Healthy living is a very interesting thing. On one hand, you have a movement of people who are striving to live a healthier lifestyle by eating right, exercising, and reading up on every trendy diet that seems to emerge every few months. On the other hand, you have a majority of people who just don’t give a crap. You see the convergence of these two groups at a friendly “healthy” destination named “Souplantation” (check your local Yellow Pages for the location nearest you). If you go to Souplantation on any given day you will see the 2 distinct groups of people I mentioned above with a sad 3rd group I will spend most of this entry talking about: those who pretend to be healthy and continuously defeat (or basically destroy) the purpose of eating at Souplantion.
- disclaimer: whenever I write these kinds of potentially controversial posts, please keep in mind that these thoughts are my own and do not reflect anyone else’s! I am not aiming to offend or demean anyone or any organization. I welcome your thoughts and responses but please don’t try to start a fight with me on this website. Please. Since we’re on the topic of the Bible, let me just say for the record that I believe in the authority and complete validity of Scripture. It should be read, studied, meditated-on, memorized, etc. but most importantly, applied. A heretic or renegade is something I am not so please spare those types of reactions. Heed the words of a classic song: “free yo’ mind. . . don’t be so shallow!”*
As you may already know, there are many things about religion, “Christianity,” and church that really irk, disturb, and annoy me. (You can read about some of these in my “Imaginary Interview with Bono” post.) Some of you may see this as an issue given that I work at a church as a worship pastor, but let me assure you, I am still passionate about what I do and I love Jesus and people with all my heart. I want to be a part of the solutions while calling things out for what they are. Thanks for allowing me the chance to vent some of my frustrations and pet peeves, a series of entries I will call “these are a few of my unfavorite things”.
welcome back! it was a pretty action-packed week, was it not? On Monday, Korea decides to pitch to Ichiro and loses their rights to DokDo Island (not really but wouldn’t that have been a great prize to play for?). Super heart-breaking loss on many levels. Barack steals the show on Tuesday so let’s put him at #1 for that day but as far as the Wednesday show goes, the rankings for sure have shifted. I’ll save you a commercial break by letting you know that my #1, Matt Giraud, has not moved in this week’s ranking and it doesn’t look like he will move ever for reasons I explain in the feature below. However, I have a new last place person (for one week only… Scott Mac, you’re still my guy) so you’ll have to read to see who that is! If this is your first time to my site, you may want to check out my first round of power rankings to get a better idea of what this is about as well as the next one to get caught up.
before I move on, let us mourn the unexpected yet expected loss of Alexis “hopelessly fallen out of” Grace at the hands of American voters who. once again, wasted their votes on the likes of Michael Sarver and Scott MacIntyre! I don’t care how “well” those two perform. In my eyes, they will never do anything right. Unfair? I know, but such is the life of show business.
I don’t know about you but I enjoyed this Motown episode WAYYY more than the Country debacle from last week. Smoky Robinson was a better coach– either that or the artists voices fit this genre better. (Perhaps we’ll go with the latter supposition) The judging was a little better but Paula was Paula (surprise) and her drawn-on mustache from Simon was classic, yet juvenile. Is it just me or do they have a Jr. High romance going on? I swear, at one point it looked like Paula had her hand on Simon’s lap and they’re constantly touching each other under the guise of mutual loathing . . . but it’s looking more like they love each other and it’s pretty gross.
Well, on to this week’s top 10. I already told you who’s number 1, but who’s number 10? I think you may know that as well . . .
the top 10:
1. Matt Giraud (previous rank: 1)
don’t be blinded by your unwavering loyalty to Danny Gokey. Matt is proving week after week that he is a star in the making, and although I won’t go as far as saying that he’s blowing away the competition, he is more of a complete package than anyone else in this lineup. As long as he stays away from “Viva la Vida”, I think Matt will be riding this #1 slot for the rest of the season. I must say it was a bit uncomfortable when Kara Dioguardi showed her appreciation for Matt’s performance by saying “yeahh. . . let’s get it oOoN!” In any case, anybody who can pull off a fresh performance of Marvin Gaye and get props from Smokey is a friend of mine and a seemingly immoveable fixture at #1.
