Archive for the ‘Media’ Category

Bored or Scared? The Call to Adventure

19 Mar

Years ago, Brad Widstrom of Denver Seminary was volunteering alongside us in a youth ministry while we were in the process of becoming certified to adopt. He shared the story of someone who left a secure and well paying job for a life in full-time ministry. When asked why, he said something along the lines of:

It came down to the choice: would we rather be bored or scared?

Doing the right thing is often scary, uncomfortable, and risky. The choice is the Call to Adventure, which Joseph Campbell pointed out in The Hero with a Thousand Faces, is the first real step of the hero’s journey.

The Call to Adventure, which happens at about the 10 percent point in movies and anywhere from the 10 to 25 percent point in novels, which can be more loosely structured than movies, is what jars the Hero out of his everyday world and ultimately gets him to cross the Threshold into the Mythological Woods and Initiation and onto the Journey proper.

It’s the red pill or the blue pill in the Matrix, the storm of letters for Harry Potter (and there’s a call to adventure in the other 6 books as well), the electronic help message in The Incredibles, and the death of Peter Parker’s uncle. It’s the conductor calling in the Polar Express, and the open Wardrobe to Narnia.

The Call to Adventure is there every time you read the Bible. You’ll be surprised if you’re open to seeing it, it’s everywhere. Try reading the Sermon on the Mount and looking for the Call to Adventure. It’s full of invitations to reconsider what you believe and how you live – invitations to change everything, and embark on the adventure.

People tend to ignore the Call to Adventure because the prospect of everything changing is uncomfortable, which is why the hero is rare – not everyone accepts the call. Yet we’ve found that the choice of doing the right thing is often a Call to Adventure, a choice with the potential to change the course of our lives and how we live in the world. God is constantly offering us the choice to join into an adventure, large or small.

Today, look for the call to adventure. Look for the choice to do something different, to change your actions and change everything. Even if it’s scary. Doing the right thing often is.


J River Media Center 18: Streaming Web Radio via DLNA

01 Mar

Today I turned on a talk radio station and momentarily heard a friend of my calling into the Dennis Prager show.

I recently started using J River Media Center 18. The capabilities are great, but the documentation is sometimes unhelpful.

On my Android phone I can listen to streaming radio via apps like TuneIn, but it would have been great if in a few taps on my phone I could have pushed the streaming radio to our DLNA-enabled TV or Blu-Ray player to go through the sound system connected to them.  I searched the web and didn’t find any answers, but I did get a very fast response on their web forum that sent me in the right direction.

Here’s a tutorial on how to get streaming web resources like Internet Radio available to play on Gizmo or to send to different Zones or DLNA devices.


1. Go to and find the Web Radio streaming URL. Right click on the link and select Copy Link Location.

2. JRiver In Media Center 18, click File, Open URL…

3. Paste the station URL and check the box to “Show web media options…”

4. Check the “Add stream to web media” checkbox, and you may want to check “Keep using this answer.”

5.After a moment the station will begin to play and you’ll see the station listed in the library under Audio > Connected Media > My Connected Media. Right click and click Tag or just Alt+Enter to rename the stream.

6. Right click and send to a playlist. The first time I clicked “Create Playlist” and created one called “Streaming Radio.” You can also click and drag the item to your playlist.

7.On Gizmo, connect to the server and select the playback zone. My playback zone was my Panasonic Viera UT50 tv as you can see from my screenshot. Tap Playlists.

8. Tap your new playlist (mine is Streaming Radio)

9.Select your station

10. After a moment the Gizmo app will show the Playing Now Screen

11. Enjoy the streaming radio on your DLNA device.


Monomyth in NBC’s Community

27 Jul

The universal story, the monomyth, that exists in every human psyche, is Dan Harmon’s tool for mapping out nearly every aspect of the NBC TV show Community. Harmon has distilled the monomyth into a handy guide for tv writers.

I wonder – is it because of our cultural lack of mythology and/or because of our secularism (a denial of every claim of a real myth), that we have to deconstruct and bullet-point what a story is?

Here’s an excerpt of a very interesting article about Harmon, creator of Community, with multiple charts displaying the Monomyth in various levels of detail.

The circles are everywhere, if you know to look for them. They’re on the whiteboards around Dan Harmon’s office, on sheets tacked to his walls, on a notepad on the floor of his car. Each one is hand-drawn and divided into quadrants with scribbled notes and numbers sprouting along the edges. They look like little targets.

