Friday 5 – City Music

This week’s Friday Five is songs with city names in the title. For this one though, I took it a step further & tried to name ones that the cities meant something to me personally;

St. Louis Blues – Bessie Smith, One of my favorite cities – home of my favorite baseball team & some of the best Italian restaurants outside of Italy.

Sauget Wind – Uncle Tupelo, Had to include this one since I lived for a few years in Uncle Tupelo’s hometown (Belleville, IL) which was right around the corner from Sauget; home of the “Sauget Ballet,” a street full of dirty little strip clubs across the river from St. Louis.

Memphis in the Meantime – John Hiatt, another favorite city of ours because of the music, the barbeque & minor league baseball! (And this song in particular mentions one of our favorite BBQ joints, the Rendezvous!)

Bowling Green – Neko Case, sorry the link is just to a sample of the song. My lovely daughter lived very near to Bowling Green last Summer, so this one is for her. Plus I love the song & Neko is great!

San Antonio Girl – Lyle Lovett, one of the places we are considering vacationing to soon! Sorry for the poor video quality – it was the best I could find.

I included this one as a bonus since I have no ties to Baltimore Maryland, but I love the song. It’s Bobby Bare’s Streets of Baltimore as performed by one of my favorites, Ryan Adams…

A Paradox in Conflict

Is it possible to be proud & embarrassed by the same things simultaneously?

>> I am proud to be an American. Nowhere on earth has the same kind of freedoms & privileges that we do. We are the world’s only real superpower. We have been historically prosperous & generous.

And yet, on the world stage today, we are the ones who started the never-ending war. We put a government in place that cannot get along with each other, be honest to the ones who put them in power, or manage our finances. We generally have no idea what they do once we put them there. We are spoiled, self-righteous, hypocritical & pig-headed. 20% of us can’t even find ourselves on a map. In a very big way, I am embarrassed to be an American.

>> I am proud to be a Christian. I accepted Jesus when I was 12 years old at Church Camp. God has done amazing things in my life & I want other people to experience them too. The world needs more love, more helping-hands, more of what my religion claims to offer.

And yet, politicians use Christianity as a campaign slogan, Hollywood uses it to sell movies, and the rest of the world uses it as a punch-line. And we’ve brought it on ourselves. The most visible & recognizable representatives of our faith (televangelists, talk-radio hosts, politicians, etc.) are generally not the kind of people that I want to be associated with at all. Christianity is often touted in our society as a get-out-of-Hell-free card or a status symbol of some bizarre kind. In an equally big way, I am embarrassed to be a Christian.

>> I am proud to be a human. Residents of earth are truly blessed! We get to experience sunrises, sunsets, ocean breezes & the glory of nature itself. We have free will. We have the capacity for love & compassion. We have the ability to make and appreciate art & music. We have the ability to use our intellect to discover treatments and even cures for diseases & afflictions.

And yet, yoked with the responsibility of caring for each other & for our environment we consistently fail & fall short. We are slowly destroying the very things that sustain our lives. We consistently turn away from our fellow humans while they suffer, starve, hurt, even die. Once again, I am embarrassed to be a human.


I am simultaneously proud & embarrassed to be a man, to be a registered Democrat, to be married, to be gainfully employed, to be heterosexual… to have a full head of hair, dang-it! I don’t know how one is supposed to resolve these inherent conflicts in life. Or maybe that’s just the way it has to be. Maybe the struggle is what makes it all worthwhile, what gives it meaning. Maybe the journey is more important than the destination – the race more important than the prize – the quest more important than the grail itself.

I don’t know. What do you think?

Monday Miscellany & A Prayer Request


As an extension of my birthday weekend, on Saturday my wife took me to eat dinner at my favorite Greek restaurant (the only true Greek restaurant within 100 miles of here) and to see the geekiest form of music fandom I can think of, U23D! That’s right, a U2 concert in digital 3D! I’ve been excited about this for 2 weeks. Partially because we were supposed to go last weekend, but the movie’s release was postponed due to the popularity of Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert in 3D. U2 was bumped by Billy Ray’s daughter… ouch. That just hurts. (I’m keeping my hateful comments to myself…) But we finally got to see it! And let me just say, IT ROCKED! It was an excellent concert & the 3D work was like nothing I had ever seen!

