Category Archives: Shannon

Usher Observations




I’ve been an usher at church the last two weeks. I usher again this coming Sunday. At first I was a little bit leery about being an usher. The main problem is that our traditional worship service begins at 8:55. That means to begin fulfilling the many usher duties (handing out bulletins, taking attendance, collecting tithes, taking compliments on how good you look in a suit and tie… the list just goes on and on) you have to be at the church at 8:20.

Getting to church that early is a bit of a struggle for me. Actually getting to church at 8:55 is a bit of a struggle for me. I’m not sure why. I don’t have to get up any earlier than I get up for work and Saturday nights are not a big social night for me. In fact, it is rather frequent that I don’t make it to the church on time. I frequently have to pull the move where I sneak in when people are shaking hands and greeting one another, which is about 5-10 minutes after the service has started.

Being an usher I can’t pull that slick move. The bulletins aren’t going to hand themselves out and who are the people going to tell that they look good “all dressed up”.

However, I have realized that their is a plum benefit to being an usher that more than assuaged my doubts about the position. More than offset my fear of screwing something up during the big time Easter service, but I need to give a bit of backstory before I explain this benefit.

I was hoping to lead of this entry with a picture of the FUMC’s cornerstone, but I just never made it down to the church to take such a photo, so I settled for the picture of our outdoor cross. If memory serves me, the church was built in 1890.

Now I don’t know how much it has changed over the last 100 or so years because I wasn’t around in 1890. However, in the Fellowship Hall, there is a picture of the sanctuary from 1893. The sanctuary has changed since 1893, but the pews in the picture appear to be the same pews that are in the church to this day.

On a personal note, I really like the picture of the sanctuary in 1893. I love old photographs. I love old photographs of places I know even better. What I don’t like is that whomever put this picture together, put the mat in wrong side out. What should be the back of the mat is facing out. It annoys me a little bit, but that is my own set of baggage.

I made a trip to Living History Farms the last time I took some vacation time from the computer mine. While I was touring the 1900 Farm, I heard a couple of guys comment to Shannon about how people were shorter back then.

This was the highlight of the tour for me. I knew what was coming. I know it is a deep felt issue for Shannon that people learn that people were not shorter back then. I had heard this information from her before.

She calmly explained to them that people weren’t shorter back then. Furniture was smaller back then. Dressers were shorter because people had less clothes. Beds were shorter because people slept sitting up.

I have no reason to doubt the veracity of Shannon’s statement. She took the time and energy to do the research. What she says is undoubtedly true. However, when I sit in our church’s 1890 era pews almost every Sunday, I have to wonder if she checked on the average height of Methodists from the 1890 era. Almost every Sunday that I’m packed into that dinky little pew, I feel like Methodists must have been shorter in 1890. I feel it in my legs and knees.

The plum benefit of being an usher is legroom. I don’t have any when I sit in the pews. It is infinite when I am an usher. I am basking in it. I’m bathing in it. If I haven’t made it clear enough yet, I’m loving every second of it.

When you are an usher you get to sit outside of the sanctuary. You could say that having to sit outside of the sanctuary is a drawback to being an usher. I don’t think it is really much different than being inside the sanctuary. When Andrea leads a prayer she says, “I invite you to be in an attitude of prayer”. I think the attitude just outside the sanctuary is the same as it is in the sanctuary.

So I’m looking forward to one more week of legroom and then it is back into the sanctuary with the rest of the sardines.

Thursday Night with Kountertop (Pt. 1)

I spent my Thursday night engaged in Jaycee activities. It started at 6 PM with a new member orientation ran by Shannon and Charby. The highlight of this meeting was getting a new pen.


03-25-08
My New Pen

I have a reputation for being an elitist because I think Dan Brown is a talentless hack and you have to be a first-class moron to enjoy the movie Transformers. I am not an elitist, except for when it comes to pens. Frequently when I’m put in the unenviable position of having to borrow a pen I will look at the first pen that is offered and say, “don’t you have something that doesn’t suck?” This pen meets my high standards. I take great joy in writing with it.

