The Best of Nateblogg

Since I'm not updating this space regularly anymore (Grad school consumes most of my best writing at this point), I thought it would be a good exercise to create a list of links that embody the best of what I've written. We could call it "The Best of Nateblogg." If you have a few hours to waste, you could do worse things with your time. With that, I humbly submit the following:

Best of 2004 (my early stuff):
Naming my Cat - A thankfully short and light comedy piece.
Laura's Rice Graduation - My first attempt at a running diary.
In Memoriam - A contemplation of the death of my friend Jeff Williams
On Unintentional Comedy - Admittedly a ripoff of Bill Simmons, but a good one.

Best of 2005 (getting my fastball):

The Pride and Prejudice Diary - A running diary of my experience watching the 6-houre BBC version of "Pride and Prejudice" in one night. If you print it out, you can actually read it in real time as you watch the movie.
Levels of Vegetarianism - An academic essay.
Russia Trip 2005 - My feelings after a trip to visit orphanages for the disabled in Russia. Check out the pictures in the posts around it.
Fear and Loathing of Football Season - Written before football season in 2005. Little did I know...
On N'Awlins - Thoughts on Katrina.
East Bound and Down - Intro to the Ohio State Trip, where my friend Jacob and I saw Notre Dame-Michigan and Ohio State-Texas in the same day.
Ohio State Diary: Friday
Ohio State Diary: Saturday - God bless Vince Young.
Eric's Guest Column on Houston
My Reaction to Pujols's Home Run
Astros in the World Series
Pictures of Wolfy

Best of 2006 (where I start writing regularly)
Pre-National Championship Game Piece - Just before VY Day.
Thoughts on the World Cup - Pourquoi Zidane? Pourquoi?
Traveling to Branson
Sabbath - A poetic prelude to a year where I wrestled with "the next step."
Ragtime - Pithy, unlike most of what I write.
Routine and Rhythm - On contemplative spirituality.
En Lapin - On rabbits.
Getting Older
What's Wrong with the World - This one turned out well. Solo Deo Gloria.
Tallahassee Pictures - Check out the first one.
The Question - More on Nate trying to figure out what to do with his life.
Josue and Jessica's Wedding - Quick diary of the wedding of two of my favourite people.
All That Glitters - On money.
Hays County Politics - You can't make this stuff up.
Face in the Crowd
On Speaking in Tongues - On charismatic Christianity, which I'm still trying to make my peace with.
Another Self-Indulgent Longhorn Football Piece after losing to Kansas State
Link to Francis Collins/Richard Dawkins in Time
Counting Blessings- My inNate optimism shining through...
After this post, the Longhorns lost two in a row to the Aggies.
Conspiracy Theories, with a slightly more thoughtful epilogue.
On the Katy Mosque mess
Thoughts on Saddam and the Death Penalty

The Best of 2007 - (Where I'm prolific until grad school begins)

New Year's 2007
Very pithy anecdote
Further on the Road to picking a Grad School
Tarmo and Teo
Russia Diary 2007 - If you one read one thing I've written, please read this - it's a series of meditations on working with orphans in Russia.
The Capitol 10K
Walker, Texas Ranger Final Episode - from when I (briefly) had cable.
On Ayn Rand and Francis Collins
Choices - More on the grad school decision.
On Keith Richards snorting his father
Oregon Visit - Where I make my decision on grad school.
On Virginia Tech
Persecution in Russia and Turkey
If my head weren't screwed on - More pithy whimsy.
Milestones - including me in a tank top.
Jacob Riesser Graduates!
Pride v. Humility
Randy and Susan - A tribute to my youth pastors.
John Adams on the 4th of July
Surprises (pre-Harry Potter 7)
Harry Potter 7 Post-Mortem - No spoilers
Jackson Browne Playlist - On the angst of being single in your 20's, just before...
I turn 30.
On Cancer and Prayer - A meditation on how my mom's bouts with cancer have impacted me.
Every Longhorn Game I've Ever Attended
Rich Mullins Playlist - On the 10th Anniversary of his untimely passing.
Checking in from Grad School - As the blog receives less attention.
My Favourite Movies

Best of 2008 (Not much so far)
In the Year of Our Lord 2008
Thoughts on Obama's Race Speech


Some thoughts on the Obama Speech

Obama gave what could be one of the landmark political speeches of my generation this week. I thought many parts of the speech were brilliant, and that he made an honest attempt at taking on the race issue, which is like lobbing a grenade into a chemical plant, and by and large did pretty well. I fully agree that there is a lot of systematic prejudice that NEVER gets talked about by the conservative side (the FHA insurance thing is as big as anything), and he told the story of African Americans going from slaves at our nation's founding to free a century later to full citizenship another century later masterfully. He calls on the country to change the context of the race dialogue, and (in part) for people to take responsibility for their actions. I commend him from the bottom of my heart on these points and more.

