Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Oscars, The Muppets and Mike Bolton's Big Day

(Anyone looking for American Idol thoughts, I'll post guys & girls reviews together on Thursday morning...)

So, Sunday night was Oscar night... as always, a group gathered for the proceedings to watch the glam and pageantry as multi-million dollar celebs gather to congratulate themselves on such fine work, and the fact they now treat Al Gore as a rock star because he dare say "America! You suck! Clean up your environment now", all the while saying "China, you build all the carbon-producing plants you want... its okay, we are the bad guys, not you." But I'm not bitter.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
That's right... people were having a Goregasm over his masterpiece, "A Convenient Lie"

A few Oscar highlights:

  • Will Ferrill, Jack Black and John C. Reilly's song about the fact comedies never win anything was absolutely hysterical. It is true, though... last year, I read a number of critics that said "The 40 Year Old Virgin" truly was the best movie of the year, but The Academy didn't take it seriously enough to nominate it for anything. Instead, we get Brokeback Mountme and Crash (the latter of which I do want to eventually see, the former of which I have no desire to ever see--no, I'm not homophobic, I just don't want to see two gay guys getting it on)
  • The "Sound Choir" was really interesting too. A choir stood up and made noises, while the corresponding film clips played in the background, from trains to shopping carts to shark attacks and whatever. And the kicker was, they all had songbooks in their hands... I mean, what was in those? Pictures? Instructions like "Train. Whistle."?
  • Somewhere around the Sound Editing Award, we start making comments about the differences in Sound Editing and Sound Mixing. This is a joke that will run through the entire evening.
  • As George Lucas stood onstage, watching Steven Spielberg and Francis Ford Coppola banter back and forth about their Oscars (of which Lucas has never won one), Drew Morris commented, "Yeah, but Steve? Fran? I'VE GOT BILLIONS!!!!". Funny.
  • Speaking of directors, I was glad that Marty Scorcese won his Director's Oscar, and that "The Departed" won for best picture. I was afraid they'd give it to him because they thought he shouold have one, not this one picture (see Denzel Washington in "Training Day"), but I saw the movie last week... and it was awesome. Mark Wahlberg is just great in it, as is Matt Damon and everyone else. And its pure Nicholson, really.
  • "Happy Feet" won for best Animated Feature, over "Cars". I picked "Cars", but I should have known better... "Happy Feet" has a global warming message to it. Silly me.
  • Commenting on how old Peter O'Toole looked, someone quipped "He's probably thinking 'Disneyland has changed since the last time I was here'".
  • Even though some are saying that the show was boring, I thought it was okay. Not the best I've ever seen, but I really like Ellen Degeneres, "America's Favorite Lesbian".
  • That being said, I think Jerry Seinfeld was funnier in three minutes than Ellen was in three hours. His bit on being messy in movie theaters was great, and the best laughter came as he announced the nominations for "five depressing documentaries".
  • Was I the only one bored by the incredibly long montage of foriegn films. Someone observed that it was all the Oscar winning films, to which I replied "No, its every foriegn film EVER MADE".
  • The answers: "My wife, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Kate Winslet". The question: "Who werethe three hottest chicks of the night?"
  • Finally, The Unsinkable Nikki Brown won the Oscar pool this year. Once again, I came up short (in 3rd), but this year was so whacked out, no one won more than 13 out of 25 catagories (Nikki, again, was the only one. The next closest was 11, which was Steph)

I can't believe I missed this... Michael Bolton turned 54 on Monday. I celebrate almost his entire catalogue... for me, there's nothing better than when he sings "When a Man Loves a Woman". Happy birthday Mike.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Truly... he is our soul provider


Ah, truth in advertising. Have you seen those stupid Jessica Simpson commercials where she's chasing the pizza guy? Yeah, well,
read this.


Premiere has listed the
"15 Scariest Flicks Ever Remade". All are horror films, some are just horrible films... and who knew that "Thir13en Ghosts" was a remake? Ah, Shannon Elizabeth, where hast thou gone?


As someone who grew up with The Muppet Show, this link to
Five Freaky Muppet Videos is worth its weight in gold. There's great moments like "Love Songs with Alice Cooper", and "Kermit Meets Blondie", but the coup de gras has to be the dream of every little kid in the late 70s... Star Wars meets the Muppets.


What do we learn from cartoons? Well, the Smurfs teach us that communism works, Scooby-Doo tells us to trust no one, and TMNT reveals that April O'Neill is really hot. All this and more from
8 Things We Learn from Cartoons.


On the same page, what do Robin Williams, Eddie Murphy, Mike Myers, Steve Martin and Jim Carrey have in common? They are five once-great comedians who have lost their way,
according to this article (warning: language). You could add Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Chevy Chase to this list.


My celebrity playlist? Hmmm... I'm still thinking on that, but I'm sure that it will include "Ain't No Sunshine" by Bill Withers, "Stay" by Lisa Loeb & Nine Stories and "Lift My Eyes" by Jill Paquette.


Just for Paula, and everyone else who wondered
why Prince didn't get electrocuted at the Super Bowl... by the way, Paula Maddox's MySpace page is worth the visit just to hear Journey.


For you bored people...
make robots out of paper!!

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
It's hard to top Optimus Dobler (yes, I'm fully aware about 3 of my 10 person readership got that joke... but I made it anyway)


It's about darn time... one of my favorite commercial mascots
has his own webpage now. You cn see the Geico Caveman's magnetic poetry (and create your own), the shopping list, his notes on War and Peace (you have to click on the book) and even his iPod playlist. (the speaker its sitting on is the exact one I have)


And finally... on Wednesday, I celebrate three years being married to Stephanie Leann Campbell. It's been the most fun I think I've ever had--I vaguely remember what it's like to be single, really.

Steph--I love you, I cherish you and heck, even like you alot. Happy Anniversary to us.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Long Live Bayley Brown! (the Idol Chicks)

Its American Idol time! And unlike yesterday, I actually got all two hours of it on tape! So let’s begin…

First is a recap of the guys last night, including Sundance’s horrendous version of “Nights In White Satin”. Apparently, Punjab went after a Stevie Wonder song, one of those Great One artists that Randy, Paula and Simon hold in high regard… so now, it’s the chicks turn, some of which I can’t even name by face.

See, Idols are so funny to me. Out of all the Idols I’ve pushed for in the past, including Amy Adams, Kim Caldwell, Kelly Clarkson, Julia Demato, Taylor Hicks, Daughtry, Pickles, My Girl McPhee and others, I don’t own a single Idol cd. I will say I’ve gotten Kelly Clarkson’s and Carrie Underwood’s cds on my iPod, and they are both very good, and I’m looking forward to hearing Pickles and McPhee’s stuff (I like what I’ve heard so far). So as much as I like Gina Glocksen so far, I don’t know that I’d buy an album off of her… not a fan of the tats all up and down her arm, not bing a chick tattoo fan to begin with. One or two is okay, but covering a body part? Eeeh. That’s just me. Stephanie keeps the fire-breathing dragon tattoo that covers her back hidden.

Stephanie Edwards
is first. Chick #1 I don’t remember. She looks like a lighter skinned, taller, more friendly Fantasia, whom I absolutely cannot stand. I like the soul in her voice (Stephanie, not ‘Tasia). She’s sassy too, which is fun. She actually reminds me of Latoya London, whom I just loved back in Season 2. Randy’s all excited about it, Paula is all excited about it… and Simon’s all over it. I agree. Go Stephanie.

Amy Krebs. Chick #2 I don’t remember. They’re showing her audition, and her trip to the Top 24, of which I don’t remember a thing about. I can see her being a face for Proactiv. But that’s just me. Oh, and she’s taking on Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me”, an already gut wrenching song that can only be made more gut wrenching by singing it badly. She’s doing okay, very soft, very… well, to be Randy, very safe. And guess what word Randy used? “Safe”. And Paula? “Safe”. And Simon? “I still can’t remember you”. Yeah, I don’t see her making the Final 12.

Which brings us to Chick #3 I don’t remember, that being Leslie Hunt, singing “A Natural Woman” by Carole King. For you kiddies, Carole King can wail, so good luck honey. She looks almost like someone I might have gone out with as a freshman or something… maybe I’m thinking of Christy Long. Randy wasn’t impressed, Paula is blowing sunshine, and Simon says “wasn’t great.” Perhaps will sit next to Amy Krebs on the plane ride home tomorrow night. Leslie’s dad looks like someone I saw on “To Catch a Predator”.

