Friday, 30 June 2006

‘Me Too’ Conversations

Some additional thoughts on Susan Mernit’s session on the web and sexuality at Gnomedex — I think that having what I would call naked and unashamed conversations (to modify a phrase) about sex in blogs, etc. is a really compelling way to provoke ourselves into talking about important stuff in our face to face relationships.

There are so many instincts that tell us to not talk about anything that may leave us exposed and venerable — and yet, when we do that, especially in an online context, so many cool things happen (in my experience anyway).

Whether it’s discussing frank and aggressive sex in the context of marriage or talking through the ups and downs of your relationships or working through depression — whenever I take the figleaf away for a moment (or my beautiful wife does), people come out of the woodwork to say the same thing, over and over —

Me too.

Two powerful little words that aren’t technology words — no Web 2.0 — no huge business plan to take over the world (or save it).

Two words that are just, well, human — and really powerful.

She Wants to Know…

Related to the previous post about ‘Sex at Gnomedex‘ — also just noticed that I’d never reposted the poem I wrote to propose to Jen after switching over to a blog format. Here is is — rigns as true today as it did when I penned it in 2001.

She Want’s to Know…
by Bryan Zug

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again — then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.

– – –

this has always been here
     though we are just now uncovering it

this has always been here
     though we are just now discovering it

– – –

she has just asked me
how i know
that she is the one

and there is so much to say about the past and the future and the moment unfolding before us — sitting across a table eating Saturday morning eggs at the breakfast pub on 45th and Stone

she wants to know
the method of my surety —
     how I have discerned
     its measure is not madness

and my answer is simply this —
i know because i have chosen.

     chosen to dive for these pearls
     chosen to dig for this treasure
     chosen to love her first
     and last
     and among
     all that lies in this middle

and make no mistake
there is much that lies in this middle —
     split tongue undertones
     of compatibilities?
     too soons?
     and happily ever afters?

i will push these half-truths into full light
and say plainly —

     we are not compatible —
     we are wicked
     and only by Grace made able

     we are not going to live “happily” ever after —
     we will be nourished by Joy,
     through famine into laughter

     we will be blessed in restful wrest —
     a marriage bed of ordered mess

i have seen Salvation
i know what Covenant looks like
i testify on the sapphire foundation of Surety —
     i love because He first loved me

– – –

this has always been here
     though we are just now uncovering it

this has always been here
     though we are just now discovering it

– – –

“Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.

“O afflicted city, lashed by storms and not comforted, I will build you with stones of turquoise, your foundations with sapphires. I will make your battlements of rubies, your gates of sparkling jewels, and all your walls of precious stones.”

Sex at Gnomedex (the luxurious use of the F-Bomb in church)

Am looking forward to participating in Susan Mernit’s ‘Sex & Longing & Web 2.0‘ session at Gnomedex today.

Hope to read th risqué and beautifully provocative poem ‘Hey You’ by Linford Detweiler of Over the Rhine that I posted to a publicly viewable church bulletin board back in 2001 — an action that played a part in the chain of events that I call ‘the wooing my beautiful wife Jen’.

Text is below — it’s got a luxurious use of F-bombs — you’ve been warned — now take a quick read while nobody’s looking.

Hey You
by Linford Detweiler

Fuck me, she says,
And it’s not an exclamation
It’s a plea

Fuck me feels different
In the marriage bed
It’s not like it’s forbidden

Fuck can be such a hateful word
But she’s in love
Trying on the name wife for size

Fuck me sort of suits her
She loves to laugh
And she wants something carefree and crude

Fuck me and all of a sudden it’s a playful prayer
We both still want to do something good for the world
We both believe in miracles

Fuck me and there are better words for it
We both know
But the way she says it makes you wonder

Fuck me please I’m soppy and smooth
The world is disappearing
And it’s not so much the please it’s the possibility:

It’s the possibility
That this life is going to break us into pieces
Knock us reeling and silly with painful joy

And the word fuck is suddenly a tiny praise chorus
A slap happy swing at a tipsy God
The joke’s on us

And this is our sweet redeemer
Looking down on a tangle of man and wife
A happily shipwrecked bed

It’s not like he hasn’t seen it before
But he’s even blessed a dirty word
Thank you Lord

. . .
copyright 2000, Linford Detweiler

Tuesday, 23 May 2006

Rudy Carrasco at Harambee Seattle

Nancy White’s visual note taking at Mind Camp 1 & 2 has inspired me to try on some new methods in taking notes.

In further efforts to exercise the creative part of my brain (I can never remember whether it’s right or left so I’m just calling it the creative side) — I’ve gotten ArtRage for my tablet PC and begun painting as note taking whenever I hear somebody speak.

ArtRage is a natural paint program with a very fun interface (from the same folks who did the Kai’s Power Goo and original Bryce and Poser interfaces, back in the day) — I open it and go — best $20 program I’ve ever bought.

Microsoft should pre-load it on all tablet PC’s and use it as a marketing tool to spark family creativity — my 3 year old loves it.

