Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Happy Birthday to "The Man"

Today is the 60th birthday of a true American legend. The one and only Ric Flair. I know he's just a wrestler (or "rassler" as we used to say), and I know that wrestling is staged (that's why they call it sports entertainment now). Even though those things are true, Flair will always be one of my heroes.

When I was a kid growing up in Columbia I would faithfully watch Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling every Saturday at noon. I can remember my 6th grade Sunday School teacher Mrs. Dillon having a hard time getting me and Andy Crow to stop talking about what had happened during the matches the day before so she could teach us the Bible story. There were lots of great characters that worked in the ring in that little TV studio. Men like Wahoo McDaniel, Ricky Steamboat, Ivan & Nikita Koloff, and Dusty Rhodes, but the one who outshone all of them was Flair. Even when he was a "bad guy" (what my friends called the wrestlers that cheated) and I wanted him to lose, he was still the star.

If you didn't grow up watching wrestling I know it is hard for you to grasp why I would even bother writing on my blog about this man's birthday. I guess there's really no good way to explain it other than to say to an 11 year old kid he was larger than life. When you are that age it's so hard to be confident in yourself about almost anything, and on screen there was this bleach blond man that exuded the confidence that I wished I had. Sure it was all an act but it was a lot of fun to watch.

I'll close with a famous Flair quote that he would direct all the fans who booed him:

"Whether you like me or not you better learn to love me because I'm the best thing going today. Whooooooo!"

Yes you were Ric.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Getting Back on Track

I have an appointment in about an hour for some personal training at the place where I exercise. It's free because the young lady who's coaching me is doing an internship in order to earn her college degree in Exercise Science. Here's the thing, I spent an hour last Thursday doing this training, and I felt great when it was done. Well, not immediately after I was done. At first there was this strong feeling of nausea, but once that passed I felt great! It was probably more psychological than physical. You would think that I would have used that great session last week as a springboard to get back on track with my exercising. I had every intention of doing that, but here it is 60 minutes away and I haven't exercised once in the past seven days. Things could get ugly this afternoon. I am determined to get back on a regular exercise schedule. Today is the start! I can do it! The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step!...and all that stuff. So do you think I will? I give you permission to ask me if I have been exercising enough next time you see me. Of course if you'd rather not ask that would be great.

p.s. - When I ran spellcheck on this post I had misspelled exercise everytime! I thought it had two c's instead of just one.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

15 Albums

If you are on Facebook you already know about this. If you're not on Facebook, what are you waiting for? People write "notes" on their Facebook pages which are really like blogs. The idea is that I write a note about a certain topic and send it to you, and then you write a note about the same topic. It is actually a really cool way to get to know people. The most popular one going around is "25 Random Things About Me". I didn't write one of those because I couldn't think of 25 things that would even be remotely interesting. However, there is a new note going around that I did respond to. I have posted it below. Warning: This is another music related topic. I apologize to those regular readers who aren't into music that much, but I spent time writing this for Facebook, and I didn't want it to go to waste by not also posting it here. Those of you who love music, please respond with your own choices.

Think of 15 albums that had such a profound effect on you they changed your life or the way you looked at it. They sucked you in and took you over for days, weeks, months, years. These are the albums that you can use to identify time, places, people, and emotions. These are the albums that no matter what they were thought of musically shaped your world. When you finish, tag 15 others, including me. Make sure you copy and paste this part so they know the drill. Get the idea now? Good. Tag, you're it!

O.K. before you read my list here are some basics you need to know. 15 albums is not enough, but I have only listed 15 to comply with the rules, even though I don't even know who made up these rules. I have tried to go in some type of chronological order, but I've only included albums from about age 10 through age 20 (once again 15 is not enough). Finally, I only included one album per artist, if not there would have been way too much Journey and Springsteen on the list. Well, here goes:

1. Endless Summer - The Beach Boys
My parents got me this for my birthday when I turned 9 or 10 along with a very 70's looking cassete tape player with multi-colored buttons that I thought was awesome. I could sing lead and back-up on just about every song I listened to it so much.

2. Out of the Blue - E.L.O.
A double album that included "Sweet Talking Woman". I was alone among my friends in my love for E.L.O. In fact, most of them had never heard of them until Xanadu came out a couple of years later. They didn't know what they were missing.

3. Escape - Journey
A Christmas present that was well worth whatever Santa had to pay for it. I still remember me and Jeff Caldwell singing all these songs at school. Amazing hits, but also cool songs that never were played on the radio like, "Stone in Love", "Lay it Down", and "Keep on Running".

4. Beatles Red / Beatles Blue - The Beatles
I've already broken the rules by listing these two as one. All the greatest hits of the Beatles on eight sides of vinyl. Later I ended up collecting almost all of their albums, but this was my introduction to John, Paul, George, and Ringo.

5. Soldiers Under Command - Stryper
Hearing this album was when I discovered that not all Christian music had to be hymns. Seeing them at the old Township Auditorium my senior year was a bonus. I went to stand in line as school let out, of course my buddy Jamie Parler got out of school early to get even better seats.

