Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Bumper Stickers and Free Expression

I have finally gotten back to blogging, and here I am.
This one's just simple view expression, because it's what's on my mind, and what is on my mind is the massive proliferation of bumper stickers.
Now, as a delivery driver, I am looking at the back of other peoples' autos all day long, so I notice a lot of bumper stickers on a variety of different subjects: foreign policy, sexual preference, urination, general expressions of humor, political or religious affiliation, etc. I also notice that all these bumper stickers say what they say in a short, matter of fact way, leading one to believe that this person is totally committed to what they've stuck on the rear of their car. Most of these sticker statements are on trivial subjects or grey areas in life, leading me to believe that most of these "sticker expressers" leave little room for a possible change of opinion. I mean, would one feel compelled to rip off a sticker because one changed one's mind on a previously defined subject?
Now here's what I have never seen in all my years: a phone number.
WHAT? A phone number? Well, of Course I wouldn't find a phone number, no one would be so stupid as to leave confidential information where someone could use it against him. That's just unsafe. But herein lies my Qualm: How precious are our ideas, and is not the communication of ideas equally as important?
Personally, I hate bumper stickers of all types, regardless of whether or not I agree with what the sticker is stating. This is not because most bumper stickers insult the human mind on a basic level, or because even the most benign statements use crude language to express their views. I hate them because they close the door on discussion, leaving no room for honest debate. Especially in the religious and polital realms, where communication is tantamount to understanding, using a bumper sticker to express one's views is not unlike shouting over everyone in a crowded market, then dashing away with one's ears plugged before anyone can respond. How many people really listen to ideas when they are expressed without any possibility of response? Hence the Phone number. Either that, or leave the bumper sticker at home.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Strange Sightings

I saw Elvis today. Oh, you may think I'm just kidding, but I assure you, I did. It was the king of rock n rock himself, no matter what anyone else says...
I knew something was up, because the sun was out today, in Longview. I was delivering my snacks up there, and it almost almost always rains on me. But the sun was out, and that tipped me off to the possibility of miracles to come.
Still, nothing had happened by 9:30 am, so I was just coasting through town when, Lo and Behold, THERE HE WAS! I sang out "Hi Elvis!", and was hoping for a chance to speak to him, when the traffic light changed and I had to pass through the intersection. I will never forget my brush with the breatest name in rock history.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The Ups and Downs of my Stomach

So I've gained some weight again, weight that I had previously lost. This is not as discouraging as it used to be, because I know there is so much more i can do right now to improve my health. I could work out, eat even more healthy foods and fewer junk foods, and get more sleep. I think one of the primary reasons I've begun to gain weight again is because I'm drinking more sweetened coffee in the morning. It's colder outside, and harder to wake up in the morning, even with the proper amount of sleep. With that in mind, I gottsta get back in the Gym! See you there.

adam :P

The Ups and Downs of my Stomach

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Music Soothes the Savage Beard

I love to listen to (and play) music. It's everywhere in my life. I have CDs in the car, my room, a portable CD player for wherever, and music on the radio at work. It would be impossible for me to avoid hearing music, and I don't think I want to try, for at least too long. I have to admit, sometimes I like just the silence of tires on pavement.
In celebration of this wonderful gift that God has given me, I am going to list off some of my favorite CDs of all time, and offer an explanation as to why I love each CD. I'll talk about a few of the CDs more than others, because there's a very good chance most people will not be familiar with some of these CDs. The albums I list will also not be in any particular order, since each one is so vastly different in style and flavor. You'll see what I mean. One last thing: I have to love at least all but one of the songs on the album, or all of the songs. So, let's get started!

