Tuesday, November 30, 2010

30 Days of Truth: XII

Background on the 30 Days of Truth series here.

Day the Twelfth: Something people never compliment you on.

I think I am an excellent driver -- able to drive safely and defensively, efficiently and quickly -- but I don't think I have ever received a compliment on my driving.

*single tear* *sniff* (Just kidding.)

30 Days of Truth: XI

Background on the 30 Days of Truth series here.

Day the Eleventh: Something people seem to compliment you the most on.

As someone who generally discounts positive feedback as uninformed or misguided, I have trouble thinking of an answer for this one off the top of my head. (Do not read that as "People compliment me on so many things, I can't pick one!" Rather, read that as "I tend not to believe compliments and, while I do appreciate them, I do soon forget them.")

This is pretty good and has gotten a lot of compliments since it went on display last week.

This, while not exactly "good," strictly speaking, brought some good feedback when performed live at Family Fuel last month.

And since I kind of had trouble with this one, I peeked at what other people had said for their Day 11 Thing -- a lot of people said they get compliments on physical traits: their smile, their eyes, their hair. So I'll say physically, it's typically my speaking voice that gets the most compliments. Unless I'm very angry. (You wouldn't like me when I'm angry, Mr. McGee.) I get feedback that the folks I talk to on the phone at work appreciate my phone style, also.

So, there it is, I guess.

Did you know there are multiple verses to the "Baywatch" theme song?

Well, there are. Feast your ears on this:

30 Days of Truth: X

Background on the 30 Days of Truth series here.

Day the Tenth: Someone you need to let go, or wish you didn’t know.

See, it's getting to the point where all the 30 Dayses of Truths are doing is pointing out how weird I am.

Because, as of Spring 2009 at least, I don't think I'm hanging on to anyone that I need to let go or wish I didn't know. There are certainly experiences that I need to let go, but I can't think of any relationships I'm in that I wish didn't exist.

When things like this do come up, either in friendships or work or volunteer experiences, I pretty much give up on them, and either passively or passive-aggressively let them go.

I imagine there are healthier ways to cope with stuff like that, but I never claimed to be the healthiest.

Monday, November 29, 2010

30 Days of Truth: IX

Background on the 30 Days of Truth series here.

Day the Ninth: Someone you didn't want to let go, but just drifted

Oh, hello. Did you notice that I was gone for almost three weeks? You probably didn't. Either that, or you've been hanging on my every word, waiting -- no, longing -- for the day I would return to this series. Well, either way, today is your lucky day! Both of you, my regular readers, will be glad to know that I'm back in the swing of things and will be posting to this series again on a daily basis until it's all done! Here goes...

See, part of the problem with me (and probably the problem which led me to procrastinate on this one) is that I do not really dwell on the past, at least where other people are involved. I feel like there are people that I miss now, but Futuristic Optimist Me believes that I'll run into them again, or that there will be time for us to reunite at some point in the future. So, the people who have drifted away (old friends, old coworkers, etc)? I imagine they haven't drifted away forever, even though some (most?) of them have.

The other part of this one, for me, is that there's almost nobody in the world, outside of my immediate family, that I don't get sick of after about three days. In fact, when I would travel with friends every summer to one of their family's beach homes, we always knew that by the third or fourth day, I would be ready for a Scott Alone Adventure, which would entail me walking to a theater for a movie alone or hiding out for a while in the church across the street from the condo or hanging out in the condo solo while everyone else went to the beach. So, in the language of the question, "Someone you didn't want to let go..." -- I pretty much want to let everyone go after three consecutive days with them.

Waxing philosophical, I would echo my Day VIII answer -- myself. My younger self that was, I think, a stronger and more effective leader and a better planner/doer and a better role model and an overall happier person. Like, Junior Year At IU Me. I'm disappointed that Junior Year At IU Me has drifted away.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

30 Days of Truth: VIII

Background on the 30 Days of Truth series here.

Day the Eighth: Someone who has made your life hell, or treated you like crap

Hmm. I could say the Day Four guy(s). But I don't think I will.

Because when it comes down to it, I'd have to go with "me." (As inner self-monologues go, I'm pretty vicious.)

I believe with every fiber of my being that my decision to allow my life to feel like hell is just that -- my decision. In the times of my life when I've felt trapped, stuck, tortured, or otherwise screwed, it has, without exception, been a product of my own choices and a result of my own frame of mind.

But this also empowers me to claim my own happiness and embrace the times when I feel empowered, loved, self-actualized, or otherwise peachy.

That's a choice, too.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Sara Groves - Free Music Download, For Real!

Contemporary Christian recording artist Sara Groves has released a live recording of her "O Holy Night" Tour -- a concert she and her band performed in an Illinois women's prison.

You can get it free -- it's really good -- by clicking here or clicking the image below.

30 Days of Truth: VII

Background on the 30 Days of Truth series here.

Day the Seventh: Someone who has made your life worth living for

I think I would answer my family for this one -- my mom and dad and brother, and now my brother's family: his wife and three beautiful kids. I know that seems cheesy, but even with all my great friends whom I love and adore, I keep coming back to my family.

My dad is the most dadly dad out there, and he's taught me so much.

My mom is the most momly mom out there, and she's loved me no matter what.

My brother is always there when I need him, and he can always make me laugh.

My sister-in-law does such an awesome job of keeping me grounded, and she reminds me of what's really important in life.

My niece Madelynn wows me and awes me and humbles me with her intelligent observations and questions, and with the way she can entertain herself when needed.

My nephew Owen is also a quick learner and a fearless explorer whose strength and focus impress me. I also laugh whenever he eats something and instantly says, "Mmmm!"

My niece Ellie (brand new about 7 weeks ago) (whom, Grandma reminds me, I haven't really blogged about, although I have tweeted about her) encourages me to be hopeful for the future and grateful for all the many gifts that I've received.

Learning, loving, laughing, remembering, humbling, exploring, and hoping -- all things that are pretty much what I think is worth living for.

30 Days of Truth: VI

Background on the 30 Days of Truth series here.

Day the Sixth: Something you hope you never have to do in your life

So, now it's 9:00 on Day Seven and I'm just posting Day Six. Whatever, I think I'll just have to Day 3 myself and move on. (Bwahaha!)

Therefore. Something I hope I never have to do in my life...

I mean, I suppose I hope I never have to hurt someone or something. But I guess the "have to" part of that means it would be justified somehow -- like "kill Person X or we'll kill a family member." Or beating into submission a home invader. Or whatever. So, that's my answer, I suppose.

I do know that I hope never to have to use these words unironically.

And I've done things that I hope I never have to do again. For example, I hope I never have to wear a red, white, and blue sequined tophat again. I hope never again to have to dress as the Cowardly Lion from The Wizard of Oz. And I hope never again to grow a vast media empire, only to die alone on my palatial estate, clutching a snow globe and cryptically uttering, "Rosebud."

(That last one might not have actually been me; I forget.)

Monday, November 08, 2010

FIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRRRRRRRRRRRRRRE!

That this is one of the defining televisory moments of my youth tells you a lot about me.

30 Days of Truth: V

Background on the 30 Days of Truth series here.

Day the Fifth: Something you hope to do in your life

Well, I'm getting further and further from getting these things posted on time. (See Day 1.) (Except last night's delay actually emerged from tiredness after eating way too much pizza and ice cream for dinner and also I may be coming down with a cold or something.)

Anyway! Day the Fifth!

Again, this one's easy, and I've already referred to it. You can see all the things I hope to do on my Future Tree. I created it almost three years ago, and while specific projects have come and gone, everything pretty much fits under the umbrella of that tree. For example, remember the recital I mentioned I was considering? Looks like it's going to happen in about a year. I'm on the schedule to exhibit at the art gallery at St. Luke's for the month of November 2011, and I've committed to an opening performance/recital to go along with my show (which will probably be photography-based, unless I develop some other visual art skill in the meantime, which seems unlikely). So, you know, even though "Perform in a solo recital" is not on the Future Tree, it fits under "Use my voice for fun and for profit and for good."

It pretty much all goes back to the Future Tree on this one...

Sunday, November 07, 2010

30 Days of Truth: IV

Background on the 30 Days of Truth series here.

Day the Fourth: Something you have to forgive someone else for

Well! This one's easy. (Finally.)

In our last installment, we learned about that one job. It would be easy to think that the person I need to forgive in that episode is the boss, whose behavior bordered on the legally actionable. But I have grown to accept that there's probably something going on -- like, underlying, potentially treatable issues that are beyond his control which cause him to behave the way he does. I just don't think he has the capacity to behave differently, and this has made it easier for me to forgive him.

Alas, he is not the one I still have to forgive. Rather, the person I have yet to forgive from that episode is one of the leaders who purported to be supportive of me and my role but who, it became clear in the post-mortem, was only in it for himself. This is a man whose professional experience should have better prepared him to assist me in navigating the challenges -- a man who, if he had chosen, could have been a strong advocate rather than an opponent. But because of his devotion to the boss and because of his self-appointed hero/savior complex with regard to the church and because of some underlying, potentially treatable issues (which, in his case, I somehow find less forgivable than the boss's underlying, potentially treatable issues*), he chose to pick sides, rather than creating a win-win. He did not choose my "side" (it felt like no one did), and I think that, more than anything, led to the episode ending the way it did.

It's not that I need to forgive him for leading to the end of that job for me; I know that I bear responsibility there. Rather, I need to forgive him for being such an unsupportive, dishonest ass to me and for being a poor leader for his church family.

I think someday, I'll get there. Probably not for a while, though.

*And also which I have no business knowing about, because confidentiality practices should have precluded the person who told me about them from telling me about them...

Friday, November 05, 2010

30 Days of Truth: III

Background on the 30 Days of Truth series here.

Day the Third: Something you have to forgive yourself for

Hmm, this is a thinker because, again, there's a lot to choose from. And I've been staring at this blinking cursor on and off for the last two hours, trying to decide what to write about. Here goes...

I need to forgive myself for not trusting my intuition approximately four years ago, when I was interviewing for a job that would become what I now consider the worst experience of my career -- worst experience of my life, really.

The job itself seemed like it was tailor-made for me, mixing my experience and skill in church fundraising with my passion for outreach ministry and community-church partnerships. The task -- raise a couple million dollars from ambiguously-defined sources -- seemed ambitious but the energy around the campaign and my enthusiasm to return to professional fundraising clouded my judgment, I think.

When I went in for my second interview and asked questions that should have been easy to answer with straightforward facts, and when those questions were answered with Yoda-like riddles and sanctimonious claptrap, my Spidey-sense went off, but still I overlooked it. And when I talked with the hiring committee members and they had no real support for the campaign other than "Our leaders met and think we can do it," and when I heard from others around town about how difficult the man who would be my boss is, the alarm buzzers went off, but still I overlooked it. When the members of this community which claims it seeks, welcomes, and values all people looked down on me and my home church, I got pissed, but still I overlooked it. And when I thought about each of the people I met during the interview process and realized that not one of them seemed interested in me as much as what I could do for them, the siren sounded and red light flashed, but still I overlooked it.

So now, when I look back over the almost-two-years that I lasted in that job and observe all the major breakdowns in communication, major breakdowns in love and support, major breakdowns in fundraising best practices, and just overall major breakdowns, I am able to pinpoint about ten distinct things that I overlooked during the hiring process which, if I had trusted my intuition sufficiently and overlooked my -- my what? enthusiasm? greed? need to be needed? -- my whatever, I could have saved myself a LOT of headaches, heartaches, and soulaches.

The way that job ended almost exactly two years ago today did some pretty severe damage to me, vocation-wise and Vocation-wise, self-esteem-wise and relationship-wise, and I'm only now feeling like I'm getting over that. On days when I get down on myself about where I am in my career and where I am financially and where I am interpersonally, it's easy to look back on the way I overlooked my intuition and, in a very real way, sold out for a good-paying, important-sounding job.

My self-forgiveness for that is a work in progress. Some days are better than others, but the long-term prognosis is good, I think. Beats the alternative, right?

The Journey

It's unusual for me to find a commercial to be full of beauty and meaning, but this is pretty great:

Thursday, November 04, 2010

30 Days of Truth: II

Background on the 30 Days of Truth series here.

Day the Second: Something you love about yourself

Holy crap! It's 11:50pm on Day 2, and I haven't posted yet. (Please to be referring to Day 1, haha.)

So. Something I love about myself.

*crickets chirping*

This is tough, because there are times in my life when I absolutely love SO MANY THINGS about myself. And then there are times in my life when I absolutely love ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about myself. I struggle with the balance between confidence and humility, pride and modesty, Sense and Sensibility. (I do not know what that means.)

Anyway.

So, let's just go for right now, at 11:51pm on Thursday, November 4, 2010, in the year of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, something I love about myself is my voice. And I mean that in the literal sense, in the musical sense, and in the figurative sense. One of the things on my Future Tree is to use my voice for fun, for profit, and for good, and I think I do that pretty consistently. Here's how:

Literally, I love the sound of my voice. Just today, I got a lovely compliment from a stranger on the phone; as I was scheduling an appointment for her with the psychologist I work for, she told me that I was very soothing and friendly, welcoming and caring. I think that's pretty cool, especially since I've always hated the telephone, which I think we can trace back to when I was younger before my voice changed and when I would answer the phone, people would call me "ma'am" or whatever. (Oddly, depending on the tone of voice I'm using and the person on the other end of the line, this occasionally still happens. Often when I'm speaking to African-American women on the phone, they'll hear my voice as female. You tell me.)

Musically, I'm coming into my own and learning about the power and mystery of my voice. Singing is something that I've always done (in the car, in the shower, etc.) but it's only in the last six years that I've been singing in any sort of structured environment. (Have I ever told the story of how that happened? It's a little bit mystical, so maybe there's a God component to why I love my voice. Story in the footnotes below.*) I've had the opportunity to sing solos in and around church, and I like the musical aspect of it, as well as the spiritual/emotional aspect of it.