6. Scarecrow - John Cougar Mellencamp
"Minutes to Memories", "Rain on the Scarecrow", "Justice and Independance" not to mention all the big hits. American music, plain and simple. If you don't like something off of this album you might be a communist.

7. Live 75-85 - Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
I already had "Born in the USA" but I really fell in love with Springsteen'e music listening to these tapes in my car during my senior year. I had never heard "Thunder Road" before, and I can remember hearing it for the first time and feeling like there was someone out there who understood how I felt.

8. Led Zeppelin II - Led Zeppelin
All my friends from school (Greg Leslie, Billy Lide, etc.) had been telling me I needed to add some Zeppelin to my collection, so bought this tape from Record Bar (the Nice Price) at Dutch Square and popped it into the old Clarion tape deck on the way home. I've never listened to hard rock the same way since.

9. Chronicle - Credence Clearwater Revival
All their greatest hits. Some that took over my life for awhile were, "Fortunate Son", "Travelin' Band", "Someday Never Comes".

10. Walking in the Shadow of the Big Man - Guadalcanal Diary
When I first heard this album I didn't know anything about the Athens music community, and I thought R.E.M. was just for the "slingheads" at my school, but I knew I loved what I heard. This introduced me into a whole new realm of music that I previously dismissed.

11. Weird Scenes Inside the Gold Mine - The Doors
A compilation of some hits along with some lesser known gems. "Five to One", "L.A. Woman", "Peace Frog" are a few that I couldn't quit listening to. Thanks again to Billy Lide.

12. Nervous Night - The Hooters
Maybe it's just nostalgia, but I still think these guys never got the credit they deserved for making some fun music back in the 80's. "And we Danced", All You Zombies", "Blood From a Stone", that's good stuff, not to mention that they co-wrote one of the greatest songs of the 80's "Time After Time" with Cyndi Lauper.

13. Electric - The Cult
Rence Gunnels turned me on to this album. Simple three chord rock that shouldn't be over analyzed. So what if the sound is a knock-off of AC/DC? It's still awesome to crank up as you ride down the interstate.

14. In Step - Stevie Ray Vaughn and Double Trouble
My first introduction to real blues guitar. Sadly, shortly after I got this album he was gone.

15. Full Moon Fever - Tom Petty
Sherry and I were dating in college, and I played this in my car all the time. "Free Fallin'", "Yer so Bad", and the Birds cover "I'll Feel a Whole Lot Better" are stand outs. Don't forget the greatest song ever for cruising down the interstate, "Runnin' Down a Dream"

I could do a whole list of honorable mentions, but I won't due to the fact that there are too many to write down. I'll probably look at this list next week and wish I had included something else, but this is the list. Hope you enjoy it, and I look forward to reading yours.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Weekend Update

I don't know about you, but we had a busy weekend. Here are a few of the highlights:

- My folks came for a visit. They got in Friday about 2:00 after stopping at Wise's BBQ in Prosperity. (or is it really Jalapa?) I was thrilled that they brought us some of that good ol' mustard based BBQ and hash. They spent the night so they could see the girls play basketball, unfortunately both of the girls teams lost. Dad said that he might have accidentally brought the chicken curse with him from Columbia, but I don't think he did because...

- The Gamecocks won another close game on Saturday! I was actually in the truck running an errand when Mike Holmes tipped the winning basket in with less than a second to play, but I heard it all on the radio. I didn't weep for joy, but I did let out a long Ric Flair like "Whooooo".

- The crowd was a little thinner than usual at worship yesterday. I guess there were a good many folks who took advantage of the three day weekend, and speaking of taking advantage...

- The gigantic economic stimulus bill was passed on Friday evening. I still need someone to help me understand if this is a good thing or not. Of course the Republicans are telling me it's horrible, and the Democrats are saying it's the last chance we've got. I'm thinking the truth is somewhere in between those two extremes. What I am certain of is that the amount of money that's being talked about in these packages blows my mind. I can't accurately comprehend millions much less billions and trillions. No matter what the outcome I am not worried. None of this has taken God by surprise, and He will continue to care for us. Remember that today as you watch all the talking heads react to the passage of the bill.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Young Love

This morning I got to hang out at Lyman Elementary with the Brown boys (Reece, Garret, Logan, and even Harry) and Brady Hollifield at "Pastries for Pastors". The school provided muffins and juice for the kids and their pastors. Thanks to Jeanne (Mama Brown) for inviting me. I had a great time watching Garret eat the baby size muffins in one bite, listening to Logan sing Jonas Brothers songs, and laughing at Reece and Brady as they picked on a friend of theirs because he has a girlfriend. The good natured picking from the two of them started when the girl presented the boy with a pretty nice sized heart-shaped box of candy for Valentine's Day. That was funny enough, but the look on his face and what he said next was even funnier. I looked at him and said, "Man that's a serious Valentine's present!" He looked at me with what could only be described as shock on his face and said, "I did not see that coming." I laughed really hard at that.

Enjoy your Valentine's Day! Maybe you'll get something or get taken somewhere that you could say about later, "I did not see that coming".

