Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Dumping My Brain For The Sake Of Sanity

Yes, this IS going to be one of those rambling posts when whatever comes into my head comes out. If you don't like these kinds of posts, you might want to stop reading now.

You're still here? That's good. Well, hang on!

I feel like a crazy person. I'm extremely moody, and I don't know why. I've been having irrational outbursts of anger at seemingly random things and I can't seem to turn off that switch (and don't know what turned it on).

In the past 24 hours, I've slammed doors, peeled rubber (well, almost...), and all other sorts of childish behavior. And I want to stop. Like, now.

I should be happy. I'm going to be a father. So far, we've had a virtually complication-free pregnancy. We finished our home remodeling project a couple of months back, and we've finally (as of today) put our townhouse on the market. (You wanna buy it?) I still have a good job (though the work is sometimes annoying – whose isn't?).

So, what's the deal?

I wish I could tell you.

Getting the house finished up to be able to show it was more than a little stressful. We didn't get as much done this past weekend as we'd hoped, so it was left to me first thing in the morning, and Mary for the majority of the day yesterday to finish everything up. And we still didn't finish it. This morning we did, but not without much rushing and considerable tardiness to work.

Maintaining its pristine look while still living in the house (with three cats, mind you) is going to be ongoing stress. At any time, it could be shown, so it always has to look ready. We're hoping it will sell fast. (You wanna buy it?)

I finally finished a particularly difficult batch of copy today, which I'd been laboring over for the better part of a week. And there's plenty more work left on my plate now that those are done. It never stops. Which is job security, but just that much more stress.

My toes hurt. Both the biggest one and the smallest one on my left foot. The great toe appears to be trying to become ingrown. Great, toe, just what I needed! I injured the pinky toe this past Saturday while vacuuming the stairs. I was backing down the stairs as I vacuumed, and thought I'd reached the floor. I tried to plant my foot (without looking) and realized – too late! – that I was skipping a step and falling backwards onto the vacuum cleaner. My left foot slammed into the vacuum hose (which doesn't sound like it should hurt, but it does) and the pinky toe was injured (broken? sprained? jammed?) in the process. Now my pinky is red and swollen and quite painful. Sometimes I take my shoes off at my desk to let my feet breathe (which I realize is, technically, impossible – but still...).

After sporadic searching over several months, I finally found four scripts that I like for the Night of Drama production. They are currently in the inbox of our associate pastor, who will read them and give them the thumbs up or thumbs down. From there, we'll do auditions and start practicing for our production in late October (the 21st, if you care). This will be fun – it always is – but it will also be stressful (it always is). But at least I know that going into it.

I'm getting more and more impatient as I get older. I hate driving in heavy traffic or behind, in front of, or beside slow and/or stupid drivers. Seriously, some people should have their licenses revoked for their blatant lack of intelligence and/or attention while operating a motor vehicle.

Today is the 213th straight day that I have posted a blog entry. That sort of blows my mind, and then again it doesn't. It hasn't been nearly as easy as I thought it would be. It hasn't been nearly as hard, either. I find that I am often full of great ideas. And just as often I'm tapped out. Knowing that people like you (if you're still reading this, "people like you" definitely applies) are reading what I have to say inspires me to keep going. Sometimes (the past three days, for example) very few people choose to read what I've posted. I know because I check my "stats" obsessively. This disheartens me, and yet I understand. People are busy. More important things (which is pretty much everything else) prevent them from being able to set aside time to read.

I'm getting my hair cut today. I had an appointment scheduled for two weeks ago, but I remembered a week and a half afterwards that I had missed it, and had to reschedule. This is not the first time this has happened. I would say my memory is about as long as my hair, but (right now, at least) that would not be true. My memory is shorter than my hair, which isn't even that long really, so that's saying something.

Target has "SPAM" notebooks in their Dollar Spot now. I bought three different ones on Sunday. I didn't need them, but I wanted them. I've always been a big fan of "SPAM" – not of eating it, mind you, just of the product in general. It's sort of a "cult classic" thing – "SPAM" is cool simply because it is. I've never owned a "SPAM" t-shirt, but that's only because I never ran across one in my size. But I do have the "SPAM" notebooks now, which I'll probably use for either sermon notes or drama notes as we transition into practices in just a few weeks.

I put ridiculous Post-It notes on the outside of my office door every day. Since I usually keep my door shut (I work like a hermit), whomever comes to my door (it doesn't happen often) sees the note before they see me. I'm surprised more people don't come in rolling their eyes in my direction, 'cause some of these notes are really stupid. Here are a few examples:
* "Knock Louder, I Can't Hear You"
* "Every Thursday Is The Same – Work, Work, Work! (sigh)"
* "This Note Doesn't Say Anything Important."
* "Smile! It's STILL Not Tuesday!"
* "Out To Lunch – Will Return Monday."
* "I Probably Can't Hear You Knocking, Just Come On In..."
* "Whatever You Do, Do NOT Read This Post-It Note!"
* "Misery Loves Company. Come On In!"
...and today's note:
* "This Is A No Tap-Dancing Zone. Please Do Not Tap-Dance In This Area."

Yeah, I know. Utterly ludicrous.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Three Olympics-Themed Drabbles: "Bars," "Positive By Proxy," & "Out Of His Element"


My wife and I have been watching the Olympics like crazy the past couple of days. Which got me thinking...what kind of crazy 100-word stories could I create about the Olympics? These three are what I came up with.

If you think you recognize any actual people in the characters from the first two stories, it's entirely coincidental, I assure you. I did not base them on any particular athlete – I just let my imagination run amok. The third story, however, is based on an actual athlete whom you may be able to recognize; but I put him in a completely unfamiliar situation, just for kicks. Hope you enjoy these!



"BARS"

It's not easy being a male gymnast AND a gangsta rapper. Trust me, I know. I can execute a beastly routine on the uneven bars, then immediately head to the studio and spit bars like a beast about executing someone to get even – without even skipping a beat (figuratively or literally). But I gotta keep a low profile these days. After all, this is the Olympics, and America doesn't wanna hear that their "golden boy" gymnast is also a social degenerate. Or at least pretends to be over beats. It's a good thing I'm white. They'll never suspect a thing.



"POSITIVE BY PROXY"

Pee in a cup? You must be joking! Don't you know who I am? I'm a World Champion! I've won more medals in my sleep than anyone else has awake! Are you trying to imply that I would cheat? Please! This body's all-natural! These muscles were forged through hard work, not chemicals. You think I could put anything in this finely sculpted body that would enhance it? I mean, really – do you actually think I could look any better? Procedure, my eye! I call it an insult! No! You can keep your cup! And I will keep my pee.



"OUT OF HIS ELEMENT"

There must be some mistake – I ain’t on the archery team. Yeah, I’m one of the greatest players ever. In basketball, not archery! You mighta heard of me? Just won my first championship coupla months ago. What you mean "it's too late to do anything about it"? I don't even know how to work this thing! Which way is the arrow supposed to face? Out? Okay. What do I do with this string thingie? Pull? Aim for that little circle? Gotcha! Man, this is a piece of cake. I shoulda taken my talents to South England a long time ago!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Things I Find Fascinating: 5 New Things I Learned From "Random Article"

Here I am, gettin' my knowledge on again. Well, as much knowledge as you can gain from a user-generated encyclopedia such as Wikipedia.org. Just like I've done a couple of times previously, I clicked "Random Article" on the Wikipedia site a few times just to see what I could learn. And this is what I learned.


1)  Humberto Soto, 32, is an undefeated Mexican professional boxer in the Heavyweight division and is the current WBC FECOMBOX Heavyweight Champion. Soto is 9-0 in his professional fights, 8 of those wins coming by knockouts.

Humberto Soto
WHAT HAVE I LEARNED?  Soto is not a man to be trifled with. If I ever decide to fight him, I already know that he will probably win. Make that definitely win.



2)  Prelude is a 1972 album by Brazilian keyboardist Eumir Deodato. With its signature track "Also Sprach Zarathustra" (a funk-influenced arrangement of the theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey), Prelude would be the biggest hit Deodato ever had. The single "Also Sprach Zarathustra" won the 1974 Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance and went to No. 2 in the pop charts in the pop charts in the U.S., No. 3 in Canada, and No. 7 in the U.K. The album was reissued in 1977 as 2001.

 Eumir Deodato

 WHAT HAVE  I LEARNED?  A new version of an old song I already liked.




3)  Fructosuria is a rare but benign inherited metabolic disorder caused by a deficiency of fructokinase in the liver. Affected individuals usually display a large blood fructose concentration after the ingestion of fructose, sucrose, or sorbitol. Fructokinase is needed for the synthesis of glycogen, the body's form of stored energy, from fructose. The presence of fructose in the blood and urine may lead to an incorrect diagnosis of diabetes mellitus.

I don't get it...

 WHAT HAVE  I LEARNED?  Eating fruit messes with some people's bodies in adverse ways. Since I could be one of these people, I should probably avoid eating fruits. Especially papaya. (Yuck!) Can't be too careful...



4)  The City of Greater Geelong is a local government area in Victoria, Australia, located in the western part of the state, and southwest of Melbourne. In 2011, the City of Greater Geelong had a population of 210,000. Created in 1993, the city is an amalgamation of parts or wholes of the former municipalities of the Shire of Barrabool, Shire of Bannockburn, Shire of Bellarine, Shire of Corio, City of Geelong, City of Geelong West, City of Newton, and City of South Barwon.

The City of Greater Geelong

WHAT HAVE I LEARNED?  Two things: 1) "Geelong" is the Aboriginal word for "ocean."  2) Shires ACTUALLY EXIST outside the world of The Lord Of The Rings! Who knew? (I didn't.)



5)  Jellyfish Report is a free app developed by La Web Compagnie in 2012. The app is compatible with the iPhone, the iPod Touch, and the iPad. The app is designed so that swimmers and sailors can report jellyfish sightings in real time, in order that others are made aware of which areas are affected by jellyfish at any particular moment, and can therefore avoid these areas when choosing a beach. the application also gives users advice on how to deal with jellyfish stings should they occur. 

Apparently there's an app for everything now.
 

WHAT HAVE I LEARNED?  That if I can ever afford an iPad, and I feel comfortable with taking it with me to the beach without dropping it in the water or the sand, and I can learn to swim well enough that I feel safe swimming in a pond, lake, river, or ocean, there's an app that will help keep me from getting stung by a jellyfish. And if for some reason the app doesn't work properly, I can easily find out how to deal with the sting I have received from the undetected jellyfish.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Personal Reflections On Dead Celebrities: Since June 14, 2012


The last time I did one of these posts, I ended it with "TO BE CONTINUED...", because I knew that more notable people would continue dying whom I might would want to write about at a later date. I can't think of anything else to write about today, so here goes. As it turns out, quite a few famous people have died in the past month-and-a-half, so I actually have something to work with here.


1)  RODNEY KING:  One of the few people ever to achieve notoriety for getting the crap beat out of him. LAPD officers pulled King over for a routine traffic stop. Whether or not King actually resisted arrest is still up for debate, but what happened next was clearly uncalled for. Four officers pummeled King relentlessly, while three others looked on, not trying to stop it from happening. King suffered a broken facial bone, a fractured ankle, and numerous bruises and lacerations. The officers were later charged with excessive force -- three were acquitted. King sued the city of Los Angeles, and was awarded $3.8 million in damages. Over the ensuing years, King got into his own share of trouble with the law, including speeding tickets, car crashes, and driving under the influence. King drowned in his own swimming pool earlier this year. He was 47 years old.

