Monday, April 23, 2007


As I was enjoying the fresh sounds of spring winds blowing in the newly sprouted leaves of our backyard, I realized how much I enjoy seasons ... again. It has been particularly nice to enter into spring. Tomorrow, the forecast is for thunderstorms.

Meanwhile, while enjoying the passing of time through seasons, I was reading a book discussing the church calendar, which is also meant to mark the passage of time and to help us find particular meaning in the seasons that unfold.

For thousands of years, human beings have enhanced the reality of their lived experience by setting time to seasons and specific occasions in the lunar, solar or agricultural cycle. Often, calendars are created to reinforce certain cultural beliefs - social, theological, political. The Gregorian calendar for instance is largely dependent upon Christianity and was begun to help fix the problem of when to celebrate Easter.

Today, however, I realized that my own sense of time has also been largely determined by two other calendars: scholastic and athletic.

I was particularly struck by how much sports dictates my understanding of time and seasons. For as far back as I can remember, my world rotates around football, basketball and baseball. But, those are not the only three. Various other sporting events mark other occasions on my internal calendar: the Masters in April, the "500" in May (which will probably become the "Derby" in May), Wimbeldon in July, etc. Then, of course, there are the leap year events (every four years): World Cup, summer and winter olympics.

I have noticed this more and more since deciding ministry will be my calling. Weekends are slowly (and sometimes painfully) being adjusted away from the learned calendar of sports to the somewhat foreign, but pleasing calendar of liturgy.

Still, I really don't quite get Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, ordinary time (1st), Lent, Easter, Pentecost, ordinary time (2nd). I would be ashamed with myself if I had this calendar planted in me long, long ago. But, in reality, the church calendar is like a new seed, a new rhythm I am hoping to conform to. Honestly, it's taking time.

In fact, most weekends, I struggle to forge new habits more in step with resurrection, waiting and birth and less in step with world champion, super bowl and October series. I find myself divided like St. Paul was: that which I want to do, I cannot and that which I hope to become, I fail to observe.

I am not alone in this. It is very American like me - considering that every major holiday now features some sort of sporting event: football on Thanksgiving, basketball on Christmas and Easter, baseball on the 4th of July and during the harvest of fall.

There's something else here: it may have been different when sports were a type of recreation in American culture. Nowadays, sports are entertainment, so every major season in our culture is marked by a type of "watched" (not participated) entertainment.

Perhaps that is why I have a hard time "getting" the church calendar; it demands more than my subtle, passive observation - say merely turning on the boob tube and laying down for two to three hours. To really feel the rhythms God has given to shape us (those that follow our more ancient cycles of nature) require a deeper observation and even participation.

It's really hard to learn a new rhythm on down the road of life.


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Pull Up to the Table for this Year's Pulitzer

Amongst the many distinguished persons who won a Pulitzer Prize for their witty, insightful writing this year was Jonathan Gold - food critic for LA weekly. This is the first time a food critic has ever been awarded the Pulitzer Prize. He is also the same person I've referred to here in an earlier blog. Again, I highly recommend his book Counter Intelligence: Where to Eat in the Real Los Angeles - even if you never step foot in Pie 'n Burger or deem it necessary to stop by Casa Bianca for a heavenly slice of pizza.

Gold's work can be read at, and here is a great sample of his work. This story is on The Donut Man, which has also been discussed here. I think you'll quickly see the difference between a Pulitzer Prize winner and some schmoe like me.

Also, the LA Times received a Pulitzer Prize for its editorial piece on the deterioration of the world's oceans. You can read the article again at, or by clicking here.

Finally, here is some other great writing from the car critic at LA Times.



Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Great Sea Harvest

"In America, you have the steak. In Japan, you have tuna." - Robert Wiedmaier, chef

If you have ever eaten sushi or if you simply enjoy eating Chinese food in the middle of the United States, this is a worthwhile read about the pleasures and risks that come from global markets:

Rare Tuna.


Monday, April 16, 2007


One more reason NOT to go to the dentist

"A British dentist has been found guilty of using the sink in his operating room as a urinal. A medical tribunal also found that dentist Alan Hutchison, 51, routinely used his dental instruments to clean his fingernails and his ears. A former assistant of Hutchison's testified that while she hadn't actually seen him urinating in the sink, she once walked in on him 'tucking something into his trousers before zipping them up hastily." - reported in This Week: vol. 7, Issue 306/307 - pg. 14.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Recipe for a Box Office Bomb

I am always amazed at the entertainment industry which tries to break movie-making down to a science. Perhaps it is trying to imagine studio execs looking over scripts and trying to "figure" a budget for a final chase scene involving three Ferraris, dozens of stuntmen, ten fire engines, and the collapse of the Golden Gate Bridge (hypothetically speaking). Wouldn't that be a sweet job! Just imagine the bravado and stupidity you'd have to have to venture into that conversation.

Then, on top of all that, there's the extremely nebulous, yet incredibly important fees celebrities command for the mere appearance of their name on the titles - let alone their acting skills. Who in the world determines that Tom Cruise was once worth $20 million dollars a movie? Do all actors have standard fees - like dj's that play at middle school dances and quincieneras? What does William H. Macy command? Or Bruce Campbell? Do execs have cards of every star complete with information about how their last three movies performed? I'm sure they do; I wouldn't be surprised to hear that they have something comparable to a baseball card: picture, stats, best year, etc.