#1: "Fathom", by Mortal. I wanted to start with this one, because this is one of those that most people will have never heard about. Given the style of music, this is totally acceptable.
Mortal was an Industrial/Heavy Metal band started by two Christian Philippinos in the early 1990s. Their first CD (not the one I'm talking about) was so indie and so strange that it was almost unapproachable, even by me. Also, it was lacking a certain something that to me felt like 'spiritual blessing'. Even when singing about the positive message of Christ, the songs seemed too dark.
Then came 'Fathom'. I adored this CD, because it was my first intro to a wide range of musical influences outside mainstream pop music. When I listen to this CD now, it still sounds fresh to me, and the lyrics are still crammed full of truth. It's also one of THE MOST KICK A-S ALBUMS I OWN. From the first track to the end, Jyro Xhan and Jerome Fontamillas crank out all kinds of industrialized mayhem, crunched together with song lyrics that are pretty much poetry. One of the songs on the album is actually a version of a poem, written by an 18th century monk. I have to smile, because I get spiritually encouraged while listening to this CD, even while my head is getting sore from headbanging.
Fave line: "Sometimes faith depends
On that which we place Faith in
And sometimes faith relies
On Whom we are depending."
Wow. GOOD music.

#2: "A Beautiful Letdown", Switchfoot.
Should I even have to explain this one? Switchfoot is e-ver-y-where! I've loved them since they were an indie band straight out of Diego, so I don't feel guilty at all for loving them now. I have all but their newest album, and I'll probably have that one too by the time you read this.
Honestly though, these guys put forth a whole collection of great songs, and they do it in style. Did I mention that, for "Letdown", Jerome Fontamillas from Mortal (now defunct) joined the Switchfoot crew?
Fave lines: "I'm on fire when You're near me
I'm on fire when You speak
I'm on fire burning at these mysteries

#3: "A Liturgy, a Legacy, and a Ragamuffin Band", by Rich Mullins.
Anyone who has known me for long enough knows that I have patterned several aspects of my life after this guy. He means so much to me, and not just because of his music. I've read his biography, watched videos of seminars he taught, and read his own articles he wrote for different magazines during his life. No, he's not an idol, and he certainly wasn't perfect, but we have a kinship in that he was an imperfect man, seeking with all his heart a Perfect God.
This particular album won out (over the other seven of his that I own), because it flows together perfectly. I love unity of thought, and this album was written and played with that in mind. Every song is a Gem, no exceptions. Most of them, under the right conditions, has the capacity to make me cry like a baby. Lastly, God has used these songs probably more than any other to remind me of who He is.
Fave lines: "Make peace rain down from heaven
Like little peices of the sky
Little keepers of the promise
Fallen on these souls that trials have dried
In His blood and in His body
In this bread and in this wine
Peace to you
Peace of Christ to you.

#4: "No Compromise", by Keith Green.
Keith Green has been only slightly less of an influence on my life than Rich Mullins. In fact, their lives and messages lend themselves to a sort of balance in my heart: Rich for grace and mercy, Keith for Holiness. The message of this album constantly convicts me to listen to the Holy Spirit and follow Him.
fave lines: Make my life a prayer to You
I want to do what You want me to.
It's that simple.

#5: "Streetcore", by Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros
I can promise that noone has heard of this album, because this band never really has gotten any radio play here in the US at all, at least not that I'm aware of. They did garnish some popularity in their native England, the reason being that Joe Strummer (from The Clash) was the father of most of modern alternative music: punk, ska, reggae influenced rock, folkcore, emo, pop-punk, etc. He and the rest of The Clash played it all, while staying true to their message. Granted, it was a very angry, radical leftist, anti establishment message, but hey, can you blame those guys? They had to live through Margaret Thatcher.
I bought this album after getting aquainted with The Clash, and finding out that Strummer was still playing music. I put it into my CD player, opened wide my eyes with shock and awe, and haven't stopped listening to it yet.
The album is heavily reggae influenced, with some tunes plunging into straightforward rock, while others stray deep into folk territory. He does a stirring rendition of Bob Marley's 'Redemption Songs', then blows the doors off with "All in a Day", a rather descriptive picture of a day in the life of a modern Robin Hood. There's an acid rock instrumental jam on there, a reggae -core song, and a slow song that ends with a punch. In other words: it's all in there, and it's all Sweet!
fave lines: "The is a ramshackle day parade
Of all those lost, unborn, and unmade,
and whose heads got filled with the neon lava,
And remain buried underneath this rain.

