South on Main // Matt & Amy Bell - Little Rock Restauranteurs

I had the awesome chance to photograph Matt & Amy Bell this week as part of my portrait series featuring cool local business owners doing awesome things in central Arkansas. Matt and Amy have taken over the old Juanita's space on south Main Street in Little Rock and they are in the process of renovations to relaunch the space as a new restaurant called South on Main

For this portrait series, I wanted to meet some cool people and learn more about whats going on in Little Rock as well as promote those new-ish businesses that people are taking big chances on. As a business owner myself, I understand how fun and risky and exciting it can be to start something new and I always like to do anything I can to help people chase down their dreams and make them a reality. Little Rock has become such a cool place in just the last two or three years and this portrait series is my way of setting out to discover its hidden gems and help the city continue to thrive and grow. 

When I arrived at the South on Main location I was immediately drawn to this awesome circular couch thing in the front entryway and knew pretty quickly that my shot would be anchored by that piece. The front windows were covered in paper held up by painters tape and I asked Matt if we could take the paper down to let the natural light from the street flood the space. As soon as the paper came down, everything came together for the shot. Here's the first one: 

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The key light comes from the window in this shot and the rim light comes from a bare speedlight I hid behind the South on Main sign and pointed directly at the backs of Matt & Amy's heads. I also used an Alien Bee 800 with a translucent umbrella and the modeling lamp on (i.e. not popping) to light the sign and the floor in front of it. I dragged my shutter to bring up the  background and the modeling lamp exposure. I got lucky here because the color temperature of the modeling lamp was almost a perfect match for the sunlight coming in from the huge skylight over the bar at the top left. Once I had the lights dialed in I just had to wait for the right expression from Matt & Amy.

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For the second shot I had a different plan in mind but this one came together nicely and ended up being a stronger shot than the one I had originally planned. I kept Amy on the couch in basically the same position as the one above and asked Matt to come stand behind her. I wanted a vertically oriented shot with the BAR sign framed in behind them. 

My light setup was exactly the same for this shot because I wanted it to pair well with the first shot but have a different feel. I've always been inspired (strangely enough) by ads and posters for weird reality shows on the Discovery Channel and the History Channel and I tried to get close to that with this shot. I love their expressions in this photo. Amy's eyebrow is just deadly. With a little bit of dramatic lighting and some help from your subjects you can really strike a nice tone. Nice job Matt & Amy. 
 
So those are the two shots I came up with for Matt & Amy Bell of South on Main restaurant in Little Rock - two people who are now officially certified as cool local business owners in my book. I can't wait for this place to open. After hearing about it from Amy and seeing it for myself I can easily say that this place is going to be a huge success. And with Matt's reputation as a chef it seems like a home run waiting to happen. Looking forward to it guys!
 
If you have a suggestion for another cool local business to feature hit me up in the comments and let's make it happen! I've already got a solid list built up but I could always use more! 

 

Isaiah 42

Behold, my servant, whom I uphold. My chosen, in whom my soul delights. I have put my spirit upon him, he will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice to make it heard in the street.

The bruised reed he will not crush, and the smoldering wick he will not snuff out. He will faithfully bring forth justice. He will not grow faint or be discouraged.

Thus says the Lord, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and that comes from it, who gives breath to the people on it, and spirit to those who walk in it:

I am the Lord. I have called you in righteousness. I will take you by the hand and keep you. I will give you as a covenant for the people. A light for the nations. To open eyes that are blind, to bring out prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness. 

I am the Lord. That is my name. My glory I give to no other. 

For a long time I have held my peace, I have kept still and restrained myself. But now I will cry out like a woman in labor. I will gasp and pant. I will lay waste mountains and hills and dry up their vegetation. I will turn the rivers into islands and dry up the pools. And I will lead the blind in a way they do not know, in paths that they have not known. I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. 

These are the things I do, and I do not forsake them. 