One thing we can know. Hollywood, movie "forecasting" is about as accurate as any other type of forecasting: pretty crappy. I chuckled through this article in the LA Times about the flop that is Sahara, a movie I helped send into the red because there was no way in hades that I would put this cheese-puff in my Netflix queue, let alone pay money at the box office.

Sahara is a classic example where people in the arts industry - for the love of all things holy - simply refuse to be creative. Instead, they take a classic movie - in this case, Sahara - and hope to resurrect it by throwing money at a star who is no where near as cool as the original (Bogart vs. McConaughey ... please!) with some extra flesh, fire and effects. Such efforts are nothing more than processed art. For shame, for shame.

And I normally love what Penelope Cruz does! I don't even know how to reconcile Vanilla Sky and Sahara?

I know people who work for and within this media machine. And for four years, I regularly ran or walked by plenty of crews doing a shoot somewhere just south of our apartment. I have to believe that 90% of the people within the system are artistic and imaginative, but I also know that all the money floating around the process of making movies draws plenty of less-desirables. Did you see how much they spent on catered meals ($1.4 million) and bottled water ($105 k). How absurd is that? Why wouldn't you want to grow fat on that excess - even if it meant hanging around the fringe.

And somehow $9 tickets, promotional ties, television replays, DVD's and foreign markets are more than enough to cover all this extravagance. With plenty left over. Clearly. Los Angeles now includes something like 250,000+ millionaires in the county. That's freakin' amazing. Especially considering that a good chunk of that 250k comes from a medium of entertainment and art that wasn't even present two hundred years ago.

Do you think any of this stuff gets recycled? Like, say, the walkie-talkies that cost over $100k ... do they sell those at the close of filming, or do they go to some wharehouse in Burbank?

I love movies. Don't get me wrong. But, I would be naive and hypocritical if I didn't stare into the obscene abyss that generates all of this. To do that, though - to critique the movie machine - is to bite the hand that feeds you. Besides, it's not like you needed another reminder that the world isn't very just or fair.

What you really want is an escape - another world. Thankfully, someone is always working their tail off and throwing money at another project that will do just that. Coming soon ... an escape from reality.


p.s. - if you're up for exploring this issue more deeply, check out Wikipedia's piece on "Amusing Ourselves to Death" by Neil Postman.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Easter Day

Anna swears that the "look" Wyatt is sporting in this picture is ridiculously similar to one I am also known to have in stock.


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

How do I love thee ... let me count the ways.

As if it were ever in doubt, Fosselman's once again was recognized as one of LA's finest ice-cream joints:

LA's best gelato and ice-cream

Or, go directly to the source so you can salivate on your mouse and get lost in churning bliss:

Sweet taro and green tea! Oh that thy two-tempered flavors would melt upon my tongue. But, alas, it cannot be. I shall pine away - waiting for the goodness of lemon custard and imagining the limitless merriments you present to so many.



And on the tenth day, man created the workbench.

To show that I have evolved past the point of simple "hand-to-mouth" existence and to join the ranks of all tool-bearing fathers before me, I would like to announce that the Kendall household now has its own workbench.

Actually, I can't take a lot of credit for this. My dad - with his many years of garage projects and tool-power know-how - constructed this nice, simple and (hopefully) practical workbench. I would have built it, but everyone knows you can't build something until you have a workbench ... duh!

What's really important here is that I now have a place where I can feign some form of productivity. This will be especially important for my line of work, where so much of what I do is hidden from the eyes of casual observers. Whenever I have an especially arduous or taxing day, I can always return to the workbench where something will invariably need tightening, or hammering, or drilling.


Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Genesis 3:17-19

17And to the man he said, ...
'cursed is the ground because of you;
in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
18thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;
and you shall eat the plants of the field.
19By the sweat of your face
you shall eat bread
until you return to the ground,
for out of it you were taken;
you are dust,
and to dust you shall return.’

On Monday, I stood over a plot of ground that - for the first time in my life - I planned to cultivate. 20' by 10'. Not much in the way of farming. Nothing to sustain our own family let alone the 100 plus people the average American farm now sustains. But, as meager as it may be, it was our first attempt to "bring forth" from the earth instead of just waiting for food to arrive almost magically into our home.

After a good days work, something resembling a garden plot was eeked out. It was certainly not easy work - even with the benefit of a tiller to take away part of the sweat and curse placed upon Adam. The real difficulty, which I could never foresee, was a hidden root system beneath the dirt.

A good six inches below if not further in most places, the remnant of an old tree lay spread out in all directions - impossible to trace and unearth in full. At first the roots were almost inconsequential with the power of motor and metal churning their way through the small roots. But, I had only begun to discover the depth and density of life this old tree had laid in the ground. Just when it seemed the path had been cleared for the old steel blades of the tiller to plow through the good earth, another hiccup would send the machine bucking against its task - revealing another place to stop the tiller and dig with the spade. So much for industrialized labor.

And as I found myself hacking away at buried roots, sweat pouring down my face and the ever increasing awareness that the sun was going to leave me reddened and tender, I could not help but draw up that most ancient of all truths: the earth will be both vex and delight, opening its providential hand only after being pried through toil ... and, then, in the end, opening its hand one more time to receive that which it has born. Such is the mystery of Adam. From dust you are and to dust you shall return.


Monday, April 02, 2007

A Photo Album

Seeing those photos on got me thinkin' the other day: why not us?

So, here are some pictures you've already seen, plus some new ones:

Flickr album

There are also some pictures of our new wheels, including this one: