The most fascinating story I read all week, without question, was this New York Times story about Rev. Ed Young in Grapevine, Tx. encouraging his parishioners to have sex with each other. Life's gotta be pretty dull for a preacher sometimes — "Lord, forgive me, but if I have to give another endless homily about the sacred eucharist, I'm gonna set this church on fire. Hey, cool, arson totally isn't a commandment!" — so this had to have been a fun sermon to give. A few highlights:
"Today we're beginning this sexperiment, seven days of sex," he said, with his characteristic mix of humor, showmanship and Scripture. "How to move from whining about the economy to whoopee!" ... One parishioner, Rob Hulsey, 25, said his Baptist relatives raised their eyebrows about it, but he summed up the reaction of many husbands at Fellowship Church when he first heard about the sex challenge - "Yay!" A week later, he and his wife, who are expecting a baby and have two older children, could not stop holding hands during the sermon. His wife, Madeline Hulsey, 32, said she was just as thrilled to spend a week focusing on her husband. Usually, "we start to kiss, and it's knock knock knock, Mom!" she said. Others found that, like smiling when you are not particularly happy, having sex when they did not feel like it improved their mood.
There's advice for single people too: "'If you've said, ‘I do,' do it," he said. As for single people, "I don't know, try eating chocolate cake,' he said." Yeah, easy for you to say, fella. I'm glad he emphasized eating. Might have been some confusion. As someone who spent the first 17 years of his life as a rather devoted churchgoer, I've always found the idea of the "cool" preacher a fascinating one. If I learned anything from "Doubt," it's that, inevitably, someone accuses the "cool" preacher of diddling someone he shouldn't. This last weekend, I attended a Presbyterian wedding in New York — and, as friends of both of the bride and groom, allow me to thank the Times for not having a comments section; they leave that to Gawker — and the minister was a "cool" preacher. He kept his remarks short, seemed like a fun guy and even made a "raise your hand if you know the groom, and I don't mean in a Biblical sense," which annoyed me, because that's my joke. But he at least knew well enough not to start imploring the bride and groom to start humping right then and there. I'm not sure where I'm going with this; it's almost Thanksgiving, and holidays always get me thinking about being all religious as a kid. It lasted longer than I think it did. Sometimes people will ask — you know, at parties, social occasions and other events I find myself trying to avoid more and more as I get older — which band I've seen in concert more than any other. I'm three R.E.M. concerts away from toppling ... D.C. Talk. D.C. Talk was a Christian rap group in the early '90s, when Vanilla Ice was popular, and then turned into a Christian grunge group when Nirvana hit. I suppose no one thought to call them sellouts, considering they were still into God and everything. But it was difficult not to tell the difference. Rap D.C. Talk:
Grunge D.C. Talk
Time span between those two albums? Five years. That's a reinvention! After Grunge D.C. Talk hit big, they broke up to "pursue solo projects," but they reunited briefly in 2002 for a song about September 11. You can probably guess what it's called. D.C. Talk's "Let's Roll"
Yeah, so maybe pop culture and mainstream Christianity just shouldn't mix, Seven Days Of Sex or no. Not that it's keeping me from Wholly Love, which features "Products and resources celebrating God's fantastic gift of sex within marriage." A God who isn't into love beads is not a God I can believe in. 32. Detroit Lions (0-11). If the Lions are going to go winless this year — and it's sure looking that way — I have to say I'm pleased that they'll do so with a recognizable name at quarterback. If it were Dan Orlovsky or Drew Henson, it would take most of the fun out of it. But Daunte Culpepper! Mr. Sex Boat! That's a quarterback who truly deserves the title of Leader Of The Worst Team In NFL History. Just like Steve Spurrier did.
31. St. Louis Rams (2-9). The baseball Hot Stove season is ... well, it's pretty lukewarm so far, actually. But the big debate in Cardinals land involves Which Outfielder To Trade? With prospect Colby Rasmus apparently getting his big chance this year, finally, it would seem that one (or more) of the triumvirate of Ryan Ludwick, Skip Schumacher and Rick Ankiel would have to go. A cost benefit analysis leads to a conclusion that's terrifying in its simplicity: Trade Ankiel. I cannot fathom this happening, particularly because it's — gulp — probably the right move. By the way, Scott Boras is Ankiel's agent. OF COURSE.
30. Kansas City Chiefs (1-10). Against all odds and billions of obstacles, the Kansas City Star continues to have one of the best sports sections in the country. They've almost become a pipeline, a minor leagues for the big dogs. Jeff Passan of Yahoo got his start there, as did the great Wright Thompson. Now they have Jason Whitlock and Joe Posnanski, who might be better than all of them. But forcing him to write about the Chiefs is just being cruel, and wasteful. It's like hiring Bob Dylan to cover a Staind song ... or putting him in a Victoria's Secret ad.
29. Cincinnati Bengals (1-9-1). Palin watch! By now, everyone on earth has seen the video of the Guvnah speaking while turkeys are slaughtered behind her. That doesn't make it any less mesmerizing. Has there ever, ever been a better cable news crawl than "Gov. Palin Apparently Oblivious To Turkey Carnage Over Her Shoulder?" Heavens. Explain to me again how Palin's supposed to work up the support to run in 2012? I mean, it's obviously not her fault that's going on behind her, but, still, it just seems like something that would be constantly going on around her. Any other politician, something like that would either be a career-killer, or an amusing story to toss off as a joke. Palin? Well, yes, of course animals around her are suffering gruesome deaths. When aren't they?
28. San Francisco 49ers (3-8). A few people have asked, so let's hit the first impressions: I absolutely love "Chinese Democracy." I love it more than I could have possibly imagined. Here's the key thing to remember: Axl Rose is batshit insane. It adds a level of depth to every song that probably isn't there otherwise. Let's take "I.R.S.," which is the best song on the album. What's it about? Well, Axl's apparently really pissed at somebody, and to display his anger, he has decided to make a "federal case" and "gonna wave it right down in your face." So who does he call to make this federal case? The President! A private eye! The I.R.S.! The F.B.I.! The Postmaster General! The Lady At The DMV Window! Somebody! They're gonna get ya! Because you tried to get him! Or something! I think this album would make a lot more sense to a lot of people if the lyrics were scribbled out on notebook paper and then photocopied repeatedly at Kinko's. It's the screechings of a mad man, and it's absolutely awesome. And you know what? Every song should intersplice Martin Luther King speeches with clips from Cool Hand Luke, Braveheart, Casualties of War, Se7en, Mississippi Burning and, I dunno, Wall-E, maybe. I can't get enough.
27. Seattle Seahawks (2-9). Thanks, Seattle, for stinking the one time you play on Thanksgiving. The first two games are total duds. Ugh. I might watch Cal State Fullerton vs Wake Forest on espn2 first. (And yes: It will always be "espn2" to me. And Keith Olbermann will always wear skinny ties and have a mustache.)
26. Cleveland Browns (4-7). I can't get over how bizarre this LeBron James business is. I mean, the guy is having the best season of his career, on a team that's probably one of the three best in the NBA, and all people can talk about is something that might or might not happen in 2010. If you had any doubt how pervasively fantasy sports have taken over, note that something imaginary and/or theoretical is more important than something that's actually happening. Eventually, networks are just going to stop broadcasting live games all together. 25. San Diego Chargers (4-7). As it turns out, last year is going to end up being the closest LaDainian Tomlinson ever came to making a Super Bowl. And while we're talking about fantasy football, Tomlinson's one of those guys I suspect we mentally overrate, historically speaking, just because of how good he once was at fantasy football. Larry Johnson's the same way, along with Priest Holmes. If Marcus Allen had played when fantasy football was huge, he would have absolutely destroyed Bo Jackson on Tecmo Bowl.
24. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-7). I've already written extensively about "The Wrestler," but now you can actually watch the trailer. The holiday movie season is going to disappoint a lot of people — unless you like Tom Cruise as a Nazi with an eyepatch! — so "The Wrestler" is one of the few things out there worth waiting for. Go! Go!
