#Septemblog Day 20: Night Sky.

I started watching a new limited-run series on Amazon with my wife called Night Sky, and the premise is intriguing: an elderly couple (played by JK Simmons and Sissy Spacek) faces the challenges of their declining years while at the same time harboring a mysterious secret: they have discovered a bunker under their property that contains a possibly-alien (or at least technologically super-advanced) device that transports them to a capsule/view-deck on the surface of an alien world. [None of that is a spoiler, since you get that from the blurb on the video site and the little bit of preview they show you.]

It’s a fascinating premise because I don’t really know what to anticipate. There are so many directions this type of set-up can go, and I’m delighted to be along for the ride.

I’ve only watched the first episode, so no spoilers in the comments, please, and use your own judgment/discernment if you want to check it out. The IMDB Parents Guide indicates there’s no sexual content in the show, which is usually my deal-breaker, though it does have strong/profane language throughout.

There are a couple of particular elements about this first episode that have me hooked:

  • The story begins with the big sci-fi element already established. Rather than walking you through the “protagonist discovers mysterious object” motions, the story starts with this as a given. The couple is already aware of and familiar with the device and take it in stride. That was a refreshing change to the typical way this story would be told.
  • The sci-fi plot, at least in the first episode, is almost incidental–not that it’s not important, but the real drama is about the two leads who are grappling with the reality of physical deterioration and mental decline. It’s like a character drama cosplaying as a science fiction story.
  • It’s not about young people. Look, I’m only in my early 40’s (no matter how curmudgeonly my writing may seem), but I’m more interested these days in stories about men and women who have lived life and faced challenges–especially stories about marriages that go the distance. The whole world of media revolves around the young and fresh-faced, but it’s all become so boring to me. Give me stories about husbands and wives who stand up to all manner of obstacles and stand together (or struggle to survive). Give me stories about men and women who grapple with the big questions of life and the weight of time passing rather than the fleeting distractions of youth.

The best thing I can say about this first episode of Night Sky is that it makes me want to write fiction again, in a way I haven’t felt in a while. In a personal season where my creativity is very low, feeling that strong drive to tell stories is quite surprising and very welcome.

#Septemblog Day 19: Trying not to break the chain.

Today was a weird day. I had to take off work and watch the kiddos so my wife could go train her replacement at her (now former) job. And later, I’ll log in and do all the work I missed today, so that I’m not extra backed up tomorrow. Which seems to defeat the purpose of taking a “day off” when really it’s just a “shifted schedule day.” But that’s life.

Daughter#3 has got molars coming in. My two older kiddos are just tempestuous. It’s been a fun day.

But I’m trying to post every day and not “break the chain.” So here’s a post.

I’ll try to be more clever tomorrow.

#Septemblog Day 17: Super Good Feeling.

I don’t know if I’ve told this story before, but I was listening to the debut album of the Christian rock band Bleach, and it reminded me of one of my more embarrassing memories. So, story time!


This was in the fall of my sophomore or junior year of college. My friend Mike was a youth intern at his church, and they were getting ready to have a youth group lock-in at the church. Mike had recruited some of us to volunteer for the event, and he and some of the guys were going to play worship music and a few Christian rock songs–ya know, typical 90’s youth-group shenanigans. They were in the dorm a few days prior, practicing down the hall, and I wandered over to check out what was going on.

One of the songs on their list was Bleach’s track, “Super Good Feeling.” Mike was playing lead guitar and singing, and in my (arrogant) opinion, I didn’t think he sounded that great. So I said, “Hey man, I’m an okay singer–how about for this one I can sing lead vocals so you can just play guitar?” For some reason, he agreed, and we practiced it a few times with me reading off of his lyrics sheet. I came away from that afternoon feeling pretty good about myself. I was ready for my moment to shine.

The day of the lock-in arrived. We got set up at the church, and I assured him that I was ready to go. Not too long after the pizza had been scarfed and the band had warmed up, the moment came, and I stepped behind the microphone, looking out at a few dozen high schoolers waiting for the rock to commence.

I forgot every single word of the first verse.

I mumbled through the chorus. I stammered and then just gave up during the second verse. Mike and the others gamely tried to carry the vocals through the second chorus and bridge, but it was a disaster.

I stood behind that microphone for the longest 3 and a half minutes of my collegiate life.

As soon as the song was over, I walked to the back of the room, red-faced and fighting back tears. I immediately felt like an arrogant fool. What was I thinking? Proverbs 16:18 flashed in my mind: “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” It was as if God decided that I just needed to go ahead and tank this one for my own good.

