In Episode 54 of the podcast, Rob, Joy, and I discuss Under the Dome on CBS, Star Trek: Into Darkness, maps of literal place names, the fashion of Jackie from Roseanne, and a bunch of other stuff. And in some big news, at the end of the podcast, Rob and I reveal that we are collaborating on a young adult novel. Now 25,000 words into it, we’re having a blast and thinking it might actually turn into something.
From Egg to Flight: Our Two Weeks with Three Robins
In early May, a robin started building a nest on the ledge above the back door from our porch into our yard. It’s a pretty nice location—secure, and out of the elements—but the straw kept blowing off the ledge. So I attached a couple of old license plates to the wood, to block the wind and provide a little more protection. The robin came back, kept bringing nest materials, and before long had rounded them into a nice home. By the middle of May, she’d laid eggs.
I took the first photo on May 19 using my phone:
By that time, she was spending most of her time in the nest, with the male bird hanging out nearby on our fence.
On May 30, the first egg hatched. We were in the middle of rooting for the Miami Heat in the NBA playoffs, so we named birdie #1 Chris Bosh, who pretty much looks like a baby bird, except for the part where he’s 7 feet tall.
Baby bird #2 hatched the next day, May 31. We named him Larry Bird. Of course.
On June 1, we had our third bird. He was named Stewart. Just…Stewart.
For the next couple weeks, we saw a lot of giant beaks begging for food, accompanied by tiny chirps. By June 8, they looked less like lumps of uncooked chicken and more like actual feathery birds…but still mostly all beak:
They were hungry, and the momma was busy. June 9:
With all those worms and grubs, they kept getting bigger. June 11:
By June 12, the nest had gotten pretty crowded:
Chris Bosh began to feel adventurous and started standing a bit higher in the nest:
On June 13, annoyed with the overcrowding in the nest…
…Chris Bosh stepped out into the world. He flew away.
Inspired by his brother’s bravery, Larry Bird followed his example later that day. He hopped down the ledge, and eventually dropped down and took off.
That left little Stewart, the last egg to hatch, all alone. He spent one more night by himself in the nest, and the morning of June 14, was ready to set out. He started with the ledge.
Then he hopped down. He hadn’t quite gotten the hang of full flight yet, so hopped around our grass for awhile. We eventually had to shoo him out into the alley, because our dog, Daisy, had discovered him. We didn’t want his first day in the world to also be his last.
So Stewart visited the alley, and our birds were gone.
The first egg hatched May 30. The nest was empty on June 14. Pretty amazing. Farewell, birds. We enjoyed our two weeks with you.
In Episode 51, we discuss the floorplans of non-existent TV show homes, the film Mud and how it may be the apex of Matthew McConaughey’s career, the Bachelor-parody web series Burning Love, the short film “It’s Not About the Nail,” and whether Ashley Judd had a personal sweat spritzer on the set of A Time to Kill.
Hey, look! Our 50th episode! In this one, bewildered by the fact that we’ve actually made it this far in a regular podcast, we decided to revisit past “likes” and report on them in a double-like scenario. So we discuss the final season of The Office, engage in a spoilery discussion of Gone Girl, and talk The Amazing Race, Scrivener writing software, music, and lots more.
Episode 49 includes a discussion about the new fully digital generation, our online selves, behind-the-scenes pics of Empire Strikes Back, Princess Leia in a gold bikini, the novel Warm Bodies, a new documentary about the magician Ricky Jay, and the webcast “So Totally Relidge!” A fun episode.
Back in May of 2008, a truck bearing four pallets and a couple thousand pounds of freight rolled into Amarillo. On that truck were all the not-yet-sold copies of Pocket Guide to the Bible that still existed in the world. Nine-thousand and fifty-three of them, to be exact.
I owned them all. The reason why had to do with publishing rights, my original publisher, a new publisher, and a series relaunch. In short, I had to buy a warehouse full of books in order to move Pocket Guide to the Bible from Relevant to Jossey-Bass.
As of May 2013, I’m down to my last 1,000 books. I’ve sold a lot of individual books at speaking engagements, conferences, and other events. I’ve sold boxes upon boxes to churches who use them for giveaways, as gifts for graduates, or as gifts for new members and guests. I’m currently using about 32 of them stacked up into makeshift monitor stands for my work and home computers, respectively.
Last week I lost the free storage space where I’d been keeping these remaining boxes, so a bunch of friends schemed with my wife to kick off an online garage sale yesterday to help me move these last few boxes of books.
I’d love to get this storage burden and/or fire hazard off my shoulders, so I think this is an amazing idea. (And I think my friends are awesome.)