Where the speech was weak is symptomatic of Obama's campaign in general - he's great at telling us where we've been, but gives us little clue about where to go from here. For a campaign that has made "Hope" its moniker, I would think your vision for the future is pretty critical. Race relations in this country have come a long way, and they have a long way to go. How do we go about getting past them? How do we get to a point where "a man is not judged by the color of his skin, but the content of his character?" Obama blames the corporate culture and the tax structure for our problems (surprise), and by resorting to scapegoating as the punchline in an otherwise strong speech, Obama shortchanged himself. Then again, he's still learning, and he's a helluva lot better than Hillary.

There are a lot of qualities that I really like in Obama. I like that he takes a corroborative approach to leadership. For all the hoopla, he does run a different kind of campaign than the Bushes and Clintons have, a civil one that respects his opponents while making differences clear, and we could use more of that. I thought he performed brilliantly in the Austin debate.

Yes he's a liberal, but he admits that conservatives have good reason for their views. Yes his pastor is a kook, but Obama's words and actions are not in any way consistent with the Youtube videos of Rev. J. Wright. I think his theology is wishy-washy, but he's not running to be a theologian, unless something has changed with the establishment clause since I took my law final in December. His 2002 speech advising against the Iraq war was a brilliant and accurate argument delivered at a time when it was not in fashion to be against the war. He was editor of Harvard Law Review, and chose to be a public servant and community organizer when he had the chops to become insanely wealthy on Wall Street. On that count, he's the complete opposite of the power-hungry Hillary. He's been at the head of a smartly run campaign that is about to finish off an improbable and colossal upset over the Clintons for the Dem nomination. His experience, in my estimation, is every bit as good as Hillary's, unless you count her time as First Lady as experience, which would be like calling Yoko a Beatle. As far as we can tell, his ethics have at worst been better than most and at best have been superb.

Altogether, there's a lot of really, really commendable qualities in Obama. I don't think anything I wrote in the paragraph above is inaccurate. Though I may not vote for him in November, I would be proud to have him as President, and I would hope and pray that he would do a good job (and that no one dies or retires on the Supreme Court). I'm not alone in this sentiment among the Christians around me. As I've written in this space, there are things that give me pause with him (the Supreme Court foremost among them), but on the whole, I like him. McCain could earn my vote in November, but so could Obama. Let the best man win (and in my estimation, that's not yet clear).

I would have ended the speech like this:

"We face wicked problems in our society - climate change, decaying cities, broken families, predatory sub-prime mortgages, and a slumping economy. Government can't solve all our problems. The free market can't solve all our problems. I don't have all the answers - I wish I did, but I don't. What I know is that we can't solve them if we continue to fight the same stupid battles. In this nation's darkest hour, another tall, lanky man from Illinois who knew he faced problems far bigger than he could fix pointed out that "A house divided against itself cannot stand." After liberating the slaves at the expense of 600,000 lives, he called on Americans to unite, to find "the better angels of our nature" Today, I ask the same of you. We disagree, and we do so with good reason. Let's take a deep breath, tone down the rhetoric, realize that all want the best for this country that we all love, and with the better angels of our nature as our guide, let's work together, right and left, black and white, to tackle these issues. We won't solve them in a month, or a year, or even a decade, but we can move forward, as best we know how. That is the hope of which I speak, and by the words of our mouth, the work of our hands and the grace of God, I believe that this hope will be realized."



Renee went home Thursday. Godspeed.


In the Year of our Lord, 2008...

...I feel like I have a more tacit understanding of these words by an modern-day psalmist from Dublin:

I have climbed the highest mountains
I have run through the fields
Only to be with you
Only to be with you

I have run I have crawled
I have scaled these city walls
Only to be with you
But I still haven't found
What I'm looking for
But I still haven't found
What I'm looking for

The story of my spiritual life so far can be summed up briefly as follows: I first became a Christian at age twelve, and grew up in a typical nondenominational Christian church. I became serious about my faith around age sixteen, when I experienced a deeper on a series of summer mission trips where I shared the gospel message in the streets with teams of like-minded teenagers on the streets of Russia and Cameroon. They were experiences right out of the chapter of Acts, where I became aware of the supernatural, and though my faith was rather immature, it was passionate, and I passionately shared my faith with others boldly. In college, I joined a Christian fraternity, where I met many young men from different denominations who shared my faith, and the college experience, and who remain my best friends to this day. It was in college that I became aware of a lot of my immaturities, and met with mixed results in dealing with them. During my last summer in college, as I wrestled with what I want to do with my life (homeless drifter was a definite option), I returned to Russia, and discovered that something in my heart responded to children in need. When I became gainfully employed as an engineer, I used my vacation time to go back to Russia to work with disabled orphans, keeping in mind and heart the Master's promise that "whatever you do for the least of these, you do for me." My lengthly diary from the last Russia trip tells the story better if you have the time.