#6: "Smart Kid", by The Clumsy Lovers.
Harcore Barndance... GO!
Okay, I can't describe these guys at all, because they are just so far beyond the normal, there is no comparison. And yet, this album is one of the most easy to listen to out of any on this list. The group, hailing from Vancouver BC, is made up of an acoustic guitarist (Trevor, he also sings), bassist, drummer, fiddler, and banjo player (who also plays the mandolin).
Every song makes me want to sing along, and most of them can be boogied to in some fashion. The lyrics are positive and fun, at times hilarious, and rarely cliche'. Jamming is a must for these guys; each of the lead instruments has it's ample share of solo time, and they make the most of it. When I go driving on a bright, sunny day, I can just put this album in the player, set it for repeat, sit back, and enjoy the ride.
Oh, incidentally, if you get the chance to see these guys in concert, DO IT! You can't not enjoy it. BEST LIVE SHOW EVER!
fave lines: "Bobby was a weird kid, everybody said so,
Wore a lady's jacket, n carried round a banjo

#7: "Straight Six", by poor old lu
Ahhhh, good old lu. These guys just rocked.
This album was just an EP, but all six songs are, for lack of a better word, fab. Like the rest of my fave albums, the music covers a wide range of styles and textures, from loud to soft. Their lyrics are great too; poor old lu's primary message was always one of sin and redemption. God is here for us, even if we turn our backs on Him.
fave lines: "So now hold your breath and set the stage
Prepare yourself for the cynic's rage
Is it a question still of 'who is man'
Or how they feel, and what I am?

#8: "The Joshua Tree", by U2
If you don't know about u2 already, or why this album is so great, you are living in a deep pit in central Antarctica. Best rock album ever. Period.
fave lines: The first three songs on the album in their entirety, and "Running to Stand Still".

So there you have it. I don't know if you noticed, but most of these bands are from the left coast or therebouts, and I've seen most of them live. One would have to forgive me for not seeing Keith Green live, the man went home to Jesus before I was congitive. In Joe Strummer's case, I didn't listen to much secular music (i.e. not on a 'Christian' designated music label) until after Joe died of an apparent heart attack. And in the case of U2, have you ever tried scoring tickets?

til next time...
adam :P

P.S. I was thinking the other day, and came up witha couple of albums that should be on this list, but that don't need a whole lot of explanation:

#9: "A Rush of Blood to the Head", by Coldplay - it's all over the place, and you can't miss it even if you tried, which is fine by me.

#10: "Caedmon's Call", by Caedmon's Call - Major label debut. I get tears in my eyes when I listen to every song but one on this album. If you've heard this album, I'll give you two guesses which song that is. If you get it wrong, you're a 'stupid kid'.

# 11: "Hungry", by the Vineyard Praise Band - Brian Doerksen and friends write and play some of the most beautifully moving, rockinest, honest set of worship songs ever. They've been sung in churches everywhere, and redone by the Christian Fashionistas of pop music, but they can't top the passion and soul that these guys put into every song on the album.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Day 1: entering the e-world with cold feet.

To all who read:

I don't know what I'm doing here; this is all so new to me. A lot of things are, pretty much all the time. It's one of the advantages of being easily entertained, and extremely inexperienced in several areas of life.
I guess I just love to talk. I love to express ideas and feelings, to let them sail out and see where they land. I love a conversation between two thinking people who care enough to listen to each other. I appreciate the human instinct that dwells deep inside that causes us to stand on high places and scream as loud as we can. We want to be heard, understood, and valued. Personally, I also like to hear the echo. One might say that's because I just like to hear my own voice...
And maybe that's true. I think a lot - most - people are that way. At least someone is listening.

So how often do we really stop to listen to one another? How often do we take the time to care about the mind of another person? These questions get thrown around like so much dust, but it seems as if ALL that most people like to do with these questions is ask them. Maybe we should stop asking those questions, and start asking one another how things are going. Then we need to look into one anothers' faces, and just wait. No walking away, no "sounds great, see ya", just standing or sitting with ears open. Then we respond to each other, honestly.
What I'm trying to say is that I love to talk with, not to. I don't want to just say something, I want to start something, to get the ball rolling. That's an open invitation for people to email me back to comment on my ideas. Opposing and challenging ideas are okay, but nothing crude or obscene. I detest the simpleminded language of crudeness.
So here goes. I'm nervous, and a little afraid I won't be able to keep this thing up. I'm not the best at remembering to communicate with my friends. I'm praying that this will become a great outlet for me to express myself in the public forum of the internet. So mote it be!

adam :P