After the orientation was a Membership Meeting. This mostly consisted of the guy that runs the ISU Organic Farm giving a presentation on organic food. That was interesting. I learned that organic food is not a diet. It is not necessarily healthier. It doesn’t cost much more to produce. It is just more expensive because of the laws of supply and demand.

After the meeting the Band Selection Committee and a few others went down to People’s to scout a band for Ames on the Halfshell. At this point we have only one slot open and the band Kountertop came highly recommended.

When we left Buford’s, the meeting spot for the Ames Jaycees, we were split up into a boy car and a girl car. The boy car included me, Charby and Todd. The girl car stayed behind at Buford’s for a long period of time to file paperwork or something. That car held Shannon, Jamie and Peggy.

The boy car was supposed to blaze a trail and secure a table in People’s. Meanwhile the girl car would catch up with us later.

Soon after we hit the interstate it became apparent that nobody in the boy car knew the location of People’s. We had part of an address. People’s is on 3rd & Something. That something was most likely Court, but that wasn’t for certain.

As it turned out, People’s was harder to find than we assumed. We must have driven around downtown Des Moines for 20 minutes without finding anything. We even went out to the East Village. Finally after driving around the same 4 block area for the fifth time, we parked. I don’t think that we parked because this had been my suggestion about 15 minutes before, but I wasn’t taking any chances. I got out of the car and started walking around and looking for people that knew the Des Moines area well.

Meanwhile Todd called Peggy to find out an exact address for People’s. As it turned out, I was standing right in front of the address, only the building didn’t say People’s, it said Legend’s. There was a sign that said that People’s entrance was around the corner.

We went around the corner and after a half block found a minuscule sign that proclaimed the presence of People’s. As it turned out, People’s was in this building that we had driven by at least 5 times, but it was on the third floor.

When we got where we were going, there were strange sheets of paper on all of the tables.


03-25-08
Strange Sheet of Paper

As it turned out, this was not a straight concert. This was karaoke with a live band.

I was not blessed with a beautiful voice. I have done karaoke on a handful of occasions. However, there is no way I would consider doing karaoke with a live band. It is one thing to waste the time of some DJ, but it is quite another to waste the time of actual real musicians.

The girl car group arrived shortly before Kountertop took the stage. They had no problem finding the bar because of the groundwork and trailblazing that the boy car had done.

Shannon came back to the table with a drink that was called Yellow. Apparently you can order drinks by color at this bar. That made me slightly uneasy because Nate and I had an idea a few years back that will one day make us millions. We are going to make a market a brand of alcohol called BW. The types of BW will be labeled by color. We are going to have a Periwinkle and a Fuschia and a few other colors.

Soon after everybody was at the table Kountertop took the stage. They were dressed in a consistent theme and were all wearing ties.

I said to Charby, “Wouldn’t it be badass if they were a punk cover band.”

“That would be pretty sweet.”

“I would love to hear some Ramones or New York Dolls…”

“Or Sex Pistols”

“Or The Stooges”

“Or the Dead Kennedys”

“I would love to hear some Jello Biafra. California Uber Alles or Stealing People’s Mail.”

“Or some Dead Milkmen”

“If they played The Badger Song that would make my night. But I would certainly settle for The Clash. If they play The Clash, I say we book them right now.”

I have to say that I was highly impressed that Charby brought up both the Dead Kennedy’s and the Dead Milkmen. I’ll definitely have to keep my eye on him.

Kountertop played the first chords of their first song. Somehow along the way I had managed to convince myself that they were playing The Clash. This was going to be phenomenal. A few seconds in I realized that they were playing Midnight Oil’s Beds are Burning. Not a bad song, but if they would have played London Calling or Lost in the Supermarket, that would have been something.

