Saturday, February 26, 2005


My all-time favorite cop show

In 1994, I spent the summer working for Revenue Canada in Ottawa. While there, I lived in a 4-bedroom apartment on the U of Ottawa campus. It was there I first discovered NYPD Blue.

I had read a lot about this show prior to seeing it. In 1993, it was hugely controversial, peppering its dialogue with what, at the time, were considered high-intensity curse words seldom, if ever, heard on TV. There was also talk of nudity and very mature storylines. If the show had tried to get by on shock value alone, it might have lasted a season, but there was more to it.

Oh, so much more.

During the past 12 seasons, the show (written by a variety of people, but primarily Steven Bochco, the creator of the great Hill Street Blues) has remained challenging, with tough cases as the main storyline, but fantastic characters as its foundation. Dennis Franz is the staple of the show as Andy Sipowicz, a character who it was impossible to like at the start, but you couldn't help but root for him as the series evolved. So many great moments, just in the first 6 seasons (solving the Bucci child abduction, his stormy courtship of Sylvia, transitioning from partnering with John Kelly to Bobby Simone, the never-ending race-based battles with Lt. Fancy) made him one of the best-defined characters on TV.

Then you have all the other great characters: David Caruso as John Kelly (possibly my favorite TV character of all time), Gordon Clapp as Greg Medavoy (the only other character to make it through the entire run of the show) and so many others. I have picked up the first two seasons of the show on DVD and will pick up the rest as they come out.

In honor of the show, here's a trivia quiz. I even have a prize for the first person to get all the questions right:

1) Name the actors who played the following roles:

Det. James Martinez
Lt. Arthur Fancy
Det. Janice Licalsi
Det. Diane Russell
ADA Laura Michaels-Kelly

2) Which cast member of The West Wing had a brief recurring role as a reporter in Season 1 of NYPD Blue and how did the 15th Precinct make him back off a story?

3) Which cast member of Friends had a brief recurring role on NYPD Blue and what happened to the character?

4) Who were the two PAA's employed by the 15th Precinct during the show.

5) Debra Messing of Will and Grace got her start in what short-term role on NYPD Blue?

6) Melina Kanakaredes of CSI:NY got her start in what short-term role on NYPD Blue?

7) List (in order) the characters and actors who worked as the Lieutenant on NYPD Blue.

8) List (in order) Andy's partners (character name and actor) on NYPD Blue

9) Daniel Benzali had a brief role as Teddy Hoffman on NYPD Blue. What show did that character spin off to?

and finally....

10) List ALL of Andy's wives (character and actor) and all of Andy's kids (character and actor). Hint, there are THREE of each.

Good luck. Contest closes Monday at midnight.

Friday, February 25, 2005


Gonna go all over the map here

For starters, if you get a chance, send up a quick prayer for me at 10:45 this morning, as I join the ranks of the sterilized.

Second prayer request is for a friend of mine. Last year, her father passed away after a series of illnesses. Shortly after that, she reacted badly to medication she was taking for migraines and lost more than 50 pounds, as she could not keep anything down. Finally, after getting that back under control and reaching a point where she felt ready to return to work, her mother suffered a major stroke the day she was supposed to return. She's now taking the summer off and I really believe that she just needs to feel God's peace during a very challenging life season.

Next up, Al posted a very thought-provoking piece on how the modern/post-modern church is evolving. You can read it here.

Next, the only awards show I ever watch is on this Sunday. The Oscars has always had a special place in my heart (especially given my love of movies). I am a big music buff, too, but the Grammys never get my attention. For some reason, the Oscars do. I always read up on the events (I haven't seen all the Best Picture nominees ahead of the presentation in at least 10 years), so I like to think I have a good handle on handicapping the race. Anyhoo, here's a fast 'n' furious analysis and set of predictions for Sunday:

Best Picture: If you believe the critics, it should be Sideways. However, Million Dollar Baby is building up strong momentum. Ray and Finding Neverland seem to be distant contenders, more likely to compete in the lower categories while The Aviator looks to be the victim of some backlash and bad buzz.

Best Actor: Nearly everyone is choosing Jamie Foxx for his role as Ray Charles while at the same time lamenting the fact that Paul Giamatti was not even nominated for Sideways. The consensus seems to be that Don Cheadle, Johnny Depp and Leonardo DiCaprio are afterthoughts in this category and only Clint Eastwood can knock Foxx off the top of the mountain.