Note: You may want to read my intro on this topic first.
Disney Pixar films are generally enjoyable, excellent, and… ethereal (I needed to keep on with the alliteration). That being said, I think “Cars” is one of the more underrated of the Pixar collection, probably because it it is not only an animated feature (which almost always brings the “maturity” and credibility factor down in adult’s eyes) but also it is a movie about talking cars… how very unrealistic! So imagine my surprise when this movie jacked me up as I watched it on one of my international flights. I almost needed to break down in my seat but I have this commitment to never cry in movies which I have kept except on a couple occasions, but I’ll share more on that later. This movie has so many great lessons and easily overlooked principles, it puts Mr. Miyagi to shame!
WHY IS MICHAEL SARVER IN OVER ALEXIS GRACE?!
In any case, who’s your American Idol?
So it looks like I’ll try to update this weekly after every Tuesday show. Thanks for keeping up with this and leaving your thoughts and making this a group effort of sorts! You may want to take a look at my first round of power rankings to get a better idea of what this is about.
This show was very interesting, was it not? First of all, the Country (Grand Ol Oprey) genre really jacked a few people up to the point that their standing has been affected (some really badly) in this week’s rankings. I still feel that last week’s rankings should be the true order of rank in the ideal world but since we’re a not part of that galaxy, the rankings are what they are today. Secondly, did anyone else notice that Randy Travis’ takes on the contestants all started with something to the effect of “when so-and-so first told me they were going to sing this song, I had my doubts… but then they started singing it and I was blown away. I think this will be their best performance yet…” No joke! Go back to your DVRs and listen to him do this for virtually all 11 contestants! It’s sort of like that one Chinese judge on the recent world-dance show who would give everyone a “bbah… EIGHT!” score, every time! Lastly, if I had to rank the judges in order of best performance to worst, I’d go with 1) Simon, 2) Randy, 3) Kara, and 997) Paula. Seriously, somebody get Paula out of there… please. She contributes nothing to the show except the constant on-screen bickering with Simon (who dogs on her every bumbling word), and a false sense of “you did great” to every bad performance. She is on crack cocaine and needs to go to rehab. Thank God for DVR so that I can skip all of her empty, awkward, uncomfortable, stuttering, and heartless comments. Phew… I really needed to get that out of my system… thanks.
Well, without further ado, I’ll dive into the updated rankings, starting with this week’s #1 all the way down to #11 (with farewells to 12 and 13). Keep in mind, these rankings are more cumulative and not so much based on this week’s performances, although they were taken into full account and some have fallen (or risen) mightily. I’m interested to hear your takes as well.
Here’s the top 11:
A good friend, Alex Gee, once called Adam Sandler one of the greatest modern-day prophets of our time. Though this may sound like an absurd statement to most of you, the more I dig in to the depth of overlooked profundity in Sandler’s films, the more I agree with Alex! Don’t let the “abby doobees” and the silly singing fool you. . . this boy is a genius. Besides, his movies provide the most quotable quotes outside of “Dumb and Dumber” for me and my group of buddies!
“Click,” for me, was one of those movies that left me in my seat for an extra minute as the credits rolled up because I had to let my brain catch up to what my heart was feeling. It was that profound and it had a pretty big impact on me. If you’re a busy person, you need to watch this movie. Seriously. Stop reading this blog and watch this movie… especially if you’re one of those super-driven pastor types who struggle with priorities, this Bud’s for you. . .
Please read the introductory entry before you read below!
