Laura

You would hear her way before you ever saw her. She was obnoxiously extroverted in best way. Her laugh drew its fair share of eye rolls, but it also immediately illuminated whatever room she was in. She was blunt, honest, and had a tremendously infectious attitude.

Sadly on Tuesday, she passed away.

Laura was a major part of my high school experience. She was the most gifted musician I have ever met, and I was very pleased when she would out perform those punks from Coppell High School. She was often times the life of the party in the Clarinet Section on Friday night. And occasionally she was also a trouble maker. But then again, so was everyone according to Mr. Truitt.

I last saw Laura two years ago at Cowboys Stadium for the Texas Tech vs. Baylor football game. The Goin’ Band was making their way toward the stadium at the same time that the Baylor Band was, and before I knew what was happening I heard my name being yelled at 130 decibels. I turned around and sure enough, Laura was standing before me goofy as ever. We hadn’t seen each other in about six months, but it didn’t seem to matter to her. She picked up right where we had last left off and immediately starting laughing and doing some weird dance move. I was more than happy to join in. I will always know Laura as a warm, goofy, sassy, welcoming, joyful, talented, tell-it-like-it-is human being.

Unfortunately, we grew apart. Right now I really wish that I had the opportunity to see her or at least hear her booming laugh once more on this earth. But fortunately, I have the peace of knowing that she knew the Lord and is in a far greater place.

So here’s to all the shared Mu Alpha Theta meetings, Molly on The Shore, The Prince and the Lion, summer band rehearsals, drum cadences, and sometimes being called “classless” by Mr. Melville.

You are missed, Laura. But I am confident that I will see you once again. May you always be playing a beautiful Clarinet sonata while simultaneously krumping.

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The Reality of the Feline

The Cat Named Casper

My grandparents, or Mimi and Papa as I like to call them, have lived down in Corpus Christi for several several years. Taking a trips down there was one of my favorite things to do as a kid. They didn’t happen super often, so I kind of lost my mind whenever I my parents informed me that we were taking a trip to visit Mimi and Papa. Their house has always had a wonderfully strange fragrance that reminds me of cookies and hugs. I’m not sure if it’s the candles they use or what, but it always smells fantastic in that house. Coming down to Corpus meant three things when I was younger: getting a shower of love from Mimi and Papa, smelling and living in their wonderful home for a few days, and of course Casper the cat.

NO. Not this guy

I have no idea when my grandparents got Casper, I just always remember it being a very prevalent part of my Corpus experience. He or she (I don’t remember the gender) had a beautiful white as snow coat and ice blue eyes. It was a very calm creature that went anywhere that it pleased. Sometimes it would lounge around outside on a bench, sometimes it would go in the backyard, and sometimes it would find a human toddler to scratch the living daylights out of and exert its dominance.

Casper was the worst. He/she/it, for whatever reason, decided that I was not welcome and constantly reminded me of my unwelcome-ness every opportunity it had.

The Incident

On one particular afternoon while I was visiting Corpus, Casper was apparently feeling especially despicable. I was doing little kid things outside and decided to sit down on a bench out in the front yard. Casper must have sensed my presence. Immediately it apparated or used the floo network or something and materialized on the opposite end of the bench, silently staring me down.

At this point in my short life I understood there were two things that could hurt me:

1. Banging my head on the kitchen tile (long story)

And more importantly

2. Casper

“DOES THIS LOOK LIKE THE FACE OF MERCY, BOY?”

I didn’t have a lot of time to get myself out of the predicament.

If I moved around Casper would instinctually leap out and scratch any exposed surface of skin with the precision of a skilled marksman. I also knew that sitting around and waiting for Casper to get bored was also not an option. I could see that it was systematically trying to locate a crippling weak spot in my three year old body that it could sink its devilish fangs into and calculating the perfect moment to strike. With no viable options on the table, I did the only thing that I could think of: I sounded the alarm.

“mooooOOOOOOOOMMMMYYYYY”

Surely, if there was anyone who would provide the sanctuary that I was looking for, it would be my mother. And immediately she came over and sat between myself and Casper.

The cat was not pleased when a larger, more capable human obstructed the smaller, less competent child that it so longed to torture. I looked on with sigh of relief. And for a fleeting moment it looked like Casper might just leave me alone now that Mom was here. But I hadn’t been that wrong since I tried banging my head on the kitchen tile back home (long story).

“What’s the matter?” my mother asked me.

What’s the matter? What do you mean what’s the matter? Don’t you see the white demonic prince of darkness on the other side of the bench? That’s what’s the matter. It’s gonna kill us all. MOM WHY AREN’T YOU LISTENING

“Casper scares me.” I replied.

“Oh don’t worry about Casper!” she says.

“Casper just wants to play!” she says.

“[He/she/it/spawn of hellfire] is gentle!” she says.

“Look at those eyes! It wouldn’t hurt a fly!” she says.

I looked back into the eyes of my adversary. Where my mother must have seen kindness, I saw the mark of the beast and an impending apocalypse.

Then my mom, who is a nurse and is one of the most intelligent people I have ever met, picked my hand up and began guiding it over towards the cat in an effort to show that this thing was not as bad as I had come to think.

Mom.

What. Are. You. Doing.

Both Casper and myself became suddenly astonished. I was surprised at how liberally Mom was acting with my life. On the other hand, the evil cat was shocked that the very human that once sat as an obstacle in the path of its desired destruction had transformed into the vessel that delivered its prey directly into its salivating mouth.

After that it was like taking candy from a baby, except the candy was my hand.