Rodney King




2)  NORA EPHRON:  I fully own up to the fact that I am not your typical boy, and that's alright. Case in point: I actually know who Nora Ephron was, and have seen most of her movies. Ephron was a screenwriter, producer, and director of primarily romantic comedy films. She's best known for writing the scripts to hit movies such as When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless In Seattle, You've Got Mail, and Julie & Julia (the latter three which she also directed). Ephron died from pneumonia, a complication resulting from acute myeloid leukemia, which she'd been diagnosed with having since 2006. Ephron was 71 years old.

Nora Ephron



3)  ANDY GRIFFITH:  A television icon and North Carolina native, Griffith was a legend in his time. I grew up watching reruns of The Andy Griffith Show and first-run episodes of Matlock (which, in its later seasons, was filmed just a few hours down the road from here in Wilmington, North Carolina). The 1960s sitcom that bears his name still feels fresh after all these years, and the success of Matlock paved the way for other long-running legal dramas like Law And Order. I've always heard that Griffith was an irascible, grumpy old man in real life. That may well be. But on our TV screens -- then, and now -- he was, and is, everybody's favorite sheriff. And lawyer. Griffith was 86 years old.

Andy Griffith



4)  VINZENZ GUGGENBERGER:  Okay, so this guy's not that famous. So sue me (hire Matlock). I picked him for this list because, frankly, he had the most ridiculous name. Sorry, but I'm twisted like that. To give him his due, Guggenberger (snicker, snicker) was the Roman Catholic titular bishop of Abziri, as well as the auxiliary bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Regensburg, Germany. Vinzenz (LOL!) was a bishop for 51 years prior to his retirement in 2004. Guggenberger was 83 years old.

Vinzenz Guggenberger



5)  ERNEST BORGNINE:  This guy had a very long, very successful career. While I may not have seen most -- or even many -- of his films or TV shows, in the limited examples of his work I was exposed to, I know he was a great actor. One of the films I did see him in was Marty, for which he won an Oscar. I haven't seen it in a long time, so I can't fairly summarize it, but I remember that it was good. Borgnine also appeared in classic movies such as From Here To Eternity, The Dirty Dozen, and The Wild Bunch, and starred in the TV series McHale's Navy. The younger generation may recognize his voice, but not his face: Borgnine was the voice of "Mermaid Man" on the TV series SpongeBob SquarePants. Borgnine was still working as an actor at age 95 when he passed away.

Ernest Borgnine




6)  DOLPHY:  Born Rodolfo Vera Quizon, Sr., this comedian/actor was known as "The King of Comedy" in his native country of The Philippines. Personally, I'd never heard of him, but doing my research and watching a few clips of his work on YouTube made me realize that there are many truly important people (in varying degrees, of course) whom we may never know about until they're gone. Dolphy enjoyed great success on stage, radio, television, and movies. Some of Dolphy's most memorable roles came in films such as Jack en Jill, Dolpinger (a James Bond spoof), Facifica Falayfay, Home Along da Riles, and Nobody Nobody But...Juan. Dolphy was 83 years old.

Dolphy



7)  DONALD J. SOBOL:  One of my favorite series of books growing up was the Encyclopedia Brown mystery stories. I loved these pleasant little mysteries, but I was never that good at guessing the solutions (which were provided in a different part of the book, so you could guess "who dun it?" for yourself). Sobol wrote 28 Encylopedia Brown books in all, spanning from 1963 to 2011. I didn't know this before, but Sobol wrote quite a few other books as well -- 65 in total. Some were nonfiction books not aimed at children, and some were written under pen names. But I'll always remember him for those simple mysteries that I could never quite crack. Guess I was never meant to be a boy detective. Or an adult detective, for that matter. Sobol was 87 years old.