So I’ve got an online store. Head to jasonboyett.bigcartel.com to buy an individual copy of Pocket Guide to the Bible for $4 (plus shipping) or a box of 48 copies for $48 (plus shipping)—that’s a stack of 48 books in the photo up top.
Yes, I’m selling these for $1 a book, all signed personally by me. Or you can get them at Amazon for $10.21, unsigned. Your call.
Tell your friends. We’ve sold 500 since yesterday so they’re going fast…
Big thanks to Zack, Joy, Ed, Tamara, Sharideth, Preston, Mike, and so many others who are spreading the word and making this happen. (And especially to my superhero wife, Aimee, who’s doing much of the behind-the-scenes administrative work…including hauls of 33-lb. boxes to the post office.)
I don’t appear in our latest episode, but that’s probably why it’s one of our most epic ones yet. Rob Stennett and Joy Bennett are joined by special guest Elizabeth Esther for a discussion of nine controversial topics, from Huck Finn to Rob Bell to “smokin’ hot wives.” It earned an “explicit” rating and is already a classic. Enjoy.
Doubt is a thing which many Christians see as opposing their faith. Many have fought it and its prevalence in the modern minds of man….Many people react negatively towards any feelings of doubt that they may have, fearing that this doubt means that they aren’t fully committed to God.
However, this fear of doubt is dreadfully dangerous. Not every man who doubts his faith loses it. And if they look at most human lives, they’ll find that if one doesn’t doubt, then one isn’t human. It is a necessary idea for any believer, for it acts as the catalyst and tool for a man or woman to grow.
Our latest episode, featuring me, Rob Stennett, and Joy Bennett. We discuss the Dove “Sketch Artist” campaign, Patton Oswalt’s epic Parks & Rec filibuster, the Man of Steel trailer, Catching Fire, the Neti Pot, and more. (That’s right: I said the Neti Pot.)
Our latest episode, featuring me, Rob Stennett, and Joy Bennett. We discuss the passing of Roger Ebert, The Lone Bellow, House of Cards, the art of North Korea, Jurassic Park 3D, our favorite children’s books, and more.
Our latest episode, featuring me, Joy Bennett, and special guest Sharideth Smith. We discuss The Features, First Aid Kit, Top Gear, wireless speakers, anti-social media blocking software, Afrin nasal spray, and more.
Last weekend I spoke at the Killer Tribes conference in Atlanta, where I hung out with former 9 Thumbs host Matthew Paul Turner, new host Joy Bennett, recent guest host Kristen Howerton, our mutual podcaster buddy Sharideth Smith, and lots of other great friends. Joy and I took advantage of everyone’s proximity to do an interview with Kristen and Sharideth about blogging and writing. Because we pursue awesomeness, we recorded it in a children’s Sunday School room in a church basement.
My wife, Aimee, took this photo:
Yes, those are some of the “fruits of the Spirit” painted on the wall behind us.
Yesterday, she asked me to guest-post on her blog as part of her “One Good Phrase” series (for which I designed the graphic, above, btw). The series asks contributors to describe a phrase that has wormed its way into your life, repeating and repeating enough that it has become a part of you.
I chose "What song would you like to sing?" It’s a question I ask my kids every night. We sing silly, made-up songs together nightly before bed. It’s our ritual.
In fact, it has been our ritual since they were toddlers. They’re not toddlers now, but we still do it. An excerpt:
I still offer them a song every night, just because I can. Because they’ll still let me. Because I know this time is fleeting. Because I know one day they’ll decide they’re too old to sing with Dad.
Here’s a design-ey something we recently put together.
We have a pretty big living room with vaulted, sloped ceilings, which means we’ve always had one wall that was just really, really big. We’ve tried a variety of things to fill the space without a lot of success.
Then we got a Groupon offer with a ridiculous discount for gallery-wrapped photos on canvas. A 16x20-in, 1.5-in. thick canvas—usually $127—for a third that price. So we bought several and decided to wedge them all together on the wall to make a giant collage (with a larger 20x30-in. canvas in the middle).
Thanks, Ty Pennington!
We’ve tried these gallery-wrapped canvas Groupon deals before using color photos and have generally been disappointed. The colors in the final product always ended up way too saturated. As in: we all had magenta-to-purple lips. (In real life, we have lips of lovely, and quite average, pinkness.)
So this time we decided to take some of our favorite family photos—some old, some more recent—and turn them all black and white. Surely we wouldn’t end up purple-lipped this way.
Using Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop (I’m a designer), we figured out our favorite arrangement of the photos and their orientation. I made sure to increase the contrast once we desaturated them so they weren’t too grayed out.
We were pleased with the results from Canvas on Demand. Excellent printing. (Finally.)
It took a lot of measuring and at least a couple of readjustments, but we finally got all the canvasses in place on the wall. This is harder than you’d think when they’re supposed to all touch.
We’re very happy with the end result. It fills up the wall, the black-and-white offers a good contrast with the neutral paint job, and it’s pretty eye-catching. Even better, it was far less expensive than it could have been.
Our latest episode isn’t new. It’s a rerun of Episode #32, because I got too busy last week and couldn’t record. This one published right after the giant Powerball Lottery payout several months ago, so we asked ourselves what would be our “likes” if we suddenly had millions of dollars to spend. It’s our high-rollers episode!
Our latest episode, featuring Scramble with Friends, Seth MacFarlane and the Oscars, new music from the Civil Wars, The Financial Lives of the Poets, and Wired’s list of things to love about Star Wars. Also, the three of us discover that we all like to drink tomato juice in airplanes. Which was weird.
Lego Harlem Shake: How to Make a Stop-motion Animated Video
So this weekend we spent a couple of hours setting up, slightly moving, and then photographing a collection of Lego minifigures in order to make a stop-motion Lego version of the “Harlem Shake” meme.
Yes, at this point the meme is played out. But I’ve always wanted to do an extensive stop-motion project and the fairly short 30-second format of “Harlem Shake” seemed an ideal opportunity.
Here’s the finished video:
So, how did we do it?
Step One: You need a lot of Legos. Our 10-year-old son is fairly obsessed. Easy. We’ve got Legos from the Star Wars universe, Lord of the Rings, Avengers, Ninjago, Monster Hunters, Chima, and a bunch of other stuff I can’t think of.
Step Two: Photos. We shot at least 210 photos for this 30-second video. You can just shoot these manually on your iPhone and then pull all the JPGs into something like iMovie, but that’s a much more time-intensive way to do it. An easier method is to use an app like Frameographer, which is designed to make stop-motion and timelapse videos out of individual photos. You shoot the photos within the app, adjust the frames-per-second as necessary, and export it as a video. Without such an app, this would have been way too hard.
Step Three: Tripod and iPhone stabilizer. We just have a standard tripod, but in order to shoot stop-motion you need a way to mount and secure your iPhone. I use the Glif from StudioNeat. Simple and not too expensive ($20).
Step Four: Willing accomplices. Once the full-on dance party sets in, we were manipulating at least 20 characters for each shot. A team approach made this possible. My wife, daughter, and I each were responsible for moving a section of characters. This wasn’t too time-consuming when they were just dancing, but when the fighting and “storylines” began playing out (Voldemort vs. Chewbacca, Harry Potter v. the Red Ninja, the Cave Troll), the manipulations took a little more thought.
Frameographer has a nice “onion skin” feature that lets you compare the current photo with the previous one, so you can see how far a character’s arm needs to move. And which helped us because we kept forgetting if The Hulk’s arms were on their way up or on their way down from shot to shot.
Step Five: Assembly. We exported the two videos (the section before the bass drop, then the section after) into iMovie, edited them together, then added the music, effects and graphics.
Final result? It’s no Robot Chicken, but making a funny video and playing with toys is a good way to spend a Saturday with your family. I’ve heard a lot of “you’ve got too much time on your hands” refrains from friends, but I’m of the opinion that time spent creating stuff with the people you love is always a good use of time.
Our latest podcast episode (“From The Magicians to Dragons to Roku”) featured Alise Write, Joy Bennett, me, and the most diverse list of topics ever, including the band Imagine Dragons, The Book of Mormon: the Musical, bluegrass music, hand salve, Mr. Rogers, and sriracha.
Yesterday and today, blogger Joy Bennett is posting parts one and two of a discussion we had about my book O Me of Little Faith. Joy is a close friend and a fellow doubter, and I found myself being more vulnerable in this interview than ever before. (After dozens and dozens of interviews about a topic, you start to develop stock answers to the usual questions. I steered clear of stock answers with Joy.)
It is a huge failing of modern evangelicalism that we don’t give people the freedom to mess up or ask questions or work through stuff. We say all the right things, but when it comes right down to it, we don’t handle it well. One reader told me that he would much rather admit before the entire church that he was addicted to porn than that he had doubts.
Anyway, three years after its release, this is a good look back at the most personal book I’ve written—a hopeful book written from a hopeful place. Where am I now?
In the Christian tradition, the season of Advent is about waiting, about watching, about leaning forward. It’s a season that has become busier and busier for us as we prepare for the arrival of family, the holiday gatherings, and the celebration of the season.
One way to fight the busy-ness it to be intentional about the expectation. Kids have their Advent calendars. What about grown-ups?
Last year, my Advent calendar was Instagram. Thanks to my friend Winn Collier, I participated in an Advent “pic a day” Instagram project in which we watched for light. Every day, we snapped and shared photos of images that pointed us toward the Light of the Advent season.