After their first song was over, Kountertop announced that they would play a few songs and then the karaoke competition would begin. They gave the directions that if you wanted to participate in the competition that there was a guy sitting on a couch in the corner of the bar. You had to go check in with him.

Kountertop next played a song by The Pixies and then Folsom Prison Blues, which is one of the greatest songs of all-time. Then they stopped for the karaoke competition to begin.

While they were waiting for people to sign up, the guy in the corner began to speak into the microphone that had been placed in front of him.

I have two impressions of this guy. He was backlit and in a corner. This made his physical appearance mysterious and his voice to feel somewhat disembodied. His voice was monotone and never fluctuated. It gave me the real strong feeling that this guy could have been a character from a bad David Lynch movie that had all of his scenes left on the cutting room floor.

My second impression is one of incompetence. My old boss was blazingly incompetent. I don’t feel that there is a word in the English language that properly encompasses just how inept he was at his job. Any characteristic you would not want in a boss, this guy had it. He was lazy. He was negligent. He was capricious. He didn’t know what he was doing. Why did he keep his job? His father-in-law owned the business.

This guy in the corner with the monotone voice must own the business. He spoke for almost 10 minutes in between the time that Kountertop played their last song and the first karaoke contest hit the stage. He told many an unfunny joke. He made many a pointless observation. He tried to engage Kountertop’s lead singer in witless banter. He was so unfunny that it was painful to endure. The only thing positive I can say about the time that guy started in on the microphone is that it was surreal. It was like being transported to another universe where a lifeless, bodiless, monotone voice amuses only its self.

After about 5 minutes of this I leaned over the table and said: “This is exactly how I imagine hell.”

Only this wasn’t hell. It only felt like an eternity. Finally a guy took the stage and the competition began.

The first guy sang a song by The Eagles, I think. He was actually pretty good. I figured maybe all of the people performing tonight would be pretty good since who would want to waste the time of live musicians by going up there and sucking.

The next guy up there proved that my faith had been ill placed. The next guy up sang Radar Love. He was pretty bad. In fact I was not able to keep my attention focused on his performance despite the fact that I consider Radar Love to be one of the Top 5 Greatest Roadtripping Songs of All-Time.

My mind wandered. I thought about whether or not they would play the space sounds at the end of the song. Then I began to look around the bar.

I made eye contact with the guy sitting by himself at the next table.

“This guy sucks! Wait until I get up there!” He said to me.

“Are you getting up there?” He started to walk towards my table, so I got up and walked towards him.

…TO BE CONTINUED

Sorting Mail

I was told a few weeks back that I had made an appearance in the Ames Jaycees Newsletter. I had kind of forgotten about that news until today when I was doing my monthly mail sorting and I saw my mug on the back of the newsletter.


03-22-08
With Becky

Currently I think there are only 6 Jaycees that can identify me. I’m quite certain that most people that examined this newsletter and looked at that picture and wondered why they included a picture of some random guy from the bar in the newsletter.

Mmmm…. Eel!

Last week I had a heated debate with Andree, Russell and Andree about what is the best Asian restaurant in Ames. This happened because Andree had the temerity to badmouth Hu Hot. Somewhere in the debate, the good name CoCost was slandered, everybody agreed to the greatness of CHC and the restaurant China One International Buffet was discussed.

China One International Buffet was brought up by Andree as a place that I would love if I loved Buffet City. I do love Buffet City and sometimes I’ve been known to take their crayfish home to photograph, but that is another story.

A plan was hatched. Last night Jay and I met Jason, Andree and Russell after they concluded their work day at Principal and hit China One. We hit it hard. It was everything that Andree had hyped it up to be and I ate eel sushi.

After the meal was completed and we parted company with Andree and Russell, Jay, Jason and I loaded up into the Rideshare van and headed towards the Des Moines River because I wanted to snap off a couple of photos.