Harmon, 38, is the creator of Community, a sitcom about a group of community-college study buddies and the most giddily experimental show on network TV. He began doodling the circles in the late ’90s, while stuck on a screenplay. He wanted to codify the storytelling process—to find the hidden structure powering the movies and TV shows, even songs, he’d been absorbing since he was a kid. “I was thinking, there must be some symmetry to this,” he says of how stories are told. “Some simplicity.” So he watched a lot of Die Hard, boiled down a lot of Joseph Campbell, and came up with the circle, an algorithm that distills a narrative into eight steps:

1. A character is in a zone of comfort

2. But they want something
3. They enter an unfamiliar situation
4. Adapt to it

5. Get what they wanted
6. Pay a heavy price for it
7. Then return to their familiar situation
8. Having changed

Harmon calls his circles embryos—they contain all the elements needed for a satisfying story—and he uses them to map out nearly every turn on Community, from throwaway gags to entire seasons. If a plot doesn’t follow these steps, the embryo is invalid, and he starts over. To this day, Harmon still studies each film and TV show he watches, searching for his algorithm underneath, checking to see if the theory is airtight. “I can’t not see that circle,” he says. “It’s tattooed on my brain.”


Bumper Sticker: coexist with the media

14 May


This Ron-Paul-mobile has a coexist bumper sticker on the back and an anti media message on the side. Shouldn’t the car owner be coexisting better with the media? Or with reality?


Nature video: ant vs wasp larva

13 May

My first cellphone nature video, captured outside our house. Something (some bird?) dropped part of a wasp nest on our recycling can, and we saw a squirming wasp larva near it. I stepped outside a few minutes later and captured this scene.


A Reagan Forum with Dennis Prager – 5/1/12

11 May

Here’s a very worthwhile video of Dennis Prager speaking at the Reagan Forum on May 1 this year:

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“Do or Do Not” – Dumbledore

18 Aug

I saw this online and wanted to share. Click to view fullsize.

"Do or Do Not, There is No Try" - Dumbledore as Gandalf in Lord of the Rings


The story you could be watching is better than the one you’re in.

10 Jun

HBO: The story you could be watching is better than the one you're in.

HBO: The story you could be watching is better than the one you're in.

I just saw one of these HBO ads interrupting an old Doctor Who episode I was watching online. Here’s one of the videos:

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We are told that we need to be the captain of our own ships, the writers of our own stories. Yet as we live life, seeking to star in our own stories, this ad resonates with a lot of people. Our stories are dull, boring, small, and irritating. As long as people choose to make and star in their own story rather than living as a player in a story bigger than themselves, this ad likely rings true: They might was well tune out their own story and just watch stories written to entertain them.

What story are you in?

(Quick edit: Here’s a blog post I found interesting on the subject.)


Sidewalk Prophets – You Can Have Me

09 Mar
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Some time ago I wrote on the false view of loving God as “falling in love” from the Jason Gray song in which says he has determined that faith must be more like “fallin’ in love” than the biblical concept of love – belief, commitment, obedience. I have no personal criticism of Jason Gray, and I don’t think he believes what his song communicates by itself.

I just heard this song by Sidewalk Prophets on the radio yesterday and was shocked by the honesty of what it means to love Christ, and that it’s shameful that our concept of love is that it has become unmoving and unconsuming.

As I’ve taught about what it means to really love God, a student said to me “I’ve been going to churches all my life and I’ve never heard this before. But I’ve checked, and it’s all biblical. I guess that’s not the message of having to give up everything to follow Christ is not what fills the seats in the church.”

He’s right. I’ve sat in churches where the preacher invites people to invite Jesus to be the CEO of their life and then they have a promise of a happy life, chock full of fun. Contrast that with what Jesus said:

Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’

“Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.

This was Jesus’ style of “altar call.” It was no promise of happiness. In fact, Jesus promised suffering. Why have we changed the message to be about seeking emotional highs and happiness rather than giving everything up in seeking Christ?

Here’s the lyrics to “You Can Have Me” by Sidewalk Prophets that speak to this same issue:

If I saw You on the street
And You said come and follow me
But I had to give up everything
All I once held dear and all of my dreamsWould I love You enough to let go
Or would my love run dry
When You asked for my life 

When did love become unmoving?
When did love become unconsuming?
Forgetting what the world has told me
Father of love, You can have me
You can have me

If You’re all You claim to be
Then I’m not losing anything
So I will crawl upon my knees
Just to know the joy of suffering

I will love You enough to let go
Lord, I give you my life
I give you my life

When did love become unmoving?
When did love become unconsuming?
Forgetting what the world has told me
Father of love, You can have me
You can have me

I want to be where You are
I’m running into Your arms
And I will never look back
So Jesus, here is my heart

When did love become unmoving?
When did love become unconsuming?
Forgetting what the world has told me
Father of love, You can have me
You can have me

When did love become unmoving?
When did love become unconsuming?
Forgetting what the world has told me
Father of love, You can have me
My Father, my love
You can have me

1 Comment

Posted in Media, Music


No Ordinary Family

29 Sep

No Ordinary Family on AB

I just watched the premier of ABC’s No Ordinary Family on Hulu. I’ll be following this show hoping that subsequent episodes are as good as the premier. The show is very good for a few reasons.