In the figurative sense, I think it's taken three and a half decades for me to find my "voice" -- as a writer, as a leader, as a Christian, as a friend, etc. I'm not sure what has changed over the last couple years (I mean, a hell of a lot has changed over the last couple years, but I don't know what specifically to attribute THIS change to), but I've finally felt comfortable being myself -- the good and the bad that comes along with that. And I think that has shown in my writing -- what little writing I've done lately! But I also think that shows in my leadership; I feel like I know better today what's important to me...my values and priorities. And that makes me a better leader. I'm still experimenting, I think, using the words and phrases of Christianity -- my faith life until about five years ago had been a rather solitary, private enterprise. So I think that's one aspect of my voice that is in flux -- but I love that it's in flux...and I hope it's OK with both of you, dear readers, that I occasionally experiment with you on that here on ye olde blogge. I think I've also come into my own when it comes to speaking my truth as a friend. That's had some unpleasant consequences over the last couple years, but I think that's probably part of the adventure.

So, there you have it: I love my voice.

I LOOOOOOOVVVVVVVVVVVE MMMMMMMYYYYYYYY VVVVVVVVVOOOOOOOOOOOOIIIIIIIICCCCCCCCCCCCE!

* As I said, growing up, I always sang when I was alone -- in the car, in the shower, walking on campus at IU when no one else was around. But I didn't sing with a choir or anything. Until... In 2003, I was working on a consulting project in a city called St. Catharines, Ontario. I had just gotten back from my trip to Italy, Ghana, and the UK, and I was still very much in Say Yes To Any Request mode. I was attending a church event, just talking to a friend, when a woman tapped me on the shoulder and said, "Are you singing in the choir at Mountainview (the name of the church I was attending there)?" I, of course, told her "No," because (a) I wasn't, so "No" was the correct answer, and (b) I had never sung -- nor never seriously considered singing -- with a choir before. She immediately said, "You should be." I said, "What do you mean?" and she said, "You have a lovely God-given voice. Use it." So, I contacted the music director at Mountainview and got into the choir there. I've been singing with church choirs pretty much ever since then.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

30 Days of Truth: I

Background on the 30 Days of Truth series here.

Day the First: Something you hate about yourself

I suppose it's no surprise that this first post in the 30 Days of Truth series is coming at nearly midnight on Day One. Something I hate about myself is my finely honed skill of procrastination.

Now, don't get me wrong -- there's plenty of stuff going through my head as I contemplate the writing prompt, "Something you hate about yourself," which I have actually taken to mean, "Something about yourself that you'd like to improve." But I think the one that most vexes me is my tendency toward lifestyle of procrastination and its corollary, lack of follow-through. (See Kelsey's 30DaysOfTruth blog post on Unfinished Business. It's like she's writing my story.)

In my work situations, I tend to procrastinate on the non-essential stuff: filing, say, or as another example, filing. And although two trips to Africa and one to India have forever reshaped my concept of time (I am, it turns out, polychronic), I still manage to meet deadlines and keep the important tasks on the front burner.

But in my personal life, I've almost always chosen the path of the happy-go-lucky grasshopper over that of the hard-working ants. And we saw where that got the grasshopper. (Stupid ants.)

There's so much I want to do, and I've developed idea after idea after idea of things I could do, but I haven't taken the linear path on any one of them. Sure, I've made progress toward many items on my Future Tree (and in a couple cases I should have been more careful what I wished for, because come on), but I want to be the type of person with clearly articulated goals and work toward one or more of those goals every day of my life.

I am not currently that type of person.

Rather, I have kind of an "If you daydream it, it will come...someday...but first, how about a round of Angry Birds?" approach, which is very much getting me nowhere -- at least, nowhere on purpose. I've had a ton of kick-ass adventures and most of who I am is because I've been a stop-and-smell-the-roses kind of guy, rather than an achievement-at-any-cost kind of guy.

Surely, though, there must be a balance. Someday I just might find it...

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

NOVEMBER TO MEMEMBER: 30 Days of Truth

In addition to the 29 Days of Giving, I'm adding the 30 Days of Truth meme. (Haha, I was already pretty truthful about the 29 Days of Giving, so what other truths could possibly be out there? Oh. Right.)

Anyway.

A FIHMIPY from Twitter has started a blog specifically for 30 Days of Truth, a blogging experience designed to prompt you into speaking honestly and frankly about yourself and your life, hopefully prompting self-reflection as well.

Well!

I like to think I can self-reflect with the best of them. But I've never really Stopped Being Polite and Started Getting Real™ here on ye olde blogge, so maybe it's time. Starting tomorrow, I'll do 30 Days of Truth, with as little [redacted]ing as possible. Just to give you a preview, here are the prompts:

Day 01 → Something you hate about yourself.
Day 02 → Something you love about yourself.
Day 03 → Something you have to forgive yourself for.
Day 04 → Something you have to forgive someone for.
Day 05 → Something you hope to do in your life.
Day 06 → Something you hope you never have to do.
Day 07 → Someone who has made your life worth living for.
Day 08 → Someone who made your life hell, or treated you like [crap].
Day 09 → Someone you didn’t want to let go, but just drifted.
Day 10 → Someone you need to let go, or wish you didn’t know.
Day 11 → Something people seem to compliment you the most on.
Day 12 → Something you never get compliments on.
Day 13 → A band or artist that has gotten you through some tough days. (write a letter.)
Day 14 → A hero that has let you down. (letter)
Day 15 → Something or someone you couldn’t live without, because you’ve tried living without it.
Day 16 → Someone or something you definitely could live without.
Day 17 → A book you’ve read that changed your views on something.
Day 18 → Your views on gay marriage.
Day 19 → What do you think of religion? Or what do you think of politics?
Day 20 → Your views on drugs and alcohol.
Day 21 → (scenario) Your best friend is in a car accident and you two got into a fight an hour before. What do you do?
Day 22 → Something you wish you hadn’t done in your life.
Day 23 → Something you wish you had done in your life.
Day 24 → Make a playlist to someone, and explain why you chose all the songs. (Just post the titles and artists and letter)
Day 25 → The reason you believe you’re still alive today.
Day 26 → Have you ever thought about giving up on life? If so, when and why?
Day 27 → What’s the best thing going for you right now?
Day 28 → What if you were pregnant or got someone pregnant, what would you do?
Day 29 → Something you hope to change about yourself. And why.
Day 30 → A letter to yourself, tell yourself EVERYTHING you love about yourself.

So! Starting tomorrow, it will be self-disclosure-a-go-go around here! Tune back in to learn more and more!

Why We Give

As part of its annual stewardship drive, my church has encouraged us to undertake a 29 Days of Giving challenge. Based on the experiences of Cami Walker, who wrote 29 Gifts: How a Month of Giving Can Change Your Life, the program encourages us to be intentional about giving and receiving, making at least one gift every day for a month.

Over 400 members of the church have committed to participate in the exercise, which will culminate on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, when we submit our pledge cards "gratitude cards" indicating our pledge for 2011. Some have been sharing their experiences on the St. Luke's Facebook page, while others have been blogging about it on their own. (You should totally check out that link -- Angie Six is sharp as a tack and a great writer, to boot.) (And yes, her last name is "Six.")