Thursday, February 12, 2009

You can even fool yourself

A few years ago Al Franken wrote an anti-Republican book called, "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them". He could have written the book about Major League Baseball players from 1996-2005 or so just as easily. Last week the news broke about Alex Rodriguez's steroid use. The news coverage was so massive that President Obama was even asked about it during his live press conference on Monday night. What was especially upsetting to some folks was the fact that a couple of years earlier in an interview with Katie Couric, A-Rod had flatly denied any steroid use. He even went so far to say that he had never been tempted to use them. It's very easy for us to be offended at that type of behavior, and we can even convince ourselves that we would never tell a bald-faced lie like that. Something he said in his interview with Peter Gammons earlier this week caught my attention:

PETER GAMMONS: Now, you mentioned the Katie Couric interview. You were asked if you ever used steroids, human growth hormones or other performance-enhancing substances. You said no, flat-out no. In your mind, that wasn't a lie?
ALEX RODRIGUEZ: At the time, Peter, I wasn't even being truthful with myself. How am I going to be truthful with Katie or CBS?

(read the full interview here)

Before we are too harsh with A-Rod I think we should consider his comments about not being truthful with himself. One of the ways that lies are so destructive to our character is that the longer we tell them the more we believe them. Soon we are not only lying to those around us, we are also successfully lying to ourselves. Up to the point he discovered he had failed a drug test A-Rod was believing his own lies. The positive drug test was a sudden reality check. I have to ask myself, are there areas in my life where I am not being truthful with myself? Is there any untruthful behavior or thought pattern that I've participated in for so long that now it seems reasonable?

Let's learn a lesson from A-Rod's pain. Don't wait for the reality check to reveal you've been living a lie. Ask God to help you see things through the eyes of Truth. Evaluate your own behavior and thinking before someone else has to.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Attention Jonas Brothers Fans!

Here's a video I found of the hit song "Burning Up" by the Jonas Bros. The talent displayed here is breathtaking. We could be watching the next big thing in the music industry. Let me know if you agree.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Random thoughts to start your week

Some friends at church reminded me yesterday that I haven't been as prolific here on the old blog lately. They are right. I explained to them that I often have things I could write about, but I'm afraid that they would be irrelevant or just way too boring to most of you who read. That being said, here are some irrelevant things on my mind, along with some other possibly more relevant topics as well:

- Thanks to Kelly Thomas and the rest of the Relay for Life Team for putting on a great event Saturday night. The Family Valentine's Dance that they organized to raise money for the American Cancer Society was a ton of fun! I haven't got any numbers yet from Kelly on how much money the event raised, but I know that the amount of energy expended was very high. I had lots of folks tell me yesterday that they woke up with sore feet from dancing so much.

- Last week was "Signing Day" for high school football players. There was lots of excitement from both Carolina and Clemson fans about their nationally ranked recruiting classes. Let me just say for the record that I think ranking recruiting classes is one of the stupidest things in America today. I've seen four and five star recruits come to college and never live up to that type of expectation. I've also seen kids who were nobodies coming out of high school grow into all SEC and all ACC caliber players. I do read the list of what players the Gamecocks sign every spring, but my expectations for the future success of the team are not affected by who those kids are. My philosophy is, "prove it on the field". Your star rating should be determined at the end of your four years, not before you ever play a game.

- I'm loving this warm weather. I'm sure we'll see several more cold days before Easter, but for now things couldn't be much better! I actually wore regular cotton socks this weekend, instead of the wool ones that keep me from freezing to death all winter.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Crystal Ball

This was Blake's favorite commercial from the Super Bowl. Enjoy.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Monday morning quarterback

It's been awhile since I've done one of these quick Monday morning update things using bullet points, so here goes:

- The band was on top of their game yesterday. Every week our musicians work hard to help lead in worship, and week after week they sound great, but yesterday was even better than usual. Don't ask me why, but I loved it.

- I struggled delivering yesterday's message. There was a lot info on the front end that I thought was necessary to share to get to the main points about moral authority. It wasn't easy trying make my way through all of it in an engaging way. Despite that, there were several folks who commented positively afterwards, further proof that God is the one who speaks to the hearts of people. That takes a load off my shoulders!

- For the second year in a row, the Super Bowl was great. Last night was one of the most exciting Super Bowls ever in my opinion. I began the game not caring who won, but by the end I was hoping to see the Cardinals pull it out. I guess that was due to the whole underdog thing. Of course, my decision to make them my team in the second half is what sealed their fate. I apologize to all real Cardinal fans out there for giving them the kiss of death. I really didn't mean any harm.

- Springsteen and the E Street Band were awesome. 12 minutes of high energy, give it all you got, rock-n-roll that was a small slice of what his concerts are like. Opening with "Tenth Avenue Freeze Out" with the full horn section was a great choice, and closing with "Glory Days" fit perfectly for the halftime setting. I've heard some younger haters out there making fun of the Boss this morning, and I'll just say this: it won't be long before Cold Play or Fall Out Boy will be performing at halftime, and a younger crowd thinks they are cheesy and out of style as well. Remember what another great, out of style, American rock legend (John Mellencamp) once sang: "changes come around real soon, make us women and men"

- I'm officially old. I just wrote two sentences chastising younger people for not liking my music. I never thought I'd do that.