Monday, September 29, 2008

The 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games

I wish the Paralympics got more media attention in the United States. I was only able to catch some repeats of wheelchair basketball on Canadian TV (CBC) and get updates online.

How can our country so easily ignore its athletes with disabilities? They train just as hard as anyone else and they're competing on a world level. It takes devotion and sacrifice to get where they are and the general public should have a chance to be inspired by some of their stories.

Even though the Paralympics took place Sept. 6 - 17th, The New York Times reports that:

"As for conventional television coverage, none will be seen in the United States until Oct. 8, when NBC’s cable sports channel, Universal Sports TV, will broadcast three hours of programming for seven days. Those shows will consist of highlights and features on particularly compelling athletes."

Couldn't they have at least broadcasted some of the events live? Or what about airing it on basic cable channels?

America needs to remodel their strategy when it comes to the Paralympics because the current plan is a real disservice.

What are your thoughts on it?


By the way, check out the trailer for Murderball. The U.S. wheelchair rugby team won the gold medal this year.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Activist Spotlight: Nazanin Afshin-Jam

With the help of a global Internet campaign Nazanin was able to save a teenager from an unfair execution in Iran.

"Last year we were specifically working on one girl's case who was on death row and we managed to collect 350,000 signatures. How we managed that was a lot through MySpace supporters and just people forwarding on emails and such. Definitely the Internet helps in our rally," said Nazanin.

Not a lot of people can put Miss World runner up, international singer and human rights activist on their resume but for Nazanin Afshin-Jam that's only the beginning of her amazing bio.

If you listen to Nazanin's song "Someday" you'll get a quick story of how her family was forced out of Iran when she was a small child and how they ended up in Canada.

She's gracefully intertwined her love for social justice and her Christian faith to live out what seems like a great example of a purpose-driven life.

I got the chance to talk with Nazanin about her rally against President Ahmadinejad held earlier this week in New York City, her non-profit organization called Stop Child Executions and how she hopes Christians can be further involved in the cause.

"A few weeks ago I heard the news that President Ahmadinejad would be coming back to the US, well to the United Nations to the general assembly to speak. And close to that time I got the news that two more imminent cases of children who were facing the death penalty and I just came to the point where we have to stand up, we have to be the voice of the those who don't have one inside of Iran and this is a great opportunity to come to New York, to hold a demonstration and to spread to the rest of the world that Ahmadinejad does not represent the voices of the people inside Iran," said Nazanin.

"I think a lot of people on the outside don't know that distinction. They think that Ahmadinejad is the president so naturally he represents the thoughts and the wishes of the people. And the way the government is set up in Iran the electoral process is not a democratic system where you can just vote for whoever you want. The candidates are pre-screened and so you just end up with a handful of people who represent a very extreme side of the political spectrum so you really don't have a choice. And because Iran is a police-like state, the people they can't really rise up and speak against the government without facing harsh consequences like torture or it's a really difficult position for them. Our demonstration is also a symbolic way to just let the rest of the world know that Ahmadinejad does not represent our voices and we have Iranian voices speaking at the rally who will speak a wide range of views on issues going on in Iran. But more specifically on human rights abuses that are taking place in Iran."

When it comes to supporters in various Iranian communities around the world Nazanin reports that the overall tone is pretty positive and that only "a small percentage, maybe less than 1 percent that are part of the fundamentalism, the extremists" who oppose the critical work she's doing for women's' rights issues.

Later on I asked her how she would like to see Christians be more involved.

"We get support from all communities and all religions. Specifically I would call onto the Christian community because inside Iran a lot of the Christians are being persecuted. You can't really practice your faith openly especially if you are a convert. If you used to be Muslim and you converted to Christianity you could be charged with apostasy and be sentenced to death. A new bill just came out this month which condones this, that if you're an apostate you can be put to death. And it's a huge concern not just for Christians but for the Jewish population, the Bahá'í community, the Zoroastrians. A lot of the religious minorities in Iran are really scared about this new bill."

If you're interested in being part of Stop Child Executions you can sign the petition, start an activism group on your college campus, donate to the fund and mostly importantly help spread the word in your local community.