Later on, after his devotional talk, Mike asked for volunteers to come up and share “testimonies.” I made my way back up to the microphone and basically did my best to turn the whole incident into an object lesson about pride and seeking our own glory instead of God’s. One kid even came up later and thanked me for saying something. So, in the end, some shred of good came out of it, I guess?

But to this day, the band Bleach brings to mind that ridiculous moment in my life.

Maybe another takeaway, looking back, is this: “Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips.” (Proverbs 27:2)


By the way, here’s the lyrically complex and spiritually deep track in question:

#Septemblog Day 16: A Refreshing Approach.

I have to admit: I have enjoyed observing almost in real-time the red-pilling of Russell Brand (an actor most widely known for pretty raunchy Hollywood comedies). Unlike many of his counterparts in entertainment, over the last 2+ years, Brand has been asking questions, questioning narratives, and digging up more information about the goings-on of the world.

[Full disclaimer: Brand can be very profane, crude, and inappropriate in his comedy and content. So his material isn’t for everyone, and I don’t recommend it generally. Use your judgment, follow your Spirit-informed conscience, and do not take this as an endorsement.]

You may have seen the recent story passed around social media about the NIH “quietly adding” ivermectin to its treatment list for the #ForeverPlague. (Fact check: False–read the actual page.) I tried to address it when I saw it crop up in my social feeds, but the signal boost among my various tribal associations on the bird site was immediate, so my protestations were drowned out.

Turns out, Brand himself stepped into it as well on this account. But unlike his counterparts in the mainstream press, Russell Brand is able to acknowledge a mistake in reporting, and he clearly corrected himself publicly in the video below (which I just watched and should be free of any concerning language, unless I missed one).

As I’ve written about before and tweeted about exhaustively since then, we need to be better about how we share information as a whole, gang: when it comes to stories online, we need to make double-sure that we check sources, verify details, and fairly portray circumstances–and if we claim to follow the One Who Is Truth, let’s be triple-and-quadruple sure that we are truth-tellers ourselves, in person and online.

So, good on ya, Russell Brand. This is a refreshing approach to media reporting.

Nicely done.

#Septemblog Day 15: 19 Years.

I’ve been doing the same job for 19 years, as of today.

When I was in college, I studied English and had a vague notion that I’d like to write novels for a living (which is funny, since I wasn’t really writing much beyond sappy lovelorn poetry at the time). When some well-meaning soul suggested shifting my major to English Education, I scoffed at the thought, because that would mean fewer English classes and more education theory classes, and what’s the fun in that? (Note: I mistakenly thought going college was about the joy of learning. I don’t really believe that anymore.)

I made it halfway through my senior year before realizing in a panic that I would actually need gainful employment if I wanted to eat beyond May. After graduation, I moved back in with my parents and reached out to my small private Christian high school to ask if they had any openings. They brought me on as an English teacher, assigned me 6 class periods (2 electives), with the intention of earning “emergency certification” at the same time I taught my first year.

I had no idea what I was doing. Having just finished college, I tried to replicate what I had experienced in high school and college and idealistically ramped up the challenge for my students in order to prepare them for university the way I felt I was prepared. But I had no clue what that looked like from a pedagogical standpoint. All I had were my subjective experiences to draw upon and none of that pesky theory training that would have otherwise gotten in the way of my Fiction Genres and Literary Criticism classes.

My lack of understanding of how to be a teacher, combined with my over-eagerness to prove myself to my superiors, led to a lot of frustration on the part of both myself and my students. I loved being in the classroom, I loved the act of teaching, but I just couldn’t keep up with the daily grind of grading papers and tests, so I quickly got backlogged and overwhelmed. (This is the set-up for the a punchline later.)

I honestly don’t know what the school administrators were thinking when they hired me, other than “Dave was part of our first graduating class, so that would be quite a PR story!” and “We can pay him next to nothing!” (Side note: Be cautious of any Christian organization that refers to its clients as “customers” but justifies its low wages in terms of “being a ministry.” Just my experience, YMMV.) After a semester of floundering and some minor conflicts with administration, I was given an exit ramp, which I took.

I was out of full-time work for 9 months. Still living at home. Delivering pizzas and working as a temp at an air-compressor parts and maintenance company (while knowing literally nothing about air compressors, air compressor parts, or air compressor maintenance). Finally, after a long job hunt, I found an editorial job at a research hospital that listed its highest preferred qualification as having an English degree–no experience listed. It’s like it was tailor-made for me.

And now, almost 2 decades have passed. I probably should have moved up into management by now–blame my own lack of direction and motivation flaring up at exactly the wrong times, blame my tendency toward overwhelm and missed deadlines when I’m stressed–but I’m doing the exact same job I’ve been doing since the early part of George W Bush’s invasion of Iraq.

