Five On Friday: Yum!

 

Sometimes these lists happen organically. This one began nearly three weeks ago in the car on the way home from the grocery store. A song came on the radio, I turned it up, my wife and I began animatedly singing along (it was the B52’s after all – there is no way NOT to be animated when singing along with the B52’s, is there?), then one of us said to the other, “that would make a good Friday song list”. And thus a list was born.

Actually TWO lists were born that day – so next week’s will be a response to this one. But for today – I hope you’re hungry! This is a list of songs that are good enough to eat!


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Okay, so I actually chose six songs for this week’s Five on Friday. The way I typically create my lists is by adding every song that I can think of that fits the chosen category & then later on narrowing it down to five. but for some reason I couldn’t bring myself to delete any of the above six. I know I have made it clear in previous posts that I am not a fan of modern country music, but for some reason I kind of like Zac Brown – and Chicken Fried is just one of those feel-good, toe tapping  tunes that might be considered a guilty pleasure if I believed in such things.  Oh well.

And if you love music the way that I love music, don’t forget to check in with the rest of the Five on Friday participants, including the host of the meme, Travis!

Vernal Equinox

So Spring started on Sunday. In my house this is a blessing AND a curse!

We love the springtime because the weather gets nicer, the grass gets greener and the sun stays out longer. Just walking around our yard I can see daffodils and ornamental fruit trees blooming, as well as many plants and flowers peeking their first leaves from the ground. There is even an increase in the critter activity around the yard. It is a beautiful thing. It is like all of God’s promises being displayed at once.

We also both love to work in the yard. Just a moderate amount of physical activity in the sunshine makes us feel so much better. Having a decent looking yard also gives us a sense of accomplishment and pride.

Unfortunately, because of the overload of pollen in the air, it also means an almost instant attack on my allergies. My right eye has been red and itchy for days now no matter how many eye drops I put in it. I have had allergy triggered sinus headaches off and on for a while as well.

We have also seen a few house flies and gnats. Plus I hate the smell of burning leaves drifting in through the open windows – and everyone in our neighborhood loves to burn leaves.

But overall – we are more than happy to welcome in the Spring! …And not JUST because baseball season is right around the corner!

Go Cardinals!

 

Harumph!

I woke up in a crappy mood this morning.

I was mad at the cat, perturbed by the alarm clock, agitated at my lack of sleep, upset at a light in the basement, ticked-off at the dirty sock on the steps (which was my own, by the way), and just all-around grumpy.

I have been attempting to shake off this crankiness all morning – but so far nothing has worked.

I started on the drive to the office with music therapy. I tried following the advice of Steve Martin, who famously said, “The banjo is such a happy instrument–you can’t play a sad song on the banjo – it always comes out so cheerful.” Maybe it was too cheerful – because today it just irritated me. So I moved on to some mid-90’s alternative grrrrl rock, but I think it just made me madder. I ended with a heavy dose of They Might Be Giants – not even Triangle Man could make me want to sing along.

I keep telling myself that it’s Friday. All I have to do is get through this day and I can enjoy the weekend.

Nothing.

I know in my brain by the way that I have absolutely nothing to complain about. I am fine. I have a good job to drive to and a loving wife that kissed me on my way out the door this morning and told me that she hoped I started feeling better. I have my faith in God… and Spring begins this Sunday!

So what’s my problem?

Right now, I am just trying to immerse myself in work – mostly busy tasks that will keep my mind occupied. But the voices in the office around me are getting increasingly annoying, forcing me to keep my headphones in to block them out.

Somebody needs to say something to lift my spirits.

Anyone have anything?… Anyone?… Anyone?… Bueller?… Bueller?…

 

Five on Friday: St. Patrick’s Day

I know it’s a day late, but celebrating St. Patrick’s Day made me think about my all-time favorite rock band (who just happens to be Irish) U2. And since lately, as a result of the liturgical season of Lent, I seem to also be on a kick of blogging about spirituality, I thought I would also tailor today’s playlist to that theme.

I had to narrow it down somehow; otherwise the name of today’s meme would have to be changed to “Fifty on Friday”.

So let’s go through this song by song:

Gloria – From all the way back in 1981; the second single from their second album, October. The chorus features the Latin phrase “Gloria in te Domine / Gloria exultate” – which translates to “Glory in you, Lord / Glory, exalt [him]” which is a reference to Psalm 30:2. The lyrics also allude to both Colossians 2:9-10 (“Only in You I’m complete”) and James 5:7-9 (“The door is open / You’re standing there”). It doesn’t get much more blatantly spiritual than that.

I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For – The band refers to this track from the Joshua Tree album as their “gospel song”. It was inspired by American Gospel music and the lyrics vividly describe a sense of spiritual yearning. During concerts Bono sometimes introduces it as “A kind of Gospel song with a restless spirit” and has described it as “an anthem of doubt more than faith”. And for the record, any Christian who denies ever feeling this way is lying.