I've heard lots of great stories already from folks around the congregation -- how their gifts have had impacts small and large for themselves and for others. I believe that anything that can send hundreds of people out into the world with more giving hearts is good for us, good for the world, and good for God.

At the same time, though, I wonder about the way we're doing it. Sermons on the topic and the 29 Gifts book itself seem to imply (or, occasionally, outright state) that giving and receiving are a zero-sum game: I gave X, and so therefore I received Y. I personally don't believe God/the Universe works that way and if that's how things do work, I'd venture to say that everyone in the world (me included) believes that she or he is owed something. It's only human to feel like we're giving more than we're getting, right?

I think this transactional outlook on Giving misses the point entirely. Yes, Jesus told us:
Somethingsomething give and it will be returned to you even more, pressed down, shaken, overflowing into your lap or whatever.*
And when I was doing capital campaigns for the Catholic Church, I loved to whip out:
God loves a cheerful giver (so please don't make my job raising money for the Bishop any harder than it already is).*
But I don't think it is cheer or joy that motivates us when we're giving with the expectation of receiving. I'm not sure it's greed, per se, but it's definitely not the selfless act of altruism that I think of when I think of "Giving." I think that by giving with intention, we can become more attuned to and grateful for the many blessings that are already present in our lives, but I do not think we can cause them to happen by giving. (Of course, I am open to rebuttal on this.)

Rather, giving from love is part of our "spiritual DNA." Once people were around, the first thing God did was give us things: a lovely garden to hang out in, animals and plants for food and shelter (and, later, for clothes), other humans to share the journey (and to [ahem]) with, rules to follow, etc. And at the very center of our faith as Christians is the idea that God gave us something -- in this case, God's only begotten son -- because God loved us so much.

Please to be repeating: BECAUSE GOD LOVED US SO MUCH, God gave us Jesus.

Indeed, everything we have and everything we are is a gift from God. If you believe, as I do, that we are made in God's image, then surely that aspect of God's identity lives in us. Surely we are to give from love, not from expectation of reciprocity or return -- or even from an acknowledgment that giving and receiving might be related. I give because I think it's the right thing to do and because it makes me feel good. When something good happens to me, I believe it happens because God/the Universe is benevolent and wants good for all of us (and also because I worked hard for it, usually).

And I can't believe I'm linking to a Focus on the Family document (I'm as surprised as you are), but this PDF goes along pretty well with my understanding of why we should give and how giving fits in the context of our Christianity.

You should read it, and read 29 Gifts, and read some of those sermons, and let me know what you think.

*This is from the Scott Semester Paraphrase Bible, available in your local Christian bookstore sometime next Never.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Currently...

...Reading: 29 Gifts: How a month of giving can change your life by Cami Walker

...Listening To: Night Sessions by Chris Botti

...Anticipating: The premiere of The Walking Dead on AMC

...Blogcrushing On: Crimes Against Hugh's Manatees

...Remembering: What it's like not to be over-programmed and to be able to sleep in on a Saturday

...Wearing: My jammies (yes, at almost noon)

...Driving: My trusty Nissan Versa (I mean, I'm not driving as I blog this, but still)

...Smelling Like: Right Guard Clinical Strength (because it was only $2 a can at Big Lots, which is half the price I pay for the Normal -- Non-Clinical? -- Strength stuff at Meijer) and also CKFree for men, but not in a convertible in the desert (Also, check out the scent profile: top notes of absinthe, jackfruit, thai star anise, juniper berry; heart notes of South African buchu, suede, coffee absolute, tobacco leaves; base notes of Costa Rican ironwood, oakwood, patchouli, Texan cedarwood. Whatever that means.)

...Creating: A plan -- an actual plan!

...Procrastinating By: Making this ridiculous list, haha

...Longing To Go: On an adventure that will test my skills, my faith, and my heart (Wondering if that can happen close to home or if it will require travel)

...Contemplating: My votes on Tuesday

...Wishing For: That day when we can all be quiet enough to really hear each other

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Heavy Rotation

Here are some of the songs I'm playing a lot in iTunes these days...









Monday, October 25, 2010

Monday, October 11, 2010

Video Portrait

Artist Noah Kalina has created a "video portrait" of artist Josh Ruben. It is cool and creepy. If I ever have a haunted house or similar freaky-deaky home-decorating opportunity, I'm getting one of these made of me, and I'm hanging it on the wall and running it on a continuous loop.

Hit play and marvel...

Sunday, October 10, 2010

YOU SHOULD COME: St. Luke's Vaudeville Follies & Silent Auction

Hey, now that "You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown" has wrapped, I'm gearing up for a fundraiser for the St. Luke's Chancel Choir in a couple weeks.

Two shows -- October 22 & 23 -- will feature great Vaudeville and early Broadway music, corny comedy, and a ton of fun and surprises. The funds raised will help support the choir's outreach efforts, which provide opportunities for us to perform and serve in and around Indianapolis and even further from home.

Doors open (and the silent auction fun begins!) at 6:30 each night; performances start at 7:30. Tickets are available online or you can get them at the church -- $15 gets you dessert, beverage, and a heck of a fun time. Hope you can join us!

St. Luke's United Methodist Church is located at 100 W. 86th Street in Indianapolis.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

"You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown" -- THIS FRIDAY AND SATURDAY!

If you've been paying attention, you're already aware of three performances of “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown” going on this weekend. But I wanted to make sure you got the information.

We’re in our last few rehearsals, and I can confidently say the show is going to be REALLY good. The cast, musicians, and crew are super-talented, and the show is a hoot -- if you can make it, you're in for a special treat. If you’re out of town this weekend, be sure to let your friends know about it – THANKS!

Here are the details:

What
You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown: A musical look at a typical day in the lives of the “Peanuts” characters we’ve gotten to know over the last 60 years

When
Friday, October 8, at 7:30pm
Saturday October 9, at 3:00pm and 7:30pm

Where
Northwood Christian Church
4550 Central Avenue (46th & Central)
Indianapolis, IN

How Much
How much are tickets? Good question. This is a pay-what-you-like event. (The suggested donation is $10.) So bring your smiles and, hopefully, your applause. All donations to go towards assisting the music program at Northwood Church.

RSVP
Email your reservations to MusicAtNorthwood@aol.com or call the church office at (317) 283-1352. Please include your name, date and time of show and the number of seats to reserve. Although there should be plenty of seats if you just show up at the door, please know that reserving your tickets in advance will permit you access to premium seating.

My New Rules for How I Use The Interwebotron9000

1. If I'm clicking more than I'm typing, I'm doing it wrong.

2. I have to create more content than I consume. (Sharing doesn't count as creating, as Persons 2 through n in the Human Centipede can tell you.)(Don't click that link if you don't want to be totally grossed out.)(Seriously, it's so gross, I probably shouldn't even have linked to it.)(I mean, it doesn't really show all that much grossness; it's mostly implied.)(But still.)

3. If the computer on my lap is so hot that I can smell burning leg hairs, it's time to turn it off and walk away until it cools off again.

