Monthly Archives: October 2015

Box of Books part 1

I uncovered a box of books that had been covered up since we moved a couple summers ago.  It was a treasure trove.  Here’s part of what it contained.


I bought this book in the bargain bin at the k state union my freshman year. I was taken with it enough that I hung on to it for 30 years. As a kid I loved the Gong Show for its pure bizarreness and because of Chuck Barris. I loved this book for the same reason–Barris as CIA hit man! In 2002 Clooney made a film of the book. I’ve never seen it.


The book’s pretty good, but this cover is amazing.


Asimov was another of my favorites back in the day. I’ve read most of his science fiction, but the foundation books were my favorite. In fact, after talking a break from reading during my first three years of high school, it was the first foundation book that brought me back. For some reason I picked up a new paperback reprint of the first book during my senior year, read it, liked it, and read the rest. It’s fun to find a write you like and then tear through all their stuff you can find. I’ve cleared out the rest, but I’m keeping the foundation.


Vonnegut is obviously one of my favorites. I got to hear him speak at KU back in the day. His are a couple of the few books I’ve read more than once. I need to revive my tradition of reading one of his books on our birthday. Yeah, Vonnegut and I share a birthday. No big deal.


More to come . . .

Plainview #31

It’s almost Christmas vacation 10 years or so ago, and you can hear the weariness in our voices.  Too much Christmas! Too much buying.  Too much drama class. Too much Santa Clause!  But you know what you can never have too much of? Donald Duck voice!  Merry Christmas everyone.

Aqua Velva Granddad

I tried to mashup a couple facebook posts my cousin and I traded after a meetup a couple months ago. I thought it could be cut into a sort of conversation poem. The beginning sounds to me like we’re gearing up to sing a duet on a 70’s variety show.  But I like where it ends up.

So good to see cousin Kari and her kids last night. Summers spent with her and her brother Brandin at Granddad Sears’s place in the southeast Kansas boonies are highlights of my childhood memories.

Matt, you nailed it.  I’ve tried to express what was special about that place, and this is it exactly.  It was not just the place but the people, and not just the people but also the place.

In hindsight, those nights spent in the tent or lean-to, my cousins, my brother, and me, with the coyotes roaming around us, or at least across the road, were some of my first experiences with a world bigger than Dickinson County, Kansas.

For this metropolitan cousin it was a wonderland, and my cousins were different from us, but also so much the same.

Stories from my cousins of a Seattle school with hundreds and hundreds of students.

The coyotes, the TV antenna.

This game soccer, which was played competitively for a whole season, not just a few days in P.E.

The inevitable ticks that just weren’t a big deal,

the horse,

the dogs,

the trenches.

Their dad, my uncle, the Vulcan who took his face off at night.

Sending grasshoppers into space on bottle rockets (“First grasshopper in space!!!”)

We’d while away the night figuring out what the first though third base really equated to on a date. (This long before I had ever rounded first.)

The cantaloupes!

the “rockety road.”

And the horrible, long and pointless jokes whose punch lines became as funny (to us) alone as they did attached to the jokes.

The fishing pond,

the Aqua Velva granddad.

Highlights of my childhood memories.

Not just the place but the people, and not just the people but also the place.


Four-dollar Royals!

From the summer of 1987.  I was living in Merriam, splitting wood for a living. Eventually I would work as a groundsman for the same company. It was a good summer. A couple interesting things here. One, that I played 18 holes of golf.  That may have been the last time that happened. Second, $4 for a Royals game.  This, 2 years after they won the World Series.  Sheesh.

Dear Family Sears,

How are things back at the ranch. Things here are pretty good.  I went golfing the day I got your package (Monday). (Tim and I started work at 6 AM so we didn’t miss out on any work.) Anyway, I lost about all the balls that you sent (I didn’t use the floater.) The course was called Dub’s Dread. Miserable.  The longest hardest course in KC. Really. We played 18 holes.  That is Tim, Jerry, Ron–co-owner of Shawnee Mission Tree, and I. The water is what killed me.  But I’m getting better. Jerry and I beat Tim and Ron for $7 a piece.  Best ball. I won 2 holes–they gave me a stroke a hole.  I don’t know what my final score was, probably about 120. But I figure $7 should buy a bag of old golf balls somewhere. I need quantity, not quality.  We also went to a Royals game–their first against–I forgot who they played–but it was fun ($4 total). And Tim and I have hit some used book stores.  I’ve spent a few bucks–not much. I’m keeping track of most of what I send [spend?] and get. The work isn’t’ too bad.  We get about 3 cords a day done. So you can pretty much figure our gross for the summer. The work tends to be boring, but we get paid in cash every couple of days which is a little inventive. What is dad’s schedule Tuesday?  Will he be by here? When? is the whole family coming up? What’s the deal? Let me know. See ya later.



Bible Times

Here are a couple of paragraphs that got cut from the communion message I posted last week.  At one point I thought I was going to write about the Prodigal Son, a story that our pastor has been preaching on for the last few weeks. Early on in the writing I changed direction, which resulted in these two paragraphs being cut.  I’d like to revisit this bible-times version of myself sometime. I’ve always wanted a wife who carries water on her head. (My mental image of bible-times will always be the Sunday school felt-board people and their accouterments.)


The gospels are full of stories that Jesus told in an attempt to explain what god is like, and what the kingdom of god is like, and even I think, how we are supposed to be.  Some of these stories, like the one Matthew’s been preaching about, we love.  They are our favorite parts of the bible. We get them. They’re the ones that if someone said, “What’s so great about Jesus?” we could answer by retelling one of these stories.

On the other hand, there are those stories that make us make that face and shrug. Sometimes I read the bible like I’m there where the action is going on, and then my mind wanders and begins to fill in the blanks.  And I find myself walking into my little adobe type bible house, made of mud or something with the ceiling beams sticking out the front and back, and my bible wife, in a robe of course, with maybe a big jug of water on her head, says, “What did Jesus talk about today, hon?” And I shrug and say, “I don’t know, something about if you know you’re going to be fired, you should give away all your boss’s stuff or something.” I pause to pop a couple olives in my mouth. “It was no Prodigal Son story, I can tell you that.”

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Even though I’ve neglected my blog for the past month, it’s nice to get positive comments.  Like this one which comes from some spam-bot which certainly hasn’t read anything on the blog.  But still, it’s good to get an encouraging word.



Two puppies

My favorite line from this letter when discussing grades for the semester: “The important thing is that there’s only a week left.” Clearly good grades and my education was at the top of my priority list.

The acting class that I miraculously got a B in was taught by the same professor who taught Modern Family’s Eric Stonestreet. I’ve been waiting for my sitcom for a while now.

Maurice Henry, mentioned below, was a Kansas State football player and my lab partner in P-World (Physical World), also mentioned below. Inspired to by this letter, I looked him up and found this recent article.

May, 1987


Yo what’s up. This time next Monday I’ll be all done. It’ll probably take a couple of days to get all packed up and unwound and stuff.  I had my acting final tonight. It consisted of going to a party for an hour in character–the character I did for my monologue (George from Some Time Next Year). It was pretty fun. I stayed a little later and shot the bull with some of the people in the class. There’s some cool people in there. I have a P-World test (Ooooo) tomorrow and the final Saturday. The library final (Ooooo) will be Thursday. Those two classes should be A’s. P-World lab will probably be an A- not sure. The music final and Am. Novel finals are both on Monday. Those could both go either A or B. Acting will probably be a B. That gives me a range of 3.3 to 3.8. The important thing is that there’s only a week left. I went to the Ballards sale this week-end. I spend $25. I got a Mickey Mouse T-shirt for $1. I got a Old Mill Beach Club for $6. And a pair of Chuck Taylors for $15. I guess that adds up to $22. Oh well.

I hope you (Mike) had a good time at the prom.  I want you to know that we are really interested in having you in the house next fall.  I think it would be great. It was fun to watch you do so well at the track meet.

G & D & R & I went tot he Alumni/Varsity football game Sat. It was a pretty good relaxing time. We got rained out the second half and left. We saw AM — she made Var. Cheerleader. I also saw Maurice Henry–he was sitting in the stands cuz he’s wounded–I was going to ask him for his autograph but didn’t get a chance.  We also had a lil’ sis picnic this week-end out at Tuttle. This was Friday afternoon and evening. That was pretty fun. Oh yeah, two guys in the house each bought a black lab puppy. They’re great. Only thing twice as cool as a puppy is two puppies. They went to the picnic at the lake and had a ball. Well, guess I’ll see you in about a week and a half.  Ta ta.



Plainview #30

Next on Big Guns and Scary Melons:

Snow Day! So lets talk about slightly racist Dr. Seuss and Memories of Murder. And MaryEllen throws down the gauntlet for Christian supporters of the death penalty.  This 10-year challenge has not yet been met!  Then listen closely at the end where you’ll hear Mare call me brilliant.

Treadmill Films 73-81




Blue Ruin. If you ever forget what it is that violence begets, this will remind you. Sometimes it’s too late. Sometimes, hope. Great film.

Hot Fuzz. Hilarious, disgusting, fun, satisfying flick. Action-packed, adrenaline-fueled thrill ride? I think so. Aaaaaaaa! Bang bang bang!

Undefeated. Great football doc. about relationships and people struggling to do the right thing and sometimes failing, sometimes succeeding.

The Station Agent. I totally get it. People can be such an intrusion and a bother. I like a reminder that they’re also the reason we’re here.

Stories We Tell. Intriguing & surprising. Much to ponder: the effect our lives have, how well can we know each other, & love despite it all.

This is Spinal Tap. Yes, I watched it again. And again and again. This free form jazz odyssey of a film goes to 11! Talk about mud flaps!

Marina Abramović: The Artist Is Present. Early on I rolled my eyes at her work. Before it was over I found myself moved and sort of a fan.

The Impostor. If Hitchcock directed a documentary. I enjoy being led down the primrose path then clubbed from behind. Or was I? Or did they?

Food, Inc. Loved the happy farmer. Now I need to find a local pork and poultry source. Oh, and #Monsanto seems like a butthole of a company.

The Lord’s Table

The communion message I shared last week.

If you come to Adrian Christian Church on a regular basis, you’ve maybe noticed that the person up here talking about communion will say something about open communion, and I think that probably means something different to each of us. But mostly we say it because we want to put our guests at ease and let you know that you’re welcome to join us. At another church I used to attend, to let everyone know they were welcome, the officiant would say, “It’s the Lord’s table, not ours.” You may have noticed that I’ve borrowed that.

I wanted to talk a bit about what that means, “It’s the Lord’s table, not ours.” What kind of person is this lord? What kind of table does he keep? Who eats there?

We know about who is at the Lord’s table by who Jesus actually ate and drank with. He was famous, or infamous I guess, for the company he kept. He ate and drank with those you weren’t to spend time with–notorious sinners and tax collectors the bible says. Imagine someone who sins so much or so well that they are known as a notorious sinner. People called him a drunk and a glutton for spending time with these people. He sat out at the well drinking water with a woman so bad, besides being a Samaritan, that when his disciples showed up, they asked him what in the world he was doing. And one point his family goes to fetch him from someone’s house because he’s become such an embarrassment.

Even when he was just sitting down with his disciples, who was welcome at his table then? At least one tax collector, a bunch of fishermen, maybe one man who spent some time working for violent overthrow of Rome, and we don’t know what the rest did. No one here from the upper crust. And on the last night he spent time with them, here’s what he didn’t say. “Peter, you’re going to deny me three times, so we’re not friends anymore.” And after telling Judas that he knows that he will betray Jesus, he passes the bread and wine to all of them and says, “Eat, drink, all of you.” He doesn’t say, “Not you Judas, you’re not part of this any more.”

He wasn’t choosy about who he spent time with. Or perhaps he was. We don’t have any stories, I don’t think, of him telling the powerful and respected that he would be “coming to their house today.”

So, when I say, it’s not our table, but the lord’s, I just want to be clear, I don’t mean, go clean your life up, learn some bible, try to be respectable, and then come back. I mean, whatever kind of sinner or outcast or low-class embarrassment you might be; whatever rotten things you’ve said, or thought, or done to Jesus or those like him; as long as you’re willing to sit down with the rest of us, broken and messed up as we are, there is a place for you.