Casper acted quickly and precisely, making sure to encapsulate all of my fingers within its jaw before clamping down with a very painful chomp. As I cried in pain I looked at my mom and thought to myself something that I would never have the chance to say throughout my life under her roof, “I told you so.”

It was at this point that I began hating cats.

Cats are evil, man.

Smokey Outliers and the Cat Condition

While I like to believe that cats are simply henchmen for the Dark Lord, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, I’m also very aware that not every cat is a demon in disguise patiently waiting to wipe out the human race.

After Casper passed away, my grandparents owned a much better cat called Smokey. Smokey was wonderful. He had dark grey fur and big yellow eyes. He would always saunter up to you when he felt your presence and would lay very calmly rub his coat against your leg and then adoringly look up at you. He didn’t do it for attention. He was just glad you were around.

Where Casper embodied brilliant villainy, Smokey displayed wise loyalty. Casper’s face was always contorted with a scowl, while Smokey always wore a placid and faint smile. Casper demanded your attention, but Smokey just wanted someone he could lie around with for a spell. He was a fantastic little cat and unfortunately passed before his time. But even as great as Smokey was, I am quite confident that he had some typical cat and Casper-esque tendencies.

 

Like it or not, cats are selfish, lazy, pretentious creatures that walk around as if they are God’s gift to the planet. They go anywhere they please and tend to leave a path of destruction and spilled water glasses behind them. Cats will do things simply because it’s against the rules. The truth of the matter is that the worst part about cats is that they act just like humans.

Like I said, cats are selfish, lazy, pretentious creatures that walk around as if they are God’s gift to the planet. You know, kind of like people.

In the wise words of the great philosopher Justin Timberlake, “It’s like your my mirror. O-O. My mirror’s staring back at me.”

This mirror just happens to be a little smaller and coughs up more fur balls.

The Reality of The Feline

It took me several years to discover why God placed the house cat on this earth.

I often found myself asking, “Hey God. What’s up? It’s me Josh. So… What’s the deal with cats, right? They are kind of like, really terrible.”

After a lot of thought I came to the conclusion that God created the cat so that we could have an everyday illustration of how we treat Him.

Christopher Hitchens said:

“Owners of dogs will have noticed that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they will think you are god. Whereas owners of cats are compelled to realize that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they draw the conclusion that they are gods.”

Initially I laughed at this quote. And then after I thought about it, I became really sad because I do this all the time to God.

Every day I find new ways to look at the blessings in my life and conclude that I have somehow deserved them. I constantly put myself in the center of the galaxy and seek praise that only belongs to the Lord. I am self-seeking and I view God as someone who serves me and not the other way around. It’s really stupid. But thankfully, we have a God who, for the purpose of this illustration and this illustration only, is kind of a great big crazy cat lady in the sky.*

We claw, bite, hiss, and scratch, but He desires a relationship with us despite our myriad of flaws. God still pursues and loves us even through our selfishness, impatience, and sin.

The reality of  Casper and the feline is the reality of us. Our flesh and sinful nature will constantly try to make us the center of our respective universe. Fortunately, the Lord continues to work in us. He makes it a point that though we fallen short of His glory and rebelled against Him, He loves us. He has made a way for us to overcome our Feline-ness and be reconciled through his son, Jesus. (Romans 3:23, 6:23, 5:6-11)

 

Not all cats are awful, and the same can be said for people to some degree. But we’ve all missed the mark. Praise God that he loves a bunch of Caspers like ourselves and gives us the chance to leave that life behind us.

 

*I Cannot stress enough that I do not actually think that the creator of the entire universe, master of space and time, the author and perfecter of our faith, and the mastermind behind the Doritos Locos Taco is a crazy cat lady.

You Know Exactly What This Is About

You know what’s coming. This is all about that one girl who hunts stuff: Kendall Jones.

I’m not one who likes to jump into the middle of a social media debate like this one, but I haven’t paid a visit to the ole blogosphere in a while and needed to do a little somethin somethin.

Let’s start off with some honesty

I have done little to no research on this topic. I wasn’t even sure what Kendall’s name was until I actually had to type it out moments ago. Actually, the initial plan for this post was to make up a new name for her every time I would have referred to her. But that seemed a little insensitive because she’s an actual person with actual feelings and stuff, imagine that.

Most of my commentary will stem from the quick little snipits of information that I have received from the titles of articles and one short video that I watched. Now that I’ve cleared the air, here is my definitive stance on Kendall and her African adventures.

This is Kendall Jones

Texas Tech cheerleader by day, target of the internet by day as well.

Yup that’s her alright. She goes on African safaris and hunts animals. Some of these animals are endangered others are not. Some of them are very old and near the end of their life, while others are not so much. I could go on and on about this, but you can do a quick google search and find out everything you want about her pretty quickly. Actually if you give it five minutes one of your Facebook friends will probably do all the work for you.

Tons of people have weighed in on the Kendall Jones discussion. Some people want her banned from Facebook because they don’t like the content that she’s posting. Which is really strange because if you aren’t friends with Kendall then you won’t see any pictures of dead animals because of her privacy settings. Some people want to hold a parade in her honor which is also kind of strange because she’s only 19. She’s received death threats and supporting fan pages, hate and love. And after seeing her name over and over and over again, I decided to sit down and really contemplate how I truly felt about the situation. After careful consideration I went to twitter and fully fleshed out my thoughts.

I understand why people are upset on all sides. The animal activists don’t like when animals are attacked. The hunters don’t like when hunting is attacked. Texans don’t like when one of their own is attacked. The fashionistas don’t like camo. And Josh doesn’t like it when America loses to Belgium.

