Monday, July 30, 2012

I Shouldn't Be Allowed to Speak in Church.


It is pretty well known that I have somewhat of a way with words. I'm no Plato, but I like to think I have a slightly higher than average vocabulary, especially being in good ol' Oklahoma.

Sometimes I get a bit wordy when I'm leaning on things.
Every now and again I can put words in a certain order that will make some folks laugh, other folks cry, and piss others off beyond belief. Call it a talent, call it a gift, call it whatever you wish, but there is no denying that God has given it to me.

So why is it that I so frequently muddle my words in His house?

That's right, I'm going to give you the top three most offensive things I've ever said in a church building.

Having been raised in church my entire life, I'm no stranger to being behind a pulpit. In fact, I preached my first sermon at the tender age of 13, and it was exactly seven minutes long. I buzzed through three pages of notes so fast that the congregation wasn't sure if I had completed one point or the typical Baptist three.

Fortunately, the third most embarrassing thing I've said in church was nothing irreparable, but it did manage to make a whole slew of folks mad at me.

3. "The Revival/Basketball Game statement"

I was 16, I was athletic, and I had just recently gotten a team together for a church basketball league. I was excited, because I was basically the head coach, and I might have done a bit of "outside recruiting." You know the kind, where you have to search outside the doors of the church for a few players, players that don't really know anything about Jesus, but have a mean 14 foot jump shot, and so you sign them up all in the name of witnessing. 

Being proud of the team I had acquired, and not knowing yet that we would be spectacular failures in front of both God and men, I wanted to encourage the people of our good church to be in attendance for our first game. I stood behind the pulpit and addressed them, saying, "It'd be real nice of y'all to come out and watch us play tomorrow evening." Then I remembered something in the back of my mind. Weren't we having a revival this week? No worries, I can handle that. 

"I know we're having a revival tomorrow night, but surely some of you can make it out to support us."

You would have thought that I had just questioned the immaculate conception of our Lord and Savior AND mentioned predestination all in one breath. The sharp inhalation of all those old-timers in the congregation caused a mild vacuum in the building. My youth minister at the time practically dragged me off the stage by my earlobe. I'm pretty sure I had to sacrifice a small goat to make amends. 

But it gets better. 

2. "Pimp Juice"

I had just recently been named Youth Minister, and I was busy establishing myself as a "cool guy" once again. This took more work than I thought it would, and so I found myself hanging out with my youth, trying to absorb their culture, their language, and their customs. One of the things I really harped on was transitioning from secular to Christian music, and I knew that in order to do that I should listen to some secular stuff to get an idea of what the kids were being bombarded with. 

Some of you remember Nelly's song "Pimp Juice." It is a tale of unrequited love in which Nelly seems to have captured the heart of a beautiful young lady, but he is concerned that she only wants him for his "pimp juice," which I, at the time, thought was something served out of that big cup that rappers always carry around. 

Little did I know, "pimp juice" stood for something very different in the eyes of my youth. One Wednesday evening, as we were preparing to start the lesson, one of my kids was joking with another about how he thought this girl liked him, but the girl was in the room, and she was vehemently denying it. I looked up and addressed the situation by saying, "Yeah, she only likes you for your pimp juice, man." The entire youth group stopped and looked at me. 

I love this picture. 
It took two or three of the older guys in my group to take me aside and explain to me what their translation of "pimp juice" was. Suffice it to say, I could not look the young lady in the eyes for the rest of her days in the youth group. I was, to put it mildly, mortified. 

And it gets even better.

1. "The unknown sexual innuendo"

This took place only yesterday, and was in fact the inspiration for this post. 

We have a very diverse and incredibly awesome Sunday School class. I know I've raved about it before, and I'll continue to rave about it because it is amazing. The people are real. They have problems, we have problems, and everyone will share them with everyone else so no one has to feel left out or alone in their struggles. We are also...a tad immature. 

You know how when you were twelve and someone would say "sex" and you'd giggle for thirty minutes with your friends? Well, our class has never really grown out of that phase. In fact, I'd venture to say that those reading this from that class just giggled when they read the word sex not half a paragraph ago. 

At the moment, we are going through a series called "The Five Love Languages." This is a very popular curriculum in churches, and it honestly does help a lot of marriages. The five languages of love according to the author are quality time, gifts, affirming words, physical touch, and acts of service. In our class, you can pretty much substitute "physical touch" for "sex." Imagine that, a bunch of mid to late 20 year olds having sex. Anyway, when we start discussing physical touch, it inevitably leads to giggles, laughter, and someone, usually me, saying "SEX" really loud, just for the laughs. 

Anyway, back to the situation yesterday. One of the class members is the mayor of the fair town of Muskogee. He does the announcements for our class, and is sort of the "warm-up" act before the main lesson. He addresses everyone in the room with a question of the day, and gets everyone comfortable. Some days that works splendidly. Other days he has to fight for control like the producer of "Toddlers and Tiaras." So yesterday, Bob looked at me and, referencing a newspaper article I wrote last week, said "Travis, I bet you at a lot of peaches last week, eh?" 

"Absolutely not. Why would you eat anything with hair on it?" 