Donald J. Sobol



8)  SALLY RIDE:  I was only five years old when Sally Ride became the first American woman to enter into low Earth orbit in 1983, but I remember it. I think I do, at least. Either that, or I was told about it very shortly thereafter, and I remember that. But that wasn't Ride's only distinction during her career at NASA. Sally was (and still remains) the youngest American astronaut to be launched into space. She was also on the investigative panels for two space shuttle disasters, the Challenger and the Columbia -- the only person to serve on both panels. She is also the first astronaut known to have been in a long-term same-sex relationship. Ride was very private about her personal life during her life, but it was made known after her death that not only had she been battling pancreatic cancer for some time, but that she was survived by her female partner of 27 years. Ride was 61 years old.

Sally Ride




9)  RICHARD ZANUCK:  Zanuck was a hugely successful American film producer. He was credited for producing such modern classics as The Sound Of Music, Jaws, and Driving Miss Daisy, among many others. Zanuck worked with some of my favorite directors, like Steven Spielberg (Jaws, The Sugarland Express), Ron Howard (Cocoon), and Tim Burton (Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Sweeney Todd, Alice In Wonderland, and Dark Shadows). Zanuck was 77 years old.

Richard D. Zanuck



10)  SHERMAN HEMSLEY:  Best-known for his role as "George Jefferson" on first All In The Family then its spinoff The Jeffersons, Hemsley was a funny, funny comedian. I loved The Jeffersons growing up, and was happy to see Hemsley cast in a new series when it ended. Amen wasn't on par with Hemsley's earlier series, but his "Deacon Frye" character was almost as memorable, and easily as deftly portrayed by the actor. On the short-lived sitcom Dinosaurs (which I also loved), Hemsley was the voice of the main character's boss, "B.P. Richfield." Hemsley got spotty roles in TV and films after his earlier successes, but he was never able to fully shake the "George Jefferson" character and probably missed out on some good opportunities because of it. An intensely private man, who never married and never had any children, Hemsley was 74 years old when he died.

Sherman Hemsley

Friday, July 27, 2012

Things I Find Fascinating: 12 Little-Known Facts About First Ladies Of The United States


1)  Ten of the First Ladies were never married to a U.S. President.  The title "First Lady of the United States" is conveyed upon the White House hostess. Typically, that person is the wife of the President. However, in some instances, the President's wife has died prior to his election or during his tenure as President, has been unmarried, or has had a sickly wife who was unable to perform the functions and duties of First Lady. The 10 women who have  served as a nontraditional First Lady include: Thomas Jefferson's daughter, Martha Jefferson Randolph; Andrew Jackson's niece, Emily Donelson; Andrew Jackson's daughter-in-law, Sarah Yorke Jackson; Martin Van Buren's daughter-in-law, Angelica Singleton Van Buren; John Tyler's daughter-in-law, Priscilla Cooper Tyler; James Buchanan's niece, Harriet Lane; Chester A. Arthur's sister, Mary Arthur McElroy; Grover Cleveland's sister, Rose Cleveland; Benjamin Harrison's daughter, Mary Harrison McKee; and Woodrow Wilson's daughter, Margaret Woodrow Wilson.

Angelica Singleton Van Buren


2)  Martha Custis Washington is the only woman whose portrait has appeared on the face of a U.S. currency note.  She appeared on the face of the $1 Silver Certificate of 1886 and 1891, as well as on the back of the $1 Silver Certificate of 1896. Incidentally, Mrs. Washington was also the first American woman to be honored on a U.S. stamp, the 8¢ stamp in 1902.

Martha Washington's $1 Silver Certificate



3)  Abigail Adams, wife of John Adams, was a distant cousin of King George III, who was king of England during the American Revolution.  I'll bet things were really awkward at Christmastime for a few years there!

Abigail Adams



4)  Anna Harrison, wife of William Henry Harrison, bore the most children of any First Lady of the United States who was married to a President.  Anna and her husband had 10 children: Betsy, John Cleves, Lucy, William Henry Jr., John Scott, Benjamin, Mary, Carter, Anna, and James. Martha Jefferson Randolph (Thomas Jefferson's daughter who also served as First Lady) bore 12 children. Another interesting fact about Anna Harrison: When her husband was sworn in as President, she was too ill to travel to Washington, D.C. for the inauguration. A month later, as Anna was packing her things for her move to the White House, she received word that her husband had died. She is the only First Lady in history (since it was completed) to have never stepped foot in the White House.