The last few years of my life, after a crisis of faith in my mid-20's, I recommitted myself to my faith, but realized that there was more to it than what I had experienced to that point. I wanted to explore what it would mean to live a faith in Christ as it was meant to be lived - the holistic Christian life. The Russia trips gave me a glimpse in the opportunity to be a servant to the least of the least. A few of my favorite authors articulated for me transcendant virtues - Brennan Manning writings on the depth and nature of God's grace, Peter Kreeft's books on the Christian faith as a philosophy, J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis great stories that displayed an imagination that Christians are so often accused of lacking, and most importantly, G.K. Chesterton's guileless whimsy and wonderfully brillant characterization of the Christian faith as the fount of virtue, the deepest truth and the seed of true revolution that all free men yearn for.

The question now is, "Where do I go from here?"

I have kissed honey lips
Felt the healing in her fingertips
It burned like fire
This burning desire
I have spoke with the tongue of angels
I have held the hand of a devil
It was warm in the night
I was cold as a stone
But I still haven't found
What I'm looking for
But I still haven't found
What I'm looking for

Frankly, there are a lot of things in Christianity I don't like. The alignment of prominent Religious Right Christians with the Bush Administration unfortunately showed time and time again that Christians are at their worst when seeking or in power. Though I grew up in the charismatic church, and I believe that much that happens in them genuinely comes from the Holy Spirit (I do speak in tongues), I see so much hype and manipulation in it that even I have serious problems with the movement's credibility. The war-like mentality adopted by some Christians in the culture wars (and, in turn, by their opponents) demonizes the very people that they are called to love and creates a rift that, in my estimation, need not be there. All of this and more breaks my heard and aggravates me to no end, but even so, the Good Lord made me optimistic, and I remember the words of the ancient-day psalmist: "As for me, I will always have hope."

Ultimately, I am painfully aware of my own failings, which are numerous, so I have no excuse not to demonstrate an attitude of relentless tenderness toward others. It requires a mere modicum of humility to realize that relentless tenderness is far beyond my abilities - I need the continual help of the risen, living Christ to do it. To love God and love my neighbor sounds simple in theory but is nigh impossible in practice, and I would think it impossible were it not for the Master's promise that "with God, all things are possible." I would say it demands effort, but my past experience suggests that mere effort proves somewhat fruitless unless something internal drives it. My character just isn't up to it right now.

So here's my resolution for the year of our Lord 2008: Embrace spiritual disciplines that will draw me closer to my Lord, and will then allow Him to mold my character in ways that will pervade every part of my life. I could set goals for school and work and for changing the world, and have in the past, but if the core of me isn't right, none of the rest of it will be either. To this end, I plan to go through Richard Foster's Celebration of Discipline. There are also some other interesting service opportunities in front of my that may allow me to use my professional and educational experience to serve others. I'll let y'all know what I find...

I believe in the Kingdom Come
Then all the colours will bleed into one
But yes I'm still running
You broke the obnds
You loosed the chains
You carried the cross
And my shame
And my shame
You know I believe it
But I still haven't found
What I'm looking for
But I still haven't found
What I'm looking for


My favorite movies

Since I (finally) have a little time, I thought now would be a good time to recount my favorite movies. The list has changed from time to time, but I think I can make a good case for the ones below.

(And yes, I'm a little bored, but for the next couple of weeks or so, I'm want to keep the stress at a minimum. That's why, if I post here, it will be mindless stuff like this...)

I'll categorize them by genre until the Top 5...

Romantic Movies that Resonate with Me:

Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves - An old-fashioned swash-buckling retelling of the old legend that deftly balances action, romance, and comedy. With the exception of Kevin Costner, the cast is exceptional, with Alan Rickman as the bad guy, Morgan Freeman as the sidekick, and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio as the fetching Maid Marian. Rousing musical score and a love song by Bryan Adams.

Lost in Translation - Captures as well as any film the feelings of spacial disorientation and isolation one feels in another culture. Oh, and features Bill Murray and Scarlett Johannson in her underwear...

Notting Hill - When we were in Russia a few years ago, Louis explained to my friend Kostya that he didn't like Hugh Grant films because it didn't seem like "he's a real man." Kostya then referred to unmanly things as "Hugh Grant things." One day, he posed the question, "What is the female equivalent of Hugh Grant?" He then answered his own question, "Well, of course, it must be Hugh Grant."

I mention this because Notting Hill is a great film, Hugh Grant is outstanding in it, and it features Julia Roberts with her fastball.

Moulin Rouge - Big, bombastic, and ultimately bittersweet musical that, maybe better than any of the other three reveals the true nature of love as sacrifice.

Great Action Movies Starring Unqualified Badasses

In the Line of Fire - An older, seasoned Clint Eastwood stars as a Secret Service agent that failed to save Kennedy in 1963 and is charged with protecting the President from a would-be assassin 30 years later. He woos Rene Russo talking about pigeons, tells John Malkovich that he'll piss on his grave, and gets the better of Fred Dalton Thompson. Badass...