I stopped myself too late, as the duality of the words I had just spoken washed over me the way they can when a man offhandedly refers to cunnilingus during Sunday School. For a moment, some semblance of order was maintained as those around me began to grasp the painfully obvious. I just hung my head. Then the giggles started. And they kept going. And I just sat there, eyes downcast, wondering why in the world the good Lord lets words even come out of my mouth. 

Bob, I'm sorry. Next time I'll just talk about how much I love oranges instead. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

I Think "Challenged" is Probably More Accurate.

I am constantly on the lookout for new blogging material. Contrary to what you might think, the incredibly funny and thought-provoking content that is consistently uploaded to this virtual slice of Internet heaven is not of an endless supply.

Sometimes the content comes to me. Stories of my past, people doing crazy things, people pissing me off, deep thoughts in the middle of the night; all of those are examples of material presenting itself.

But sometimes, I have to search for the content. This is why I sometimes take pictures at awkward locations or moments. All I'm really trying to do is stir up something in this wacky brain of mine that will hopefully give you a chuckle.

In the following case, an opportunity presented itself, but it was up to me to grab it.

I give you exhibit A:

I should have probably blurred out the plate number. 
I'd like to talk about the person that owns this vehicle for a little bit. I feel like maybe if we look deep enough, we'll discover some insights into their personality and social life that will help us understand why they felt the need to rename their car.

For those of you that "don't know about cars," this is most certainly not a Dodge Challenger. It is also not the space shuttle Challenger, as that blew up in the 80's with a school teacher on board, may they rest in peace. I was obsessed with the space shuttle Challenger in elementary school. 

  1. This is most likely a male. "Now Travis, how can you make assumptions like that? That's racist." I can guarantee you that someone out there reading this just thought that. First, I'd like to address the racism charge. I made no indication of the race of the person driving it, although if I did, I'd say it was a white guy. Second, I can assume it is a male simply because I've never met a woman who cared on iota about the name on the back of her car. "What kind of car do you drive?" "Oh, I don't know, a Honda." "Yeah, but what's the model?" "It's a Honda, I told you!" A male, on the other hand, cares about the name on the back of his car. So I can totally see this guy saying, "Man, I wish I had a Challenger. WAIT A MINUTE, I'VE GOT IT!" 
  2. This person probably hangs out with dumb people. Stay with me here. We obviously know that this car isn't a Challenger. However, we don't know that other people - people who don't know how to use the Internet - wouldn't be able to figure this out. So if this guy hangs out with, say, idiots all day long, then maybe he could fool them into thinking this was a genuine Dodge Challenger, or that they make conversion kits that turn Buicks into Challengers. 
  3. This person obviously has champagne tastes on a beer budget. I'm actually not even going to make fun of them here. I slapped an Apple sticker on my daughter's 2004 Compaq Presario laptop and told her she had a Mac. She loves her Mac. 
  4. This person uses "text speak." This is where I might get a tad judgy. You see, I can't stand people who use text speak. I was first introduced to text speak by a gentleman that I worked with named Tracy. Tracy would text me and leave out almost all of the vowels, so it was like I had to decode an encrypted message every single time he wanted to talk. "Hy Trvs, cn u cvr fr me 2ngt so i cn go 2 th cncrt????" That sort of stuff. Doesn't that make you sick to your stomach? Either way, the owner of this car took all the vowels out of the word Challenger and slapped it on the bumper, thinking, "Hy, i bt if i did ths it wld sv sm spc." 
  5. This person is very optimistic. Hey, they have Triple A, and they might be embracing an "if you want to change your car, rename it" Zen type philosophy. Who am I to argue with Zen? It's won Phil Jackson 45 NBA championships. 
So here's my take on all of this. The owner of this car is under 30, is white, is a male, and probably owns an Android cell phone because he wants to be able to hack it, but he never will for fear of breaking the phone. He appreciates the finer things in life but can't afford them, so he makes the best out of every situation he can. He probably loves Comin Sans font, but is too afraid to use it for fear of being judged by people that think they're cooler than him. He has a lot of dumb friends, one of who probably owns a small graphics shop in his parents' garage. 

Now, seeing as I'm about one degree of Facebook separation from every single person in the city of Muskogee, I want y'all to help me out by telling me whose car this is. I have to find out how spot on I am with my description. If you know the owner of the car, or if you ARE the owner of the car, please contact me. I'll give you a chance to share your story with my readers. 

Now if y'all will excuse me, I have to get back to peeling the "F150" logo off my truck and putting "Porsche" on the back windshield.

***EDIT*** Seriously five minutes after posting this blog, I got a phone call from a friend saying it was her boyfriend's car, who we attend church with. Turns out, he's in a band called "Challenger," and all of the members of the band have this on their cars. Talk about your anticlimax, but I'm keeping this up because I like my take on it better. Unless of course he makes me take it down. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Marshmallow Madness.

I don't think I've ever really been a "gourmet food" kind of guy.

I like my gourmet to be all I can eat. 
Part of it, I'm sure, stems from my inability to appreciate good food in any kind of moderation whatsoever. If it tastes good, I want thirty-five of them, and that's final. But I think another part of it comes from the way I was raised. Our family was on a budget, and so "fancy" meals usually consisted of chicken being baked and not deep fried. 