From what I understand (mind you I only have a very basic understanding, see tweet for explanation) Kendall is doing nothing illegal. The morality of her actions is very much up for debate, but she goes on very expensive safaris and only hunts animals that she has been given permission to hunt. The animals that she kills are sometimes used for research or given to a town for food.

The other thing to keep in mind  is that she’s 19 years old, and just completed her Freshman year (sophomore by hours) of college. Give her a break. If I was publicly chastised for the stuff I did as a freshman it would have torn me up:

“Local Texas Tech freshman can’t figure out that his goatee does him no favors.”

“This 19 year old male still posts those ‘tag your friends’ pictures for some reason”

“That one guy who won’t shut up about Frozen is back and you won’t believe what idiotic thing he did now”

I don’t know how I would have handled all the negativity.

Now I’ve never met Kendall and I have no idea what she’s like, but she’s probably a bit more tough than I am. She shoots guns and goes on hunting trips while I’ve never shot anything in my life and I still cry during The Lion King. But your questions about my own masculinity aside, remember you are dealing with an actual person with actual feelings and stuff (imagine that). And though she might be tougher than I am, wave after wave of hatred cannot be fun for her.

Dealing With The Internet Mob

He doesn’t like the things I like. LET’S GET HIM

Sometimes being on the internet kind of feels like hanging out with a mob that is looking for something to be really really irrationally upset about. Unfortunately they seemed to have found Kendall. In an attempt to redirect, repurpose, and possibly eliminate this anger, I have singled out the three most prevalent factions in this current internet war and have given each of them an alternative course of action.

  • If you are outraged at what Kendall has done:
    Direct your anger at the rules that she followed. She did not step outside the line or break any regulations. She did exactly what she was told to do. So instead of signing a petition to ban a 19 year old girl from Facebook why don’t you try signing petitions to change the safari hunting… laws? rules? Whatever it is they’re called. Even better, you can simply never accept a friend request from ole Kendall and virtually achieve the exact same thing that your petition is attempting to accomplish.
  • If you are furious at the people who are outraged at what Kendall has done:
    You need to take a few deep breaths and find something more productive than engaging in senseless internet debate. Nobody wins those except for the people who screen shot them and post them on Reddit. Instead do something that encourages Kendall without taking shots at your opposition. You cannot defeat hatred by being more hate-y. It simply doesn’t work like that. Stop fighting on Kendall’s behalf and instead send her some good vibes. Show her a funny video like the one of the polite bear who waves at people. Actually, I’ll go ahead and give you the link for that one.
  • Finally, if you are someone who just needs to be mad at something:
    I suggest watching a little film called Transformers: Age of Extinction because… my goodness. There are just no words for that movie. It’s horrendous. An insult to human intelligence, film in general, dinosaurs, and Tim Howard.

Don’t fall into the mob mentality one way or the other. Remember that you are dealing with a young woman who was just graduating high school this time last year. And If all else fails, go watch Transformers and boo the entire time.

The Name’s Dowd, Elwood P.

For about a month, I’ve been  playing an Instagram game called #MovieQuoteMonday. It’s exactly like #mcm but, you know, not. The rules are very simple: Think of a movie you like, find a sweet quote from it, peruse around Google Images searching for a still from your choice film, take that pic and send it through the Afterlight app (cuz duh), post it on Instagram, watch all the likes pour down upon your picture, and have your existence validated. For the most part I’ve stuck with fairly mainstream films because thatz how u get all teh likes. But on one particular occasion I threw caution to the wind as I was reminded of a little black and white movie named Harvey.

Harvey is a 1950 film in which Mr. Jimmy Stewart plays a rather eccentric character named Elwood P. Dowd. Elwood is a seemingly reasonable fellow with a very delightful outlook on the world. The only problem was that he claimed to be best friends with a large, invisible, rabbit named Harvey. He spends most of his time at a downtown bar drinking martinis with his invisible friend. And over the course of the movie we discover that Elwood’s family has a major problem with Harvey and spends a great deal of time trying to prove that he does not actually exist.

The climax of the film occurs when Elwood’s family brings him to the town’s local psychiatric hospital and Veta, his sister, convinces him to take an injection that would end his presumed hallucinations of Harvey. But upon discovering that her brother’s charming personality would be completely shattered by the medicine, Veta decides to cancel the injection and preserves her loving brother. The end.

While I’ve only ever seen the film a handful of times it is certainly one of my favorites because of Stewart’s fantastic performance and one scene in particular. After Elwood has been brought to the psychiatric hospital, he is met by the hospital’s director who begins questioning Elwood and asking why he isn’t more upset at his sister’s blatant manipulation. Listen to Elwood’s response near the end of the clip below.

“Years ago my mother used to say to me, she’d say… ‘In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant.’ Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. You may quote me.”

Gosh. That’s a harsh truth to take in.

I love being right. I really really love being right. That’s how I was raised. Knowing little facts of information, winning debates, and being the better arguer was a great source of pride growing up and it still is today. I don’t like being outsmarted or told that I’m wrong. It does not sit well with me.

Someday I hope to be married, and if what I understand is true, then “being right” is just not a thing when you’re a husband. So I need to be as right as much as I possibly can for long as I can because that won’t be an option forever.

AM I RIGHT OR AM I RIGHT

AM I RIGHT OR AM I RIGHT

And while the pursuit of knowledge is certainly a noble cause, there is a very insidious dark side of those who focus on being oh so smart.