As we headed in that general direction we passed a parking ramp. I remembered a night after Sara’s graduation party where I stood outside that parking ramp in the middle of an ice storm lamenting the fact that this parking ramp was locked down tight as a drum.

I pointed out the parking ramp to Jason and told him how I wished that I was able to get to the top of that parking ramp.

He looked at me and said some magical words:

“I can get into that parking ramp with this card.” Then he picked up a card that was sitting near the dash.

“Then lets go to that parking ramp.”

We made a quick turn and entered the parking ramp. When we got to the top after about 10 minutes, the view was even more beautiful than I had dared hope. We were right across the street from the cheesy*, rotating cross that adorns the FUMC of Downtown Des Moines.

My only problem was that I wasn’t prepared for such a development. The lens that I wanted for this moment was sitting 30 miles away, in my car, in Huxley, attached to the Maxxum 5 (not to be mistaken for the Maxxum 5D). I was also planning on using a polarizing filter for when I came face to face with this beauty.

However, I shouldn’t complain. This was not the ideal circumstance, but I could get some shots and be satisfied with the knowledge that I could come back at a later date all prepared and with more time. As it turns out, Jason Baier makes a poor photo assistant with all of his whining about wanting to get home to see his family before he has to go to bed because he works at 7 in the morning.

So I present some of what I got on top of that parking ramp and some of what I got down by the river.


03-12-08

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03-12-08

You might notice that some of these pictures are a bit crooked, more than usual. I broke the piece of my tripod off last night that I would use to straighten out the camera. I decided not to fix the slant in post to remind me of how angry I was when that piece broke of my tripod. I hope nobody thinks I’m into Dutch Angles.

*I do not condone the use of the word cheesy in connection with this beautiful cross, but I would not know this cross existed if Shannon wasn’t complaining about it being cheesy.

The Church of the Inebriated Saints

Shorty often refers to going to church twice on the same day as building up credit. On Friday night I went to The Venue to attend the Church of the Inebriated Saints. I think by Shorty’s logic, I get credit for that and can skip church some time in the future.

I took several pictures of Inebriated Saints and I’m going to unload a large collection of them right here. I left shortly after their show concluded, but based on then names of the other bands, they sounded like yelling-screaming-angry-white-male-feel-sorry-for-me music, I’m just going to assume that they were the victors.


Inebriated Saints

Inebriated Saints

Inebriated Saints

Inebriated Saints

Inebriated Saints

Inebriated Saints

Inebriated Saints

Inebriated Saints

Inebriated Saints

Inebriated Saints

Inebriated Saints

Inebriated Saints

Inebriated Saints

Inebriated Saints

Inebriated Saints

Inebriated Saints

Inebriated Saints

Inebriated Saints

Inebriated Saints

Inebriated Saints

Inebriated Saints

Inebriated Saints

Inebriated Saints


Inebriated Saints

Inebriated Saints

Inebriated Saints

Inebriated Saints

Inebriated Saints

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Inebriated Saints

Inebriated Saints

Inebriated Saints

Inebriated Saints

Inebriated Saints

Inebriated Saints

Inebriated Saints

Inebriated Saints

Inebriated Saints

It is a fact that many of these pictures aren’t really your standard picture and might be kind of artistically pretentious, but I felt the need to get a bit creative because bar photography is not my forte. There is limited light, so you are really kind of limited in your options. You can crank up the ISO, but that results in digital noise. You can crack out the blinding flash and my Top Photo Assistant can tell you, I don’t really like flash photography. The only other option is to get a little creative. Admittedly you will find examples of all of these in the photos above.

On a more personal note. This trip out to The Venue was my first trip to a Boone bar in almost 2 years. I saw some people that I hadn’t seen in several years. Anybody that has ever seen me knows that I’m not a big personal appearance person. (Although I have really gotten into color coordinating my beanies lately.) If I know somebody, I know them and don’t even really think about what their personal appearance might be saying to the rest of the world.