23. Oakland Raiders (3-8). Beating a playoff team on the road bumps you up a few notches, though I'm pretty sure this is high as the Raiders will be for the next few seasons. I enjoyed this line from the game story about JaMarcus Russell: "With that, the No. 1 overall pick of last year's draft finally had a performance to match the gaudy diamond jewelry he wears after each game." That seems redundant: Couldn't you just write that about every player? 22. Philadelphia Eagles (5-5-1). And, at last, the Eagles run finally ends with the spontaneous combustion everyone suspected was eventually coming. Has anyone come up with a halfway decent explanation as to why Kevin Kolb pronounces his name that way? Football Outsiders loves him, though so far, I can't see why. And still: I'm pretty certain they're gonna pound the Buzzsaw on Thanksgiving Night. I'm blocking Daulerio from texting me just to be safe. 21. Houston Texans (4-7). I kind of love that we're about to have a strike from the Screen Actors Guild. (I preferred their previous nomenclature.) I can't fathom of a single reason why, in this wintry economic climate, the viewing public would not rally behind actors hoping to secure future earnings from online content. Stay strong, union man!
20. Green Bay Packers (5-6). This week's update from the Green Bay Press-Gazette: "Area deer registration sites get late-weekend rush." Sweet! The best part about this lead story? It has a photo gallery!
19. Denver Broncos (6-5). In honor of Iracane leaving, allow me to point out that Jay Cutler's shitshow (against the RAIDERS!) is going to cost me a playoff spot in my decade-old We Are Searching For Bliss league, for which I actually write a weekly newsletter. (Twelve teams. 800 words. Totally worth it!) No matter who makes the playoffs, the Broncos are going to be the worst entrant. Screw those guys. 18. Buffalo Bills (6-5). Hey, those plucky future Canadians have a little bit of life left in 'em! Nice! Still, they can probably only afford to lose one more of their last five to have a hope of the playoffs. Sadly, they won't be hosting a playoff game no matter what happens. Postseason games in Buffalo are so much fun. The sideline reporters are all bulked up like Yeti. 17. New Orleans Saints (6-5). Tough racket in the NFC. The standings are pretty nuts: The Eagles are 5-5-1, the Packers are 5-6, the three NFC West teams are awful and the Lions are winless. Everybody else in the conference is over .500. (It really does help having the Lions around.) That puts the Saints in last place. Them would be the breaks. 16. Chicago Bears (6-5). Much love to Videogum for informing me of "Vincent The Fashion Man," a guy who dances around in new "suits" on morning television in Chicago. I love the city of Chicago, and they're probably going to get the Olympics now, but the fact that this man is not a national celebrity is more proof that the Liberal Media Cabal always has, and always will, ignore Chicago.
15. Minnesota Vikings (6-5). Oooh! NFC Central SHOWDOWN this week. To repeat: Two of the top four seeds in the NFC this year will be the Buzzsaw and the Vikings, Bears or Packers. By the way, speaking of the NFC Norris, I learned something about myself this week: If I am reading a book while "SportsCenter" is on in the background, I will put the book down to watch Chris Berman's "2 Minute Drill." I have no idea why this is, but it's true: For some reason, it grabs my attention. Inertia, I hope. 14. Miami Dolphins (6-5). Today's nice item: Former Patriots safety/special teamer JeRod Cherry is auctioning off his Super Bowl ring to benefit Foundation Rwanda, which I assume is to help Rwandans, since those trying to hurt Rwandans wouldn't appear to require much assistance. I will take this over those annoying 1972 Dolphins, whose only charity is to buy fancy booze for themselves. I hate those guys. 13. The Buzzsaw That Is The Arizona Cardinals (7-4). Well, there went that little flicker of excitement. Also, this is the worst possible time for the Buzzsaw to have a game with just four days rest. Kurt Warner's all bruised up, Adrian Wilson might not be back and the Eagles are just desperate enough to pull it together on "national" television. I'm fairly certain Arizona is losing this game. And they'll still clinch the division before anybody else does.