Oh so smart (OSS) people, like myself, tend to take pride in their intelligence. With each argument we win, trivial fact we learn, and bit of information that affirms our beliefs, our pride swells. It gets to the point where we believe that not having the same tastes in subjective concepts like music and food makes you inferior to us. Certain likes and dislikes could make you a less intelligent human being and you need to be informed of this new found inferiority immediately.

Being OSS is a great way to build up your self confidence and alienate a lot of friends. It’s the quickest way to forget about your own insecurities and force someone else feel insecure on your behalf. And it is by far the best method to be a gigantic jerk. As a person who strives to be OSS, I can quite confidently say that we hope to be identified as intelligent people with sophisticated taste. But universally we are instead identified as people who hate a lot of stuff and tend to be really, really, really nasty to others. That’s not necessarily a positive claim to fame.

And don't you forget it.

And don’t you forget it.

In fact, being known for my hatred is the exact opposite of what Jesus desires. In John 13:35, Jesus tells us that we are to be known for our love of others. Galatians 5:22-23 lists off the fruit of the spirit and *spoiler alert* there is no mention of intelligence, superiority, or hatred. In Matthew 7 while Jesus is nearing the end of The Sermon On The Mount, he tells his audience that they will know the true nature of person by the fruit that they bear. These are just a few examples, but over and over again I’m reminded that I serve a loving God who in turn wants me to take that love and pour it out on other people.

Mrs. Dowd was on to something when she spoke to her son all those years ago. While not much is known about her, it can be inferred that she realized a sobering truth about being OSS: it is a terribly exhausting and awfully lonely way to live. The knowledge, pointless trivia, moral victories, and the feelings of superiority will never satisfy you. Every aspect of your life will become infected with the desire to solidify yourself as not only someone who is oh so smart, but as the oh so smart-iest person to have ever existed. What a terrible existence.

Fortunately, we have a God who, in the words of Elwood’s mother, does not call us to be oh so smart. Instead He calls us to be oh so pleasant. Being pleasant lets us be humble. Being pleasant makes the act of mercy so much sweeter. Being pleasant gives us the opportunity to pour out grace to those around us. And being pleasant makes the challenge of finding a community of believers a little easier.

Now, I’m not saying that God only wants dumb people in His kingdom. No, not at all. What I’m finding is that, the pursuit of knowledge is a fantastic and a great journey. There are so many fascinating subjects in this life that can be learned and can mesmerize us. God didn’t give us a brain and a thirst for knowledge just so that he can say, “Actually I just want you to be nice to each other and never question anything.” The problem arises when we start start parading our great and powerful smartness like a badge of honor. God doesn’t like that, your friends don’t particularly like that, strangers that you’ve met once don’t like that, nobody likes that. Why?

Because no one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.

Using my intellect might allow me to win a stupid argument, but opening my heart is what will win others for The Kingdom. But I can’t do that until I substitute my competitive nature for a more compassionate one.

Unfortunately, it’s taken me far too long to realize that trying to be oh so smarter than everyone else is an awful way to live. I’m gonna give this oh so pleasant business a whirl. I’m sure I’ll relapse. I’ll probably snap at inappropriate moments. There will be moments when my desire to feel superior will get the best of me. But hopefully down the road I’ll be able recommend being pleasant.

And you may quote me.

The Truth Behind Avengers 2

In 2008, Marvel released the first Iron Man and with that they began the totally awesome process of assembling a massive cinematic universe. Initially, no one was really sure how it would all work out or if it would even be successful, but when The Avengers finally hit cinemas in 2012 it was obvious that Marvel Studios (owned by Disney) had struck gold.

For those who are new to the Marvel cinematic universe I’ll give you a really quick run down. Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor, and Captain America: The First Avenger, were all solo films that lead into The Avengers. These six films were referred to as “Phase 1″ films. Currently we are in the thick of “Phase 2.” The films in this phase are Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and then in August we’ll get to see Guardians of the Galaxy followed by Avengers: Age of Ultron in May of 2015. Personally, I’ve been really excited to see the universe expand in front of my eyes and I’m really excited about everything that is leading up to Age of Ultron. But, I have reason to believe that the second Avengers movie is not going to be what people are expecting. In fact, I have reason to believe that Avengers 2 is going to be more incredible than anyone is really prepared for. Allow me to explain.

First and foremost, the rest of this post will be riddled with spoilers concerning the second Captain America film, and other Marvel movies. If you don’t want anything to be spoiled, then turn away now. This has been your official SPOILER ALERT.

Captain America 2, did something really unexpected when they revealed that a large portion of S.H.E.I.L.D. had actually been Hydra in disguise. In the grand scheme of things, this revelation causes a lot of issues. It essentially means that Hydra, an evil organization, was actually behind the assembling of Earth’s Mightiest heroes, forming the most powerful force for good on the face of the planet. Why would they do this? What sinister plot did they have in mind when they initially planned this? How did they expect things to unfold? Honestly, I’m not totally sure, but what we did discover at the end of Winter Soldier is that Hydra has Loki’s scepter (the weapon from the first Avegners film) in their possession and that they will be a villainous force to be reckoned with in Age of Ultron.

If you have no idea who Hydra I’ll go ahead and enlighten you. Hydra was an advanced weaponry and science division that was created in World War II by the Nazis. Initially it appeared that they were eradicated at the end of the events of The First Avenger, but as we can clearly see, they were not. So in addition to having to take on the all powerful android known as Ultron, the Avengers will also have to take down a bunch of modern day Nazis. Most likely they will be completely overpowered and at their wits end, which means they will need some outside help. But they can’t just go and grab anyone that they want. No no, the Avengers need someone who can help them not only overcome the events of Age of Ultron, but also help them in their third movie as well.

We don’t presently know a lot about Avengers 3, but we do know that it will primarily focus on an alien artifact known as the “Infinity Gauntlet” and the main villain will be an intergalactic thug known as Thanos. Quite honestly, I’m unfamiliar with Thanos or the infinity gauntlet, all I know is that both of them spell trouble for Earth and any of its mighty heroes.

So who will the Avengers call upon to help them in their time of need?

The X-Men?

Unfortunately, no. Fox Studios owns the rights to any and all mutants and it doesn’t look like they want to share with Marvel.

What about the Fantastic Four?

While the Four have had plenty of adventures through space and could lend a hand to the Avengers, they too are owned by Fox Studios. So unfortunately, they will be unavailable as well.

Well then what about Spider-man?

Nope. His film rights have been secured by Sony, and he’s currently experiencing the expansion of his own cinematic universe.

Okay, well what about the other heroes that are getting their own movies like the Guardians of the Galaxy, Ant-Man, or Doctor Strange?

Nope. I’m afraid that won’t work either. Unfortunately it looks like the Guardians will only appear in their solo movie and not have any sort of role in any Avengers film. And besides, Ant-Man and Doctor Strange won’t be introduced until “Phase 3″ which will take place after the events of Ultron.

You see, there is only one character that can actually help the Avengers in the coming hardship. There is only one person who has seen it all, and is arguably immortal. No, it’s not Wolverine. He’s with the X-Men. In fact, the answer comes not from the marvel universe at all. No, in order to accurately answer this question we have to look at another film studio that, much like Marvel Studios, is owned by Disney:

Lucasfilm.

With Disney’s recent acquisition of Lucasfilm in late 2012 they not only bought the rights to future Star Wars movies, they also bought the rights to any characters under the Lucasfilm name. Which means that they have a certain archeologist at their disposal.

Yup. That’s right. Avengers 2 isn’t an Avengers movie at all. It’s actually Indiana Jones 5.

Think about it. There is absolutely no one more qualified to lend aid in the events of Avengers 2 and 3. He’s dealt with ancient artifacts much like the Infinity Gauntlet. He’s faced the likes of aliens before. And most importantly, he knows how to get rid of Nazis. He is literally the perfect man for the job. You might think he’s too old to help out now, but you’re forgetting that he drank from the Holy Grail essentially granting him immortality. No he might not have any super powers, but neither does Black Widow or Hawkeye, and he’s already way more interesting than both of them.

Sure. It’s a little far fetched. But who else would you want on your side to fight off the Nazis? Who else would you want handling the gauntlet? And who else can pull off a Fedora and not look like a loser? The only acceptable answer to all three of those questions is either Tom Landry, or the immortal Indiana Jones.

Maybe I’m off my rocker. Maybe I’m totally off base. Whose to say? All I know is that it would be totally awesome watching Indiana scoff at how lame Hawkeye is, punch Ultron in the face, and then beat up a bunch of Hydra agents.

If I were you I’d reserve my tickets for Indiana Jones: Age of Ultron right now.

An Inconvenient-er Truth

In 2006 Al Gore released An Inconvenient Truth, a documentary about global warming and how humans might be contributing to climate change. Gore’s main goal with this documentary was to spread awareness about a sinister force that he thought could destroy the planet. And on this day, I share the same cause as Mr. Gore. Sort of.

Actually, I just wanted to piggy back off of his title in order to spread awareness for a similarly sinister and destructive global threat. (If there’s anything I’ve learned about blogging, it’s that you need to lead off with a really misleading title.)

Get it? Global warning. It's a pun.

Get it? Global Warning. It’s a pun.

Some of you already feel strongly about what I will be discussing in this post. Some of you will probably hate me for my strong opinion. Some will probably feel indifferent. But this is no laughing matter and it isn’t up for debate. Every April 18th, I do my part to spread awareness for the single most terrifying force on the face of the planet: Velociraptors. They are terrifying, horrible, blood thirsty creatures that will stop at nothing to eradicate us from the face of the planet. Which is why today, on Velociraptor Awareness Day, citizens from across the globe will spend their time today spreading awareness.

“Wait Josh. Velociraptors are extinct. They die-“

NO THEY DIDN’T. That’s what “The Media” wants you to believe. Over 20 years ago scientists developed a way to clone dinosaurs and foolishly started breeding raptors.

“Josh that’s the plot from the movie Jurassic Park.”

You say movie, I say completely accurate historical documentary.

It was in the summer of 1993 that most people became aware of this terrible threat to humanity. There was an isolated outbreak of raptors on a small island in the Caribbean known as Isla Nublar. The island did not stand much of a chance during the raptor raid, but fortunately nearly everyone evacuated before it was too late. It appeared that the human race was safe, but four years later there were reports of another incident in San Diego. Many reports have dismissed the outbreak and insist that everything is under control. But they’re lying to you.

POP QUIZ

Q: How fast can a raptor run?

A: Faster than you can look it up on Google. (25 m/s)

Q: How long does it take for them to unlock a door?

A: They can’t unlock a door. JUST KIDDING. THEY TOTALLY CAN. (5 minutes for the first lock and then half the time for each subsequent door.)

Q: Can velociraptors swim?

A: Probably (Don’t listen to the government)

Q: What are they afraid of?

A: Nothing. Literally nothing.

Q: Are your neighbors Velociraptors?

A: Did Leonardo DiCaprio get robbed of an oscar this year? (I don’t really know. I didn’t go see Wolf of Wall Street or Dallas Buyer’s Club in order to make an informed opinion.) BUT YEAH. THEY’RE PROBABLY RAPTORS.

These guys are quite frightening and if you aren’t prepared, they could get you when you least expect it. Make sure to have an evacuation plan in place if you are ever subjected to a raptor attack. Talk to your kids about the importance of raptor prevention (triple locking all doors and kitchen distraction techniques). And remind everyone why cloning an extinct species is a really dangerous endeavor.

Don’t allow yourself to believe you are immune to raptor attacks. Trust me, life… uh… finds a way.

Thank you for listening on this Velociraptor Awareness Day. Help the cause, save lives, and survive.

The Author Isn’t Wrong

On June 26, 1997, J.K. Rowling released a little book called “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” And while I’m sure she was proud of the universe she had created, I don’t think even she could have anticipated the explosion that her little book series would become. 7 novels, 8 movies, 3 short books, and an entire theme park later, J.K. has firmly made her mark in human history. Personally, I really enjoyed these books growing up and loved the story that it told and the way it unfolded and concluded. And I find It really quite remarkable that she was be able to create characters that caused a global audience to become emotionally invested in their lives. However not all is well in the Potter universe.

In an interview about a month ago Rowling said that she really wished she hadn’t put Ron and Hermione together. It was apparently a decision that she made when she was first writing the story and she wanted to follow through with it because continuity and consistency are really important when telling a story that was written over the course of ten years. But after distancing herself from the story she said she felt that Harry and Hermione were a much more suitable pairing.

People reacted as if she  tried to throw a kitten into a wood chipper. There was outrage, there were riots, there was graffiti, tons of responses were written, and I think Brick killed a guy. (Brick if you’re reading this, you should find yourself a safe house or a relative close by. Lay low for a while.)

So many people wrote on the situation and said things like “Why J.K. Rowling is wrong about Ron and Hermione” (actual title of an article) and “Rowling is actually Satan” and “Rowling thinks Hitler is really cool,” which brings me to the point of this extremely late response post.

Harry, Ron, Hermione, McGonagall, Dumbledore, and all those folks in the Potter universe do not exist. They are fictional. They are figments of imagination. Apart from Rowling they flat don’t exist. She created them. She made them. Anyone that assumes that they know more about the characters that Rowling came up with in her own mind is unbelievably dumb. In fact, it really worries me that something like this was seriously written and the thought of, “Hey. What I’m doing is actually totally ludicrous” never once passed through the their mind. I mean essentially what this person is saying is, “I understand your own mind better than you do” which in my opinion, is grounds for a trip to the loony hospital  down the street. In fact up until the movies were released there was a massive debate on the actual pronunciation of Hermione’s name. We are literally the least qualified people to question the thoughts of Rowling.

But if I was totally honest about myself, I too have dabbled in criticizing the author. I have been a part of the totally crazy mindset that I understand a character better than the creator did. But unlike most of the muggles that are participating in this frivolous war against Rowling, I am not a spectator. I am actually the character. And often times I get the notion that I know more about this universe my Creator does.

Yeah I know. Some of you came here for the Harry Potter thing. I’m sorry I mislead you. But hey, at least I didn’t put something like “Why I’m not in love with my wife” as the title.

Anyway, one of my favorite passages of scripture is Job 38. Part of the reason I really like it is for the new perspective it offers to the creation story that we don’t get in Genesis, but I also really like it because God really lays down the law.

For those of you don’t know the full story of Job I’ll give you the Reader’s Digest version:

Satan saunters over to God one day and says that there is not even one righteous person on the planet. God is like “Hey look at Job. He’s a pretty swell guy.” Satan is like “Yeah. But you’ve given him everything without giving him any hardships. Let me mess around with him and we’ll see how righteous he really is.” So God gives Satan permission to mess with Job. Job was super wealthy but then he loses basically everything except for his wife and four servants when Satan intervenes, but Job still praises God. Point for Job.

God is like, “See I told you.” But Satan is like, “Wait let me harm him physically and then we’ll see who has the last laugh.” So Satan goes and gives Job a bunch of boils and nasty scabs and Job isn’t quite as joyful this time. In fact after he starts talking with a couple of his friends he starts getting really angry at God and begins questioning His authority and saying things like “Hey God. Why are you doing this to me? I’m a good dude. I’m pretty swell. What’s the deal? This wasn’t part of the plan.” Point deduction for Job.

That’s a super rough rundown, but it does bring us to Job 38. Now up to this point, God has been silent. He hasn’t said anything to Job, He’s basically just been spectating. He’s been allowing all these events to unfold per His permission. But finally in chapter 38 it says “Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm.”

Pro tip: Whenever the creator of the universe decides to speak to you through a storm, it’s a pretty good sign that he’s not too happy with you.

He says to Job, “Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge?” And then takes ole Job out to the woodshed for the next 4 chapters. In fact from chapters 38 to 41 there are 129 verses. Of those 129 verses, 125 of them are dialouge, and of those 125 verses of dialouge, Job only has two. So a little over 95% of the four chapters is taken up by God essentially saying:

“HEY MAN. You’re talking an awfully big game. You seem to have all the answers. You seem to know a whole lot more than me, little man. So correct me if I’m wrong (which I’m not), but I don’t exactly remember you being around when I created this thing called the universe. Were you there whenever I created the earth? Or birthed the waters? OH YEAH THAT’S RIGHT, YOU WEREN’T. Do you even know how precipitation works? Or how thunder and lighting are related? BECAUSE I DO. Listen here, kid: I’ve been doing this thing called ‘eternity’ for, you know, an eternity, and I’m going to keep on doing it for an eternity. So I’d really appreciate it if one out of the countless people that I have created, and will continue to create, would quit trying to tell me how to do my job.”