4. If it's not funny, or relevant (i.e., directly applicable to my life within 24 hours), or both, it's dead to me. This goes for what I create and for what I consume. Dead to me = deleted, unsubscribed, and/or set on fire. (Usually not set on fire.)

5. If I don't create something groundbreaking and/or innovative (and profitable!) soon, I might re-evaluate my previously stated usually-not-setting-things-on-fire policy. (Luckily, I have a couple good ideas I'm workshopping, and I've set an end-of-the-year deadline for myself.)(Just, haha, stay away from flammable/inflammable things starting January 1.)

Friday, October 01, 2010

It is possible that I just figured out...

...a major project for myself that could turn into a project for others, too. I'm kind of excited!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Pedal for Peace 2010 - Will you help us change the world?















Friends, I need your help.

You might recall that last year, I rode in the inaugural Pedal for Peace event at Major Taylor Velodrome. I've volunteered again and will be riding with six or seven other folks, rain or shine, in the event again this year.

On Saturday, October 2, a couple hundred cyclists on about 30 teams will take turns riding in the six-hour relay event to raise money to promote peace worldwide, especially through the education of women and children. Last year, the funds went to support Mar Elias, an interfaith school in the Holy Land. This year, the funds raised will support two worthy organizations:
  1. AWAKEN (Afghan Women And Kids Education & Necessities), a Muncie-based initiative to educate women and children in Afghanistan, and
  2. Greg Mortenson's Central Asia Institute, which builds schools and provides other educational support in Afghanistan and the surrounding countries.
I'll be riding with Team RPM (Random Pedal-ers on a Mission) -- each team is tasked with raising a certain amount of money toward the effort. Will you please consider a tax-deductible donation to support our team as we support peace in the world?

Your gift of $50, $25, or $10 will really make a difference -- YOU can create educational opportunities for women and children! Donate online or, if you would like to mail a check, make it payable to St. Luke's UMC and put "Pedal for Peace/RPM" in the memo line and mail it to:
Pedal for Peace
c/o St. Luke's UMC
100 W. 86th Street
Indianapolis, IN 46260
Thank you so much for your support!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Willow Smith whips her hair. (Or something?)

Do you know how many things I understand about this? None. I literally understand none-point-none things about this. But apparently it is a thing, so there you have it.



I think the Scientologists need to seriously re-evaluate their approach to evangelism. Though I don't get it, this song is catchy as hell.

Friday, September 17, 2010

"Name That Guy" is comedy magic.

Via Best Week Ever, I share with you Jimmy Fallon's new game that's sweeping the nation: "NAME THAT GUY!" Parts 1 & 2 are in the videos below, but for my comedy dollar, you just need the second half of Part 1, when the awesome old lady brings the funny.



Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Come for the Melissa and Joey fanfiction, stay for the whatnow?

Well!

It has become clear to me, dear readers, that while neither of you may have much interest in ABCFamily's breakout summer sitcom "Melissa & Joey," the interwebz are, in fact, abuzz about it. In fact, in just over a week, no fewer than a dozen Google users have found themselves here seeking out "Melissa and Joey" fanfiction (as a result of my joke about it in a previous post). Which is remarkable in that my only other post that rivals that, Googlability-wise, is this 2006 post entitled Worst. Lifetime Movie. Ever.

I'm intrigued by this recent turn of events, mostly because I am so clearly out of the target demographic for "Melissa and Joey" as evidenced by my answer of "Gimme A Break" in the poll on the official show page -- which only garnered 3% of the vote...probably because most of the "M&J" viewers weren't alive when Nell (about whom I previously blogged here -- and that's worth a click at least for the Nell Carter version of the "Mary Tyler Moore Show" theme) adopted little moppet Joey and his little moppet of a brother, Matthew. (I think?)

Anyway. I have no understanding of why I'm so drawn to the situationally comedic comedy situations Mel and Joe find themselves in, and yet there it is.

It occurs to me, also, that I have no idea why people read this blog. Mostly, I think visitors to this blog fall into one of the following categories:
  1. Family, friends, acquaintances
  2. FIHMIPYs
  3. Random Googlers

So tell me: Whether you fall into category 1, 2, or 3, why do you stop by or not stop by here? What can I, your occasionally faithful blog host, do to make your stay more comfortable? Can I blog about anything specific? Do more of a certain type of post? Games like Song! Challenge! or Pop Culture Math? Snarky essays? Gettin' Goddy wit' it? The liveblogs, my God, the liveblogs? Videos of me dancing? (Somebody earlier tonight requested a Hammer Dance video...I'll see what I can do.)

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to leave a comment and let me know which of the above, if any, keep you coming back, and what you'd like to see more of. The overenthusiastic survey-taker at right is eagerly awaiting your comments. She will transcribe them verbatim and then provide them to me in an easy-to-read (that is, picture-heavy) report, which I will place in white 1" binder and never read again. (Just kidding -- that's a random image I found by Googling "survey taker" -- *I* am eagerly awaiting your responses...she's just a sight gag.) (I was serious about the 1" binder, though.)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Then and Now: Who's On First

"Who's On First?" will make me laugh every time. Comedy genius, I tells ya.

Here's the classic Abbott & Costello clip:



And here's what happens when Abbott & Costello Meet the Mummy Modern Typography:

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Twelve Random Things

It's been a while since one of those random "25 Things" things came around on Facebook. Because I'd like to keep the blog in action now, I'm going to resurrect that ol' chestnut and see how many random things I can share right now:

  1. I tangoed with a blanket tonight. You'll want to join us on 10/8 or 10/9 to see it in person.
  2. Speaking of My Blanket and Me, I'm developing greater confidence on stage as I have fun rehearsing for "You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown" and some other stuff.
  3. Speaking of performing, I'm seriously considering that recital idea (except with maybe some other song choices).
  4. This, while completely inappropriate and not safe for work, is hilarious to me. Especially the Angela Lansbury part.
  5. I recently addressed the piles of stuff I'd accumulated before my move at the end of last year. Sadly, I mostly addressed them by boxing them up into fresh new banker's boxes, rather than actually, say, filing them. To the storage unit!
  6. I'll be riding again this year in the Pedal For Peace event on October 2. Want to support peace through education for girls and women around the world? Make a donation here and enter either my name (Scott Semester) or our team name (RPM: Random Pedal-ers on a Mission) when you make your donation. And thanks!
  7. I'm working my way through this resource, which may or may not be available to you at this time.
  8. Today at church, our pastor challenged us to read one chapter of the Gospels each day; if we do that, we'll have all the Gospels read by Christmas. I'm going to do this. I figure if I can give up caffeine for Lent, I can read the Bible for pre-Advent.
  9. Speaking of church, oy.
  10. The Google search phrase melissa and joey fanfiction has (somewhat explicably, but come on) led 6 people to this blog in the last week.
  11. I am currently watching a "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" that I've never seen before.
  12. I want to go to Finland to vacation in an "Icebergs" home by Daniel Andersson. And then I want to find a body of water in central Indiana and build one for myself.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Just the way it is

"Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope. Nothing that is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore we must be saved by faith. Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore we must be saved by love."

