Friday, April 18, 2008


After a couple of years now at this web address, I'm moving my blog to a new forum. Please update your links to show me at

Hope you'll come and check out whatever foolishness I'm saying over there!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Welcome to the World!

I would be remiss if I didn't mention that last week saw the arrivals of two new and notable young'uns, one born to each of my best men.

James and Heather Taylor (and their son, Joshua David) welcomed a new daughter, Sydney. Just a few days later, Chris and Tracy Beswick celebrated the birth of their first child, Daphne.

Methinks it will still be a while before Jenifer and I jump on that particular bandwagon, but I can announce that we also had a new addition last week: my new laptop, Trogdor. Not quite as exciting, I know. But until we do have kids, this is just the kind of highlight I have to offer.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Church, Vegas Style

Jen and I were in Las Vegas last weekend for a conference, and we got to experience one of the more surreal church services ever. Each Sunday morning, the House of Blues in the Mandalay Bay casino hosts the Gospel Brunch. For $35 and a short wait in line, you get access to a gigantic buffet full of soul food and Cajun dishes, and you also get to be part of an exuberant service of black-church style gospel music.

On the one hand, it was the coolest service I've ever attended. It just oozed with talent and style. And the musicians definitely weren't shy about calling on people to worship Jesus, either. From start to finish, the crowd was exhorted to raise their hands to testify to God's goodness and grace.

But about twenty minutes into it, I started to get the slightest bit uncomfortable. Interspersed among the trappings of a church service, there would be the occasional, "Are you having a good time?" And every so often there would be reminders that you were in a restaurant, not a house of worship. However sincere the performers were (and I was regularly reminded that they were entertainers), they were being paid to convey an illusion of worship. However sincere some of the audience was (and I do believe that many were earnest in their praises), we were all paying for food and an experience -- our money was going to profit a non-religious corporation, not to further any ministry.

So I ended up walking out of the House of Blues pretty conflicted. For as fantastic as the experience was, it was, like so many other things in Vegas, only an imitation of the real thing.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

This Kid is Off On the Right Foot

Could you sing all the way through "The Lord's Prayer" when you were two years old? Yeah, me neither. But this kid can do it.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Back From Vacation

You know who are a couple of great people? Carl and Shayna, that's who! They invited Jen and me to come join them in Gatlinburg to share their vacation. And it was fantastic! Over the six days of our visit, we waged epic battles in mini-golf, board games, and card games. We shared some absolutely amazing meals. And we proved our sturdiness on a hike undertaken in, shall we say, less-than-ideal conditions.

First off, the meals. Even though Gatlinburg's The Peddler has long been a favorite of my grandparents and other family members, I had never eaten there until last week. Now, it has at least tied Perini Ranch (in Buffalo Gap, Texas) as my favorite restaurant. The place has a massive salad bar to get you started off, then a staff member wheels slabs of beef by your table so you can choose your own cut, which they make right in front of you. The ribeye I had there ranks among the best I have ever eaten, and everything else about the place (particularly our seats just above a creek) was tremendous. We also ate a fine meal at the Bear Creek Grill, another creek-side place on the north side of town--I highly recommend their garlic bread (rolls coated in butter, garlic, and parmesean cheese) and their grilled rainbow trout. For a great (and cheap) local breakfast, check out the Mountain Lodge Restaurant, just north of downtown on the parkway.

If you've never been to the Sevierville/Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg metroplex, you might be surprised to know that it is a Mecca for mini golf and go carts. Last week we played a couple of different courses and had a great time on one of the go cart tracks. I highly recommend Ripley's Davy Crockett Mini-Golf--it's the best, most entertaining course I've ever played. You might also want to check out the nearby Hillbilly Golf. But really, there are any number of excellent putt-putt courses in the area.

Now, for any of you who are Spades players, I have to tell you about the incredible hand that we played on night on the trip. Carl and Shayna had been handily whipping Jen and me (partly because Jen was just learning how to play), so they were on the cusp of victory and we were more than 200 points behind. I bid "blind-nill," meaning that even before I saw my hand I was committed to trying not to take any tricks--and we would get 200 points if I was successful. Shayna, seated to my left, also bid nill. Jenifer, meanwhile, in order to give us a chance to win in the event that Shayna made her nill bid, bid "ten-for-two," meaning that our team had to take ten books without any help from me because of the blind-nill bid. Carl bid three. When I looked at the hand I'd been dealt, I was holding the Ace, King, and Ten of Spades, as well as the Ace of Diamonds. Even though I was permitted to give my highest card, the Ace of Spades, to Jen, that was still a plethora of high cards which would make it very difficult to avoid taking any books. Carl ended up taking the first three books, meaning that if Jen and I were to have any chance whatsoever, Jenifer had to take all the remaining books. And, lo and behold, we miraculously pulled it off!! Somehow, both Shayna and I avoided taking any books, Carl met his bid, and Jenifer pulled of the "ten-for-two," all in the same hand. Jenifer and I ended up winning the game by forty points.

