Sunday, July 27, 2008


Could it get any better than this?

Saturday, July 26, 2008


There’s a story in Scripture that seems particularly relevant for me lately. A man brought Jesus his demon-possessed son and pled, “If you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” Jesus responded, “If you can? Everything is possible for him who believes.” Maybe the guy realized his poor phrasing. Or maybe he just recognized his own skepticism. Perhaps he was just extremely desperate for help. Regardless, the man exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief.” Well, that’s me this week. The world seems just a little darker and more hopeless. Part of that stems from watching “The Dark Knight” in IMAX on Monday, but part of it stems from something much deeper. And at this point I’m struggling to still believe that everything will be okay. No, I am not referring to the housing crisis. Or the escalating difficulties with Iran. Not global warming either. It’s the Chicago Cubs that have brought me once again to the precipice of utter hopelessness. You might think I’m overstating things, but that just means you aren’t a Cubs fan. A Cubs fan would understand what I’m talking about here…because every Cubs fan encounters desperate moments (typically, those moments involve the team being down a run in the ninth with a man in scoring position and two outs) when the only words that come to mind are, “I do believe….just help me overcome my unbelief!”

I mean, it’s been one hundred years now since the Cubs last won a World Series. So our penchant for fatalism and despair is pretty easily understood: We’ve had a rough century (or 31 years in my case). But we do believe. We believe. Every. Single. April. That belief then lasts somewhere between one and six months. It’s the kind of belief that comes and goes, really; we all believe after drinking lots of Old Style and seeing a walk-off homerun, but unbelief creeps in at pretty regular intervals through pretty much any season. Unbelief sounds kinda like this: “Yeah. But it won’t last.” Or “I haven’t felt this good since…well…2003. Remember how that ended? (sigh) Damn, that sucked.”

But then something happened in this hundredth anniversary season. Unbelief disappeared for the entire first half of the season. The Cubs won 14 straight games at Wrigley Field. They had the best record in Major League Baseball. They had recently swept the cross town rival White Sox. Seven Cubs were headed to the All-Star Game. All was right with the world; fate was on our side; nothing could stop us from winning a World Series for the first time in 100 years. Nothing, that is, except being the Cubs. So you have to forgive me my cynicism this week. I do know the Cubs are in first place, and I get that every season involves rough stretches, and I know we’ll start producing runs again soon, and I recognize that we’ve got a pretty talented team here. But I feel some unbelief coming on. The ninth inning rallies are happening less frequently. The division lead keeps getting smaller. The early season exuberance has slowly transformed into our traditionally tepid and apologetic hope against hope…the kind of hope that’s only willing to reveal itself when other Cubs fans are around. Because God forbid you confess to being a Cubs fan around someone from Boston. Or even someone from the South Side. They waited for decades on end too, but their waits are over…and so is any shred of compassion or decency. Thus, we North Siders struggle quietly with the possibility that this might not be our year after all. It’s a nagging cynicism that eats away at our insides.

That’s why I relate so much to that Bible story I mentioned earlier. That guy’s son was possessed by demons, but my baseball team is cursed by goats. Life ain’t easy for people like us. All you can do is grab an Old Style and remind yourself that first place on July 26th is pretty damn good. Oh, and avoid talking to anyone from Boston.

- Cliff

Thursday, July 17, 2008


At long last, video evidence of Sam's dancing prowess. He started off attempting to clap in rhythm. Really, it was all downhill from there.

The Grateful Cowboy

Every time a Johnson grandkid turns one, PaPa Elmer constructs a rocking horse...yup, custom made just for that child. Pretty special stuff. At first, Sam wasn't so sure about riding a horse, but he's definitely come around lately. Here's to you, partner.

Thursday, July 03, 2008


My old friend Jared Pike is famous. Maybe you haven't heard of him yet, but 370,000 YouTube users sure have. Jared posted this precious internet gem a few months back in honor of his cousin's birthday...and now he's gone viral. I mean that in a positive sense of course. Enjoy (and feel free to share with others).

- Cliff