Sabrina Sloan… finally, someone I remember! Vaguely. I just remember her as having good hair. I’m not sure of the song she’s singing… but I like it. Oh, wait… she’s singing “The Way That I Love You”… that might be the title of it. I think its an Aretha song, and I’ve heard Sheryl Crow do a great cover of it… anyway, Sabrina is rocking it. I might have found my first favorite of the year. Randy and Paula loved it…and so did Simon. I’m now going to go get the original off of iTunes.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
An early favorite, that being Sabrina

Oh, its Antonella Barba. See, she was in the group that I think got my early favorite, Bayley Brown, punted. So, I’m not liking her to begin with… she’s doing a female take on “Don’t Want To Miss a Thing” from Aerosmith. And to me, not all that well. Randy says “Wasn’t great”, Paula says “Wasn’t bad”, then harps on how hot she is (which I don’t agree with that either), and Simon says “song was way, way, way too big for you”. He’s even predicting she’s gone after tomorrow night. Long live Bayley Brown!!

I just saw a disturbing commercial. They aren’t even putting roman numerals after those “Land Before Time” movies (I mean, what’s the Roman numeral for 134?)… there’s a new one called “Land Before Time: The Great Day of the Flyers”. Why? Oh why?

Hey! Its Lisa Turtle Part II! I like Jordin Sparks, honestly, and have since her first audition. She’s got kind of a large head, and great Melanie Jackson hair (a chick I knew in college with the thickest hair in the history of the world). She’s singing “Give Me One Reason” by Tracy Chapman, and I like it because its not a “sing like Tracy Chapman” performance, it’s a “sing a Tracy Chapman song my way” performance. She’s fun… I’m diggin’ her. Randy is telling her to go bigger with song choice. Paula is blowing sunshine. She looks like Deena Emaish, whom I work with at Starbucks… Deena’s gorgeous, so no wonder I think Jordin looks great.

Nicole Tranquilizer, #4 that I don’t remember, is up now. She’s taking on Chaka Khan, which is tough to do… she looks good in her black and silver, but she’s not that great vocally. I mean, I’m not a great judge, cause I suck, but still, I think I could grow to like Nicole Tranquility. I love it when they show the parents, who are usually so white they can barely clap in beat. She’s not Jordin Sparks, but she’s got great hair too. Randy says “that just ain’t your vibe, rough for me”. I agree. Paula? There’s some sunshine, and she’s blowin’ it. Simon says “aggressive, unnatural, fake, indulgent, over-rehearsed”. I concur. Randy keeps talking a little more, essentially saying “You are too white for those kind of songs”

Haley Scarneto… at first, I didn’t remember her, but they just showed her audition tape of “I Can’t Make You Love Me”, and now I recall that I love this chick. She also busted out on some Celine, she’s like, super hot, and here she is taking on Celine tonight. “Its All Coming Back to Me Now”. For all you Celine haters out there, you might not like her style, and think she’s cheesy, which she is, but you gotta admit, she can take on some notes and harmony. Randy says the infamous “just okay for me”. Paula? Whoosh. Simon says “You sounded 40 years old”. I disagree… I liked it.

Melinda Doolittle… how can you not like her? She was, like Brandon Rogers, a former backup singer, she’s fun, she’s cute, she looks like the kind of girl you want hanging out in your group, because she’s going to add soul to your party. She’s taking on Aretha, and she’s going nuts on it. Unless she falls victim to the Mandisa/Latoya London/Diva voted out too early disease, Melinda Doolittle can win this thing. How ‘bout for me, she just had the best song of the night? Randy loved it. Paula loved it. Simon loved it. Darn it, I want Melinda Doolittle to come have dinner with Stephanie and I, so we can play Uno Attacks, cause she’s so humble and cute.

Alaina Alexander is coming out now. She’s little. She needs to eat some gravy and biscuits. I do remember her, though, she’s the one that Simon said “That was really, really, really great” at her audition. She cries a lot. Like, she’s tearing up while discussing crying a lot. Unfortunately, she’s making me tear up listening to her butcher “Brass In Pocket” by The Pretenders. Randy tells her she wasn’t great. Paula says “you didn’t put your umph into it.” Simon recalls the line in the song, “I’m special, so special”, and says “you really weren’t”. He’s right in saying that this is a song, as are most Pretenders songs, that’s hard to make it “your own”. Ryan is raving about her. Simon accuses Ryan of hitting on her.

Here comes my early favorite, Gina Glocksen. She looks like someone who almost wants to look like a punk rocker chick. And she’s taking on Celine Dion’s version of Eric Carmen’s “All By Myself”. Didja know that he’s the same dude who sang “Hungry Eyes” on the Dirty Dancing soundtrack, a song that actually isn’t that bad. Cheesy yes, but fun. Oh yeah, Gina… she’s hitting the hollerin’ part just perfect too. Randy loved it. Paula has sunshine and she’s gonna use it. Simon said he didn’t expect it, though he didn’t think she hit the right notes.

And finally, LaKisha Jones, this season’s Mandisa. She’s got a booming voice, a soft personality and a great, tv-drama story. She’s singing “And I’m Telling You That I’m Not Going”, from Dreamgirls (it’s the song nominated for an Oscar from Jennifer Hudson). I’ve never actually heard this song. If I’m Krebs or Les Hunt or even Antonella, after seeing Melinda, Sabrina and now LaKisha, I’m thinking “oh crap”. I actually just clapped my hands after that performance was over… that’s the way to end the show, friends. Randy is bowing down, Paula is standing up, Simon says ‘I’m tempted to tell 23 people to book their plane tickets home… that was in a different league.” Wow. That was freakin’ awesome. I wish I were a big black lady who could sing.

So tonight… my faves include Melinda Doolittle, Sabrina Sloan, Jordin Sparks, Haley Scarneto and LaKisha Jones. Toss in Gina Glocksen, and I’m hoping those are your top six chicks…

Going home? Amy Krebs and Leslie Hunt. Or Antonella, if we’re lucky.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The TV Roundup

I watch too much tv...

...first up, American Idol. I've refrained from saying much about it, until now, with the Top 24. I actually don't have a favorite just yet (I immediately spotted Pickles, McPhee, Taylor and Daughtry last year as faves), I do have a few I am hoping will do well, those being Punjab the Indian Guy (yeah, that's probably un-PC to call him that, but a, I think PC-ness is alot of the problems this country has and b, I can't think of his name, and c, you knew who I meant anyway) is really good, and of course, you gotta like Chris Sligh, and his 'fro patro'. I'm kinda liking Brandon Rogers, as far as the guys go.

I'm also an early fan of Lisa Turtle, er, Tucker's Part II, that being Jordan Sparks (I picked her out from the moment we saw her audition), and Melinda Doolittle, and I'm really diggin' Gina Glocksen. Of course, I also dug Amy Adams (her rendition of Sin Wagon was hot) and Julia Demato (she was just hot) from seasons past, and they were both booted within two weeks of the finals.

Some of these people I vaguely remember from auditions, like Jared Cotter, Haley Scarnetto, and someone tell me who the crap Leslie Hunt and Amy Krebs are? Voted out, I'd think.

Anyway, the guys kicked off the night tonight, with forgettable performances (or, what I saw, but I'll get to that).

Rudy Cardenas... to show you how memorable this guy was singing "Free Ride", I started typing right after Paul Kim sang. I had to finish the tape, type all you read below, the rewind the tape to see who started the night. Seriously, I couldn't remember this guy or his song. Now I'm rewatching it, and wishing I hadn't. Make matters worse, I forgot who sang it, so I had to go on a five minute search of the web to come up with The Edgar Winters Group. Rudy bugs me now.
Sundance Head... sang a horrid rendition of "Nights in White Satin" by the Moody Blues. What a great song (the original). Like, there is this...
Brandon Rogers... former backup singer for Usher and Christina Aguilera makes it bigtime, singing a pretty good version of "Rock With You" by Michael Jackson, a song that when iTunes finally calls me, will end up on my celebrity playlist.
Paul Kim... doing "Careless Whisper" by Wham!. Actually, it was Wham! featuring George Michael--both Paula Maddox & Mackey can attest that in the mid-80s, George Michael was relevant and actually talented, and not gay.
Chris Richardson... the judges liked his "I Don't Wanna Be" by Gavin McGraw. Me? Not so much. He seems too much of a pansy to sing a rocker song like that. Its like the inverse of Daughtry sang "How Can We Be Lovers" by Michael Bolton.
Nick Pedro... Speaking of pansy songs, this goober decides to rock out with "Now and Forever" by Richard Marx... I haven't heard that song in a while, and I'm okay with that. But this guy? I... uh... huh, what? Oh sorry, I dozed off. Kids, you want a real Richard Marx song? Go download these two: "Endless Summer Nights" and "Hazard".
Blake Lewis... the beatbox kid.

