Work in Progress

Baseball, Seminary, Wrestling, and the Dreams and Days of one Mike Work's Angeles experience

Thursday, July 28, 2005

$200 million spent...and the Yankees still can't get starting pitchers who can stay healthy. With Kevin Brown, Carl Pavano, Jaret Wright, and Chien-Mien Wang on various levels of the disabled list, the Yanks have dealt for the following pitchers in the past two weeks:

Al Leiter (3-7, 6.64 ERA with Florida)
Hideo Nomo (5-8, 7.24 ERA with Tampa Bay)
Shawn Chacon (1-7, 4.09 ERA with Colorado)

When you're picking up Devil Ray and Rockies castoffs in July, you know you didn't spend wisely in the offseason.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Attention Pasadena Readers,

I purchased a copy of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince this morning, figuring that it'd be good reading material for the extra hours I'll work at the switchboard this week. Thus far, I'm about halfway through the book, and anticipate finishing by Friday the 29th. So...if you're interested in borrowing my copy next week or later, please let me know via comment or email, and we'll find a way to get it into your hands.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Just got back from seeing the new Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on the IMAX with Brian, Jo, Cara, and Busbee. Last night, Wonka with Wilder was projected on our garage, and i caught the final forty minutes after work, so the double-dip has been great.

Quick thoughts:
I marked out hard when I heard the original songs from the book; big ups on that front. Likewise, seeing the kids and parents as they leave the factory was a great re-insertion, and Veruca Salt's encounter with the squirrels was valid.

Johnny're a stud.
Charlie Buckitt...gotta love that kid, and the choices he makes, especially in contrast to the other four kids.
The Salt/Beauregard dynamics were great fun, and when I saw the Beauregard family home in Atlanta, my thoughts were 'spot on. That's a suburban Atlanta subdivision,' having seen plenty in my time there. Then Bri mentioned that it was filmed in a family friend's neighborhood, making much sense.

Overall, very enjoyable flick, and a faithful adaptation of Roald Dahl's tale. I especially liked the spin put on Mike TeeVee in this movie, a timely update of the character, and appreciated the above restorations of scenes from the book, read when I was a wee lad.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Wrestler Banned from Television

In the surreal category this week, Bob Ryder (, a site full of popups) reports that UPN officials have told the WWE that they no longer want the Muhammed Hassan character on their network, and the WWE appears to be following suit.

Hassan is an Arab-American from Detroit who, upset with the prejudice he has been shown since 9/11, has taken his frustrations to the wrestling ring, and made quite a few enemies over the past year. Last month, he moved from the WWE's Raw show, which airs Monday nights on cable (Spike TV), to their Thursday show, Smackdown, which airs on UPN.

Hassan soon injected himself into the championship picture, and caught the ire of erstwhile WWE superstar Undertaker. Two weeks ago, Hassan led five masked men in a beatdown on the Undertaker, setting up a match at the Great American Bash, with the winner becoming #1 contender to the world heavyweight title, likely receiving a title shot at SummerSlam, traditionally the second-largest pay-per-view of the year.

As a fan, I was curious about the match, and thought that Hassan might have a chance, especially if Randy Orton were to interject himself in a continuation of his spring feud with Undertaker, costing the dead man the match and sending Hassan on to SummerSlam, where he'd presumably face champion Batista in the champ's hometown of Washington DC. The scenario seemed plausible enough, and given the amount of heat Hassan draws from live crowds, I could picture him in a world title match this early in his career.

However, the attack on Undertaker, taped on a Tuesday, aired two days later, on the day of the London bombings. Terrible timing, no question, and the manner of the beatdown left many uneasy, as Hassan played closer to the 'terrorist' stereotype than he had in previous appearances, where he vehemently protested against such racial profiling. The WWE immediately placed a statement on their corporate website, no longer immediately available.

Hassan's actions caught the eye of NY Post writer Don Kaplan, who penned an article entitled 'Terrorist Wrestles After Bombing,' no longer available without cost on the Post's website, but reprinted on the WWE's website.