The Furiousness

There's something furious in me that shrieks and grinds its teeth. There's a burning to explode and cut through the earth with a fiery vision and a rage from deep within.  

There are two things pulling me, both with profound gravity. 

One is the gravity of earth. The tendency to stay right here where things are normal and planned and understandable. Things that give me rest in my dreams.

The other is the gravity of the Living God himself. Standing up there in the clouds, or in my soul, that great and violent spirit that calls me up to the moon, to stand there and smile and heave with life. 

But I will do both. 

I am the one who stands on the edges of cliffs and howls at the horizon. I am the one who lays my children down at night with unfathomable love.

Desolation Row

Oswald Chambers said spiritual desolation is always your fault. Never God’s fault or anyone else’s. He said people end up in spiritual desolation for one of two reasons:

  1. You have satisfied a lust.
  2. You have not satisfied a lust.

In other words, there is only one possible reason for spiritual desolation: Lust.

Lust can take shape in any form - it’s not always a sexual thing.

The word Lust in the dictionary has three definitions:

  1. Very strong sexual desire.
  2. A passionate desire for something.
  3. A sensual appetite regarded as sinful.

Lately, I have been covered in lust. All three kinds actually.

I don’t have an issue with pornography, I have an issue with letting my mind wander at the drop of a hat. I have an issue with distraction. I’m surrounded by muses calling me away, and sometimes I let my mind wander. I neglect to resist it. I’m out of practice. I’ve forgotten how to resist.

Then again, I really haven’t. I know damn well how to resist. I’ve just stopped trying.

And then I end up in spiritual desolation.

So the question I’ve started asking myself is:

What are you going to resist today?

Are you resisting anything right now?

I wasn’t a few days ago, but I am now.

Find out what’s screwed up within you and resist it.

There is a really popular thing going on right now in the cycling world called “fixed gear cycling” - where you have only one gear on your bike, and no brakes. The only way to slow down or stop is to use your legs to resist the continuous spinning of the pedals, which is way harder than you might think. Our legs aren’t used to that action. It feels like something that doesn’t make sense, like it won’t work.

But it does.

People stop that way all the time.

But you have to practice.

Resist.

Resist the spinning pedals that have been going your whole life.

Try a new thing.

Resist it. Everyday.

And sooner or later, you’ll be able to stop completely - not forever, but just for that one day - because you’ve decided that you can, and you will, and although it’s hard, it is also good. It strengthens us.

You will never ever stop being faced with temptation.

You can, however, teach yourself how to resist.

And really, that’s the only thing you can do.

And when we do that, that spiritual fog is lifted.

Are you in the fog?

Here’s why:

You’re not resisting anything.

Resist.

Though you slay me

God's got me low right now. I'm downcast and downtrodden and just worn out from the trouble of walking around down here. I've been supremely pissed at God lately. I've been raging and shouting and crying and feeling broke and miserable and apparently that's where God wants me to be for the moment. I've been feeling a little bit like Job lately - as if God offered me up to the enemy to screw with me just to see what I would do, which I think is total bullshit. I hate that about God. I hate that God does that stuff. I hate that the reward for seeking hard after the Lord is God letting you see what it feels like to be out from under the cover of his wings for awhile. It's dark and cold and miserable and I don't want to be here. But I think the purpose of it is this: A good friend of mine sent me a video yesterday and it broke me down like I've never been broke before.

If you feel like God is tearing you apart right now, this is for you:

[youtube=://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qyUPz6_TciY&w=854&h=480]

God's plans for us feel pretty screwed up sometimes, and right now I am deep in the middle of it, and all I can do is say this:

Though you ruin me, still I will worship.

I've been on this dumb stupid momentary spiritual high for a while that had me thinking I was this powerful mighty man of God who breaks down walls and casts out demons and calls lightning bolts down from the sky but the awful yet comforting truth is that I am at my very best for God when I am utterly and completely broken.

Pride is a heavy cloak to wear and when I didn't throw it off myself God ripped it from my shoulders with anger and violence and a friend of mine bought it from me for a thousand bucks this week.

So I'm broke, tattered, torn, ripped to pieces - and back to normal.

A few months ago I asked a friend if I could have some if his Shalom and he said no. God wants me to be here and so this is where I'll be. Being broke at the throne of grace is actually a whole lot easier than being Samson. I'm not Samson, I'm just little scrawny me and that's how God made me and that's good.

God, I don't like what you're doing, and I don't have a good attitude about it, and I'm certainly not happy about it, but

though you slay me, yet I will praise you though you take from me, I will bless your name though you ruin me, still I will worship

Sometimes I think this:

If Satan exists like we say he does, and if he is at all similar to what we think he is, then I give up.Yeah he hates marriage and God and the church and he hates me and I can deal with that being true - but what I can't deal with is that he is so relentless with it. If I was relentless too that would work out fine, but I'm not relentless.

I relent. Whenever I want to. All the time, actually. I'm great at relenting.

Of course, they say God is relentless too, and I need not worry with battling the devil all by myself, because God fights against him in my stead.

But that can't be true because if that was true I wouldn't feel like somebody kicked me in the guts and stole my lunchbox so much of the time.

I can testify to the steady relentlessness of the devil. He's impressive in his ability to maintain an attack literally forever. The devil is excellent at being reliable. The apostle Paul said so himself:

So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.

God, on the other hand, despite his countless promises to do the opposite, seems to hang people out to dry pretty regularly. Look what God did to Job. Read the Psalms. They are full of praises but they are also full of questions like "God, why have you forsaken me?" and "Do not forget me forever!"

Even Jesus was forsaken by God on the cross.

So what's the deal? God drops us off at the pool with Satan playing lifeguard? He certainly did that to Adam and Eve, didn't he? Is that how this is supposed to work?

Satan is relentless.

God dropped me off at the pool with no one to watch over me but a relentless beast who wants to kill me and rip me apart like a wolf.

That's what I feel like sometimes.

I feel like a kindergartener who was forgotten about in the pickup line at school and a pedophile kidnapped me and took me home instead.

Worse yet I feel like God drove me to the pedophiles house himself and told me to get out of the car.

That's what he did to Job, isn't it?

Sure God picked him up years later and gave him everything he ever wanted or needed in life, but seriously - what the hell?

I feel like God left me a lot of time. I'm not going to lie about it. I feel abandoned. I feel forgotten about. God walked out of the room and I felt him leave. It got cold and dark in here. I don't care what the Bible says about it - I don't feel God here and that's a big deal to me.

I feel no God in my life sometimes.

It sucks and I hate it and I want God back in my life but he comes and goes on his terms and I hate that and there's nothing I can do about it.

But you know who doesn't ever leave me? Who is always breathing down the back of my neck?

You know who really is relentless in his attack against me like I wish God was relentless in his defense of me?

The devil. Satan. The evil one. He sticks with me no matter what.

God doesn't. God skips town on me and it's complete bullshit.

I know all about God being omni-present and everything, and if that's true, and God really is here with me right now, even though I can't feel his presence, this is what I say to him:

God, this is bullshit. I'm not playing this game anymore. It sucks. Life is crap right now and you're just sitting there with that all-knowing look on your face and you think you're teaching me some great and useful lesson with your silence but the fact is, I'm tired of the lessons. I'm sick of it. I don't want to learn anything anymore. I drop out. I'm done. I lose. The devil wins. Whatever I have to say to be done. This sucks.

Whenever you decide to speak up, I'm listening, but I'm done with the lessons. I'm done learning things your way. I don't learn anything like that, and you should know that better than anyone. If you want to talk to me, I wish you would do it in a way that works for me. I'm not coming your way anymore. I'm so sick of this crap. You think you can just be completely quiet and stare at me and that's how we have a conversation? THAT DOESN'T WORK IN THE REAL WORLD.

And you're still quiet.

Thanks. This sucks.