A couple different people came up to me and asked me: “You are Christopher Bennett, correct?”

One of these people was a muscular looking gent with a shaved head and a goatee. I had a brief conversation with him and then he returned to his job duties. I never thought of him as being scary looking. Although I might not ever be muscular looking, the clock is ticking on when I will be a bald dude with a goatee. The only thing to be determined is whether or not I will have the guts to keep the sideburns.

Shannon said that guy was really scary looking.

I thought, really? I mean maybe a guy that looks like that can be intimidating, but I only see Larry Sprecher. One of the kids (along with his brother Mike and Kelly Wilson) that I played G.I. Joe with.

Becky came to the concert with Shannon. This resulted in a bonus photo session that I call “The Get Your Picture Taken with Shannon Session”. Check out these bonus photos:


Inebriated Saints Concert

Inebriated Saints Concert

One other person that talked to me at the bar was Jamie’s friend Bonnie. She wanted to know if I had a “little, short, blonde guy with me”. She was referring to Jay. When I relayed that story to Jay on Saturday morning, he became distraught. It turns out Jay doesn’t like to be referred to as both little and short.

Journal Entry No. 200

This is the 200th post on this online journal. I’m kind of surprised it took me this long to get to 200. It has been well over a year since I started this online journal. I’m finally starting to get into a groove with entering things daily and keeping things nice and short.

Tonight I went to Willy’s home bar, Club Element. I didn’t go there with Willy because he would never lower himself to go with one of his friends. I’ve heard the legend of how Club Element is a little kids’ bar, but I didn’t see any evidence. There was no ball pit or water slide. My main impressions of Club Element were that it was ridiculously small and surprisingly well lit. It also had one of the ugliest interior designs of a bar I’ve ever seen. The pool table looked to be in pretty sad shape as well.

On the other hand, the seats were comfortable and the company was great. I went with Derrick and Jen to see a band called Inebriated Saints. The Inebriated Saints is fronted by the old lead singer of UnHingd Mike DiMarco. When we got to Club Element we met up with Shannon and Becky.

It was interesting hearing Mike’s latest incarnation. They played many of the old songs from UnHingd, but the sound was definitely louder and more distorted. It wasn’t as distorted as Against the Grain, but much more distorted than the dulcet guitar tone that Derrick Gorshe laid down when he was in UnHingd.

This marked my 2nd trip to a bar this year. There is a chance that I might make a third trip this Saturday to see 35 South. That is Dennis’ band. They are a southern rock cover band. Derrick is their official sound guy. I only went to a bar 3 or 4 times all of last year. I think I will have to take a few months off if I go on Saturday.

I’m not a fan of bar photography, but I have been considering purchasing a small camera that would be easier to take into places where I can’t lug in my big expensive cameras. Last night would have been a good night to have such a camera. I would have enjoyed documenting the Club Element experience. I could have proven to Willy that I was there.

My Saturday

Most of my Saturday was devoted to Jaycee activities. It started out with the Super Shooters competition. This is only the second Jaycees activity that I have had a chance to work. I was planning on taking a few pictures there, but as it turns out, I left my memory card sitting at home in my memory card reader. I did have my film camera, so I took a few B&W photos. This wasn’t the ideal situation, but I made do.

It had been awhile since I have had REAL B&W film developed. I went to a local camera shop that I haven’t visited in some time to get prints made. I would like to say that I was impressed by their work, but the prints that came out are filled with a myriad of scratches and dust spots. I don’t know what to make of that, I surely don’t.

Here are some of the images from Super Shooters:


01-28-08
Ames has their own electric car?

01-28-08
I dig this dragon sculpture.