1.This family has a good husband/father.

Michael Chiklis plays the father in No Ordinary Family

Michael Chiklis plays Jim Powell, father, in No Ordinary Family

Most television shows feature extremely lousy fathers.  Usually the father is lazy at work, unfaithful or barely faithful to his wife, and/or so stupid that the children are smarter than he. This is one symptom of a larger cultural assault on fatherhood and real masculinity that will require it’s own article to discuss. The No Ordinary Family father,  played by Michael Chiklis, who you’ll remember as Ben Grimm/The Thing (The rock guy) from The Fantastic Four movies, loves his wife and their two teenage kids. While he feels helpless to do so, he keeps trying to do what he can to strengthen relationships with his kids, and lead the way back to healthy and constructive relationships as the man of the house.

He tries to play catch with his kids for fun, and go on dates with his wife, though no other family members respond well. However, his teenage daughter (played by Kay Panabaker who has been in several made for TV movies and several tv series in limited roles) mentions mid-way through this first episode when talking to her mother that she usually talks to her dad about difficult situations. His son (played by Jimmy Bennet who played the young James T. Kirk in the most recent Star Trek movie) connects better with his father as well as the show makes clear the mother doesn’t spend any time with him either.

This father cares about his wife and his kids, and wants what’s best for them, which includes a strong relationship with their father.

2. It’s about a family trying to re-connect.

Julie Benz plays Stephanie Powell in No Ordinary Family

Julie Benz plays the mother, Stephanie Powell, in No Ordinary Family

The plot begins when the mother (played by Julie Benz from Buffy, Angel, Dexter and what looks like a bunch of horror movies) has to head to Brazil on a business research trip. Michale Chiklis’s character insists on changing the trip into a family vacation as a time to re-connect with each other. The one time on the trip he gets them all in one place is on a small plane which subsequently crashes and … but enough about tiptoeing around spoilers -as the previews show, they discover they have super powers. These new unknown and unexplored abilities bring the family together, forcing them to place family higher than work, Internet, and texting. They realize they need to be able to depend on each other more than anyone else, and by the end of the pilot, everyone wants what the dad has wanted – to re-connect as a family, and foster healthy relationships.

3. It’s true to life.

Jimmy Bennett plays the son, JJ Powell, in No Ordinary Family

Jimmy Bennett plays the son, JJ Powell, in No Ordinary Family

Given, parasites are more common to bring back from South America than super powers. In many ways, this episode was about normal life. The teens are talking twitter and texting.

The son struggles with schoolwork and the daughter struggles with insecurity. The mother is having to juggle work and family priorities and the father questions his confidence at his job. These are life’s real struggles.

The camera pauses on details like the mother noticing kids in another car making a mess of their snacks. A man stands on the shoulder looking under the hood of his car. Normally these details stand out because the writers had to put them in as clues to something later in the story. Here it seems to be because this is what life as a parent is like. These are the things that stand out in a normal super-sonic run – or drive – down the highway for all of us.

4. The family’s powers correspond to their struggles.

Kay Panabaker plays the daughter, Daphne Powell, in No Ordinary Family

Kay Panabaker plays the daughter, Daphne Powell, in No Ordinary Family

The father feels helpless in bringing his family together, he feels weak as a father and as an employee at the police station as a sketch artist. He is gifted with strength. He can catch bullets, hit hard, jump high, and fall off a tall building without getting hurt.

The mother feels like she can never catch up to everything she has to do as a mother and a career woman. She is gifted with speed, so she bypasses traffic and has time to spend with her kids and husband that have taken a lower priority than her job.

The daughter is self-conscious about what other people think about her, so she is gifted with the ability to read thoughts. One quick benefit is that she breaks up with her boyfriend when she finds out he isn’t following through on his repeated commitment to wait to have sex as she’s committed.

The son discovers his last, but his weakness is feeling dumb at school. Guess what he is gifted with?

It’s very heart-touching to see these years-long or life-long struggles start to be repaired though these new giftings.


The show is fairly family friendly. The theme is about how to keep the family together and how to make it healthier, thought there is some bad language from both teenagers and the parents. There’s some violence as the father works at the police station and attempts to be a hero, so there’s some fighting and guns firing at him and others.

I liked the first episode and look forward to more. It’s positive. It’s about family. It’s true to life. It’s got a good father. I grow weary of shows about murder, even if there are some family relationships. I’m hoping that even if this show, with it’s potentially crime-fighting-family, ends up with lots of crimes, that it remains a show about family values.

Then again, this is on ABC, known as the most extreme network in pushing liberal values.

Here’s the preview:

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