The Last of the Mohicans - Similar movie to Robin Hood (action, romance, memorable music), but with much more gravity thanks to the badassery displayed by Daniel Day-Lewis as Hawkeye. Ever the method actor, Lewis lived in the woods for the duration of the movie and lived the frontier life, even sleeping with a powder rifle. It shows. "Stay alive, no matter what the cost! I will find you!"

Desperado - Great gunfights, a dry wit, Antonio Banderas as Robert Rodriguez's badass answer to the Man with No Name, and machine gun guitar cases. And Salma Hayek with her fastball...

The Great Escape - No women in this movie, but it involves a bunch of Allied Soldiers breaking out of a Nazi prison camp, and Steve McQueen in a badass motorcycle chase. Took my dad to see it at Drafthouse a couple of years back on Father's Day - one of our best bonding experiences ever...

Highly Rewatchable Comedies

Blazing Saddles - Of Mel Brooks's films, The Producers has the funniest scene, and Young Frankenstein is probably the best actual movie, but Blazing Saddles only gets better every time I see it. Cleavon Little's turn as a Bugs Bunny-like black sheriff in a frontier town is the fulcrum of the movie - he grounds the movie as the straight man.

Office Space - The quintessential movie about life in a cubicle. Other than the musical number from The Producers, the four funniest things I've ever seen came from Mike Judge: the "No Laughing" and "Great Cornholio" episodes of Beavis and Butthead, the King of the Hill episode where Bobby goes to women's self defense class, and the Dietrich Bader scene in Office Space.

Anchorman - Everytime I watch this movie, I discover another nugget I hadn't noticed before. The last time, I noticed Brick holding the grenade in the fight scene. Probably the most quotable movie here.

Movies About a Time and Place that are More than the Sum of their Parts

Dazed and Confused - Filmed in Austin when I was in high school, Richard Linklater's film about the last day of school in 1976 captures the essence of the high school experience better than any movie I've seen. Linklater cast Matthew McConaughey after meeting him in a bar, and needless to say, it was a part he was born to play...

Out of Sight - The first and best Steven Soderberg/George Clooney corroboration, and maybe the best adaption of an Elmore Leonard novel. Clooney is a crook with a heart of gold, and a pre J-Lo Jennifer Lopez is the no-nonsense federal agent on his tail in more ways than one.

Swingers - All about guys being guys in LA, this was the movie that made Vince Vaughn. Like McConaughey in Dazed and Confused, he pretty much plays himself as Double Down Trent.

Indispensable Christmas Classics

It's a Wonderful Life - I'm a big fan of the lost ending, by the way...

Scrooge (1952) - The definitive version with Alastair Sim, the definitive Scrooge.

Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) - As strong a statement against the cynical commercialism of Christmas as anything I know, and features a great jazz soundtrack by the Vince Guaraldi Trio.

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation - Ingeniously recreates every little annoyance of the modern American Christmas experience. Marked the end of Chevy Chase's comic prime. Not given enough credit as a classic.

And Finally, The Top Four

The Empire Strikes Back - I'm convinced the popularity of Star Wars can be traced back to the greatness of Empire. A coked-up Carrie Fisher still looked great, and numerous plot twists ended with one of the best surprise moments in movie history. Chuck Klosterman considered it to be the defining movie of Gen X in an essay in Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs.

Raiders of the Lost Ark - The first Indiana Jones is the quintessential adventure movie - it reads and plays like a comic book, with dashing leads and an ironic ending that doesn't exactly resolve everything. Karen Allen was the best Indiana Jones girl, and she's back for the new one this summer.

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy - Taken as one long movie, the three LOTR films may be the most impressive cinematic achievement in history. The books explore themes of good v. evil, the consequences of sin, and and of the paradoxical necessity of war to achieve peace (Tolkien implicitly drew from the two World Wars), and do so in an exquisitely crafted world. That Peter Jackson and company were able to tell such an unwieldy story effectively on film is remarkable.

The Blues Brothers - Pure escapist film where director John Landis liberally deviates from the narrative form at every opportunity for whims such as musical numbers by James Brown, Aretha Franklin and Ray Charles, random bazookas shot by Carrie Fisher, expensive superfluous car chases involving Illinois Nazis, and John Belushi being John Belushi. Everything a movie should be, and will never be topped. I will not argue this...

For the record, three of the top 4 came out in 1980 or 1981. Harrison Ford is in two of them, as are Carrie Fisher, John Rhys-Davies and Nazis. Don't know why that is, but just thought I'd mention it.


Talk about biting the hand that feeds you...

I think the vet needed a hand after trying to feed this crocodile, who I understand is a big fan of finger food. Reports are that the croc might be charged with armed robbery, but he'll probably get away with a slap on the wrist. I'd say something else, but I'm stumped at the moment.