If you need me I'll be out back getting raped by Satan. I would love nothing more than for you to come do something about it.

Thanks for taking the time to sit there and do absolutely nothing.

Seeya later.

That's what I think sometimes, and that sometimes is right now.

New Newness

Over the past year, I've been told at least a dozen times that I need to write more.I assume that people expect me to write about stuff that matters in the honest style in which I tend to write when writing about honest things honestly.

I make no promises to write regularly, or even at all.

I will, however, promise to write fully and with good intentions.

I also promise to kind of hate this whole writing/creativity thing and get frustrated and have long periods of silence wherein I do absolutely nothing.

David Foster Wallace said something once about the tragedy of creativity, which is that almost nothing you ever do can be as perfect outside of your head as it exists inside it. I agree completely about whatever it was he said that resembled that, but I take it down a notch because it does feel good to do something sometimes.

So this blog is supposed to be that something.

Summer Photography Workshop

Here it is! The 2013 Summer Photography Workshop is ON. Here's the details: 

Dates: July 22-31

Time: Monday and Wednesday nights for two weeks from 7:00pm to 8:30pm

Where: The House Restaurant in Hillcrest

Cost: $200

Photo May 28, 5 29 02 PM.jpg

What I am going to teach you in this class is how to take good pictures. I've done a few classes in the past that were focused on understanding your camera and learning how to shoot in manual mode, and this class will build on that knowledge. For this class, we will look at lots of photos and discuss why some are good and some are great and some just don't work at all. We will talk about photography theory and techniques and I'll teach you guys some tricks that I've learned over the years to get better photos in just about any situation. 

As a photographer, I shoot almost entirely portrait and editorial style photos so my knowledge is based primarily in those fields. We will discuss style, composition, subject interaction, locations, and even some basic lighting and editing skills. 

This workshop is for anyone that wants to take better pictures. You don't necessarily have to own a DSLR camera - this class works for anyone with just about any camera. Obviously, better gear and editing software will generally lead to better pictures, but for this class, I will teach you how to take awesome pictures with whatever you've got!

We will have several "homework" assignments and we will review each others work and discuss it in great detail. You will be asked to shoot photos on your own and show them in class so be prepared! You'll also have plenty of chances to ask questions so start thinking of some good ones now!

I am limiting this workshop to only 10 people and I am expecting it to fill up quickly so if you are interested don't hesitate to sign up soon! 

Registration is open NOW - so shoot me an email at jacob@jacobslaton.com and let me know if you want in!  

I can't wait. This is going to be awesome. Tell your friends!! 

 

Summer Field Day 2013 - June 2nd!!!

*** BIG HUGE UPDATE!!! THE FIELD DAY HAS BEEN MOVED TO SUNDAY JUNE 2ND FROM 1PM - 5PM!!! *** 

Alright guys, after much scheduling and re-scheduling, the 2013 Summer Field Day is ON. You guys demanded it and I am supplying it. Here's the details:

Location: MAUMELLE PARK

Date: SUNDAY, JUNE 2ND

Time: 1pm - 5pm

Cost: $30

 

I'm not 100% sure where I will be setting up yet, but I'll post my exact location on the day of the event. I'm thinking I will probably be in the field near the big playground which is on your left after you pull into the park. If you don't see me in that field, check my Facebook or Twitter feed to find out exactly where I am. Or you can just cruise around till you see me. Look for two light stands and a bearded guy with a camera (me) and a beautiful pregnant hottie with a clipboard (my wife). Also, for those of you who are not familiar with Maumelle Park, IT IS NOT IN THE CITY OF MAUMELLE! It's actually on the Little Rock side of the river. Click the map above to see exactly where it is. 