Anna Harrison



5)  Rose Cleveland was the first First Lady known to be a lesbian.  Four years after she had stopped serving as her brother Grover's First Lady (he got married while in office), Rose began a lesbian relationship with a wealthy widow, Evangeline Simpson. Later, Simpson married an Episcopal bishop, ending her affair with Cleveland. However, after Evangeline's husband died, she and Rose rekindled their relationship and eventually moved to Italy to live together there. Rumors abound about possible lesbian relationships that Eleanor Roosevelt may or may not have had, but these rumors are as yet unfounded. Incidentally, though we have never had an openly gay President thus far, persistent rumors about James Buchanan still fester some century and a half after his Presidency. Buchanan was the only U.S. President who never married.

Rose Cleveland



6)  Letitia Tyler, wife of John Tyler, was the first President's wife to die in the White House.  She had suffered a paralytic stroke three years earlier which left her an invalid. At the time of her death, Letitia was 51 years old, making her the youngest First Lady to die.

Letitia Tyler



7)  Abigail Fillmore died less than a month after her husband, Millard, left office.  At the outdoor inaugural ceremonies of Franklin Pierce, Aibgail caught cold and the next day came down with a fever. She developed pneumonia and died just 26 days after leaving the White House.

Abigail Fillmore



8)  Jane Pierce never had any interest in becoming the First Lady, because she never wanted her husband Franklin to pursue the job in the first place.  When their beloved son Benny was killed in a train accident just two months before Pierce was sworn in as President, Jane believed it was because God was displeased at her husband's political ambitions. Thoroughly melancholy to the core, Jane Pierce wore all black throughout her husband's Presidency.

Jane Pierce



9)  Long before Jackie Kennedy, Harriet Lane became a trendsetter while serving as First Lady during her uncle (James Buchanan)'s Presidency.  Women copied her hair and clothing styles, parents named their daughters after her, and a popular song ("Listen To The Mockingbird") was dedicated to her.

Harriet Lane



10)  Michelle Obama is tied with Eleanor Roosevelt as the tallest First Lady at 5 feet, 11 inches.


Michelle Obama
Eleanor Roosevelt



11)  Former First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln was committed to an asylum by her son, Robert.  It's understandable, really. Mary had suffered the losses of three of her four sons before they'd reached age 18; she'd witnessed her husband shot and killed before her very eyes; she'd sustained a head injury in a carriage accident during her time as First Lady; she was frequently depressed, occasionally suicidal, and probably bipolar as well. Mrs. Lincoln engineered her escape from the asylum three months later by publicly embarrassing her son into having her released.

Mary Todd Lincoln



12)  There were very few things that First Lady Lou Hoover could not – or did not – do during her lifetime.  She was the first woman to ever graduate from Stanford University with a degree in Geology. She was a fine horsewoman. She was a skilled taxidermist. She was fluent in Chinese (and is the only First Lady to date to have spoken an Asian language), and was well-versed in Latin. She was the first First Lady to make regular radio broadcasts. She was president of the Girl Scouts of the USA from 1922 to 1925 and 1935 to 1937. During World War I, she helped her husband Herbert in providing relief for Belgian refugees. She also oversaw the design and construction of the Presidential retreat at Rapidan Camp in Virginia. She could not, however, find a way to prevent the Great Depression. Neither could her husband.

Lou Henry Hoover

Thursday, July 26, 2012

10 Great Things About Being A Walrus



1)  Your 'stache will never go out of style.  And even if it does, who's going to tell you to get rid of it?





2)  You get to live on the beach (albeit an icy one) without having to pay exorbitant property taxes.