01-28-08
The Ames City Hall Gym

01-28-08
Same Gym, Different Angle

01-28-08
Keeping Score

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More Keeping Score

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Gym Window

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Super Shooters

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More Super Shooters

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More Super Shooters

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More Windows

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The Youngest Super Shooter

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Center Court

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Ribbons

Year End Banquet

Before I discuss the Year End Banquet, I should point out that I have excellent news for Cyclone fans. I can pretty much guarantee a Cyclone victory over the UNI Panthers next basketball season. You will understand in a moment, but it is important for you to understand my reasoning for making this claim. You see lately I have been hotter than a firecracker when it comes to wagering. I have been so unstoppable that I have had to turn down my friends’ offers of wagers because I fear them going so deeply into debt with me at which time I will have to swear out a warrant for their arrest and they will rot away in debtors prison.

For example, just this Saturday I have won yet another wager with Russell. It was so obvious I was going to win this wager that I almost turned down his wager. He bet me that Hillary Clinton would defeat Barack Obama in the South Carolina Primary. Not only did he defeat her, it was something of a woodshed beating. His vote total more than doubled her vote total.

I could have won a second wager this weekend with Jason Baier. He wanted to bet me that Rambo would make more than 40 million at the box office this weekend. Even though he pursued this wager aggressively, I had to turn him down. I don’t like to make wagers with people when they can’t win. Even if they don’t know they can’t win. Well almost never as it turns out.

For the record, Rambo grossed 18.1 million at the box office this weekend.

I don’t really need to go into much detail about the banquet. I think that I can break the event down to the two core events that left the deepest impression on me. I can say that before I went to the banquet, I could place a name and a face together for about 6 or 7 Jaycees. After the banquet I think I can up that number to about 12 or 14, but sadly for me, that number should be much higher, but I think I’m starting to suffer from Jay Janson’s Disease. (The inability to put names with faces)

The first event occurred while I was talking to Shannon. Somebody came back from the bar side of the American Legion to announce that my beloved Cyclones were losing by 25 to Kansas State. Although it was sad news, it was to be expected. The simple fact of the matter is that they have Beasley and we do not. That fact alone will decide quite a number of games in Kansas State’s favor this season.

At this point Peggy (the 2008 Jaycees President with questionable taste in college sports teams) came over to point out that her Kansas Jayhawks also thumped Iowa State earlier in the week.

I responded that I wasn’t so sure that wasn’t to be expected. Right now Iowa State is held together by spit, baling wire and a walk-on point guard.

Shannon added that “He will defend Iowa State under any circumstances.”

What she said is undeniably true, but the way she said it indicated that she thinks that there was another way that it is acceptable to be.

Then she took it too far. She wandered down a road that is going to end poorly for her. Even though that road won’t officially end for several months.

She brought up that UNI had beaten ISU this season.

It is a fact. I can’t deny it, but I can make bold proclamations.

I made this bold proclamation:

“I guarantee that we beat UNI next year.”

There I said it. I got it out there. I might have went into some details about how next year’s Cyclone team would be essentially the first team in 3 years that wasn’t going to be built from scratch that offseason.

Then she made the mistake.

“That sounds like a wager.” Those words escaped her lips. I think she knew that she had a mistake as soon as the words had finished reverberating around the American Legion. Yet she gamely continued on and did not back down.

The terms of the wager have not been set, but I can hint at what I’m leaning towards. Let me just say that I think Shannon is going to look good in Cardinal and Gold.

The other event that left an impression on me at the banquet also involved Shannon. I think it was the previous weekend that Shannon won an award at a Jaycees convention known as All-State. She won a pretty major award. She was declared to be the Secretary of the Year in the entire state of Iowa.

Part of the banquet was devoted to handing out awards and re-presenting the awards that various chapter members had won the previous weekend.

Something interesting happened when Shannon got her award. Everybody else got a “clap”. Just one clap. It was confusing to me, but I learned this morning that “the clap” is known as “Rally Applause” or something like that. Everybody got that. However, when Shannon got her award, the room spontaneously broke out in the wave.

