Reader Response

I don’t think I have done this before.  Do me a big favor:  Respond.  I’m not asking for anything crazy.  You don’t have to write a novel – just a few words.  I would love to know what people think when they read my stuff.  Also, it would be really cool if you could rate my articles as well so that I know what you like and what you don’t like.  That way, I can focus on the stuff you don’t like and drive more people away.

Thanks.

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Cry, baby, cry. Make your mother sigh.

I am such a sap.  Every song I hear today is making me emotional.  Well…not every song.  Just most of them.  While I labor at work over various things that do not interest me in the least, I listen to music…my music.  I prefer to have control over what I hear because the stuff they play on the radio usually bores or offends me.  I’m not morally offended by the music…it’s more of an aesthetic offense.  That’s not to say that I am some sort of elitist, unable to enjoy the music of the common man, whatever that is.  I like a lot of music that would get me kicked out of most “cool” conversations.   That probably leaves me somewhere in the middle with most everyone else.

Back to me crying.  I see that I never actually said I was crying, so I should probably clarify.  I haven’t cried today listening to music.  I have gotten a little misty eyed a few times.  The first time it happened, I figured I just really needed to hear that particular song at that particular point in time – that happens every now and then to me.  But then, the very next song got me even more worked up, and it was not one of the usual suspects.  It was a random song that I like, but have never responded to in an emotional way – at least not like I did today.

So what does all of that mean?  I have no idea.  Perhaps I am just really tired and everything is going to hit me harder today than usual.  Perhaps I am more attuned to the emotional truth of each song and that is causing me to have a stronger reaction.  Perhaps I should try to spiritualize this as much as possible and find out what it is about those songs that is causing me to act like a teenage girl watching a Twilight movie.  That won’t work though, because two songs were instrumentals, so I can’t get anything lyrically from them to point me in the right direction.

More than likely, this is all pretty easy to figure out.  I am a sap.  I cry at movies and TV shows that don’t even cause my wife to blink.  I cried the other night watching an episode of the TV show Jericho.  I remember watching Bridge to Terabithia with my boys a few years ago and I was a mess at the end.  I was so worked up by the film, that it sort of embarrassed me.  I didn’t want my boys to see me crying over a kid’s film.  So yes, I am a sap and I cry.  Maybe it’s just that simple.  I’m not sure though.

I don’t typically get very emotionally connected to what I listen to while I am work because I am not able to give myself over to the music like I can at home.  I get distracted by work and stuff.  Today seemed like a normal day – I felt sufficiently distracted by work, but that didn’t seem to matter to the music or to my heart.  (I’m sorry about that last sentence and the way I ended it.  There is sappy and then there is SAPPY – and that was about as SAPPY as I can imagine.  I swear it won’t happen again.)  On a normal day, one song might get me.  Maybe two if I am really feeling it.  Today, I stopped counting at five.

By now, you are probably asking yourself, “Why did he write this?  And more importantly, why did he decide to share this?”  Two very good questions and I don’t have very good answers for them.  Perhaps I just want people to get to know me a little better.  (Even I am rolling my eyes about that one.  That’s not it.)  Perhaps I feel guilty about not posting anything on here for such a long time.  (I am confident there is a lot of truth in that.)  I’ve told my wife that I don’t typically plan what I am going to write…I just start writing when an idea pops in my head.  That’s what happened this time.  I noticed I was responding more intensely to music today and I felt I could write about it.  Perhaps it’s as simple as that…

I’ll add this final thought in conclusion:  I think I am responding to these songs today, because sometimes I need to feel things deeply.  Most days I just coast through life.  Not in a bad way.  I’m not disengaged or anything.  I think most people have very ordinary days most of the time.  You don’t get emotionally worked up most days.  At least I don’t, even though I am more apt to do that than many other men I know.  I think on days like today, I am being gently prodded to keep my heart open and a bit broken.  Not just for my own good either.  I think it’s on days like these that if I allow these songs to do what they are capable of doing, I become more in tune with things of a spiritual nature.  Maybe my emotional spells today will allow me to be more empathetic with a friend or coworker, simply because my heart has already been laid bare.  Perhaps a day like today is God’s way of telling me to stop being so careful with my feelings.

Or maybe I’m just a sap.

(In case anyone was wondering, here are the songs that turned me into a little girl today:  U2 – With or Without You / Needtobreathe – White Fences and Keep Your Eyes Open / Future of Forestry – Would You Come Home / Patrick Doyle (Thor Soundtrack) – Prologue / The Gaslight Anthem – Mae.  There were more, but I think I think you get the point.)

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The 2012 Reading Challenge

I am up to 14 books so far.  I am a little behind, but I hope to catch up during the summer.

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I’m reading 50 books in 2012.

So, I’m pretty awesome, right?  I’m going to read 50 books this year.  At least, that was what I had planned to do at the beginning of the year.  And so far, things are moving along at a decent pace.  I’ve read 7 books so far and I am about to finish my 8th book.  I’ve taken too long on two of the books, but hopefully, I can make up some ground soon.  I’ll try to update this as often as I think about it. 

Here is a list of the books I have read so far:

  1. Catching Fire – Suzanne Collins
  2. Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
  3. Superman: Earth One (graphic novel) – written by: J. Michael Straczynski and penciled by Shane Davis
  4. Wizard’s First Rule (Book 1 in the Sword of Truth series) – Terry Goodkind
  5. The Mediterranean Caper - Clive Cussler 
  6. Master and Commander – Patrick O’Brian
  7. A Wrinkle In Time -  Madeleine L’Engle

 

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I come back to you now at the turn of the tide.

Did you miss me?  Don’t be honest.  Tell me that you missed me terribly.  Tell me that you have been longing for a new post on this wonderful blog.  I don’t care, just make something up so that I will feel special and needed. 

Does anyone even care why I stopped blogging for a few months?  I doubt it.  I don’t really care why I stopped since I don’t really have a good reason.  I just stopped.  I never felt the urge or the inspiration to write anything.  I still don’t.  I do have a few ideas floating around in my head, but nothing has really grabbed hold of me yet.  Hopefully, I won’t stay this way for long.  I enjoy writing, usually.  For whatever reason, I don’t enjoy it right now. 

I am making no promises about future posts.  This might be the last time I post for a few months.  I might have some new stuff later today or later this week.  I really have no idea.  Deal with it.  (Pretend that you are very upset that I might not post anything new for a long time.) 

Anyway….Life is good, even if it is busy and at times not exactly what I would choose.  I am loved by those that matter most to me, and that is enough.

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I vow…

to become more disciplined in my spiritual life.  I’m not sure if I need to explain this one.  Maybe I do.  I’ll just say this:  I need to become a better hearer and doer of the Word. 

to stop getting so angry in the car.  People don’t know how to drive.  It annoys me.  I makes me very mad.  It shouldn’t.  I need to fix that.

to use “perspicacious”, “gasconading”, and “callipygian” as often as possible. 

to love my wife like she deserves.  Every day that goes by, I notice an area in my life that needs work.  This one has been on my mind a lot recently.  Deep down, I am a very selfish person.  I don’t like that, but it is true.  I am also a bit full of myself.  I’ll tell myself that I am doing so many things right – things that other husbands never think to do.  And I pat myself on the back and feel so good about me.  Then I go do or say something hurtful, inconsiderate, or stupid, and I see the effect it has on her.  I’ve got so much work to do to become the husband I need to be.  And it is a work that is never finished. 

to be more friendly to everyone I encounter.  Maybe a kind word from me is just what someone needed.  That sounds rather gasconading of me, doesn’t it?

to spend as much time with my kids as I possibly can.  I don’t want them to grow up thinking that their Dad enjoyed doing other stuff more than spending time with them.  I won’t get these years back.  Once they are gone – and they are going quickly – they’ll be gone for good.  My oldest is 8 years old.  He will be headed to college in less than 10 years.  I want to make these years count.  And that starts with just being there for them. 

to eat something that I love every week.

to discover a new band ever year.  I don’t want to be one of those people that stops listening to new music.  You know the type; the guy that stopped listening to new stuff in the mid-80′s – he’s the guy wearing the Wham t-shirt.  I want to discover new stuff.  I want to fall in love with new songs. 

to discover a new author every year.  Same as above.  I don’t want to get stuck just reading my favorites.  I want to find new voices.

 to learn how to make New York Style pizza at home. 

to keep in better contact with friends and family that do not live near me.

to tell my wife that those jeans make her look rather callipygian.

to grill some salmon this year.  I’ve never tried this and I think I would really like it.