~ Reinhold Niebuhr

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Melissa & Joey: Waving Bye-Bye To My TV-Viewing Cred

I used to be on the cutting edge of televisual pop culture. I would know what was happening on all the shows, which new shows were coming out, and what the hits and misses would be when each fall season rolled around.

But no more.

This development is rooted in last year's digital switchover whatevermafloppy thing, when I decided to go sans TV. I subsisted on Hulu and the kindness of DVD-loaning strangers for filling my headholes with bright, shiny images. And I grew out of the tv-watching habit.

In fact, it's gotten so bad that now I look forward to viewing shows such as "Melissa & Joey." Intellectually, I am aware this show is an affront to my intelligence, to gender roles and interpersonal relationships, to dignity and honor and the American Way™. And yet, I cannot stop watching it. Here's an episode -- you know, in case you've got 22 minutes to kill and some brain cells to spare.



It all started when I watched -- in its entirety -- My Fake Fiancé, another blow to feminism and intelligentertainment that ABCFamily delivered earlier this year. In that there's-a-reason-it-went-straight-to-cable movie, Melissa Joan Hart and Joe ("Joe"? "Joey"? I've lost track...) Lawrence play single people who meet at a friend's wedding and stage their own fake wedding to get cash and prizes. Of course, they end up falling in love and living happily, albeit snarkily, ever after.* (And if you needed me to label that with a SPOILER ALERT, you are exactly the type of person that movie and its spawn, this show, are targeted toward.)

Apparently, America just couldn't get enough of the will-they-or-won't-they** chemistry between MeJoHa and JoeLaw. And therefore, here we are: Melissa and Joe(y), playing "Melissa & Joey," which, I'm pretty sure, are the same characters they played in My Fake Fiancé, just with slightly less dimension.

To the will-they-or-won't-they, the producers have added an Awwwww! factor with two adorable teen moppets whom Melissa has taken in, after her sister (their mother) something something. It just so happens that at the same time Melissa inherits the teens, Joe(y) needs a job because of what Melissa (or perhaps her sister?) did, and so naturally, he becomes the nanny. You know, as you do.

Toss in an inexplicably humorless, inexplicably Asian*** executive assistant and numerous one night stands for both Melissa and Joe(y), and you've got a non-stop, madcap romp through today's America.

I should hate it. It should make me vomit just on principle.

And yet... And yet.

I look forward to when the new episodes come out on Hulu. I look forward to catching it when I flip past ABCFamily. I've written three spec episodes in addition to copious fanfic which honors the continuity of the "Melissa-and-Joey"-verse. Let's just say it has become my favorite new show of late. I mean, it can't compete with USANetwork's "Psych" or "White Collar" but it will draw me away from "Royal Pains" and even "Covert Affairs."

So, there it is. Now you know.

My name is Scott, and I watch "Melissa & Joey."


* I call dibs on "Snarkily Ever After" as the title of my autobiography.

** "Will they or won't they sleep together?" "Will they or won't they punch each other in the face, hard, like we so desperately want them to?" "Will they or won't they partake in an elaborate murder/suicide pact designed to frame Mayim Bialik?" (Which is TOTALLY a made-for-tv movie I would watch.)

*** Which is to say, every Asian person I've ever met**** is smarter than Melissa Joan Hart's character and there's no way "Rhonda Cheng" would have to put up with MeJoHa's shenanigans.

**** Which is to say, this man cheering on Howard at the 2008 Summer Olympics:

Saturday, September 04, 2010

You're A (Mostly) Good Man, Scott S. Semester

Hey!

So, long time, no blog, right? Sorry about that. I've gotten all introspective and, instead of gettin' bloggy with it, I've kept it mostly inside -- except, of course, for the incessant tweeting...my God, the TWEETING!

Anyway, a number of things have happened recently. Let's get brought up to speed, shall we? (You: Oh, yes! Indubitably! May we?!) (Me: Enough. Please to be shutting up and reading quietly to yourself while keeping the mocking to a minimum.)


Thing the First: Master Thespian
Remember this and this? Well, it's happened again, only this time, it's by choice, and not out of a sense of guilt and/or obligation and/or duty!

On October 8 and 9, I will be playing the role of Linus in Northwood Christian Church's star-(except for me)-studded production of the musical, You're A Good Man Charlie Brown. Linus has a nice solo in the first act which may or may not involve dancing...you'll just have to come to the show to see it. Tickets are free, with a $10 suggested donation.

YOU SHOULD COME!


Things the Second: Phoning It In

I got a new smartphone -- a Palm Pre Plus! (exclamation mark mine, but the Plus is theirs; I'm not sure what's so "Plus" about it, but there it is). I like that I can now do the e-mail and the Twitter and the Facebook without having to be at a computer, especially since the office computer died and was only mostly resuscitated. (Fun Fact: I just spelled "resuscitated" correctly on the first try.)

Anyway. The phone. Thanks to the good folks at ubergizmo.com (whatever that is), it's pictured at right in snapped-shut and snapped-open positions, respectively. And it is awesome. I haven't even explored all the apps that you can get for it, but I downloaded a couple of games and whatnot and am really enjoying it.

YOU SHOULD GET ONE!


Thing the Third: Take Off, Eh?
I took some time off from church this summer, and it was great, for a number of reasons.

It was good to sleep in on a few Sundays, instead of always being up and at them first thing in the morning. I also had the opportunity to attend worship elsewhere, which was nice. But I think the biggest step for me was making the commitment to establish better boundaries about my role as a volunteer and how much time/energy I was willing to dedicate to it.

I did decide to spend some time working with the art gallery at the church. We had a show in August and two of my pieces were on display -- one of them, featuring that one scripture passage (subversive!), is there at the right. Click to embiggen and see the pretty flowers from the Daylily Labyrinth at St. Luke's.

I think I'm still working to discern how I can use all my gifts in service of God and others, but taking July and August off from The Luke was a helpful step in that process.

YOU SHOULD ... I DON'T KNOW? ... ALSO TAKE SOME TIME AWAY AND REFRESH!


Things the Fourth through the Fifteenth
Here's a quickfire rundown of the rest of the stuff that's up with me:
  • I went to a couple local-food things last weekend and got really pumped about learning how to grow my own food. Mostly because it all tasted really good and fresh, but also because of that nagging voice in the back of my head saying that gardening/farming needs to be part of Plan A to Z.
  • I read this great article: Is Your Longing Preventing You From Actualizing Your Dreams? (Mine might be.)
  • A woman yelled at me for driving too fast in my neighborhood. (I was not.)
  • A woman yelled at me for biking in a not-visible-enough shirt. (My shirt was bright green; her sunglasses and medical marijuana clouds had simply gotten in the way.)
  • A woman yelled at me -- and pounded on my car with her fist -- because she lost control of her child who darted out in front of me in a parking lot.* (I was driving at a reasonable rate of speed and I braked in plenty of time to avoid her child.)
  • I decided not to take any crap from random women yelling at me unjustifiably and, starting with that last one, realized that any adult language that might escape from my mouth in the presence of her children was more embarrassing to her than to me. Therefore, strange women yelling at me, you are warned: You get to decide if it's more important to yell at me or to keep your children from the first class session of Swearing Like A Sailor 101.
  • My mom's Aunt Flossie recorded herself playing some church music several years ago. We turned it into a CD because Flossie wanted her own music for her funeral. (When you're about to turn 99, these are the things you think about, one imagines.) Here's "Because He Lives" by my Great Aunt Flossie:

  • In other music news, I (re?)discovered Sister Hazel, the band. Did you know you can get 20 of their songs for free on Amazon MP3 download?
  • I learned the meaning of "You can do it, Duffy Moon!" and took it to heart. (Well, most days, I'm taking it to heart.)
  • Ditto, the Manifesto of Encouragement.
  • I volunteered at the Best Buddies International conference down at IU. My experience as a volunteer fell under the "If you can't blog anything nice, don't blog anything at all" category, but the conference was a great opportunity for the participants, and Best Buddies is a terrific organization, which you should support.
  • I figured out all the things that happened to me lately by reading my Facebook status updates. Are we friends? If not, we should be!