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Here's how it works:

  1. You sign up for the Field Day by RSVP-ing anywhere you can find me online. Comment on my Facebook page, Tweet me, email me, leave a comment on this blog post, text me, etc. You DO NOT NEED TO BOOK A SPECIFIC TIME - just show up ANYTIME between 10am and 2pm. I promise you won't have to wait more than 5-10 minutes, and if you do, there's a playground nearby to occupy your kiddos. 
  2. Share this blog post on your Facebook page, and then tweet it, and then blog it, and then re-blog it, and then print it out and staple it to every telephone pole in town, and then do it all again five times. This event does not work if people don't help spread the word - so share it! 
  3. Show up on Saturday and pay $30 cash or check - NO CREDIT CARDS! Credit cards take too long and I have to pay a small percentage on each sale and its just annoying, so stop by an ATM on the way and grab some cash.
  4. After you pay your $30, I will organize your little crew and pose you and (hopefully) your kids will smile and I will take a few shots until I feel like I've got something good to work with. I will only shoot each group for like 60 SECONDS, so don't be surprised when I snap five pictures and say "Okay guys, I think that's it!" It goes really fast and I am really good at getting something great pretty quickly. I will spend as long as I need with each group to make sure I've got a good shot, but usually its done in less than a minute. 
  5. After I photograph your little group my wife will give you a nice little card with instructions on how to download your photo and then you are free to go! Enjoy your Saturday!
  6. After the Field Day is over, I will edit ONE PHOTO of each group. JUST ONE. Not two - ONE. That's how I can make it so affordable! If I had to edit two or three images from each group, I would have to charge more than $30. Everyone's photo will get uploaded to one big gallery of images which will be online by the end of the day on Sunday the 2nd - that's the very next day! Take out your instruction card and type in the link on the card and download your photo. If the gallery is not online when you check it, just check back later that day.
  7. After you download your photo, you can order prints from the website by clicking the "Buy" button, or you can print them yourself however you like. There's a million different ways to order prints online and you should take advantage of it! However, if you order from my website, I guarantee you'll get a high quality print that will look good forever and you can even order it framed and ready to hang on the wall if you want.

That's it! Easy enough, right? So what are you waiting for?! RSVP now and share this bad boy with all your digital friends of the internet! Help spread the word folks! Don't hide it under a bushel - let it shine shine shine all the time! 

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Still here? Okay, let me answer a few FAQs for those of you that have a deep insatiable need for information:

  1. Can I pay extra for two or three different shots? Of course! You can have as many different combinations of people as you want - each different group is $30. So if you want one of just your kids, that's $30. If you want another one with your whole family, that's another $30. Just let me know on the day of the event if you want more than one shot. 
  2. What should I wear? Whatever you want! It's only 30 bucks so go crazy! Wear your Halloween costume, or dress like Santa Claus, or come as the X-Men (if your family comes dressed as the X-Men, your photo will be free - please come dressed as the X-Men). The one thing I will say is avoid dark green. We will be in a park surrounded by grass and trees and green tends to blend it to the background too much. 
  3. What time will be the least busy? You never really know, but again, the longest anyone has ever waited is 5-10 minutes. Seriously - just come whenever is convenient for you, as long as it is between 10am and 2pm.
  4. What if I don't have $30? Then I guess you're broke! This event is meant to be an easy and inexpensive way to get a new photo of your family, but it's not a charity event! So please don't put me on the spot and ask me if you can pay later! That's really awkward - and it's only $30!
  5. Can I bring my dog/cat/parrot/alligator/squirrel/manatee? Sure! Bring whichever pets you want - but its up to you to make them behave!
  6. Can I bring my newborn baby? Honestly, this is really not the time for newborn photos - that typically takes a lot more time and effort than I can dedicate to newborns during an event like this. Feel free to bring the baby and hold her for a group shot, but I won't be doing any shots of individual babies. 
  7. How old should my kid be before you will photograph him by himself? If your youngest child can sit up by himself, I will be more than happy to photograph him on his own during the event.
  8. Do you have any props? Nope - but feel free to bring your own! It's always fun to see what people show up with!
  9. Can you photograph my family on the jungle gym or going down the slide together? Not really - for an event like this, I really need to stay in one spot to get everyone through in time. All the shots will be in the same place. If you want to schedule a full family shoot some other time we can definitely do some other more creative goofy wacky awesome stuff.
  10. How many people can be in one photo? I usually try to keep it to 6-8 people max.