Best Actress: Starting to sound like a Million Dollar Baby sweep, as Hilary Swank is apparently leading the pack. Annette Bening is very much in the running, as is Imelda Staunton. Catalina Sandino Moreno is the "just glad to be nominated" candidate and Kate Winslet is the dark horse.

Best Director: Truly a two-horse race between two candidates deserving not only for the movies for which they are nominated, but also for their body of work. Martin Scorsese and Clint Eastwood are the long favorites, although Alexander Payne could sneak in for his work on Sideways. Taylor Hackford and Mike Leigh have no chance.

So there's the major categories. Here's my picks (a complete list of nominees can be found here):

Animated Film: The Incredibles
Sound Editing: Spider Man 2
Sound: Ray
Makeup: Passion of the Christ
Original Song: "Believe" (Polar Express)
Score: Finding Neverland
Costume: Lemony Snicket
Art Direction: Aviator
Editing: Million Dollar Baby
Cinematography: Aviator
Adapted Screenplay: Sideways
Original Screenplay: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Director: Martin Scorsese (Aviator)
Supporting Actress: Virginia Madsen (Sideways)
Supporting Actor: Morgan Freeman (Million Dollar Baby)
Actress: Annette Bening (Being Julia)
Actor: Jamie Foxx (Ray)
Picture: Million Dollar Baby

There you go.

See you in a few days (when the pain's gone away.)

Thursday, February 24, 2005


Quick thought on AI and 24

Watched both last night and have the following to say:

Lost a final 8 candidate last night (Melinda), but I don't feel too bad because I just put her in there to balance. The other three girls I have selected are miles above the competiton, but Mikalah better smarten up and I now think that Carrie is a top 8 lock.

Absolutely HORRIBLE way to send Judd packing. I think Seacrest is having a little too much fun eliminating contenders. If I'm Judd, I just walk off the stage.

Christine and I were discussing why the eliminated contenders are made to sing one more time. Christine thinks it's unfair, I think it's teaching these kids how to deal with rejection and failure and to keep focused on the goal. Any thoughts out there?

Another placeholder of sorts for 24 this week, as Tony returns to CTU, Erin is feeling pushed aside and we get rid of two key bad guys, as the mole and Daddy Dearest get wiped out. Curious to see how Audrey's hubby and the bald bearded guy fit into things over the next two weeks.

More later.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005


More TV That I like

Hello, my name is Brian. I am an American Idol addict.

Christine and I started watching AI in they Clay/Ruben year (we both were rooting for Clay). Didn't follow it too much last year, although the guy who did the "Like A Virgin" audition is still burned into my brain (unfortunately).

There's something about AI that I like, an honesty to it. It's such a simple premise: sing for a contract, but it's really PERFORM for a contract. The best performer should be the one who wins. There's a few I already like this year and many of the ones I thought were exceptional are still around in the top 24, a complete list of which can be reviewed here. I have a feeling that the American Idol this year will be a male, as the guys who are good are very, very good.

So, here's a bold prediction for the final 8: Anwar, Constantine, Anthony and David for the guys. Nadia, Melinda, Mikalah and Vonzell for the girls. When we hit the final 8, we'll see how I did and I'll do up a final 4 prediction. Maybe I'll have a future handicapping reality shows (HA!)

Hmm, other stuff......

CSI:Miami has really stepped it up the last two weeks. The opening last week, with a girl being killed by a huge python was pretty nifty. They also dipped into identity theft, which was cool. However, a pair of contrived endings sorta wrecked it. I'll forgive them, though, as the show has really gotten back on stride during sweeps. However, I ask again....WHAT is going on with Vegas? Catherine's getting really rhymes-with-witchy, Ecklie's getting way too much screen time and I don't even know who works where anymore. Plus last week's storyline with the adult baby stuff was two steps beyond way too weird. Makes last year's episode about people dressing in critter costumes seem well-adjusted. Jury's still out on CSI:NY, but it's winning me over slowly. The Tanglewood ep two weeks ago was great and last week's was pretty good too (although I won't be buying second-hand anytime soon).

I finally broke down and got hold of season one of The Sopranos last week. I can't afford the $100/season price tag, but the Library carries it. It is probably up in the top 5 in terms of rawness (lots of language and pretty graphic violence), but MAN, is it addictive storytelling. I'm a sucker for cop/mob drama and The Sopranos is one of the best. If you don't like strong material, stay away. But, if you can see beyond the rawness to the story and characters, it's a pretty good story.