The link.


Checking in from grad school

As I write this, I'm listening to a Mark Knopfler/Emmylou Harris live album, sitting in the University of Texas Architecture Library (the most sublime room in Austin), and gazing out a window onto another spectacular Austin fall day. This is the 200th post on the Nateblogg.

As Jon Riley reminded me this morning at church, I haven't updated in awhile. I have a good excuse - balancing 30 hours as an engineer and nine hours of grad school leaves me little time to muse on matters in this space diligently - but that doesn't mean that there aren't matters to muse on. There are things on my mind, but I lack the time to do them justice here. For now, I'll offer a quick update in bullet form:

1) In coming to graduate school, I felt I had unfinished business in my education. I graduated from Civil Engineering at Texas by the skin of my teeth with a D in Steel Design (which I ended up doing professionally at LCRA, and rather well, but I digress...), and it left a bad taste in my mouth. This time around, I am determined to get things right - do the A-level work I'm capable of, be involved in the life of the school, help my classmates when I can (and allow them to help me), and make the most of the opportunity. By this measure, so far so good.

2) The atmosphere in the Planning Department is completely different from Engineering. Community and Regional Planning is a small division of about 90 students in the Architecture School at Texas, and makes its home in Sutton Hall, one of the classic old buildings on campus. I know my professors, and will have occasion to work with many of them on meaningful endeavors during my time here. My first-year class of about thirty comes bring with them educational backgrounds that range from history to biology to geography to education, and most chose planning with aspirations of helping to shape communities for the better. They are a talented group, and will make the next two years of my life rather fun, I think.

3) Riding a motorcycle to school/work (or work/school, depending on the day) has many advantages. The crisp, clear mornings are perfect bike weather, I can park 300 feet from class, and dodging Austin traffic leaves enough adrenaline in my bloodstream to keep me awake through my morning classes. The Lord has been good enough to keep my safe so far, and I'm thankful for that. My prayer each morning is along the same lines as the one I pray when I'm on a plane - "As I rise, let me rise on your wings, and if I fall, let me fall in your arms."

4) For work right now, I am designing a new power line west of San Antonio, in some of the most picturesque country I've ever had the pleasure to work in. It's a two year project, so it should keep me busy through graduate school. I feel like I'm at the point as an engineer where I am comfortable with my role in the company, but am still challenged enough to keep my engaged. Good place to be...

To sum up, I have a lot of responsibilities right now, but I am enjoying most of them. If the schedule I'm maintaining is a burden, I think it a rather light one as burdens go. My life has a good rhythm, and it requires little effort to see life in light of my own good fortune. As with the athlete in Chariots of Fire, I feel the Lord's favour as I run.

That's all I've got for now. I plan to post more as the holidays approach. Godspeed...


Another reason why King of the Hill is my favorite show

Conference play begins Saturday as we take on Kansas State (who unfortunately kicked our ass last year). I hope they don't forget their power towels...

In other news, here's a story about a True Bad Ass...


Castro lives!

The Link

Or at least the guy in the Castro suit lives. My working theory is that we're on the third "Fidel Castro" at this point in time. In other words, I think they cast Latin American dictators the same way they cast Menudo...

...And isn't it interesting that he's quoting from a book by Alan Greenspan and wearing a Red, White, and Blue suit. Did your recent experiences with socialized medicine make you rethink your views on the free market, O Man in the Fidel Suit? Whether they did or not, I respectfully remind you to watch your step...

(In case you can't tell, I love taunting foreign dictators. It's a Nateblogg trademark. God bless the USA!)


iTunes Playlist: Rich Mullins

Ten years ago tonight, Rich Mullins, the ragamuffin musical artist, passed on into eternity. His music and lyrics were relentlessly well-crafted, and sprung from an attitude of complete honesty and humility before God.

Rich Mullins's music influenced me profoundly in two ways. First, his songs provided the soundtrack for my formative years in the Christian faith, and often expressed the deepest feelings of my heart better than I could myself. Also, he served as a gateway to the writings of Brennan Manning and G. K. Chesterton, which have been my philosophical guiding lights as I stumbled through my twenties.

Rich's music is a lot like Guinness - it takes time to develop a taste for, but when you do, you will love it like nothing else. As a simple introduction, I respectfully submit the following CD-length iTunes playlist. If this whets your appetite, I suggest you check out the Rich Mullins tribute website. Enjoy.

1) Teaching Awesome God (live) - A recording of Rich teaching his most well-known song for the first time. I like this version more than the album version.

2) Elijah - Rich's first solo hit, which takes on a eerie, haunting quality when one considers the sudden way he left our world.

3) If I Stand - A beautiful hymn of devotion, featuring a young Michael W. Smith on piano.

4) Bound to Come Some Trouble
5) The Love of God
6) My One Thing - A trilogy of songs that starts with the theme of assurance, goes on to the unconditional love of God, then ends by with the expression of a pure heart. My One Thing was the first song where Rich played the hammered dulcimer on an album.

