Ruminator Books

One of the nation’s top independent bookstores and a St. Paul landmark is closing. Ruminator Books, formally known as The Hungry Mind, will close its doors on July 25.

While I can make with all the sad talk, the real sad fact is I’ve only ever been inside Ruminator Books once. That was during an Oscar Hijuelos reading, which I attended for a college class and just so happened to turn me on to the Cuban-American writer.

Sadly, I’m much too cheap to enjoy a good independent bookstore. I prefer heavy discounts, even if it comes with dog-eared pages. The HarMar Barnes & Noble with its used section (one of only six in the country) is my favorite (where I scoff at paying more than $5 for a book). Maybe that’s a sad and stupid thing for a writer to favor, but that’s where I’m at. I just have such a hard time paying $16.99 for a new paperback.

Home Alone

With Abby off on the youth group missions trip for the week, it’s just me and Speak. It’s very quiet and particularly unmotivating. Not that I’ve been a slacker. I was up at 7:00 a.m. (better than normal) and I actually cooked something for dinner tonight (tacos). It’s just difficult when there’s not some semblance of a routine. When Abby was around I at least had her coming and going at normal work hours to keep me somewhat grounded in a workday reality. I left to run errands at 3:00 p.m. today and didn’t get home until after 7:00 p.m. Freedom and wheels are going to my head.

Yesterday I coped by re-reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I’m more than halfway through it, and probably would have finished tonight if I skipped the blogging.

Sometimes when Abby’s gone I think I’ll get so much more accomplished. I can hole up in my office and play on the computer until all hours of the night without any interruptions. But it doesn’t work that way. I’m less motivated when Abby’s not around. Maybe it’s the irresponsibility of bachelorhood sneaking in. Either way, I don’t care much for it. I’m a better person when my wife’s around, even if it means I spend less time accomplishing stuff.

Speak seems to be especially confused. He wanders around as if looking for Abby, and isn’t quite as active as he normally is. Either that or he’s just pissed off I gave him a bath yesterday.

Despite not looking good for the #1 beer, the Miller vs. Budweiser ad wars continue, this time with Miller pointing to taste tests to prove they’re better than Bud. The latest commercial I saw touted the taste test results and then directed consumers to the ridiculously long url:

Sadly, after coming up with such a brilliantly goofy url, Miller dropped the ball by simply forwarding the uber-url to Internet savvy geeks like myself who bother to remember the url (or write it down, like I did) should be rewarded with something as ludicrous as that url. Looks like I’ll be voting for a root beer for president of beers.

Mmm… Chocolate Billy

Billy GrahamLast night I had a rather strange dream. The church I grew up in was having a service to honor Billy Graham. The man himself actually showed up, though he was a strange combination between the handsome young go-getter Billy Graham (though without all the fiery rhetoric and finger wagging) and the elderly, grandfatherly, love everybody Billy Graham (without all the frailty). Part of the service involved passing out chocolates in the shape of Billy Graham, in what could only be described as a communion like experience.

After receiving our chocolate Billys, we went up front to the communion rail (not that my church has ever had a communion rail) and took our chocolate Billys with a fortune cookie. Don’t ask.

Upon receiving my chocolate Billy Graham, I said out loud: “Mmm… chocolate Billy,” just as Billy Graham was walking past. He overheard me, laughed, and made some comment which I don’t remember.

I don’t know why my church was honoring Billy Graham or why he showed up or even what the chocolate communion thing was all about.

All I remember is that after the service I spent the rest of the dream scheming about the best way to get my hands on the left over chocolate Billys and sell them on eBay. I mean, c’mon, wouldn’t you pay top dollar for a little chocolate figure of your favorite evangelist?

F*@#n’ Brilliant

Vice President Dick CheneyVice President Dick Cheney dropped the f-bomb on Tuesday in an exchange with Senator Patrick Leahy.

“I felt better afterward,” Cheney told FoxNews, explaining that he doesn’t normally use such language.

“I think he was just having a bad day,” Leahy later told the media.

The unexpected profanity on the Senate floor has caused commotion in the media as editors try to decide which glyphs should replace the actual profanity.