5. NACHO LIBRE
what you may have liked about it: Jack Black plays a Jesuit Priest named Ignacio (aka, Nacho), who has aspirations of stardom as a wrestler (Luchador) in the Mexican underground Lucha Libre circuit. He speaks in a very inconsistent and bogus Mexican accent throughout the movie and has a malnourished sidekick aptly named Esqueleto. It’s freakin hilarious and hits a comedic and memorable peak when Nacho pens a song for his love interest, “Encarnacion”– pure genious. (more…)
Some of you know that my wife and I spent nearly 2 glorious years in Bangkok,Thailand from 2003 to 2005 to help start a Newsong there. Unlike Charles Dickens in A Tale of Two Cities, this period for us was the best of times, and again, was the best of times. We experienced a little bit of heaven on earth and it was as if we went through the wardrobe to experience Narnia. (Wow, those are 2 more literary references than I was originally planning on alluding to…I sound smart.) Part of the reason our experience there was so great is because of the ways that we viewed the world, God, and spirituality had changed in a major way. We no longer viewed things in boxes but acquired a broader scope and lens to see things in a new light!
One of the major things that changed for me is how I see movies and I credit this in large part to one of my best friends in the whole world, Dave Brubaker. Y’all gotta get to know him some day. He’s one of the world’s best-kept secrets, and a guy who’s changing the world, one person at a time… seriously. He taught me how to meet Jesus in movies and that’s no joke. Every time I see a movie now, I expect to be spoken to in a fresh, meaningful and spiritual way… unless it’s one of those stupid “Not Another (insert genre here) Movie” flicks in which case I just come out of the movie feeling like I wasted my life and decent brain cells. “House Bunny” was one of the worst films in the history of cinema and don’t ask me how or why I saw it.
So I wanted to highlight 5 MOVIES YOU MUST SEE WITH A NEW LENS and because of the length of these “reviews”, I will space them out over a few days. These are movies that most people have probably seen already but for one reason or another have “discounted” or even shrugged off (benignly but a careless move nonetheless) as just 1) an overly-hyped but really good movie (Slum Dog Millionaire), 2) a cool modern Batman adaptation, acted-well-by-Heath-Ledger-film (Dark Knight), 3) a cute, “kids'” movie (Cars), 4) another typical Adam Sandler flick (Click), and finally, 5) a hilarious movie where Jack Black plays a hispanic wannabe wrestler (Nacho Libre). My contention is that these movies contain a message a little deeper than the general public perceived or the makers even intended! My takes may seem like a stretch but keep an open mind and be ready to go to “church” with me on these!
So there’s my outline for you. The 5 movies I will talk about are:
So I’m a pretty avid sports fan and I check in with ESPN about once a day. For those of you who have that in common with me, you’re probably familiar with the concept of Power Rankings, where the author of the article ranks the teams of a particular sport in order based upon their performance the previous week while taking into account their overall performance throughout the season. For instance, the Lakers are number 1 right now on Marc Stein’s weekly power rankings on ESPN– and rightly so! The Clippers (big surprise) are number 30, dead last. Even if the Clippers win all their games in one week, you won’t see them climb up the rankings chart all that much because their overall performance throughout the season has been poor. The rankings are very much cumulative in that regard. Keep that in mind as you read on…
I’m also a pretty big watcher of American Idol in case you couldn’t tell from my previous post regarding Scott MacIntyre. It’s a show that I often love to hate, given that so many deserving people were not put through to this round of 13 while other subpar singers (like the aforementioned MacIntyre) were given a shot. In any case, the top 13 just performed and I felt that it was time I put together my own power rankings, starting with 1 (the one who’s headed toward winning the next crown of American Idol), all the way down to 13 (whom I feel will, or should, be eliminated first). Keep in mind, I am taking into account several things: 1) The first impression – the initial audition leaves a pretty indelible mark and it’s pretty much carried my opinion of most of these artists; 2) The total package factor – do they have the voice, the look, the charisma, and confidence? 3) Would I buy their album?
So without further ado, here’s my first stab at the American Idol power rankings!