I'd love to tell you how I thought Blake Lewis, as well as Punjab, Chris Sligh and the other guys I can't remember, but I only recorded one hour, not two, cause I'm stupid.


Next up... The Amazing Race All Stars.

I still love Dustin & Kandice. I can't tell them apart, but the fact that no one likes them because they are so competative makes me root for them. I'm also pulling for Uchenna and Joyce, though I'm sure going on a trip around the world is the perfect solution for a troubled marriage due to infertility.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Go Dustin! Go Kandice!

Rob and Amber? How much more of Rob and Amber do we have to endure? I mean, there are other reality couples I would watch--take Ethan and Jenna, who also met on Survivor All Stars several years ago. And Mary and David, aka Kentucky, drive me nuts. I don't find them cute or precious or whatever... I find them stupid and annoying. Lose, darn you both.


It's still too early to know what to think about Survivor Fiji. As it usually takes a few weeks to pick out who I like and don't, I'm still in that "learning" phase. Building off last season's "race groups", this group is totally diverse. Not a blond hot chick in the bunch.

I freakin' love Lost. Absolutely love it.

I wanted to keep watching Heroes and Jericho, but I just ran out of time. I've resigned to catching up on Scrubs and CSI on dvd, andthe jury is still out on Studio 60 and Grey's Anatomy as to whether we'll ever be able to catch up.

Do you ever get sucked into infomercials? Usually those for the Magic Bullet or OxyClean don't do it for me, but when I stumbed upon a CD Collection informercial, I stop. And, like this one on right now, I'm hooked.
Hosted by Air Supply, its 1,377 of my favorite soft rock hits on 509 CDs, for only 76 easy payments of $38.99 apiece.
Seriously, I watch them mostly to catch songs that I've forgotten. Out of my 8,000+ songs on my iPod, how I've lived without "Lowdown" by Boz Scaggs all this time, I'll never know.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Even the nights are better with Air Supply, cause their makin' love... outta nothing at all (makin' love) out of nothing at all (makin' love) out of nothing at all.
And I love the concert footage they toss in there... who knew that Linda Ronstadt was once so thin? Who knew that Exile looked like the guys from Nelson? Who knew that Rupert Holmes had something out beside "The Pina Colada Song"? Who knew that Bonnie Tyler (Total Eclipse of the Heart) looked like a Gremlin? Who knew that Cliff Richars even existed?
And if I'm Lindsay Buckingham from Fleetwood Mac, I'm totally hacked off that my band was so cool in the 70s, and is now on the same CD as Elton John, Kim Carnes and the guy who wrote the theme song to the Golden Girls.
Holy crap, if I order using my credit card right now, they'll also send me a CD with 20 unforgettable classics from 1977! All mine to preview for the first 30 days for only $9.95.
Having been a music fan growing up in the 80s and 90s, what frightens me is that in 2017, I'll flip channels one day and stumble upon Lisa Loeb and Darius Rucker from Hootie, hosting "Unforgettable Hits of the 90s", with 149 hits from the 90s on one fabulous collection, featurng Dead Eye Dick, Ace of Base, Chumbawumba, and who can forget this 1993 hit from SWV (launches into a bad video footage clip of "I'm So Into You").
...I watch too much tv.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Singled Out

I don't know Paige Benton. I've never met her, but if I ever do, I'll tell her what an impact she made on my life by writing the words you'll read below.

I think it was Drew Morris who emailed me this essay, written by Paige, all about being a Christian Single in Married Christian World. And it blew me away. So with this being Valentine's week, I thought I would send a shout out of encouragement to any single folk, and a reminder to the marrieds... this is entitled "Singled Out By God for Good"

Had I any vague premonition of my present plight when I was six, I would have demanded that Stephen Herbison (incontestably the catch of the second grade) put his marriage proposal into writing and have it notarized. I do want this piece to be practical, so to all you first-graders: CARPE DIEM.

Over the past several years I have perfected the artistry of escape regarding any singles functions—cookouts, conferences, Sunday school classes, and my personal favorite, putt-putt. My avoidance mechanism is triggered not so much by a lack of patience with such activities as it is by a lack of stomach for the pervasive attitudes. Thoreau insists that most men lead lives of quiet desperation; I insist that many singles lead lives of loud aggravation. Being immersed in singles can be like finding yourself in the midst of "The Whiners" of 1980's Saturday Night Live—it gives a whole new meaning to "pity party."

Much has been written in Christian circles about singleness. The objective is usually either to chide the married population for their misunderstanding and segregationism or to empathize with the unmarried population as they bear the cross of "Plan B" for the Christian life, bolstered only by the consolation prizes of innumerable sermons on I Corinthians 7 and the fact that you can cut your toenails in bed. Yet singles, like all believers, need scriptural critique and instruction seasoned by sober grace, not condolences and putt-putt accompanied with pious platitudes.

John Calvin’s secret to sanctification is the interaction of the knowledge of God and knowledge of self.

Singles, like all other sinners, typically dismiss the first element of the formula, and therein lays the root of all identity crises. It is not that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, but that life has no tragedy like our God ignored. Every problem is a theological problem, and the habitual discontent of us singles is no exception. Can God be any less good to me on the average Tuesday morning than he was on that monumental Friday afternoon when he hung on a cross in my place? The answer is a resounding NO. God will not be less good to me tomorrow either, because God cannot be less good to me. His goodness is not the effect of his disposition but the essence of his person—not an attitude but an attribute.

I long to be married. My younger sister got married two months ago. She now has an adoring husband, a beautiful home, a whirlpool bathtub, and all-new Corningware. Is God being any less good to me than he is to her? The answer is a resounding NO. God will not be less good to me because God cannot be less good to me. It is a cosmic impossibility for God to shortchange any of his children. God can no more live in me apart from the perfect fullness of his goodness and grace than I can live in Nashville and not be white. If he fluctuated one quark in his goodness, he would cease to be God.

Warped theology is at the heart of attempts to "explain" singleness:
•"As soon as you’re satisfied with God alone, he’ll bring someone special into your life"—as though God’s blessings are ever earned by our contentment.
•"You’re too picky"—as though God is frustrated by our fickle whims and needs broader parameters in which to work.
•"As a single you can commit yourself wholeheartedly to the Lord’s work"—as though God requires emotional martyrs to do his work, of which marriage must be no part.
•"Before you can marry someone wonderful, the Lord has to make you someone wonderful"—as though God grants marriage as a second blessing to the satisfactorily sanctified.

Accepting singleness, whether temporary or permanent, does not hinge on speculation about answers God has not given to our list of whys, but rather on celebration of the life he has given. I am not single because I am too spiritually unstable to possibly deserve a husband, nor because I am too spiritually mature to possibly need one. I am single because God is so abundantly good to me, because this is his best for me. It is a cosmic impossibility that anything could be better for me right now than being single. The psalmists confirm that I should not want, I shall not want, because no good thing will God withhold from me.

Such knowledge of God must transform subsequent knowledge of self-theological readjustment is always the catalyst for renewed self-awareness. This keeps identity right-side-up with nouns and modifiers in their correct place. Am I a Christian single or am I a single Christian? The discrepancy in grammatical construction may be somewhat subtle, but the difference in mindset is profound. Which word is determinative and which is descriptive? You see, we singles are chronic amnesiacs—we forget who we are, we forget whose we are. I am a single Christian. My identity is not found in my marital status but in my redemptive status. I 'm one of the "haves," not one of the "have-nots."

Have you ever wondered at what age one is officially single? Perhaps a sliding scale is in order: 38 for a Wall Street tycoon; 21 for a Mississippi sorority girl; 14 for a Zulu princess; and five years older than I am for me. It is a relevant question because at some point we see ourselves as "single," and that point is a place of greater danger than despair. Singleness can be a mere euphemism for self-absorption—now is the "you time." No wife to support? No husband to pamper? Well, then, by all means join three different golf courses, get a weekly pedicure, raise emus, subscribe to People.