I am also not usually allowed to go on grocery shopping excursions with The Missus. She has a good reason for that, and it's because I'm quite the impulse shopper. 

Boiled peanuts are the WORST THING ON THE PLANET.
Well, about a month ago, the stars and moon aligned, and Jupiter was in the third house of the rising Mercury Sable, and The Missus said, I'm going grocery shopping, and you're coming with me. With eyes as bright as big, sparkly, bright things, I tagged along. 

As we traipsed up and down the aisles, with me trying to put things in the cart, and the kids trying to put things in the cart, and The Missus trying to keep all of us contained (at one point she threatened to make all three of us ride in the cart), we went down...

The Candy Aisle. 

This naturally caused utter mayhem, and The Missus suffered a small mental breakdown and then a slightly herniated disc by trying to put all three of us in the cart at the same time. I escaped, and I turned to grab the first thing I could get my hands on. 

Imagine my surprise when I saw this. 

PiƱa Colada and chocolate marshmallows. 
and...

German chocolate cake and cinnamon marshmallows! 
I was blown away. Literally, blown away. This served The Missus well, because in my moment of shock, she kicked me in the back of the leg, got my arm behind me, and yelled, "SO HELP ME GOD IF YOU DON'T KEEP YOUR HANDS ON THE CART I WILL KILL YOU IN FRONT OF OUR CHILDREN!" 

When I was a kid we had two kinds of marshmallows. 

The first.

And the second. 
Yeah, you could get the little ones in a bunch of different colors, but they were the only things I've ever eaten that actually tasted like pastels, and they weren't appealing to anyone. Besides, they melted down white, or a funny eggshell color, and just looked weird. So no, the colored marshmallows don't get counted here. 

Anyway, each kind of marshmallow had exactly one function. 

Little marshmallows. 

Big marshmallows. 
Now listen. If you are saying to yourself, "But he forgot about putting the little ones in hot chocolate!" Well, you leave. Right now, click that red "X," and you leave, and you don't come back. You are weird, and I don't like your kind. Marshmallows should NEVER go in hot chocolate you sick, sick person. Rice Krispie treats and S'mores. That's it. 

So, being properly amazed at the advancements in marshmallow flavoring science, I decided to hit the Internet for a little soft and fluffy research. Imagine my surprise when I found the this Etsy shop that sells "Gourmet Marshmallows."

Seriously. They have every flavor under the sun, and then some. I've contacted them about letting me create a new flavor and then name it after me in trade for the mention on this blog. We'll see how that goes. 

But right now I want to focus on the problems that these flavored marshmallows in grocery stores could cause. Turn on your imagination and walk through this conversation with me. 

Man: "Honey, I'm in Walmart and they've got fifteen different kinds of marshmallows." 
Woman: "Listen, I don't have time for this. I told you get the big ones." 
Man: "I know, but they have different flavors." 
Woman: "No, they're just different colors. They all taste the same."
Man: "No, this bag here is cinnamon flavored." 
Woman: "What? Have you been drinking again? Are you screwing with me?"
Man: "No, here's one that says 'Pina Colada.'"
Woman: "Are you in the liquor store? Are you? So help me, if you spend my marshmallow money on booze..."
Man: "Sweetie, I'm at Walmart. Here's one that says 'German Chocolate.'"
Woman: "I hate you. I ask you to do one simple thing. Don't bother coming home, we're getting a divorce." 
Man: "..."

You see that? I think flavored marshmallows could be a cause for divorce. I'm not saying this would be a common occurrence, and if your marriage dissolves faster than the marshmallows that caused them maybe you shouldn't have been married in the first place, but still. It's tragic, really. 

I haven't gotten to try any of the flavored marshmallows yet, but I'm planning a surprise maneuver the next time we go into Walmart. It's a foolproof plan, really, and I just know it will work. You see, the next time we pass them, I'm going to fake a low blood sugar attack. I plan on getting woozy, spinning a couple of times, crashing into someone else's basket and then hitting my head on the floor right by the marshmallows. Then, when The Missus walks over and asks me what's wrong, and everyone else is screaming and calling 911, I'm going to say, "It's the low blood. I need something with sugar in it. Look, marshmallows will work (cough cough). No, no. The German Chocolate ones."

And yes, I created an Etsy account just for this blog. Don't judge me. 

Friday, July 20, 2012

An Open Letter to the Folks in Aurora, Colorado.

The words that we use to comfort one another in times of need can sometimes seem pointless, tactless even, to those upon whom tragedy has been heaped. Keeping that in the forefront of my mind, using it to guard the bottleneck between my brain and my fingers, I will attempt to share my sympathy and comfort with the victims of this senseless attack, and their families.

As near as I understand it, a young man by the name of James Holmes walked into the 12:05 premier of the The Dark Knight Rises at the Century 16 movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. He lobbed a canister of tear gas into the air, and he then opened fire on the crowd with a rifle, killing twelve and wounding numerous others. He was then arrested in the parking lot without resistance.