7) Calling Out Your Name - Another hammered dulcimer piece that celebrates the wheatfields of the Midwest. Rich wrote it after riding his motorcycle across the Kansas plains. Probably my personal favourite of his.

8) Sometimes By Step - I love this song because the verses add context to a familiar chorus by addressing the theme of struggle on the Christian journey. Also features the hammered dulcimer.

9) Growing Young - A song of surrender that includes a confession from Chesterton - "We've sinned and grown old." Chesterton goes on to muse that our Heavenly Father may be younger in heart than we are, and therefore does not share our cynicism. An astounding (and encouraging) thought...

10) The Color Green
11) Hold Me Jesus
12) Creed
13) Peace - This series of songs comes from Rich's finest album, A Liturgy, A Legacy and a Ragamuffin Band. The album is a corraboration of several talented Christian musicians playing Appalachian-style instruments. The egoless fellowship of the Ragamuffin Band and high caliber of songwriting combine to make this album great. These four songs follow the form of a Liturgy, comprising a classic praise song, a confession, a declaration of faith, and a communion blessing, respectively.

14) Land of My Sojourn - An eloquent rumination on our mixed legacy as Christians and Americans from the album mentioned above.

15) Eli's Song - Rich's last hammered dulcimer song, recorded on the Brother's Keeper album, and dedicated to the newly born daughter of one of the Ragamuffins.

16) Hard to Get - A few days before Rich died in a car crash, he recorded nine songs for an upcoming album into a boombox. The recording was salvaged and released as part of The Jesus Record. This song captures the haunting, rough yet ethereal nature of Rich's final recording.

17) Nothing is Beyond You - Recorded posthumously for The Jesus Record, this hymn features Amy Grant on vocals.

18) That Where I Am - This track deftly combines the raw boombox recording with the studio recording, and is a fitting valedictory song on The Jesus Record.

19) None are Stronger - Rich ended every concert by getting the crowd to sing the Doxology, then quietly walking offstage before they finished. This was typical of a humble nature that sought to give glory to the God who loved him. I believe that this song, never recorded in a studio, offers a glimpse into that humble nature.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow
Praise Him all creatures here below
Praise Him above the heav'nly host
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost


In the interest of equal time...

Here's some other College Football entrance videos, which are secretly the biggest gold mine of unintentional comedy on God's green earth...

The Arizona State Sun Devils. - I guess it makes sense that the Devil wears Nikes...

Not an entrance video, but you have to love Texas Tech's Mike Leach doing the Lubbock Weather. Seriously, this is worth 5 minutes of your time...

The Aggie video may have borrowed some stock footage from Nazi Germany...

The Gold Standard - The Texas Minotaur Video


Don't Forget to Bring Your Power Towel!

Uh, oh. It looks like Kansas State has a new tradition. Apparently, he's been taking guitar lessons from a Real American. I think we're screwed.

In other news, I'm thinking I'm going to support Fred Dalton Thompson in 2008. Why? Well, see below...

If he's good enough for Cowboy Troy, he's good enough for me.


Every Longhorn Game I've Ever Attended

I decided to figure out the record of the Texas Longhorns in every game I've ever attended (as I procrastinated on my Law Class reading), and I thought I'd post the results below. Of note:

1) I've attended at least one Longhorn home game for 24 seasons running as of Saturday.

2) The first decade was not kind - we lost to the Aggies 10 of 11 years during a time when most of my classmates were Aggies. It has been well documented that the Aggies were cheating their asses off this entire anomalous time, but it didn't make it any easier. My love for the Horns blossomed and my resolve hardened during these difficult years.

3) The Longhorns started a nice run in the same year I entered college. We had the best backfield in the nation with James Brown, Shon Mitchell, Ricky Williams, and Priest Holmes, and won the last Southwest Conference Championship in 1995 and the first Big 12 Championship in 1996, pulling a colossal upset over defending national champion Nebraska in the latter.

4) 1997 was notable for the 66-3 beating that an 0-2 UCLA team put on us at home, and for us losing to a Baylor team that the Baylor coach described as "the worst team in America." Thankfully, this brought us Mack Brown, who convinced Ricky Williams to stay for his senior year. Ricky broke the NCAA rushing record on a touchdown run against Texas A&M, and won the Heisman in a landslide.

5) The last decade under Mack Brown has had its share of success and heartbreaks - the five-year losing streak to Oklahoma (maybe the worst experience of all) and the Simms-Applewhite controversy that resolved itself in a stomach punch loss to Colorado that cost Texas a spot in the National Championship in 2002. Little did we know that redemption lay ahead...

6) ...in the person of Vince Young, the burnt orange version of George Washington, Gandhi, Moses, and Aragorn all rolled into one. Once he found his groove, he simply refused to let his team lose. The 2005 team may have been the best ever to play college football. If I type any more, I may start tearing up...