Singleness is never carte blanche for selfishness. A spouse is not a sufficient countermeasure for self. The gospel is the only antidote for egocentricity. Christ did not come simply to save us from our sins, he came to save us from our selves. And he most often rescues us from us through relationships, all kinds of relationships. "Are you seeing anyone special?" a young matron in my home church asked patronizingly. "Sure," I smiled. "I see you and you’re special."
OK, my sentiment was a little less than kind, but the message is true.

To be single is not to be alone. If someone asks if you are in a relationship right now, your immediate response should be that you are in dozens. Our range of relational options is not limited to getting married or to living in the sound-proof, isolated booth of Miss America pageants. Christian growth mandates relational richness. The only time folks talk about human covenants is in premarital counseling. How anemic. If our God is a covenantal God, then all of our relationships are covenantal. The gospel is not about how much I love God (I typically love him very little); it is about how much God loves me. My relationships are not about how much friends should love me, they are about how much I get to love them. No single should ever expect relational impoverishment by virtue of being single. We should covenant to love people— to initiate, to serve, to commit.

Many of my Vanderbilt girls have been reading Lady in Waiting, a popular book for Christian women struggling with singleness. That’s all fine and dandy, but what about a subtitle: And Meanwhile, Lady, Get Working. It is a cosmic impossibility for God to require less of me in my relationships than he does of the mother of four whose office is next door. Obedience knows no ages or stages.

Let’s face it: singleness is not an inherently inferior state of affairs. If it were, heaven would be inferior to this world for the majority of Christians (Mom is reconciled to being unmarried in glory as long as she can be Daddy’s roommate). But I want to be married. I pray to that end every day. I may meet someone and walk down the aisle in the next couple of years because God is so good to me. I may never have another date and die an old maid at 93 because God is so good to me. Not my will but his be done. Until then I am claiming as my theme verse, "If any man would come after me, let him. . . "

Monday, February 12, 2007

The Billy Joel Ballet & Musical Revue

So, my lovely wife Steph bought us two sets of Broadway tickets for Christmas… one was Twelve Angry Men, which is one of the best productions I have ever been too. Simply amazing.

My Top Ten Favorite Billy Joel Songs:
10) "New York State of Mind", from the album
Turnstiles… maybe its just my love of the city, my heart for its people, maybe its just the piano and the slow tune, but what a great song.

9) "Allentown", from the album
The Nylon Curtain… Its referring to Allentown, PA, and the mayor was so honored that this song was about his city, he wanted to make this the official song of Allentown, give Billy Joel an award or whatever… funny thing, it’s a total negative take on the town, from the perspective of a mill worker who gets laid off due to the fact that… well, the town sucks. I love music.

The other was
“Movin’ Out”, which is one of the productions I have ever been too. I guess I should back up and explain that Stephanie and I both love Broadway musicals and stageplays. I’ve been blessed enough to have seen professional productions of:
Rent (after seeing the movie, I want to see the show again because I think I understand the show now... or maybe just to hear "Light My Candle" and "Over the Moon", two of my favorite Broadway tunes),
Fame (ugh. I was pumped up for the theme song, and they sing like, two lines)
Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (if you can handle boobies... okay, not "handle" but stand to see them, watch the film, not the show)
Blast (it's like Stomp, with real drums, not garbage cans, and not as much fun)
Thoroughly Modern Millie (just a fun, goodtime show)
Swing (bored to flippin' tears)
Chicago (I would have killed to see Paige Davis in this show, if only for the skimpy costumes)
Phantom of the Opera (Seen it once, its kind of mandatory I guess. I would watch it again, just to say "Hey, I've seen it twice. But if there is ever a case of ruining a show with the wrong people in the wrong parts, this is it)
The Producers (I really enjoyed this, but I would love to see with Matthew Broderick & Nathan Lane)
The Graduate (Lorraine Bracco stood naked onstage. This wasn't a good thing. I did get to meet her later, though, fully clothed.)
Aida (This ended up being loads better than I thought it would be)
Starlight Express (However, this did not. Of course, what did I expect when you cross roller skates, toy trains and the 1980s?)
Defending the Caveman (seen it twice... absolutely hysterical)
The Lion King (seen it twice... the costumes are the key)
Urinetown (seen it twice... holy crap this show is funny funny funny)
Stomp (seen it twice, and would watch it a dozen more times)
Les Miserables (seen it 3 times, am blown away each time... you can judge this show on one song--Eponine's "On My Own")
and possibly the most fun ever, Mamma Mia, which I’ve seen 3 times and plan on seeing again this coming spring.
Including seeing most of these, many with me, Steph has also seen Miss Saigon, 42nd Street and Ragtime.

Oh yeah, there's Cats… I went to see it the second time because the first time despite being on a date with the lovely Kappa Delta Kate Lewis in 1995, I fell asleep… and being awake the second time, I liked it better asleep. It’s like the movie “Showgirls”. It was such a horrifically crappy movie I actually turned it off mid-way through it, and for someone who likes “Black Dog” and “Mo Money”, that’s saying A LOT. Anyway, I thought perhaps by watching it a second time, it might be better… oh no. It was crappier the second time around. Still haven’t finished it. Jessie Spano, what have you done?

8) "Just the Way You Are", from the album The Stranger… such a tender song. And with Valentine’s Day coming right up, how can you not like this song… unless you’re stuck in a relationship limbo, then how can you like this song?

7) "Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song)" from the album The Stranger… Sergeant O’Leary is walking the beat, at night he becomes a bartender. He works at Mr. Cachatorrie’s, down on Sullivan Street, across from the medical center. He’s trading in his Chevy for a Cadillac-ac-ac-ac….

I say all of this to tell you that we aren’t rookies at this, we’re both huge theater buffs—okay, also to get a record of all the shows I’ve been to in case I forget, and also to brag about all the shows I’ve seen and you haven’t, but humility has never been something I’ve professed to own—so we really look forward to any chance we get to see something such as the above listed shows… well, maybe not Fame, Starlight, Whorehouse and Swing, four shows I didn’t enjoy at all.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
I think the most disappointing thing was that Stephanie and I really, really wanted to love this show. At least, I did.
Where was I? Oh, “Movin’ Out”… okay, the fun of Mamma Mia is that they incorporate the songs of ABBA actually into the storyline, and the music is sung in context with the comical story. It’s marvelous. Absolutely marvelous. So, when I found out that Billy Joel was lending his music to a similar type show, I was just ecstatic… and it was called “Movin’ Out”? One of my top ten favorite Billy Joel songs? Rock on! It can’t be anything but fantastic, right?

6) "The Downeaster Alexa", from the album Storm Front… not really sure why I like this song. I mean, its about fishing on a boat called the Downeaster Alexa. I hate fishing. But it’s a powerful, powerful song--actually, more narration--sung loud and brash, about a man who’s in desperate need because he’s got a family to take care of. He’s trolling the Nantucket sound, but “…there is no luck in swordfishing here…” From what I understand, he wrote the song, using his daughter’s name, Alexa Ray. And “Downeaster Alexa” is a cool name. I wonder if Downeaster Alexa Dollar would be a good name. Steph?

5) "She’s Always a Woman", from the album The Stranger… She only reveals what she wants you to see. She’ll promise you more than the garden of Eden, then she’ll carelessly cut you and laugh while you’re bleedin’. Yeah, I dated her. I won’t tell you who she is, but if you read A Love Story in Three Acts, you might have a guess.

The morning of the show, we saw one of my best mates, Michael, and he told us he and his wife Ashleia had seen it the previous night… and they weren’t enthused at all. I thought, “Well, he’s not a big musical person like Steph and I, so perhaps we’ll appreciate it a little more…” Then we met Randy Latta, daddy to Matt, and he and his wife Lisa told us the show was disappointing. Something about “one guy singing the whole thing” and “lots of dancing” and such… afterwards, Stephanie and I were both completely confused. What did he mean, one guy singing? The whole thing? Is this a musical, or a concert?

We get the program, and I flip to the songs, which all have characters listed by the song titles, leading me to assume that those would be the characters what would be singing the aforementioned songs. And we found quickly, we were wrong. Taking Randy Latta’s advice, we had read the story recap, which we’re glad we did, because we wouldn’t have had a clue what was going on.

The whole thing was one guy and his band singing Billy Joel songs from a balcony, and a bunch of people dancing. Granted, the guy singing, the band playing and the dancers dancing were very, very, very talented… I mean, very talented. The guy was nailing Billy Joel’s music perfectly, the band was entertaining, sometimes just to watch, and the dancers were very gifted in what they were doing.

