GrrAnimals for grrown-ups

Who says guys don’t ask for help? For years I asked for – and received – expert advice from my wife and eldest daughter on the subject of which work clothes match. Now that I have returned to an office environment for most days, it’s again no longer as simple as camp attire (jeans with layers of shirts). At least four days a week I try for something like business casual; Fridays are more informal, at least on one of my teams. (Most members of the other team are fairly laid back the whole week.)

But no more. No more asking, that is. About five years ago, I was informed the free advice would no longer be available, as the experts had better things to do. If I couldn’t remember from week to week what shirts went with which pants, that was my own problem. Since I couldn’t, it was.

Several streams of interest and preference converged to bring about a solution to this shortfall in color coordination (one of several types of coordination I lack):

(1) Being an oddly sized fellow, and having already trimmed my office-eligible wardrobe by long wear, I had no desire to further reduce the range of combinations to what would fit my memory capacity for such content.

Say, to only two pair of pants and four shirts.

To say nothing of the midweek laundry which would be required – but disallowed for so small a load. (I would not be entrusted with most others’ clothes to combine with mine, for understandable reasons upon which will not be elaborated here.)

(2) Not wishing to embarrass my significant others by my continually poor choices, I sought a means for extending my memory and capturing their expertise. A label matching system (animal-related or otherwise) would give them private amusement, which there’s enough of already at my expense.

(3) As a database-friendly sort with a (now ancient) Pocket PC for early morning use, I pretty quickly hit upon the idea of a sortable list of acceptable combinations. After some convincing that it would be the final such regular request, it took less than an hour of their time for me to build the essential guide to both short- and long-sleeve seasons.

Oddly enough, after returning to active use this year, that ListPro database has usually proven unnecessary. Or rather, it’s shown its worth as I’ve somehow internalized all of its most commonly deployed matches.

Or maybe it was in me all along, only awaiting middle-age to draw out some sense of taste.

Nope, that’s not it. Definitely not that.

While I’m thinking of the reduced wardrobe, has anyone else read George I. Mavrodes‘ out-of-print InterVarsity Press booklet, “The Salvation of Zachary Baumkletterer”? It was a short story that caught my attention and taught me about thinking well outside the box, even dangerously. Maybe the author would permit it to be republished online – or adapted for a new generation. [Whether or not the author has permitted it, the story does now appear online in rough form. Skip down a few paragraphs for the start of it. – ed. 2009]

Not for a movie, though. I’d rather see The Hobbit hit the big screen in a form to which I can take my under-twelves – while they’re still under twelve. Once again, we’ve recently been enjoying Tolkien’s folksy, intimate and occasionally humorous tone. The dwarves’ clean-up song at Bilbo’s unexpected party still dissolves A.J. into belly chuckles. Perhaps the effect is amplified by his own regular dish-clearing responsibilities. – j


crossing cultures on film and beyond

A. and I got to see End of the Spear last weekend after watching the trailers and related video interviews online with the rest of the family. What struck me most tellingly (as it did on that beach fifty years ago) was the way the missionaries modeled both mostly-humble cross-cultural communication (“We are just like you”) but also the self-sacrificing love of their Master. He and they refused to strike back and, even when misunderstood, demonstrated true friendship. And God came through with visible feats that could not help but communicate.

During the funeral scene, as a main indigenous character walked around behind the crowd, I thought one tall, elderly White fellow looked familiar. Later as the credits rolled we saw the reason: Long before appearing in the movie or speaking at the Cedar Campus fiftieth anniversary, Walt Liefeld married one of the martyrs’ widows. A. recalled labeling his audio tapes – that was Cedar’s final season for cassette recordings.

Closer to our new home, Madison’s State Street seems such a cross-section of campus and world cultures. Ethnic eateries generously sprinkle several blocks, alongside niche retailers and Midwestern mainstays. This updated version of Main Street attracts much of the city’s variety, drawing from the state capital on one end and the student union at the other. Last weekend we walked its length to visit the Children’s Museum, in Sunday outfits against the blowing cold. I look forward to more leisurely and enjoyable future surveys of this created diversity. – j