I wouldn’t say that it was “even better than the real thing”, as I have heard some people remark. It’s just a totally different experience; kind of like watching a baseball game. Yes, on TV you get more in-depth analysis, you get closer to the players, and you can watch a play multiple times from multiple angles at multiple speeds. But nothing compares to the feeling of actually being at the ball park! Seeing U2 live was the most memorable concert experience of my life, period. But U23D was fun, and a memorable experience all its own.


My only major disappointment was the fact that we were literally the only two people in the theater. On the bright side, it kind of felt like Bono, Edge & the boys were performing just for us! (Even though Adam did nearly hit me across the face with the headstock of his bass!)


Prayer Request

On a much more serious & important note, we received news Saturday night that one of my wife’s kindergarten students is back in the hospital. He has a rare genetic disease called Nevoid basal cell carcinoma, or Gorlin Syndrome that he will have to live with the rest of his life. But that’s not what sent him back to the hospital. No, this time it was something else. For the second time in his short life, he is battling acute lymphoblastic leukemia. According to his mother, it’s much worse this time. He will be at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis for at least 2 months for treatment and will likely not be back to school the rest of the year.

After hearing this news and talking to his mother on the phone for quite a while, we just sat in the living room in tears trying NOT to imagine what it would be like for something like this to happen to one of our own children, nieces or nephews. Now she gets the difficult task of explaining to a room full of 5 & 6 year olds today why their friend isn’t in class. Please say a prayer for her & her class too.

St. Jude is one charity that we have always had a soft-spot for, even long before their reach had hit so close to home. This only makes those feelings stronger. There is no doubt that without St. Jude, he would not be alive today. So please add Devin to your prayer list today – and if you feel so moved, please make a donation to St. Jude so that they can continue their phenomenal work of helping kids like Devin without regard to their ability to pay.



Lenten Prayer – Week 3

sunset3.jpgThis week’s prayer is taken from the Beliefnet Blog, The Divine Hours of Lent , a resource that I will continue to utilize for the remainder of the season. It is a reprinting of the “Litany of Penitence” from The Book of Common Prayer. It’s a beautiful prayer if not almost painful to recite. Really makes you think;



Most holy and merciful Father:
I confess to you and to the whole communion of saints
in heaven and on earth,
that I have sinned by my own fault
in thought, word, and deed;
by what I have done, and by what I have left undone.

I have not loved you with my whole heart, and mind, and strength. I have not loved my
neighbors as myself. I have not forgiven others, as I have been forgiven.
Have mercy on me, Lord.

I have been deaf to your call to serve, as Christ served us. I have not been true to the
mind of Christ. I have grieved your Holy Spirit.
Have mercy on me, Lord.

I confess to you, Lord, all my past unfaithfulness: the pride, hypocrisy, and
impatience of my life.
I confess to you, Lord.

My self-indulgent appetites and ways, and my exploitation of other people,
I confess to you, Lord.

My anger at my own frustration, and my envy of those more fortunate than I,
I confess to you, Lord.

My intemperate love of worldly goods and comforts, and my dishonesty in daily life
and work,
I confess to you, Lord.

My negligence in prayer and worship, and my failure to commend the faith that is in me,
I confess to you, Lord.

Accept my repentance, Lord, for the wrongs that I have done: for my blindness to human
need and suffering, and my indifference to injustice and cruelty,
Accept my repentance, Lord.

For all false judgments, for uncharitable thoughts toward my neighbors, and for my
prejudice and contempt toward those who differ from me,
Accept my repentance, Lord.

For my waste and pollution of your creation, and for my lack of concern for those who
come after us,
Accept my repentance, Lord.

Restore me, good Lord, and let your anger depart from me.
Favorably hear me, for your mercy is great.