Awesome. Now share it and don't forget to RSVP!

i read two new books

I’m up to forty-seven books now. Both were fantastic.I’m not going to go into an in-depth review of either of these books right now - mainly because these book posts are just here to serve as my up-to-date official book list which I will continue to keep for the rest of my life.

I’ve done it this long, so why stop now?

Book #46 - Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline

This book is, amazingly, FICTIONAL. One of only seven fictional books I’ve ever read in my life - and I loved it.

If you are a child of the 80s and have ever enjoyed playing a video game in your life, this book will be good for you. It is wonderfully written and it kept me turning the pages chapter after chapter.

Ready Player One is Ernest Cline’s first book - and from the looks of it he’s going to enjoy a long successful career as a writer if he keeps this quality up. Well done, Cline.

Book #47 - A Million Little Pieces, by James Frey

So I’m pretty late to the game on this book - but I heard it was great and despite the controversy, I’ve always meant to pick it up. It did not disappoint.

It’s all about Frey’s time in a rehab clinic after years of hardcore drug abuse and it’s not for the faint of heart. Frey uses some incredibly harsh language - but I found it appropriate given the subject matter. Sometimes there’s a place for the worst of words - and Frey actually uses them well. If his intention was to convey his feelings at the time, it worked. I got it.

Honestly, I don’t really care that many of the biggest scenes in the book were largely fabricated - it’s a great read and a great story. I liked it.

Anyway, those are the two new additions to the list, which is posted in full below.

All the books I’ve ever read in my life:

  1. Maus - Art Spiegelman
  2. Superman: Doomsday & Beyond - Louise Simonson
  3. The Illustrated Man – Ray Bradbury
  4. The Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger
  5. Wild at Heart – John Eldredge
  6. Waking the Dead – John Eldredge
  7. Dangerous Wonder – Michael Yacconelli
  8. Messy Spirituality – Michael Yacconelli
  9. Run Like an Antelope: On The Road With Phish – Sean Gibbon
  10. The Sun Also Rises – Ernest Hemingway
  11. Into Thin Air – Jon Krakauer
  12. Blue Like Jazz – Donald Miller
  13. Through Painted Deserts – Donald Miller
  14. Searching For God Knows What – Donald Miller
  15. Velvet Elvis – Rob Bell
  16. Rich Dad Poor Dad – Robert Kyosaki
  17. What Jesus Meant – Gary Wills
  18. No Shortcuts to the Top – Ed Viesturs
  19. Into The Wild – Jon Krakauer
  20. To Own a Dragon – Donald Miller
  21. No Compromise: The Life Story of Keith Green – Melody Green
  22. Eiger Dreams: Ventures Among Men & Mountains – Jon Krakauer
  23. Under The Banner of Heaven – Jon Krakauer
  24. Three Men in a Boat – Jerome K. Jerome
  25. Born on a Blue Day – Daniel Tammet
  26. The Survivors Club – Ben Sherwood
  27. The Road – Cormac McCarthy
  28. Bringing Down The House – Ben Mezrich
  29. Rigged – Ben Mezrich
  30. Busting Vegas – Ben Mezrich
  31. The Accidental Billionaires – Ben Mezrich
  32. Where Men Win Glory - Jon Krakauer
  33. A Million Miles In A Thousand Years - Donald Miller
  34. Zeitoun - Dave Eggers
  35. Love Wins - Rob Bell
  36. Three Cups of Deceit - Jon Krakauer
  37. Prophet’s Prey - Sam Brower
  38. The Great Divorce - C.S. Lewis
  39. No Angel - Jay Dobyns
  40. The Natural: The Misunderstood Presidency of Bill Clinton - Joe Klein
  41. Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil - John Berendt
  42. Sex on the Moon - Ben Mezrich
  43. Ugly Americans - Ben Mezrich
  44. We Die Alone - David Howarth
  45. Catch Me If You Can - Frank W. Abagnale
  46. Ready Player One - Ernest Cline
  47. A Million Little Pieces - James Frey

catch me if you can // book #45

I just read another book, bringing my lifetime total to 45.The book was Catch Me If You Can: The True Story of a Real Fake by Frank Abagnale. Yes, it’s the book that the movie of the same name was based on, starring Leonardo DiCaprio - and one of my favorite movies of all time.

