Wednesday, February 28, 2007
I have been following the Paul McCartney/Heather Mills story and haven't commented on it because I thought that they deserve to go through their personal pain without me adding to the ton of things being written about them. (Although the evidence that they check my blog daily is spotty at best.)
But now that Heather is going to be on Dancing with the Stars things just get stranger and stranger. This headline, though, is probably the strangest one yet: Heather Mills Says Her Leg Probably Won't Fly Off. In the original interview with her that this quote comes from she addresses the issue of her doing competitive dance with an artificial leg in a reasonable and lighthearted manner and I'm sure she said lots of other things in the interview but this, of course, is what gets pulled out.
It is really fascinating to see how some Beatles fans are calling for a boycott of the show and how the press is focusing their attention on Mills' unique situation - both physical and personal. Even though calling Mills a star is stretching it a bit - I'm not sure what she's done to put her in that category - the producers of the show struck gold when they hired her. They've had more publicity than I would have ever imagined. The cult of celebrity is alive and well.
Here was the opening sentence on the 6 PM news tonight, reporting on a downtown building that burned down last night: "Until last night it was a former
Now, I know that the developers were trying to turn it into condos or apartments or something but, even after it burned down isn't it STILL a former Grand Rapids factory?
Monday, February 19, 2007
The good news is that now I won't have the Monday night do-I-watch-it-or-don't-I issues that I've had lately. The other good news is that the Gilmore Girls, a show that I usually only watch with my youngest daughter Lynnae, has been on target this season and Lost has been great so there is plenty to keep me busy!
Sunday, February 18, 2007
A couple of years ago they played a free concert in
I also remember the debacle around the release of Nothing is Sound, in which Sony put out their album with a copy protection thing on it that meant that you couldn’t play it on itunes or rip it to your computer without using their special software. Yeah, it was a pain and so I didn’t listen to Meredith’s copy much. I was more interested in the fallout as a business and technological issue than the music. All in all, Switchfoot was firmly in the "I won't turn them off but I probably won't buy them" category for quite some time.
So, for some reason, when their latest album, Oh! Gravity, came out and I saw it on sale right after Christmas, I bought it. I really don't know why. I think I figured that most of my kids would want to hear it and I knew I had more money then they did so I did it to be a nice dad. I also like to support Christians who are working effectively the in the mainstream so I just bought it on a whim. And you know what? It has stayed in my CD player almost continuously ever since.
When I get a new album I won’t listen much if the music doesn’t move me so there is sometimes a pretty short window for an album to get seriously listened to. In this case, the music did move me. I found the melodies and the arrangements on Oh! Gravity to be interesting and compelling. They players aren’t virtuosi but they do well enough for the genre and the dorky piano break about a minute into the first song oozes fun and creativity.
The lyrical themes on this album follow the same lines as previous Switchfoot albums in that they tend to be somewhat dark, focusing on a sense of emptiness. You get the feeling that Foreman is trying to tap into the malaise that his generation feels without feeling the need to point to Christ as the answer in every song. In fact, there is no explicitly Christian content – at least that I have found so far. Of course, it is not always clear what Jon Foreman is referring to in his lyrics but most of the time I’m just bopping my head and enjoying the groove. Occasionally, though, the lyrics jump out at me, as in the opening to “American Dream”:
When success is equated with excess
The ambition for excess wrecks us
As top of the mind becomes the bottom line
When success is equated with excess.
There is some fun wordplay here and it’s hard to miss his point. Other songs aren’t quite so clear. For example, in “Amateur Lovers,” when he sings
We don't know what we're doing
We do it again
We're just amateur lovers
With amateur friends
we aren’t really sure whether this is a good thing or not. I don’t want to complain too much, though, because I have really enjoyed this album. I also really appreciate that Foreman and the rest of the band let their Christian perspective show through in their music, even if it’s not explicit. Oh! Gravity is not Great Art but it is a pretty cool album that I continue to enjoy.