* And my safe-driving-in-parking-lots vigilance is, by now, fairly legendary. You have to know that Me Driving By was about the safest scenario for when her kid darted out. The only thing that would have been safer was a No Car For Miles situation, which you're just not going to get at 8:45 on a Friday morning.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

"He was injured...injured bad."

Because I am 13 years old on the inside...



It is possible that I have posted this before. After 1,100 blog posts, I can no longer keep track. But even if I have posted it before, I think we can all agree that it's totally worth it.

Love is everything. Some butterflies told me so.

Hey, so it's been a while. (Exact match for that phrase on this blog = like, a jillion.)

This weekend, I volunteered at the Best Buddies International leadership conference. It was great, and you should click that link to learn more about the terrific organization and the inspiring kids who commit so much time and energy to it.

On the way to Bloomington, a butterfly who looked remarkably like the one in the picture at right (credit: Nancy Myrland) dive-bombed my car and landed smack in the front grill. This doesn't typically happen in the city, but I figured since I was more or less in the country, it wasn't much of anything to be interested in.

So I proceeded to my destination, put in a couple hours of volunteer time, and as I was walking back to my car, I noticed something I'd never noticed before (or maybe it hadn't been there before). In the front driveway of Briscoe Quad, the dorm where I lived and worked for many, many years, there was a small flower garden. And in that garden, there were dozens of butterflies flitting from flower to flower, doing whatever it is that butterflies do with flowers -- I don't know...eat them, drink them, tell them dirty jokes, who can say?

This kind of put me on Yellow Alert because (a) lots of butterflies, man! and (b) I'd never seen that garden before, but it was a place where I'd spent metric crap-tonnes of time. But I went on with my day and visited with my friend Julie and her fiancé Matt, my hosts for the weekend. (By the way, their home is lovely; if you're ever in Bloomington for the weekend, call them. I'm sure they could arrange accommodations at very reasonable rates.)

Matt and Julie and I went to see the new Angelina Jolie thriller "Salt" (which, meh -- 2½ stars, I guess) and as we walked into the theater, there was another butterfly. This one was dead on the sidewalk just outside the theater entrance.

And then there were butterflies in the movie itself, when the main character flashes back to getting married in some sort of butterfly garden thing because her husband is an expert in spiders. Or something? (Again: "Salt" = meh.)

After those four butterfly interventions, I decided to tweet about it, because that is apparently what we do these days. A Twitter FIHMIPY, Stephen James, suggested that the butterflies were telling me to see his wife's art show on the First Friday of August. I'm going, and you should go, too, because her work is beautiful. The pic to the left there, which I've just realized I haven't asked permission to use, is one of her oil paintings.

So maybe I was putting too much thought into this and I just happened to see a lot of butterflies in Bloomington. But I couldn't help thinking there was probably a message to be gained, that the Universe was trying to tell me something. I assumed it was something about this being a time of change for me -- you know, like a butterfly emerging from its cocoon and whatever. (Because "Scott is a delicate, precious snowflake in transition" is a message that the Universe would spend time sending. Actually, haha, that may be part of the message, but the rest of the message came today.)

For, you see, today, I was driving to work with my iPod on shuffle, as I do, and a song popped up that I hadn't heard in a while. It was East Village Opera Company's "Butterfly Duet" -- BUTTERFLY, got that? -- which is based on the Love Duet from Puccini's Madama Butterfly. (You've seen me reference EVOC before here; they're known for their contemporary take on classic opera songs.) At the end of EVOC's "Butterfly Duet," after the climax of the Puccini version, they added their own part in which they repeat, over and over, the message that I think I'm supposed to take from this weekend.

Take a listen and get some culture -- three minutes of quality music won't hurt you. If you're reading this on The Facebook, you'll need to click here to listen: http://sssemester.blogspot.com

"Love is everything."

I know it sounds pretty woo-woo, but I think that's the lesson that I was supposed to take from the butterflies I met over the weekend and from the Butterfly Duet on my iPod.

Now I just have to figure out what, exactly, that means for me right now. Is that a nudge from the Universe encouraging me to spend more time with family and friends who love me just as I am and want what's best for me? Is it a glance from God saying that loving is more important than achieving -- and more important than being right? A kick-to-the-head from Karma indicating I need to realign myself with what's important? All of the above, and more?

It certainly has helped me to put some things into perspective and helped me realize that it's not about me and it's not about you. It's about us.

Love is everything. Love is every thing.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Song! Challenge! #17: Back to the Intros

When the first Song! Challenge! dropped, it was an homage to song introductions -- those first few notes or those first few seconds that can instantly trigger a memory or an emotion. This week's Song! Challenge! hearkens back to that first golden Song! Challenge of 2009.

This Song! Challenge! is probably more difficult than average because of a few of the clips. I've taken the first several seconds of 18 song clips. How many can you identify?

Your task is to identify all 18 clips -- TITLE OF SONG AND ARTIST -- in this week's Challenge!. Some extra information for this week's game:
  • No TV theme songs this week.
  • But there is something that all of the ARTISTS this week have in common. If you figure out what that is, it might make it easier to identify some of the ones you do not know off the top of your head.
  • This week, the numbers between the clips are here to stay! I think they might even make you laugh, too.
  • Each clip will be worth 2 points, and there will be partial credit. If you get the title but not the artist, or vice versa, I'll give you one point; get 'em both for 2 points. 18 clips x 2 points = 36 possible points.
  • Seems to be working well for me to hold all entries until the deadline. I'll wait to post entries until after the 7pm EDT Tuesday deadline.

The Rules

Your job is to enter your song guesses for all 18 clips (TITLE OF SONG AND ARTIST FOR EACH CLIP) as a single comment here on the blog. Standard rules apply (Judge's decision final, have fun, blah blah blah). Again, I'll be counting minor misspellings and other tiny inaccuracies as correct, as long as you're mostly right.

You can submit your comment-entry starting at 7:00pm EDT tonight, but I won't be approving any comments until after the Tuesday evening deadline. No help from other entries this time around. The deadline for all entries is Tuesday evening at 7:00pm EDT.