Last week, Hassan's response to Kaplan's column didn't make the airwaves, but was available on, and, IMO, was one of his best promos. Hassan was off tv again last night, and his bio page states that he has taken a leave of absence, but will fight at the Bash.

The WWE has put up a blurb on their main page regarding Hassan's future, and the uncertainty therein. He could've been the #1 contender, and still could find himself on the winning end come Sunday, but at this point, it's unlikely. How do you promote a major match when one of the parties is banned from tv, not by the 'general manager' of the promotion, but by the network that airs the television show? Not an enviable situation for tv writers to face, and it may be that the path of least resistance involves Undertaker going over at the Bash.

Beyond the pay-per-view, it's plausible that Hassan could jump back to Monday nights and ply his trade on cable tv, using this controversy to add more fuel to his character, yet just as likely that he could be defeated decisively Sunday and the character 'killed off.' From possible world title contender to being written off the program, within a matter of weeks. Such may be the story of Muhammed Hassan.
We've got company, in the form of ants, come searching for water and parading across our laundry room floor, making inroads into the kitchen.

I hate them. I want them dead. I want a product designed to end their life.

Let's see. Spray, and watch ants die. Lingering effect that takes out future intruders? I'd like that.
Other events of the day:

Spending an hour on the phone with tech support, learning about the dynamics of transferring email accounts, not what i'd thought they'd be. here's the deal. i moved into a new place in march, but my roommates remained, with the account in todd's name. todd moved to riverside this week, and with our yearlong dsl contract up, he had no need for it, so the plan was to cancel. thought i could transfer my email to the new number without a problem, at least judging from the last tech support conversation.

not so much so. turns out that the email address belongs to the person in whose name the account was registered, and that nothing can be done when i talk to tech support. so i wait until the thirty day period after cancellation ends, and my email is purged from the system before i can re-register for it, this time under the new phone line. so, if you desperately need to get ahold of me, your safest bet for the next month or two is to try me at: michaelwork at hotmail dot com.
I need a drink, so accompanied by Coltrane and Chardonnay, I write about tonight's events.

To recap my current life situation, I'm still in Pasadena, with one year of classes left at Fuller before an overseas practicum experience to be determined. My brother Brian's been visiting this week, looking at the LA Film School and deciding whether he's going to move here or not in January. I finished one class yesterday, and begin hebrew exegesis on Tuesday, leaving me a bit of a break from homework, so we've been hanging out, and I've enjoyed the time together. Tonight we went to Universal City Walk, walked around for a bit and had a late dinner at Panda Express. We headed out around 10:45, and after some meandering, wound up back at the Red Line station around 11:00.

We got on the subway, and after a brief trip to North Hollywood to drop off those headed in that direction, we headed south towards Union Station, where we would pick up the Gold Line and go back to Pasadena. We got there around 11:50, no worries, trains run late. Right?

Wrong. After about twenty minutes waiting for a train, a fellow passenger used the intercom to ask when we might expect one, and the word came back that the last train left at 11:52. So the 12 or so of us on the platform were pretty much screwed. Another train pulled in, and hopes that she might make another run were soon dashed, but we were instructed as to how to get back to Pas. I figured we'd be good to go, and the thought was to either go to the bus stop as a group (late night, safety in numbers) or for some of us to catch a cab together.

As I moved in that direction, Betty got ahold of me. While we were listening to the conductor giving us directions on how to get to Pasadena, this woman had approached Brian and I and asked if we were brothers, where we were from, and the like. Bri told his story, in town from Atlanta visiting, and when I was asked where I go to school, I let it slip that I go to Fuller. That's all I said, Fuller, not thinking that anything would be made of it, but she latched in and started asking 'spiritual questions,' and stuff like when we have fellowship, if i study the bible devoutly, and how often, what my favorite scripture was, and how it all went down.

Having spent the past month in the writings, what came to mind? Ecclesiastes, and the story of a guy who's done it all in life and sums it up by calling out the meaninglessness of it all, while telling us that there's not much better than living life and enjoying it, in light of all this. That's what's been on my mind of late, informing my questions on life direction, dream pursuit, and finding an honorable job that I could enjoy.

That got cut off about midway through, as she seemed disinterested in that answer, and asked what i was studying. when i replied cross-cultural studies, and explained that i was preparing to serve overseas, the response was, 'in the military or navy?' Me inside: 'God, no!'
Me outside: 'Well, maybe as a army or navy chaplain, but that's about it.'

At that point, she walked into the background, i again focused my attention on the conductor, and that was the extent of our interaction on the platform. I didn't make much of it, other than, 'well, i'm certainly not an evangelical,' recalling people i've known who would've made it their mission to lead her to a profession of faith right then and there. That's not my default, or even my second level of thought.

So we're walking down the platform, and I'm thinking about 'okay, how're we going to do this. we're all going back to the same area, and one of the young women we met on the station lives within a mile of our house, so maybe we can split a cab and we'll walk those last eight blocks home.'

And at the bottom of the stairway, this woman stops us, and wants to keep asking me religious questions. I'm thinking, 'can we keep walking? not to be an ass, but it's one in the morning, and we just missed our train. we need to get back to pasadena, and while i figured you were in a similar situation, i guess i was wrong. maybe you're thrilled that you met a seminary student who can answer all kinds of interesting questions and give you great deep spiritual insight, but talking about what little i know of kabbalah really means nothing to me, especially when i'm convinced that Christ-like spirituality is much more earthy than esoteric.'

what do i have? Life's a mess, but God has a way of working things out. And in saying that, I'm trying to make the point 'we missed our train and need to go figure out a backup plan,' but it's just not getting across.

After a few minutes of Betty asking me questions and me realizing that she really could and would stay there and talk all night, we excused ourselves. having lost track of the other travelers, and with them, my plans, we walked around outside Union Station, looking for a bus stop and waiting, but after a bus pulled up and the driver clarified that this was as far east as the 33 goes, we went back around and called a cab, which got us back to Pas around 1:30. Having not taken a taxi since Madrid 2000, five years past, I forgot that proper cab etiquette doesn't involve trying to do comparison shopping with every driver in the line, but that the first cab is the one you get.

So we're home, and I'm processing and pondering. This is the second time this week that i've met someone on the trains who was either homeless or mentally ill, and also more 'spiritual' than me, vocabulary-wise. Coming back from Best Buy on Sunday, I found myself across the car from a fellow who peppered his speech with all sorts of religious vocabulary, and seemed to just need to talk to somebody, release some tension. So I listened until my stop, and bid him well. Nothing more, nothing less.

The common threads with both people were homelessness and mental illness, and the strong correlation between the two just leaves me baffled as to what a god-like response in these cases looks like.

does god care about the poor?
resounding yes.

but what does that look like?
it's certainly more than teaching the homeless a few slogans and religious terms (believe me, most of the people i meet on the street have got plenty of those, and aren't hesitant to use them!), and it's certainly more than handouts; i'm convinced that giving someone a few pennies, 99% of the time, doesn't have a lasting effect. These harsh realities of life are way too big for individuals. Addressing problems and serving people requires strong churches, which both excites me and freaks me out, in the same manner as the prospect of marriage.

Life-partnership is just that, and the integration of another person into my life will change us both. Likewise, welcoming a human being into a community of faith involves more than teaching them a few slogans or giving them a few bucks, one-time-only, but a sense of inviting someone into our lives, and knowing that our lives will not remain the same.

pretty fucking daunting...

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Recent Events in Seattle:
The Seattle Times: Local News: Enumclaw-area animal-sex case investigated

Seattle Post-Intelligencer: King County sheriff's office investigating possible animal abuse

No comments of my own, but to crib from a third party, there've gotta be better ways to make centaurs than this...