Tuesday, November 30, 2004

A Day About Nothing

Song of the Day: Lifehouse, "Trying"
Verse of the Day: Romans 7:15


"Nobody dies wishing they spent more time on the computer." - Jordan Kurtz

Highlights of today: some working on a paper, a repeat of Corner Gas, watching Ken Jennings lose (!) on Jeopardy which featured an all-Seinfeld category, playing up some Dr. Mario, and surfing the net. There's never enough time to do all the nothing you want, as they say.

Sometimes, you just don't do anything. And sometimes that's good. But sometimes it's not. Today I'm not sure. I got some stuff done, just not the things I needed to get done. But I had some fun along the way. But maybe I can't really afford to have time for "fun" by myself. Or maybe I'm just too demanding of myself. Whatever happens, there's a lot to be done between now and December 6, and then December 20. I can't believe it's December in a matter of hours. I guess this blog is productive. I hope.

For those of you that wanted your dose of music nerdishness, check out the RS 500. An interesting exercise, but ultimately futile. Even at 500, you're bound to miss some. For the record, I think the top 50 or so are fairly well done, the next 50-150 are moderately well done, and after that it's a crapshoot. Just as an indication of the bias, less than 20% of the songs come from the last 25 years, a time period that takes up nearly 50% of the time from which these songs were chosen. Only three songs from recent years, and those were from Eminem and Outkast. Kind of skewed? Yeah. True, there was a dearth of good music, particularly in the late 90s, but there were some good songs there. The absence of U2 songs such as "Where the Streets Have No Name," "Even Better Than The Real Thing," and "Beautiful Day" is conspicuous, as is the absence of Collective Soul entirely. I know they're riff-driven populist rock, but not even "Gel" or "Precious Declaration"? And they include Don Henley's "The Boys of Summer"? I'm confused. It is interesting to note the similarities between this list and the CBC's "50 Tracks" program from this summer. I haven't done a cross-referencing yet, but I would imagine that most of the tracks from CBC would be on this list. The more I read it, the more I'm frustrated: no Simon & Garfunkel's "Mrs. Robinson"? You'll take Salt-n-Pepa over that? Let the debate rage on, friends.
Now back to the nothing/paper.

Friday, November 26, 2004

More Music Geek-ocity

Song of the Day: "Superfly", O.C. Supertones
Verse of the Day: Phil. 2:14-16


Sorry to anyone who feels the need for more indepth details of my life, but today features more thoughts from a music geek. First of all, I saw the recent release of Creed's "Greatest Hits" CD yesterday. I was a fan of the band back in the day, so I thought I would take a look at it. Here's what amazed me: not only did it feature no new songs or previously unreleased or rare tracks or b-sides, it didn't even creatively organize the songs. 13 songs, all presented in three chunks of four or five songs from each consecutive album. It offered a Bonus DVD, but still. Absolutely no thought or originality, just here's some songs that fans will already have and presented blandly. There are several songs that could have been included that were not on any of their three studio albums that were on soundtracks or released only in Europe, but those did not get included. Maybe they didn't have the rights to use those songs, but it's still a really cheap marketing ploy.

I'm not opposed to Greatest Hits albums. I own several: Audio Adrenaline's Hit Parade, U2 both Best Ofs, DC Talk's Intermission, Collective Soul 7even Year Itch. The difference with these albums is that they included new tracks or previously rare tracks, and they created a new 'album' out of their hit songs. I think that a band can have a Greatest Hits album and treat it in composition much like any other album. They just have the added advantage of knowing the songs they want to include. And they know that they have fans who they want to not only buy the album, but to continue in their fandom, and thus that they have to please hardcore fans as well as novices. The best example by far was U2's The Best of 1980-1990 release. You could buy it with an accompanying CD of B-sides, but newer or more casual fans could just buy the disc itself. Perfect for fans old and new.

As a side note, the recent Sixpence None the Richer Best Of also did a good job, as it gave a few very popular tracks, in addition to new tracks and previously scattered songs. Worth owning. The upcoming Supertones Unite album may also be worth owning, even if just as a farewell to a fond friend. Supertones, R.I.P. 2005. I'm sure that Mojo and Ethan will find their way to other projects, but I can't disagrees that it's time for the 'Tones to go. I just hope that I get to see them live before they die. Next summer, maybe. That's all from my CD player today, folks.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

All Good Things Come in Threes

Song of the Day: U2, "Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own"
Verse of the Day: Jeremiah 33:3


I'm being a music geek now. By the way, you may see a lot of songs from the new U2 album as songs of the day. I've seen mixed reviews, but it's amazing. But it has gotten me thinking about "musical trilogies." Here's the thing: for most bands, the breakout album is number 1 or 4. It seems like an awful lot of musicians tend to do album trilogies, sets of three albums that are similar thematically and musically. Consider U2 themselves for a minute. They are partway through their fourth trilogy, and you can see how they all fit this way. Boy, October, and War: young, honest, unashamed, simple and straightforward. Unforgettable Fire, Joshua Tree, and Rattle and Hum: anthemic, epic, imagery in title, socially conscious, optimistic. Achtung Baby, Zooropa, and Pop: mysterious, enigmatically simple titles, synthesized, difficult to understand. And now All That You Can't Leave Behind and How To Dismantle an Atomic Bomb: poppy composition, long title, sense of optimism, open and direct. I really abbreviated that, but you get the point.