4) "Piano Man", from the album Piano Man… When I was a kid, I used to hate this song. I think it was just too long, because I felt the same way about American Pie, but now I’m all growed up and have a much finer appreciation for lyrics that slightly go deeper than “how come every time you come around, my London London Bridge is going down”. The album cover still creeps me out, though.

3) "Only the Good Die Young", from the album The Stranger… as a Christ-follower, I’m not sure I really should like this song. I mean, honestly, I shouldn’t sing the line “I’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints” but this song makes me just darn skippy happy. And they only sing a ¼ of it in “Movin’ Out”, those jerks.

Still… I was kinda bored. I really was. It was hard to understand really what was going on, and even with the music, if you didn’t know the lyrics of many of the songs, how would you know what was going on with Brenda and Eddie? They had it all ready by the summer of 75, I guess. It also didn’t help that the lead, the guy who played Eddie, looked remarkably like the character actor guy who played that guy in "Not Another Teen Movie". And honestly, that meant I really couldn’t take him seriously the whole show, not when I’m seeing that stupid kid’s face in my head.

I guess the guys who put the show together didn’t want to copy Mamma Mia’s format, with the songs being sung by characters within the show, but here’s the thing… I wouldn’t have minded one bit had they done that. Not at all. It would have been kind of fun to see one of the characters bust up with “Only the Good Die Young”, or have a marathon dance-off with “We Didn’t Start the Fire” (which, by the way, is one of the most ingenious songs ever written, yet still one of my least favorite Bill Joel tunes).

Overall, it was an okay show. It wasn’t what I was expecting, though to be truthful, I’m not really sure what I was expecting. And as Steph said when we walked out, “Well, at least we can say we’ve seen it.”

2) "The Longest Time", from the album An Innocent Man… come on, who doesn’t like this song? If you don’t at least find your foot tapping a little bit, or are at least fighting temptation to snap your fingers and say “wha-oh-ah-oh… for the longest time”, you’re a communist. And I mean that in the most affectionate way. By the way, this is the album that also features "Leave a Tender Moment Alone","Tell Her About It" and "Uptown Girl".

1) "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant", from the album The Stranger… I don’t even know how I came to like this song. I think, like American Pie and Hotel California, it just sorta happened. Brenda and Eddie, popular steadies, hook up, break up, hook up, break up, shop at Sears, go broke and so on… all with a bottle of red and a bottle of white.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
The genius that is... Billy Joel.

Random Billy Joel story… so I have the box set that incorporates Billy Joel’s Greatest Hits, Volumes I, II and III. It’s a great set that also includes liner notes on the songs and such, and my only beef with it is that it does leave off “Leave a Tender Moment Alone”, probably my 11th favorite Billy Joel song. Anyway, it’s got a 4th disc, which is a live CD where Billy not only takes requests from the audience, he tells the story of the song before he sings it. He goes through several, including a line by line explanation of “Piano Man”.

And you know what really bugs me?

I LOST IT!!!! I have no idea what happened to it… while living at The Deuce, it one day up and disappeared. Now, had this been Volume I, II or III, I would have just replaced the disc by buying that album. But this live CD is one that only comes in the box set. Not good times. Bad times.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Top 5 Coolest Things of 2006

Next year, when I do the Top 100 Coolest Things of 2007, I plan on starting at the end of December, and have it all written out just so I can post it in like, ten consecutive days. Anyway, here’s the Five Coolest Things About 2006:

5. “Everybody to the Limit”
“Come on fhqwhgads… I see you jockin’ me. Trying to play like, U No Me.”

Do you know who Homestar Runner is? Better yet, do you know who Strong Bad is? Well, you should. Homestar Runner is a Flash website full of computer animated cartoons, featuring such goofy characters as Homestar, an armless lisp talking nice guy, Bubs, the owner of the concession stand who’s always awesome, Marzipan, a broom-like chick who is Homestar’s girlfriend and Strong Bad, who is a rebel cool guy.

On the website, Strong Bad answers emails, but sometimes does other things, like do music videos… like the fifth coolest thing in 2006, “Everybody to the Limit”.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Strong Bad, conferring with The Cheat

It makes no sense. Absolutely none. It starts out with the words “Come on fhqwhgads, come on fhqwhgads… everybody to the limit, everybody to the limit, everybody come on fhqwhgads…”
Through the video we see various random items, including the New York Subway, Strong Bad enjoying a bottle of wine, both John F and Bobby Kennedy (or at least portraits), a monster whiffle ball, plus The Cheat (another character) with gold crunk teeth.

And honestly… its one of the funniest freakin’ things I’ve ever seen in my entire life. I’ve watched it a few dozen times by now, including twice while typing this. You owe it to yourself to get in a very, very silly mood (the kind that makes you laugh hysterically at Napoleon Dynamite and Dodgeball) and check this video out immediately.

Man, fhqwhgads… you’re just making yourself look worse. I mean, everybody’s just gonna feel sorry for you. I mean, I do.

4. Senator Rick Green’s 4th of July Sermon
On the weekend of Independence Day, 2006, we attending Valleydale Church (an sbc fellowship) were treated to a phenomenal sermon. Our regular pastor was on sabbatical for the summer, and we’d been given the pleasure of listening to Antjuan Marsh, Wade Morris and others… but on this day, we were given Rick Green, a senator from Texas.

Rick Green is what you would call a Biblical Declaration of Independence scholar, I guess. And his sermon was all about the brave men who put forth their name on the document that stated, among other things, we were to be free of British rule. And his sermon was all about the faith, the love of God and the holiness of those said men.

A painting of the signing of the Declaration of Independence went on the big screen in the church. And there, he began to go one by one, naming the men featured, telling a little of their back stories, everything from blacksmiths to lawyers to politicians to Bible scholars and more… all connected by the fact they signed the Declaration. And, of course, all connected by the fact they were solid Christ-followers and believers in a one true God.

He told us that even the least of the believers, Benjamin Franklin, a guy who didn’t necessarily consist of the Christ-like tendencies of the others, still believed in one true God, still believed in God’s son Jesus. It was more knowledge put forth about the Declaration of Independence that I had ever heard, including multiple viewings of National Treasure.

And his point? To dispel any myth that might come along that this nation wasn’t founded on a belief in God. To discard any lie tossed out there that says that men like Jefferson, Hancock and so on weren’t really Christians, weren’t really followers of the Bible and of Jesus, but just monotheists who were just eager to worship whoever they wanted—they did want that freedom, the freedom to all worship God alone. And that is cool.

3. “Black Horse & the Cherry Tree”
How great is this song? From the moment it starts with the “two three four!” to the memorable “whoo hoo”… (Steph and I saw a comedian talking about this song, and he just mumbled some unintelligible words, then shouted out Whoo Hoo!, to which Steph laughed and said “Yeah, that’s how I feel!”)… the song had me hooked.

KT Tunstall is a British singer/songwriter, singing about a tussle between her and her heart, something about a horse, a cherry tree tossed in there, lots of Whoo Hoos, several No No Nos, a couple of “not the one for me!” yelled out and whatever else… what does it all mean? You know, I’m not quite sure. But, I never fully understood the true meaning of “Head Over Heels” by Tears for Fears, yet that song has remained #5 on my all time favorite song list for over seven years.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
KT, with her guitar and her recording-floor-thingy

Anyway, what really gets me about this song is not just the video, but seeing her do it live on Letterman & Leno. This chick is TALENTED. She stands alone with a guitar, a drum and some sort of recording contraption on the floor in front of her. She beats on the drum to get a rhythm going, then sings “Whoo Hoo” a few times. When she sings the “Whoo Hoo”, she presses a button on the recording-floor-thingy, and suddenly, you hear the “Whoo Hoo” in the background. Then she does the same thing with the drum, then the tambourine. When the “Whoo Hoo” and the drum and the tambourine are all going in the background, she starts playing the guitar and singing the song. It’s amazing… (I’m actually listening to it right now, kinda getting’ into it…)

By the end of the song, she’s got a drum beat, a tambourine, a hand clap, a mouth harp, a bunch of “Whoo Hoo”ing, background vocals, some “no no no”ing… all playing in rhythm behind her while she plays guitar and sings, by herself on stage. That is cool.