3)  If you live in a zoo, people will pay money to come and look at you.  Which pretty much makes you a rock star!


4)  You weigh as much as a midsize car – nobody is going to mess with you!  Even Chuck Norris is even afraid of you.




5)  You have flippers, and you know how to use them.  (Yes, this is a real picture!)




6)  Your name means "horse whale" – now that's hardcore!  Your Latin name (Odobenus rosmarus) means "tooth-walking sea cow." Need I say more?




7)  You have the biggest fanboys ever!  The Beatles mentioned you in not one, not two, but three different songs, the most prominent one being "I Am The Walrus." (Although, apparently, "the walrus was Paul.")




8)  You can hold your breath underwater for up to 30 minutes.  Which is long enough for your enemies to think you've drowned, at which point they'll give up and leave in frustration.




9)  You can bellow and snort whenever you feel like it, with or without a reason, and sometimes just to be annoying.




10)  You really know how to party with your bros!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Really Rude Things I Might Think About Saying To People (...But Never Actually Would)

1)  (MEN)  You should really consider growing some facial hair.  That "baby face" look only works for so long. Time to man up!




2)  (WOMEN)  You should really consider waxing some of that facial hair.  The 'stache has long been out of fashion for men, and has never been a stylish look for ladies. Handle that!




3)  Did you always talk in that annoyingly flamboyant, ambiguously accented effeminate voice, or did you "put it on" when you came out of the closet?




4)  You smell horrible! Have you bathed this month?




5)  Were you dropped on your face as a child?  'Cuz...wow!




6)  I am completely disinterested in everything you're saying right now.




7)  Are you really that stupid, or are you just trying to get attention?




8)  Tell the truth: You  have no clue what you're doing, do you?




9)  You're not fooling anyone. We all know that's a toupee!  And not a very good one, at that.




10)  Yes, you definitely look your age.  And then some!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

An On-Again, Off-Again Country Music Fan's 20 Favorites

For most of my life, I have gone back and forth between being a die-hard country music fan to a casual country fan to a country music hater. I'm wishy-washy by nature anyway, but on this matter I have wavered more than usual. Here lately, I've been listening to some of the newer popular country music, but still only occasionally. Which got me thinking, what are some of my...  A) favorite country music songs all-time?  B) favorite country music artists/bands of all time?  and C) which do I like better, classic old-school country music or the country/pop hybrid that's so prevalent today? In predictable wishy-washy fashion, my answer to that last question is "a little of both." In answer to the first two questions, I present this list. Some of the songs below are among my favorite all-time country songs. Some of the artists/bands are my favorites, but the songs I've picked are not. I'll leave it to you to figure out which is which. It doesn't really matter either way. Here goes...
1)  Keith Whitley ~ "When You Say Nothing At All"  Keith's was a voice that country music lost too soon. This song is his legacy, and it's still amazing twenty-some years later.




2)  Sara Evans ~ "Born To Fly"  You can't help but admire the plucky optimism of Sara Evans. Well, at least I can't.




3)  Willie Nelson ~ "Always On My Mind"  Politics and weird behavior aside, Willie's one of the best there ever was.




4)  SherriĆ© Austin ~ "Lucky In Love"  I think I'm the only person who had this girl's album, but I still remember most of the songs off it after a decade and a half.




5)  Johnny Cash ~ "Rusty Cage"  Who can take a hard-rock song (originally written and recorded by Soundgarden) and make it his own? Johnny Cash, that's who.




6)  Taylor Swift ~ "Speak Now"  I know, I know...I'm not a teenage girl, so I shouldn't like this poppy drivel. But I do. I can't help it. The kid cracks me up, and she can carry a tune to boot.




7)  Kenny Rogers ~ "The Gambler"  The movie's better than the video, but the song's still a classic. You gotta know when...




8)  Lady Antebellum ~ "Just A Kiss"  Play. Repeat. Play. Repeat. I've got this group on loop on my iTunes as we speak.




9)  Ronnie Milsap ~ "Any Day Now"  This guy was a favorite of mine and my parents growing up. We even saw him in concert a few times. These days, nobody seems to even remember who he is, though he was quite popular in his day. This video's really lame, but the song's good.




10)  Martina McBride ~ "A Broken Wing"  Man, can she sing! Get it, girl! (Okay, that wasn't very manly of me. Um...go, Pirates! Or something...)




11)  Shania Twain ~ "From This Moment On"  Overly commercial? Yeah. Overly poppy? Yeah. Good music? Yeah.




12)  George Strait ~ "Amarillo By Morning"  This guy has had so many good songs, it's hard to pick just one.




13)  Alison Krauss ~ "When You Say Nothing At All"  Yes, I know this is a repeat. There's a reason for that, though. Nobody can sing this song like Keith Whitley. No man at least. Alison, on the other hand – well, she's in a league of her own. It's got a completely different vibe than Whitley's original, but Krauss's version is equally as beautiful.




14)  Edens Edge ~ "Too Good To Be True"  New-wave country pop at its finest. You can keep your Sugarland. I'll take this group any day.




15)  Alabama ~ "Song Of The South"  Sweet potato pie, and a-shut my mouth! 'Nuff said.




16)  Little Big Town ~ "Little White Church"  I absolutely love a group that can harmonize really well. This group absolutely can. Really well.




17)  Charley Pride ~ "Kiss An Angel Good Morning"  One of the few African Americans to achieve great success in country music, Charley Pride has always been one of my favorites.




18)  The Judds ~ "Love Can Build A Bridge"  Remember what I said before about a group that can harmonize really well? Yeah? Well, it still applies. I loved, loved, loved The Judds back in the day! (P.S. I don't really think you need "cute little 3-D glasses" to enjoy this video/mini-movie.)




19)  Lindi Ortega ~ "Little Lie"  A little bit country, a little bit alternative, a lot of awesome. Mix well and enjoy!




20)  George Jones ~ "He Stopped Loving Her Today"  One of the saddest yet most hauntingly beautiful songs you'll ever hear. (Or hear again, if you already know it.)

Monday, July 23, 2012

Weird But True Animal Quotes (With Unnecessary Pictures)


1)  "You can't always write a chord ugly enough to say what you want to say, so sometimes you have to rely on a giraffe filled with whipped cream."  ~  Frank Zappa



2)  "There's always the hyena of morality at the garden gate, and the real wolf at the end of the street."  ~  D. H. Lawrence



3)  "As long as we have zebras in our midst, I shall be content."  ~  Atlo Dogong



4)  "When you have got an elephant by the hind legs and he is trying to run away, it's best to let him run."  ~  Abraham Lincoln



5)  "I feel akin to the platypus. An orphan in a family. A swimmer, a recluse. Part bird, part fish, part lizard."  ~  Trevor Dunn



6)  "A writer may tell me that he thinks man will ultimately become an ostrich. I cannot properly contradict him."  ~  Thomas Malthus



7)  "More fun than a barrel of monkeys? Has anyone ever stopped to think how cranky, if not downright vicious, a barrelful of monkeys would be, especially once released from the barrel?"  ~  Tom Shales



8)  "When you are about to die, a wombat is better than no company at all."  ~  Roger Zelazny



9)  "I hate having long hair. It's like walking around with a dead koala on your back!"  ~  Russell Crowe



10)  "I love pandas, they're so chill. They are all like, 'Dude, racism is stupid. I'm White, Black, AND Asian!'"  ~  Author Unknown



11)  "I am an unpopular electric eel in a pool of catfish."  ~  Edith Sitwell



12)  "If you start throwing hedgehogs under me, I shall throw a couple of porcupines under you."  ~  Nikita Kruschchev



13)  "It's practically impossible to look at a penguin and feel angry."  ~  Joe Moore



14)  "Time's fun when you're having flies."  ~  Kermit The Frog



15)  "Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines."  ~  Author Unknown