There are rumors of cellphone videos that have been posted online already, that depict the violence and its aftermath. I will not be watching any of those videos. I have no desire to witness the brutality, and to do so would make a mockery of those who were forced to live it. To those posting and watching those videos, I would ask you to please consider the families of those who have lost loved ones. Ask yourself, if it was your family member lost in the crime, would you want others watching it?

The news stories recount gruesome details. They speculate the reasoning behind the crime, and as I am writing, people are finding ways to manipulate this into blame for political parties. There are suggestions for new laws, new policies, and even talk of raising the national security level.

But no one has expressed any interest in comforting those who have lost loved ones, innocence, or faith in our country.

I make no bones about being a humor blogger, and I try to leave no doubt that I am also a Christian. And, having seen our recent community turn to God in times of tragedy, I would suggest that you all do the same. However, I will not spend the entirety of this blog forcing my beliefs down your throat.

"But Travis, why would God let this happen? How can the God you serve claim to be all-knowing, all-powerful, and merciful still let those people die? Why didn't he stop it?"


Some, in recent days, will tell you that this is God's punishment on the nation for sin. Be aware, that this is small fringe group of Christians, and do not represent the whole, much like the small group of Muslims that want to destroy America don't represent the whole Muslim religion.

I do not believe that God caused this to happen. I do believe that He allowed it, simply because He allows everything to happen, and for a reason. As for why He'd allow it, I'm afraid that answer still eludes me. I have no idea why God allows bad things to happen to us, except to cite several biblical examples of people who endured great suffering only to be used mightily by God.

Will this terrible event be turned ultimately into something that glorifies God? Since God doesn't do anything without glorifying Himself, then the answer to that is yes. How will that happen? I have no idea. I simply have faith that it will.

I am praying for the victims and their families. I am praying for the town of Aurora. I am praying for the state of Colorado. I am praying for the United States, and I am praying for those who lead our nation and how they will handle this terrible loss of life and trust.

I want those families to know that I love them. I've probably never met you, and I'm sure you've never heard of me. However, I extend my thoughts, prayers, well-wishes, and sincere condolences to you. As someone who has experience great personal loss, I can tell you that while time never fully heals wounds as advertised, but it does dull the pain. I hope you can look back at the lives of your loved ones and see how awesome they were, how much of a friend they were, and how good they made you feel.

There is no doubt in my mind that this event will draw the people of Aurora and even Colorado closer together as a community and state. Use that time wisely. Your state is no stranger to tragedy on a national scale. You are experienced in pain and suffering. Gather together and help each other through this, just as you've done before. Don't argue over gun control and security levels. Comfort one another. Draw strength from the unity. Encourage and uplift one another with kind words and helping hands.

And if you don't feel that your comfort needs are being met, email me. Facebook me. Text me. Call me.

Talk to me.


I will gladly spend any amount of time I have crying with you, remembering with you, comforting you. You are special to me. You are special to God.

You are His. 


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

For the Want of a Beard.

I am surrounded by facial hair.

My family and friends, on command, can grow glorious beards of magnanimous proportions, full of glory, honor, and old-timey epic adventurous grandeur.

I give you examples.

Meet Dustin. He's in a band. 

My Sunday School teacher, Jason. He grew this in ten minutes. 

Christion, who is going for the "I'm never shaving again" look. 

Jeremy, whose wife can't be shown on film. Something about drugs and witness protection.

And finally, the bestie. Kinman, aka Kid Funk. This also took ten minutes.

These beards are all fantastic in their own special ways. And then there's me, circa 2010, with about two months of pathetic growth on my face. 

The Missus called me "Patches" for three weeks until I broke down and shaved. 

There is only one thing that picture brings to mind.



All I want in life right now is to be able to grow a thick, luscious, manly, and sexy beard. One that The Missus will run her fingers through and immediately be consumed with passion and romance and want to throw down wherever we are. One that inspires the lust and envy of other men wanting to be as manly as I. I want a beard that would make Abraham Lincoln proud, and I'm talking the real Abe, not this retarded vampire hunter in the movies right now. I hate Tim Burton. 

I want to be able to get lost in the snowy wilderness with a group of people and have them immediately elect me as a leader because my facial hair inspires mad confidence in my ability. I want that facial hair to help prove me innocent when all of those people eventually die because I know absolutely nothing about helping people survive in temperatures below sixty degrees. And I want that beard to shake the confidence of my cellmate who had sodomy on his mind until he saw the thick, coarse, and lustrous hair sprouting from all the follicles on my well-chisled and trial-hardened face. 

I want a Chuck Norris, George Clooney, Zach Galifianakas, Brian Wilson, Ron Swanson, Conan beard. I want people to stop in the street and say to their children, "Son, one day you might be as manly as that," or "Daughter, when you get older, fall in love with a man who has a beard like that one." 

I decided to get The Missus' opinion on what she would do to me if I could grow a truly amazing beard. I thought surely she would speak of things only to be repeated in sleazy books and Penthouse letters, but I was instead taken aback by her response. 