I don't think this whole "music trilogy" idea is necessarily unconscious, but I do see it reflected quite often. It seems like these trilogies are often quite pronounced, and even the artists themselves know it. There just seems to be a natural change that comes after three. Movies are far better in trilogies than more, unless there's sets of trilogies. And often it takes a debut to work things out, without it being included. For example, take the Star Trek movies. The first one is right out. Then II-IV are a clear trilogy, as they continue the same storyline. V-VII features an older and wiser crew, and goes into the next crew. And VIII-X are the action-packed adventure of the second crew. It works perfectly. That's why they should stop now. Lethal Weapon 4 should never have been made. And why Indiana Jones 4 should remain unmade. 4 is just a bad number all around. 3 is just that perfect number.

This is one reason why I'm stoked for the next albums from Brave Saint Saturn, Blindside, Switchfoot, and Project 86. Their trilogies are one album away from completion. Thankfully, I don't have to wait long for BSS and Switchfoot, as they're both due out early in the new year. I may have to wait almost two years for the other two. But that's okay.
On a completely different note for music geeks check out Scott Fitz's blog. Scott works at Alive 99.5 in Medicine Hat, and he knows his stuff de musique. And for anyone awaiting them, all the interviews I've had stockpiled for months will be getting into the Sheaf next semester: Project 86, Roper, Pigeon John, Blindside, Tree 63, et al. Should be some good readin'. Eventually I plan to develop my own site and put all these articles and reviews online, but not yet. Maybe next summer, we'll see. This has all been the thoughts of a music geek. Go buy Atomic Bomb today!

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

How to Derail An Academic Career

Album of the Day: U2, "How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb"
Verse of the Day: Phil. 1:21-30


Atomic Bomb dropped today. I do dare say it's in contention for the greatest album they have crafted out of their 11 studio albums. Definitely in my top 3 of the year. More as it develops.

Not much else to say. I struggled through another paper and finished it last night, and now I have my biggest one left to do. This will definitely not be the most shining of my semesters at university. One month to go.

Continue to pray. That's all I will say.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

The Passion of the D-----

Song of the Day: Roper, "Still the One"
Verse of the Day: Ephesians 6:12


I'm still in the midst of papering it up. And of course, as I have been procrastinating, I have been doing a lot of thinking (and cooking...I don't know if I've ever eaten better on my own than this week) about school. The problem is that it's not a question of ability. I know I can do this stuff with my eyes closed. It's mostly the same stuff I've been doing for years, Arts courses. It's a question of passion, of which I currently have little. If school were a job, I would have quit by now to look for something better. I guess I have always looked at school a bit differently than a lot of people. School is where God has called me to be, but it has rarely been my passion. True, there have been occasional classes and professors that have truly stirred up something in me that transcends the ordinary, but for the most part my passion has not laid in my studies.

Maybe it's just because I'm disillusioned with undergraduate studies, maybe it's because I know that I am capable of far more intellectually than I have the opportunity to be. Maybe I'm just frustrated because I'm still pulling the same stupid stuff that I did in first year, and that it doesn't seem like I've actually learned anything or grown up at all. Maybe I'm just sick and tired of having my life sectioned off into four-month chunks that have such a high stress quotient and that I just can't up and leave at this point in the semester without losing thousands of dollars. Maybe all this is compounded by deadlines and life stresses and bad habits and disillusionment and...blah. Maybe I'm just making excuses.

So then what am I passionate about? My faith. The people around me...seeing their lives changed. Music, and writing about it. IVCF. "Life of Turner." Some of the subjects I am studying, even though I may not enjoy the classes. I'm not really passionate about "school." I would love to learn, and not have to write papers or be marked or graded. I'm passionate about engaging in the culture around me, and too often I find that university paradoxically dulls that ability to do so; not because of the content but because of the context.

Really, who decided that this was the best way for school to happen? When did we go from being focussed on creating better human beings with a greater understanding of the world around them to "get the degree and get out"? When did we make studenthood so undesirable yet so inescapable? When did I get so disillusioned with the educational system? Maybe it was when I learned that everything about the way university exists contradicts good pedagogy and educational techniques. This includes, ironically, the College of Education, where the motto should be "Do as we say, not as we do" judging by the way classes are taught there.