You may enter as often as you like -- but each comment/entry will be counted independent of your other entries; so if you get a question right in one entry but wrong in another, it only counts as correct in the one you got it right in. (Got that?) If you're reading this on Facebook, go to the blog: http://sssemester.blogspot.com to hear the quiz and enter your comment/entry. And trust me, if you're reading this on Facebook, you're gonna want to hear this one.


The Grand Prize

The first person to correctly identify all the clips in a single entry -- or the person with the most points by 7:00PM EDT ON TUESDAY, JULY 6 -- will win a $10 Costco Cash card, sponsored by me.

And hey! If you're cool and would like to participate as a prize sponsor by donating a prize valued at $10 or more, please e-mail me at SSSemester(at)yahoo(dot)com.


(Almost) Everybody "Wins"

The target number for this week's (Almost) Everybody "Wins" is 20. You'll need to get at least 20 points in order to get the (Almost) Everybody "Wins" prize.

This week's (Almost) Everybody "Wins" prize is a surprise again. I don't have any good ideas, but I promise I'll come up with something! Make sure to leave your e-mail address in the body of your comment/entry so I can e-mail you. (If you're worried about spambots, use the format "user(at)domain(dot)whatever" like I did above, and we should be fine. Nobody reads this blog anyway -- not even spambots.)


Readysetgo by clicking the player below:








Thursday, June 24, 2010

Another kind of hiatus, for real

Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you will recover your life. I will show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me -- watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill fitting on you. Keep company with me and you will learn to live freely and lightly.
~ Matthew 11:28-30 (The Message)

So.

If you are a subscriber to the RSS feed for this blog, you know a little more detail about this than if you are not. When I published-and-then-immediately-deleted a blog post yesterday, the RSS feed picked it up and held on tight. But I think I'm content just to let it go and not dwell on the reasons behind my decision to take a two-month hiatus from church, choosing instead to focus on reconnecting with God and with Jesus and with me during that time.

Anyway, this scripture passage found its way to me via this post on something called The Bluevine Collective, a new initiative of St. Luke's United Methodist Church and its satellite church, The Garden. In his post, Rev. Stan Abell says "Theologian Paull Tillich would say we have confused our ultimate concern (God) with primary concerns (house, car, work, superfluous busyness). Houses, cars, and work have become our religion with which we really are burned out." But I know, for me, it's the institution of religion -- and its expression through human hands, voices, and judgments -- that I'm really burned out on.

My imperfection and your imperfection get in the way of my relationship with God and with Jesus Christ. There isn't really a greater concentration of imperfection within the church, but because of the number and nature of my church-based relationships, the imperfections are more obvious and more obstructive to me right now.

So I'm taking some time off: just July and August -- not that much time, really, but enough time to step out of the routine of the superfluous busyness and to reconnect in relationship with the Guy I follow and the One so many of us call Father.

Each morning for the next couple months, I'll review the scripture above. It's a great reminder that my time off shouldn't be wasted -- in fact, these two months may be fuller of spiritual growth than the last five years! There's lots to do; a lot of verbs in that passage: Get away. Recover. Rest. Walk. Work. Watch. Learn. Keep company.

Here's to living freely and lightly!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

GAME SHOW HIATUS!

Hey, y'all!

Just wanted to update you -- I've found myself swamped with a bunch of stuff to do, so I'm taking a brief hiatus from the games. We'll be back with a new Song! Challenge! on Saturday, June 26 Saturday, July 3.

See you then!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

"The Curse" by Josh Ritter

If you like mummies and love stories and the music of Josh Ritter and the puppetry of Liam Hurley, this is your favorite video in the whole world.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Song! Challenge! #16: With An Attitude

Sometimes, we experience feelings that are not exactly happy, content, or glad. Sometimes, we get angry. During an especially frustrating episode this week, the theme for this week's Song! Challenge! occurred to me. Ironically, it made me laugh so hard and for so long that I was no longer angry.

Assuming you have a passing familiarity with popular music of the last five decades and a passing familiarity with Google, this Song! Challenge! will be far easier than average -- except for MAYBE the first clip. I've taken lyrics from 20 well-known songs and read them as if I was extremely angry. How many can you identify?

Your task is to identify all 20 clips -- TITLE OF SONG AND ARTIST -- in this week's Challenge!. Some extra information for this week's game:
  • There's one TV theme song in this week's Challenge!. (Of course. Well, kind of "of course" -- I'd gotten away from including theme songs, but I'm back, baby!) In the case of the theme song, all you have to provide is "Theme to [NAME OF SHOW]."
  • This week, the numbers between the clips are here to stay! I think they might even make you laugh, too.
  • Each clip will be worth 2 points, and there will be partial credit. If you get the title but not the artist, or vice versa, I'll give you one point; get 'em both for 2 points. 19 clips x 2 points = 38 points + 1 clip x 1 point (the TV theme song) = 39 possible points.
  • Seems to be working well for me to hold all entries until the deadline. I'll wait to post entries until after the 7pm EDT Tuesday deadline.

The Rules

Your job is to enter your song guesses for all 20 clips (TITLE OF SONG AND ARTIST FOR EACH CLIP) as a single comment here on the blog. Standard rules apply (Judge's decision final, have fun, blah blah blah). Again, I'll be counting minor misspellings and other tiny inaccuracies as correct, as long as you're mostly right.

You can submit your comment-entry starting at 7:00pm EDT tonight, but I won't be approving any comments until after the Tuesday evening deadline. No help from other entries this time around. The deadline for all entries is Tuesday evening at 7:00pm EDT.

You may enter as often as you like -- but each comment/entry will be counted independent of your other entries; so if you get a question right in one entry but wrong in another, it only counts as correct in the one you got it right in. (Got that?) If you're reading this on Facebook, go to the blog: http://sssemester.blogspot.com to hear the quiz and enter your comment/entry. And trust me, if you're reading this on Facebook, you're gonna want to hear this one.


The Grand Prize

The first person to correctly identify all the clips in a single entry -- or the person with the most points by 7:00PM EDT ON TUESDAY, JUNE 15 -- will win anything from the DonorPoint.org Rewards Store, up to 450 points. You want four recyclable tote bags? DONE! You want an emergency crank flashlight? DONE! You want an Indiana Blood Center baseball cap AND a t-shirt? DONE. Pick one of those examples or use my 450 points however you like.

And hey! If you're cool and would like to participate as a prize sponsor by donating a prize valued at $10 or more, please e-mail me at SSSemester(at)yahoo(dot)com.


(Almost) Everybody "Wins"

The target number for this week's (Almost) Everybody "Wins" is 36. You'll need to get at least 36 points in order to get the (Almost) Everybody "Wins" prize.

This week's (Almost) Everybody "Wins" prize is a link to my formspring.me page where you can ask me anything and I promise to answer. Make sure to leave your e-mail address in the body of your comment/entry so I can e-mail you. (If you're worried about spambots, use the format "user(at)domain(dot)whatever" like I did above, and we should be fine. Nobody reads this blog anyway -- not even spambots.)


Readysetgo by clicking the player below: