Tuesday, April 14, 2009

the lamb (cake) of god

Melissa and I hosted our very first holiday get-together on Sunday. That's a big deal - there is a lot of pressure to not screw things up, especially when 15 people show up! It was crazy - both of our families came along with some extended family and a few friends. We made a ton of food including my famous mandarin orange-glazed pork roast (the same roast that Oreo ate off the counter a few months ago) and, what is quickly becoming an annual tradition, the Easter Lamb Cake! Yes that's right, it's a pound cake in the shape of a lamb with candy eyes and coconut fur and Easter in the Turney household would not be the same without it.

These are pictures from last year. As you can see, the lamb cake must have a theme. Last year we had the Tyler Hansbrough "Psycho L" Lamb. See how fierce and determined he is? He is unquestionably the hardest-working lamb cake in the history of lamb cakes. . . .

Melissa will probably not be happy with me for putting this next picture on here, as it is not her most flattering, but I feel it is necessary in order for you people to understand not only the scale of the lamb cake's size but also they uncontainable joy the cake brings to the faces of all who come near to it.
So that was lamb cake 2008, which brings us to lamb cake 2009. This year the theme was different. Seeing the good fortune the Tar Heel lamb cake brought on the team the following season, I decided to bestow that good fortune on another of my favorite teams - a team that desperately needs all the good fortune it can get: the Chicago Cubs.

I present the (Mark) Grace and Peace Chicago Cubs Lamb Cake:

Mark Grace was a former first-baseman who is a Cubs legend and whose last name fits well with the reason for the celebration. Out of the 15 people who attended our shindig on Sunday, only my Dad understood what the lamb was supposed to represent. Melissa thought that the lamb was a captain? (captain of what? I do not know. . . ), my mom thought the red C stood for Carolina, and Melissa's dad thought the lamb was a dog. Despite the haters and misunderstanders, the Cubs lamb cake 2009 was a big hit and tasted very good.

If you are wondering why we make a lamb cake, there are a couple reasons. 1) Jesus is the Lamb of God. He represents the Passover Lamb that was sacrificed to atone for the sins of God's people. We mean no blasphemy by eating it. 2) A lamb seems like a Spring animal - Easter occurs near March which is the month that comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. 3) My Grandma Sheila, who lives in Chicago, used to make one every Easter when we were growing up and my sister Carolyn gave us our lamb cake mold as a wedding gift in order to carry on the tradition. It was definitely one of the best gifts we got and I'm excited to keep this going for many more years with my family.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

where the wild things are

So I came across this, and it immediately jumped to the top of my "must see" list: (make sure you click the HD button!)

To be honest, I really don't remember much of the storyline from reading the book as a child, but the imagery of the kid wearing a bunny suit and a crown on his head and the big old wild thing brings back really good, old memories. I get similar feelings of nostalgia when I see books like Harold and the Purple Crayon or Goodnight, Moon. I can't really tell you a lot about what the stories are about, but I know they are awesome and I'm sure I learned some sort of timeless truth or moral from them. Reading to your kids is so crucial. I'm really thankful that my parents took the time to read to me, and also encouraged me to read on my own as I grew.

Apart from the sappy fuzzy feelings this film provokes, I'm also really excited about it because Spike Jonze is directing it. Who is Spike Jonze you ask? Well, he is simply one of the greatest music video directors of all time! OK, that does not really seem all that impressive, until you take a look at some of the iconic videos that have sprung out of that man's mind. . .

Watch more Halfway Between the Gutter and the Stars videos on AOL Video

and this. . .

Watch more Weezer (Blue Album) [Deluxe] videos on AOL Video

and this crazy one . . .

Watch more Post videos on AOL Video

He's done a lot of really cool videos and he's obviously creative conceptually as well as the shots he gets with the camera. So I'm pretty interested to see what kind of angle he's going to take with Where the Wild Things Are. Already from the trailer you can see that some of the shots look gorgeous.

Another plus is that the song from the trailer is "Wake Up" by the Arcade Fire. They're awesome.

how we got really good seats at a bobcats game

I just finished making a science test for my students at Agape. This is the second night in a row that I've been up late preparing stuff for my classes. I did not realize that teachers have to do more homework than students. Maybe it means that I should be giving more homework. Hmm. . .

So a couple weekends ago, Melissa and I headed down to Charlotte to attend a Bobcats game (Just in case you are a part of that 97.6% of the population that have never heard of the Bobcats, they are an NBA basketball team that plays in Charlotte. . . no, the Hornets aren't there anymore, they moved to New Orleans like 7 years ago . . . and no, Mugsy Bogues doesn't play for them anymore. . . ). I am a closet Bobcats fan. I'm not really sure why or how it happened, but I keep tabs on them every now and then and have been secretly rooting for them for a couple years now. This year though, the team may actually make the playoffs for the first time in their short history and to generate excitement and get more than 17 people to attend their games, the organization had a brief ticket sale where you could get tix for 40% off the regular price. Well, TicketMaster screwed up my order and I ended up not getting my discount. Perturbed, I contacted the Bobcats' ticket office and after several emails back and forth to a team representative to convince them that I was not lying about when I made the purchase, they decided to reward me for going through all that trouble and mental anguish by refunding all my money and moving our seats to the lower level! The seats were great. The team played close to the worst basketball I've ever seen and they got smoked by the Pacers. It was still fun.

Here are some pictures:

Melissa's parents' car broke down and we had to walk about 2 miles to the stadium.
A couple days prior to this I rolled my ankle attempting to dunk on an 8 ft tall basketball hoop at school.
Walking 2 miles on a badly sprained ankle is not recommended.

See we were pretty close to the action. . .

A Sean May sighting!
{insert fat joke}

Somehow the family remained in the good spirits
despite the merciless beaten being taken by the Cats.

And now we come to one last picture. I was uploading this batch of pictures from the camera to the computer, and I noticed that Melissa had taken some pictures of Oreo. . .

Yes, that is my side of the bed. Thanks Melissa. There are about 10 if these pictures from various angles and with Oreo doing different poses. I'm worried about Melissa. I'm worried that she has a little too much time on her hands. I'm also worried for any future children we may have, and all the "fun" they are going to have to endure if this is what Melissa is putting our dog through. . .

Sunday, March 1, 2009

if i was a better blogger, you'd already know this. . .

So as you may have noticed, I'm pretty bad at keeping up with this thing. Some pretty big things have happened in the past month and a half and here are the top ten things that have happened to me since the last time I blogged. . .

1. Our new President was innauggerrated? (two n's? two g's? two r's? I dont know!) He's seems pretty cool, he plays basketball and he likes to spend money. I think we'd get along really well. Oh wait, he likes the White Sox, what an idoit. . .

2. I got fired - I mean, "laid off". It sounds so much nicer and so much not-my-fault-er when you say it that way. . .

3. Melissa and I finally succumbed to the J.D. Greear Empire. We decided to commit to the Summit Church's West Club Campus. . .

4. I cooked a pork roast for the first time. It was good. Then I left it on the counter and turned my back, and Oreo ate it. Close to 2 lbs. of meat disappeared in a little under 90 seconds. It was impressive. . .

5. Despite being unemployed for a month, I still haven't read the books I got for Christmas. . .

6. My dad and I built a fence for our yard, so Oreo won't run away. It's a little crooked and Oreo still finds ways our of it, but it was a fun father-son bonding experience. . .

7. I started watching Lost for like 2 episodes and then I gave up. . .

8. I got a new job at Agape Corner School with my boy Logan. Pretty soon Logan is going to replace Chad as my best friend because he's way more musically talented and better looking. . .

(If you don't know who Logan is, just listen to the song "The Future" on Chad's The Overlapse CD - Logan is the one that doesn't sound terrible. . .)

9. I started tweeting on Twitter. Logan convinced me to do it - not really because of anything he said, but more because he does it himself and I want to be like him. When I'm on Twitter it makes me feel cutting-edge. I'm not really sure yet why I do it, but something tells that people's lives will be better if they know what I'm doing every moment of the day. . .

10. The driver-side door handle on my Buick LeSabre (that means "the sword")inexplicably stopped working. I have to open the back seat door and reach to the front and open it from the inside. It is annoying. . .

So that pretty much sums up the last 6 weeks of my life. Be my Twitter friend!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

i like you, but i LOVE the whopper. . .

So as I was screen printing the day away at work this afternoon, it dawned on me that I really wanted to write a blog entry tonight. I thought about all the things I could talk about and all the funny jokes I would make and all the new friends I would have because they read my funny blog. Now as I sit down to actually do it, I don't remember much of anything I wanted to talk about, but here it goes anyway...

Yesterday I noticed an article on-line about Burger King's new ad campaign. Being an advertising major, I guess I'm supposed to care about that kind of stuff, so I followed the link and read it. Burger King's new ad campaign for its "Angry Whopper" includes a Facebook application where if you "de-friend" 10 people you receive a coupon for a free Whopper [I was going to link to the site to get the app, but it looks like Burger King took it down]. "Cool", I thought to myself, "I easily have 10 people that are "Facebook friends" but aren't "Real-Life friends". But as I read on I was informed that, unlike regular Facebook, when you "de-friended" someone by using this application, it sends them a message that notified them that you are no longer their friend. This kind of made me pause and really consider if possibly hurting 10 peoples' feelings was worth a free charbroiled hamburger. . .

After 2 seconds, I concluded that yes, getting a free hamburger is a totally legitimate excuse to offend 10 people, so I continued on my quest for a free Whopper. However as I perused my Facebook friend list, I continued to have an uneasy feeling about how people might react when they received the message that I was no longer their friend because I desired the taste of a quarter pound of hot ground beef instead. In my head I pictured disbelief and devastation flashing across the faces of these chosen 10 at the fact that they could no longer look at my profile or pretend they were a part of my life by looking at my photos. Reality soon set in that these 10 (along with probably at least 30 others on my "friend" list) would, upon receiving that fateful message, probably instead say to themselves, "Who the hell is Brian Turney?"

It was a humbling thought, but one that motivated me to follow through and strive after the promised treasure. So I did it. I "de-friended" 10 people for the sake of a Whopper, and this is my confession. Does that make me a bad person? Is de-friending someone on Facebook really that big of a deal? I don't know the answers to these questions, and I probably never will. Such is the moral ambiguity that Facebook has bestowed on our culture. . .

[I realize that my story was long-winded and really anti-climactic. Like I said, I felt like I had stumbled on gold this afternoon when I was going through it in my head.]

On a related note to this story, I feel like the ad campaign was pretty brilliant. I mean I will be going to Burger King for the first time in like 2 years because of it. As somewhat of a connoisseur of fast food, Burger King really doesn't fill a niche for me. When I'm looking for something cheap I hit up McDonald's - Seriously is there anything better and filling for cheaper than a McDonald's Double Cheeseburger? Then there is Wendy's, which for some reason in my mind, seems like its the "healthy" option - it probably is healthy when you get a salad and a baked potato, but no so much when you get a JBC, 2 orders of nuggets, and a large order of fries, eh? And then there is the granddaddy of them all, the best tasting and least healthy of them all - Cook-Out! And that's just looking at burger places and not including the chicken places Bojangles and Zaxbys.

So there you have it, there is just no place for Burger King in my hierarchy of fast food needs, but I will be going there soon to collect my reward for being a self-centered jerk.

And as long as we're on the subject, I think these Whopper, Jr. commercials are hilarious.

Monday, January 5, 2009

reading in the new year

I don't really have anything interesting or important to say, but I figured I'd post something since it's been awhile. Besides, what good is a blog if you can't post uninteresting and unimportant stuff?

So its 2009 huh? pretty wild...where are the flying cars? I'm just going to keep asking that question every year until I have one sitting in my driveway... or will it be called a "flyway"? hmm...

Christmas was good. Every year I try to really remind myself that Christmas is about Christ and I ought to reflect on the fact that he humbled Himself to be born a child so that He would save humanity from the clutches of sin, but but by about the second gift that I've unwrapped that pretty much goes out the window. Later on, as I lay down to bed it will hit me and I will feel like a jerk because I didn't so much as pray that day to thank God for sending His Son. That's pretty much my Christmas tradition.

Speaking of Christmas, I did get some pretty sweet gifts and that's all that really matters, eh? Apparently the gift of the year for Brian this year was books. I think I ended up with four. And they all have to do with Christian faith, so apparently I'm doing something wrong. Anyway, I will now talk about them briefly in order from most excited to read to least excited to read.

1. Death by Love: Letters from the Cross
by Mark Driscoll

Mark Driscoll is the pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle and is pretty much my favorite pastor ever. This book is lot more serious and a lot less sarcastic than most of what comes from Driscoll - it is a series of letters that he wrote to various members of his congregation regarding various sins and struggles they are facing, and each letter focuses on a different aspect of Christ's act of atonement on the cross. I've read the first chapter som far and its really powerful and he uses to very striking imagery to convey the power of Christ and his death on the cross. I'm pretty stoked to read this one.

2. Jesus for President: Politics for Ordinary Radicals
by Shane Claiborne

I've heard really good things about Claiborne and his book The Irresistible Revolution, but truthfully don't know that much about him. This book is about Christians, the Church, and their role in American politics. This is a topic that really intrigues me and that along with the really cool and unique design of the book is what really has me excited to read this one. I've only read the Intro and so far he talks about how the Church has fallen into the lie that the state has more power to change peoples' lives than the death and resurrection of Christ. Sounds like the truth to me, so now what do we do about it?

3. Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God
by Francis Chan

This is a book that came out last year I think, and I heard good things but don't really know a lot of specifics. From what I gather, Chan is a pastor in CA and his book is about living out one's faith boldly and dynamically and not being afraid to take risks for the sake of the Gospel. Sounds good and sounds like something that I need to hear. This one falls to third only because of my unfamiliarity with it and because I'm so pumped about the first two.

4. The Love Dare
by Stephen and Alex Kendrick

OK, so maybe I'm a hater but I'm not very excited about this one. Maybe its because it is inspired by a seemingly cheesy Christian movie starring Kirk Cameron. Or maybe its because it requires homework and discipline to complete. Whatever it is, it was a thoughtful gift that is meant to strengthen my marriage and help me learn to love unconditionally, but I'm going to have to feel really motivated to dig into this and attempt the "Love Dare", and knowing myself pretty well, I just don't see that happening.

Not to be overlooked, but falling into a different types of category of books, I also received a commentary on the Gospel of John from my beautiful wife, and a book on how to begin a career as a freelance graphic designer from Clayton. I'm excited about taking a look at both of those as well.

I think that will be all for now.

Hopefully I will read these and return with some comments/reviews soon.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

my beef with the little drummer boy. . .

So because it's the Christmas season, and because my friends encouraged me to write on my blog more often (it has been a while), and because I was inspired by my friend Brian's posting about Christmas songs, I too, will be writing about a certain Christmas song, and if you noticed the title then you probably have already guessed which one I will be commenting on.

I don't know what it is. It could be that the little drummer boy isn't real - which Gospel account mentions him again? . . . It could be that the stop-motion animation version of him kind of creeps me out. . . It could also be the thought that little baby Jesus is trying to sleep in a cold manger with barnyard animals all around, and this little idiot marches up and starts banging on his drum. . . And maybe it could the fact that the song includes the line "rum pum pum pum" over and over and over again . . . Whatever it is, something about the little drummer boy has, for sometime now, really gotten under my skin. Like so much so that if I were one of those shepherds that came to witness Christ's birth I probably would have smashed the drum over his head and pushed him into a pile of donkey crap. . . . OK, maybe I wouldn't be that mean - maybe I would just spit on him or something. . .

Anyway, so the song "the little drummer boy" (I failed to capitalize this on purpose because i don't repesct him) is pretty much far and away my LEAST favorite Christmas song. However a new version of this song was brought to my attention recently. The Almost is a band that is near and dear to my heart, not only because the lead singer Aaron Gillespie is the drummer of another of my favorite bands (Underoath) but there is a very real possibility that he is my father (or maybe my brother - more on this later). Well, The Almost (capitalized because I respect them) recently released an EP entitled "No Gift to Bring" which happens to include a remake of the aforementioned song. Imagine my horror! Well, the song is actually really good, in fact the best version of a terrible song I've ever heard, and I haven't stopped listening to it. You win this time, little drummer boy, but there's always next Christmas. . .

Now back to my comment about Aaron Gillespie being related to me. . .

Take a look at this. If Aaron and snowboarder Shaun White had aDeLorean with a flux capacitor and went back to 1984, and in a blaze of passion and a flurry of red hair, and somehow had a baby. . . then they would have an attractive baby with red hair and a love of music, snowboarding, and fine women. . . which would be me! yikes!

+ =

The resemblance is uncanny. The only holes in my argument that I can see are that they don't have quite the propensity that I do to grow facial hair and I weigh roughly 4.2 times their combined weight. The explanation for these abnormalities is clearly an overabundance of unnatural hormones found the beef and poultry that make up 97% of my daily diet.

Daddies, if you read this, i know this is a shock, but skype me and we can talk about it. . .

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

miscellaneous stuff

Just hours after writing about my self-imposed "no buying new music" diet, I caved and bought a new album from Amazon. It's true that am weak, but I had good reason to jump on this opportunity. . . really, I did! You see Amazon was offering Copeland's newest album You Are My Sunshine on MP3 for only $3.99! Crazy! So I bought it and downloaded and it was well worth it. My review will be coming soon. . .

Also going back to my previous post, was the video of the House of Heroes song I posted. The video was hosted on Vimeo, which I guess I have seen videos from them before but had never really paid attention to it. Anyway, I checked out their site today and was pretty impressed. It seems like the video quality is waaaay better than YouTube's, and you also don't have the mess of random crap on it either. Add to that, the HD capabilities of Vimeo and it all seems pretty nifty. For your viewing enjoyment, I 've included an example of an HD video posted on Vimeo.

London (harder, better, faster, stronger) from David Hubert on Vimeo.

[OK, so I just tested it and it looks like you have to go to Vimeo's site to watch it in HD.]

This video, by the way, was shot using only still photographs - its pretty sweet, plus it uses a song by Daft Punk, which makes any video automatically sweeter.

One last thing I wanted to mention, was some photos that I took of my brother Jake as he was skateboarding. He just got his license and to celebrate he made the trip up here from Clemmons last week because he had Veteran's Day off. Anyway we hung out on Tuesday and we went to a big indoor skate park in Raleigh of off Six Forks Rd. called Project 58 (it was some arbitrary number, and I'm pretty sure it was 58 but for all I know it could have been something like 74 or 39). So we did that and then on the way back we passed by some huge concrete tubes off of Hwy. 70 and we pulled over and I took some photos of him shredding the tubes. Later on, we went to downtown Durham and hit a few spots as well. It was all lots of fun and I got some pretty good pics, and I've been playing around with them on Photoshop a little bit. Here are some of them, let me know what you think because I think I want to choose one style and then create a poster of the different images to give to Jake. . .

Monday, November 17, 2008

music i like, pt. 1

So one thing I'd like to do with this blog is express my views various expressions of art such as music, movies, books, etc. in order to inform my friends about stuff they should be exposing themselves to and also to demonstrate my superior indie/artsy-ness by discussing cool, obscure bands and movies and books that make me seem smart. OK not really, but I do like talking about this kind of stuff - especially music - and I think that by discussing it, it will give me a greater appreciation for it and also will allow me to receive feedback/suggestions for other stuff that might be similar to what I'm currently listening to. So if you have cool stuff, holla at me and let me know, and then I'll be the judge of whether its really cool or not. :)

[Speaking of cool stuff, that new Kanye joint "Love Lockdown" is really good. The dude's crazy and I'm really disappointed by the way he represents his "Christian faith", but the man knows how to make music and "Love Lockdown" is a jam. Its completely different from his usual stuff and it feels different from what other people are doing too, and I resepect that. It just straight up catchy and that African drum beat that comes in and out is awesome. Check it out.]