Anyway…

This Sunday at Harambee in south Seattle, I got the chance to hear Rudy Corrasco speak. Rudy is the executive director of Harambee Christian Family Center in Pasadena — very engaging talk — quite provocative in a gentle yet untamed sort of way.

Some of the sketch paintings I did are below – the first one is of Rudy, the others are on themes he provoked us with.

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rudy_02

rudy_03

rudy_04

rudy_05

Sunday, 16 April 2006

Saw ‘The Laramie Project‘ on Friday night via Comcast on demand. Glad I did…

The Laramie Project DVD

It’s a great film documenting Laramie, Wyoming’s conversation with itself and the rest of the world following Matthew Shepard’s murder. The gist of it from an IMDB commenter is —

“The Laramie Project” is a film version of the play of the same name, culled from interviews with real residents of the town of Laramie, Wyoming in the wake of the horrific murder of Matthew Shepard. There are a lot of famous faces on hand (Steve Buscemi, Christina Ricci, Peter Fonda, Janeane Garofalo, Joshua Jackson, and many others), but the film’s power comes from its story, not its stars.

Presented with the voices of Laramie – and ultimately, of America…

Film did not seem contrived to me — which something like this could so easily be.

Best scenes were —

  • A parade that grows with informal people from the town walking together in Matthew’s memory
  • Confronting angry “fags are going to hell” protesters by dressing up as angels and standing between them and media — very moving piece of folk art that transmogrifies into high art
  • The realization by the cop (and her family) who cut Matthew from the fence post that she’s been exposed to AIDS — her description of forgetting protocol in the immediacy of the moment that she saw Matthew is unforgettable
  • The student (not gay) who’s parents would not watch him do a scholarship competition scene of a gay character from the play “Angel’s in America” but had no problem with his portrayal of a murderer in “Macbeth”.

Journaling films, music, etc. that I dip into

I’m thinking that I may try to journal some of the art I spend time with here on the personal blog — film, music, etc.

Was struck by how little I note the art that impacts me to me as I browsed our South Rainier in Renton Blockbuster yesterday and saw a copy of “Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus” on the shelf.

Saw this one last August at the Northwest Film Forum with my friends the Schlemlein’s — It’s a great film that I did not expect to see in my neighborhood video store (where 50¢ dominates more often than not).

My tendency is to not start things like this unless I can be exhaustive and capture everything in particular detail — which I never really get around to doing — ergo no journal along those lines so far.

So, I am hereby throwing the “exhaustive” aspect out the window — saw some films on DVD this weekend while Jen and the kids are out of town — 3 films that were particularly moving — will note them shortly.

Flickr’d up this photo of the ‘SFTWEJ’ DVD cover via shozu on the mobile phone while I was in the store — man that is a cool program.

Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus

Thursday, 16 March 2006

Sorry but I have to leave to meet my man (and his name is Tony Soprano)

I was at dinner with business friends last night. It is a new adventure and we are getting to know each other. What a great time — personal stories — industry stories — personal industry stories — what a fun night.

About 8 pm somebody mentions that they have to be home by 9, and, secretly, I wonder if they need to be home by 9 for the same reason I need to be home by 9.

Someone else (who is not me because I’m trying to be discreet) asks, “Why 9?”

Sopranos.

Yes! I am not the only one (oh, how that question drives so many of our internal conversations and decisions) — someone else is having the same affair that I am.

There is a nod of unspoken understanding by half the table as it dawns on us there are quite a few of us having the same affair.

Half the table was traveling when last Sunday’s series premier aired and have been anticipating the rerun like INSERT_FAVORITE_LONGING_METAPHOR_HERE.

The other half has seen it and is itching to talk about it. (They agree to keep mum until the AM — minimal extortion is involved).

In the course of the conversation I mention that I lead film forums on the Sopranos and have a handout that I’ve used in the past. I promise to make it available and so here it is — my Sopranos Film and Culture Handout — haven’t updated it in a couple of years (kids you know), but still use it regularly.

Enjoy.

Saturday, 4 March 2006

Jesus? Yeah, big fan

So many cool words have been trashed by idiots.

As someone who has followed Jesus for 25+ years, I hardly have anything to call myself that doesn’t evoke warranted cringes from colleagues and peers or sound like a politically correct lame duck phrase (‘Christ follower’ ?? whatever).

Yes, I am a Christian, but not in the vein of Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson — not at all — those guys drive me nuts (so much so that I wish I could cut them out of my spiritual family entirely, but I can’t – which is another post for another day).

The Christianity I identify with has a different set of heroes from the last century — folks like G.K. Chesterton, C.S. Lewis, Tolkien, Mother Teresa, MLK.

And yet, saying to people outside of my spiritual community that I am a ‘Christian’ evokes more of the former and less of the latter — so much so that I’ve been looking for a better way to describe myself in the various communities I inhabit.

(I suppose you could say I’m looking for a more authentic brand, if you’d rather get facetious about it).

I came across an interview with Bono a while ago that began to hit the nail on the head for me. In it he says —

The most powerful idea that’s entered the world in the last few thousand years — the idea of grace — is the reason I would like to be a Christian.