Accomplish in me and all of your church the work of your salvation,
that I may show forth your glory in the world.

By the cross and passion of your Son our Lord,
bring me with all your saints to the joy of his resurrection.

Random iPod Shuffle

Here we go again! Another big ice storm is moving through the Midwest & hitting our area pretty hard again. Schools are cancelled & it was a challenge to get to work this morning as the ice just kept building up on my windshield regardless of how much defrost & wipers I threw at it. Combine that with the fish-tailing & tire spinning & it all adds up to one super-fun 35 mile drive!

But here I am – planning on not getting much actual work done today! So I thought I would kill some time with a random iPod Shuffle. I’ve always wanted to post one but never had a reason. It’s pretty fun regardless, especially when your musical taste is as diverse & scattered as mine. This isn’t really an indicative cross-section, but it is interesting;

1.) Burn that Broken Bed – Calexico with Iron & Wine
2.) Who Did You Think I Was – John Mayer Trio
3.) Born With A Broken Heart – Kenny Wayne Shepherd
4.) AKA Driver – They Might Be Giants
5.) I’ll Be Glad When You’re Dead, You Rascal You – Dr. John
6.) Leaving New York – R.E.M.
7.) Mr. Columbus – Grace Potter & The Nocturnals
8.) I’m Coming Through – Diana Krall
9.) Hungry Eyes – Merle Haggard
10.) I’m In The Mood – John Lee Hooker

That’s right, Haggard & Hooker – two great tastes that taste great together! (eh?)

Haggard & Hooker

What’s on the iPod?

Jack Johnson – Sleep Through the Static

sleep through the staticJack is Back with what is supposed to be a departure for him. He wanted to make a more electric, plugged-in album as opposed to his first three releases of mostly stripped-down acoustic music.  I like Jack. I really do. Since the first time I heard Bubble Toes I’ve been hooked! I was drawn to the style of his guitar playing with its almost percussion-like “hammer-ons” & pretty little transitions combined with his soft, not-so-perfect voice. It reminded me of Cat Stevens combined with Jimmy Buffett. But this time out he decided to shake that formula up… supposedly.

He did mostly ditch the acoustic guitar & added some different instruments & sounds from his friend, frequent collaborator & ALO front-man Zach Gill. But how much difference did it make? Not much really. It’s still undeniably Jack Johnson. It still sounds like the kind of music you should be listening to sitting around a fire on a beach as the sun sets over the ocean. It all pretty much blends in perfectly with the rest of his catalog. And if you’re a fan like me, that’s not necessarily a bad thing!

I am all for an artist trying something new, stretching themselves outside of their normal parameters, shaking things up a bit. Obviously you don’t want to continue recording (or buying) the same album over & over. But the fact remains that Jack is at his best when he’s just being himself; stripped-down, acoustic, simple melodies, socially aware, fighting for the environment & having fun. Personally though, what I would like to see from him next is a live album… but that’s just me.

Case in point:

You can also check out Jack’s latest video, If I Had Eyes from the new album by clicking here HERE.

123 Book Meme

I was avoiding participating in this meme because I am at work which means that all of the books within reach are work-related. But since Willie called me out by name (thanks buddy), I suppose I will play along;

Here are the rules:

    •  Pick up the nearest book of 123 pages or more. (No cheating!)
    •  Find Page 123.
    •  Find the first 5 sentences.
    •  Post the next 3 sentences.
    •  Tag 5 people.

        Here goes…

        “Unfortunately, however, my client had never done any disaster studies and had no contingency plans. Too bad, too, because on January 17, 1994, at 4:30 a.m. in Northridge, California, a 6.7 magnitude earthquake hit. The quake lasted only 15 seconds, but that was quite enough.”

        Any guesses?

        It’s the Complete Idiot’s Guide to Networking, by Bill Wagner & Chris Negus.

        Kind of a letdown, huh?

        Ok Lindsey, you’re tagged!
        & Anyone else that happens to drop by!