What job exactly? I’m editing and proofreading documents for grammar, clarity, and readability, making sure they follow all appropriate regulations and guidelines.

In other words, I’m grading papers all day, every day.

I don’t believe in karma, because I’m a Christian. But I do believe in God’s sense of humor.

Jokes aside, I’m thankful. It’s a rare thing to stick with an organization this long, and I’m grateful for the opportunity. God is kind.

#Septemblog Day 14: Upbeat Update.

The Lord is good, y’all. My God is gracious and kind to me.

  • Clean bill of health from the dermatologist. See you in a year, doc!
  • We had gotten a notice that our car insurance was going up $60 dollars next month, so I called to ask if there were any other discounts or changes that could be made to mitigate that. The woman on the phone said many states were having big jumps in premiums due to increases in medical liability coverage. But when she looked at my file, she noted that we had been with the company for 10 years and had never had a “credit check review.” Ten minutes later, not only is our monthly premium not going up $60, but after one month of about $10 more than what we were paying, it’s actually going down $20 a month!
  • I received some mercy related to work projects that I was not expecting and, frankly, am still not sure how to believe or trust. But it has taken off some ongoing anxiety that has been hanging over me for the last…year?
  • My wife and I had resigned ourselves to the loss of about $500 worth of her time and effort due to circumstances we couldn’t control. Despite the window for completing the transaction having passed, we got word that everything was fine and she would still be paid for her efforts.

The biggest worries in my life right now are health and finances. (No, duh, Dave, you’re an overweight married man in his 40’s with 3 kids.) We have been and are continuing to pray and trust God for provision and protection. Yesterday was a reminder that we aren’t abandoned.

If you don’t believe in God, maybe you write off all these things as coincidences, lucky breaks, happenstance. That’s fine; I don’t envy the chaotic and capricious world you live in.

But I believe this is my Father’s world, and every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father of the heavenly lights. He’s a good Father who will not give his children a stone when they ask for bread, or a serpent when they ask for fish.

Today was a reminder: even in a wilderness season, my faithful God provides manna. Praise His name, all you saints!

#Septemblog Day 13: Feels almost like a throwback to another blogging era.

I used to blog as a way to vent my feelings in an overly dramatic and performative manner. My comments would drift into the overwrought and self-pitying. My perceptions of relationships and situations were hopelessly skewed.

What I’m saying is no one should document the inner life of their 20’s on the internet. It’s just a bad idea. (Are you paying attention, Gen Z? Listen to the old man’s advice.)

Yesterday was a long, tough day in the midst of a long, tough season. It definitely had its high points: aside from the daily blessing of working at home amongst my brood, we welcomed a dear couple over for dinner and were encouraged by their company and conversation.

But there were down notes and frustrations, hard conversations and bitter realities to confront. I sit here typing this past midnight, with a swarm of work assignments buzzing in my inbox like those murder hornets we were warned about a couple of years ago.

I’m tired, gang.

I’m also nervous. Tomorrow (that is, later this morning), I have an appointment with a dermatologist to get an initial exam and check-up. A necessary and prudent thing for an adult to do, but I’m nervous that something will go sideways as a result. I don’t have a lot of capacity for new challenges at the moment. Any unforeseen diagnoses will need to take a number and wait their turn on the Stressed Express.

Of course, it will probably all be totally fine and I’ll be good to go. It’s just as likely–much more likely. But fretters fret. It’s what we do. It’s a sin, and I need to repent of that, but that is my natural sinful tendency.

Okay, okay, I admit it. I have nothing really useful to say right now. I apologize, you sweet email subscribers (may your tribes increase!) for filling your inbox with hot air. Just file this one under “This is Where I Am Right Now.” I will try to keep these to a minimum.

I’ll have something positive, constructive, or entertaining tomorrow, I’m sure. Come back around and see me then.

Here. Here’s a song I’ve been singing with my girls lately. I need it as much as they do:

#Septemblog Day 10: Worth a look.

I saw a video recently on YouTube by Sean Malone, a creator who developed online content for the Foundation for Economic Education including one particularly excellent series called Out of Frame. Out of Frame uses pop culture as a lens for exploring questions about ideology, government, economics, and art from a conservative/libertarian viewpoint.

Malone is ending this particular channel to move on to other projects, and while I’m a bit sad that he’s doing this (I love his work), I get it. Sometimes, you need to make a change.

If you haven’t checked out Out of Frame, here’s the direct YT link to the playlist. I’ve linked his videos before, but they’re definitely worth a look. Let me know in the comments if you check them out and which ones you liked or didn’t like.