1. Matt Giraud
The dueling piano singer. Perhaps this surprises some of you but I’m telling you, Matt’s got the total package: a killer voice, ridiculous chops on the piano, he’s pretty good-looking, not to mention he’s just got that intangible swagger about him. Reminds me of Justin Timberlake and that’s gotta be a good thing, right? The judges got it right when they brought him back through the wildcard and he’s only going to be better with each week. The key question of would I buy his album? Yes, I believe I would– especially if I had itunes credit sitting in my account.
For those of you who know me, you are aware that Bono, lead-singer of U2, is one of my top living heroes (along with Kobe Bryant–the topic of many entries in the future, for sure), and it is one of my lifelong goals to meet him on earth before we meet in heaven. It’ll probably be easier to meet up in heaven anyway… we probably just have to think of who we want to hang with and BLAM! there we are having a glass of glorious wine together!
Unless I suddenly become super important, famous and/or influential, I will probably never have the chance to gain an audience with him. I am confident, however, that if I had the opportunity to hang with him for just ONE hour, we would be the best of friends. Well, since this is my blog, I got to have this opportunity and what a grand conversation it was! Bono is not only one of the most influential frontmen in Rock and Roll history, he is also one of the leading voices in the movement to end poverty and relieve the AIDS crisis in Africa. He has used his immense platform to impact and influence millions– that’s why he’s one of the top 2 people I’d like to meet before I die! I think what Bono has to say will astound, inspire, shake, and move you. Here’s the interview:
Last week, I was able to take part in an incredible hybrid “unconference” called The Idea Camp. We had people from all over the country fly in for the free conference and I was blown away by all the minds and innovators at this thing. I was more impressed by the heart behind it. The conference urged each person to take a learning and serving posture while sharing their ideas in hopes of forming catalytic synergies! One of the adopted themes of this gathering was the idea that there is more power behind our collective efforts rather than the “expertise” of one person. A local media group covered this event. I’m on this video but I look and sound like a total loser so please disregard my bit and just enjoy this snapshot found here.
Dave is, in my humble opinion, one of the leading, up and coming voices in America. Of course he hasn’t been “up and coming” to our Newsong community since he founded the church in 1994 but it’s about time the world hears and reads what God has been teaching him, especially in the last 5 years. We spent the first year of Newsong Bangkok together in 2005 and experienced a lot of what Dave mentions in the book firsthand. Amazing, heaven-on-earth moments in Thailand.
I’m so proud of Dave and the platform he is starting to receive and God is doing some amazing things in and through him– he will be speaking at the Willow Creek Leadership Summit this August and I’m sure he has been or will be at a conference near you!
In the mean time, pick up a copy of The Monkey and the Fish and get ready to have your mind blown.
Have you ever thought about how funny and illogical it is that people tend to give more credit to BLIND singers? Think about this for a moment with me. . . what does SINGING have anything to do with SEEING? “Wow… that’s amazing! He’s blind but he sings so well!” Singing and seeing are stand-alone abilities that don’t require the help of the other. Blind people should be given props for their resiliency in life and their overcoming the odds within the flow of society, but when it comes to singing? Please.
On the other hand, if a person is born with a hole in their throat and is able to somehow do a perfect rendition of “You Raise Me Up,” operatically– now, that’s impressive! That’s something we can marvel at and say, “Wow! Dude is missing part of his larynx but he’s still killin’ it!” Now that’s overcoming odds!
Now, there are GREAT singers who also happen to be blind like Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles. However, it is pretty safe to say that even if they had the ability to see like everyone else, they would still be given the same amount of respect and notoriety because they are great singers. Plain and simple. You ever try to sing “Superstitious” or “Georgia” at the Karaoke bar? You sounded pretty ridiculous, right?
Show me a blind pilot or a blind doctor. I may not choose to give myself over to their care but I will surely give that person props. A blind singer? Their lack of sight has nothing to do with pitch, tone, or phrasing!
So here it is. . . I hope I can be a useful contributor to the world wide web. Just wanted to say hello and invite you to make yourselves at home!
I suggest you start off with the “My First Entry” tab above. Thanks for your friendship!