I am incapable of making my wife vomit. Except when I'm naked. 
So there you have it. Maybe I can't grow a beard, but one day, one day when I can grow stubble, I'll finally be "liked" by The Missus. Until then, I'll keep praying for puberty to head my way with something other than a face full of zits and ill-timed arousal. 

Wish me luck.



Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Return.


It's been four years.

1,462 days have passed since the last time I was there. In that time I've almost wrecked a marriage, fixed it, worked at three jobs, left a church, found a new church, gone back to college, and adopted two kids.

I've ended a ministry, and started a new one. The former, teenagers. The latter, senior adults.

The last time I was there, Flour on the Roof happened.

The last time I went, we left early on a Monday morning. This time, I'll be arriving on a Wednesday night. Last time, I was excited. This time...

I'm nervous.


The place I'm talking about is Falls Creek, Oklahoma.


For those that don't know, Falls Creek is a youth church camp that is based near Davis, Oklahoma. For those that do know, there's nothing more to be added. It is a wonderful camp, full of wonderful kids that spend the week battling heat and hormones, and trying to build a closer relationship with God. 

In short, this place is amazing. 

So why have I waited four years to go back? 

Well, the answer to that is a bit complicated. The way I figured it, the Youth Minister that took my place at Okay was a nice enough guy to let me go back with them if I wanted to. Especially after I sorted my personal issues out. However, I couldn't justify in mind tagging along with him while he was trying to rebuild some of the trusts that I'd broken. To me, it is the equivalent of a pastor ceasing his ministry at a church, then continuing to go to church there. I just didn't think it was right, and so I didn't ask. 

"Okay, but Travis, aren't you going back with that same church tonight?" 

The short answer is yes. The long answer is that the YM that took my place has left, and the family that replaced him I have known literally my entire life, and also, 99% of the kids that were there when I was there have passed through by now. So I'm taking our newly saved and baptized daughter down for some "precious memories," as my mother-in-law so contemptuously corrected me a few nights ago. 

And when I took Akeeli up to the church the other night to get everything registered, one of the ladies doing the paperwork looked at me and said, "Did you have to do all of this when you were running things?" As she said it, she had a look in her eye that was something akin to a wildebeest cornered by several large and not-yet-vegan African lions. 

I looked at her and smiled and said yes, fondly recalling how much I love it. All of the planning, the waiting until the last second on registrations, that one kid that would come running up on Monday morning ten minutes before we left and wanting to go. I. Loved. It. 

So why am I nervous? 

Falls Creek is almost like a living thing. It's an entity, it experiences growth and change almost exponentially. And so I'm half afraid that it's grown out of me. But another real reason is that I'm afraid I'll get down there and realize that I've grown out of it.

I would love to one day return to the Youth Ministry field. That's a long way away, but I know that if I return to it, I'll more than likely be taking kids to Falls Creek. I have a heart for teenagers, and I know that FC is the best place for them when it comes to high intensity spiritual conditioning. 

But what if I'm over it? What if I get down there, look around, and say, "Wow. This is so different. I can't stand this." 

It seems silly and trivial, I know. But it is a genuine concern of mine, and the main reason for my nervousness. I'm sure I'll get down there, take a deep breath, turn my phone off, and realize that FC is still the best place in Oklahoma. And I can't wait to see my daughter's face as she experiences the sounds, the sights, the smells, and...her very first icee date, which will be with me. 

So I'll leave work tonight, pick up our daughter, go home and grab our bags, and head out to Falls Creek, where I'll make...

...The Return. Pray for me.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Muskogee Mugs: Good or Bad?


It always seems to start the same way. I get a Facebook update saying that Muskogee Mugs has been updated, and I click the link, and my hungry eyes start to devour information, greedily processing names, photographs, and charges, all in the hope that I'll see someone I know, so that I can snap a picture, embed it in a text, and send it on, saying something like, "Can you believe they did this?"

And sometimes it goes the other way. Sometimes I see a face of someone I know that works at a store I frequent, and I can see the charges, and I know I need to watch my children a little bit better when I'm at that place of business. Folks I've talked to say the same thing, one person said they like to know who is coming into their store, and know if they've been arrested for robbery or something similar.

And then sometimes it's funny, like in the last minute, where my best friend sent me a picture of a mugshot, who has the same name as a mutual acquaintance, obviously NOT the same person, with the caption, "She used to be a lot cuter."

But it all boils down to the same site (I am aware that there is more than one, but since most of my audience is Muskogee bases, Muskogee Mugs is being discussed here today), with the same pictures. Sometimes the people are smiling, as if the photographer said something humorous right before they snapped the picture. Sometimes the person being photographed is obviously still under the influence of whatever it was they were arrested for. And sometimes the person is crying, or stoic, visibly ashamed of what they've done.

Truthfully, there is something entertaining about seeing the worst of people, neatly organized in alphabetical order by name, so easily found on the Internet. I wanted to dive deeper into that feeling, to ask around and see what others thought, and then organize that information so that you could easily form your opinion on whether Muskogee Mugs is a good or a bad thing.