Frank Abagnale tells the true story of his exploits as a full fledged con man, from age 16 to 21. In those years, he swindled over 2.5 million dollars out of the hands of banks, hotels, airlines, and other large businesses. He never graduated from high school and yet traveled the world posing as a co-pilot for Pan American Airlines, worked for a year as the chief resident pediatrician at a children’s hospital in Atlanta, passed the Bar exam and spent nine months working as an assistant prosecutor for an Attorney General (in some unnamed southern state), taught sociology for a summer at Brigham Young University, and even posed as a stock broker for a short period of time.

Once he was finally apprehended, he spent six months in a French prison (which, after reading this book, makes me never want to visit France again), one year in a Swedish prison (which kind of makes me want to commit a crime in Sweden and end up in one of their prison-hotels), then he was extradited to the United States and escaped out of the toilet compartment on the jet and lit off on the runway to freedom - for a while.

He was then apprehended again and escaped again, and apprehended again, and escaped again, several times before they finally managed to keep him locked up for six years for his crimes. He still has warrants for his arrest in dozens of European countries, which I’m sure he’ll never visit again, and he currently operates a successful consulting firm to help banks keep from being swindled by crooks like him.

This was an amazing story and I highly recommend it to anyone. After reading it, I now realize the incredible capacity (for good or bad) that people have when they wield unbridled confidence. Confidence is everything, at least in this story - and with it you are generally unstoppable. Frank Abagnale had such incredible confidence that while in prison in Virginia awaiting his sentencing, he literally talked the guards into unlocking his cell and escorting him out of the prison compound, where a friend of his was sitting in her car waiting to pick him up. He got in, and they drove off peacefully, with the guards laughing and waving in the distance.

Incredible.

Read it.

Again, as always, here’s my updated list.

All the books I’ve ever read in my life:

  1. Maus - Art Spiegelman
  2. Superman: Doomsday & Beyond - Louise Simonson
  3. The Illustrated Man – Ray Bradbury
  4. The Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger
  5. Wild at Heart – John Eldredge
  6. Waking the Dead – John Eldredge
  7. Dangerous Wonder – Michael Yacconelli
  8. Messy Spirituality – Michael Yacconelli
  9. Run Like an Antelope: On The Road With Phish – Sean Gibbon
  10. The Sun Also Rises – Ernest Hemingway
  11. Into Thin Air – Jon Krakauer
  12. Blue Like Jazz – Donald Miller
  13. Through Painted Deserts – Donald Miller
  14. Searching For God Knows What – Donald Miller
  15. Velvet Elvis – Rob Bell
  16. Rich Dad Poor Dad – Robert Kyosaki
  17. What Jesus Meant – Gary Wills
  18. No Shortcuts to the Top – Ed Viesturs
  19. Into The Wild – Jon Krakauer
  20. To Own a Dragon – Donald Miller
  21. No Compromise: The Life Story of Keith Green – Melody Green
  22. Eiger Dreams: Ventures Among Men & Mountains – Jon Krakauer
  23. Under The Banner of Heaven – Jon Krakauer
  24. Three Men in a Boat – Jerome K. Jerome
  25. Born on a Blue Day – Daniel Tammet
  26. The Survivors Club – Ben Sherwood
  27. The Road – Cormac McCarthy
  28. Bringing Down The House – Ben Mezrich
  29. Rigged – Ben Mezrich
  30. Busting Vegas – Ben Mezrich
  31. The Accidental Billionaires – Ben Mezrich
  32. Where Men Win Glory - Jon Krakauer
  33. A Million Miles In A Thousand Years - Donald Miller
  34. Zeitoun - Dave Eggers
  35. Love Wins - Rob Bell
  36. Three Cups of Deceit - Jon Krakauer
  37. Prophet’s Prey - Sam Brower
  38. The Great Divorce - C.S. Lewis
  39. No Angel - Jay Dobyns
  40. The Natural: The Misunderstood Presidency of Bill Clinton - Joe Klein
  41. Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil - John Berendt
  42. Sex on the Moon - Ben Mezrich
  43. Ugly Americans - Ben Mezrich
  44. We Die Alone - David Howarth
  45. Catch Me If You Can - Frank W. Abagnale