OK, enough TV. How about some REAL comedy:

I am probably going to take a long time to go back to watching the NHL when it comes back. The last two weeks have just been a total grandstand show that has probably wrecked any casual fan's desire to come back and may have even done some severe, if not irreparable, damage to their hardcore fanbase. After 6 months of nothing, everybody suddenly is willing to negotiate at the last minute. Then, the day after Bettman's cancellation announcement, here come Lemieux and Gretzky on their white horses to try and save the day. Where were they in September? I am disgusted with both sides in this tale (as I said to my sister and brother-in-law earlier today, Bettman and Goodenow could screw up a 2-car funeral) and I hope that the NHL dies (in its current incarnation) dies a slow, painful, public death. Then it can be resurrected as a 15- to 20-team league playing about a 60-game season and an 8-team playoff. I could live with that.

Finally, I was almost applauding last week over Wal-Mart's decision to close a store in Quebec. If ever a place needed to be unionized, it's Wal-Mart. I think that their decision to close a store in Quebec that wanted to unionize speaks volumes for how much they really care about their employees and customers. Wal-Mart has made its mark by undercutting everyone on price. However, they have done so much damage to the retail world in establishing their dominance. It's getting late and I need to sleep, so I won't be going into a long rant here, but I will someday. Suffice it to say this: I would put money on the possibility that Wal-Mart will be unionized by 2010 (both in the US and Canada) and they will be forced to compete on equal footing with both Target and Zellers.

OK. Gotta go. Need sleep.


Tuesday, February 15, 2005


....and here's where it ends

I really didn't want things to get adversarial, but now I understand why discussions around one's spirituality are often avoided at parties. Fact of the matter is, what we believe and our relationship with a higher diety (whether God, Buddha, Krishna, Allah, take your pick) is a deeply personal choice that goes a long way in defining who we are.

So I'm done. Suffice to say the following: I will try to make a visit to the Freeway cafe when it's done and I hope that Dave and I will meet face-to-face and we can encourage one another.

Al's right, too. Philpott is really wrestling with a number of issues, the biggest being how can we be relevant to the modern issues while not alienating "traditionalists" (I now actively hate that label). Our contemporary (early) service is a tremendous time of worship and I have really seen our church grow relationally since our study of The Purpose Driven Life. I have, in these discussions, really given short shrift to the hard work and effort Philpott's leadership and congregation have put into seeking God's plan for our church and trying to transform it so that we can continue to boldly proclaim God's message in the future.

But, and again, it's a big but, I have my beliefs and I think that the Bible makes things very cut and dried. We needed the sacrifice of Christ for today and for eternity. There's nothing more to it than that. I will worship first and foremost at the feet of Christ and look forward to the day where I am with Father, Son and Holy Spirit in glory. I believe that the Gospel must be boldly proclaimed in an unvarnished fashion with no fear. We must never adapt the Gospel to our lives, but rather change our lives to honor the Gospel.

Salvation first, all else second. THAT'S what I believe.

Blessings to all.

Sunday, February 13, 2005


Emergent (continued)

There has been some outstanding discussion on the blog about the Emergent (not to mention a coffee invite from Pernell that I hope to manage to work out soon). I have read, re-read and re-read again the comments from folks and I want to add my two cents to them:

First, Dallas.

"The 'emerging' church in many ways arose in reaction to what many see as the institutionalization of church. As a result the hermenutic (interpretation) of relationality is used to read scripture, to understand people, culture, God's activity in the hearts of people. What does that mean?"

Honestly, I'm not sure what the second sentence means. I totally agree with the first sentence. I think a lot of churches "over-structure" and it's easy to get lost in the "acts" of church and lose the meaning of church. I first began to go to Philpott (my home church) after attending a midnight Christmas Eve service with a buddy of mine at Ryerson United. We both went up and took communion that night. Afterwards, I was up most of the night wrestling with my decision to simply follow the crowd. I needed to understand more about communion and its significance. I also found within me a need to know more about God and his son, Jesus. This stemmed from the way I had seen my parents and my brother and sister transformed by Christ when they left the United Church and attended a more bible-based church like Philpott. Also, as far as "relationality" goes, I have met few people who can even approach, never mind surapss, my Dad's spiritual gifts in the area of relationships and meeting people on their own terms. Dad was always happy to meet those God put in his path, but he NEVER lost sight of the true purpose of why God put them in his path, which was to present the Gospel message of Jesus Christ to them, in accordance with the Great Commission ("Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always to the very end of the age" (Matthew 28:19-20)).

"....people will not be drawn to a church because it is on the corner of the street they live on but because they meet with people who are intentional about sharing a similar faith journey."