"It's a responsibility of Christians around the world to get active," said Nazanin, "and to put pressure on the Iranian government that if someone wants to practice their faith they have the right. It's part of our universal declaration of human rights."

For more information on Nazanin and Stop Child Executions you can visit:

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Canadian TV - Sophie

Sophie is probably the best show you're not watching.

Sophie Parker is a woman who's trying to find balance between being a single mom, running her own business and escaping her manipulative mother's plot to hook her back up with her ex. The show is full of quirky characters, funny scenarios and an intriguing plot.

Natalie Brown (Sophie) is a completely charming in the lead role. It's easy to imagine her starring in the next Gary Marshall romantic comedy à la Runaway Bride or Never Been Kissed.

Sophie airs Wednesday nights at 8:30 p.m. (EST) on CBC. The new season starts on Oct. 1st.

Have you ever watched any Canadian TV shows?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Hispanic Heritage Month

Just in case you didn't know, it's Hispanic Heritage Month! Take some time to learn about some of the many amazing contributions Hispanic-Americans have made to this country.

For a list of events that celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month across the US check out this site. If nothing is happening in your area then why not get some friends together and come up with your own unique event. It could be something as simple as watching a movie and having a discussion afterwards. It can be as fun as you make it, so be creative!

Here's a list of some of my favorite stuff:


Real Woman Have Curves, A Day Without a Mexican, La Bamba, Tortilla Soup, Like Water for Chocolate, Gotta Kick It Up (some Disney Channel goodness) and Wassup Rockers.

TV shows

George Lopez, American Family and Dora, The Explorer.


Rosario Dawson, Edward James Olmos, Jessica Alba, Roselyn Sanchez, Eduardo Verástegui and Salma Hayek.


Isabel Allende and Richard Rodriguez.


Jaci Velasquez


Alma Awards, Kenny Ortega (director/choreographer of High School Musical), Hispanic Heritage Month facts and this upcoming PBS special:

Have you done anything to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month in the past? Never heard of it before? Planning to do something is year? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

[photo America Ferrera winning the Emmy for Ugly Betty]

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Off-Broadway Version of C.S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters

C.S. Lewis was a great storyteller and his tales still resonate with audiences today.

If you're a theatre buff or simply a C.S. Lewis fan then you might want to check out out the FPA Theatre Company's presentation of The Screwtape Letters coming to Chicago this fall. The play has been performed in front of sold out crowds in New York City and Washington, D.C. plus it's gotten some pretty good reviews from major newspapers.

I'm not a huge theatre-goer but it's good to know that Christians are producing quality stuff for the stage.

The Screwtape Letters tells the story of a young demon getting advice from his uncle on how to manipulate humans done in a comical yet poignant way.

For more info visit

[Hat tip to CPA]

Monday, September 15, 2008

Tina Fey as Sarah Palin on SNL

I can't remember the last time I watched SNL but I did tune in for Tina Fey's guest appearance as Sarah Palin. And I must admit it was one of the most hilarious impersonations I've ever seen! Tina Fey and Amy Poehler nailed the opening skit brialliantly as Gov. Palin and Sen. Clinton. All politics aside, that was a great comedic moment.

Check it out and share your thoughts.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Film Spotlight: Relapse

Subtlety would be the art that most Christian films lack. Many times Christian filmmakers get caught up in trying to drill a message into our head that they forget to craft a quality story that could engage viewers on its own. If you've been in Christian circles long enough you've most likely got sucked into watching one of those sappy, poorly acted films at a church function were the dialogue is extremely bad and everything is neatly packaged in the end. But bad movies aren't limited to the Christian community. If you watch the SciFi Channel late at night I'm pretty sure you'll find a movie just as poorly constructed and made on a bigger budget.

Thankfully, Relapse isn't one of those movies. It's the kind of substantial work that Christian filmmakers need to produce. For a short film, it accomplishes rhythm, tone and character development rather efficiently. We are quickly drawn into the world of a husband and wife struggling with the lost of a child. Newcomer Cassandra Lawson plays the part of the grieving mother, her performance is seasoned with a delicate balance of emotion and depth. Lawson's interaction with the adorable child actor offers a compelling cinematic moment.

However, the chief accomplishment of Relapse is its feel. It treads on waters of dramatic and eerie. Director Ryan Smith understands that sometimes a film's best sequences are when nothing is said. Smith forms scenes that fill the silence with skilled purpose alongside a captivating music score by Jim Daneker that invokes the right heart strings to create a beautiful piece of storytelling.

Yet Relapse is not without its flaws, there are some lines that could have been sharper like the "I'm beginning to think you live here" one. But that's a small pebble in a film that flows quite gracefully.

The DVD includes extra features to facilitate a group discussion. For more info on C2 short films visit and

Thursday, September 11, 2008

In Memory of 9/11

Even in humanity's darkest hours hope can still survive. May those in war-torn countries be filled with an extra dose of hope and love.

Where were you when September 11th happened?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Daisy Rock Guitars

I'm really enamored with these Daisy Rock Rebel Rockit Heart guitars, they're wicked cool and their line is especially designed for women and girls.

As The Beatles would put it: All you need is love / love / love is all you need.

[Hat tip to NoonDaySun]


Monday, September 8, 2008

Jordin Sparks to the VMAs: Promise Rings Rock!

Not only can Jordin Sparks sing, she's bold enough to stand up for what she believes in, even when she's in front of millions of viewers at the MTV Music Videos Awards. Throughout the program British host Russell Brand poked fun of the Jonas Brothers and their symbols of chastity, but that was until Sparks said this:

"I just have one thing to say about promise rings. It's not bad to wear a promise ring because not everybody, guy or girl, wants to be a slut."

I would have worded the latter part a little differently but she gets major kudos for her fierceness.

Anyone else rock a promise ring? Sound off in the comments section.


Friday, September 5, 2008

A Sunset in Sudan

God's beauty isn't limited to one country or one continent. It's expressed all over the world through people, places and sights. Look up and you just might realize that God's love is never that far away.

[photo by Omar Nasim Ahmad]

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Rachael Lampa Performs at The Republican National Convention

The Republicans get kudos for including Rachael Lampa in their program but that doesn't mean I'll be voting for McCain. I'm still undecided when it comes to choosing between the two candidates but I'll post more about that later.

If you've been listening to Christian music as long as I have then you probably know who Rachael Lampa is. If not, that's okay. I started listening to Lampa back when she made a grand entrance into the Christian music world as the teenage girl with the big voice. I remember seeing her in concert with Stacie Orrico and Plus One. But enough of my trip down memory lane. Lampa's voice has cultivated quite nicely over the years and I'm glad to see she's still in the music scene.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Band Spotlight: Fairgreen

In a world full of fancy desserts sometimes you just want a nice slice of homemade apple pie. Fairgreen is that heaping slice of comforting emo rock that keeps you "coming back for more" no matter what trendy concoction is being served in the music industry. Their songs "Don't Look Back" and "Every Chance" offer simple heartfelt lyrics and beautifully crafted harmonies that pulsate oodles of raw emotion.

I caught up with the drummer, Kenny, to get a little insight on Fairgreen and their future aspirations.

1. What's the meaning behind your band's name?

Fairgreen is a street we used to practice on for awhile, we thought it was good for a band name.

2. How did growing up in Baltimore influence your music?

I think growing up in Baltimore was a good thing for us musically. Baltimore has a pretty good music scene and there are a lot of different styles and people here so we get to have a bigger outlook on people and music in general.

3. What are some important life lessons that you've learned from touring?

I think after touring you really get to see a lot of different people and different places and it makes you realize that there are a lot of bigger problems out in the world that are more important then some of the stupid little stuff that we call problems.

4. Are there any music artists or producers you are eager to collaborate with?

We would love to work with Relient K and Mark Townsend (Relient K's producer). They are a big influence on us and we love how they write.

5. Could you walk us through what the recording process has been like for your upcoming album?

The recording process for the new album is a lot different then the last one. This time we all went out and got home recording programs and we each record song ideas at home and then bring the song idea to the rest of the band and go from there. Then after messing with the song for awhile we go back and record what we got and listen to it for awhile before we ever actually record the real thing in the studio.

6. What are three goals you would like to see Fairgreen accomplish by this time next year?

1. We would like to have a new CD out.
2. Signed with a record label.
3. Another new music video.


For all the latest info on Fairgreen visit them at