So without further ado...

Overall record: 71-26
Mack Brown Era: 53-11
John Mackovic Era: 13-7
David McWilliams Era: 4-6
Fred Akers Era: 1-2

Top 5 games I've attended:

1) Texas 25, Ohio State 22, 2005
2) Texas 38, Michigan 37, 2005 Rose Bowl
3) Texas 26, Texas A&M 24, 1998
4) Texas 56, Oklahoma State 35, 2004 (Texas was down 35-7 just before halftime)
5) Texas 24, Nebraska 20, 1999

A few great games I missed:

1) Texas 45, Houston 24, 1990
2) Texas 17, Virginia 16, 1995
3) Texas 31, Rice 30, 1989
4) Texas 28, Texas A&M 27, 1990

Most Gut-Wrenching Losses I've attended:

1) Colorado 39, Texas 37, Big 12 Championship, 2001
2) Oklahoma 63, Texas 14, 2000
3) Texas A&M 12, Texas 7, 2006
4) UCLA 66, Texas 3, 1997 (and it could have been worse)
5) Oklahoma 14, Texas 3, 2001 (Mack didn't put in Major.)
6) Baylor 50, Texas 7, 1989
7) Notre Dame 27, Texas 24, 1996 (We blew the game at the end.)

Year-by-Year Results:

Coach: Mack Brown
Season: 1-0-0
Sept. 1 (#4) Arkansas State W 21-13 Recap | Box

Coach: Mack Brown
Season: 10-3-0
Sept. 2 (#2) North Texas W 56-7 Recap | Box
Sept. 9 (#2) #1 Ohio State L 7-24 Recap | Box
Sept. 16 (#8) vs. Rice W 52-7 Recap | Box
Sept. 23 (#7) Iowa State W 37-14 Recap | Box
Sept. 30 (#7) Sam Houston State W 56-3 Recap | Box
Oct. 14 (#6) Baylor W 63-31 Recap | Box
Nov. 4 (#4) Oklahoma State W 36-10 Recap | Box
Nov. 24 (#11) Texas A&M L 7-12 Recap | Box
Dec. 30 (#18) vs. Iowa W 26-24# Recap | Box
# - Alamo Bowl

Coach: Mack Brown
Season: 13-0-0
Big 12: 8-0-0
Final Ranking: 1st AP; 1st USA Today/ESPN
Sept. 3 (#2) Louisiana-Lafayette W 60-3 Recap | Box
Sept. 10 (#2) @ #4 Ohio State W 25-22 Recap | Box
Sept. 17 (#2) Rice W 51-10 Recap | Box
Oct. 15 (#2) #24 Colorado W 42-17 Recap | Box
Nov. 12 (#2) Kansas W 66-14 Recap | Box
Nov. 25 (#2) @ Texas A&M W 40-29 Recap | Box
Dec. 3 (#2) Colorado W 70-3* Recap | Box
* - Big 12 Championship

Coach: Mack Brown
Season: 11-1-0 (Won the Rose Bowl)
Sept. 4 (#7) North Texas W 65-0 Recap | Box
Sept. 25 (#5) Rice W 35-13 Recap | Box
Oct. 2 (#5) Baylor W 44-14 Recap | Box
Nov. 6 (#6) #19 Oklahoma State W 56-35 Recap | Box
Nov. 26 (#5) #22 Texas A&M W 26-13 Recap | Box
Jan. 1 (#6) vs. #12 Michigan W 38-37# Recap | Box
# - Rose Bowl

Coach: Mack Brown
Season: 10-3-0
Aug. 31 (#5) New Mexico State W 66-7 Recap | Box
Sept. 13 (#6) Arkansas L 28-38 Recap | Box
Sept. 27 (#13) Tulane W 63-18 Recap | Box
Oct. 4 (#13) #16 Kansas State W 24-20 Recap | Box
Nov. 1 (#16) #12 Nebraska W 31-7 Recap | Box
Nov. 15 (#6) Texas Tech W 43-40 Recap | Box

Coach: Mack Brown
Season: 11-2-0
Aug. 31 (#3) North Texas W 27-0 Recap | Box
Sept. 21 (#3) Houston W 41-11 Recap | Box
Oct. 5 (#2) Oklahoma State W 17-15 Recap | Box
Oct. 26 (#7) #17 Iowa State W 21-10 Recap | Box
Nov. 9 (#4) Baylor W 41-0 Recap | Box
Nov. 16 (#4) @ Texas Tech L 38-42 Recap | Box
Nov. 29 (#10) Texas A&M W 50-20 Recap | Box
Jan. 1 (#9) vs. LSU W 35-20# Recap | Box
# - Cotton Bowl