The Sun Times went with “f—” in its article, but not its headline (“VP has no f***n’ patience for senator”). The Kansas City Star went with headline “Says the veep to the senator,

Not So Fast Company

Fast CompanyFast Company is supposed to be a cutting edge business magazine, chronicling the quickly changing corporate world. Apparently they’re not fast enough. According to their own web site, you need special permission to even link to their site:

Due to the large volume of requests we receive, we do not have a reciprocal linking program. However, if you like, you may link to us at no cost. This option requires the execution by you and of a one-page Web-linking agreement. Please download and sign the agreement and fax it to 617-738-5055, attn: G+J legal, As soon as you receive back the agreement signed on behalf of, you may begin linking to our content.

Whoops. Apparently no one told them how the Internet works.
(link via Dan Hughes via Bloggedy Blog)

Spiritual Curiosity & Moral Ambiguity

Christianity Today ran some stats about the inconsistent values of teens:

24% of American teens say their prayers are answered “all the time.”
49% of teens say they’d likely attend prayer meetings before or after school.

29% of teens say they read the Bible at least once a week.
35% of teens say they never read the Bible (implying a lot of teens do).

8% of American teens say music piracy is morally wrong.
80% of teens have bought worship music in the past six months and also engaged in some form of music piracy in that time.

Might as well face it…

I’m addicted to blogs. More like addicted to blogging, but it’s all the same. I’ve been blogging like an unemployed man on Monkey Outta Nowhere, which is odd since I’m now self-employed. I think part of it is the fact that I feel a real need to be entertained all the time. Gene Edward Veith had some comments about this kind of hyper-entertainment mentality, and they hit home with me.

When I can’t eat anything without either watching TV, surfing the web, or reading a magazine, you know there’s a problem. When there’s nothing new on my regular list of blogs and I start surfing to random blogs I don’t even know, craving something new and interesting, you know there’s a problem.

I guess on some redeeming note a lot of the blogging I’ve done on Monkey Outta Nowhere has a purpose. Some of the stuff may be fluff, but there are a few deeper things that are related to actual paying jobs I’m doing.

Those few instances aside, I still dream of a being a blog baron. I have a long way to go. Those few paying jobs that have resulted in random semi-related posts, along with my Google Ad income is hardly anything you’d call an empire. It’s not even a lemonade stand empire.

Sometimes I have a strange problem letting those fantasies go. I guess it’s a good thing I’m still resisting the urge to do a local St. Paul blog, as much as I still love the idea.


That about sums up how I feel some days.

Church of the Blessed Lego

Church of the Blessed LegoOK, you’ve seen the Lego Bible, but have you seen the Lego Church? Seriously, a woman built a 7×5-foot church out of Lego building blocks. She calls it the Abston Church of Christ, a name playing off the ABS plastic used to make Legos. She even wrote a dedication sermon encapsulating some of her thoughts on the importance of church buildings. The whole thing is pretty accurate, right down to the baptismal and lack of racial diversity (while it accurately portrays your average church, I’m guessing it’s more a result of the lack of diversity among Lego figures. UPDATE: While the Community Workers figure pack is a homogenous bunch, the NBA Collectors sets offer more diversity. And more facial hair!).

Megachurch Capital

There are 740 megachurches across the U.S., defined as non-Catholic churches with 1,000 members or more, and the Twin Cities has more than any other city, according to a recent Minnesota Christian Chronicle article (link via Planet Hunt). Apparently there’s a “spiritual awakening” in the Twin Cities. It’s fertile ground for megachurches, thanks to a religious culture, plenty of land for mall-size churches, generous Minnesotans, a plethora of “superstar preachers” and four large evangelical Christian colleges in the area (Bethel, Northwestern, North Central, and Crown).

Megachurches are hot. Forbes magazine recently compared megachurches to corporations and even the Brits are taking notice. While the Christian Science Monitor pointed out that megachurches go for a ‘power of positive thinking’ spin that won’t touch controversial subjects like abortion or homosexuality, Greg Boyd, pastor of Twin Cities megachurch Woodland Hills, warns such an approach could compromise the “inherently offensive nature” of the Gospel (MCC).

However, the Twin Cities, home of the megamall and capital of megachurches, is also home to a pile of post-modern and alternative churches. Both the local Star Tribune and the national New York Times (free reprint in the Pioneer Press) have profiled Twin Cities alterna-churches.