Though, as I said to The Edge one day, I sometimes feel more like a fan, rather than actually in the band. I can’t live up to it. But the reason I would like to is the idea of grace. It’s really powerful.

I like that idea — ‘fan of Jesus’ as Bono describes it there — it’s got a large helping of humility in it, something that seems to be lost in many of our cross tribal conversations of late.

So, I think I’ll use that phrase for a while — and when I do, know that by it I mean I follow Jesus in a robust inkling Mere Christianity sort of way.

Saturday, 25 February 2006

Dear Elena

I read a lot of tech related blogs and am constantly struck by how they put the interpersonal back into communication.

One of my favorites is Kathy Sierra’s Creating Passionate Users blog. She’s got a knack for being devilishly subversive for the greater good in a way that always grabs my attention.

Yesterday Kathy posted about her friend and colleague Dan Steinberg who had to cancel a trip to Boulder this week to collaborate with her on a project because his daughter Elena had suddenly died.

What a stomach punch.

As I read Kathy’s post, there was something about her description of Dan as a devoted dad that went beyond cliché (and as a dad myself, struck a chord with me). It was one of those descriptions that will cause you to follow a link to the blog of someone you don’t know and thereby wander into special places.

What is it about us as humans that causes us to seek connection like that? What is it that makes us walk into places despite knowing much of how the sad stories will end?

So I followed a link to Dear Elena, the blog Dan started the day after is daughter died, and therein found a deep connection with someone I will likely never meet.

He’s posted several times in the last few days with vignette’s that will make you pull those around you close, look them in the eye, and tell them what beautiful people they are.

I especially like the note about Will the Trash Man. It’s one of those stories that makes me aspire to being more generous to the people I run into everyday — instead of keeping my nose burrowed in my ‘important’ tasks and agendas.

– – –

Late in the day yesterday, Jen emailed me at work with an idea – “Let’s take Ruthie on a date to see Curious George when you get home from work”.

Reply >> “Yes, let’s do that.” >> Send

Tuesday, 21 February 2006

‘What the Fi?!?!’ at Portland’s Kennedy School

Jen and I went to the Kennedy School in Portland for our now annual President’s Day weekend away. It’s the only time in the year we manage to get out sans kids – and, despite loving our zuglets immeasurably, we had a blast.

This is Where we stayed in North Portland

For those of you unfamiliar with the Kennedy School, it’s a bed and breakfast that’s part of the McMenamin’s family of pub’s and lodgings.

They bought out a circa 1930’s elementary school and turned the whole thing into a bed and breakfast replete with restaurant, hot mineral pool, couch & end table furnished movie theater (with no commercials or trailers! — complimentary when you stay there), endless hallways of original art, and free wifi!

What more can a geek couple ask for!

(And yes, it is definitive now, Jen is a _total_ geek – despite all protests to the contrary – see the post on her ‘You got WiFi?’ inquiry with the uber-tatt’d Kennedy School night desk clerks if you think I’m exaggerating).

Free WIFI

– – –

I first visited the Kennedy school nearly five years ago to the day (late February 2001) while in Portland to hang out with my friend Don.

At the time, Don was a struggling writer who I’d struck up a friendship with online (how we met is a _very_ funny story I will jot down sometime, hopefully soon – no promises – keepin’ it loose here – trying hard not to over promise and under deliver).

Anyway, Don was making like $2 a year as a writer and eating a lot of tuna. He’d had one book published that, though very good, was on the fast track to out of print.

I, in contrast, was still riding an absurd up tic on the pendulum-swing-O’life (funny how they come and go, eh?)

This swing had me commuting to Bermuda twice a quarter for three week stints doing web design on an insurance company web app (really, you can’t make shit like this up, it’d be rejected outright by the script screener as too ridiculous).

That phat assignment combined with the fact that I’d begun making my move on the very-hot-out-of-my-league-Mars-Hill-pastoral-admin-named-deacon-Jen had me in a mood to spread the love before it went ephemeral on me – if you know what I mean.

IMG_1603

I had a another friend from Mars Hill at the time named Karl who was an aspiring writer. He was a very funny gent who wrote the announcements for the church and had a knack for side-splitting observationalist prose.

As a guy who decided a long time ago that encouraging folks to develop their creativity within the context of community was an important use of my time, I figured I would take Karl along with me on a trip to Portland to visit Don.

Turned out to be a great weekend — one of the highlights of which included Don introducing us to the Kennedy School over lunch.

That trip to Portland was also my first introduction to Powell’s bookstore – a place that, from the moment I walked through the door, was (and continues to be) – magical.

Romantic anecdote (about the girl, not Don or Karl) —

I still remember going outside Powell’s north west entrance while Don was paying for some books and making a phone call to a certain deacon-admin-hottie asking her for our first date (chronologically anyway) – funny how things come full circle, isn’t it?

And yeah, this photo is of me in front of that same entrance to Powell’s — 5 years, two kids, and many adventures later — snapped by the hottie herself.

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