So the band I wanted to start this thing off with is House of Heroes. They just released their second album, entitled The End is Not the End. Now, I don't own this one, (i'm on a strict music diet currently - its called the "No CDs until you have a job" plan, but i do have their first one Say No More). Anyway, I like them because they are different. When I listed to their stuff, they do things that are not the normal. You expect songs to follow a certain pattern, and these guys seem to bust that pattern and do something 2x sweeter. Take for example their first single off of The End is Not the End, "In The Valley of the Dying Son", this song goes all over the place from catchy pop-rock, to trippy electronica, to bumping dance beat, to space opera, to rock your socks off.

In The Valley Of The Dying Sun from gotee on Vimeo.

Another song of theirs to check out is "Buckets for Bullet Wounds". Its on their MySpace site and its off their first CD. I love the change in tempos and homeboy has a killer voice - that scream after the bridge is sick!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

barackin' the suburbs

A lot has happened since my last post on Halloween, and while I've wanted to blog about certain events not having Internet access in your home makes things difficult. We're still figuring what we want to do as far as internet goes - its just all so expensive!

Anyway, I currently have a glimmer of wireless action from an unknown, but much appreciated neighbor (thanks lewis, whoever you are) and so I will use it to my advantage and spout off about a few things.

Halloween night was awesome. We attended the Avett Brothers concert at the War Memorial Auditorium in Greensboro. It was definitely one of the most fun shows I've ever been too. The Avetts just seem to know how to have a good time and their blend of pop-rock-bluegrass is just so catchy and "sing-along-able". The energy and passion with which they hammer their banjoes and guitars and scream at the top of their lungs, is unreal and one can't help but tap toes and nod heads. The fact that it was Halloween probably made it all the more crazy, and there was much alcohol consumed by the fine folks around us, but the audience was so into it and most people there seemed to know almost every word and they sang along as loud as they could. The Avett Brothers are one of those bands, much like Mute Math, that even if you don't know or even like their music you are going to come away from their performances amazed and a fan. It was great and I can't wait for them to pass through again. . .

And on to the election. . .

Its been a crazy week, since November 4 when Barack Obama was elected the next president. I mean I think in the back of my mind I knew that this was going to happen (McCain gave it a great effort, I think he just had too much to overcom) but I don't think I really knew what to expect when it did. It was pretty surreal watching him give his speech in front of thousands of people in Grant Park.

[side note: I was at a similar rally in Grant Park several years ago after the Chicago Bulls won one of their hundreds of championships, and watched Dennis Rodman, Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Phil Jackson and the rest of the Bulls stand on a stage from about 3 miles away - there was A LOT of people there. It was cool and I really don't remember much, and I despite growing up just outside of Chicago never really liked the Micahel Jordan-led Bulls, so it wasn't that big of a deal. Its just cool to say all that because when Obama had his rally, i could say "been there done that" like I'm special or something.]

Anyway, I wasn't as pumped about Obama winning nor was I down about it as a lot of people were. I did vote for the man, and the feat he accomplished is incredible and it's cool to say that I saw it happened and I'm definitely glad he won. I'm also excited to see what the next for years will bring, but I try not to get too carried away with all this stuff. At the end of the day, I'm just going to be me. I'm going to do my thing and live my life, and I know that my hope and salvation does not rest in a young African-American man from Chicago - nor does it rest in an old, 70-something year old white guy from Arizona for that matter. God is going to do with our leader and this country what He sees fit and I'm going to trust in Him and be okay with that.

I watched the election unfold first at Jerry Crain's apartment and then later (after the crushing of the Republican party began) at Clayton and Kristen's and one of things we did was to keep an eye on our friends' facebook profiles. Watching the statuses changes as history was being made was at times humourous, uplifting, but most of the time appaling and depressing. People I know and respect and feel safe calling a brother or sister in Christ said things about Obama that were straight up shocking, and truthfully made me question where there faith lies. Is it in Jesus Christ? or in the US government? It makes no sense to me why people get so caught up in this stuff. Government is not going to change the course of this country and it sure as heck is not going to change the hearts of people. Regardless of who's in charge of this country, the church has a lot of work to do, because its the church and Jesus Christ that are the ones will truly bring change and hope to the people of this country and the world.