12. Washington Redskins (7-4). They should have lost that game, and it's starting to look like the NFC East might end up with just one playoff team after all. To cheer you up, I send you to Wizznutzz's headline about the Wizards' loss to a depleted Knicks team. "FALL TO KNICKS LINEUP OF ROSE, ROBERSON, JARED JEFFRIES' ROOMATE, KENNY KRAMER, TWO 7 FT HASIDIC STOCKBOYS FROM B&H CAMERA!" 11. Dallas Cowboys (7-4). I don't know many people who would actually classify themselves as a "fan" of Terrell Owens, but after his smug, "they unleashed me!" press conference Sunday, they can't possibly be fans much longer. The only thing worse than a guy who bitches about how he never gets the ball is the annoying self-satisfaction on their face when they actually do get the ball. Generally, I like brash athletes who speak their mind. But god, Owens just drives me crazy. Go back to your porn films, buddy.
10. Baltimore Ravens (7-4). Hey, somebody was going to be fortunate enough to play the Eagles when the wheels came off, so it might as well be the Ravens. That interception Kolb threw to Ed Reed, though, he had great form and threw a tight spiral. So he had that. 9. New England Patriots (7-4). Christ, they're gonna end up winning the conference again, aren't they? It might be kind of fun, and certainly unprecedented, to see them playing the Giants in the Super Bowl again, except this time with the roles completely reversed. Whom would we know to root against? 8. Carolina Panthers (8-3). Don't fret, Panthers fans. You're putting yourself in rather nice position to play either Arizona or Chicago/Green Bay/Minnesota in the first round, and at that point, who cares where you're playing? And because I have nothing else to say about Carolina: Nicolette Sheridan and David Spade are making out. Did you realize she's only one year older than him? Spade's next movie is called Hollywood and Wine and is co-directed by Chris Farley's brother. Can't wait.
7. Atlanta Falcons (7-4). I'm spending my Thanksgiving in Georgia this year, though, because it's a proper Thanksgiving, it won't involve much moving around. Like, at all. One thing I can't wait for, though? Chick-fil-A. My visits to Chick-fil-A — and they don't have them in NYC, except for one place in the NYU student union — are the closest I come to drug binges anymore. You people who live within driving distance of one don't know how good you've got it.
6. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-3). For the record, it's not too late to get your free Dr. Pepper for the release of "Chinese Democracy." And yes, I was reminded of that because I'm listening to "Better" right now. "I never would not thought I could / No matter what you'd pay me / replay the part / You stole my heart / I should have known you're crazy." Dammit, WHY CAN'T AXL FIND LOVE?
5. Indianapolis Colts (7-4). It's nice to have Barry Bonds back in the news, isn't it? How he was missed. Anyway, I thought Bill Simmons' column on home-field advantage was pretty dead-on, and more to the point: Nice to see Bill writing like a madman again. We actually got two NFL columns from him this week; I was sure he was gonna give us one of those lame "THIS WEEK'S PICKS" boxes, but nope, a whole other column. Nice work. The more he writes, though, the more dramatic the cash-per-words difference between him and Rick Reilly becomes. According to my math, Reilly is being paid about $100 a word, which has to be an industry record. Actually, if I were still running this site, I'd sit down and do the math on this. He's making $3.4 million a year, and writing about 700 words a week. (Tops.) What recession? 4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-3). As has been mentioned ad nauseum, the number of games the Buccaneers win is directly proportional to the excitement level of the NFL during a given season. Given that they're probably the fourth best team in football right now, give or take, that probably tells you what you need to know. 3. Tennessee Titans (10-1). They looked terrible! Pull the quarterback! We want Vince Young back! But with no pads or shirt! Go Titans! Whoo-eee Nashville!
2. New York Jets (8-3). All right, uncle: I am now officially sold on the Jets. You realize that they could win their last five games very easily, right? Which means they could end up with home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Which means ... 1. New York Giants (10-1). Yep: The "Broadway Bowl" — ugh ugh ugh — could actually happen. Can you fathom if the both teams hosted the conference championship games on the same day? How would that possibly work? All I know is this: I'm going to be keeping extremely busy at the magazine this winter. No beef here. Even if it means going to New Jersey. A lot.