Sunday, February 11, 2007
Freeman tells the story well but it is such a convoluted tale of drugs, fame and wasted opportunity that it’s a bit depressing. This is a band that had the world by the tail and blew it mostly because of immature behavior, drugs and alcohol. (Haven’t there been enough bands now who have had this happen to them that the young ones might say “hey, that’s a trap – I better be careful!” Books like this ought to be required reading at the school of rock.)
I have to say that I was quite turned off to the band (especially Gregg Allman and Dickie Betts) after reading about their story. I wasn’t surprised at the excesses because the band
So it might not have been a good idea for me to read Midnight Riders. It gave me a more accurate but much less flattering view of the band than I had before and, since the book was written before the current incarnation of the band, I have no way of knowing if the members have gotten their lives together or not. I hope so because they can sure play!
(By the way, the hardcover edition has a lot more subtle cover than the one I'm showing on this post - I'm not a big fan of the one shown here.)
Friday, February 09, 2007
My musical memory gets another jumpstart in early 1964 when “I Want to Hold Your Hand” hit the airwaves. I had never heard anything like it and was immediately taken by how cool this music was. I remember talking about it with friends on the playground and I remember my classmate Greg who said "I don't like the Beatles because they always sing about love." Somehow, even as a fourth grade boy that didn't bother me. I managed to convince my parents to let me buy a Beatles record - and then another one. I got the “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and “She Loves You” singles and, when I manged to save big bucks, I got an album - The Beatles Second Album, one of those early US-only releases. Looking back I forgot what a rocker this album was. “Roll Over Beethoven,” "Money," "You Can't Do That" and other great songs got me going as a 9 year old. I wore it out.
When I saw the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show, 43 years ago today, (which probably pre-dates my record purchases) I got to see for myself what these guys from
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
Go to Faith Alive Resources to see these and other cool things for your church.
Monday, February 05, 2007
But I did manage to actually finish a book on the plane home from
Miller’s very engaging writing style is still present in no small measure but Searching is, I believe, trying much harder to make a point than Blue Like Jazz. And while that point is a perfectly good one and Miller does a nice job of tying things together to get there I found it a bit more tedious. What I liked about Jazz what that you literally never knew what you were going to get. The book was filled with Miller’s weird friends and unique situations where they are more like occasional guests in Searching.
Miller’s point is well taken and some of his analogies along the way caused me to think about human relationships and about our relationship to God in new ways and I'm glad I read it. But I was spoiled by the freewheeling fun of Blue Like Jazz and, if asked to recommend a Miller book to someone, will go with that rightfully more popular book.
Sunday, February 04, 2007
Now that I teach college I never have that and, since so much of my work is outside the classroom anyway, even if I had a snow day it wouldn’t amount to much. Plus, I have a 45 minute drive every day and when it snows I don’t like it at all.
But today, a Sunday, is different. Church was cancelled as well as
The bad news is that we got hammered by the “Blizzard of 2007” so I have a fair amount of digging out to do. Hopefully the roads will all be cleared by tomorrow morning when I begin the commute again.
Saturday, February 03, 2007
Of the two APCE conferences I attended (last year and this) this was the better. The plenary speaker and preacher were both really good. Bill Carter preached for us and I enjoyed all three of the sermons of his that I heard. But the highlight for me was Frances Taylor Gench, the keynote speaker. Her talks were informative, enjoyable and thought-provoking. I even bought one of her books, Back to the Well, Women’s Encounters with Jesus in the Gospels.
Aside from that I spoke about my three-dimensional faith notion (which makes up the bulk of my forthcoming book from Baker Books,) went to three sectionals and had a great time hanging out with the group from Faith Alive Christian Resources, who publish the curricula and the plays that Laura and I write. All in all, it was a great time. I’m glad that next year’s conference is a few weeks later, giving me time to recover between Calvin’s Worship Symposium and APCE!