Until the End of the World – fast forward to 1991 from one of my favorite U2 albums, Achtung Baby. I loved this song from the first time I listened to it, but it wasn’t until later that I realized that it was written from the perspective of Judas Iscariot. The verses progress from the Last Supper (“We ate the food, we drank the wine, everybody having a good time – Except you – You were talking about the end of the world”) to the Garden of Gethsemane to Judas’ eventual suicide. It is a beautifully written adaptation of this biblical account.

Grace – Bono refers to it as “she” in the lyrics, so if you’re not paying attention you might think that the song was about a girl – but it’s not. “What once was hurt / What once was friction / What left a mark / No longer stings / Because grace makes beauty out of ugly things.” As a United Methodist, this one is pretty close to my heart.

40 – The lyrics are a translation of Psalm 40. (One of my favorite Psalms, by the way.) This is one of U2’s most obvious biblically based songs. Live versions still give me chills. “I will sing – sing a new song!”

Enjoy…


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How Does It Work?

I will admit, in my youth I could be pretty sneaky. I was very quiet – a severe introvert – and honestly enjoyed time alone with my own thoughts and imagination. To be honest, it was not hard to hide because my brother was the opposite. He was ADD and (I don’t mean this to be disrespectful) was kind of hard to ignore.

The problem was that many of my toys – especially electronic things like cassette players – were always in danger of being broken beyond repair. See, I liked to take things apart. I liked to try to make things do stuff that they weren’t necessarily designed to do. And other times I tried to fix them while actually tearing them up worse. I liked to dissect machines and see why they worked the way they did. It proved to be hours upon hours of constructive fun for me – and a source of aggravation for my parents who didn’t understand why my things were always broken.

Occasionally I would even branch out beyond the things that were mine and take apart my brother’s things, dad’s tools, or random electronics lying around the house. I remember specifically splicing some wires of an old CB radio together and plugging them into the wall in my bedroom, which quickly filled the room with rancid smelling smoke. Not exactly the outcome I was looking for – but kind of cool just the same.

Thanks to Nickelodeon’s Mr. Wizard I also made a hotdog cooker out of two forks and an old extension cord cut in half. It worked too! Maybe it was a little bit dangerous (DUH!) but it was awesome.

Brokenness was just part of my life. A part of my life that I accepted – even embraced. And as I have gotten older I have come to realize that it is part of everyone’s life. We are not perfect beings. We are all tragically and profoundly flawed and broken.

We love and we hate.

We laugh and we cry.

We sin and we repent.

But unlike me – who rarely fixed anything or got it back in working order – God is a capable and skilled repairman. He can take the shards of our broken lives and piece them back together in the most beautiful and glorious way, no matter how well He knows that we will probably just shatter them into a million pieces again eventually.

God’s grace makes us whole again and gives us hope. And sometimes He even plugs our bare wires directly into the power source, and allows us to boldly shine His light into the darkness of the world around us. As bizarre as it may sound – I am thankful for the time I have spent broken. Because without my brokenness, I would never have known the healing, restoring power of God’s love.

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” [Psalm 147:3]

Five on Friday: Lent

This has the potential to be the least spiritual blog post on the Christian season of Lent that you have ever read.

Ready for it?

Here is the logic:

According to Wikipedia (the most trusted information source on the planet *cough-cough*)…

“the traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer (One Love-People Get Ready by Bob Marley) — through prayer (I Say A Little Prayer by Aretha Franklin), repentance (Please Forgive Me by David Gray), almsgiving (Give It Away by Red Hot Chili Peppers) and self-denial (Tempted by Squeeze) — for the annual commemoration during Holy Week of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus.”


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remember that thou art dust

I suppose many people – especially non-Catholics – have conflicting concepts about what Ash Wednesday is or why we – especially Protestants such as me – would celebrate it. I have done my share of struggling with it in the past too. It is not the most welcoming of holy days. Let’s smear some ashes on our foreheads to remind us of our mortality and our sinful natures. Uh… how about we don’t.

I do not need to be reminded that I am a sinner – that we are all sinners. And as I get older I certainly do not need to be reminded that I am going to eventually die.

Or do I?

The tradition of Ash Wednesday is derived from the biblical practice of using dust and ashes to symbolically express remorse for sins and as an outward sign of repentance. (See Job 42:3-6, or Daniel 9:3). Plus we get the added bonus of being reminded of our impending death, “Remember that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return” (Genesis 3:19).

For many years I only thought of Ash Wednesday as the first day of Lent. Lent is the 40 days (not counting Sundays) that lead up to that most holy of holy days on the Christian calendar, Easter Sunday. This is the time that we are traditionally asked to give something up – to fast from something specific as an act of penance. Often times in today’s society people try to give up something that they perceive as a vice; like coffee, chocolate, fried foods, or red meat because they see it as a way to eliminate a barrier between themselves and God.