As for the daring hike, we decided to try to climb up to the top of Mt. LeConte, via the Alum Cave Bluff Trail. The weather in Gatlinburg had been excellent for the previous few days, and it was forecast to be beautiful on Wednesday, the day of our hike. But when we got up to the trailhead, the mountains were socked in with clouds and the temperature was hovering in the low fifties. As we ascended the mountain, the temperature dropped quickly, and the wind picked up precipitously. Poor Carl had only brought along a t-shirt, so he would get cold very quickly whenever we weren't moving along at a brisk pace. By the time we reached the Alum Bluff Cave at over 5000 feet, frigid rain had been pelting us and the clouds were thoroughly obstructing any views we might otherwise have enjoyed. Much as we hated to be quitters, we decided the wisest decision was to head back down to the resort.

So thanks again to Carl and Shayna for inviting us down and being such wonderful hosts and companions! We thoroughly enjoyed our vacation and we look forward to many, many more with our friends.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Spring Fever

As my beloved wife will attest (due to my incessant whining), I am no fan of the winter months. I hate cold weather and, unfortunately, the last four years have found me in cities where winters have a way of dragging on... and on... and on.... It hasn't helped at all that this has been Saint Louis's coldest, snowiest winter in some time.

So I am just unspeakably thrilled that it looks like spring--and warmer weather--is just about here. As I was walking to the MetroLink (Saint Louis's light rail) this morning, trees were starting to bud all along the streets. No blossoms yet, but it's plain that there will be soon. And songbirds have been trickling back into the area for the past couple of weeks as well. SPRING IS AROUND THE CORNER, PEOPLE! GET UP AND CELEBRATE!!!

Saturday, March 01, 2008

As Good As It Gets

Allow me to rave, once again, about my incredible wife. For the past couple of weeks, she's had to deal with my preparation for the Missouri Bar Exam, meaning that I was just generally unavailable to talk or hang out or do as much as I usually do to help keep the house in order. She was patient, loving, and incredibly helpful when it came to my studying, and she topped it all off by getting me a fantastic gift to help me relax now that the bar exam is over and done with... tickets to see the Foo Fighters!

Now, I love me some Foo Fighters. A couple of years ago I got to see them perform in DC with Kaiser Chiefs and Weezer, and that experience definitely tops the list of my favorite concerts. I told everyone within reach at that time that it would be worth going to great lengths to see this band live whenever they're on tour.

As misfortune would have it, however, this year's tour did not include any stops within at least a four-hour drive of our home in Saint Louis. I was crushed. I even toyed with making wild trips to Dallas or Nashville in order to catch one of the performances, but all those plans had to go by the wayside due to the fact that most of the "nearby" shows were very inconveniently timed for me. I gave up on the hope that I'd be able to see them on this tour.

In a stroke of blind, crazy luck, though, the scheduled performance in Fayetteville, Arkansas, had to be postponed due to Dave Grohl being ill. The band rescheduled that show for tonight.

I was oblivious to all this, of course. But Jenifer spotted the change in schedule and went above and beyond all expectations by snagging second-row seats for us. So this afternoon we drove the six hours from Saint Louis to Arkansas to take in the show.

As expected, it was awesome. Dave Grohl is a tremendous, energetic, and engaging performer whose motor just keeps running through the entire performance. It was also clear that he felt bad about the previous cancellation (FF has only cancelled three performances in thirteen years of touring), so the band really pulled out the stops to ensure that the concert-goers got their money's worth. The band played for more than two solid hours, with tunes ranging from amped up renditions of their newer songs, wild, enthusiastic arrangements of older, more familiar tunes, and a healthy dose of quieter, acoustic songs that have been an important part of the past couple of albums.

Of the songs played, I think that "Everlong" and "Times Like These" were probably my favorites. Even though the recent tendency has been to play a slower, acoustic version of "Everlong," for this night they ripped it out with its original electric ferocity. Even some of their more obscure selections ("Marigold," "Stacked Actors") had the audience going nuts.

While I can't say that tonight's show was quite the equal of the masterpiece from two years ago, it was an excellent evening and it just reaffirms my commitment relentlessly to pursue opportunities to see these guys again.