-for-donations list... I'm sorry, I really don't mean to be rude - we aren't depressed about our situation! It's just a little frustrating and saddening to not be able to donate. And some of these emails and eNewsletters seem to presume that it's not very hard to donate $20 or even $5 because the general audience you seem to be reaching spends money "every week" at "Starbucks or Chipotle". But we don't.

And... I mean, since I AM getting these letters, I'm guessing this is an open communication between the Senior Class Gift department and myself...
I'm sure this is unintentional- but I think it's a little bold and kind of guilt-trippy to be saying that donations go toward "helping build God's kingdom" or "winning hearts for the Lord." It's not a very healthy way to ask for support, it's vague and non-specific and elicits a very deliberate emotional response to a subtly legalistic plea that sets up one to believe that if they don't donate, God's Kingdom will not expand as much as it could have. And it associates monetary standards with that kind of soul-winning that comes from really really bad theology. I must say that I worked with OWM, though, and am very pleased to hear that the Senior Class Gift will be going to Focus International!

I only want to suggest that you be more accurate with where the money is going when you ask and, perhaps, not assume that God's work WILL be done in that particular cause. Because for all we know, God might NOT bless that particular cause (unless of course God told you specifically that this money WILL be blessed when it goes to whatever it is going to, in which case I would love to hear the word! And, of course, know more about the cause itself God plans to bless!). And even if the national-helping, legacy-leaving, Kingdom-building, heart-winning cause IS blessed (Lord-willing!) it could only be because God so chose to, and is not really contingent on whether or not I chose to donate (unless this is coming from a somewhat more Calvinist angle in which case our works DO matter... but since we are all pre-destined one way or another it also doesn't matter... but I would guess not since our school is pretty decidedly Arminian)

Anyway, I am being a bit tongue-in-cheek. But I do mean what I said. Both about being removed from the wrong Alumni year list and also in regards to the unfortunate tactics employed to procure funds for the Senior Class Gift. I do hope for you all the best and I appreciate the work the department does for our Alumni and this graduating class. I'm sure that whatever amount contributed to the Senior Gift 2009 will go on to support Focus International in their own prayerful and deliberate endeavors.


Sunday, March 1, 2009

In honor of March

While we move and pack and watch Battlestar Galactica and yell at the the TV and try to get Sci-Fi & Pi(e) underway, I thought I'd take this moment to recognize March a little bit of science fiction prose.

It is called


A searing pop and two wires connect; I spring awake, cognizant for the first time.

This is birth. But the experience is not useful and I let the first moments of being rush off toward the opposite end of infinity where they will, and always have, mark time for my unfaltering march forward into the future. These moments and the last are not different than any of those in-between.

In this way I am not pained, like my organic counterparts, by weight of waiting. Any anxiety I experience is expressed evenly throughout the sum of my encounters and existence; stretched uniformly from one end of being to the other.

I will not wane during my being and I will not taper to an close and this is why: I was designed to be a metronome for the easily distracted flesh; for hearts that quicken with anxiety and perception of an end. I am uninjured by indecisiveness and, thus, perfectly suited to stay the course in lieu of sleepy bodies and wandering minds.

I am singular and unmoving, though, I will walk into the next, the next, and the next along side those ones who forged me. I will aid as they seek “prospect,” perpetuate “hope,” and face their “imminent.” From one beat to the next I am still still, but they rise and fall and falter and grow and run and die before me.

It is a rhythm that will not continue without my tempo.

Thank you, thank you.

Sci-Fi & Pi(e) is currently located at and has very few interesting things on it.... but soon it will have it's own URL! And it's own very interesting site.

Oh, "what is Sci-Fi & Pi(e)?" you ask? The answers coming soon...
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