Couldn't agree more. My family began our spiritual journey at Delta United Church because it was close to home and we knew a few folks who attended there. Because my parents have strong servant hearts, they got involved almost immediately and quickly became key players. However, their hearts were eventually broken there and God directed them to a place where they couold experience deeper spiritual and emotional relationships not only with other people, but more importantly with God Himself. It was the opportunity to grow and learn with others who were experiencing the same challenges in life that I was that eventually brought me to Philpott after giving up on church after I moved out. When my family attended Philpott, we were part of a true church family. We looked after one another, witnessed to those who had not yet heard the Gospel message, shared our life experiences, argued, hugged, cried and laughed together. We have been through some very difficult periods personally and congregationally in the last 20 years since my family began attending Philpott, but we have all grown a great deal spiritually.

People should go to their neighborhood church first just to get exposed. It helps on a number of levels (knowing people from the 'hood, community involvement with your own community, etc.). However, as one's faith deepens, there is always a desire to learn more and, sometimes, there is a questioning of a church's spiritual methodology and/or leadership. That is God calling us to look elsewhere and, if we are sensitive to His leading, we will wind up somewhere with people who are of similar spiritual condition who we can grow with and of a deeper spiritual condition that we can learn from. A relationship with God is a continually learning and growing experience directed by God, as He leads us to people we can share with, learn from and teach to, allowing God's love and teaching to grow organically.

Here's where we diverge, Dallas. Your comments speak only to relationships (and Steve is on the same track). All relationships must grow and change over time. If they didn't, they would get pretty stale pretty fast. As those relationships grow and change, the bonds of trust get stronger and expectations for the relationship are much greater. Deep-seated differences will eventually come out and will impact the relationship. Personal theology is one of the greatest difference-makers there is. Say, for example, 5 people meet. 3 are musicians with no interest in sports and 2 are big into sports with a passing interest in music. Eventually, the musicians will grow closer through their common love of music and the sports folks will also grow closer through their sports interests. If nothing other than the fact that the place they met is in their neighborhood is holding them all together, they will eventually scatter.

Likewise, if 10 people meet and they all want to learn more about God, they will build a relationship. As they begin to study the Word, pray, and talk about God, certain spiritual differences will be brought to light. Eventually, 5 people in the group want to go deeper with their relationship with God, while the other 5 prefer to stay on the level they are at. The relationship between the 10 must change, as their ideas and interests diverge becaus they are no longer "sharing a similar faith journey". Like finds like. It always does.

I think the Emergent, like my church, like Jacob's church, is full of people striving to have a relationship with God. One of the great things about God and His son, Jesus, is that they turn nobody away. However, the other great thing about them is the THEY NEVER CHANGE. Read the Gospel of John. I believe that a strong church is one who:

Welcomes everyone
Encourages relationships with God first and others second
Stands on a bedrock, unshakeable set of beliefs (theology)

The last point stands in the way of "relationship". If you meet someone, you can very easily become an acquaintance. However, it can be extremely difficult to become a close friend when your personal foundations differ. It eventually sets a boundary on the friendship. The closest relationships are most often with the people most like you (similar beliefs, similar interests, similar lifestyles) and that, I think, is the limiting factor on the Emergent, as it, like almost every other church I know of, becomes composed of a few friendships and a lot of acquaintances based on shared theology.

More later.

Sunday, February 06, 2005



Big day in the sporting world today.

For those reading with no plans for the evening, please consider yourself invited to Philpott's 9th annual Superbowl party. We have the game on a huge screen, great food made on-site by chef Anthony Merino (featured item tonight: pulled pork sandwiches), awesome prizes (including NFL jerseys, EA Sports computer games, Canadian Tire gift cards and a spectacular grand prize) and a halftime show free of wardrobe malfunctions. Tickets are $10 at the door and the doors open at 6PM.

As far as a prediction, it's almost impossible not to like New England. They are almost clinical in their approach and they know exactly when a team is vulnerable to quick hits. They also excel in the one area necessary to win: ball control. Simply put, this team is not prone to making mistakes, especially when they have the lead. The only way I see Philly winning this game is if they score on their first two possessions, keep their emotions in check and keep their defensive schemes well disguised. If they allow New England to keep it simple and keep moving the chains (keeping the Philly offense on the bench), it will be a very long day for Philly and the viewing public.

I think Andy Reid will have the Eagles ready, but I also think they'll make the early mistake that leads to Patriot points and we'll wind up with a lower-scoring version of the Pittsburgh - New England game. Call it 24-17 Patriots.