Coach: Mack Brown
Season: 11-2-0
Sept. 1 (#5) New Mexico State W 41-7 Recap | Box
Sept. 8 (#4) North Carolina W 44-14 Recap | Box
Sept. 29 (#5) Texas Tech W 42-7 Recap | Box
Oct. 6 (#5) vs. #3 Oklahoma L 3-14 Recap | Box
Nov. 10 (#5) Kansas W 59-0 Recap | Box
Nov. 23 (#5) @ Texas A&M W 21-7 Recap | Box
Dec. 1 (#3) #9 Colorado L 37-39* Recap | Box

Coach: Mack Brown
Season: 9-3
Sept. 9 (#6) La.-Lafayette W 52-10 Box
Sept. 23 (#15) Houston W 48-0 Box
Sept. 30 (#13) Oklahoma State W 42-7 Box
Oct. 7 (#11) vs. #10 Oklahoma L 14-63 Box
Oct. 21 Missouri W 46-12 Box
Oct. 28 (#22) Baylor W 48-14 Box
Nov. 24 (#12) #22 Texas A&M W 43-17 Box

Coach: Mack Brown
Season: 9-5
Aug. 28 (#17) N. Carolina St. L 20-23 Box
Sept. 4 Stanford W 69-17 Box
Sept. 18 Rice W 18-13 Box
Oct. 2 (#15) #13 Kansas State L 17-35 Box
Oct. 23 (#18) #3 Nebraska W 24-20 Box
Nov. 13 (#10) Texas Tech W 58-7 Box
Nov. 26 (#7) @ #24 Texas A&M L 16-20 Box
Dec. 4 (#12) vs. #3 Nebraska L 6-22% Box
% - Big 12 Championship

Coach: Mack Brown
Season: 9-3 (Ricky Williams wins Heisman)
Sept. 5 New Mexico State W 66-36 Box
Oct. 3 Iowa State W 54-33 Box
Nov. 7 (#20) Oklahoma State W 37-34 Box
Nov. 27 #6 Texas A&M W 26-24 Box
Jan. 1 (#20) vs. #25 Miss. St. W 38-11# Box
# - Cotton Bowl

Coach: John Mackovic
Season: 4-7
Sept. 6 (#12) Rutgers W 48-14 Box
Sept. 13 (#11) UCLA L 3-66 Box
Oct. 11 vs. Oklahoma W 27-24 Box
Oct. 25 Colorado L 30-47 Box
Nov. 8 Texas Tech L 10-24 Box

Coach: John Mackovic
Season: 8-5
Big 12: 6-2 (1st) (First Year of Big 12)
Aug. 31 (#8) Missouri W 40-10 Box
Sept. 7 (#8) New Mexico State W 41-7 Box
Sept. 21 (#6) #9 Notre Dame L 24-27 Box
Oct. 5 (#23) Oklahoma State W 71-14 Box
Nov. 2 Baylor W 28-23 Box
Nov. 29 Texas A&M W 51-15 Box
Jan. 1 (#20) vs. #7 Penn State L 15-38# Box
# - Fiesta Bowl

Coach: John Mackovic
Season: 10-2-1
SWC: 7-0 (1st) (Last Southwest Conference Title)
Sept. 16 (#15) Pittsburgh W 38-27 Box
Oct. 7 (#20) Rice W 37-13 Box
Nov. 4 (#13) #23 Texas Tech W 48-7 Box
Nov. 18 (#10) TCU W 27-19 Box
Nov. 23 (#9) Baylor W 21-13 Box

Coach: John Mackovic
Season: 8-4
Nov. 5 #11 Texas A&M L 10-34 Box

Coach: John Mackovic
Season: 5-5-1
Oct. 2 Rice W 55-38

Coach: John Mackovic
Season: 6-5-0
Sept. 5 (#25) #21 Mississippi St. L 10-28

Coach: David McWilliams
Season: 5-6-0
Oct. 5 Rice W 28-7

Coach: David McWilliams
Season: 10-2-0
Oct. 20 (#19) Arkansas W 49-17

Coach: David McWilliams
Season: 5-6-0
Sept. 30 Penn State L 12-16
Nov. 4 (#22) Texas Tech L 17-24
Nov. 25 Baylor L 7-50

Coach: David McWilliams
Season: 4-7-0
Sept. 17 New Mexico W 47-0
Oct. 15 #17 Arkansas L 24-27
Nov. 5 Houston L 15-66
Nov. 24 Texas A&M L 24-28

Coach: David McWilliams
Season: 7-5-0
Nov. 21 Baylor W 34-16

Coach: Fred Akers
Season: 5-6-0
Oct. 18 #14 Arkansas L 14-21

Coach: Fred Akers
Season: 8-4-0
Nov. 16 TCU W 20-0

Coach: Fred Akers
Season: 7-4-1
Dec. 1 (#13) Texas A&M L 12-37


She's going to Appalachian State...

...and she did quite well on her mulligan on the Today Show. I like her.

So lay off, America!