I’m not making that up. I’ve been in several crowds where the wave has broken out. Almost all of them have been at sporting events. A couple times it has been at political rally. Sometimes I’ve seen it forced upon a crowd at a corporate brainwashing seminar. I’ve never seen this happen at a formal banquet before. I can only say that this turn of events was very impressive to me. I still can’t quite get my head around it.

This isn’t to say that she doesn’t deserve it. From what I know, she is hyper-organized and put in tons of hard work at that position. The wave was an interesting way of showing admiration for her hard work and skills.

After the banquet, several Jaycees retired to a bar down the street. The name currently escapes me, but my best stab at it is DG’s Tap House. It is in a commercial space that was formally known as The Zone. This makes me wonder where all the women that have graduated from Club Element go now.

This was my first appearance at a bar in 2008. I made 3 bar appearances all of 2007. Cory, a co-worker from the Computer Mine, has made it one of his goals this year to get me to the bar 4 times this year. We’ll see how that turns out.

The most interesting thing to transpire at the bar was running into Julie. I haven’t seen or talked to Julie in several months and it was awesome getting a chance to talk to her and catch up with her. Although I think she was quite shocked to actually see me at a bar. In fact, I know that she was surprised. It took her a little while to actually convince herself that she was seeing me. Of course Julie also thinks that her house is haunted, so I’m not sure why seeing me at a bar would be so hard for her to believe.

I think I was at the bar listening to some band until about midnight. Then I took off to get some sleep. I had a big day ahead of me on Monday. Rambo and There Will Be Blood weren’t going to see themselves.

Kentucky Fried Methodist

I’m not sure how the subject came about, but one day I was talking to Shannon and she revealed to me her extreme disdain for the cross on top of her church. I didn’t really know how somebody could dislike a lit up cross on top of a church. I had visions of the cross that adorns the Marion Methodist Church in Boone. A cross that both symbolizes the faith of the followers of the Son of Man and could make a pretty mean bug zapper if Boone was ever to fall prey to a plague of locusts.

Upon further questioning, she revealed that this cross not only lit up, but revolved. On this revelation my mind was flooded with visions of a revolving lit up cross. I was immediately reminded of one thing from my childhood.

There are several things I miss from my childhood. The velvet bull painting in Jack’s Tacos. The train booths at the Hardee’s in North Grand Mall. The airplane booths at the Hardee’s on Duff. The animal tables at Arctic Circle. Not knowing that Ronald McDonald actually lives in Ogden. Getting the special Country Kitchen coins that you could use in their vending machines. Putting down the economic status of another person by referring to their possessions as “Pamida specials”. Among those memories is the old KFC road signs. To the best of my knowledge, the old KFC next to Goeppinger Field never had the sign that I remember. However, somewhere in my youthful travels I remember driving by a KFC that on top of their road sign was a bucket of chicken. This bucket of chicken lit up. This bucket of chicken also revolved. I haven’t seen a functioning, revolving bucket of chicken in years. While I might be permanently denied access to that revolving bucket of chicken, I did have access to a cross that was more than a suitable surrogate.

I tried to convince of the greatness of this cross. How it represented more than most crosses, it represented eternal truth and the beauty of God’s grace and the Colonel’s secret blend of herbs and spices.

She was dismissive of my arguments and stood fast that the revolving cross was “cheesy”. I argued against her elitism, but failed to make a convert.

I told her regardless of her snobbery, I wanted to photograph this rotating cross. Shortly after our discussion fate took a hand. The beautiful cross broke. It didn’t light up. It no longer rotated.

I’m not saying that I believe in telekinesis or auras or crystals or Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster or that inherited wealth hasn’t created a caste system in our country. I’m just saying that when somebody puts off that much negative energy towards something it will tend to break. I offer up my experience with just about every automobile that I have owned. Particularly that 91 Grand Prix. I still hate you!!! So I’m saying that Shannon’s visceral disdain for the rotating cross was a factor in its ceasing to function.