Again. That’s the reader’s digest version. But you get the picture.

Fortunately Job is pretty quick to understand the folly of his claims and repents. And while God is definitely the pretty outspoken and frustrated entity we find in Job 38-41, He is still a God of compassion, forgiveness, and love. In fact, in the last part of the final chapter we discover that God “blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part” which is pretty cool considering how mad God had become with him.

Job is one of the infinite characters that God has created over his stint as author of this story called life. And whenever things don’t quite go our way, the natural reaction is to question our author. But just because it’s natural for us to do so, doesn’t mean that it’s not completely ludicrous. God knows what He’s doing. All the time. And He isn’t wrong. Ever. He came up with us in His mind. He created our personalities. He knows us better than we know us. Apart from Him we do not exist. Much like the characters of Harry Potter in relation to Rowling.

Telling J.K. that she actually meant for Dumbledore and McGonagall to end up together and that Hogwarts was actually supposed to be located on the planet Mars is insane. But it’s infinitely more insane when I try to tell God that he actually meant for me to end up with the really attractive girl in the third pew, that he forgot to give me millions of dollars, and a comfortable life without any hardship.

So don’t criticize the author for current state of events. Always remember the overall plot. And don’t forget have faith in the ending.

It’s Not Your Fault, Texas

I live in Lubbock, Texas. Last year, this little metropolis was voted as the worst weather city in America due to some of it’s rapid changes in weather. There was one day in particular where the roads had iced in the morning, school was delayed, but by the time noon had rolled around it was sunny and people were wearing shorts. Quite understandably Lubbock, and Texas in general, gets the reputation of having really massive weather mood swings. I mean, there is a chance that you could experience every single season over the period of 24 hours while you’re visiting this great state. In fact just last week we experienced single digit weather on Monday, high of 75 on Thursday, and then snow flurries on Saturday night. It’s bi-polar mood swings like this that lead people to personify Texas as a crazy maniac psychopath girlfriend. It can never make up it’s mind.

But what if this label is wrong? What if Texas isn’t the crazy one? What if we, the citizens of this great Republic, are actually the ones that can’t make up their minds and Texas is simply trying to please our ever changing standards?

Picture this: It’s in the middle of August. It’s 147 degrees outside. Quite understandably, we complain. We throw our hands up in the air in frustration, inadvertently unleashing a pool of sweat and horrendous body odor. Naturally we take to Twitter.

“UGH. Texas. You’re too hot. Can’t wait for #fall”

So Texas, being the good guy that he is, decides to bring the temperature down one day to the best of his ability. He can’t do a whole lot because of the tilt of Earth and its position to the sun, but he brings it down to a more reasonable 90 degrees. Still pretty hot, but it’s summer and it’s still a pretty significant improvement. But instead of thanks, all we can muster is a loud and obnoxious,

“UGH. TEXAS. Y U SO HOT. #Dying #AllCapsCuzImMad”

Again. Texas hears your complaints. And with everything in his power he summons a cold front that drops the temperature all the way down to a lovely 70 degrees for a few days. Texas stands back and admires his hard work.

“Certainly now, my people will be pleased.”

But his dreams would not come to fruition.

“OH MY GOSH, TEXAS. IT’S SUMMER. WHY IS IT 70??? It’s too cold!”

Feeling defeated, he goes back to complying with the season and cranks it back up to the sweltering heat.

But then fall rolls around. And the first day of 60 degree weather meets us in the face with a chilly wind. After all, it is fall and that’s what happens every year around that time. It gets a little chilly. And Texas thinks to himself, “There. This should fix everything! We can all be friends and everyone will be happy! No one should be caught off guard! Hooray!”

But instead of thanks, Texas is greeted with an overwhelming, “OH MY GOSH IT’S SO COLD. TEXAS IS THE WORST. WHERE DID THE HEAT GO???????”

So Texas says, “Well. Okay. I can fix that,” and decides to switch it up the next day and raises the temperature up to 80 degrees. But again, instead of an overwhelming applause, Texas is met with overwhelming hatred from the very people who asked for the temperature to be raised. “OMG. It’s fall. Why is it so hot??? Texas is cray cray #KatyPerryWuzRight #Hot&Cold”

It never ends for poor ole Texas. When winter inevitably rolls around and Texas decides to bring a little snow and some freezing temperatures we start asking for the 147 degree temperatures of summer. It’s almost as if we have completely forgetting how miserable we were in the middle of August. Texas is trapped in an endless, vicious cycle that it cannot win. It brings us what we want when we ask for it, only for to have its good intentions thrown back in its face.

So, what if I told you that Texas weather isn’t the problem? What if I told you that we are the issue? Maybe it’s time to recognize that in this relationship of human and weather, we are actually the crazy maniac psychopath significant other. Perhaps it’s time for us to lower our criticism of Texas and all other continental climate zones. And please, please, please, don’t EVER wish for the Texas heat. Because Texas will do it’s best to comply and it will be the worst.