So I find myself here yet again. I've been here before, in other semesters. And every time I say "never again," only to get there again. And again. Is the problem in me or in the system? I say both of us need a good kick in the pants.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Odds n Ends

Song of the Day: C.W. McCall, "Convoy"
Verse of the Day: Isaiah 40:31


I don't really have too much to write about, so here are some random observations and occasions from my recent life. I got a free pearing knife at Wal-Mart yesterday for listening to some guy's presentation. I finished one paper today, and I have two more to go this week. The American Revolution actually is pretty interesting. I like Hawaiian shirts. I desperately want a U2 iPod, despite my lack of fundage. Papers are usually only as hard as you make them. Food is good. So is Coke slurpee. And Big Turks. I'm not really missing hockey yet, except when I think about it. I've already started thinking about Christmas gifts and birthday gifts for people. Why can't I be this organized when I'm writing papers? I remembered on Thursday - did you? My roommate is playing random guitar chords in the background. I need people to call me more often. Crop circles are interesting. Value Village half-off sale is on Monday. There are certain things that you can own on tape that you just can't own on CD. Like old Michael W. Smith. It's okay on tape, just not on CD. Too many CDs I want and not enough money or time. I like blogs. Especially other people's blogs. I'm still wearing the same watch I did when I was in elementary school. I miss my dog Odo...this time last year he was still with us. Go Veggie Tales. Hope this has been random enough for you. Your daily allotment of randomness, right here in D's blog. Joy.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Metablogging

Song of the Day: U2, "Vertigo"
Verse of the Day: Isaiah 40:31


Every so often, we need to step outside the construct to analyze the medium. The medium, as Marshall McLuhan famously said, is the message, and in this case, it is blogging. Blogging is an interesting process, and it is catching on. I've only been on the train for a few months m'self, but I'm well-established compared to a lot of people. It's really interesting to look at the many forms of blogs out there. You can tell that there are people who put tons of work in, and people who put the work of writing in. Me, I'm somewhere inbetween. I put in enough work to make it what I want without putting in the work to actually change it. I like it. The content and links are what make it all worth it. I spent some more time working on it tonight, so there's a number of new links there for you to check out. Make sure you take the time to investigate "D's Golf Cart Fun." You won't regret it.

I tend to blog not so much on the daily minutiae that occur in my life, but on the thoughts that arise out of those insignificant details. Some people write everything that goes on in their life, but I tend to try to go deeper with my blogging, although those events are often implied or referenced in my blogs. Eventually, I'll get around to posting all of my "Life of Turner" columns from the Sheaf here, so that you can see that side of me, too. Maybe when I eventually get my own domain and I can separate a blog from published articles. I also want to put up assorted pictures and reviews of CDs and such. Maybe next summer.

The funny thing is that I don't really have one overriding point like I usually do, so today I'm just going to update y'all on my life and share more random thoughts. Today was November 9. New Collective Soul in one week, U2 in two. From what I've heard, they're both excellent. And it's now been one week since Armageddon. And the world is still in one piece. For what it's worth, I'm glad Bush won. I did not like Kerry at all; Bush isn't much better, but he was still better. And the best thing to happen in this election was the continued exposure of the flaws and cracks in the system. We can only hope that in future elections that there are truly godly candidates who seek office, and that the cultural and political affiliations will be minimized. Check out Rick Joyner's thoughts on the election. He provides some insightful commentary, and I agree with a lot of it myself.

I am in the midst of the November crunch. Four papers to do in not a lot of time. I'm feeling a lot better than I have in the previous week or two, and I know it's not a superficial happy thing but a deep-down change of heart thing. Thanks again to all who contacted me to express concern. But I'm trucking on and pushing forward, and I'm about to bring the hammer down. Convoy.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Music as ministry?

Song of the Day: Tree 63, "Blessed Be Your Name"
Verse of the Day: Armaments Chapter 2, verses 9 through 21


I just interviewed and saw Tree 63 here in Saskatoon. Amazing. Though I only got about 15 minutes with the guys, I was very impressed with their knowledge, ability to speak, and humble manner. I love it when I don't want an interview to end. So far, I have really not conducted an interview with someone who just wants to get it done. I know these artists all have, well, a show to do, and that they answer most of these questions regularly, but I really appreciate it when there is an honest and true interaction between myself and the artist. And John Ellis of Tree 63 is about as open as you can get.