The Pros:


"I would say that in the beginning, the interest is generally puerile and voyeuristic; but that's the case with anything of this nature. Over time, however, the interest matures and the site becomes a necessary and valuable information source." - Owner of Muskogee Mugs website

This ties in with the general feedback I got from Facebook on the matter. One person mentioned that it helps her recognize people who she might want to be a little more guarded against. So the site can be used for research purposes, and might in fact keep viewers from becoming victims by educating them about who has been arrested for what.

"I do think Muskogee Mugs is used mostly for entertainment, which is fine with me; however now I think I'm more worried about being on the site, than I would be going to court or paying a fine. Muskogee Mugs is enough to keep me from committing a crime. - Blake Russell

"We've heard dozens of stories about people who were drinking and who called a cab instead of driving home for fear of being on our site. In cases such as that, there is the chance that our site could have saved a life or two." - Owner of Muskogee Mugs

In this instance, we see that the fear of being put on the site has become somewhat of a crime deterrent in itself. But why are people afraid of being seen on Muskogee Mugs? Is it the shame, humiliation, and embarrassment that being pictured brings? I for one am supportive of the fact that we have another reason for keeping people away from breaking the law, but what does that cost us as a society?

The third pro focuses more on checks and balances in the law enforcement sector. Again, we turn to the owner of the Muskogee Mugs website.

"It [Muskogee Mugs] lets people know exactly what the police are up to, and where their tax dollars are going for things such as the jail and the police force. It also helps keep the police in line. In Muskogee, this isn't such a big deal, but in Tulsa, they arrest people for ridiculous charges such as no headlight on a bicycle or having a cat without a leash. Our sites publishing that information serves to let people know what's going on, and that's an important function of media." 


So here we have the ability of a site like Muskogee Mugs to show the public the charges a person was arrested for, which in turn lets them know what the police force is doing. In once instance, someone was charged for "Resisting Arrest," with no other charges filed. How can you have a resisting arrest charge without a charge that led towards the arrest you were resisting?

In the Pros section, we have the site shown to be an effective research engine, a crime deterrent, and a checks system for the local police force. But what are the cons?

The Cons:


"I would love to be able to update the mugs with the disposition of the charges, but at this time it's impossible to do that because of the way the system works." - Owner of Muskogee Mugs

"The public doesn't care about innocence or a fair shake. Once their pic is posted, the individual is guilty according to public opinion. There is never a follow-up to the outcome of innocence or guilt post publication or trial." - Jeremy Mustain

This is a big flaw that I see in sites like Muskogee Mugs. You never get a real update on what happened in a particular case unless it's broadly announced by news media, or you follow the case closely yourself. The person could be innocent, and you'd never know it unless you do the research yourself. All you see is the initial bad. If an employer was looking for your online presence and stumbled across your mugshot online, they might not even bother asking you how the charges panned out, and instead remove you from consideration of employment.

"I have mixed feelings. Some people deserve it, but their innocent children do not. I know of cases where the children were made fun of because Daddy got arrested." - Belinda Clark

Here we will discuss two things. Both the effect that a public social stigma can have on the family, and the comments section below each picture listed on the Muskogee Mugs site.

First off, children being bullied is not something that is every going to be completely stopped. In recent years, it has been addressed time and time again, and enormous headway has been made. However, with a site like Muskogee Mugs, which is easily accessible by anyone with an Internet connection, it is very likely that kids will see, or be told by their parents, about other kids' parents who have been arrested. This is going to lead to bullying. Does that mean the website should take responsibility for this? Absolutely not.

The other negative in this section is the fact that comments are allowed on each "mug" via a social plugin for Facebook. This means that anyone with a Facebook account can comment whatever they want on a "mug," and this usually isn't very nice. In fact, in most cases it is downright mean and slanderous. Should the people that have been arrested feel ashamed if they are guilty? Absolutely. But should they have insults heaped upon them like they're on a Comedy Central roast? I don't believe so.

The last con is more a matter of personal opinion than anything else. And since this is my personal blog, you get stuck with it. And since that comment box down there can be turned into your personal opinion, you have an opportunity to speak out and tell me how wrong or right I am.

I feel like it speaks to us deteriorating as a society. We are so eager to see other's misfortune, so hell-bent on seeing someone "get theirs," and so happy to see that Karma has come full circle, that we are starting to ignore what might be opportunities to minister to those who need it most. Instead, we focus on degrading them as much as possible, and maybe even silently thanking God that we're not there, refusing to admit that almost all of us have at one point and time done something that could have landed us there had we just. been. caught.

So where do you stand? This entire blog is aimed at the entire community of Muskogee and the surrounding areas, but don't let that stop you from putting in your two cents worth. Are you pro-mugs? Anti-mugs? Why? I will be loosely moderating comments, but for the most part, you can say what you need to say as long as you aren't being derogatory. I look forward to hearing from you all.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

"Call Me Maybe" and Why Music Sucks Now.

You may or may not be familiar with the running series on my blog called "Why Music Sucks Now," in which I dissect a song that is responsible for the trepidation I feel when I actually have to listen to the radio and not my iPod. I understand not everyone agrees with my fine tastes in music, as evidenced by a recent commenter on my "Rack City" who thinks I was conceived during the big bang. 