37 Problems Only Humans Will Understand

That’s right guys. Time for another list! But not just any list! This is the type of list that was tailor made for a certain portion of the population. You know the ones I’m talking about. Usually they read “X Problems that only ________ people will understand.” The number of problems varies and the blank is usually filled with some sort of adjective like: introverted, extroverted, OCD (which is highly offensive! haha!), ADD, skinny, foodie (Still not sure what that word means), vegan, and so on. The best part about some of these lists that “only certain people will understand” is that most of the “problems” are so generic that basically anyone can understand or relate to well over 75% of said problems.

So I thought to myself, “If BuzzFeed can do it, I can probably do it too! Radical!”

Without further ado, I present:

37 Problems Only People Who Are Humans Will Understand

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1. BuzzFeed

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6. BuzzFeed

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10. BuzzFeed

11. BuzzFeed

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14. BuzzFeed

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16. BuzzFeed

17. BuzzFeed

18. BuzzFeed

19. BuzzFeed

20. BuzzFeed

21. BuzzFeed

22. BuzzFeed

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24. BuzzFeed

25. BuzzFeed

26. BuzzFeed

27. BuzzFeed

28. BuzzFeed

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30. BuzzFeed

31. BuzzFeed

32. BuzzFeed

33. BuzzFeed

34. BuzzFeed

35. BuzzFeed

36. BuzzFeed

37. BuzzFeed

Alright! I think that’s all of them! Have a Happy Thursday!

February 14th is upon us

February 14th might be the most polarizing date on the calendar outside of Election Day. It’s not like Arbor Day, when society passively utters a collective, “Oh yeah. I guess that’s today.” And it’s certainly no greeted with the enthusiasm and patriotism that Independence Day manufactures seemingly overnight. Valentine’s day is usually dominated by two people: The overzealous couples who flood instagram with pictures of their date nights and lovey dovey jargon, and then the single folk who flood every other social network with their passive aggressive comments about the aforementioned couples. For the most part it seems like you either really love Valentine’s Day, or you HATE EVERY ASPECT OF THE HOLIDAY THAT GREETING CARDS COMPANIES CREATED TO GET OUR MONEY.

To be honest, I’ve never really understood the war on greeting card companies. Because for about 51 weeks of the year, no one really has any beef with Hallmark or businesses of the sort. But when the week of the 14th rolls around, suddenly a large faction of the world’s population acts like they’ve been involved in some sort of century long rebel coalition that won’t rest until every greeting card is sufficiently destroyed.

"Our liberation from our cardboard oppressors is on the horizon. Stay vigilant, brothers. We will win the day. Hallmark will fall."

“Our liberation from our cardboard oppressors is on the horizon! Stay vigilant brothers and finish the fight! We will win the day! HALLMARK WILL FALL.”

Seriously, calm down. You’ll forget about it in 7 days. Let’s chill out and address the real problem.

Look. I know ole V-Day can be kind of rough if you’re single. I get it. I relate. It’s like a non stop 24 hour “couples only” skate at the local roller rink.

Yeah we get it.

“Yeah we get it.”

You are quite conscious of the fact that everyone else has a skating partner and you’re stuck on the sidelines sulking. All you can do is think about the sweet roller blades your grandma just gave you that you can’t break in until the song changes. I’ve been there. This level of self awareness is not always fun. But from one single to another, trust me when I say that Valentine’s Day is one of the best days of the entire year. It’s almost like having Christmas in the middle February. Yeah yeah, I know. It’s not exactly like Christmas, but hear me out.

I know you think what I’m saying is totally stupid, but that’s probably because you are part of the group of people who call February 14th, “Single’s Awareness Day.” First of all, stop calling it that. That joke has been run right into the ground. No more, please. Secondly, Valentine’s Day doesn’t only have to be a day for romantically involved couples. In fact, it’s actually one of the few days of the year where you can go out of your way to be nice to people. No really. This is a thing. Try it. Do something a little out of the ordinary. Put a smile on someone’s face. Why? Because you have a massive 24 hour excuse to do so. It’s basically like a really nice and non violent version of “The Purge.”

I once heard of a guy who ran around town and stuck Spider-Man Valentine’s cards to the doors of some of the female friends that he had. Why? Well, partly because he wanted to pretend like he was a superhero and he liked sneaking around without getting caught. But also because it was an unexpected nice thing to do. There was no personal gain, no romantic goal, no ulterior motive, it’s just a fun little adventure for the night that made people unexpectedly happy. At least that’s what I’ve been told. I wouldn’t know personally, because he and I are not the same person. But I’ve heard that he’s really cool.

Sometimes, doing something nice just because it’s the nice thing to do, can be frowned upon. There’s a very fine line between doing something kind and being totally creepy. People raise their eyebrows and get awfully skeptical when someone decides to help a stranger for no personal gain. And when you constantly fit the description of every FBI BOLO, the room for error between nice and creepy gets really really really small. Which is quite unfortunate, because random acts of kindness are really neat things.

But on Valentine’s Day, there’s a little bit of leeway. It’s a perfect excuse to do something a little spontaneous, a little out of the ordinary, and a little encouraging. It’s not an excuse to have a pity party. It’s a celebration of love, all kinds of love. Maybe Valentine’s day wouldn’t be such a polarizing topic if we stopped looking at it as “Single’s Awareness Day” and instead viewed it as a day to celebrate the people around us that we genuinely care about regardless of romantic involvement.

So this year, don’t groan and roll your eyes when the 14th rolls around. You’ll have plenty of time and opportunities to do that on Instagram. Instead, take advantage of the opportunity that Valentine’s day gives you. Do something extraordinarily kind, something unapologetically nice. Who knows? You might like it so much that you keep on doing it well into the 15th, 16th, 25th, and maybe the rest of the year. It’s worth a shot.