2. The Family Festival in Stamford, CT
When I was in NYC, most of you know I blogged the entire mission trip, including one pivotal day when we helped host a family festival for Encounter Church, in a park in Stamford, CT. You can read about the whole day here, but following is what I wrote specifically about that on event:
Landon was already down there, as was Alan, his wife, and the stairstep children. Landon was driving a big U-Haul truck, with a trailer attached to it, and Alan had his van, all full of stuff. We began setting up little by little, putting up collapsable tents, setting up tables for food, unloading all the food, the grill, hauling out the moonwalky things (they're called bouncies or bounce-houses, which actually makes more sense than "moonwalk") and all the other fun things needed to put on a festival.
It took well over an hour to set up, and we still weren't quite done when 4pm--the start time--came around. Give you the picture... we've got two big tarp/metal frame tents side by side, with three tables running across the front, and one on each side. BBQ grill in the corner. About twenty yards to the right and up of the tents is another tent, our "registration tent". Directly in front of the two big tents, about twenty yards, is a row of chairs, each with supplies for games set up in them... games like "ring toss" and "hula hoop challenge" and other stuff. On the left side of the tents is the two bounce houses, laying flat on the ground.
I grabbed a hand truck and walked around the main field--and this is a huge, huge field, mind you--and gathered garbage cans to place around the perimeter. Though its good to be safe, apparently the health department had given Landon and Encounter Church a big list of stuff they had to abide by, like no food sitting on the ground, even in its packaging, coolers had to be drained of melted ice water at all times, that water itself had to be dumped in bathroom sinks and not just on the pavement or grass, people couldn't get any food for themselves, we had to hand them the hot dog and bun on a plate and so on.
We set up the food stuff under the two big tents, and Tim took over the grill. I was elected to do popcorn, because somehow I slightly remembered how to do it a year ago, while Cindy was doing sno-cones. J-Bo, Mama Faith and G-Ann were manning the hot dog buns next to Coach Tim's grill, and Gary, Margie and Abby Lohan were going to do registration to begin with. Kid Sister was doing chips and Natedawg was doing the Oreo cookies (we had to serve people both of these normally accessible items). Landon wanted everything done by the book because we wanted no room for anyone to say anything.
Across the field, there is a guy who runs the Cove Cafe, which sells drinks, hot dogs, burgers and other beach type foods, and he's not happy. You can imagine, because he makes his money selling $3 dogs, and here's this bunch of church folk giving food away for free. Landon talks to him for a while, and he seems to disappear for a while.
So, 4pm rolls around, and we've got a problem. The bounce houses are still flat on the ground. The generator provided for us isn't working, and not only can we not inflate the inflatables, we can't run the sno-cone or popcorn machine. I look around, and we have maybe a dozen or so people who have shown up. Truth be told, I'm praying for 100. We'll see.
Another generator arrives, they hook it up, they still can't get it to work. I walk over and watch what's happening, then I take a step back and utter these exact words: "Father God... I pray you bless this afternoon and everything that walks within our sight. In the name of my Lord Jesus Christ, I banish any of Satan's demons from this area, that these generators will work." And when I said the word "work", instantaneously, I saw Landon leap up with his hands in the air, I hear Mark yell "Yeah!!" and I hear the roar of a generator engine. It was one of the coolest things I've ever seen in my life. God rocks my face off.
So we got the extension cords stretched, plugged in the sno-cone and popcorn machine, and we were off. I poured in the oil and kernals and waited for it to pop... then the plug came unplugged. So we plugged it back in, and a few minutes later, the generator somehow was switched off (Cindy was yelling across the field for Chuck or Mark, as you could see one of the inflatibles come uninflated with kids in it... it was kind of funny), and when it was switched back on, I finally, FINALLY, had my popcorn. And we rolled.
And the people started coming. And coming. And coming. And coming. And coming. And coming. Then, more came. It was absolutely unbelievable. G-Ann and Mama Faith are trucking out buns as fast as they could go, Coach Tim was putting on dogs by the dozen, J-Bo was over there helping, Kid Sister and Natedawg were tossing those chips and Oreos, I was filling popcorn bags like crazy, and Cindy was throwing down on the sno-cones. She had a line like you'd see at a movie theater concession stand, about ten kids deep, for about ten or twenty minutes... it stopped when we just ran out of ice. So a few guys went to get ice.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Here's the field from a distance... I had to walk back a bit to get everything in. Right about now is when the people really started pouring in.
It was amazing just watching this area just fill up. Even things that seemed to be bumps in the road, like when the Cove Cafe guy came back, ended up working out for God's glory. The guy said that he normally makes 300 to 400 in a typical afternoon, but he had made $15 since 4pm (it was around 630ish when he came back). Landon told him he'd write him a check for the difference. The guy said that wasn't necessary, but Landon said "Look, man... we want to come back, and we want to keep favor with you, so whatever we can do to establish and maintain a good working relationship, we want to do it." They talked for a while, and seemingly came to an agreement that they would work out when Encounter came back. Landon said later that he plans on sending the guy a $500 check.
I finally took a break, leaving the popcorn in the capable hands of Natedawg, and had a dog myself... actually, two. I went and sat in the middle of the field, looking all around me, and had tears in my eyes. It was so amazing, all of our prayers, all of your prayers, God's plan, God's wonderful, beautiful plan to give us a gorgeous day with the breeze blowing, a team that was put here for a purpose one by one, it was so joyous and beautiful to see it all come together.
In order to eat, all people & families had to do was fill out a registration card, sort of like a communication information card that Valleydale Church (an sbc fellowship) has. They got a green Encounter Church rubber wristband and were free to do whatever. Around 7pm, Gary said they had a stack of cards several inches thick, and Landon told us later he estimated at least 300 cards with about 500 or 600 names on them.
What's more, all through the evening, I could overhear people asking about the church, where it met, what it was all about, the location and so on. Remember Julissa? She was in the prayer requests yesterday--she lit up with a smile when we told her we prayed for her. And tonight, she ended up helping run some of the games and such, and later ended up serving popcorn.
This is the food tent... at around 745pm, when were running out of just about everything.
I helped Landon's wife Christy do some face painting, but not for long. My hand was too shaky, I felt too jumpy and excited to sit still. Besides, I've face painted before... the early requests are "stars" and "hearts" and "rainbows"... by the end of the night, its "can I get a puma perched on a bedrock of slate, waiting to pounce on a gazelle, with ravens flying in the background?"
Through the course of the evening, we all switched places doing different jobs, though Coach Tim stayed with the hot dogs on the grill and Mama Faith and G-Ann kept with the buns and condiments.
If I can be personal for a minute... I needed to see this happen. Not that my faith was lacking a miracle to make it click, but I am so revitilized by tonight! I teared up three different times, first in the field, then talking to Todd and Sharon and Kid Sister, then later talking to Coach Tim, just at the amazing blessings God was pouring out on us. All of our work passing out fliers, which most of us didn't even want to do, all of our prayers we gave to Him for this one night to go decent came to frution in dozens of connections made by Encounter Church to the community, tons of good will built up with the people there, further connections made by us to some of the VBS kids and other adults, hundreds and hundreds of information cards, hundreds and hundreds and hundreds and more names that Landon now has to work with... I just smiled for hours and hours on end.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Me and Kid Sister (named so because everyone else on the trip has family, so I claimed her as my own)... We're both wearing smiles we can't get rid of.

By 7pm, we were already out of ice, and had to send someone else for more--making this the second time we were out. We loaded up all three coolers full of the last drinks we had, that being a few cases of bottled water, a few cases of Cokes and some Diet Coke, and by 730ish, before they even had time to get cold in the little ice we had, they were gone. At 740, the mustard was all gone. The ice arrived, but the drinks, save for a few Diet Cokes, were all gone. I spent much time running all over the field trying to gather garbage cans with a hand truck, because all the ones I had gathered were overflowing. People were still registering at 8pm, when we were shutting things down. I saw one family sitting in the grass, eating hot dogs and sipping watered down sno-cones... as I passed by, I smiled, and both said "Thank you for doing this. Thank you so much."

Of course, then we had the fun part--the tear-down process. Didn't matter... I was so happy and overjoyed, I could have loaded that truck by myself... it might have taken a while, and eventually stolen some of my joy, but it was awesome anyway. Across the bike trail, in another field with a covered area, they were having a clambake (I know this because when Courtney the Stairstep Child and I took water that was draining from the coolers to the bathrooms there, I saw the clams). I was so thirsty, I just walked over there in the middle of their party and asked for water. Saw a granny shaking her jelly and throwing down on the dance floor. If you still can move it, then do so, I guess. They gave me a bottle of water.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Sometimes you have to get your hands dirty for Jesus, as Abby Lohan, Cindy and Justin the Stairstep Child found out... notice the big red stain on Cindy's shirt as well... it's all sno-cone syrup.

1. The iPod
Back in 2005, I knew I was going to get an iPod, it was just a matter of the money. Steph bought me a 4 gig Lyra mp3 player, and while I liked it, 750 songs just wasn’t enough to satisfy my “gotta-have-every-freakin-song-at-my-disposal-at-any-given-moment” appetite. So, I saved. I added money every few weeks to a Best Buy card (because I knew if I just tried to save up the cash, I’d never get it saved). I also had a Wal-Mart card that I had added money to, I priced shopped, I compared iPods vs. the-then-coming-Zune to Creative to others… I looked at 30 gigs. I looked at 60 gigs. Did I want to wait for 80? In preparation, I started loading up CDs into my computer, awaiting the day I would come home with a Apple iPod. And soon enough, I did. Heck, I didn’t even open it for the first two weeks I had it… I wanted to finish loading CDs.

It took well over 12 hours to load all the music I had in the computer in my iPod, and it was a territory I had never walked upon… I mean, I knew nothing about iTunes. But I slowly began to figure it out…

Suddenly, I had play lists at my disposal at all times, including:
“Happy Music Fo My Thugs”… my favorite Hip Hop, like Ludacris, Eminem, R. Kelly and Justin. “The Best Soy Latte That You Ever Had and Me”… rock stuff like Train, Foo Fighters, Vertical Horizon, Sheryl Crow and John Mayer
“The Melancholy Circus”… my favorite music for a dreary day, like Edwin McCain, some Hootie, a few choice Celine selections (early stuff, none of the pantywaste stuff now)
“The Buzzbin”… harder rock like Nirvana, Nada Surf, Fiona Apple, Oasis, Soundgarden and STP “Welcome to Delaware”… all the Christian music that has changed my Walk considerably, including Watermark, Steven Curtis Chapman, Rich Mullins, dcTalk, Jennifer Knapp, etc.

Then I discovered the downloading of videos (I’ve currently got “Behind These Hazel Eyes” playing on my iPod)… then I discovered the renting of audio books and CDs at the library… I’ve got podcasting for Rush Limbaugh, so I can get the real news before its filtered through the Left Wing Extremist Machine for broadcast on CNN… I’ve also got CarTalk on podcast, I get the best Strong Bad emails and even more…

Bottom line, is, the iPod has revolutionized the way I listen to music, completely, in every way. Even when I was in New York this past summer…

Finally, in case your curious, and I know you are, Paula, Tyler and NYC Jenni, here’s the Top 10 Most Played Songs on Dave’s iPod in 2006:
1) Wildwood Flower by Reese Witherspoon
2) Trinity by Jennifer Knapp
3) Crazy by Gnarls Barkley
4) Lift My Eyes by Jill Paquette
5) Taylor the Latte Boy by Kristen Chenoweth
6) Smile by Lily Allen
7-tie) Hush by LL Cool J
7-tie) Gone Like Yesterday by Jill Paquette
8) Feeling Good by Nina Simone
9) Chains by Tina Arena
10) Blowin’ Me Up With Her Love by JC Chasez (I’m going to go do something manly now, like burn something or watch wrestling or make out with my wife, just to feel better about myself.)

And that, ladies & gentlemen, is the Top 100 Coolest Things of 2006.

In case you missed it:
100 - 91... Brand New Heavies, Michelle Malkin, Chris Daughtry, Desperate Networks, Arby's, Papajohns.com Bowl, Casino Royal, The Devil Wears Prada, Justin Long, Ice Cafe Con Leche
90 - 81... Jo Dee Messina, Snakes on a Plane, Taylor Hicks, Heroes, Wordjong, Nelly Furtado, Taylor Swift, Deal or No Deal, John Tucker Must Die, Thelma & Norma
80 - 71... Courtney the Stairstep Child, Little Black Book, Lex Luthor, Evan Mallard, Cingular ads, Carly Simon, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Dustin & Kandice, Night at the Museum, Dinner Theater
70 - 61... Grey's Anatomy, Survivor: Cook Islands, Studio 60, Zaxby's, The DFC VII, Rozerem, The Fray, Sandra Oh, Monster House, Coke Blak
60 - 51... My Girl McPhee's Black Horse, John C. Reilly, X-Men: The Last Stand, I Heart Wendy, Facebook, Lisa Taylor, Hem, Pickles, Cars, The Marine
50 - 41... Andrew Mann, Brooke Smith, AttackTix, Ashlyn Latta, J-Bo, The McLeod House, Mackey & the Boyz, Coney Island Cyclone, Brad McGuffey, Wintersong
40 - 31... Launi Larrabee, The Purple Onion, $1 Movies, Texas wins, reconnecting, the Geico Caveman, financial testimony, Margie & Gary, Ambre Lake, NYC Jenni
30 - 21... Blue on Blue, My Girl McPhee, Wildwood Flower, Ashley Spell, Greek Wedding, Cafe Lalo, Baby Wookiee, MySpace, 2 Hawbakers, 12 Angry Men
20 - 11... Little sisters' graduation, I May Hate Myself in the Morning, The Death of the WCW, United 93, WalkAbout, Emily Taylor, White & Nerdy, Hoover Public Library, Rammer Jammer Blog, Starbucks
10 - 6... Marvel Civil War, paying off the car, K-Swiss, Harry Potter audio, Now I Can Die in Peace
Ten More Things.... 2006's crappiest things, biggest disappointments, favorite videos, what barely missed the list and what I'm looking forward to in 2007.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

The Super Bowl XLI Diary

And with that, I now bid you goodbye for the 2007 Super Bowl Diary. See you in a few days for the Top Five Coolest Things of 2006. Much love.

915pm... And finally... Peyton won the MVP. Jimmy says, "Should've been Bob Sanders" Tommy then replied, "Should've been Rex Grossman." I agree.

908pm... The discussion turns to American Idol, and how it all works. Our friend Natalie Valentine tried out a few years ago, and wasn't "what they were looking for". Don't ask me why this came up. Reminds me that Jennifer Adams isn't here tonight...

901pm... And its over. So, the Indianapolis Colts are the Super Bowl champions. The commercials weren't all that great, save for a few here or there. I still walk away with $25 to Best Buy. My wife Stephanie is hot. All the world is right.

856pm... It looks like Paula Mackey will be winning the 4th Quarter in our Super Bowl Score game. Tony Dungy just got dunked. Peyton Manning will be removed of the "Can't Win the Big One" label. Paula Maddox is still catching her breath from halftime. Ryan Sherman is kicking small children seeing his own anti-Christ, Peyton, win a ring.

844pm... So its 29 to 17, Indianapolis is on the verge of winning its first Super Bowl, and only its 2nd, since 1970. And the way our Super Bowl score game works, if the score stays the same, I would have won the 4th quarter... which is $50 to Best Buy. Good times or bad times?

836pm... Just saw a promo for "Rules of Engagement" on CBS. One guy says "I think being married is going to be great" and the other guy says "Based on what?". Mikey, Tom, Tommy and I laughed. Oh, I must mention that Mikey, Tom, Tommy and I are the only married guys in the room.

Me: Bob Sanders might get MVP
Mikey: You know they'll give it to Peyton Manning, even though he freakin' didn't do anything
Tommy: If the Colts win, they might give it to Rex Grossman

831pm... My man Bob Sanders just intercepted Rex Grossman again. I mean, honestly... Peyton Manning versus Rex Grossman? That's like Stephen Hawking versus Mikey in a quantum physics discussion. Speaking of which, I saw an interesting documentary on Stephen Hawking on National Geographic Channel the other day, about how some scientists now are disputing Hawking's findings on black holes, findings that not too long ago where untouchable and undoubtable and... where was I?

823pm... So Indy just intercepted, and ran it back for a touchdown. The play has been challenged by Chicago, though. And rightfully so, because if Indy gets this, then its a backbreaker for the Bears. Indy up 29-17

820pm... Just had a room discussion about... Marisa Tomei. The rumor back in the day was that Jack Palance, the previous year an Oscar winner for "City Slickers", called out the wrong name for Supporting Actress, rather than
Vanessa Redgrave (who, despite my hotness for Marisa back in the day, should have won for "Howard's End"). It was proven false though.

817pm... I just took the 3rd Quarter in our score contest... $25 to Best Buy, baby. That is iTunes money. Tommy just came in for a snack break... Score is still 22-17, Marvin Harrison just got nailed, Peyton got smacked, its still pouring rain...

805pm... Chicago kicked a field goal... 22-17, Colts still ahead. This is actually turning out to be a pretty darn good game.

8pm... And finally... we just saw the
K-Federline commercial. And working at Starbucks, I'm offended by that, darn it.

757pm... Emerald Nuts just had a commercial with Robert Goulet. Um... uh...

753pm... Somewhere in Birmingham, Paula Maddox is just coming around, after passing out at halftime. And the Colts just scored another FG.

Marbutt & his chick Jennifer just came in. Mikey just tossed out both Hard Rain and Deep Rising when discussing the amount of precipitation in Miami.

748pm... Okay, so careerbuilders.com might have the best commercial yet... a spot with office workers, clad in armor made of office supplies, doing battle. Hilarious. Kinda like it was at NBC.

747pm... Bad snap resulted in Rex botching the play again. Bears punt, Colts begin to pile it on.

746pm... Mikey just informed me that
National Treasure 2 comes out this year... which led me to comment, "National Treasure 2: Hunt Harder", then to continue with "National Treasure 3: Smithsonian Drift". I crack myself up. And Rex just got his Grossman handed to him, via a McFarland sack from the Colts.

740pm... Indy lost the call. And here comes Vinatieri again... he missed it earlier. This is the redeeming kick... and... it was rough, slightly bent, badly snapped, but good. Indy 19-14.

737pm... So, Indy just challenged a play, claiming there is 12 Bears on the field... but I can't really hear whats going on, because suddenly this is a talky room, not a football room. Bad times, bad times.

733pm... The Colts are up 16 to 14, halfway through the third quarter, its raining like crazy, Peyton is catching fire now, the Bears defense is rising... and the biggest attraction in the room right now is Ashleia trying to get a Jelly Belly out of Lucy, her dog's, mouth. Good times, good times.

720pm... Whew... that was... interesting. Okay, my wife is downstairs asleep on the couch, Tom and Jill are eating, Tommy and Drew are Wii'ing, Ty just came in, Mackey and the Mack-fam are there, Daniel Powell and his wife Jenn just came in, the Police are reuniting on the Grammy's, and
Survivor: Fiji is coming. Party frickin' on.

718pm... Prince,
now being a devout Jehovah's Witness, actually doesn't sing any of his dirty stuff much anymore. When told this, Mikey said, "Crap, I wanted to hear Get Off". He wasn't remotely kidding.

716pm... Big curtain behind him, shadow of Prince splashed upon it... so when he holds the guitar a certain way, it looks as if Prince is... well...

715pm... The Purple One just strapped on a guitar shaped like the aforementioned symbol. And then he launches into "Purple Rain". Somewhere in Birmingham, Paula Maddox just shrieked like she's 14 again

711pm... A college marching band is playing along... honestly, Prince or not, that's a cool gig to be playing in the band at a Prince mini-concert. Prince is now singing some ballad crap, looking like he's a black, constipated Jim Carrey... and he now actually might be singing Foo Fighters.
Me: Are you excited to be here watching Prince, Kelly (who just walked in with Ashley)
Kelly: Very

710pm... He just sang "Let's Go Crazy" and now he's onto something that I dont know... Ashleia observes "he doesn't know either... he's just making it up"... and now he's on to "Proud Mary"

710pm... We just had this exchange:
Mikey: Look how wet that stage is
Ashleia: Can you die from playing electric guitar in that?
Mikey: It would so cool if he like, died on tv

709pm... Somewhere in Birmingham,
Paula Maddox is dancing a fool.

And now its Prince. The stage is shaped like that weird symbol he called himself back in the 90s when he was feuding with Warner Brothers. And where is Sheila E, I might ask? Mikey just observed how great it would be if Prince fell off the stage since its so wet there.

657pm... and... its... NO GOOD...

655pm... Ashley just called. She's lost. Two seconds remain in the half, and Adam Vinetieri is about to kick another field goal. And.... its... a time out...

647pm... Once again, I prove prophetic... just saw the commercial for
"Wild Hogs", a movie that puts John Travolta, William H. Macy, Martin Lawerence and Tim Allen together... AND features the lovely Marisa Tomei, Oscar winner for "My Cousin Vinny".

644pm... Mackey just made his 1,844,923rd loving comment about Brian Urlacher. I think this is the definition of a Man-Crush. Kind of like Mikey has on Bono, I have on The Rock and Ty has on Bob Riley.

641pm... Mikey's wife Ashleia and Mackey's daughter Nicole just came in to the men's room... or the room here with all the guys in it. Ashleia is here to see Prince.

638pm... This guy is walking down the street in a Heart costume. He then gets attacked by various people in black costumes wearing signs, "High Cholesterol", "High Blood Pressure" and a hot chick wearing "Diabetes." Mackey pipes up, "I want diabetes"

628pm... We're loving Bob Sanders for the simplicity of his name. And apparently, Bob has been all over the place tonight. How cool would that be? Super Bowl MVP Bob Sanders... Tommy has disappeared, we think he could have made his way down to the Wii in the basement... Ashley Spell and her friend Kelly is on her way... and the rain is really, really coming down.

625pm... I think that was Tenacious D in that Garmin navigation commercial. Could've been The Darkness.

620pm... Mr. Jim (Paula Mackey's pappy) won the first quarter in our annual Super Bowl contest. He won himself a pristine, mint condition of the special edition
"My Cousin Vinny", starring Joe Pesci and the Oscar winning Marisa Tomei. She was hot. Wonder what happened to her? She went on to star with Christian Slater's crappy "Untamed Heart" and... wait, where was I? Oh, the game...

601pm... A great Carlos Mencia Bud commercial... a disturbing, yet funny David Letterman/Oprah Winfrey spot... Tom just came in... and we noticed that its raining so much, the cameras are now affected, and it looks like its old school. I think I just saw Johnny Unitas.

6pm... "Why won't they let Rex Grossman pass?" asks Mikey... I reply, "Cause he's Rex freakin' Grossman." Of course, then Rex just scored. And I am SO PUMPED about
Survivor: Fiji premiering next Thursday. And Drew just walked in. Its 14 to 6 Bears.

559pm... Me: Am I the only one not excited about seeing Prince?
Mikey: Its raining. He's not going to get out there in the rain
Jim-may: Maybe someone will hold an umbrella over him. A short umbrella
And in the kickoff, Chicago fumbled the ball... Indy recovered... then proceeded to fumble the ball in the next play... and Chicago recovered. This might be the best Super Bowl I've seen in a long time.

546pm... Just had this exchange:
Ty: Apparently, an Iranian family with a gazillion kids just moved in next to our house
Mikey: Really?
Ty: Yeah, I think it might be a terrorist training camp
Jimmay: Ty's gonna call some of his government buddies
And Indy finally scored. Then they just botched the snap. I revert back to Mackey's comment... the rain changed everything

545pm... Ladies and gentlemen, Jimmy Bowling has arrived. I moved upstairs to the big tv... there is a smaller, yet nicer, television downstairs, but its a little loud down there. So I'm up here in a meat locker of a bedroom with Reverend Ty, Mikey Nipp and Jimmay

537pm... Bud strikes again with a clever "Paper Rock Scissors" commercial. And Chicago just intercepted it. I remind myself that this is what happened to Florida against Ohio State, and we saw how that turned out.

530pm... The Bears just ran it all the way back for 6. Steph commented the game will be boring if this is what happens. Mackey retorted, "It's raining. It won't be boring" And Peyton is on the field, and starting off, playing like poopy. This is what happened against New England, and they ended up coming back... we'll see...

523pm... Tad & Gina just showed up. They're also doing player intros, and the crowd just booed a player with the name Mohammed. Is it bad that I find that funny?

521pm... what's happened so far: The Chad Johnson/NFL 365 commercial just played, starring Martha Stewart, Rascal Flatts, LL Cool J and a few select others... Billy Joel just sang, completely off key, the national anthem. Michael commented that its because 1) he's old and 2) he's an alcoholic, so his liver is probably totally shriveled up. Not that a shriveled liver has anything to do with singing, but still...

Well, its time for the Super Bowl, as the Colts take on the Bears in Miami Florida... and once again, the usual crowd--Tommy & Amy, Mikey & Ashley, Steph & Yours Truly at Ken & Lynn Nipp's--are joined by the Mackey's and some others here. And I'll keep you informed of all the fun goodness of the Super Bowl....