Personally I find it more edifying to take something on rather than give something up. In the last few years during Lent I have attempted to take on more study, prayer, acts of kindness, etc. And this year is no exception. This year I plan to participate in our Conference’s Lenten devotional series every morning, as well as read more scripture especially at night. I am also going to try to pray more and blog at least weekly about my Lenten journey or something else of a spiritual nature. And finally my wife and I plan on taking care of our temples during this time by walking for more exercise at least three days a week. Sounds simple enough, right?

Actually – as I read through this list I am thinking, “I should be doing these things all of the time – not just during Lent”. And I guess personally I hope that forty days is enough to make some of these things more of a habit.

So as we “celebrate” Ash Wednesday to kick off this season of repentance and self-denial in preparation for Holy Week, my prayer is that through it all we all learn to walk closer with God, to remove the things that stand in between Him and us, and to experience His amazing grace.

Like the words of the praise chorus, Lord prepare me to be a sanctuary – Pure and Holy – Tried and True…

Five on Friday: Princely

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When I was young I loved me some Prince! Partially because it was just good funky pop music, and partially because his lyrics were dirty enough that I thought I was getting away with something.

Prince was the first artist that I ever realized was extremely talented on my own. I remember looking at the liner notes of “1999” and discovering that he had written and produced all of the songs, and that almost without exception played all of the instruments and even sung some of his own backup. This discovery had a profound effect on me as a kid.

So for my list today – instead of 5 Prince songs – I chose 5 that I refer to as “Non-Prince Prince Songs” – or songs that have Prince’s fingerprints all over them. Some he wrote. Some he wrote and produced. And some are just darn near 100% Prince.

Manic Monday – the Bangles: The rumor is that Prince originally wrote it as a duet with Apollonia, but offered it to Susanna Hoffs as a token of his “interest” in her.  They accepted the song – and rejected the proposal. True or not, it is a cool story… and a great song!

Jungle Love – Morris Day & the Time: More than just writing and producing their music – the group itself was created, promoted, and closely dictated by Prince. But I love their fun & funky take on Prince’s signature sound.

Nothing Compares 2 U – Sinéad O’Connor: Prince originally wrote it for his funk band The Family – it even appeared on their only album – but it was crazy O’Connor’s version that catapulted it to the top of the charts.

Stand Back – Stevie Nicks: Prince really didn’t write or produce it, though he is occasionally credited as the co-writer. The story goes that Stevie originally wrote it to the tune of Little Red Corvette on her honeymoon. Later on she called him up to tell him about the inspiration, so he immediately came to the studio, recorded the synthesizer track in about 20 minutes, and disappeared.

Round and Round – Tevin Campbell: It was Prince’s golden touch that launched a fourteen year old Tevin to his first solo hit by featuring it in the movie Graffiti Bridge. Terrible movie – good soundtrack.


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Rrruuuuhhhh…

How would you kill a zombie?

That was one of the regular questions of the podcast/interview portion of Len Peralta’s Geek-A-Week art project, which I have mentioned on this blog before. But to my surprise, no one answered the way I would. There were plenty of shotguns & machetes, even a few generic answers like “kill the brain, kill the zombie”. But the thing is; I don’t like guns, so I would probably not be very good with one.  And I certainly don’t want to get close enough to use a machete or an axe. So I would probably be more likely to set booby traps so that I could effectively kill them from a distance. Obviously the head has to be removed, so that would have to be taken into consideration. Plus it would be nice for it to have the capacity to kill multiple zombies in a single shot, but having an engineering background; I don’t think it would be a problem.

And after years of watching roadrunner cartoons – I have lots of great trap ideas that I would hopefully not get trapped in or decapitated by myself.

The whole zombie fascination seems to be a geek-thing right now for some reason. ThinkGeek.com even has a whole section devoted to all things zombie. And I like zombies too. Though to just say that I like horror movies is a bit of an over-statement. I specifically like monster movies; zombies, werewolves, large non-descript alien creatures – all kinds of monsters.

I suppose that comes from my childhood. When you think about it, most of the movies that had the biggest impact on me featured monsters, even if they weren’t necessarily monster movies. Star Wars had some great monsters; wampas, the rancor, hutts, space slugs and the sarlacc just to name a few. Then there was Clash of the Titans; Medusa, the Kraken, giant scorpions. And don’t forget King Kong (specifically the 1976 Jessica Lange version) or Jaws.

It has even affected the way I watch movies today. I honestly get excited when I hear about upcoming made-for-SyFy monster movies like Sharktopus, or Dinocroc vs. Supergator. I really do!

Right now I am engrossed in both the Walking Dead television series and the graphic novels. And while it stays true to George Romero’s original ideas about zombies, the story is a fresh take on the genre because it is much deeper than just monster fighting. In fact, the case could be made that the title is a reference not to the zombies, but to the still-living characters just trying to postpone their inevitable deaths. It is definitely more about how the characters survive – physically, mentally, and emotionally – under unbelievable duress than it is about the zombies.

So why am I thinking and writing about zombies?

I don’t know.

I guess I just have them on the brain.

(pun intended)