Today's installment of "Why Music Sucks Now" will focus on the recent hit by Carly Rae Jepsen, "Call Me Maybe." Before we get into the lyrics, I have to say that every single time I've heard this song, the following image has popped into my brain.

Seriously. Am I the only one? Also, if you don't get this, just keep reading. 
Now to present the lyrics.


I threw a wish in the well,

Don't ask me, I'll never tell
I looked to you as it fell,
And now you're in my way

I'd trade my soul for a wish,
Pennies and dimes for a kiss
I wasn't looking for this,
But now you're in my way

Your stare was holdin',
Ripped jeans, skin was showin'
Hot night, wind was blowin'
Where you think you're going, baby?

Hey, I just met you,
And this is crazy,
But here's my number,
So call me, maybe?

It's hard to look right,
At you baby,
But here's my number,
So call me, maybe?

Hey, I just met you,
And this is crazy,
But here's my number,
So call me, maybe?

And all the other boys,
Try to chase me,
But here's my number,
So call me, maybe?

You took your time with the call,
I took no time with the fall
You gave me nothing at all,
But still, you're in my way

I beg, and borrow and steal
Have foresight and it's real
I didn't know I would feel it,
But it's in my way

Your stare was holdin',
Ripped jeans, skin was showin'
Hot night, wind was blowin'
Where you think you're going, baby?

Hey, I just met you,
And this is crazy,
But here's my number,
So call me, maybe?

It's hard to look right,
At you baby,
But here's my number,
So call me, maybe?

Hey, I just met you,
And this is crazy,
But here's my number,
So call me, maybe?

And all the other boys,
Try to chase me,
But here's my number,
So call me, maybe?

Before you came into my life
I missed you so bad
I missed you so bad
I missed you so, so bad

Before you came into my life
I missed you so bad
And you should know that
I missed you so, so bad

It's hard to look right,
At you baby,
But here's my number,
So call me, maybe?

Hey, I just met you,
And this is crazy,
But here's my number,
So call me, maybe?

And all the other boys,
Try to chase me,
But here's my number,
So call me, maybe?

Before you came into my life
I missed you so bad
I missed you so bad
I missed you so, so bad

Before you came into my life
I missed you so bad
And you should know that

So call me, maybe?



Okay, now let's break this stinkburger down, shall we?

  1. The first four lines speak volumes. The lady makes a wish, tells us she won't tell us what the wish was, looks at this dude, who is presumably what she wished for, and then gripes about him being in the way. It's not, "Oh! Hey! You're in my way that's so awesome let's do it!" It's, "Oh, and now you're in my way, great." 
  2. She's trading her soul for a wish. I feel like Delmar in O Brother Where Art Thou? "For that you traded your everlastin' soul?" Then she goes on to say "she wasn't looking for this," WHEN IT'S EXACTLY WHAT SHE WISHED FOR. Carly, sweetheart, you have to make up your mind. Then of course she complains about him being in the way again. 
  3. The man is staring at her. I want to go out right now and stare at a woman and see what happens. What do you think would happen? I know what would happen. I'd get slapped. Or beat up by her boyfriend. Also, dude needs to patch his jeans. Then, Carly has the nerved to ask him where he's going. She JUST told him that he was in the way. Now he's trying to move, and he can't do it because he's probably stumbling over things, what with him staring at her and all, and she's upset about him moving. Forgive me ladies, but this has "typical woman" written all over it. 
  4. When we arrive at the chorus, Carly does three things for us. First, she tells us that there has been a short amount of time since they've seen each other, but she wants him to call her. Then she explains that it's not her fault she can't tear her eyes away from him, and she wants him to call her. Then she actually has the gall to brag about the fact that other guys are practically standing in line to holla at her, but again, she wants him to call her. 
  5. After the chorus, Carly explains that ol' dude takes a long time to call. In reality, I think this might have been half a day, tops, just because of her sense of time when it comes to giving dudes her number. You can't tell me that if this was a guy, and he was singing the same lyrics, that he wouldn't get put on stalker mode. And apparently, the dude isn't really into her, possibly because of her forcing herself onto him all crazy like. Then, once again, she gripes about him being in her way. If he is STILL in her way, then the amount of time that has elapsed in this song is about thirty seconds, and it brings the whole "you took forever to call" line into stark, stalking reality. 
  6. Apparently here, Carly is stealing something. This could be why the man isn't that into her, because he doesn't want to be called as a material witness. 
  7. Chorus again, she asks him to call four more times. That's eight times, and they're standing right in front of each other still. 
  8. Now Carly is telling this ol boy how much she has missed him, after only knowing him literally for only about thirty-nine seconds. I would like to, once again, ask you ladies how you would feel about a man singing these words to you. What would you say? What would you do? I think I can answer those questions. You'd mace the fool, kick him in the stones, run away, and tell your friends how terrified you were that time when you almost got raped. 
  9. We go into the chorus again, she asks be called four more times, bringing the total up to twelve times in one meeting. Doesn't Carly know that desperation is a stinky cologne? I feel like at this point she's simply channeling her inner Andy Bernard. 
Words to live by. That's how I got married. 
In closing, this song has one redeeming quality, and that's all of the tribute videos it has spawned. I'll leave you with my favorite two, and my sincere wish that you never have to hear this song ever again after today.




Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Pitfalls of The Internet.


I was catching up on some blogs yesterday when I came across a post by a new gal I'm following, Mayor Gia. Gia wrote up a fantastic post, replete with funny cartoons, describing how the new SocialCam trend is the devil, and the awkwardness it caused at work.

I am no stranger to that awkwardness, having had to coach a pastor, a fellow church member, and my thirteen year old cousin on how best to remove your video history from your Facebook feed.

It can get strange.


I am an Internet connoisseur. I spend a lot of my time perusing the various nooks and crannies of the World Wide Web, using tools like StumbleUpon and clicking link after link when I find something interesting. I think one day, I'll actually hit the end of the Internet like that one guy in that one commercial that one time. You know the one. 


However, even being the expert on the e-world that I am, I have still had my fair share of struggles, and I thought you might be interested in some of the pitfalls that I have found myself at the bottom of on the interwebs.

The Hotmale Incident: When I was a wee lad, a newbie in the virtual playground, using a dial-up 28.8K modem with call waiting so that every time someone called, I'd kicked off, I created an email account. I decided to go with Hotmail, because that was the preference of some chick I liked at the time. I decided on a name, which I can't even remember, and I busily set about emailing everyone I knew that had an email address. One day, I came home from school, and I was ready to check my email. I haven't always had impeccable grammar and spelling skills. I will refer you to the "thow" incident at the first grade spelling bee. So I sat down at the computer and typed in "www.hotmale.com."

Go there. Go now, if you've got the minerals. I was traumatized for life. I didn't even know about gay people when I was that young, much less the sex. Thank God above that images on a 28.8K modem take about two hours to load. I got the site closed after I saw the first penis...with another penis. I've never made that mistake again.

The Cindy Crawford Incident: I was thirteen, I was at a science camp at Tulsa Community College, and they had just sat us down in front of computers to show us The Internet. What they didn't know was that I had a friend who already had The Internet, and he had showed me a few things. So when they walked away to let us peruse at our leisure with no clear directions, I did the first thing that made sense. I searched The Internet for pictures of Cindy Crawford. The results came in, and I was very pleased. I clicked on one particular search result, and this image filled my screen:

I was thirteen. This image has been burned into my brain for sixteen years.
I have never loved The Internet more than I did at that exact moment. Then something awful happened. The computer froze up like a Transformer in Antarctica, and I was not the technological guru I am today. So, eventually, I had to ask for help. The gentleman running the show came over to me, looked at my screen, and said, "Woah! How in the world did you get this up here?"

I looked him right in the eye and boldly said, "I don't know." 

It worked.

I was a helpless kid, this was the big, scary, Internet. I didn't get in trouble, but they did stick me on a game site and made me play something boring for the rest of the time. 

Googling "The Flash:" Fast forward quite a few years, and I am currently the Youth Minister at Okay. I was in my office at the church, and I was researching a lesson. Our pastor's wife was renowned for the Internet safety software that she had put on the computers, to the point that some articles that contained any kind of violent or salacious print were often blocked, even if they would help in preparation. Some of the Bible sites were blocked, because the software thought they were "slandering religion," or something like that. I was proud of the fact that I had only set the blocker off a limited number of times, and even then it was always a news article I was trying to read or something to that effect. 

Back to researching the lesson. In this lesson, I was going to use superheroes as the basis. So without thinking, I hopped on the Internet and Googled, "The Flash." 

In other words, "I just emailed a report to the pastor's wife that you tried to access porn at church." 
I was mortified. Every time that thing went off, she got a report saying what the person was trying to access. I didn't think for one second about the correlation between a man who can run the mile in 0.0009 seconds and girls showing off their cash and prizes. I never heard back from her on the whole situation. I couldn't look her in the eyes for a couple weeks, but other than that, I guess it passed under the radar. 

The list really could go on and on, such as the time I googled "XXX" trying to find a dvd cover for the movie starring Vin Diesel, or the time I found a family member's web history and ratted them out because I knew I'd get blamed for it, or the times I've been tagged in naughty Facebook pictures because I'm not careful about who I add as a friend. 

But as many traps as I've fallen into, I still would like to list some that I've avoided. 

  • I have NEVER seen Two Girls, One Cup. Ever. It's like I get Spidey Sense if I'm about to be tricked into it. I know what it is, but I've NEVER seen it. 
  • I have avoided Googling "blue waffle." 
  • I have avoided Googling "lemon parade," or whatever that is. I don't know what happens when you Google it, but I'm proud of the fact I've never tried. 
  • I've yet to post a single video about how I watched a movie about a dad catching his daughter stripping or Selena Gomez doing the nasty with Bieber or any of the like on Facebook. 
She's seen more than I have.
In parting, I would like to wish you happy travels on the virtual superhighway that is The Internet. You're probably going to get Rickrolled, more than likely you'll see a Taiwanese lady that's actually a man, and you're definitely going to throw up a little bit in the back of your mouth at least once. But if you stay alert, and you use a little common sense, you might just avoid seeing gay porn at the tender age of 12. Unless that's your thing. 

Via con Dios.