When she delivered the bad news to me about the fallen symbol of the Good News I was not alarmed. I figured that such a thing was considered a local treasure. Certainly the congregation of the “Big House”* would rally around their pride and joy and it would be only a matter of time before it was proudly beaming out its hopeful message in 360 degrees.

Then nothing happened. A week went by. Then a month. Then another month. Then the season changed. Then the season changed again. I was beginning to think that the FUMC of downtown Des Moines didn’t realize what they were missing. What they were failing to protect and nurture.

I was beginning to doubt. I was beginning to lose faith. Not in God, but in the FUMC of Des Moines. What was their deal? Was the whole congregation as dismissive of the now lifeless cross on top of their building as Shannon.

I might not believe in the Tooth Fairy or the Yetti or Ghosts or that some people can afford to have health care choose not to have health care. I do believe in miracles. I don’t believe that God stores up miracles and then just cracks them out around Christmas. I do believe that during Christmas people are more likely to be open to seeing miracles. Due to the fact that people are a little nicer, a little more generous and quite frankly just better people during the holiday season there is something known as the Christmas Miracle.

At 10:41 PM on November 29th, I got my Christmas Miracle. That is when an e-mail from Shannon fluttered across cyberspace and landed in my computer mine e-mail account inbox.

The revolving lit up cross on top of First UMC in downtown Des Moines is working again. I hope that it leads to a good photo opportunity. Otherwise I see it as pointless and cheesy. I mentioned to my pastor that you had a photo opportunity in mind, and he said he’d be interested in seeing the result. So, the ball’s in your court now. Have fun with that!

I joined the Ames Jaycees back in October. I have yet to contribute to the organization in any way, shape or form until last Tuesday. It was on that night that I attended an Ames on the Halfshell committee meeting and apparently became a member of the Band Selection Committee. Before the meeting began, Shannon showed me a copy of her church newsletter that had an article that could have been entitled The Return of Greatness, but the actual title escapes me. The meat of the articles was about how a couple had donated some scratch so that the church could return their cross to all of its glory. The article noted that this return to downtown Des Moines skyline was newsworthy enough to have been covered by at least a couple local stations.

As it turns out, I was planning to be in Beaverdale on Friday night to attend at least the third graduation party for Sara. She has one expensive brain. Beaverdale is just a quick hop, skip and jump a way from downtown Des Moines. I negotiated an abbreviated FNSC with Jay and Willy on Sunday. This worked out well for Jay because he was heading back to Cedar Rapids on Saturday for a family Christmas and a date with destiny on Sunday morning. That tale of destiny is for another time, but it does involved a naked old man and not closing the door when you are using the bathroom.

After a tasty meal and some in-vain-attempts to find a facsimile of Spin Art, I headed down to Sara’s party. The party was a good time. I made visual confirmation of the existence of Todd and Kristal. I had a lengthy conversation with Derrick about man vegetables.

I got to talk about music and Jaycees stuff with Shannon. I got to watch Sara go down to her basement to smoke so her parents didn’t see it. I got to take a ride in Derrick’s new ride. It was a good time.

At about 1:30 or so I left Sara’s and headed towards downtown Des Moines. I found the church at the corner of 10th & Pleasant. Unfortunately, it was snowing and freezing cold. Both of these things are unpleasant for humans, but they are dreadful for cameras. Condensation and just general wetness created all sorts of light flare issues. That is the bad news. The good news is that I was able to scout out the area and make some shots. Once again, nothing is quite what I’m looking for, but the first image is pretty close.

While I was downtown I also checked out some of the river walk. I now just wait for better weather, because I have some new inspiration.


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*”Big House”. The Downtown FUMC houses two separate congregations. There is the one that has always been there. Then there is Shannon’s congregation that originally met in South Ridge Mall. I forget the name of that church, but I think it is The Colony. I do remember that the name is based on Philippians 3:20 – “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ,” She refers to the other congregation as the “Big House”. It never fails to amuse me.