Their "set" was amazing. Interestingly, they did not perform any songs (that I recognized, anyway) from their second North American release, The Life and Times of Absolute Truth, which was quite possibly their most popular album here. Four songs from their first album, six from the newest, and a handful of covers interspersed inbetween, including an encore of U2's "Pride" and snippets of The Police's "Walking on the Moon" and an impromptu verse of "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" after a fan threw a pink wig on stage.

There were three things that really struck me tonight. One, it wasn't about a set list, or getting through the hit songs, or banging out 10 songs and going home. The show was well over an hour, and many songs lasted longer than their album versions. There was a real sense of the band being led by the Spirit and not just playing. Two, they were amazingly tight. There were several instances where there was improvisation happening, and where there was incredible musicianship. You could tell that these guys were not just a band, but a group with a common goal focussed on God and empowered by Him. Three, they seemed to really care. Sure, there was maybe 1,000 people there, and not everyone knew the words, and I'm sure they didn't even know how to spell Saskatchewan before they were here, but there really was a sense of true and honest interaction between artist and audience. Or perhaps more appropriately, between worship leader and worshipper. It just happened that the worship leader was a fairly successful rock-worship outfit named Tree 63.

And this all began to make me think about music and ministry. In the past week, I have really needed the CDs in my collection, and they have really ministered to me. Too often we tend to separate the music at church and the music in our CD player, and without good reason. We buy music because we like it, not because God wants us to, for the most part. There have definitely been times where God has put a particular CD in my path, often fairly cheap, because He has wanted me to have that in order that I might find more of Him through it. John was quite opinionated on this point, that Christian musicians have a calling and need to focus on Christ both lyrically and musically. That is to say that half-hearted musicianship, even with amazing lyrics, still isn't what God has called the people who He has given those talents to. As Christians, we have an all-creative God who created the universe, and our calling is to duplicate that artistry in whatever field he has given us. I'm not a poet, or a painter, or a worship leader, but I write, and I act. And I refuse to do those things with less than my whole self. If it's not all of what He has given me, it's not worth doing. There's a lot of Christian musicians who need to hear that message and live it out.

P.S. I watched Monty Python and the Holy Grail at Rainbow Cinemas tonight. 90 minutes of laughter. And the "verse" of the day. Pure comedy, even thirty years later. Ne! Ne!

Saturday, November 06, 2004

What A Week

Song of the Day: Switchfoot, "Meant To Live"
Song of the Day: Stacie Orrico, "(There's Gotta Be) More To Life"
Verse of the Day: Colossians 3:17
Verse of the Day: 2 Corinthians 10:3-5


Thank you to all of you who checked up on me during the week. I really found myself in a not-so-good place for the majority of this week. I have been finding it really hard to find joy, meaning, purpose, direction, motivation, and substance in life. Maybe that's been due to some personal struggles, school, being apart from the one I love. But it's been mainly because I have not been active in the war going on for my mind in the spiritual realm (see VotD #2). I know there are some choices I need to make that will help facilitate life better, and that some of those will be difficult to make. But they need to happen, lest I self-destruct. As my roommate Evan commented, "you need December more than I've ever seen anyone need December before." Or something to that effect.

Anyway, the road is still long and winding and difficult. These papers will not write themselves. The situations in which I now find myself will not resolve themselves. But I know that I do have the strength in Christ to make it through and thrive, not just survive. I may be dropping off the face of the planet for a good chunk of the next week to school it up, but better things are ahead. A new spring in my step and a smile on my face should be nice replacements for my recent slumping posture and grim outlook. Thanks for being there with me.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Numb

Song of the Day: U2, "Numb"
Song of the Day: Audio Adrenaline, "Some Kind of Zombie"
Verse of the Day: Ephesians 5:8-21


I read a story in the Globe and Mail today about a girl with a rare syndrome called CIPA (congenital insensitivity to pain with anhidrosis). Basically, this condition does not allow her to feel pain, cold or heat. While this might seem at first to be an advantage, it hurts this girl because she does not know when what she is doing hurts herself. She is continually having to be supervised in order to ensure that she does not do something that will endanger herself, because she is numb to the normal signals that most humans have. She is trained to stop when she sees blood, but it still doesn't have the full effect that having those pain receptors working would have.

I wonder how much I'm like this with spiritual things. Am I numb to the consequences of my own actions? Do I not realize when the things that I'm doing (or not doing, as is often the case) are hurting not only myself but others around me, and ultimately my God? Do I have those people around me who are looking out for me and seeing me in distress and intervening in my life in such a way as to prevent further unnecessary self-inflicted injury? And how do I be trained to become more receptive to these issues, particularly when they exist on a less temporal and more spiritual plane?

I think sometimes school helps put us in this state of numbness. I've really been feeling that way lately. I need to really find the joy in where I am and what Christ has given me. And not just be a zombie. And yes, I'm aware that I will probably often have more than one song of the day. So be it.

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