an effort to shock life back to its rhythm

The last 7 days have been total shit, which doesn’t happen often, but when it does it always draws me into a deep and selfish hole of hopelessness that I have little choice but to wallow in as life falls apart all around me, constantly sloughing itself off like a locust its body, which I imagine is both painful and stimulating - like a haircut, but with much more discomfort.I have shit days fairly often, as we all do, but its only during a “perfect storm” like this that I fall away into outer darkness while I await the arrival of Jesus to revive me - just like Lazarus.

In the story, Lazarus is deathly ill and his friends send for Jesus to come to his aid. So Jesus gets the news and rushes to Lazarus’s side and casts out his sickness immediately and everybody lives happily ever after.

Wait. That’s not how the story goes at all.

Jesus doesn’t rush to Lazarus.

Jesus doesn’t go at all.

Lazarus dies.

And for all his family knew, that was the end of the story. Lazarus was dead and they buried him.

Then, FOUR DAYS LATER Jesus finally shows up.

Talk about being late.

If I was Lazarus’s father I would have punched Jesus in the stomach and called him an asshole for showing up like that. They sent for him about a week earlier and gave him plenty of time to do his thing and what did he do? Nothing.

Lazarus was dead.

Game over.

Too late, Jesus. He’s already dead and stinking.

Now, we all know what happens next - Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead and life goes on.

Now I don’t know about you, but this doesn’t offer me much comfort in my distress. What kind of hope can you be expected to have when you’ve been dead, buried, and in the ground for FOUR DAYS?

Was Lazarus raised to life because he never failed to give up hope? No way. He was dead. He may have held onto hope up until his dying breath, but when you’re dead, you’re just dead. No thoughts. No hope. No prayer.

Did Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead because Martha and Mary never gave up hope? I seriously doubt it. I’m no Bible scholar but as far as I can tell no one had ever been raised from the dead before Lazarus. Everyone that died stayed dead. So I would find it hard to believe that Martha and Mary were at peace knowing that Jesus would show up eventually and zap life back into their brother.

So - the question becomes: Does Jesus rush to our aid and answer our prayers because we are stalwarts of hope?

No.

Why? Because Lazarus died.

So it seems: Jesus only does what suits Jesus.

Which is argument for trust, to be sure - but not for hope.

Hope is an issue that I feel I must hold onto as if it were my only lifeline, but as we find in the story of Lazarus, thereis a point at which hope fails us along with everything else. Even Jesus. The river runs dry.

Hope dies. Jesus doesn’t show up - and we hate him for it.

But then, right in the midst of all mourning and anger and hopelessness - here comes that weary old bastard, shuffling casually down the dirt road, way off on the horizon, carrying with him everything I need, and in no hurry at all.

instructions for today

If you work in an office at a computer, do the following:

  1. Take of your shoes and socks
  2. Find a pair of scissors
  3. Cut off your slacks at the knees
  4. Remove your tie and untuck your shirt
  5. Find a piece of paper
  6. Write “SEE YOU IN HELL” on the paper
  7. Tape the paper to your computer screen
  8. Storm out of the office
  9. Throw your iPhone in the nearest trash can
  10. Sit on a park bench and find a bird to smile at