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Needtobreathe – The Reckoning (Review)

I’ve been listening to Needtobreathe’s new album, The Reckoning, pretty much non-stop for the past week.  It’s that good.  I wanted to write a review, but I wanted it to be a little different than my past reviews so I decided to write it in a Q&A format.  I hope you enjoy.  Most of all, I hope if you are unfamiliar with this band, you will give this one a shot.  It’s worth it.

Q:What are your favorite songs on the album?

A:  That’s really hard to say.  There are so many good ones.  I guess if I had to pick some favorites I would say “White Fences” would be pretty high.  As would “The Reckoning”.  You could even throw in “Wanted Man”, “Oohs and Ahhs”, and “Drive All Night”.  Heck, toss in “Able”, “A Place Only You Can Go”, “Slumber”, “Learn to Love” and “Keep Your Eyes Open”.  Yeah, I just named 10 of the 14 songs.  Oh, and I forgot about “Devil’s Been Talking”.  That’s another really good one.  Ok, I’ll narrow it down a bit.  I guess the ones that have really stood out to me the most are “White Fences”, “The Reckoning”, and “Oohs and Ahhs”.  But I’m sure this list will evolve as the songs settle in over time.

Q:  What does the album sound like?

A:  It sounds like Needtobreathe.  If you have heard their previous 3 albums, you have a good idea what it sounds like.  Except it’s even more assured.  They can pretty much play any style they want.  They incorporate more piano on this album than they ever have – which is a good thing.  The songs are full – very full.  Lots of stuff going on all the time.  Not to say every song is busy.  There are a few simpler tunes – “Wanted Man” and “A Place Only You Can Go” come to mind.  But even those do some really interesting things – bag pipe on one of them is a good idea what I am talking about.  “Keep You Eyes Open” sounds like something they would have done on their first album – but after years of maturing.  It’s pop goodness with big hooks and a heart-on-their-sleeves sensibility.  They do a couple of more gospel infused numbers – no surprise there.  “Able” really shines in that regard.  Then many of the other songs are just good rock songs.  Vocally, they have never sounded better – the rest of the band picks things up here a lot.  It’s a cohesive album, but they take plenty of twists and turns along the way.  If you haven’t heard Needtobreathe, it’s just good pop-rock infused with southern rock and a splash of bluegrass. 

Q:  What are the songs about? Is there a theme?

A:  I would say the overall theme is:  The world is tough, many have been dealt a bad hand, but there are still wonders and glories to experience if we just open up our eyes and go after them.  They hit on that theme on more than one song.  The line, “Replace your feeble with the fable” from “Slumber” seems to capture the idea of grasping the Truth by letting go of the misery and victim mindset.  The lyrics are good – just what you would expect from the band. 

Q:  Are there any songs as fun as “Prisoner” or “Girl Named Tennessee” from The Outsiders?

A:  That’s a tough one.  “Oohs and Ahhs” is a lot of fun – but it’s got more of an edge than either of those songs.  Thematically, it’s just darker so the music takes on some of that.  “Devil’s Been Talking” is a fun, up-tempo number.  “Drive All Night” gets my feet tapping.

Q:  Do they have any overtly “Christian” songs like “Signature of the Divine” from The Heat?

A:  Not really.  “Slumber” is full of spiritual insight as are many other songs, but there is nothing as CCM ready as SofD. 

Q:  Is this is their best album?

A:  I don’t know.  It’s good…really good.  I’ve had more time to process and get to know “The Outsiders” so it has stood the test of time.  This one is so new that it’s hard to say how it will hold up.  I can’t imagine it won’t hold up though.  I’ve listened to it pretty much non-stop for the past 3 days, if that tells you anything.  I’m not tired of any songs yet either – even the ones that I would consider the weaker tracks.  It’s got 14 songs.  11 of them of outstanding.  3 of them are good.  It’s just really good music most anyone could enjoy.  It’s accessible but not pandering.  It’s challenging but not too artsy.  It’s great pop-rock with a southern influence. 

 

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